Chapter Thirty-Three

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Elliot calls out my name and waves me over to where he stands at the doorway when I get up to help Catherine clean up. I ask for her to give me a minute and she says of course. Unsure of what he wants to say to me but open to hear him out anyways, I walk over to him. He's leaning against one of the dark French doors and gives me warm smile as I stop in front of him. But he doesn't speak immediately; he runs his warm brown eyes over my face, strong emotions I can't decipher sprawled against his face. He is a complete look-a-like of his brother. The only difference being the six-year age gap. Other than that, he has the same doe-brown eyes, dark curly hair, though his is professionally styled, and straight nose and jawline.

He smiles kindly. "When dad told me Little Blue got an actual girlfriend, I thought he was messing with me." He laughs. "He's never been able to settle down with one girl before. Especially since he tends to avoid us like the plague..." His eyes turn soft and waver to the table behind me for a moment before looking back at me. "But it was an absolute pleasure seeing you are real and not a cruel joke my dad decided to pull. Blue really isn't as bad as it seems. I know he hasn't made it easy to love him, but I'm glad you took a chance on him. Hurt or not—burdened with baggage or not—I think everyone deserves the chance to experience love, even once, because that one time can have a remarkable impact. I also think you're Blue's impact. And the little bastard may be too hopped up on pride and strong-willed to say it... but thank you."

The rain pounding against the arch windows fills the silence in the room. Words dance on the tip of my tongue, all awkward and exasperated, but I'm too stunned by his words to say any of it. All I can manage to do is look into his glassy eyes and say in a quiet voice, "He didn't really give a choice to love him or not. And yes, he gives me crap most of the time... but would he be Blue if he didn't?" He laughs and I chuckle, too. I look down at my fuzzy blue socks before finding the courage to look up at him again. I smile. "Again, congratulations on your engagement with Delia."

His fiancée, the alluring blonde woman I could hear laughing with her soon-to-be father in law in the next room, had been sickly sweet and charming with her humorous stories of her time being a first-grade teacher during dinner. I was grateful for her bout of charisma distracting me from the moody nineteen-year-old hiding in his room.

"Delia..." Elliot lets out a shaky sigh. "I fell for her the minute I laid eyes on her. There was no way in hell I was letting her slip through my fingers. Even if I proposed just six months after being together, I just knew she was the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. When you know, you just know... you know?" He laughs at his play of words, and I laugh.

"I do, trust me." I pause, thinking over his previous words. "What you said about love earlier... How do you know we're in love?" I wouldn't think his brother and I even tolerated each other if I'd seen us from his point of view, arguing in the corner of the room before one of us stormed out.

"You stuck around. People don't tend to stick around things that oppose him. But you did tonight, and according to their knowledge, all the other times he undoubtedly screwed up and fucked himself over when it comes to you." His wisdom gives me whip-lash, but he's right. My mother didn't stick around when I was a mere baby, that's how I know she didn't love neither me or my dad. Thinking of my AWOL mother makes my throat tighten.

"Why do you call him Little Blue?" I decide to change the subject to a lighter one.

His mouth curls into a grin. "Because he was always so small when he was younger. But then, as if he could will it, he grew like a damn beanstalk and now he towers over me." The affection in his voice and rumble of laughter makes me smile. Calming down, he looks over his shoulder, hearing his father call for him, and then looks over at me with a delightful smile. "Whatever you do, keep loving that stubborn bastard." He turns and walks out of the room.

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