"What the hell is he doing here?"
Now that most of the boxes were gone, Josie and Jeremy were helping me organize and box the silverware from the china cabinet. We were figuring out which might be real silver, and therefore maybe worth money, and which were stainless. Silas came in and addressed his question to the room in general.
"Well, Silas," Josie said slowly and distinctly, as if talking to a child, "Jeremy and I have this thing we've been doing called college. You may remember I mentioned it was ending for the summer and that I needed to move out of my dorm. Strangely enough, Jeremy had a similar housing problem. I didn't want to stay here alone, but there wasn't much alternative. And since Jeremy's applied to grad school at St. Scholastica, I thought he might as well stay here for the summer."
"God help me," Silas said, with an exaggerated sigh. "Is there no getting away from you?"
"Not really," Jeremy said, with a little smile and slow shake of his head.
"You don't even know him," Silas said to Josie.
"What should I know?" she asked. "We've been texting like crazy since we met. I like him. You like him, too, or you wouldn't have brought him to Sunday."
"Yeah, well, things change. There is something very wrong about my boyfriend living in my dead mother's house."
"Ex-boyfriend," Jeremy said.
"Even worse," Silas groaned. "Go home, to your own mother's house. She loves you."
"You love me. You just won't admit it. And I don't want to be in
. Let me tell you what's in Rochester . Hospitals and clinics, that's what. I'd rather be here." Rochester
"There's nothing here, either."
"You're here," Jeremy said, softly.
"You're killing me," Silas answered. "Isn't anybody going to help me? Where is
when I need her? Jessie, you would go crazy if I dated Josie's friends, so how is it okay for her to make friends with my dates?" Elizabeth
Josie made a disgusted sound. "Silas, you are impossible. I'm going to get pizza." She stormed through the kitchen and out the back door.
"It wouldn't be okay if your dates were your own age," I said, and laughed. "Oh come on, Silas, it's perfect. Josie doesn't want to stay here alone. For all the reasons we got on Mom about selling it. But I didn't hear you offering Josie a bed at your place."
"I only have one bed at my place."
"So what? You have a couch, don't you?"
"I thought we talked about her staying with Liz."
"Would you want to stay with Liz while she and Eric are fucking like rabbits trying to make a baby?"
He made a face. "That's not even nice."
"Well, it's the truth."
"Your place then, or Melanie's."
"Melanie doesn't have any room to spare. I'd love to have Josie stay with me, but she doesn't want to live in
"That's a stupid reason."
"Enough." I said, determined to end his complaining. "It's a much better idea than having the place sit empty. She and Jeremy said they'd put in extra time organizing Mom's stuff, and they'd keep the place really clean for when we're ready to put it on the market. Jeremy couldn't have a better reference – you. We know he's all right."
Silas barked a short, sharp laugh. "I met him in a club," he said in a hard, cold voice. "And he was a great fuck. And that's all I fucking know about fucking Jeremy."
He stormed out the front door.
Jeremy shrugged, said, "He's so full of shit," and went into the living room to watch Silas from the living room window.
I followed. "I'm sorry he's mean to you," I said. "I can't believe he said that."
"Don't worry about it. He'll come around. Ah, Elizabeth is here. Whoa, he's giving her an earful. Oh, and here comes Melanie. Whatever he's trying to say, Melanie just held up her hand and shook her head."
The door opened and Melanie came in. "Hi, Melanie," Jeremy said.
"Hello, Jeremy. Nice to see you again. There's something wrong with Silas – he's talking a mile a minute out there, and to
, of all people. Anybody want to fill me in?" Elizabeth
"I'm staying here with Josie for the summer. He's pissed as hell," Jeremy said.
"Why? Are you two having problems?"
"Nah, just growing pains. He'll be fine."
"I don't know. He's whining like a drama queen about Jeremy and Josie being friends. Oh, what are you doing, Jess?"
I realized I was still holding a handful of flatware "Sorting the silver. Now that we've removed the boxes of china, I figured I'd try to sort out what might be valuable."
"That's a good idea. Where's Jo-Jo?"
"Getting pizza. Or just getting away from Silas."
Silas came in and flopped on the couch, sullen and silent.
"What is wrong with you?" I asked.
Jeremy approached Silas and touched his head, brushing the hair away from his face. "He's fallen hopelessly in love with me, and it terrifies him," he said, then set himself on Silas's lap.
Silas pushed him to the floor, none too gently. "Shows what you know."
Jeremy smiled and wrapped his fingers around Silas's ankle. "He's not very good at dealing with personal problems."
Silas jerked his leg away and sat straight up on the couch. "Oh really? Is that what you think? Jessie, tell Jeremy how Silas deals with zoning problems."
I sighed. When I worked for Silas, I discovered he's an unbearable perfectionist. "He puts on his very best Armani suit and makes copies of his building permits, and speaks very persuasively to the city council."
Silas nodded, then said, "And tell Jeremy how Silas deals with a customer who wants the impossible."
I grinned, remembering. "He puts on his best Armani suit and talks very reasonably to the client, and eventually says 'do it my way, or find another builder.'"
"Melanie," Silas said, "tell Jeremy how Silas deals with ex-boyfriends who won't leave you alone."
Melanie was game to join in. "He puts on his Armani suit, puts his license to practice law in his briefcase, and makes a house call. And I expect he speaks very persuasively and very reasonably, although I haven't been privy to that part. And there might have been something about broken legs and never working again added in there, for good measure."
"I'm back," Josie called from the kitchen. "With pizza and beer. Come and get it."
Nobody moved. "In a minute, Jo-Jo," I called to her, and asked the others, "How does she buy beer?" But apparently no one cared how twenty-year-old Josie buys beer, because no one answered.
Silas called, "Josie, come in here and tell Jeremy how Silas deals with problems." Nice. He would get everyone involved, one way or another.
She came into the living room and looked at us quizzically, "What kind of problems? Like when Dad wouldn't let me date? Or like when that stupid asshole was stalking me last year?"
"Any of them. All of them," Silas demanded.
"Direct and to the point, and without any bullshit."
"There," Silas said. "Now you know how I deal with problems."
Jeremy looked at Silas. And he smiled.
"What are you smiling about?" Silas grouched.
"I'm sorry," Jeremy said, looking around at us. "Do you even know him at all? Business problems, fine, I believe you. Being protective? Yeah, I know exactly how Silas can be protective over the people he loves, and how he can cut the bullshit to help you out. But let me tell you how Silas deals with personal problems.
"He gets moody, and sullen, and crabby. He avoids as much as possible. He drinks too much and talks too little, but when he does talk, the nasty bullshit he spews burns your ears. And when he can't stand it a minute longer, he acts out. He yells, he punches walls, he breaks things, and only then does he finally spit out what the real problem is."
"Oh, for fuck's sake," Silas said, but that was all. I thought it was interesting that he didn't deny a thing.
"And you know this after a couple of months?"
"A couple of months?" Jeremy said, surprised. "I've known him for over a year. I've had plenty of opportunity to recognize the pattern."
"So, Psychologist Jeremy," Silas said. "What's my real problem?"
"You can't stay away from me."
"More like I can't get rid of you. When are you going to go away?"
"You know how a parent knows what's best for their children, and therefore ignores a lot of whining and tantrums? Well, I'm ignoring you. When you finally decide to grow up, we'll talk."
"It's like that, is it?"
"Just like that."
Silas scrubbed his face with his hands. And then he laughed.
Jeremy had been sitting on the floor this whole time, and now he got up and settled himself on Silas's lap again. Silas not only let him stay, but looped his arms loosely around Jeremy's body and nuzzled his nose into the hair at the nape of his neck.
said. "I believe there's pizza in the kitchen." Elizabeth
"Before we eat, let's settle this thing about where Josie will live," I said. "Look what I found." I held up the black velvet bag and shook it so they could hear the clanking of the name discs. "It was in the drawer of the china cabinet."
My siblings shook their heads in wonder.
"So who is Josie going to live with for the summer?" I asked, reaching into the bag. Four coins felt exactly the same. One felt different. I pulled it out, looked at it, and held it up, smiling. "Josie."
"I get to live with myself?" she said. "Well, I was going to do that anyway."
"Exactly," I said. "Now let's eat."
As I walked past Silas and Jeremy on the couch, I heard Silas murmur, "Don't think this changes anything."
Deep breath in, cinnamon and vanilla, and it makes Silas's stomach clench and shiver, and it's like a drug, lifting his mood, making him high. Damn. Damn. Damn. Why does his hair smell like that and why does it hurt so beautifully bittersweet? I'll ruin him. Or he'll ruin me. We'll damage each other, in time, and for what? This moment of holding him in my arms and breathing in his scent?