I hold my breath and wait for Van to lose his shit over that because the way his face is clouding over, it looks like he’s about to do it. However, he surprises me again. “Yeah, you should be worried, man. We’re comparing notes on your drinking, and I just want to remind you of what happened the other time you turned to alcohol to deal with shit. It didn’t end pretty, remember?”
Jett’s behind me so I can’t see his face, but I can hear the scowl in his voice. “Fuck off, Van. So I had some drinks… my sister died, and I’m gonna deal with this however the fuck I want. And I don’t need you, of all people, in my face trying to tell me how to do it.”
Van’s face grows darker and he leans forward. “Don’t do this, Jett. Don’t become the asshole you hate.”
Jett stays quiet and simply tightens his hold on me. Finally, he says, “Can Presley and I have a minute?”
“Sure,” Van says, and takes a step away. “Just think about what I said, okay?”
I turn in Jett’s embrace to see him watching Van intently. It’s as if some form of silent communication is occurring between the two of them, and I don’t doubt there is. These two have an almost brother-like relationship; they’ve got years of experiences together shaping this conversation, and I can’t even imagine the half of it.
Van leaves, and after watching him for a few moments, Jett gives his attention to me. “Sorry about that,” he apologises.
“You don’t need to apologise, but I do think you two have a lot you need to talk about.”
“Always looking out for Van,” he scoffs, but I can tell he’s joking with me.
I want to ask him how he’s doing but I know that question won’t yield a good response, so I ask him something else to try and lead into what I really want to know. “How are your Mum and Dad doing?”
“Not so good. Dad just gave Mum a sleeping pill. She’s not coping at all, really.” He stops talking and contemplates that for a moment. “It’s hard enough losing a sister; I can’t even imagine the loss of a child.” The way his voice grows shaky causes a new round of sorrow for me. His family has been through so much. And while I feel deeply for his Mum, I am so concerned for the men in her family. While Monica wants to talk about Claudia, Steve and Jett have clammed up, and don’t want to engage in any real conversation about her, whether that is about her death or remembering her life.
“I don’t think your Dad is, either, Jett,” I suggest softly.
“No, he’s okay. He hasn’t broken down or anything, so I think he’s doing okay.”
“Breaking down isn’t a bad thing. It would probably do him good to get it all out.”
He’s looking at me like I have two heads, and my stomach sinks; he’s not getting this. “That’s not the way Dad copes, Presley.”
“Fair enough, you know him better than I do.” I decide that backing off is probably the best thing to do at the moment. Maybe I’ll give Michael’s advice a whirl after all.
“Will you be okay if I do the rounds with the family now?” He’s got a lot of extended family here today, and I know it’s important to him to make the time for them, so I nod.
“Yes, I’m going to go and help in the kitchen. You do what you need to, and I’ll be here when you’re done.”
He smiles, and my heart jumps a little because I haven’t seen a smile on his face for days. “Thank you,” he whispers before brushing a kiss across my lips and leaving.
As my gaze follows him walk away, the sight of Van watching him, too, distracts me. I knew there was more than meets the eye to that man. I just wonder how long it will take for him to show me who he really is.
The next morning, I wake up early and find Jett still asleep. He drank enough alcohol after the funeral to knock himself out and was fast asleep by seven thirty.
I lie next to him for a long time, just watching him and the peaceful rise and fall of his chest. At least an hour passes and just after nine, his phone rings and wakes him up.
He rolls to his side to reach out and find his phone on the bedside table but he knocks it on to the floor and mutters a swear word. Then as he fumbles around trying to reach it on the floor, he falls out of the bed.
“Fuck!” he roars when he hits his head on the corner of the table. “Motherfucking fuck,” he continues his tirade of obscenities as he tries to push himself up onto his hands and knees while at the same time trying to answer his phone. When it stops ringing, he’s finally on his knees with the phone at his ear but it’s too late. Staring at me through bloodshot eyes that betray the physical pain he is in, he swears again. “Fuck me!” And then he pelts the phone across the room. It hits the wall and smashes on its way down to the floor.
He swings his gaze back to me. “Yeah, that fucking fixes that,” he mutters as he stands. It takes him some effort and a few more swear words before he’s on his feet, and then he stumbles into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
Not a good start to the day.
I push the bed covers off and head out to the kitchen to make coffee. Jett’s going to need a lot of it today. And I may, too, just to be able to deal with his mood.
Expecting him to join me in the kitchen, I make two coffees and sit at the kitchen counter waiting for him. However, he doesn’t come. After giving him nearly ten minutes, I go in search of him, and am surprised to hear the sound of the shower when I enter the bedroom. I wouldn’t have thought he’d have the capability to stand for any length of time in the shower.