My Husband's Brother
There was a knock at the door. My stomach did a double-flip. I already knew who it was, even before I answered it. Adam, the man I was utterly in love with. Incidentally, he also happened to be my husband’s brother.
‘Hello, stranger. You alright?’
‘I’m good, thanks. How are you?’
He looked at me and smiled. That was all it took. Every part of me wanted to grab him. I hadn’t meant to feel this way, it wasn’t intentional. I kept on telling myself I was just missing Alex, that I was being stupid, lusting after the one person I could never have. That was the argument I had with myself for the first month since Alex had left. Now, four months in, I didn’t even bother to try and justify the way I felt. I knew I was in love with him, and there was nothing I could do about it.
We’d always been close, so I never thought anything of it. That was, until Adam started appearing in my dreams. It wasn’t anything special; I was upset and he was the one who comforted me. In reality, this had happened often since Adam went on tour. I missed him, and Adam was the one who helped me through it. They were so alike, the two of them. It made it easier whenever he was around.
‘Yeah, cool. You having one, too?’
‘Of course. Can’t leave you drinking alone, can I?’ I said, jokingly, trying to avoid any flirtatious behaviour, although it was nearly impossible watching him standing in the doorway.
I walked into the kitchen, distracted myself with the brews, focusing on the rumbling of the kettle instead of the thumping of my heart!
‘You heard anything off Alex?’ Adam shouted through to the kitchen.
That brought me back to my senses. I had heard from Alex. It sounded like he was struggling, missing home, missing his family, missing me. And I felt guilty for that. Of course I missed him, but I didn’t know how I’d feel once he got back. Would it be the same? Would we be the same?
‘I got a letter on Monday. Same stuff, really. It’s hard to read.’ I said, heading into the living room armed with our drinks.
Adam gave me one of those knowing looks, then smiled. My heart leapt a little inside my chest. All I could think was, I love you, I love you, I love you.
‘So…what should we talk about?’
We chatted about anything and everything: whether Labour actually stood a chance of winning Parliament, the upcoming party for his mother’s sixtieth, how Tanya from work had managed to get herself pregnant yet again. The conversation flowed easily, as it always did.
‘You’re ok, though?’
‘Yeah. I miss him…miss him like crazy, but I’m coping. You seem to help. You remind me of him.’
‘I get that a lot, although I’m definitely the better one of the two!’ He grinned cheekily, nudging me playfully as he said it.
I smiled, trying to calm myself down. I just wanted to melt into his arms – a wish I seemed to make every time he sat beside me on my sofa.
‘You want to watch a film or something?’ I asked, instantly regretting the words once they came out.
He’d just pulled out his phone, was smiling at a text message he’d received. I felt like a right idiot. Of course he had better things to do than sit with his mopey sister-in-Law.
‘Just forget it. You’re busy. I know you’ve got shit to do.’
Adam looked at me for what seemed like an eternity. Then, he burst out laughing.
’Come on, Rosie. What’s up with you? You’re acting like we’re back in school!’ He said, teasingly.
‘I don’t know. I just don’t want to bore you.’
‘You never do.’
We searched the entire contents of Netflix, eventually deciding on War Horse. I hadn’t watched it before, but Adam had and said it was a good one.
‘Will I cry?’
I tried not to, but I couldn’t help it. I hid my face behind a cushion, shielding myself away from Adam’s mockingly pitiful expression. Towards the end of the film, the tears were streaming down my face.
‘Why are you sad? They go back to each other in the end.’ Adam asked, bemused.
‘Because it reminds me of him.’
Adam pulled me towards him, wrapping his arms around me. He smelt like oranges and cigarette ash, but I liked it. I liked being held by him. I liked feeling his heart beat against my chest. I liked him breathing into my hair, the warmth of his breath tickling the back of my neck so the little hairs stood on end. There was only one thing I could think about.
I pulled away slightly so I could see his face. Then, I did it…the very thing I had stopped myself from doing for so long. I leant forward and brushed my lips against his. Soft and gentle. For two seconds, it was just him and I. He pulled away, faced the ground, yet he still held onto me.
I could feel the heat creeping to my cheeks. What had I done?
‘I’m…I’m so sorry…God! I don’t even know what I was thinking!’
I tried to pull away from him, but he wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t bear to look him in the eye, but I knew I had to. When I did, there were tears in his eyes.
‘This is my fault. I should’ve left you alone, but I couldn’t. And now…’
‘It doesn’t matter. It was a mistake. It’s not your fault.’
‘I love you, Rosie.’
It took a moment or two to sink in. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Every emotion washed over me at once: shock, guilt, elation. I wanted to cry with happiness, but what would it mean?
‘I love you. I have for a long time.’
He smiled, a smile tinged with sadness. We knew what we had, and this was our moment. For one moment, we hugged; we kissed until our mouths were dry and our lips were sticky. In that moment, we exposed the secret. In the next, it was gone, concealed, locked away for our eyes only.
The next day, a letter dropped onto the door mat – Alex was coming home.