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It was the beginning of March and Sebastian and I were in a good place (or as good as could be in our situation.) After Valentine's, not only did we go back to our usual Friday hangouts followed by mind-blowing sex, we also found more time during the week to hangout. The fact that Emma and I had been getting along better was a big reason we were both able to spend so much time together.
Although I was scared Emma was going to find out about what Sebastian and I were doing, my fears dissolved when she told me how much she appreciated me being there for Sebastian. She understood how him working, going to school, and being a father could be stressful but was grateful that I was able to spend some time with him so he could unwind. If only she knew.
Although I tried not to bring her up, Sebastian decided to share more about his relationship with Emma with me. We had just gotten out of a Mammology exam when we both decided we wanted Chick-Fil-A.
"We can get food first, A," Sebastian said as we headed to his car- he had picked me up from my apartment because my car was in the shop.
"Sure," I said, walking side by side with him. I got into his car, passenger side, and we rode to Chick-Fil-A together.
"Are you free right now, by the way?" He asked.
I thought about it and remembered that I really only had about 15 minutes before I had to go somewhere but, as usual, I would do anything for Sebastian. "Yeah," I said, "I'm free. Why?"
"Well, I wanted to work on an essay at home. I was wondering if you were OK with getting our food to-go and heading to my house so you could help me. My sister's down from Houston for the next two weeks and she's been home all day taking care of Lily so I also wanted to give her some time off to go do whatever she needs to do."
"Yeah, no problem," I said. "What about Emma though, is she home?"
"No," he said, "she's doing things out of town. She'll be back sometime tomorrow morning."
"Ok, yeah. Let's do it."
We got to Chick-Fil-A, ordered our food, and headed to Sebastian's house. When we got there, we both got off and headed to his front door. Walking in, I realized that the last time I had been inside his house was the time I drove him home after Carol's party. That felt like such a long time ago, and yet only a few months had passed. I walked past his living room and dropped the food off at his dining room table.
"Michele, I'm home," Sebastian yelled into the hallway adjacent to the living room. After some time, a girl of about 22 walked out of a room down the hall with Lily in her arms. "Michele, this is my friend Alex. Alex, this is Michele, my sister."
"Nice to meet you, Michele," I said as I hugged her and kissed her cheek.
"Likewise," she said with a smile. Sebastian took Lily into his arms and went back into the kitchen playing with his daughter's hands. I couldn't help but smile at how happy Sebastian was right now. He loved his daughter and I loved seeing him like this.
"So, how do you know, Sebbie?" Michele asked.
"Oh," I said, turning away from Sebastian and looking back at her. "I met him last semester in our environmental science class. We've been friends since."
"Oh, you're a Biology major too, then?"
"Yes," I said. "What about you? Sebastian told me you had just come down from Houston."
"Yeah, I came down to visit my mom, Sebastian, and Lily here during Spring break. I finished my tests early so I have two weeks free."
"Wow," I said, genuinely impressed. "That's amazing. We're only just taking our midterms this week." Michele and I continue small talking before Sebastian finally joins us again in the living room with Lily and a baby bottle.
"Michele," he says, gently rocking Lily on his hands, "We're going to be working on some homework. If you want, you can go out and do whatever you want to. We can handle Lily."
"Ok," she says, looking at Sebastian and me. "I did want to go out with some old friends of mine tonight. I'll let them know that I can make it then."
Sebastian puts Lily down into a baby walker and motions for me to join him in the kitchen so we can eat. We dig into our food and Michele lets us know that she'll be heading out a few minutes in. Once she is gone, I take another bite of my chicken burger and Sebastian looks at me.
"So, Emma's being more of a bitch lately," he said nonchalantly. I nearly choke on my chicken at the change of topic in the conversation. "Lily's birthday is coming up and she's been useless and annoying as fuck."
"Really," I said. "How so?"
"Well, I've been getting all the shit that we need for the party: the food, the tables, the decorations, the guests. She's done nothing other than ask, ask, ask. I'm getting fucking over it." I look at Sebastian and I realize this wasn't a conversation where he wants my input. He just wants me to listen, so I do. "I told her she needed to start pulling her weight. Then we got into an argument and it got fucking messy."
I nod my head. I didn't know what to say. Sebastian and I usually never spoke about Emma. "She never does shit around the house either, you know?" Sebastian motions around him towards the rest of the house, "Michele showed up and cleaned up a bit, but before her, nothing would be clean. I'd have to wash and cook and clean and she just wouldn't do shit, man." Sebastian paused and looked at me. "Sorry," he says after a few seconds, "I'm just tired of this whole shit. We talked the other day and I told her that the only reason she's really here is for Lily. She spent all day yesterday and today at her dad's because I said I needed some time to clear my head."
There it was. As soon as he said it, a part of me began to hope. A tiny part of me hoped that that was the final nail in the coffin and Sebastian was finally going to tell me that he was going to leave Emma and he was going to be with me and we were going to be happy together and everything was going to be OK. But he didn't say that. And that didn't happen. So I just continued to be a silent remainder in Sebastian and Emma's relationship.
"Look, Sebastian," I said, breaking the silence that had developed. "I'm not saying actually, yes, I am." I looked from Lily jumping around in her walker to Sebastian's angst filled eyes, "I've known you for 9 months- you're a good person and you're an ever greater dad. I just want you to do me a favor, Ok?" Sebastian nods and I continue. "I want you to think about the future- and I don't mean a week or a month from now. I mean, years from now- actually look back at yourself from the future and ask yourself if you were happy right now. Ask yourself if there was anything you could have done differently for yourself or for Lily." I pause, knowing what I want to say but afraid to say it. I shrugged, "You should be happy, man you deserve to be happy." I look back to Lily and pause as I see her giggling around a small silence develops as we both stare at Lily. "She's going to grow up, you know? She's going to grow up looking at you and Emma and she's going to know when you and her are miserable or fighting or mad." I think back to my own childhood and add, "And that's not the best place for a kid to grow up in. Just know- just know that whatever you decide to do, I'll be here for you." I smile at Sebastian, "I always am."
"Thanks, Alex," he said. "You know I got you, too." And he did. Hell, if he told me he wanted to leave this place and have me go with him, I wouldn't have thought twice about it he had me more than he realized. We finished our food talking about other, less intense things. When we were done, I helped Sebastian clean the table and we moved to the living room.
"I actually don't need help on the essay, A."
"Oh," I said, looking at him, thinking that he was about to tell me to leave.
Instead, he says, "I just wanted company while I was doing it." I smile at Sebastian and nod. For the next hour, he works on his essay and I keep him company, joking around and playing with Lily. She has grown a lot since the first time I saw her and I couldn't help but notice how much her features resembled Sebastian: the shape of her eyes, the curves of her lips when she smiles, her button nose, and, most importantly, the hazel in her eyes. I sat on the floor for a while and played with her.
"She's my world," Sebastian says. Surprised to hear him, I look back at him. "I love her and I would do anything for her." I look back at Lily, at the little girl whose father was the best thing to ever happen to me, and smile.
"I know," I said.
"Make sure you come to her party Saturday," Sebastian said.
"Wouldn't miss it."
It was around 10PM when Michele came back.
"Hey, what happened? I thought you'd be out later?" Sebastian asks his sister.
"I was, but then I started getting this really bad headache and I decided to leave early and reschedule." Michele looks at us and adds, "I won't keep you guys, though. I'm headed to bed- I've had a long day." She waves goodbye to us and heads off to bed.
Sebastian and I kept talking and working on his essay for some time longer before he decides it's time to take Lily to bed.
"Yeah, man ok. I'll wait here." I said.
"Actually," he said, "I really need to use the restroom. Do you mind doing it? All you need to do is put her in her crib and tuck her. It shouldn't be a problem."
"Oh, yeah. OK." I picked Lily up and she giggled as I carried her down the hall to Sebastian and Emma's room. I walked into the room and head towards the crib that lies next to their bed. As I walked across the room I can't stop myself from thinking about Emma and Sebastian sleeping in the same bed. A wave of jealousy washes over me but I shake it off. He doesn't love her, I think. That thought comforted me until I realized that I don' even know what he feels for me. I lowered Lily onto the crib and began to tuck her in thinking how precious it was to hold the person Sebastian loved most in my arms. Whatever we had, he trusted me enough with his love and that was all that mattered right now.
As I washed my face, I stopped and stared at myself in the mirror. The person looking back at me surprised me when I noticed a small trace of something in my eyes. I was happy. It bothered me how I was not used to seeing myself happy at the end of the day. I didn't have to think too long to figure out why I was happy, though. Still, I was not sure how comfortable I was with the reason of me being this happy.
And then I think of Emma. I think of us and how all we ever do is fight. I remember our conversation two days ago when I confronted her about not helping out around the house and how most nights we end the day fighting. I felt like an asshole asking her to spend time with her dad time away from me- to see if it could fix us. I couldn't help myself though. I didn't want to see her or hear her or feel her because it reminded me of how much I didn't want to be with her. I didn't love her. It would be so easy to just leave her- to just walk away from her - if it weren't for Lily. I loved her. I loved her more than anything I had ever loved. I loved her more than anything I would ever love. There was no way I could have her go through growing up without a mom because of me. It was my choice to sleep with Emma and it was our choice to get pregnant. Lily had no fault in this.
From the first day I held her, I knew I would do anything for her. And now, being miserable with Emma was one of the things I had to do for her. Looking back at my reflection though, I couldn't help imagining what it would be like being with someone that actually made me happy. My train of thought derailed when I hear Lily begin to cry. I finished washing my face and brushing my teeth and head to my room.
I was about to rush in when I heard Alex start to sing to Lily. I stopped outside the opened door and listened to him do what he did best. His back was to me so he couldn't see me standing at the door listening to him. His voice was so tender and sweet that Lily's cries began to settle down with every word he sang.
"Hold me close and hold me fast.
This magic spell you cast this is la vie en rose.
When you kiss me heaven sighs.
And though I close my eyes I see la vie en rose."
I stood there and stared as he continued to sing. Lily's crying had gone silent from the lullaby. She was just as entranced as I was, no doubt. Unlike other times I had heard Alex sing, this time he was doing it without a guitar or piano accompanying him. His voice was the only thing filling my now silent room. I couldn't help but notice how his singing seemed more intimate now because he didn't know I was listening to him. He didn't know that I could hear the hurt and the longing and the love in his voice as he sang to my daughter. He didn't know that there was no way in hell Emma would ever have sung to Lily like that.
"When you press me to your heart
I'm in a world apart a world where roses bloom.
And when you speak angels sing from above.
Everyday words seem to turn into love songs."
What was it about him that messed with my head? For years, I had never had any interest in a guy. Ever. Then, out of nowhere, Alex comes along and my whole world shifted. I had been happy being miserable with Emma. I had been happy not knowing what being happy was. Now now I don't know.
"Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be la vie en rose."
Lily's crying had ended some time ago and I was sure she was on the verge of sleep. I heard Alex start the lullaby again and decided to walk away. For some reason, I didn't want him to know that I had heard him. The song seemed too intimate for him, like a secret he didn't mean to share so I walked away and headed back into the living room. A few minutes later, I hear steps coming towards the kitchen and expect to see Alex. Instead, I see Michele walking into the kitchen.
"Your friend has a nice voice," she said.
"Yeah," I said, "He does."
"Can I ask you something, Sebbie?" I looked at my sister as she grabbed a glass of water and some aspirin.
"What is it, Mich?"
"It's about, Alex." I remained silent and waited for her to continue. "I got a good vibe from him."
"Ok," I said. "Good. What's your question, though?"
"My question is," she hesitated for a second wondering whether or not to say whatever she was going to say. In the end, she looked back at me and said, "Is he single?"
I blinked. "What's that?"
She smiled. "I said, is he single?"
"Oh," this was weird. "Uh, yeah, he is." Well, he was - I didn't really know where Alex and I stood.
"Good. You're his friend and my brother. Put in a good word for me, then."
With that, Michele walked back into her room and left me standing alone in the kitchen.