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I heard a beeping and opened my eyes to a bright flash. “Oh my God, I’m blind!” I buried my face into my pillow and the arm around me tightened.
“Aw look at you two,” I heard JT say and Eli sat up. I turned my head and watched as Eli tried to grab the camera from JT. It was amusing to see them wrestle around and I looked to the doorway as Alex leaned in. JT quickly pinned Eli down to the ground and held out the camera to Alex before letting Eli up. Alex looked at the picture and smiled.
“You guys almost look like twins.”
I held my hand out and he gave me the camera. Eli sat down beside me to look. “We kinda do.”
“You caught me. I told you to stay in an extra year so I could make sure you wouldn’t be born into a family of crazies.”
“So much for that.”
“I know right? There was just nothing I could do; I’m sorry.”
“Well I feel positively loved right now,” JT said and rolled his eyes, taking his camera back. “Now to put this on the internet.”
“Dude, that will guarantee me no dates this year,” Eli said seriously.
“Nah, girls like that adorable stuff. Trust me; if I see a guy treat his sister well, I automatically know he’s trustworthy.”
“You think so?”
“Of course. Plus it will weed out all the slutty girls since they’ll know I’m watching out for my little brother.” I patted his cheek and he pushed me sideways before getting up and moving to his room. Alex and JT looked at each other before looking at me. “What?”
“You’re good with him,” Alex said.
I rolled my eyes. “Of course I am; he’s my little brother.”
“You never fight with him, either,” JT pointed out.
“He doesn’t try to tell me what to do.” I got up from my bed and brushed past them. I popped my head into Eli’s room. “Want any eggs?”
“Yup.” He didn’t look away from the screen and I walked towards the stairs, Alex and JT following me.
“Look, I don’t want sex right now because I kinda want to be loved first, you know, so you can chill out.” I opened the fridge door and pulled out the carton of eggs, milk, and cheese.
“House parties are not where you find love, Holly,” Alex told me, him and JT sitting at the bar.
I tried to keep an open mind, determined to not fight with them since apparently Eli always heard us. “I get that. I only went there because it was my one chance to try and scope out any newcomers in the area. Guys who haven’t met you guys yet and aren’t terrified of being around me.”
“You need to keep all areas of your body clothed at all times.”
“Okay. I’ll not do it again.” Except with that one skirt, I added silently. But I wouldn’t wear it anywhere I’d get caught again, so I had nothing to worry about. “You guys want eggs?” I had already cracked three for Eli and two for me.
“Can you fry me two instead of scrambling them?” Alex asked me.
“Sure. JT, you want your four?” He nodded and I went back to cracking eggs and mixing the milk and cheese in. I got the margarine out of the refrigerator and turned the stove on, letting it some melt and coat the pan. I made Alex’s first. “Runny or not?”
“Runny.” I let it cook until the white was fully solid and the orange/yellow wasn’t shiny from being raw anymore. I moved them over onto a plate and sat it in front of him. “Thanks.” He got up to pour himself some milk.
“Mhm.” I poured our eggs into the pan and leaned a hip against the counter as I moved the spatula around the bottom of the pan to make sure it didn’t burn. I turned the stove off about ten minutes later and walked towards the stairs and yelled, “Eli, come eat!” I walked back in and distributed the eggs onto three plates, setting JT’s in front of him. I pulled my favorite cup down from the cabinet, pouring milk in it and adding the strawberry syrup.
“Smells good,” Eli commented, walking in and giving me a kiss on the cheek, taking the plate with more eggs on it. “Thanks, Sis.”
I smiled and turned to the other counter to face the boys as they ate. “We should go to the park since the rain is gone. We can eat…” I looked at the clock that read eleven. “We can eat dinner there and feed ducks.”
JT and Alex looked at each other. “We’re over 21, I’m pretty sure we’ve outgrown feeding ducks,” JT told me.
“Well then Eli and I will feed ducks and you guys can watch.”
Alex turned to our little brother. “Eli?”
“Sounds good. What’re we eating for dinner?” he asked me.
“I don’t know. I could make like, chicken salad sandwiches or something.”
“Hmmm. I like you when you’re like this,” JT said, taking his last bite and taking his plate to the sink. “Maybe we can get her to cook for us the rest of the week and get some variety.”
“Hey, Alex isn’t a bad cook.” I really didn’t want to be volunteered into cooking every meal.
“Of course not. He cooks the normal stuff fine, but maybe I can talk you into cooking something new.”
“Uhh… Let’s just be happy with Alex’s cooking. I’m not going to fall into that ‘woman’s work’ thing you’re bakırköy escort spinning in your head.”
“I would never.” He hugged me from the side. “I only objectify and stereotype other women.”
“Well that’s… good?” I looked at Alex and he lifted his eyebrows as if to say “I always told you he was the perfect example of bad guys.” JT kissed my cheek and I felt the cold metal of his snakebites. “Alex, what would you do if I got snakebites, too?”
All three boys paused. “Why would you want them?”
“You say that like they’re a bad thing,” JT accused.
Alex leveled him with a look. “If you came in asking me for a job I would turn you down, JT. You look totally unprofessional.”
“I’m twenty-one, not thirty. I don’t care if I look unprofessional.”
Eli and I shared a smile as we heard our two brothers argue for the first time in years. Alex caught my smile. “You shouldn’t get them. Your nose piercing looks fine, but I’d advise against any more piercings.”
“Hmm.” I looked down at my plate as I kept smiling. “I’m getting my bellybutton pierced.”
“No you’re not,” JT and Alex said and I bit my lip to not laugh, looking back up.
“Well darn, looks like I’ll have to get pierced somewhere unseen so I won’t be lectured over it.” All three set of eyes looked down from my face and I blushed, crossing my arms over my chest to get them to look away. JT moved his arm away from me and Alex pushed back his barstool to stand up. Eli just looked back up to my face, unashamed.
“We can leave around four,” Alex said as he turned to go into the office that had once been our father’s but now functioned as the place he kept all contact info in files for his valet service. “If you need any help, just ask.” JT had already moved outside towards the pool and that left me with Eli.
“I sure know how to clear out a room.”
“Were you serious?”
“Of course not. That would hurt way too much.” His eyes glanced down again. “There’s something wrong with you,” I told him.
“What do you mean?”
“You just look down and aren’t even ashamed.”
“Well, no. If women are going to wear clothes that show them, it’s only natural for guys to look. JT and Alex just freak out because they don’t want to consider themselves the same as the guys they beat off of you.”
“What about you?” I uncrossed my arms and leaned against the counter.
He shrugged. “You have breasts, Holly. Wouldn’t you be insulted if I didn’t look?”
I considered that. “Alright, don’t look at other women’s breasts or they might slap you. That’s all I’m gonna say. Now, I have to go to the store and pick up some chicken; you want to go take a shower and go with me?”
“Sure.” He drank the last of his milk, sat everything in the sink, and walked upstairs. I ran water over our dishes before going upstairs to the bathroom Alex and I shared. JT and Eli shared the other one, and we left our parents’ room and bathroom alone downstairs.
Halfway into my shower there came a knock on the door. “What?”
The door opened a little. “Eli locked the door and I have to use the bathroom,” JT told me. “Can I come in?”
I turned my back to the clear shower curtain. “Sure.” The door opened more and I heard it close behind him. A minute later he flushed the stool and the water went hot, making me scream and jump out of the water.
“Are you okay?” he turned towards the shower.
I quickly turned around again. “Yeah, the water just went like scalding hot for a second. Alex never came in here while I was in the shower, so I didn’t know it would do that.”
The water turned on in the sink for a minute and I made sure to stay out of the water. Once I heard the door open and close again I finished showering. I had just turned the water off when there came a knock again. “What?” I stepped out of the shower, wrapping my towel around me.
“Did I leave my phone in there?”
I rolled my eyes and picked up the phone, opening the door. “Here.”
He looked down like he had in the kitchen before taking his phone. “Thanks.”
“Mhm. Now move so I can get to my room.” He stepped aside and I walked past him. “Eli and I are going to the store, do you need anything?” I paused at my door and turned to look at him.
“Alex has a list on the fridge.”
“Okay.” I closed the door and quickly got dressed in a sundress and flats. I was just brushing my hair when a knock came at my door. “Come in.”
Eli walked into my room and sat down on my bed, watching me tug the brush through the knots in my hair. “You know, it would be a lot simpler if you cut it off.”
I widened my eyes and looked up at him. “If you even come near me with scissors I will take them away and cut off something much more precious to you.”
He held up his hands. “Hey, it was just a suggestion. Don’t go ruining your chance at nieces and nephews.”
“I always have two other brothers to provide me with those.”
“Be serious. If you get any beşiktaş escort from JT they’ll be bastard children. And Alex… I’m pretty sure taking care of us ruined his want of children.”
I finished brushing my hair and grabbed my keys and phone. “True. I guess I’ll just stab your game system or something instead. Come on.”
He followed me downstairs where I grabbed the list off the fridge and looked into Alex’s office. “Eli and I are going to the store. Do you need anything other than what’s on the list?”
He jumped and looked away from his computer. “I’m good. Drive carefully.”
“I always do.”
“What are you doing?” I asked my little brother as he walked down the aisle of contraceptives. I paused and watched as he grabbed a package of condoms before walking back to me and putting them in the basket. I just stared at the box. “You did not just get condoms with your sister present. What the hell is wrong with you, Eli?”
“They’re just-in-case-condoms. Half are for you, half are for me. I don’t want you pregnant or end up with STDs if you continue trying to find someone.” He tugged on the basket to get me moving again.
“And what about your half? I know you aren’t sleeping around like JT. I will personally beat your ass if you start that shit.” I eyed him as he grabbed soap off the shelf and I marked it off the list.
“I’m not. I told you that they’re just in case. They’re mostly for you anyways.”
I didn’t say anything else as we finished off the list and felt like dying when the cashier looked at us both as she rang up the condoms. As we walked back towards the car, a familiar voice yelled my name and I turned to see Michael jogging towards me. He slowed and eyed Eli who’d started putting the bags in the trunk.
“Is he your brother?”
“Yeah, my little brother actually.” I looked back and smiled as Eli looked up at us.
“How many do you have?”
“Other than the man whore you met at the party, I have one other older brother. He’s more of a guardian to us three though.” I could see the wary expression as he continued to glance at Eli. “Eli won’t hurt you. He’s not as over protective as JT.”
“Good. So, ah, would you like to go out some time?” He raised a hand to the back of his neck, and I smiled at his nervous tick.
“I’d love to, Michael. We’d have to meet somewhere though because I live with my brothers.”
“Right.” He seemed to debate something in his mind. “How about tonight?”
“I can’t tonight; I have plans with them already. But tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow is good, too. Caroline’s at seven?”
My eyes widened at the mention of the town’s nicest sit-down restaurant. “Sounds great. I’ll see you then.”
“Alright, well, I have to go; I’ll see you tomorrow, Holly.” He smiled at me before backing away and turning to go towards the store.
“I’ve met him before,” Eli told me as I turned back to the car and he started pushing the shopping cart to the corral. “That’s Allan’s cousin.”
“Allan—your dorky friend who helped you with that English project last year?”
“Yup. He and Allan never got along because he’d tease Allan for being a virgin.”
We both got in the car and I looked over at him as I started it. “Are you seriously trying to be like JT right now?”
“What? I’m letting you draw your own conclusions. I’m just telling you he’s been around a bit and likes to brag.”
I rolled my eyes and backed out. “He doesn’t seem like the bragging type.”
“I know. I almost didn’t recognize him because of the way he was talking to you actually.”
I sat in silence for a moment. “I’m not going to have sex with him. If there’s anything off about him when we have dinner tomorrow, I’ll not go out with him again.”
“Okay. It’s your choice, sis. Just humor me and take a couple condoms with you tomorrow.”
“Run! It’s a demon duck!” I hurried and jumped up onto the cement picnic table as a tall white goose ran at me, honking and hissing. Eli stepped up beside me and pelted the offending animal with bread. I heard JT and Alex laughing from the blanket we’d laid out a little while away and stuck out my tongue at them.
Alex pushed himself up and came towards us, ignoring the flock surrounding the table as they scattered away from him. “Come on, come eat. JT is getting grumpy from hunger.” He held out a hand to me and I took it, eyeing the demonic animal that was now hissing at the surrounding ducks. Alex helped me off the table, and Eli jumped down as he led me back to the blanket.
“You’re such a little kid,” was the greeting I received from JT. I kicked his leg as he looked up at me from behind aviators before sitting down beside him.
“It’s not my fault you’re getting old and losing your ability to have fun.”
“I don’t think he has a problem with fun, Holly,” Eli put in as he sat on my other side and I nudged him.
“You’re not much of a help, Eli. Cross that—you’re kinda worthless in being on my beylikdüzü escort side. I evict you from my team.” I stuck my tongue out again as JT grinned at me.
Eli shrugged and grabbed a wrapped chicken salad sandwich. “Once I’m off the team, I’m not coming back.”
I watched him take a bite of the sandwich I’d made. “Okay, I take it back. You’re not evicted. I don’t want to be a single-person team.”
“I’ll be on your team, especially if you make dinner more.” JT bit down on his own sandwich and I grabbed one from the stack before they ate all ten that I’d made.
“I don’t want you on my team. You’re even worse than Eli. You’d try to overthrow me as ruler.”
“You could just assimilate into ours and then there’d be no problem.” Alex smiled at me from across the circle we’d made around the picnic basket.
“Psh. I will never give in. As long as I have Eli by my side, I will eventually prevail over you two.”
“I thought you said I was worthless.”
I looked at my little brother and ruffled his hair. “I have to keep you oppressed so you don’t overthrow me.” He caught my wrist and pushed it away.
“It’s a nice day,” Alex said as the only other family who’d been in the park left.
I finished off my sandwich and pushed out my legs behind Eli to lie down, putting my head on JT’s thigh. “We should go camping this summer.”
“You hate the outdoors,” JT said as he grabbed seconds.
“But I’ve always wanted to stay in a tent. I’d rough it a couple days to be able to say I have.”
“When are you wanting to do this?” Alex asked me and I turned my head to face him.
“How about next week?”
He pondered this for a couple seconds. “I have to help with work on Monday, but we could go Tuesday through Friday. Patrick can take care of the minor jobs while we’re gone.”
“I’m excited now.” I closed my eyes and smiled at the sky.
I was happy that JT had left early for the evening and Alex was working when six-thirty rolled around the next day. I was putting the finishing touches on my eye shadow when Eli plopped himself down on my bed.
“So where do they think you are?”
“Not sure. I suppose they’ll think I’m at Amy’s.” I turned around in the mirror, checking myself from all angles in my dress. It was little and black, the loose hem cutting off mid-thigh, and covered every inch of cleavage despite being strapless. It was pretty in a non-slutty way, I thought, and hopefully encouraging to a second date.
“You’re not going to tell them you’re going somewhere?”
I stopped turning to face him and put my hands on my hips. “I’m a big girl; I can take care of myself. Besides, you know where I am. If I don’t come home tonight, I was raped, kidnapped, or murdered. I have no intention on losing it on a first date, so expect me home.”
He considered this and motioned me forward. I stepped up beside him and his hand slid around to my back, my skin tingling as he touched my bare skin at the top. “You had some of your hair stuck in your dress,” he explained and dropped his hand. “You look beautiful. Have fun, Holly.”
I backed up a little as he stood up and dropped a kiss to my forehead. “If you were a girl, you’d look like me. You have to say I’m beautiful.”
He laughed and hugged me. “So I’m conceited, screw me.”
I smiled and pulled away to grab my keys, phone, ID, and check card—everything I need to go anywhere. “Thanks, Eli. I’ll come see you when I get home.”
“Holly,” was what Michael said when I walked into the restaurant. His eyes took every part of me in as he took my hand and kissed it like in silly movies. “You look amazing,” he told me as the hostess led us to a table in the corner.
“You look pretty amazing yourself.” I smiled at him as we sat down and someone came by to take our drink orders. It was easy to make conversation with him about where he was from, the classes we both would be taking, likes and dislikes…
That was, until right after we got our food and he said, “Hey that guy keeps watching at us. Do you know him?”
I glanced where he was looking and was happy I hadn’t turned my head as Alex didn’t seem to have fully decided if it was me or not yet. “Yup. That would be my brother Alex. Let’s not act like we see him.”
“Does he not know you’re out with me?”
I bit my lip and gave him an apologetic smile. “My little brother does. He knows you though, and he doesn’t think you’re an axe murderer.”
“He knows me?”
“Mhm. Eli? He said your cousin and him were friends.”
“Oh.” He studied my face, and I decided Eli was telling the truth and Michael was probably trying to decide what exactly I knew.
“Don’t worry. I draw my own conclusions.”
He seemed eased by that and when we finished eating and paid, he asked if I’d like to go and take a walk along the beach. As we stood to go, I saw Alex watching us again and made the mistake of looking over. Right as we walked out the door he stood up and an “excuse me” was mouthed.
“Michael, I’ll get my car later.” I opened the passenger door of the car he’d unlocked and got in as he nodded. Just as we were backing out I saw Alex walk out the door. He had a tie on, meaning it was a business deal, and he looked determined. Too bad he wouldn’t see me until later.
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