"That was a cold thing to do."

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"Karissa?" I say, walking down the bleachers to the group. "What are you doing here?"

"Eric?" she says, her eyes wide in surprise as she glances at her friend and then back at me. "I'm just . . . This is Derek."

I watch Karissa wrap her arms around the guy's neck. Why she is even here, I don't know. Why she has her hands all over this dude? I don't know that either. I don't go after Jacks because he needs to cool off. I can only do one thing.

"Is that any way to treat Jacks?" I ask, crossing my arms, narrowing my eyes at her. "Have you been messing around behind his back? Have you been fooling all of us?"

"It's not what it looks like," she shakes her head, but Derek looks at her as if she has ten heads.

"You told me you broke up with him month ago," he says, stepping away from her.

I've heard enough. I scowl at Karissa and brush passed her to go find my brother.

"You had us all fooled," I say over my shoulder. "I bet the baby wasn't even Jacks', was it? Or did you fake the pregnancy like you were faking the relationship?"

I sprint to where my car is parked and find my brother crouching on the ground with his head resting against the front wheel. I squat next to him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

"Forget about her, man," I say. "She had us all believing a lie."

"For how long is my only question," he says, clearing his throat.

"I didn't ask. That was a cold thing to do."

"Let's just get out of here," Jacks pushes off the ground and goes around the car. "I don't want to hear her name ever again."

I unlock the car and we get in. We really need something to cheer us up now. What Karissa did was cold. And to think she had tried to help me with Annie earlier this week. I shake my head as I start the engine and peel out to the main road. My phone starts to ring from the console and I pick it up to see who is calling. To my surprise, it is Karissa. I roll my eyes and ignore the call. Why the hell would she be calling me?

"I think we need to just play games when we get home," I say, keeping my focus on the road. "Just you, me and the TV."

"No," Jacks says; I glance at him and see that he is shaking his head. "Annie can play with us. She's nice . . . You're going to take her out on a proper date, right?"

"Yeah, I plan to . . . I just need for it to be a good day, you know? She was up in the night with nosebleeds . . . and do you remember when she was not feeling good earlier this week? That could happen at any time, she told me."

To my surprise, Jacks pats my shoulder, leaving his hand there. I glance at him and see that he is not as down as he was a moment ago.

"You okay, man?" I ask cautiously.

"Ask me again after we play a few games," he replies, nodding.

"If you need a cuddle buddy, Annie's good at that . . . I won't mind."

"Yes, you will. I am not going to ask Annie to cuddle. I'll be alright . . . I think."

I nod, sighing softly. Jacks removes his hand, and turns to look out the window. The moment we arrive and I park the car, Jacks gets out. However, he waits near the entrances to the complex. Yesterday and today are going to take a toll on him. I gotta keep him out of the gutter. I am not going to let Jacks stumble the way I did.


Jacks and I are playing video games with Annie, Sabrina and Gil. Mom and Dad took the twins out to the park so we young people could socialize. I gave Annie, Sabrina and Gil the short story of what happened. They are just as frustrated and confused as I am. However, we agree not to bring up the subject unless Jacks' does first.

I am sitting on the couch with Annie between my legs. Jacks' is on the floor next to her. Gil is on the couch next to me with Sabrina in his lap. All three of us are playing; Sabrina and Annie are the ones keeping up conversation.

"I am thinking about cutting my hair shorter," Annie says suddenly, pulling at her curls.

"Why?" I ask.

"So my curls can be more controllable," she replies, sighing.

"I like your curls the way they are," I kiss the top of her head. "But it is your hair and I'm sure you will look awesome no matter what."

"Thanks, that's sweet for you to say."

I pull her up into my lap and wrap my arms around her waist. I rest my chin on Annie's shoulder, touching her cheek with mine. She reaches a hand up and taps her index finger to my lips. I chuckle softly.

"We should get out of this apartment," Sabrina says suddenly, jumping up from Gil's lap. "What do you all say we go up to the roof?"

"Eric was going to take me earlier," Annie trails off.

"We can do that," Jacks says, clearing his throat. "We haven't done anything like that since before the junior knuckleheads were born."

"Yeah," Gil says, smiling as he puts down his controller. "But be honest, those two keep us all moving, despite my graying hair."

"You're not turning gray yet," Sabrina giggles as Gil pulls her towards him and runs her fingers through his hair. "You're not even passed thirty-five yet. You've got years before you start getting actual gray hair."

Gil chuckles and starts nuzzling her stomach.

"Get a room!" I shout, grabbing the pillow beside me and smacking Gil with it. "That is my sister, remember!"

Annie laughs, even Jacks cracks a smile. I grin as Annie gets up and pulls me to my feet. Jacks jumps to his feet, but I can tell it is false enthusiasm. Sabrina pulls Gil to the door, leading the way out to the staircase. Jacks' follows them while Annie and I hold up the rear to lock up. I grab my set of keys from the hook next to the door, closing it behind us. We hear squeals coming from the staircase and a deep voice shouting. I chuckle and shake my head.

"Was that Gil and Sabrina?" Annie asks as we make our way up the stairs.

"Yes," I reply, lacing our fingers together. "Sabrina and Gil were best friends until he left for college. Gil would chase her up the stairs all the time."

"And he is only related to you guys because your dad's brother married his mother, right?"

I nod, "Exactly," I release Annie's hand to slip my arm around her shoulders. "You should ask them to tell you about how they started dating. It was somewhat funny, actually. Because one day, Sabrina and Gil are just enjoying a day out and the next they are eating each other's faces in the parking lot."

Annie giggles; I grin and pull her close as we emerge onto the roof. Jacks' is standing near the edge, resting on his palms. Gil is with him and Sabrina is looking at the flower garden someone planted. I motion for Annie to go hang with Sabrina so I can join the guy-crew.

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