“I’ve been calling you like you asked.”
“I know,” she said, glancing at Marco. “But it’s not enough. You’re my best friend.” Her eyes danced between Tyler and me. “What? What aren’t you telling me?”
Tyler looked at me, and my mind raced for a believable lie.
“We were going to try to move my things before the New Year. It’s just a really bad time for our first visit.”
“Oh,” Finley said. She looked a bit lost, and then a grin spread across her face. “Well, congratulations, you two!” She hugged both of us, and Tyler choked when Finley squeezed his neck into her shoulder. “That is so exciting. Our parents can’t wait to meet you,” she said, pointing at him with her glasses. “They’d love to see your new place. I would love to see your new place!” She clasped her hands together. “In Estes?”
Tyler looked at me with his mouth hanging open, unsure how to respond.
“Yes, it’s in Estes Park,” I said. “He has an apartment across town from mine.”
“I just came to Colorado to see you. I literally have nothing else going on.”
“…great. That’s great,” I said with wide eyes and a forced smile. I looked to Tyler. “Um … uh … honey, I guess they can follow us to my apartment? You can just drop me off. I know you have a lot of things to do.”
He mouthed honey with a disgusted look on his face behind Finley. I shot him an expectant smile that surely made me look like a lunatic.
“Sure … honey,” he said. “Are you familiar with this area?” he asked Marco.
“I have navigation,” he said with a proud smile.
“We’ll meet you off Peña Boulevard at the Avis rental place, then you can follow us from there.”
“Oh. Okay, then … we’ll meet you at Avis in ten minutes.”
“Perfect,” I said, smiling at them until they walked out the door.
Tyler and I didn’t speak until we made it to the truck and he slid into the driver seat and shut the door.
“This is fucking great!” he said with a wide smile.
I glared at him. “They’re coming to my apartment. I’m stuck with Fin for an entire evening. She’ll find out about Sterling by dinnertime. I’m fucked.”
Tyler wrinkled his nose. “I don’t understand your strategy, Ellie. You haven’t seen your sister in almost a year to avoid her finding out something that may or may not make her never want to see you again.”
“If you never see her again, what does it matter?”
Tyler drove us to Avis, and I waved at Finley from behind the passenger side window of the truck. They followed us north on the toll road toward Estes Park.
I sighed for the fourth time in ten minutes.
“I have less than an hour and a half to figure this out. What are you doing?” I screeched.
“You’re speeding! I need time to think of a way to keep her out of my apartment!”
Tyler eased back on the accelerator, looking annoyed. “What if you tell her it’s being fumigated?”
“Then she’ll go to your apartment.”
“She’ll expect me to come, too.”
“Okay, then you get car sick on the way to Estes.”
“I like it, but it’s a temporary fix to a permanent problem.”
Tyler sighed. “Maybe … maybe you should just tell her.”
“Are you out of your mind? Do you want Finley to hate me?”
“If it were me—” He hesitated. “I would be more upset that you kept it from me. She’ll get over it if you’re honest with her.”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “You don’t know Fin like I do. She holds grudges, and Sterling …”
I closed my eyes. “Don’t say that to her.”
When we pulled into the parking lot of the MountainEar, my heart began to pound in my chest, and my palms were slick with sweat.
“You’re sure you don’t want me to come in?”
“Just long enough to follow me into the bathroom and…”
Marco knocked on Tyler’s window. He looked at me and then pressed the button, waiting until it rolled all the way down.
“Hey, Ellie’s not feeling great. I think she’s a little car sick.”
“My sister doesn’t get car sick,” Finley said from behind Marco. “Why are we at her work? I thought we were going to her apartment?”
“This is her apartment,” Tyler said. “Above the office.”
Marco pulled an extra-large roller suitcase with several duffels and bags stacked on top down the sidewalk.
I scrambled from the truck. “What are you doing?”
“Oh,” Finley said. “Do you need assistance with your luggage?”
“No. It’s a one-bedroom apartment. Why aren’t you staying at the house?”
Finley seemed annoyed. “Because our parents are there, and they don’t know I’m here. If they knew, they would be at your door because they are desperate to see you, too.”
Finley turned on her heels, waiting for me at the door with Marco.
I chewed on my thumbnail, gazing up at Tyler who was still in the driver seat. “It’s times like these I regret not being religious.”
“Should I come?” he asked. “At least let me help with your bags.”
I shook my head, defeated. “I don’t want you to see this.”
With worry in his eyes, Tyler waved to me, waiting until I reached the door before he backed away.
I led Finley and Marco upstairs, directing Marco to the sofa and Finley to my bedroom.
“This is gorgeous! I was worried what you would be able to afford on your wages, but this is exquisite! Well done, baby sister!”
“Well,” I said, watching her unpack as if she had lit herself on fire, “my boss gave me a great deal.”
“What is Tyler’s apartment like? Is it this nice?”
“Then why not just move him here? And why haven’t you started packing yet?”
“Thank God I’m here,” Finley said. “Marco can help you pack.”
“I’m really … I’m okay. Tyler will be over later. We were kind of going to do it together.”
“Don’t be silly….” Finley began, but she finally looked at me long enough to see what I knew she would. “What aren’t you telling me? Oh my hell, Ellie! Are you pregnant?” she screeched.
“What? No! I can barely take care of myself.” I left her for the kitchen, yanking open the fridge and popping the top of my favorite cheap beer.