I’ve lied to him. I don’t just see Drew. I see the star too. And I’m just Anna. I don’t like the light. I need the dark.
He’s too smart not to understand that he’s pushed me to my limit, and his tone turns gentle, tender. Which is infinitely worse. “I just thought you should know. Goodnight, Anna.”
I don’t say a word. I hold onto my phone long after he’s hung up.
THE SANCTITY OF my morning is broken by Iris and Henry. Who are not quiet about what they’re doing. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of the same. Though I do try to contain myself when I know Iris is here. Not so for them. Especially not for Henry. I have my suspicions that the ass**le is being loud on purpose; he’d be the type to get off on something like that. When he starts to grunt “yeah, yeah, yeah,” I don’t care what his motivation is, I need to get out of here.
I pick up the phone and dial. “You want to go for a bike ride?” I ask as soon as he answers. I’m desperate now, practically hopping around my room as I get dressed. “Iris and Henry are going at it like crazed rabbits.”
Thank God he says yes.
“Do me a favor, will you, Anna?”
My bike hits a rut, and the whole frame rattles, and me along with it. “What’s that?” I say when the danger of biting my tongue passes.
George gives me a quick glare before swerving around another pothole. “Do not tell me that my sister is going at it with that sleazy little bitch again.”
Instantly, I cringe. Not only should George not have to hear about his sister having sex, but he hates Henry. “Shit. I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”
He falls into a nice, quick pace. “Yeah, well, be forewarned. Do it again, and I’m bringing Sylvester to our next dinner out.”
“Ew, no! I’ll behave, I swear!” Sylvester is Iris and George’s creepy hands-y cousin who I’m convinced is a serial killer. Years from now, I’ll see George and Iris being interviewed on CNN, “We always had our suspicions about Sly, but our mother made us hang out with him.”
Having sufficiently terrified me into compliance, George gives me a grin and speeds up. We pace each other as we ride along the bike trail. Early morning light peeks through the gold leaves and the air is crisp. I draw it in and let it cool me.
After a couple of miles, we reach a clearing, and George nods toward it. We roll over to a large elm and leave our bikes resting on the ground as we sit. Silence surrounds us. Despite the good weather, the path is basically deserted. It’s early Saturday morning, so I’m guessing most people are still sleeping off Friday night.
After taking a long drink of water, I nudge George. “So what’s going on with you?”
George finishes his own drink before answering. “That’s what I was going to ask you.”
“Tough. I asked first, so spill.”
“Damn, woman.” But George smiles. His smile gets bigger, but he’s obviously trying to maintain an air of cool, and my curiosity skyrockets. He doesn’t leave me hanging for long. His dark eyes look at me sidelong as his cheeks flush. “I got an internship with Jackson and Goldman in New York.”
“Georgie!” I nudge him again. “That’s great!” After years of hearing George drone on about finance, I know that Jackson and Goldman is the best investment-banking firm in New York, and George’s idea of Nirvana.
“Fuck yeah it is.” He grins wide as he ducks his head. “A couple professors put in a good word and…” He shrugs.
“And they recognized the brilliance that is you?” I add, making George laugh.
“Yeah, and that.”
We both grin like a couple of idiots then.
“You are so inviting me to your Hampton’s beach house.” If there is one thing George and I have in common, it’s our desire to live in New York when we graduate.
“Extended stay, Banana?”
“You know it. I can do the dishes.”
“No thanks. You suck at doing dishes.”
I shove him with my shoulder, and he chuckles, but shadows linger in his eyes.
“So,” I say when we’ve grown quiet again, “what’s the problem? Are you worried about doing well?”
George snorts. “I’m going to kick ass. It seems like I’ve been waiting my whole life just to get this chance.”
“But…?” Because it’s there, something dark and heavy weighing on him.
Tension gathers along the corners of his eyes, and he studies his hands that dangle over his bent knees. “It’s Iris.” His shoulders lift on a sigh. “I know it sounds crazy, but we’ve always been together. And now…”
They won’t be. Iris hates New York City with a passion. And she’s already been accepted into Arizona State’s Archeology graduate program.
“You haven’t told her, have you?”
“No. I’ve been trying to work up to it.” George shifts as if his shirt is too tight. “I mean what guy whines about leaving his sister behind? But she’s also my twin.”
“I know,” I say. And I do. Despite their occasional bickering, they are as close as any siblings I’ve met. They often finish each other’s thoughts. And they are almost always together.
George could have gone to an Ivy League school where he might have gained valuable contacts. He had the grades and the offers. But he chose to follow Iris to State.
As if he’s thinking the same thing, he says, “I promised my ma that I’d watch after 'Ris. I wanted to do it.” A weak snort leaves him. “Now everything feels so real. We’ll be going our separate ways and, shit, it’s a f**ked up thing to realize that maybe I really needed her to look after me.”