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Jamie’s snoring was no softer after a few hours of sleep, and it seemed unlikely it would stop soon. It hadn’t kept me from getting to sleep, or staying that way, but it became a problem after I woke up.
I’d gotten out of bed to go to the bathroom as the sun started peeking around the edges of the curtains, and I usually would have fallen back into a light doze after that, since it wasn’t a school day. But, loud as Jamie was being, it seemed like that wasn’t an option. I was aimlessly browsing the internet on my phone, when a message from Ellie came through.
[So what are you doing today?]
______________[Dealing with a refugee crisis.]
______________[Jamie crashed here last night.]
______________[Megan broke up with him.]
[Absolutely shocking! :|]
[Let’s do something with him today]
[Can we hang around your pool?]
[Go wake him up!]
I looked across at the couch, and the lump under the covers that was Jamie. He was just lying there – in his underwear, probably nursing a hangover. That was going to be a weird interaction that I had no desire to start. I didn’t really have a script for that sort of thing.
______________[I would, but I don’t want to.]
[Fine, I’ll do it]
Jamie’s phone began to buzz, and he groaned. His hand reached out to grab it and answer. His voice came out in an annoyed, groggy croak. “What?”
He looked over at me, and I lazily waved, propping myself up on my elbow. I could hear hints of what must have been a very energetic monologue from Ellie, and Jamie didn’t offer many responses, just rubbing his eyes and wincing occasionally.
“I was just going to go home… No… Well, okay, if Jay’s fine with it.”
“I am.” It was getting quite late in the morning already, and I’d already been lying there for a while, unsure what to do about him. At least Ellie being there would break up the day nicely, and make things feel less awkward. And the weather was ideal for swimming – probably one of the last warm days we’d have for a while, once winter started setting in.
“Okay, fine.” He put down the phone, and looked over at me, narrowing his eyes. “Traitor.”
“Sorry.” I grinned, and pushed myself out of bed. “She was insistent.”
“Yeah, that’s Ellie.” He sighed. “My clothes are pretty gross, aren’t they?”
“Yep. I actually had some thoughts about that.” I went over to my closet and grabbed some old swimming trunks, tossing them to him.
“Do I get a shirt?”
“Maybe later. Might be better to deal with your old clothes first.” It only occurred to me after I’d said it that I probably should have just given him one. I was over my crush, but Jamie looked good shirtless – maybe a bit too good. But if we were going to be swimming anyway, it occurred to me that I might as well desensitise myself to his amazing body early in the day.
I went to my kitchen counter and started making a tea for myself while he wriggled under the covers and eventually emerged wearing the swimming trunks. When he walked up to me, I tried not to stare too much at his chest – to stop my eyes from drifting down his toned pecs and onwards to his perfectly flat stomach, with the lightest dusting of hair. I was only mildly successful.
“I don’t have coffee. But I can offer you tea or hot chocolate, if you want.”
“Nah, I’m good. Can I have more water?” He yawned and stretched, causing the lithe muscles of his arms to flex in the most annoyingly pleasing way.
I cleared my throat. “Yeah, sure. Just any of the bottles in the fridge is fine.”
“Thanks.” He leaned down and opened the fridge, and I caught myself watching the play of the muscles of his back as he reached in and out.
Feeling suddenly annoyed at myself, I deliberately focused my attention back on making the tea. It was kind of sleazy to be checking Jamie out like this anyway, but more than that, I was just getting tired of cute guys with great bodies turning my brain into sap. I fished the teabag out of my cup, threw it away, and added the milk. Then I left the tea on the counter.
“Come on,” I said curtly, heading over to the glass door and opening it.
He took a gulp of water, and set the bottle down on the table before walking over to join me. “Whatsup?”
“Grab that.” I indicated the plastic bag that contained his puke-spattered shoes and clothes.
He delicately lifted the bundle up. “Fucking gross.”
“Yep. Follow me.” I stepped back inside, and led him through the door that led into the main house, which went via the laundry room at the back of the garage. I grabbed the detergent and fabric softener from the cabinet where we kept them, and put the appropriate amount in the machine, turning the dial to the right setting.
“Okay, I’m going to leave the room while you do that. Because that seems like a you-problem.” I gestured at his clothes. “Put those in there, and push that start button.”
“Then just bring the shoes outside, and we’ll hose them down.”
I istanbul travesti cleared some space around the storm-drain outside, and set the hose up. Jamie came out a few minutes later and tumbled the shoes out onto the ground. While he bunched up the bag and went to throw it away, I blasted them with high water pressure, trying to get them from every angle. When he got back, I paused, and let him inspect them.
“Okay, we’re good.” He nodded.
I let him figure out where to hang them, and quickly went to unlock the gate for when Ellie showed up. Then I made my way back into my room, grabbed some swimming shorts, and went into my bathroom to change. I washed my face and put on some deodorant, but resisted the urge to fiddle with my hair.
By the time I’d grabbed my tea and made my way outside again, Ellie was there, sitting at the metal table with Jamie. She was dressed in a long, flowy sarong and had a large floppy hat with a dark pair of sunglasses. It looked like a thoroughly planned outfit, to be honest – it made me fairly sure that her holiday itinerary had always involved lounging around my pool.
“Morning Jay.” She beamed cheerfully as I sat down with them. “I’m just hearing about Jamie’s glamorous and oh-so-surprising evening.”
“Morning.” I grinned. Jamie already looked exhausted.
She turned her attention back to him. “Are you going to try to patch things up with her?”
“Hah, no.” Jamie glanced over at me. “That’s probably not an option now.”
“Just a feeling I got.”
“Okay,” Ellie shrugged. “Should we go swimming?”
“That’s it?” Jamie asked. “You’re not going to give me a hard time about it?”
“Jamie.” She sighed. “If I picked apart all your poor life choices, we’d be graduating already. From university.”
“Yeah, well…. I’m getting in the pool.” She reached into a large satchel that was hanging off her chair and pulled something out. “Here’s sunblock if you guys need it.”
Ellie stripped down to her bikini, carefully folding the sarong and placing it and the sunglasses back in her bag, and setting the hat down delicately on the table. Jamie and I both took a bit of sunblock and covered our shoulders and faces, while Ellie made her way into the water.
“It’s so cold!” she shouted.
“Yeah, it’s not really summer any more.” I stepped up to the edge. “It was chilly out here last night. But it’ll warm up.”
I braced myself and waded in, flinching as the cold reached ever higher on my legs. Once the waterline got to my thighs, I took a deep breath and plunged forward, earning an undignified squeak from Ellie as a few droplets of water flew in her direction. She didn’t really have time to direct her anger at me, because a few seconds later Jamie took a running jump and dived in with a huge splash.
“I really had something more relaxing in mind.” She glared at Jamie darkly when he resurfaced, brushing back a strand of her now-damp hair.
“Well then you shouldn’t hang out with guys.” He grinned.
“If only I had other options.” She turned around slowly in the water to face him. “So, tell me what happened with Megan.”
“I thought that was too good to be true. Here comes the grilling.”
“I’m not grilling you. I just want to know.” Ellie shrugged. “Caitlyn was there. I suppose I could just ask her for her version, if you don’t want to tell me. That’s always fun.”
“Fine!” He splashed a bit of water in her direction, but she laughed and dodged back just in time. He slowly started walking her through his night, and ended up giving her a slightly more coherent and detailed summary of the evening than the one he’d given me earlier. I suppose it helped that he was sober now.
For her part, Ellie didn’t get judgemental or sarcastic – she just let him finish, with a contemplative look on her face. “At least you didn’t get punched in the face.”
“I know, right?” Jamie said with a broad smile. “I have a nice face.”
Ellie rolled her eyes, and turned to me. “Should we eat? It’s nearly lunchtime.”
“We could order a pizza.”
“You’re always ordering pizzas. I’m so tired of pizza.” She sighed.
“There’s a grill out here.” Jamie shrugged. “We could do hamburgers or kebabs or something.”
“That seems fun,” Ellie said. “Jay?”
“Yeah, I guess. We’ll need to go grocery shopping though.”
“Okay, let’s do it!” Ellie said excitedly. “I’m going to get out. Jamie, look away.”
“If you must know, my nipples are probably on full display, and I don’t want you staring at them.”
“Oh,” Jamie quickly turned around. “But why didn’t you want Jay to turn around too?”
Ellie and I laughed.
“What?” He asked.
“Nothing.” I grinned, and swam over to Jamie, turning to face away from Ellie with him.
She grabbed her bag off the chair and went into the bathroom to change, while Jamie and I finished drying off. I grabbed a shirt from my closet for him to wear to the shops, and tossed it at him. While we were waiting for Ellie, istanbul travestileri he and I went through to the laundry room to grab his wet clothes out of the washing machine and toss them into the dryer. I paused, once they were in. “Do you think these are safe to machine dry?”
“How the hell should I know?”
“Well, I guess we’ll see.” I pressed the button and the machine rumbled to life.
Jamie and Ellie made their way towards my car, and I grabbed my phone on my way out. I saw that I had a message from Louis, so I quickly typed out my response while I closed doors behind me and headed out to the street.
[Hey. What are you doing today?]
______________[Hanging out with Jamie and Ellie.]
______________[Why? Did you want to do something.]
[Ah, no. Was just checking.]
[Have a great day!]
______________[Thanks. You too. :)]
Ellie was leaning casually against the passenger side door when I got there. I grinned, and handed my keys to Jamie, hopping in the back. It was kind of nice being driven to places again, and it’s not like I wanted to control the music anyway. I was happy to sit in the back, as if I had a chauffeur. Jamie was also a good driver, and I was perfectly comfortable letting him drive my car. And we were about the same height, so he never adjusted my seat or mirrors.
We parked and made our way into the shops, which was a calm and lazy activity. Or at least it had been, until Ellie – a few steps ahead of us – went around the corner into the next aisle, immediately stopped, and walked back towards us, a horrified look on her face.
“Oh shit!” she hissed, grabbing our arms to stop us, her eyes wide.
“What?” I asked.
“That Gary?” I manoeuvred myself to the end of the aisle, so that I could casually glance discreetly through the gaps in the shelves.
“Yeah.” Ellie bit her lip.
I peeked through the gap, and saw the guy she was talking about. Dark hair, great body, dressed like a skater, in baggy shorts and a loose tank top. Kind of cute, but I couldn’t say that in front of Jamie. Go Ellie, though.
“Go talk to him,” Jamie said.
“Don’t be insane.” Ellie looked into the silvery, reflective side of a box of coffee capsules. “I’m not even wearing makeup. And I have pool-hair.”
“Pool hair?” I asked.
“It’s a thing.”
“You look fine.” Jamie said.
“Fine?” She raised an eyebrow.
I turned to face her. “You look great. Summery. Casual.”
“Yes. Go talk to him.”
“Okay.” She quickly adjusted her hair and examined her face in her improvised coffee-box mirror. “Okay. You guys go to the meat aisle, and I’ll come find you.”
“Why?” Jamie asked.
“Just go.” She hissed. “I’m not walking up to Gary with two random guys in my wake.”
“Wow. Your friendship means a lot to me too.” I said, and Jamie snickered.
“You know what I mean.” She took a deep breath, and then adopted a very casual pose – much more calm and collected than she’d been a second ago – before striding away from us around the corner. I looked through the gap again, and saw her approach the guy and start talking.
“Come on.” I chuckled, heading back down the aisle we’d just come from.
“Cool.” Jamie shrugged. “Wait, I want to grab an energy drink. I’ll meet you there in a sec.”
He handed me the basket, and I slowly made my way to the meat aisle. I had another vaguely nostalgic moment, like the one I’d had the night before, remembering how the two of them had dragged me to Caitlyn’s party and then ditched me within a half-hour. This, at least, was a much better place to be on my own.
I turned the corner into the meat aisle – it was a Monday morning, so the shop was relatively quiet. There was only one other person there – a girl, with curly blonde hair. As I approached, she looked up at me, and I felt a shock run through me as I recognised her face. It was Jessica.
If I thought I’d been surprised, it probably paled in comparison to her reaction. Her eyes went wide, and her face drained of colour. She didn’t say anything to me – we were still too far apart – but she turned away from me and in a few seconds, she’d paced down to the other side of the aisle and disappeared around the corner.
I froze, wondering if I’d done anything weird as I saw her. That reaction seemed a bit extreme, given that she and I hadn’t even really talked since the whole thing with her kissing Eric happened. I certainly didn’t feel like I had said anything bad enough to make her outright flee from me in public.
I heard footsteps behind me, and turned to see Jamie, energy drink in-hand.
He nodded to me as he approached. “So what’s up with you and Ellie lately?”
“What do you mean?” I frowned, my mind still mostly on Jess’s weird reaction to seeing me.
“I don’t know. You’re both acting different. Are you guys like dating or something?”
I tilted my head. “You think that we’re dating, and I’m sending her off to flirt with other travesti istanbul guys?”
“Oh, shit. Right. My bad.” He laughed. “Maybe you guys are poly or something. I don’t know.”
I smiled and shook my head. “We’re not dating. Why would you think that?”
“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “The nipple thing, earlier. She’s also been talking about you a lot lately.”
“Really? What has she said?”
“Uh, just stuff like ‘I’m looking after Jay’ or telling me to ‘Be nice to Jay’.”
I groaned. “Ugh, that’s so fucking patronising.”
“Yep. That’s Ellie.” He smiled. “So, something up with you?”
“No,” I said automatically, then corrected myself, remembering that I had already told him the day before that something was going on with me. “Well, yes, but it’s nothing serious. I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“Ah, okay.” He went quiet, and we began to walk along the fridges in silence, trying to settle on what we’d be getting for today’s lunch. Neither of us made any suggestions to the other.
It wasn’t long before Ellie came around the corner, her footfalls a lot heavier than usual, her brow slightly furrowed. “You guys still haven’t decided on anything?”
“Nope. How’d it go?” Jamie asked.
“Fine. None of your business.” She glanced at me, and then back to Jamie. “We need a basting sauce. Please go and get one. Just barbecue flavour is fine.”
“Now, Jamie.” She gave him a pointed stare.
“Jesus, fine.” He set off.
When he’d gotten around the corner, Ellie turned to me. “He’s here with Jess.”
“Yes!” She stomped her foot. “What the hell? Does she plan to go through every guy someone else is interested in, until everyone hates her?”
“Well, calm down. Did they look like they were dating?”
She sighed. “I don’t know… Not really. But she looked odd. Like she’d seen a ghost.”
“We ran into each other a few minutes ago.”
“Oh my. What’d you say to her?”
“Nothing.” I shrugged. “She just saw me and basically ran.”
“Ugh. Well, whatever. I’m so tired of her. Come on – let’s choose some meat and get the hell out of here.” Ellie wasn’t the kind of person who dithered over choices, so picking up the rest of our list wasn’t hard.
She seemed to be in a bad mood, and that really improved the efficiency of her decision-making. Jamie rejoined us, and soon we’d gotten everything we needed, checked out and climbed back into the car to head home. The trip was fairly quiet without Ellie’s chatter.
Once I’d dragged out the bag of charcoal and some firelighters, and set all the meat out on a dish, Jamie happily took over, setting up and lighting the fire. The three of us sat with our feet in the pool, watching it catch. When it looked ready, Jamie got up to start cooking. I was a little annoyed – every guy thinks he’s the only one who knows how to grill. But I didn’t say anything, because I was more grateful than irritated – it wasn’t like I wanted to do any of the work.
Ellie and I continued to sit around and lazily chat. At one point, she was contemplating Jamie’s back as he worked the grill. “I’m kind of into it when he takes charge.”
“Really? I kind of prefer it when he goes with the flow.” I settled back, grinning across at her. “So Jamie’s in, Gary’s out?”
“Yeah, I’m not getting involved with the constantly evolving disaster that is Jamie, thanks. I love him as a friend, but that boy has no idea what he wants,” she said in a low voice. Then she groaned in frustration. “But I’m not even sure about Gary now. What the hell was he doing there with Jess, anyway?”
“Sorry. I know it sucks to mention her, after all that stuff with-“
“I’m seriously fine.”
“Right.” She sighed. “I just… What happened with Eric was shitty. Shitty of him, of course, and I know Gary isn’t necessarily Eric, but now we sort of know she’s the kind of girl who’d kiss someone else’s boyfriend without a second thought. And that makes me worry, you know?”
The topic wasn’t making me feel great. I nodded glumly. “I do.”
“Sorry.” She flinched, seeing my expression. “I shouldn’t really be bringing up Eric and Jess right now. I won’t say one more word about them.” She looked up, and I followed her gaze to see Jamie was moving towards us.
“One more word about who?”
“None of your business.” Ellie smiled pleasantly.
“Fine.” Jamie scratched the back of his neck, and gestured over at the grill with the pair of tongs he was holding. “Anyway, food’s ready.”
“Great.” I got up, and held out my hand to help Ellie.
We’d gone a bit overboard while shopping, so there was a lot more food than we needed for just the three of us. Jenny – my younger stepsister – was also home for the school holidays, so I went inside to tell her she could join us, and she shyly came out, grabbed a few things and went back inside.
My mom arrived a bit later as well, having picked up the twins from daycare. They enthusiastically ate and then rushed off to go get changed to swim – they weren’t going to let us have all the fun. After the arduous process of squeezing the wriggling toddlers into their swimming costumes, dousing them in sunscreen and putting flotation armbands on them, my mom gratefully left us to babysit and retreated to her room.
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