Forever (This)(8)

By: J.B. McGee



“Do you really see my brother being the one for the rest of your life?”

“Um.” Yes. This is the dead horse.

“Like right now. You’re at his house. Let’s pretend you’re married.” He huffs. “And you’ve had a child. That thought alone fucks with my head, but this is all hypothetical, right?”

“Right.”

“And you have a shift, and Ryan gets called in.”

“So.”

“So, who takes care of your child?”

“Doctors marry doctors all the time. They figure it out. What’s your point?”

“You’ve said before you want your kids to be with their parents as much as possible.”

“Yeah, which is why I’m thinking of going into pedatrics. I’ll work during the day, some nights on call, but my husband would be there for that.”

“Not if your husband is Ryan, who gets called in at all hours. What if you’re both called in?”

I start to pace. “I have to get ready for work.”

“Look at how much he already misses. He couldn’t even help you move. Not that I’m complaining he missed that.”

I shift my weight from one foot to the other. “Is there some point in this?”

“Yeah. I think you’re with the wrong guy. I think you need to be with someone who would want to be a stay-at-home dad, so you can have the career you want. That you’re working so hard for.”

My laughter echoes through the apartment. “You go find me a guy who’d be fine to be a stay-at-home father and let me know. One who’s not a deadbeat drunk, that is.”

“You’re talking to one.”

“You can’t be serious.” I guffaw.

“I, personally, think I’d make an excellent father.” He pauses, and I can’t form words. “I’ve had my career. I’ve made a lot of money. I’m ready to settle down. Anyway, the thought of giving my children a home free of dysfunction delights me.”

“Does that even exist? I wouldn’t know.”

“I would hope so, Sam. I sure hope so.” There’s another pause. “Can you really see a life with my brother?”

“Why do you think so poorly of him? Y’all have always seemed to get along well.”

“We do get along fine, and I don’t think that poorly of him.” He hesitates. “Except where you’re concerned. I’m certainly not one to judge a lifestyle. But Bradley’s not the best match-maker.”

“C’mon. That’s not fair.”

“He picked the wrong brother, Sam.”

“Joe…” My cheeks redden, and the hairs rise all over my body. “You can’t keep saying stuff like this to me.”

“What’s said is said. It can’t be erased. That day you pulled up in front of my bar and denied you were outside while I was staring right at you…I knew Bradley had picked the wrong brother for you.”

“You just want what you can’t have. I think they call it sibling rivalry.”

“That’s not true. I can have you. I will have you. I’m just trying to figure out how long you’re going to deny it.”

“Stop it.”

“Stop what?”

“Change the subject.”

“To what? The way you blushed the entire time we were dancing at the wedding? The way your hand trembles when it’s in mine? The way I bet your face is on fire right now just hearing these words?”

“I have to go.”

“Don’t.”

Silence.

“Goodbye, Joe.”





My last exam didn’t start until late afternoon. It’s already dark, and while I know we’re in a safe community, I hate pulling into our driveway alone. I push the button on the garage door opener, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see Bradley’s car parked in his spot. Pulling in beside his, I can’t wait to get inside, shed all these excess layers of warm clothes, and start making our holiday traditions. It’s the weekend, but it’s also the start of my winter break.

Even though we were together last year for Christmas, that was different. We’d not even made love. I turn the key, then open the door. Immediately, I inhale the aromas of garlic, tomato, and oregano. “Mmm. Smells like Italy in here.”

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