A very drunk Epperly leaned heavily on Lexi as she walked back to the house. Paris hadn’t stayed for long, owing to the late afternoon tryst with alcohol.
Bea had spent most of the time smoking weed with the rest of their brothers, who’d been off fishing during the day. They’d got a whole production line going, and Bea collected the final package at the end until they had a good two or three for each of them.
Dublin tried to think about how bad it was for Bea to be doing it, but there was this electric, magnetic charge between her and Dev that continued to distract her. He walked beside her, both of them awkwardly stiff and very aware of the other, and yet they continued in sync, as if following the same rhythm as it flowed through them, driving them forward, accidentally brushing the back of her hand, feeling his shoulder with hers. Stolen glances. Half smiles. A hand through the hair.
They fell back, letting Bea, Connor, Finn and André walk out of earshot. André kept looking back. Remembering the feel of his cousin sister’s skin from that summer when they got drunk and passed out on the beach.
Dev chuckled softly.
She looked up at him, his beautiful face, and let out a half bemused, half nervous giggle.
He looked at her in a mockingly dubious way, and shook his head slowly as another smile rippled across his face.
While the others disappeared into the house, Dublin felt a shy finger graze across the back of her hand, she twisted her wrist and wove her fingers effortlessly through his, and they fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. And little by little, their arms fused together.
“Let’s stay out a little while longer,” he said.
They sat on the porch swing close enough to hear each other’s heart beating.
Dawn. The front door silently opened as two people shuffled in like thieves. Once the door was locked and they’d reached the staircase, they let out a sigh of relief. The carpeted stairs were impossible to make any noise on.
Dev backed her up against the wall and had both arms on either side of her. He leaned in close and whispered in her ear, in a way that had the hairs on the back of her neck standing.
“You may not remember me Dublin West, but I can’t forget you. We met at Katie Garner’s party two weeks ago,” she shuffled a little but he pressed himself right up against her, “and you took me home…”
She slid a hand up his torso, snaked around his neck and up into his hair, bringing his face closer to hers till their lips were just touching.
He couldn’t hold himself. He kissed her like she’d never been kissed.
She finally came up for air and pressed against his shoulders to peel him off of her.
“I need to go. We can’t be seen like this.”
“But what about me? I need to see you again.”
“You realize we, sort of, just met, right?”
“And yet,” he took a dramatic Romeo-waiting-under-Juliet’s-tower pose, “it feels as if I’ve been but waiting for you my whole life.”
She knew he was horsing around, but the words took her breath away. She walked right into his arms but held her own as she looked him dead in the eye.
“So here’s what happens, you and I meet at the Bluebird Inn. We spend the whole day together and it will be the best day of our lives. We’ll just stay in and order some food, champagne, watch a movie… and just coexist in that way. One of us, and I’m really not saying that it can’t be me, because god knows it sometimes has been, but one of us might even fall in love with the other. It’s just one of those things that happens you know what I mean?”
He stared at her, mesmerized.
“We spend the whole day together. It’ll be the best day of our lives. And then, you’re never going to see me again. Because no one deserves that kind of happiness. It doesn’t last. Nobody lives to tell such a tale.”
The silence between them stretched on forever.
It was everything she’d imagined it to be.
He was desperately in love with her.
Epperly could see it with painful clarity.
She knew what was going on, and she definitely knew about the Bluebird Inn. Yet, there was nothing that came to her mind to say on the subject of her fiancé screwing around with her cousin.
She stayed on the balcony for longer. Plotting to jump off it one day.
Dublin had still not managed to spend one-on-one time with Epperly. And the fact that she was doing that with her sister’s fiancé more often held her back.
A week passed and then half more, things stayed the same way. No one said anything. Not even when Epperly packed her bags and booked her tickets for Vietnam and broke off her marriage. It happened during breakfast time, everyone was around the kitchen and dining hall when Paris noticed the bags.
And as Epperly was about to face her family and deliver an elaborate speech about her plans to live a new life, maybe reclaim her old one, there was a knock on the front door.
Of all the people who could have gone to open it, Dublin had no clue as to why she decided to do it. She didn’t know but she did it anyway.
She opened the door and was taken up in a big hug.
“Hey, sorry to drop in like this but I couldn’t stop thinking about you. Did you get the flowers I’d sent? I grew them in my own garden. Can we talk?” Wesley Mayor said, in the same breath, as he took hers away.
Image Courtesy [Rohan Dahiya]