From his position at the bar Blake studied his younger half-brother, who naturally noticed and raised an eyebrow. When Blake still said nothing, Eli couldn’t take it any longer.
“Do you want an updated picture of me so you have something to take home and stare at?”
“Awww .. do I make you nervous little bro?” Blake chuckled.
“Maybe Blake is reconsidering his sexuality.” Parker smirked.
Parker was also Blake’s half-brother on his mother’s side, while Eli and Blake shared a father. Parker and Eli weren’t blood-related, but for decades they all considered each other brothers and best friends regardless.
“Dude, that’s just nasty! We’re blood-related! And he’s not my type anyway.” Eli grimaced in disgust.
“You ain’t a panty-dropper to me either. Not to mention that I have standards. Need at least boobs and hips – and less scruff.” Blake added.
“Just sayin’ … it would only be half-illegal, right? Since you two are only half-brothers …” Parker teased some more.
“See Parker, I love our ol’ Blake here, but I ain’t ever going to prove it physically. I know he is around the average height of a woman and got that babyface, the long hair, but still no… ”
“One more syllable out of either of you about this and I will test out how well my fists fit into your eye sockets! And get your paws off of me, both of you. Tell ya what I tell all the other people fangirling me: look, don’t touch. All this glory you see here is for Hailey’s hands only.” Blake warned.
“Aww, touchy much?” Eli grinned at his half-brother trying to pet his hair, but Blake swatted at him. This was just in good humor between the three.
“Joking aside – and I am using that term loosely on your lame attempt there, Parker – but I am worried about you, Eli. You need to get out more. Get your goods out there again. Live your life, not punish yourself and watch life pass you by. One day you may regret it. You’re easy on the eye, finding a lady-friend shouldn’t be hard. How long has it been since the divorce now? And as far as I know, you have not been on even one single date since then? That is nothing but a self imposed prison you do not deserve, man.” Blake had gotten serious addressing Eli.
“He’s been inhaling too much liquid courage. Every time we meet he sucks more alc down than air. By the time the liquid courage kicks in and he has the guts to even talk to a girl he is so drunk that neither he nor his little friend can stand up anymore.” Parker laughed.
“Don’t you worry about my virility, bud. I may not have the several dozens of children you and your wife have been overpopulating the globe with, but all works as advertised on me when it’s supposed to. And I drink as much as you or Blake, not more, not less. Besides, I go out. I went out with Natasha a few times.” Eli stated plainly.
“Oh? First I hear about that. Isn’t she single too?” Blake jumped at the info.
“She is, but not interested. When I carefully tested that water she immediately set me straight. Told me we’d never go beyond friendship, too hurt from me dumping her when we were 18 and that the reason I broke it off with her is still an issue, her father is still a vampire and that won’t ever change. So there goes that hope.”
“I only have four kids, for your info, you joker, not dozens. And women change their minds all the time …” Parker shrugged.
“Women maybe, but Natasha is the exception. I know her well enough to say that with certainty. Besides, she is already dating again.”
“I might know a few single …” Blake tried.
“No blind dates! No thanks! Your wife already tried to get me hooked up with some of her friends. Just no.” Eli ranted.
“Why don’t you at least ..” Parker attempted his luck.
“No. Parker, don’t you worry about me or that fire-engine red hair of yours might catch on fire.” Eli tried a diversion off that pesky topic.
“But how about online dating?” Blake suggested.
“Don’t knock it till you at least try it once.” Blake insisted.
“I am not. I did try. Even chatted with a woman from a dating site for a while. I had every intention on meeting her in person. All the way up until it turned out she had been researching me and found out that I am pretty wealthy and one of the owners of a pretty successful architectural office. I draw the line at gold diggers. No sex is that good that I could ever deal with one of those.”
“You mean again? Sarah wasn’t much different. But that was one bad apple you found. Not everyone can be a winner. Try again, the next may be just like you, only with more interesting parts on her.” Blake told him, then winked, as Eli shook his head and took a sip of his beer.
“Kiersten knows a bunch of women, a lot of them divorced with grown children. Not suggesting a blind date, but I could have a party at my place and invite them and you, and Blake, Hailey, …” Parker tried again.
“And that is my cue. Was great hanging with you boys again, let’s do this again soon, but try to come up with some better topics. Have a good one guys!”
Eli gulped down what was left in the bottle he had been drinking from, tossed some money on the bar and left his half-brother and Parker behind.
“What a ninny. You can tell he hasn’t gotten laid in ages. Touchy A.F.” Parker evaluated.
“We need to help get him some somehow. Maybe we could find him a hooker. Or at least arrange a one night stand.”
“Nope!” Blake said decidedly.
“I thought you love your baby brother. He needs love in his life. A different kind than you or I can – and want to – give him. He needs to get laid to get his self esteem back up so he can find a proper woman for himself, one to keep around. To be happy with, grow old with. He’s in his fifties, just saying.”
“Yup. But not like this, Parker. I love him too much to feed him to the wolves for a piece of ass hoping it would fix in a few raunchy nights what Sarah broke over several decades and two failed marriages. Eli is way too sensitive. He cannot do one night stands and stuff like that. That would send him completely over the edge.”
A few days later.
Eli’s mood was not the best when he got home from work early, made coffee then waited for the first of the entire list of women he had scheduled today, in 30 min increments, one after another. Six interviews for a full time nanny position to take care of Ewan-Leif. One of them was bound to be good enough to hire on, praying that Ewan would like her. They all came prescreened and vetted from a well renown agency. Eli glanced at the stack of information about all of them before him.
The first came and left after only 6 minutes. Definitely not the one. The next two were definite maybes. The forth seemed to be more interested in Eli than in his son. Number five was a possible maybe, at least she had experience with complicated children like Ewan had turned out to be. He was a good kid, but the strained relationship with his mother took it’s toll.
Now he was awaiting number six. The last one. Thank goodness. This had turned out to be even rougher than he had feared. The gate alarm rang, he buzzed the car in using a cell phone app.
“All righty, here goes nothing again.” Eli said to himself, took a healthy sip of coffee, took the pile of documents to the dining room where he conducted the interview and waited by the door for her to park her car.
Elias opened the door and was surprised. Most of the candidates looked like you would imagine the stereotypical seasoned and experienced full-time nanny to look like. Sensible clothing with kitschy patterns that hid stains well and shoes that wouldn’t be too much of a loss if puked or spilled on, low maintenance hairdo, no make up, dowdy.
Not this candidate.
She looked much younger than the other ones so far and not as stoically calm. She could not be older than 23, 25 tops. And she was pretty, in the girl next door way.
Eli just remembered to get his bearings about him before the moment got awkward. The meeting was pleasant, she had good references and a solid background, even though she really was a lot younger than the other candidates.
Eli asked all the usual questions and she gave all the right answers, had a sense of humor, and was truly easy going. This was exactly what Ewan needed.
By the time the interview concluded and he had seen her to the door, then shut it behind her, Eli already knew his mind was made up. He would humor himself and review the other three potential matches again but the last one, Tara, had the spunk, yet calmness that could be the perfect mix to keep a lid on Ewan, who was about to start school soon. She was very young, only 25, but Eli trusted her to be able to handle it. A few days later the contract was signed, Tara was hired and even Ewan didn’t have any complaints.
The following week saw Eli’s mood improve significantly. Tara was working out well, Ewan liked her, there were no issues, she was reliable and he could finally focus on his work again.
Today he and Chase would meet with two people from a new construction company they were going to look into working with, and they were on their way to the meeting room where the potential business partners were waiting. Chase knocked, entered and Elias gasped. Instead of two typical business men in suits there was only one woman, and she was gorgeous!
“Good afternoon! You must be Miss Bradford. I am Chase Cameron, this is my uncle Elias Cameron. We both run EC Architects together.” Chase greeted the woman, shaking her hand across the table.
“Mr. Cameron, so nice to meet both of you and finally put faces with the emails and calls. Mr. Nichols was supposed to be here today but unfortunately had a last minute family emergency, so it’s gonna be just me. Shall we get started?” she said while shaking Eli’s hand now.
“Of course.” he managed to get out, trying to pry himself away from the mesmerizing eyes of hers. WOW!
They just sat down when Chase’s phone rang again, and he excused himself to the window. Eli could tell it was Shea and Chase was worried. Once the call ended he came over, looking flustered.
“I am so very sorry, but I have to excuse myself from the meeting. Also a family emergency of sorts. The pediatrican called, they noticed some discrepancies on Eric’s tests from his routine check last week and wants Shea and me to come in right away. She is freaking out. I don’t know what could be wrong, he is happy and healthy. Eli, are you okay doing this without me?”
“Of course, just go and calm down Shea. Pediatricians love nothing more than to ring the alarm bells when a kid has a pimple on their rear. I have been through it a million times and am sure it is nothing. Give her my love and tell her not to worry.”
“Okay, I will. So very sorry, Miss Bradford. Bye.”
Chase rushed out frantically.
“Oh man, I hope everything is all right with his family.” Meagan Bradford said.
“Yeah. They are first time parents and this is not the first time they freaked out about nothing. It’s easier to let them figure it out for themselves. I once got called in to learn that my child’s feet are 10% larger than average for his age group. His feet look fine to me. I have yet to buy him clown shoes. Told the doc that at least he has a lower risk of drowing with those flippers then.”
“Wise words.” Meagan Bradford giggled.
They conducted business as planned, then dove out to a job site, where she showed him some of their current projects. After that they agreed on a dinner. To discuss business, of course.
“So, when you are not blinding potential new clients with your knowledge, charm and wit, what do you do, Miss Bradford?”
“Please, Meagan is fine. Oh, I do a lot of things, depending on what I have time for. I like travelling, dancing, Latin dances are my favorite, they keep the figure in check, I like cooking, hmm .. many things. What about you, Mr. Cameron?”
“Eli, please. I don’t have too much spare time between the company and my son. He just turned 6 and is about to go to school. All that keeps me on my toes.”
“Oh, is the mother not in the picture, if you do not mind me asking?”
“I do not mind and no she is not. She is not very maternal, divorced me for a man without children and I think the last time she saw Ewan was for his birthday, and even then only for less than 30 minutes. She gave him a squeaky toy, he is still offended by it. That’s how little his mother knows him.”
“I am sorry, this is not funny. Forgive me.”
“Actually it is funny. My wife and my marriage were one big joke. But let’s not ruin the atmosphere with this kinda talk.”
After he dropped Meagan off in front of the EC Architect building to get to her own car, Eli wore the biggest smile, even though it was really late. The business dinner had turned into a night out on the town. They had walked, talked, gone for drinks at a lounge. Time had just flown by.
Driving up his driveway he felt guilty, like a teen who overstayed his curfew and was trying to sneak into bed without the parents noticing. He had several missed messages by Tara, the nanny. He’d just give her a nice fat tip, she was nice and would surely understand. He had never been late before.
When he entered the house was dark. Had she left Ewan alone? If yes, they would have serious words and he would launch a juicy complaint with the nanny agency!
He snuck upstairs to find Ewan sound asleep in his bed, he straightened the bedding and carefully planted a gentle kiss on his son’s forehead. Shutting the door quietly behind himself, he snuck back downstairs to have a drink.
Listening to the sound of the ice clinking in the glass, the liquid pouring over it gave him satisfaction. Hopefully this would take his mind of all that his life wasn’t and let him go to sleep with the memory of the small taste he got today of what his life could be, if only.
That drink turned into a few.
And a few more.
Quite a few total.
“Oh, there you are. Thank God you are all right! You had me worried.” the drowsy voice startled him and he winced, nearly dropping his glass, as he turned around.
“Tara! I thought you had gone home!” Eli exclaimed a little too loud, his voice slurred.
“Shhhhhh! Ewan is asleep. As was I. I texted and called you a million times! I couldn’t leave and just passed out on the couch. Sorry.” her voice sounded drowsy from the interrupted slumber.
“Sorry. I’ll pay you double for the extra hours … business meeting went over.”
“You have business meetings until after midnight?”
“Uh …. oops. I guess I’ll pay you double and for the next day too. Weekend rate, too. It is Saturday, right?”
“Mr. Cameron, this is not about pay! I understand things come up, I know your work hours are sometimes unpredictable, as are mine. But you HAVE TO answer my calls or texts! I thought something happened to you. I was this close to calling all the hospitals! And you are very drunk! I cannot leave you alone with Ewan now. What were you thinking?”
“You were worried about me?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Ha, I can’t recall the last time someone I am not related to gave a shit. Sorry. I … just … haven’t had much luck with people in my life. I was an asshole and let go the one woman I truly loved because of her father and the next one only married me because I knocked her up, which she probably will hate me forever for … I am just unlovable … and lonely .. forever…” Eli was very intoxicated and babbled himself into a melancholy vortex, his eyes welling up, he felt fuzzy and then he felt a different sensation. After that he had a blackout.
He still remembered the warm, cozy feeling when he realized he was drifting off to sleep a while later, so relaxed, even though he couldn’t say how he got into bed anymore.
The next morning wasn’t as pleasant.
Eli woke up having to pee so bad he felt like he was about to burst at all seams. Everything was a blur, the room felt foggy around him. It was still dark, since it was winter. Mercifully so. His head thanked that fact, as there was a nagging, dull pain.
As he sat up he realized it had been too quick, as the entire world was turning fast in all directions.
Instantly he felt a burst of nausea shooting up with the power of a volcano about to erupt. He barely made it to the toilet.
He felt like he emptied the entire sum of all meals from the entire week into the bowl.
Exhausted and drained, draped over the toilet bowl he quietly told himself in a voice that didn’t even sound like his own.
“Elias Cameron, you are definitely too old for this kinda shit! Definitely!”
When he finally could, he got up, cleaned himself up, partially leaning against the sink to hold himself up. This had been a bad mistake. He’d pay for all this all day for sure.
On shaky legs he grabbed his robe, his head still pounding, as he dragged his aching body back into his bedroom, half-blinded by the imaginary bright lights falling through the partially open curtains, so he could go downstairs and get some pain meds. LOTS of pain meds. Fistfuls! Ugh!
He was about to leave the room when he noticed stirring in the bed and now realized the shape beneath the covers and strands of red hair. instantly he was fully conscious and wide awake.
“Oh fucking hell!” Eli mumbled to himself.
-to be continued-