just want to say thanks for all the positive feeback and hey Rebel, give me a shout girl!
Chapter 13 ~ Have Your Self A Merry Little Christmas
Brightly coloured paper litters the room and squeals of delight fill the air but I can’t join in. I can hardly smile. Even when their mother (oh god, their mother) hands me a big package with a coffee table book of photographs of Canada in it, I can barely force myself to say thank you.
My hands are sweating, my pulse is racing and every time I look up Jordan is shooting me a look that would make Medusa wither and die. Worse than that, Marc keeps trying to hold my hand, especially when one of his brothers is opening one of “our” presents; simple things like video games, cds, t-shirts with rude sayings on them and watches. Stuff you’d buy people if you weren’t millionaires. I don’t know what I expected, cars or condos or something. It’s so normal that somehow it makes what’s happening even worse.
I’d convinced myself that if they were giving out diamond encrusted cell phones and yachts that maybe a little sex between brothers might not be a big thing, but seeing everyone in their festive Christmas themed sweaters and funky socks and reindeer slippers makes me feel even worse. I think I’d be happier right now if a firing squad marched out from behind the Christmas tree and put me out of misery.
I keep telling myself that I’m only making things worse for myself by waiting but I can’t quite make myself pull Marc away from his family. I keep telling myself that it’s the least I can do to let him at least have this moment before I ruin his day.
What do I tell him?
I look over at Jordan and he gives me that scary look again, the look that says I have about thirty seconds before he turns me into a pile of steaming ashes. I’d asked him, before I pushed him physically from Marc’s room. His answer was ‘just tell him the truth’.
That’s easy for him to say.
Which is why I can’t even watch him open his presents; I can’t make myself smile at him, can’t pretend to be having a good time. I can’t and then tell him I’ve fucked his brother. I just need to wait until everyone’s heading for the breakfast table and then pull him aside.
I keep going over what Jordan said to me. Marc’s going to propose. Marc has a ring and he’s going to propose.
Fuck. What have I done?
It’s not like I would have said yes anyway. Or would I have?
My head is pounding and it feels like the only thing I can hear is my own heartbeat, loud and erratic in my ears. I feel like I’m about to have a full blown panic attack and one thought keeps repeating in my brain, louder and louder and more and more insistent. Run. For god’s sake, run.
I can feel the tension in Tippi’s every muscle as she sits, very still, beside me and I can’t help but think that she’s disappointed. First, in me, for not sneaking down to see her last night and secondly for having to watch us all ripping into our mountain of presents. I wish I’d had time to explain to her how tired I was last night, and that I had to do some catching up with Jared and the next thing I knew it was morning and Jared was bouncing on his bed like he’d reverted to his six year old self and couldn’t wait to get at the presents under the tree.
But I’m going to make all of that up to her. I’m just waiting until everyone runs out of steam, until the shredding and tearing slows down and everyone sits back to catch their breath. That’s when I’m going to do it, pop the question. I can’t wait to see the look of surprise on her face, because I know she won’t be expecting it this soon, and besides, she probably thinks I wouldn’t do something like this in front of everyone.
She’d be just about right, because I’m definitely not the kind of guy who’d do something like this on the kiss cam at MSG. God no! I’d thought about waiting for New Years, do it in one of those buggies in Central Park like when we were dating….
When we were dating…I’m already doing it I realize with a grin. I’m already putting our dating lives into the past and looking forward to our future. Me and the Mrs., bringing the kids to Christmas here in a couple years, watching them shred wrapping paper under the Christmas tree with my parents looking on, the doting grandparents.
Yeah, that sounds just about right.
Feeling for the ring in my pocket, I look over at Eric who winks back at me and gives Tanya’s hand a squeeze. I think Tanya’s excited to have a sister-in-law so that she’s not the only one getting shredded on the boards on the net. We’d all sort of hoped for Heather but….
I glance over at Jordan to find him staring down at the unopened package in front of him, only to realize that it’s our present to him. Mine and Tippi’s. We bought him that new iPod doc because Talbot apparently broke Jordan’s at a party.
“Open it bro. It won’t bite. Tippi does, but I don’t think her presents do,” I add, nudging Tip who looks back at me alarmed, like maybe I just woke her up or something.
“Marc!” she hisses at me, glancing first at Jordan and then at my parents, expecting them to be shocked no doubt. Obviously she doesn’t know much about the parents of boys.
“Look at us,” my mother says, reaching forward to grab a handful of shredded paper from the floor and heading towards the fireplace, carefully peeling of a missed bow and pressing it tape first to Jordan’s forehead. “We’ve been having an orgy of greed and you’ve only had one present,” she says, turning to Tippi with a motherly smile. “There must be something else under the tree, maybe….”
“That’s alright mom, I’ve got this,” I grin, turning to Tippi and sliding off the couch, coming to rest one knee on the floor while I dig the ring out of my pocket. Her eyes go impossibly wide as she looks down at me and the hand that I’m holding quakes uncontrollably. I’d half expected a ‘what are you doing?’ or even for Tippi to run screaming from the room, but she does neither. She just sits there, staring at me, but her dark eyes fill with silvery tears.
Tippi looks up at me over Marc’s red hair, tears spilling onto her pale cheeks, and I can see the plea in her gaze. It says, ‘don’t make me do this’. I don’t want to hurt my brother, but I can’t have any sympathy now. If she cared for him like she claims to do, she would have spared him this moment. She would have told him already. No matter how imploring her gaze is, all I can do is shake my head and remind her silently to keep with the agreement and tell him.
I don’t even hear Marc say the words but I know he must have asked the question because the only sound I hear in the room is the soft sound of Tippi crying. It sets my teeth on edge. Glancing around, everyone’s eyes are on her and Marc, looking expectant and happy.
This is going to get fucking ugly and I’m starting to have second thoughts about forcing her to tell him. She’d begged and pleaded with me to let her tell him when they got back to New York but I’d said no. Okay, so my pride was hurt right at that moment. What I’d expected was for her to realize it was me she wanted and go running off to tell Marc it was over. What I didn’t expect was for her to still have feelings for him.
I don’t like coming second. Maybe it’s a brother thing or a hockey thing. Either way, I didn’t want to him to be all happy and kissy and lovey-dovey in front of me, not even for a day. The thought of it made me sick, still does make me sick, but now…well seeing everyone else looking all happy for him…well I’d change it if I could but she doesn’t look back up at me. She’s looking down into his eyes and the tears are just running down her face and her bottom lip, the one that I kept wanting to bite last night, that even now I want to tug between my teeth, is trembling with emotion.
I guess there’s one thing I can do for her now, one thing that might…might make things not as bad, at least for her.
“She’s mine,” I say quietly, my voice breaking like I’m some kind of thirteen year old pubescent teenager but I know everyone hears me. I hear Tanya gasp. I hear my father whisper something like ‘what’s going on’ to mom and I know everyone’s looking at me, but I’m not talking to everyone. I’m talking to Marc. Or I’m talking to the back of his head, until he slowly turns around, the big chunk of diamond still in his hand, his face white as a ghost.
“What?” he asks, very calmly, but my brother’s smarter than that. Marc’s the brains of the operation, followed by Eric, so I know he’s already putting the pieces together.
“The mystery girl, my mystery girl from Vegas, it’s Tippi,” I begin, watching as he clenches his jaw, as his eyes grow cold and his hands curl into fists. The diamond must be digging into his hand, but if it is, he’s not showing any signs of pain, just pure, white, rage.
“No, she’s not,” he says calmly, too calmly. Marc is also the most controlled of us all, the most collected, but I can see that carefully held together control begin to unravel around the edges as he stares at me.
“She is and she knows it and…and…,” my courage begins to fail me as he stands up so that he’s looking down at me. It seemed so cool in my head when I thought of it before, how I was going to tell him that I was bangin’ his chick, but now…now it just seems…well, mean.
“And what Jordan?” my mom asks quietly in that voice that I figure only the mother of boys can use, the one that says she doesn’t have to wait for dad to get home to use his belt on your ass.
“And we slept together last night,” Tippi replies quietly, astonishing everyone in the room, including me.
Everyone turns to look at me, including Marc, and right now, that’s the only face I need to look at. They’re all hating me right now. Every one of them, and how can I blame them? I’m the fucking tramp that’s just broken Marc’s heart. I can see it written all over his handsome features. He’s hurt and angry, and so pissed off that he’s got these red dots on his cheeks and his ears are turning a bright tomato red.
And this is where we came in, me sitting between two brothers, both with the same piercing blue eyes, the same strong jaw, the same wide sensuous mouth, and I keep thinking, how did I get here? How could I have been this stupid?
“I’m sorry Marc…you don’t even know how bad I feel right now,” I begin but he closes his blue eyes, like he can’t bear to look at me, and I understand. I feel disgusting.
“You fucked my brother?” He enunciates every word slowly, deliberately, like it’s hard for him to even say it out loud. It’s pretty hard to hear too. I nod, but I know he can’t see it and it’s not really the same as saying it out loud either.
“Yeah, sorry,” I mutter, feeling stupid when I say it. As if sorry is going to fix this. As if sorry is enough to make things better.
“You fucked my girlfriend?” he asks, as if for confirmation, turning back to his brother and this time he manages to say it quickly, like ripping off a band aid. Jordan shrugs in reply and I can tell he’s feeling just about as awkward as I am about all of this. I can barely stand to look at him but I’m feeling quite certain that whatever I see in his face, it’s nothing like the looks I must be getting from around the room.
“You don’t understand,” Jordan says finally when Marc takes a step towards him, fists clenched at his sides. “I told you…I told you how I felt about her.”
“Not about her,” Marc snaps, pointing at me, and for some reason that makes me flinch and wish for a hole to open up in the couch and suck me in.
“You’re not in my shoes man. I’m crazy about her. I told you,” Jordan continues, squaring his shoulders and standing up to meet his brother’s gaze face to face. Even when Marc takes another step towards him, Jordan doesn’t back down. “It’s not like we wanted to hurt you or anything but it’s the same for her,” Jordan continues, gesturing vaguely towards me. “She wanted it. She came looking for it.”
“What?” I snap, jumping to my feet, indignant. “I wasn’t the one in the kitchen feeling myself up after dinner,” I remind Jordan in what I hope is a threatening tone.
“I don’t remember you telling me no,” he replies quietly, glancing over at me with this odd mixture of passion and anger in his eyes. “Or last night. It was pretty much more Jordan, harder Jordan, if I remember correctly.”
Jordan barely gets the words out of his mouth when Marc tackles him, grabbing him around the middle like a linebacker and taking him down onto the ground where he starts to pummel him like a UFC fighter. I hear screams and shouts but my attention is focused on the two men wrestling for domination at my feet, brightly coloured wrapping paper flying in every direction, crumpling beneath them and winding itself around them until they look like some kind of odd present, right down to ribbons and bows stuck in their hair.
I can’t even make myself tell them to stop. I just think if I was Marc, of course I’d want to beat Jordan up and part of me is sickly gratified that Jordan is even willing to fight over this. I also can’t look away, like I have to watch this, like this is some kind of penance. But it won’t be enough. I can’t imagine what will ever be enough.
It doesn’t even seem real. Not until Eric is pulling me back and Jared is trying to pry them apart. It’s only seeing the blood smeared on their faces that makes it really sink in; brothers, shedding each other’s blood, over me.
I must be the worst person in the entire world.
“I think I’d better take you to the airport,” Eric says calmly, quietly, leading me away from the combatants. Whether I nodded or not, I don’t know. All I do know is that Tanya is packing my things into my suitcase, and when I reach out to grab something to fold it nicer, she glares at me and pulls it out of my hand so I end up watching her shove my clothes in haphazardly until she can barely close my case. And then Eric walks me out the door to the car and helps me in, without a word.
The last thing I see is Jordan standing in the window, a towel held to his nose, watching us pull out of the driveway.