After the events of the full moon and Monday, the rest of the week settled down. Jude was a welcome guest in the home and Ben spent more time home from work, which was good because the man hadn’t taken a vacation since he arrived.
I spent more time at work because seeing them together made me miss my own parents. It’s not fair to Ben or Jude, I know that. So when Miles and Mark showed up to yell at me for burying myself in my work and caught me flipping through the pages of the photo albums I’d stashed away that morning to bring with me (it was a slow day), there wasn’t much yelling going on. More like sniffling and maybe a few harder sobs.
“Marlowe, you can’t keep sitting in the shop like this. You’re going to have to tell them why you’ve been avoiding them.”
“It’s hard to tell someone who you’re jealous of the fact that they can still have a relationship with a parent.”
Mark hugged me. “I don’t have my parents, either. They wrote me off when I came out. You’re the closest thing I have to a sister, so I’m telling you this for your own good: You’re a fucking doorknob.”
I slapped the back of Mark’s head and he laughed. “I’m serious. I lost Max. It’s still hard, but you’ve had nearly 25 years without them. It might be time to let some of the pain go.”
Mark put his hands over mine and looked me in the eye. “I love you. I really do, but it’s time.”
I gripped Mark’s hands and smiled. “Guilt is a funny thing. It doesn’t usually let you go.”
Miles hugged me from behind as I stared down at the photos of my parents.
“What do you have to feel guilty over? You didn’t hurt them. That was the driver who crashed in to them.”
“They wouldn’t have been out there than if I hadn’t gotten sick at home. They were coming home because of me.”
“That’s bullshit, Marlowe. They were already on their way back when they got the message on your father’s beeper. My Mom said so. She just used to tell you it was her fault because she felt so guilty about messaging them over your fever in the first place.”
“I’m not exactly going to trust your mother with any version of the truth, Miles.”
“Fair enough. There are reasons why we don’t talk, but being jealous of Ben and his mother is going to come between you and him eventually. I’ll sit there like a cancer.”
I sighed. “Okay. I’ll try.”
I hated it when he out Spocked me with logic. Miles hugged me from behind again. I felt Mark join in on our hug. Miles pulled away first.
“I have to get back to the library. It’s my night to close up. Are you going to be okay?”
I nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
“Okay. Good.” He kissed my forehead and was gone.
I looked up at Mark. “I guess this means you’re leaving too?”
“Only to meet with the lawyers. I’m selling the house.”
“So you’ve decided?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I can’t stay there.”
“Ben and I discussed it a couple of weeks ago so don’t even bother to ask. You’re staying. You’re family.”
Mark laughed and kissed my forehead. “Do you mind if I called you Sis?”
“No. It’d be the best in the world, Bro.”
We hugged inside my front office until the door opened and Ben walked in. We opened up our circle and Ben walked right in, no questions asked. When we finally let go, Ben tossed my coat at me.
“Close up, it’s a mess out there and no one’s going to come in tonight. Besides, we’re going to have a snowball fight.”
I laughed. “Who’s idea was this?”
“It’ll go faster if the two of you would get the shop doors while I did the books.”
“Deal.” Ben grabbed Mark and they went and locked up my shop while I did the books for the day. With the take bagged up and in the safe, we all walked out together. I locked up and Ben and Mark followed me back home. I had the only four-wheel drive car, so they had to wait for me to go through the snow first, then follow. It was going to be a bad storm. I just hoped that it wouldn’t be so bad as to snow us in for a few days.
We pulled in the driveway and were just in time to see Jude out front of the castle, waiting on us all. I might have teared up a little, I kept seeing my mother’s face on hers. It was still painful, no matter what I told Miles. I’d work on letting go of some of that pain, like I told Miles I would. I pulled my car up to the door of the garage and waited until it opened. Driving right in, I parked next to my Thunderbird and sighed over it. I couldn’t wait for spring so I could go cruising with Ben again. Ben and Miles parked in their spaces and got out. Ben grabbed my hand and pulled me along with him.
“No moping. I hate it when you mope. It means you’re unhappy and if you’re unhappy, I’m unhappy.”
“That makes no sense. You could be happy without me being the same.”
Ben stopped and kissed me. “Not anymore. Now come on, I want a snowball fight.”
Something cold and wet hit the back of my head and I turned around. Jude was laughing her ass off at Mark who was preparing another snowball.
“What? You said you wanted a battle.” He threw the next snowball and hit Ben in the chest.
“Oh, it’s on.” I said as I bent to make my own snowball.
Soon, the driveway was filled with the sounds of laughing adults and barking dogs. When Miles finally arrived he was subjected to a barrage of snowballs as soon as he stepped out of the doorway of the garage.
“Idiots.” Was all he had to say before he joined in.
When we were so cold that we couldn’t feel our fingers we trooped inside after knocking some of the snow off. Dinner was chicken noodle soup that Jude made. I was happy and when I looked around the table at the family I’d found and made, I realized I wasn’t the only one.
Sometimes, all you need is a snowball fight with your family to make a bad week great.