That Thing Between Eli and Gwen(4)

By: J. J. McAvoy

“When things like this happen, you need family, Gwen. It’s the only way to get over this. Besides, New York has nothing on Cypress.”

Exhaling deeply, I grabbed another empty box as I headed into the bathroom. “How about I promise to come visit in a few weeks, okay? I still have a lot of work to do in the city. Plus, you know I can’t come back home now. People will be staring and judging…”

“Since when has my Gwen ever cared about what others thought of her?” He chuckled into the phone.

Since I was publicly humiliated. “You're right. Screw them all, and tell Mom I want the biggest welcome home party in the state.”

“Thatta girl. Chin up.”

“Head high. Bye Daddy, love you.”

“Love you, too,” he replied, hanging up.

Sighing, I threw the box on the ground and Taigi, forgetting he wasn’t a puppy any more, tried to use it as a bed but broke through it. Dismayed, he walked away from it and curled up into a ball of white and black fur in the corner. I was about to curl up into a ball next to him when I heard the doorbell ring.

Taigi’s head shot up, but he stayed in his corner.

“Don’t get up, I'll get it,” I said to him when the bell rang again.

“Coming!” I groaned, moving through the maze I had created. I checked to see who it was before opening the door. “Logan?”

Logan Davenport, one of Bash’s closest friends, stood at the door with two cups of coffee on a tray in one hand and a bag of groceries in the other. Since the incident, he had taken it upon himself to check up on me every few days.

“You've gotten skinnier.” He frowned.

I looked down at my yoga pants and oversized shirt. “Yay?”

“Not yay,” he snapped, entering the apartment. “You need to eat, Gwen.”

“Logan, I told you, you don’t need to do all of this for me.” I followed him into the kitchen, where he unpacked some of my pots and pans. “Hey!”

“I’ll put them back when I'm done.” He flashed me a smile before looking for more utensils.

“Seriously, Logan—”

“Gwen, please let me do this,” he muttered over the stove. “You have no idea how guilty I feel. My best friend ran away with my brother’s girl while leaving his fiancée alone to pick up the pieces. I introduced them to each other, Gwen. I feel guilty toward you, too. So please, let me do this much… I know we aren’t that close, but still.”

I stared at him for a moment. It was true, I really didn’t know Logan. He and Bash were fraternity brothers. He came over for game nights and dinners we threw, but other than that, Logan and I had never been close. Logan had only just turned twenty-two, five years younger than Bash and two years younger than me; maybe that’s why I always saw him as Bash’s little brother…and in a way, my younger brother, as well. He and Bash even looked alike. They both had hazel eyes and brown hair, though Bash’s was sandier in color. Seeing Logan so serious now was odd.

“Can you even cook?” I grinned, looking through the bag he'd brought.

“Can I cook?” He mocked me as if he was horrified I'd asked the question. “I will have you know I make the best damn omelets in all of New York.”

“All of New York?” I crossed my arms.

“You heard me.” He winked. “Now, where is the rest of your stuff?”

“It’s in those boxes.” I pointed to the ones labeled 'KITCHEN' behind him. “Oh how is your music coming along? You’re pretty popular, right?”

“Define popular. Besides, I need to focus on school… Jeez, all of these are yours? Did Bash buy anything when you guys lived together?” he muttered, already opening the box. I was not blind to how he tried to change the subject, but I let it go.

“Not really. You know he basically lived at the office…or at least I thought he did. I’m not sure anymore what he did with his time…” My voice drifted off, causing him to pause and look at me. Raising my hands, I shook my head, as if that would stop him from pitying me. “How is your brother?” I tried to change the subject.

“Just like you.”