“That’s not true. I told you I’d take care of rent.”
“And I told you it was fifty-fifty or nothing.”
“I’m here, maybe, five months out of the year,” he said.
“Until you get hired on here.”
“Not yet,” I said, pointing at him.
He looked at Kirby and then back at me. “So, what do you propose? I keep up the commute until I’m hired on here? Or that I move here without a job?”
I winced. I knew suggesting either would be an insult. “If I move to Estes Park, you’ll be here in the Springs or somewhere else for up to half the year.”
“I told you. I have a full-time position at the local station if I want it.”
“I can’t leave Phaedra and Chuck, not right now. Kirby is leaving soon …”
Taylor blew out a breath, looking away from me. “I don’t want to keep doing this. I hate seeing you only on the weekends.”
We both ignored him.
“So, we’re at an impasse,” I said.
“And what the hell does that mean?” Taylor was more frustrated than angry.
He had been talking about us moving in together since Christmas, and I’d kept giving him excuses—everything from it being too soon to moving expenses.
“I don’t have a car. How am I going to get to work if I move into your condo?”
He shrugged. “We’ll figure it out. I can drop you off. It’s a shorter drive than coming here every weekend.”
Taylor took a long drink, sucking the beer bottle dry, and then he took it with him to the kitchen. He tossed it into the trash can before opening the fridge to grab another. He twisted off the cap and threw it into the garbage, too, before returning to me in a huff.
“You’re not the one who has to make this drive, Falyn.”
“We definitely need to go,” Gunnar said.
Gunnar’s brows pulled together. “When you start agreeing with me the way Falyn just did, shit goes downhill real fast.”
She laughed and nudged him, and Taylor and I couldn’t help but smile.
He hugged me to him and kissed my hair. “I’ll make the drive as long as I have to. It’s the time in between I don’t like,” Taylor said.
“I know. I don’t like it either. The silver lining is that, after we get back from Saint Thomas, you’ll be working back here in five weeks.”
“Maybe. That’s never a guarantee. There’s no telling where I’ll be.”
I cocked my head, getting impatient with his negativity. “You said your crew has been here the last three summers.”
“Okay, but what about the year I’m not? That’s six months I’ll be even farther away from you.”
“If I live in Estes and you’re called somewhere else, you’ll be away from me anyway!” I said.
“Not if we’re in Estes! I’ll take the local position!”
“Honey,” Kirby said, her voice bordering on a whine.
“I’m going to drink one of those beers if we don’t leave right now,” he said, towering over her.
He reached out, and she took his hand.
“Let’s go do something,” he said.
“We could go to the hookah bar,” she said, standing next to her boyfriend.
Taylor and I glared at each other.
“It is so incredibly stupid for us to be fighting about seeing each other while we’re seeing each other,” I said.
“See? That’s where we’re different. I don’t think it’s stupid to fight for this at all.”
I sighed. He didn’t see it as fighting over who was moving where and under what circumstances. He felt like he was fighting for us to be together. How could I argue with that?
“Let’s go,” Kirby said, pulling me to stand. “I think we all need to be outside for a while.”
We walked downstairs and stood next to Taylor’s truck, watching the snow fall in thick flakes.
“Snow doesn’t look like this in Illinois.” Taylor held out his hand, letting the frozen white bits melt against his palm. He rubbed his hands together, zipped up his coat, and then popped a cigarette into his mouth.
“I wish we could go to Cowboys,” Kirby said, joining Gunnar on the tailgate of Taylor’s truck. She swung her feet for warmth.
“You’re not twenty-one yet, are you?” Taylor took a deep drag and blew out a puff of thick white smoke. “I could probably get you in.”
Kirby patted his middle. “Not going to chance getting caught, are we?”
“Nope,” Gunnar said, pulling her to his side.
Taylor shrugged and continued to smoke. Once he was finished, he pinched off the cherry, rubbed the end along the top edge of his truck bed, and then put the cigarette butt into his pocket. He pulled his knit cap further down to cover his ears, and then he crossed his arms, tucking his hands under them.
“Your nose is red,” I said, playfully nudging him.
He only offered a contrived smile, staring down Tejon Street.
Kirby and Gunnar were having their own conversation in the background, and Taylor was lost in thought. I stood next to him, feeling left out of my own party.
Taylor puffed out a laugh. “You know I hate the big words, Ivy League.”
“You haven’t called me that in a while,” I said.
His lips pressed together, making a hard line. “I hate missing you. I hate it more every day.”
He turned to me. “Then let’s do something about it. Let’s figure out a solution.”
“You mean, one that includes me moving into your condo.”
He sighed. “Okay. We’ll talk about it during the week. I don’t want to fight.”
Gunnar and Kirby’s conversation seemed forced, and they made sure not to look in our direction, probably in an effort not to eavesdrop.
“Who’s fighting?” I asked. “Just because I’m not giving in to what you want …”
He craned his neck at me. “That’s not it, and you know it.”
“It’s a big deal, Taylor. We need to think about it.”
“Oh. So, it is the moving-in-together part. You’re freaking out about it.”
“I’m not freaking out. But if I were, it’s not an unreasonable emotion to feel.”
“No, you’re right. I’m just a little more than irritated that you were all fate and meant-to-be in Eakins, and now, you’re acting like we’re moving too fast.”
I arched an eyebrow. “Did you just throw that in my face?” I left him standing alone, sitting next to Kirby on the tailgate.
Taylor began to speak, but the sounds of footsteps crunching against the snow took away his attention.
A small group of teenagers walked toward us, bumping into each other or the buildings or falling off the curb.
“Hey,” one of the guys said, smiling, “you got any weed?”