Orchid Ch. 04

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“It’s crooked,” Eve said, tongue peeking out between her lips as she reached up. Gill smiled to himself and stood up nice and tall. He knew that his tie was in no way crooked. He prided himself on his eye for symmetry and he knew that his steel gray suit was immaculate, but there were some things he was learning to simply let go and let her have. This was most definitely one of them. “Hmmm.”

“What?” Gill asked, suddenly doubting himself.

“I think I just increased your handsomeness by one-point-six per-no! One-point-seven percent!”

“Huh.” Gill nodded slowly, and smiled at a car that crept along the street. “That’s a nice little bump.”

“I thought so too!” Eve smiled, satisfied with herself, and tapped the tip of Gill’s nose with her index finger. Gill was largely sure that, if their height difference were reversed, Eve would be kissing him on the nose every time she did that. He smiled to himself as he crooked his arm, elbow bent ninety degrees, and held it out for her. She gave him a guarded smile as she entwined her arm with his, but Gill was pretty sure that she was only muting her excitement to keep his ego from exploding.

The fact that Gill had very little ego was completely lost on Eve.

She shivered lightly in the cool December air. Gill had thought that having an outdoor wedding so late in the year was a strange decision, but he was only too happy to surrender his jacket for her. Eve blushed fiercely as she shrugged into his coat, and instead of offering his arm again Gill simply slipped it around her waist and escorted her that way. Eve was wearing one of Kit’s dresses; white with a few sections across the shoulder and back that were translucent and see-through.

The path down the driveway steered guests around to the back of the house, and Eve gasped in child-like awe as they came through the fence. White Christmas lights had been strung up through each of the bushes, and through each of the trees, in the half-acre section of yard. Then, interspersed evenly throughout the space, were two dozen lamp post heaters. The air was still crisp, but comfort was never more than a few steps away. Eve hesitantly slipped out of his jacket as she walked around, but only surrendered it back to him after walking nearly the entire length of the yard and back.

“Wow,” Gill said, nodding slowly.

“That’s all you have to say?” Eve was still agog, even minutes after arriving. “Look at all of this!”

Gill looked around, trying to give the admittedly-stunning decor a more appropriate amount of attention, but no sooner had he started than Eve was tugging on his arm again. Sometimes it felt like every moment since meeting Eve had been like that; being dragged off to something new and different before he would have been otherwise ready. He’d lost count of the new foods he’d tried at her insistence, or the number of midnight showings of arthouse films he’d been taken to. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a favorite.

“Calvin!” Eve cried, letting go of Gill only a moment before wrapping the older man up in a big hug.

Calvin laughed as he braced himself, valiantly keeping his cup from spilling, and extended a hand toward Gill as soon as he was steady again.


“Thanks for coming!” he said, vigorously squeezing and meeting Gill’s grip. Gill never went full force on a handshake, but he’d found a comfortable zone that most other men could match. “Wow, you guys are here at, like, the perfect time too! I can actually stop and talk to you before it gets too crowded!”

“No time,” Eve said, looking around. “Are they inside?”

“Yes,” Calvin said, smiling at Gill over the top of her head. “Through the kitchen, and then up the stairs. I think they’re both still up there.”

Gill found himself leaning farther and farther as he watched Eve go, enjoying what her heels did for her calves and backside. Her legs were still a big weakness for him, even years later. He and Calvin shared a respectful nod.

“So how is your semester going?” Gill was proud of himself for launching right in. Eve had coached him a little, helping him with some icebreakers to keep conversations moving. He made a mental note to thank her later.

“I know this isn’t the answer you were looking for,” Calvin said, leaning in, “but it’s actually going terrible!”

“Oh no.”

The blond-haired man chuckled and shook his head. “That’s not completely true, I guess. It’s kind of a mixed bag. There’s a few students who are really raising the bar in terms of that… that stereotypical ‘millennial entitlement’.”

Gill nodded, though he wasn’t entirely sure he understood what the other man was getting at.

“And then I’ve got this kid in one of my writing classes who is just blowing me away. He’s got this really unique voice, you know?”

“Yeah,” Gill said, nodding again.



Calvin turned around and reached behind the bar, much to the chagrin of the young man hired to tend it.

“Anyway, he’s… uh… He’s Pendik Sınırsız Escort all self-taught, so I’m having a great time introducing him to some really great authors.”

“Like Hemmingway?” Gill asked, perking up.

“Like Hemmingway!” Calvin nodded, and took a sip of his drink. “He’s my favorite, so of course he was first.”

“I’m on my third read-through of For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

“That’s great,” Calvin exclaimed. “I’m glad you like it!”

“Do you mind if I hold on to your copy for just a bit longer?”

“Keep it as long as you like. I have others.”

Gill nodded and looked around. “How’s everything else going? With the whole…” He drifted to a stop while bringing his cupped hands together as if gripping an imaginary ball.

“With us?”

Gill nodded sheepishly.

“Oh it’s great. All menages, all the time.”

Gill blinked, and only got the joke a moment later when Calvin’s straight expression broke hard.

“I thought you were serious,” Gill laughed.

Calvin clapped him on the shoulder and shook his head. “No no. It’s not like that. We, uh… we schedule it out.”

“So you’re like… together with different people on different days?”

“Keeps it fair. Tuesdays are with Susan. Wednesdays are with Kit. Thursdays, Susan and Kit are together and I get some alone time. Etc etc. Once a week, all three of us spend some very low key time together, and it’s wonderful. I know that doesn’t sound very flashy but honestly? Fair is the most important part of it.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Gill said, his brow furrowed in thought as he adjusted his mental image of the whole situation. “Eve tried to explain it to me once and I wasn’t really getting it. And then I was afraid to ask more because I didn’t want to make her feel like I was trying to figure it out so that she and I could do the same.”

“How are you two doing?”

Gill looked past Calvin, toward the house, for a moment before reaching inside his vest to produce a dark blue, velvet-covered box. It was smaller than his palm, and he only pulled it out for a second before tucking it back in, but that was long enough to have the intended effect on Calvin.

“That’s fantastic, man! How long have you guys been together?”

“A little over three years.”

“Are you going to ask her tonight?”

“Yeah,” Gill said, smiling while he kept a careful eye on the house. “After everything you guys are doing is over, and if I can find the right moment.”

“Congratulations!” Calvin said eagerly, clapping Gill on the shoulder again. “Seriously. You guys are great together, and I’m really happy for you!”

“Don’t tell anyone, okay?”

Calvin zipped his lips and smiled, and the two men shared a quiet moment. Gill’s stomach had been doing cartwheels for nearly a week, getting worse as the day progressed, and he had hours yet before he’d have a chance to ask her.

“How is your internship going?”

“They’re gonna hire me on full-time,” Gill said excitedly. “Yeah, I’m working with two of their engineers on designing the aerodynamic ground effects packages and some of the other exterior parts.”

“And this is at Westinghouse?”

“It’s a subsidiary, but yeah. They’re hoping to have their second generation electric car finished early next year.”

“And then what happens to it after that?”

“Well it goes up to the board for final approval before it moves into any kind of limited or full production, but a few of the board members have been involved the whole time so that’s pretty much a formality.”

“I could buy your car. How cool is that?”

Gill smiled and gave a small nod. “Pretty cool.”

“My birthday is coming up,” Eve said, surprising them both as she slipped in next to Gill and wrapped her arm around him. He immediately matched her and gave her a kiss on the top of her head. “So if you were already thinking about buying me a car, I’d like one of those. In pink.”

“And on that note…” Calvin laughed as he stepped away, angling toward another group that had just come around the side of the house.

Eve bounced around in front of Gill and took firm hold of his belt. “Kit. Looks. Amazing!”

“Didn’t you go dress shopping with her?”

“I mean,” Eve said, rolling her eyes, “sure I knew what she was going to look like in it, but it’s way different with her hair did and her makeup all made up.”

Gill nodded, more because this was an area where he simply acceded to her superior knowledge on the subject than any understanding on his own part. He started to sway when Eve did, dancing like they often did at home, in the kitchen, but Gill quickly found himself dancing alone. Eve stood completely still, eyes wide, as an older woman nodded at her and continued walking.

“Jesus Backflipping Christ!” Eve hissed.

“Hey,” Gill said slowly. “Wasn’t that your mother?”

“Yeah,” she said, with just the hint of a smile at the corners of her eyes. “This is great!”

“She didn’t address you? Pendik Suriyeli Escort Or anything? She just—”

“Yeah, but she didn’t call me Everett!”

Gill stared, slack-jawed, as Mrs. Ginsman clutched at her purse and jacket while looking around.

“Come on,” Eve hissed, grabbing his hand and dragging him toward the house.

Just as they were approaching the back door, Susan stepped out with a shocked expression.

“Isn’t that—”

“Yes,” Eve said, hurrying past her.

Gill had only ever been to the Ayers household a few times, and he was always a little bit awestruck by the scale of it. The kitchen alone was nearly as large as his last apartment. Gill’s needs and tastes ran along much more simple lines. He was glad for every time he’d noticed Eve’s private disdain for the same, every time she twisted her lips when she didn’t think Kit would notice. Gill always worried that he wasn’t enough for Eve, no matter how often or enthusiastically she told him he was, but he also thought that was a healthy thing to worry about.

“Kit,” Eve called, as she went upstairs. “Kiiiiiiiit.”

“In here!” Kit said, from their left.

“In hee-urrrr,” Bridget repeated loudly. The toddler turned toward them as they came down the hall, much to Kit’s frustration, with one foot bare and the other in a sock and mary jane. “Look! I’m pretty, right?”

“Let me put on your other shoe,” Kit said.

Bridget promptly jumped into the air and spun, slapping her bare foot back down in front of Kit with a grin. “Soooorry,” she said.

Kit smiled and worked the sock back and forth around some very wiggly and unhelpful toes, and hummed softly under her breath. Bridget immediately began singing along with her. Gill didn’t recognize the tune, and a lot of the words were gibberish replacements, but it was pretty nonetheless.

“Hey,” Eve said. “Gill, baby, could you maybe help put on her shoes?”

“I would love to!”

Kit tilted her head in disbelief as she handed Gill the tiny shoe.

“Now how does this work?” Gill said, as he pulled on the strap the wrong way.

“It’s Velcro,” Bridget explained, as she took the shoe from his hands. “You pull it like this.”

“What’s going on?” Kit asked, getting to her feet.

“Now… don’t get mad—”

“What did you do?” Kit’s eyebrows rose higher and higher.

“Mom is downstairs.”

Kit froze.

“And then this goes… here?” Gill said, putting the shoe on top of his head.

“Nooooooooo!” Bridget cackled as she clamored over Gill, reaching as high as she could. “It goes on my feets!”

“… wuh… wuh… why?”

Eve shrugged and smiled. “There is a remote possibility— very minute— that uh, that I invited her.”

“You?!” Kit shouted.

“I mean, there’s no proof,” Eve said, adding, “unless she recorded the conversation,” under her breath a moment later. “And that would just be weird.”

“Why the Ffff…” Kit stared sideways at Bridget, who was steadily climbing up Gill’s back. “Why the frack did you invite her?”

“Dad would have wanted me to.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t want you to! Which is why I didn’t just do it myself!”

“Honestly, I didn’t think she’d come… but I had to offer. I had to.”

“It’s my wedding! You didn’t have to do anything!”

Eve smiled sadly and leaned in. “Yeah I did.”

Gill couldn’t help but stare at the two of them. Despite all the similarities in their features, the differences in height, hair, and personality were so extreme that he would likely never have guessed that they were sisters if he’d never seen them together. Of course, watching them talk for two minutes was more than enough.

“She didn’t call me Everett.”

Kit recoiled, eyes wide. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah,” Eve laughed. “I mean, she didn’t say anything, really, but when has she ever not taken the opportunity to throw that in my face? Or yours?”

“I wonder if…” As one, the two of them turned to look at Bridget.

“She’s not getting one of those from me any time soon,” Eve said. “Plus, you’re way overdue to be the golden child for a bit.”

Kit folded her arms across her chest and turned slightly, so that she was facing away from him, and spoke low. “Have you guys, like—”

“Yes,” Eve hissed. “We have.”


“And he’s… yanno… yeah.”


“I’m right here,” Gill said, smiling while holding Bridget upside down. “I can hear you.”

Eve frowned peevishly at him.

“Are you guys thinking about adopting? Or like a surrogate? Or—”

“We didn’t really get that far,” Eve said, interrupting and stalling her sister. “We just sorta started talking about… that.”

“See? You’ll be the golden child again in no time.”

“I don’t want to be the golden child! I want to be one of the Golden Girls.”

“As long as I’m Blanche, that’s fine.”

“No way!” Eve took a step back and pointed to herself. “I’m Blanche.”

“Can you both be Blanche?” Pendik İranlı Escort Gill asked.

Both sisters turned to frown peevishly at him, and all doubt of their sisterhood disappeared.

“I have to go… deal with this,” Kit said. ” I can’t believe you invited her. Where the frack is she gonna sit?”

“You look beautiful,” Gill called, as she started to walk down the hall.

“You’re dead to me,” Kit said, raising her voice more as she went down the stairs. “Unless I get to be Blanche.”

“Aunt Salmon,” Bridget said.

“Yes,” Eve answered, grinning, as she turned and lowered into a squat with her knees together.

“Um, I just wanted to tell you that could I have some juice?”

Eve giggled and nodded. “Of course, honey. Do you know where your cup is?”

Bridget looked up and scratched her chin. “The last time that I saw it was when I was hasing lunch in the kitchen with Mimi.”

“Having,” Eve said, correcting her gently. “Having lunch. Why don’t you go see if it’s still there?”

“I’m gonna go really fast!” Bridget shouted, as she ran down the hall. “I’m the fastest girl ever!”

Gill came up behind Eve, put his arms around her middle, and spoke low into her ear. “Is that what she calls Kit? Mimi?”

“Yeah,” Eve said, snuggling into him. “Susan is Mommy, and Kit is Mimi.”

“And when did she start calling you Aunt Salmon?”

“It’s new! Do you like it?”

“Is that because your hair is pink?”

“Yes, and…” Eve turned around in his arms and grinned. ” …because only fish have Gills.”

Gill threw back his head and laughed.

“Isn’t that adorable?”

“Did you teach her that?”

Eve shook her head. “It was either Susan or Kit. Honestly, I think it was Susan.”

“That’s…” Gill laughed again and shook his head. “Yeah, that’s…” It was all he could do, in that moment, to hold on to her. There were times when she looked up at him, smiling at him in a way no one else ever had, that made him feel incredible about himself. For a little while, all was right with the world, and just when it dawned on him that maybe this was his moment right here, Eve pulled away and grabbed his hand.

“Come on,” she said. “We should be downstairs.”

Gill dragged his heels, as if procrastination could reclaim the perfection of the moment, but Eve flashed a smile that erased any doubt in his mind that there would only ever be one ‘perfect’ moment. He just needed to wait for any good moment, and the rest of it would fall into place. Eve had a habit of making magic happen all around her.

They came to a stop as soon as they were outside in the yard. Kit and her mother were off by themselves, talking quietly. Eve put a hand against his chest and shook her head, and Gill nodded while she continued on alone. He felt like he shouldn’t be watching, as Eve joined them and it became apparent that all three were crying.

“Here,” Susan said, appearing next to him with an extra champagne flute in her hand.


Susan eyed him and nodded, and then turned herself toward him. Her off-white, sleeveless gown accentuated her figure and highlighted her upper arms.

“You look fantastic,” Gill said.

“Thank you.”

They both folded their arms across their chests and peeked sideways at the Eve, Kit, and their mother, as the three of them moved to one of the tables in the back.

“So are you gonna ask her to marry you?”

“Yep,” he said, nodding.



“Good,” Susan said, nodding. “She’s a keeper. A little strange, but a keeper.”


“What do you think brought this on?” she asked, gesturing across the yard.

“Grandkids,” he replied sagely.

“She certainly wasn’t invi—” She snorted and shook her head. “Did Eve do that?”

“Uh huh.”

Susan nodded and turned back to him, looking him up and down. “I like you.”

“I like you too,” Gill said honestly.

“Have we ever really talked much?”


Susan nodded, and both of them finished off their champagne as they turned to watch again.

“We should do it again.”

Gill nodded.

“I get what she sees in you,” Susan added with a wry smile, as she took his empty flute and turned back into the kitchen.

Gill blinked and nodded, feeling like that was a moment where it was better to let Susan have the last word rather than repeat a similar sentiment in response. Kit and her mother came through, arm-in-arm, into the house, and Eve wrapped him up in another hug. He leaned down to meet her when he saw her neck arching, and she kissed him a hair more indecently than was appropriate given the setting.

“I love you,” she whispered.

“I love you too,” Gill said back.

“I have to go help Kit with her makeup again. Will you be ok out here?”


“Can you believe she called me a brat?” Eve made a face at her sister, as the older one headed deeper into the house, but after a moment her expression lit up. “I saw you talking to Susan! How did that go?”

“It was…” Gill laughed to himself. “Functional.”

“You’re the two most terse people I’ve ever met.”

“Hey,” Gill said. “I’m getting better!”

“Yes you are, Baby.” Eve kissed him again before coming back down to her normal height. “Yes you are.”

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