“Hey, Sam!” Hannah called over the balcony. “Can you make me one of your vegan meals? I want to try it out!”
“I’m not a vegan yet,” Sam corrected. “I’m getting there! Still having a hard time switching from good old fashioned butter.”
“Can you make it anyway?”
“Of course! Does Beth want anything?”
“Beth?” Hannah called into an open doorway. Sam could only hear mumbling, but Hannah leaned back over the railing with a wry smile. “She said she wants a sausage egg and cheese. I don’t think that’s what you meant.”
Sam rolled her eyes. “I could make you watch that chicken farm video again! Do you think that would change your mind?”
Beth came out of the room, fully dressed. “No. It would make me sad, but it wouldn’t help. Don’t worry, I’ll make it.”
Hannah went into her room and closed the door.
Sam and Beth laughed as they cooked, joking about something they’d watched on TV the night before.
“Hey!” Hannah yelled. “I can’t find my glasses! Can one of you help me?”
Sam laughed. “Flip this in a minute? I’ll help her.”
She ran up the stairs and into the room, spotting the thick frames almost immediately while Hannah stumbled around.
“Here,” Sam said, putting the glasses straight onto Hannah’s face. She had to adjust them, but she thanked her. They went to leave the room to go back to the kitchen. “It must suck being so blind.”
Then suddenly, Josh’s door opened.
Only it wasn’t Josh.
“Oh, hi,” said the squeaky voice of Jessica Riley. “I didn’t think anyone would be directly in front of the door as if they were listening in.”
Sam stared open mouthed at Jess, who was only wearing a long shirt of Josh’s. Josh, on the other hand, came over to the door, shirtless and in his boxers.
“Hey,” he said as if this was a sight they should be accustomed to.
Hannah shook her head. “Well, this isn’t what I expected… or ever wanted to see in the morning.”
Sam could hardly breathe as she tried to keep her eyes ANYWHERE but on Josh and Jess.
“We were just going down for some food,” Sam muttered, though her voice had gone hoarse.
“Did you make me anything?” Josh asked, as if there was nothing wrong with this scene. But God, there was so much wrong with it.
“No,” she said, going for the stairs, but Jess moved in her way.
“Excuse me, but I really need a shower. Josh said I could. I’m so dirty.” She gave Sam a deliberately savage look.
“Hell yeah you are,” Josh leaned down to kiss Jessica. It was fiery, nothing timid for their audience. Hannah and Sam felt like they were trapped in the bedroom alongside them.
Jess finally moved towards the bathroom and out of Sam’s way.
Sam took the opportunity to rush down the stairs, away from Josh and back to the kitchen.
“Who’s he got in there?” Beth whispered.
“Shit,” Beth said, handing Sam a plate. “That’s weird.”
Hannah followed close behind, covering her mouth in shock. “When did that happen?”
“I don’t know,” Sam whispered back.
“That’s awful,” Beth chuckled. “They’re a weird pairing.”
Josh came running down the stairs in a plain tee-shirt and a pair of jeans. “Done gossiping about me yet?” he asked as he went to reach for Beth’s breakfast sandwich. She swatted his hand away.
“Is it a joke?” Beth asked.
“No, it’s not a joke. We’ve been dating for a few weeks, but we’ve kept it private.”
“It’s fucking weird, Josh,” Beth said. “Jess?”
That got Josh defensive. “What? I can’t bring a girl over, but you can?”
Hannah looked at Sam, waiting for her to retaliate, but she still looked like she’d seen a ghost.
Beth snorted. “Sam’s our best friend. It’s been like, three years or something. You’re going to complain now?”
“Not Sam! Your secret girlfriend. You think using the back door is crafty?”
“She’s not my girlfriend, first off,” Beth said, crossing her arms, “We’re just dating. Secondly, I don’t care what you do. You can marry Jess for all I care. I’m not helping you pay for divorce lawyers, that’s all.”
“What? I can’t have some fun while I’m still young? It’s not like I have anyone else… not like I’m pining away for someone I can’t have.”
He kept his eyes off of Sam, but instead, the twins both took a step forward. Beth poked Josh in the chest and pulled Hannah behind her. Her first instinct was always to protect Hannah.
“You ever talk about our sister like that again and I will shove you head first into a meat grinder and sell you in a pie like that sick little play you like so much. Don’t talk about her like that. I will hurt you.”
“You’re psychotic,” Josh muttered. “I wasn’t talking about Han.”
“Am I that bad?” Hannah asked.
“No!” Beth and Sam answered at once. But Sam continued. “There is nothing wrong with liking Mike. Ignore him.”
“I—” Josh sighed and put his hand down on the counter. “Sorry Han. I just don’t like being jumped first thing in the morning.”
“Oooo! Who’s jumping on who?” Jess asked as she came down in her own clothes and wet hair. She wrapped her arms around Josh. “Beth, I love your shirt. Where’d you get it?”
“Uh…” Beth said looking at the unicorn on her black shirt. “I don’t remember.”
“That’s fine! I’ll just have to keep an eye out for it.”
Josh gave Beth a dirty look. Jess wasn’t all bad. At least, not when she wasn’t around Emily.
Beth rolled her eyes at him. “Maybe we can go together.”
With genuine excitement, Jess’ eyes lit up. “Yes, I’d love that! I’m in!”
“Cool,” Beth’s eyes slid over to Hannah and Sam, but they were both dumbstruck.
Jess just smiled at them, one that wasn’t hostile or bitchy as they were so used to at school. Then they looked at Josh. And Beth had to admit, for the first time in awhile, he looked happy. But as she looked to her left, there was a different face that wasn’t happy.
She couldn’t believe she’d missed it. For years, it’s been under her nose.
Sam liked Josh.