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Complicate Me(57)

By:M. Robinson

“Have you?”

“Fuck. No. All we do is kiss and that sounds a lot worse than it is. We’ve kissed a few times and it didn’t start till her sixteenth birthday. I swear to God that girl is like a tornado and I can’t help but be sucked in.”

I raised my eyes, blown away from his analogy, it being so close to mine for Lucas.

“I just turned twenty-three and she’s going to be seventeen soon. I know that doesn’t make it any better, I know it doesn’t make it right. Fuck, Half-Pint, she’s not wrong. I think I’m in love with her, how fucked up is that?”

I watched him pace around the room until he finally stopped and sat down in the desk chair, facing me, hunched forward with his arms on his legs.

“I have no idea what to say,” I softly said.

“I’m sorry, Alex. All these years, all I’ve ever done is… I mean… with Lucas and you… I just. Fuck… this is my fucking karma.”

I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out.

“I know, you don’t have to say it. I know.”

“Does anyone know?”

“Of course not.”

“What are you doing in her room? You know that could have been Lucas walking in here. Do you have any idea how bad he’s going to beat you for this? Oh my God, Jacob, he’s going to murder you.”

He lowered his eyes and peered at the ground, rubbing his hair back and forth like he wanted to tear it out. “I know. You have no idea how many nights I’ve lost sleep because of this. I need to get away from her. It’s one of the reasons I’m applying to law school so far away. I need to put distance between us.”

“Does she know?”

He shook his head.

“Oh man…”

“I’ve made my bed and now I have to lie in it. This is the only thing I can do to make things right.”

“She’s going to hate you.”

“It is what it is, I can’t keep leading her on like this. I am sending mixed signals all the time, but I can’t help it. I can’t explain it either.”

“You don’t have to. I understand.”

“Half-Pint, it was never about you. It was Lucas. None of us thought he was right for you. You deserve, you deserve someone like Cole.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s in the past.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry if I ever influenced anything that caused you pain. I love you.”

I nodded. “I know. Everything happens for a reason,” I found myself saying again.

“You’re not going to tell—”

“I promise… but if this shit hits the fan, because it’s eventually going to, I’m going to claim I didn’t know anything. I'll pretend to be just as surprised as everyone else.”

He laughed and stood. “I’m going to—”


When he left, I realized Lily was right. It didn’t take long for him to go after her.

Proving that he really did love her.

After all.

“Dad, I come to work with you, tay?”

“Hmm, I think you’re still too small, bud.”

“I not small.”

“No, you’re not small. You’re a big boy now. Momma is on her way here. Oh! I think that’s her at the door.”

“Momma!” he shouted, running on his chubby little legs to the door.

“Mase!” I warned, coming up behind him.

“I know, I know. Who dis?” he asked through the door.

“It’s me, baby,” Stacey announced on the other side.

“It’s Momma,” he nodded like he told me so.

I helped him open the door and he jumped into her arms.

“Oh, little man, you are getting heavy, I’m not going to be able to carry you soon.”

“Momma,” he giggled into her neck, making us both laugh.

“Okay, okay, I’ll carry you as long as you want.”

“Come on in.”

“Your condo is always so clean, Lucas.”

“It helps when you have a cleaning lady.”

“Only you could say that and make it sound sexy.” She placed Mason on the ground and he took off running toward his room. I knew he wanted to show her the picture that he drew earlier.

“Want a drink?” I offered.

“Sure. I’ll take a water if you’re offering.”

“Water?” I arched an eyebrow. “What happened to the beer drinking girl I used to know?”

“She had a baby and grew up.”

I handed her bottled water, grabbing one for myself. We walked out onto the patio as the sunset loomed on the horizon, which always made for a scenic panoramic view over the water.

“This view is so breathtaking. It’s been a nice, calm summer. I still have a hard time believing Mason’s already three. He’s grown up so fast.”

I nodded, understanding. Not much had changed in the last two years. My company flourished which seemed to happen overnight. I rented a warehouse in South Port where I designed a few kitchen and bathroom mock-ups for potential clients, and my office manager did an amazing job running things so I could still get my hands dirty. I had several project managers that handled multiple developments, but I couldn’t sit behind a desk for more than a few hours without going stir crazy. I belonged in the field and I think my employees appreciated the modesty of it.

The only thing that really changed over the last two years was my mom’s health. It disintegrated with each passing day. She hated hospitals and refused to be admitted into a hospice. My dad hired a few nurses that helped when we had to work and couldn’t tend to her. It started to get harder though, as much as we tried to ignore it. We knew the end might be near soon.

Alex never moved back home after she graduated from college. Last I heard from Jacob was that she and Cole moved in together. They were renting a house on the beach in California, near Berkley, the law school he attended. I saw her a few times here and there, but we only exchanged a few words, nothing more than standard conversations.

She looked happy.

She seemed happy.

Jacob attended Stanford law school out in California, too, so he saw Alex every so often or so he said. He didn’t come home much. School and his internship took up most of his time. He was in a relationship with a girl named Beth that I hadn’t met yet. Though he thought about bringing her home for the holidays in the next few months. Dylan was in training for Special Ops and we got together every few weeks to shoot the shit. He dated some girls on and off but nothing serious, I think work took up most of his time and I believed that’s the way he wanted it. Now Austin, no one had seen or talked to him in years, other than his parents and those phone calls were few and far between.

“Whatcha thinkin’ about over there?” Stacey asked, nudging me with her shoulder.

“Not much.”

“When was the last time you surfed, Lucas?”

“Hmm…” I glanced at her.

“Surfing? When was the last time you hit the waves?”

“Oh.” It took me a minute to think about it. “God, years probably.”

“You worry me, between work, Mason, and your mom, that’s all you do. It’s not healthy. When’s the last time you did something for yourself?”

“I spent most of my life thinking about me and it got me nowhere. It’s probably a good thing that I take a step back from that.”

“Maybe a step back. Not miles upon miles.”

“I could say the same thing about you.”

“Yeah… about that… I uh… I’m sort of seeing someone.”

“Really?” I replied, taken aback.

“It’s new. He came into the office for some therapy. He’s the new soccer coach over at the high school, he moved here from Florida.”

After Stacey had Mason, she went back to school and became an occupational therapist assistant. She said she wanted to do something with her life, for Mason. He needed it and so did she. My dad helped her find a position with one of his physician friends.

I barely recognized her most days she changed so much.

“He’s nice, but I don’t want to read too much into it. Just in case.”

“I understand.”

“You know, I used to think we would end up together.”

I eyed her with caution. “Stacey…”

“I know. I’m not saying that I still expect that or anything, but a huge part of me wanted it to happen. I hope you don’t hate me for what I’m about to tell you. That night at the bar, I wanted to be with you. I knew you were drunk, I knew you were hurting.” She bowed her head. “I wasn’t that drunk. I wish I could tell you that I regret it, that I’m sorry for trapping you but I’m not. Not even a little and that may make me a horrible person, but Mason saved me. I wouldn’t give him up for anything in the world.”

I looked back over at the water, contemplating what to say to her. I wasn’t surprised by what she admitted. She didn’t have to tell me that, I already knew. I had known since the moment she showed me the positive pregnancy stick. I never thought she would actually admit it, though. I guess it showed how much she had really grown up. She was right about Mason he did save her and in a way he saved me, too. He stopped my hurricane, or maybe he was the quiet before the storm. Whatever it might be, he paused the chaos around me, and for that I would always be grateful to her.