Roommate Wars: Chapter 28


Max leaned forward, his expression shocked. “Cancer? You never said anything about your dad being sick.”

I glanced at Elise. Having her here—reminding me that my dad was still alive and laughing at reality TV—made it easier to address what I’d locked away. “I should have said something. A part of me was in denial. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been a hermit this last year.”

Max dropped his head in his hand.

“But I thought you were a hermit because of your ex?” Lizzie said. “Why would you be afraid to tell us about your dad?”

“It’s cancer,” Max said, raising his head and looking at Lizzie.

“Oh—ohhh,” Lizzie said. “Jack, you should have come to us. Why would you push us away?”

“Wasn’t pushing you away,” I said. “Just wasn’t talking about it. I was too busy freaking the fuck out over possibly losing him.”

“I should have reached out to Tom.” Max’s expression was self-loathing.

“You didn’t know,” I said, realizing how messed up it was for me to have kept this to myself.

“It’s been too long,” Max said. “I haven’t seen or spoken to your dad in months, and he’s like a father to me. I should have known something was wrong.”

Max had spent more time at my house growing up than his own. I felt ashamed that I hadn’t told him. If I had, my dad could have had more emotional support. “There’s no excuse for me not telling you, other than cancer being a trigger. I’m still worried about it, but—” I glanced at Elise, realized what I was doing, then looked down. “It’s been easier to open up lately.”

The mood had changed, grown somber, when this was the first time we’d been together in ages and it should have been a time to celebrate.

“I’ll let you know the next time I’m headed over and see if you’re available.”

Max glared halfheartedly. “You better, asshole. I love your dad too.”

“I’m going as well,” Lizzie said. “You can’t leave me out.”

I smiled. “I’ll message via a group chat and you two can argue about the details of executing the get-together.”

“See that you do,” Lizzie said, all proper, though the chip clip she’d stolen to contain her hair was listing to the side and sliding off, putting her professionalism in question.

“Don’t leave without giving me back that clip,” I ordered. “I hate stale crackers.”

She rolled her eyes.

The party started to break up after that, with Max and Sophia saying their goodbyes and making their way to the door.

Sophia gave me a hug. “Let us know if we can do anything for your dad. Bring by food, clean his place—anything.”

“I’ve got that covered, but he’d love to see you. Your sister has him wrapped around her finger, and he’s eager to meet you as well.”

“Elise has met him?”

I rubbed the back of my neck. “She helped me out one day after the person I’d hired to help with my dad couldn’t make it.”

Sophia smiled softly. “I’d love to meet him, and hopefully soon.” She poked me in the side with a look that said she was serious. “Don’t forget to keep us posted from now on.”

Max tilted his chin up toward the living room. “You okay with Lizzie?”

Lizzie had curled into the fetal position as the party was breaking up and passed out on the floor. “I’ll move her to the couch. I’d rather she stayed here. Don’t want her going home this late.”

“You know,” Max said, “if everything works out, she’ll become our neighbor. With Elise here now too, we’ll have no reason to leave the building to socialize.”

I nodded. “It’ll be easier to get together. No more mass texting. Not sure there will ever be privacy, though, with us all in each other’s business.”

“Was there ever privacy?”

“Nope. Though Elise won’t be here forever…” Her month was almost up, and I hated thinking about it.

Max’s brow furrowed. “I thought she was your new roommate?”

“It’s temporary, but maybe… I don’t know.” I glanced behind me, but Elise had gone into her bedroom. “She’s stubborn, you know?”

Max chuckled. “Runs in the family.” He slapped my back. “Good luck with that.”

I changed and got ready for bed. I hadn’t seen Elise since Max and Sophia were getting ready to leave. She must be tired. I should give her space.

I didn’t want to give her space. Was getting used to sleeping with her after only two nights of back-to-back crashing together. Decisions…

Maybe she wouldn’t mind if I crawled into her bed? If Lizzie caught me, the jig would be up, but that woman was passed out hard on the couch and barely stirred when I covered her with a blanket.

I sat on the edge of my bed for a full ten minutes, considering what to do. One thing was sure: no fucking way were we sleeping in separate beds the last few nights we had together.

Decision made, I quietly exited my bedroom, careful to close the door to make it look like I was in there in case Lizzie woke, then crossed the hall to Elise’s bedroom. I knocked lightly.

No sound.

I opened the door a crack. “Elise?”

Still nothing.

If she wanted me to leave, she could tell me and I would. As of right now, I’d assume she wanted me there.

I crawled into her bed, spooning her small frame. She had her hands tucked under her chin again, looking cute as ever. I buried my face in her thick hair, breathing in the scent of buttercream and strawberries.

She made a small sound, like a cross between a moan and a squeak. “Jack?”

“It’s me.”

“What are you doing?”

I tucked her closer. “About to doze off.”

“In my bed? What about Lizzie?”

So she didn’t care that I was here, only that Lizzie might find out? “I’ll leave before dawn, promise. Lizzie passes out hard. She won’t notice a thing.”

“Mmm, okay.” She wiggled her ass, scooting closer.

I encircled her waist with my arm, happier than I could ever remember being.


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