My eyes nearly bled as I entered the living room to the sight of Cedric’s bare ass…while he was mounting my sister on the couch.
I covered my face. “Aw, man, what the—”
“Jake?” I heard my sister’s voice but refused to open my eyes.
“What the f**k are you doing here on a weekday in the middle of the night?” Cedric growled.
“Haven’t you guys heard of a bedroom?” I said with my eyes still shut.
Cedric chimed in. “Haven’t you heard of a f**king knock?”
When I opened my eyes and got a look at my sister, I couldn’t help but laugh. She was wearing red thigh high boots and was dressed as…oh, Christ. “Seriously? What the hell are you wearing? Are you supposed to be f**king Wonder Woman?”
Allison blushed and covered her face. “Shut up. He likes it. Sometimes I wear it.”
“Gross. That’s my sister, dude. You are one sick fuck.” I glared at Cedric.
He sneered as he finished putting on his sweatpants. “That’ll teach you to barge into our house in the middle of the night.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna f**king need therapy,” I said, causing Allison to laugh.
Then, her tone turned serious. “Jake…what happened? Why are you here? Is everything okay?”
I let out a deep breath. “I flew home this afternoon. It’s Ivy. She’s okay, but she’s in the hospital again. They found her na**d on the roof of the group home. She claims she was trying to get air. They thought she was trying to jump. Who knows what really happened. It’s a f**king mess. The doctor wants me to try this medication that might have some serious side effects. She’s fine, for now, though…stable. She’ll be in the hospital for a few days, same as always when this happens. I’m wiped.”
It was sad that neither of them seemed shocked. But the truth was, you became immune to it after years of the same pattern with Ivy.
I was about to go up the stairs to the guest room when my sister came up from behind me and pulled me into a hug. “I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. You’re a friggin’ saint, you know that? I love you.”
“I love you, too. Good night.”
“Good night, Jake,” Cedric said as I was halfway up the stairs.
When I entered the dark room, I pulled off my shoes, undressed and collapsed onto the bed. As tired as I was, I couldn’t sleep, tossing and turning, worried about the medication decision I had to make. So, I decided to take a shower in the guest bathroom.
It was the first time since the plane ride that I allowed my mind to escape back into thoughts of Nina. I would have given anything to have her there with me under the water. With my eyes closed, I ached to be inside of her again. It had been only twenty-four hours, but it felt like an eternity ago.
Sex with her had been incredible, better than I had imagined it…the best I ever had. She was so eager, so wet, and it turned me on to no end, knowing I was the first guy to ever make her come like that. We did it as many times and in different ways as we could until the strip of condoms was gone. Then, we got creative and used our mouths and didn’t stop for hours. It was the most sex I had ever had in one sitting in my entire life, and it still wasn’t enough. I guess that’s what months of mind numbing sexual frustration will do to you.
I licked my lips remembering how sweet she tasted and squeezed some shampoo out of the bottle to jerk myself off. I pretended I was pumping into her and came within seconds as I thought about how she looked at me with those beautiful innocent blue eyes when she cl**axed. Her blonde hair was spread out all over the pillow like spun gold.
Back in bed, I prayed that I would get to experience all of that again with her and that she would just let me love her, despite all of my baggage. Something told me I would need those prayers because I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be that simple.
The next morning, I woke up to find one niece on each side of me pulling me out of bed. They begged me to take them to school, which turned out to be a welcome distraction. I decided to go back to the house afterward for some breakfast before returning to the hospital for the rest of the day.
Allison didn’t have to work until noon, and Cedric decided to go into work late, so they were both having breakfast together in their massive kitchen when I walked in. I had a feeling they were waiting to grill me about stuff. I had confided in them about my obsession with Nina over Christmas. Even though I had been struggling with guilt, they both had encouraged me to pursue her.
“Hey,” I said as I walked in.
“Hey, little brother,” Allison said smiling.
I grabbed some cereal and sat down at the table, noticing they were both staring at me.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
Allison laughed. “I should be asking you that. By the look on your face, something is going on.”
“What are you getting at?”
I knew what she was getting at.
“She wants to know what happened with blondie, but she’s waiting for you to tell her because she doesn’t want to seem like the nosy sister that she is,” Cedric said, giving Allison a peck on the cheek after she nudged him.
My mouth was full of cereal. “Ah, I see. You really want to know what happened?”
She leaned in. “Yes.”
Suddenly, the tone of the conversation changed from jovial to serious. I sighed, pushed my bowl away and answered her. “Everything f**king happened, almost at once, and I might be about to lose it all just as fast.”
I nodded. “Yes, multiple times. And I told her I loved her. I am…in love with her.”
Cedric eyes widened. “Whoa. That serious, huh?”
“I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life. The problem is, I haven’t had a chance to tell her about Ivy. I had planned to tell her everything last night but had to fly here instead. She knows nothing, and I think I might be fooling myself into thinking that she’s going to accept it all.”
He shook his head. “You’d be surprised what people can accept when they love each other. If she truly cares about you, she’ll find a way. Look at your sister and me…all that I had kept from her when we first started dating. But we got through it because we were meant to be.”
Allison reached out for my arm. “I want you to be happy, and this girl clearly makes you happy. I had never seen you with the look in your eyes that you had over Christmas when you first told me about her. You have suffered alone for five years with Ivy. You have your whole life ahead of you. You are the most loyal person I know. That is what I love about you…how you are with Hannah and Holly and how you’re always there for me. You love hard, but in this case, that’s also been a curse. No one your age should be expected to live like you have been, Jake…no one. You deserve to have the kind of love that fulfills you, like I have with Cedric and not feel guilty or like you don’t deserve that because of the hand you’ve been dealt.”
“I know I deserve it, but it’s not that simple. I can’t just f**king leave Ivy. I made a vow. What would happen to her? I’m all she has. My name is on everything. She’s on my insurance. I have power of attorney. Whoever I’m with is going to need to understand that. What if Nina can’t? This is why I didn’t want to get involved with anyone. Nina doesn’t deserve to be dragged into this.”
“Do you love Ivy?” Allison asked.
“I don’t think I even knew what being in love was until I met Nina…eating, sleeping and breathing someone, feeling like I can’t live without her. I thought what I felt for Ivy when we were eighteen was love. Looking back, it was more infatuation. But to answer your question, I do love Ivy in the same way that I love you.”
“So, you’re staying married to someone you love like a sister because you’re afraid of what will happen to her? Don’t you ever want to have a family someday?”
“I want that, sis. I do. You know how much I love the twins. I would love to have kids of my own. But I pretty much wrote that off when Ivy got sick. I never thought about those kinds of things again until Nina. But divorcing Ivy…I just don’t know how I would live with myself if I did that and something happened to her.”
Cedric put his coffee down and looked at me. That dude has some intense blue eyes. “Let me tell you something I learned a long time ago, Jake. Love has no conscience. It doesn’t know right or wrong. It’s a feeling you can’t shake that penetrates your soul, and it cannot be broken. If you’re truly in love with this girl, that’s not going to change no matter what your life circumstances are. Time will tell whether it’s true love or not. If it is, you won’t be able to live without her. End of story.” He looked at my sister.
I knew he was right.
Allison got up from the table and hugged me. “We just want to see you happy. We’ll help in any way we can. Divorcing Ivy doesn’t have to mean deserting her. I’ll look into alternative insurance plans and state aid. We’ll help, even if Cedric and I have to pay for some of the expenses. We’ve already discussed it.”
I would never let them do that, but damn, I truly had the best family in the world.
“I am not ready to think about divorce, Al. Just let me tell Nina what’s going on first, and then we’ll see how she reacts.”
“Hi, baby girl.”
Ivy was looking out the hospital window when I arrived. She turned around, smiled and ran to me, giving me the biggest hug I had gotten from her in a while.
“There’s my handsome man,” she said.
My stomach was in knots with guilt. She and I hadn’t had an intimate relationship in years, but sometimes, it was like her mind would revert back to the past for a fleeting moment. It came in waves and never lasted. It freaked me out when it happened.
“How are you feeling?”
“So good…so good,” she said leaning her head on my chest.
“I want to spend the whole day with you before I have to go back to New York, but I’ll be back again this weekend.”
She pulled back abruptly. “Where were you last night?”
“I was here the whole time until you nodded off. Then, I went to Allison and Cedric’s to sleep.”
“Why did you leave?”
“I just told you.”
“What were you really doing?”
“I don’t believe you.”
Here we go. It was always like a light switch.
“Where do you think I was?”
“I think you were with them.”
“With the police.”
“No, baby girl. No police.”
“You’re trying to get me out of the country again, aren’t you?”
It was pointless to defend myself in any great detail when Ivy’s paranoia started up like this. I learned over time, it was better to just simply deny what she was accusing me of with one or two word answers. If she became overly upset at me, I would just leave until she calmed down.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this again. Why are you trying to get rid of me?”
“Don’t you love me?”
“I love you very much.”
“Then, why are you trying to hurt me?”
“Get out! Get out of here before I scream!”
I looked up at the ceiling, focusing on a crack in the paint as she continued to yell. I really didn’t want to leave her since I had to go back to New York tonight. When she started to push me, I left the room to see if I could talk to the doctor. After a fifteen- minute wait, Dr. Greally came out to the sitting area and asked me to go back to her office.
“Have you made any decisions about trying the Clozapine?”
“I am still on the fence. I am not around during the week because I work out of state, and I am worried about the side-effects. I don’t know if I can trust the workers at the group home to keep tabs on her.”
“We’ll have the social worker make sure she gets to the lab safely each week for the blood work. I can also do daily check-ins with the supervisor over there. If there is any indication that she’s experiencing anything abnormal, we can always stop it.”
“Okay…I’ll let you know in a couple of more days, if that’s okay?”
“Take your time.”
When I returned to Ivy’s room, she had the television on and was watching an episode of House Hunters, that real estate show where the people have to pick between three houses to buy. I sat down next to her and searched her face to see if I was welcome again.
She looked at me. “I don’t know which one they are going to pick. It’s a tough decision.”
Yes, it is.
I leaned my head on her shoulder, and we spent the next hour watching television, before she sent me away again.
Nina never responded when I texted her from the airport about six o’clock that night, letting her know I was getting on the next commuter flight home. That was unlike her and made me uneasy, especially knowing I was going to be coming clean to her about everything tonight.
By the time I landed at JFK, there was still no response. It was raining, and I couldn’t seem to catch a cab.
When I finally hailed one, I texted her again.
I am in a cab on my way to Brooklyn. Please let me know you got this.
After five minutes, still nothing.