Whew! I was finally HOME! Well…finally at Dr. Day’s house. And I wasn’t stepping one of his big shoes back at school for the rest of the week. God, I hoped I was right about the genie wanting us to make the other’s life happy. Unfortunately with my huge blunder with Dr. Monteira, I knew I was stinking it up.
But I wasn’t going to think about that. From now on, call me Extra Careful. It was time to make nice healthy fish tacos for supper. Something Dr. Day would be proud of. Like I NEVER ate fish. Couldn’t afford it, mostly. And yeah, sure, fish wasn’t exactly vegan but it was close. Right? As close as I was ever going to get.
To be honest, I kinda liked being Dr. Day. I mean, I felt super guilty that I got to live in this extra gorgeous house, buying whatever the heck I pleased at the store, and getting respect at the university by someone like Todd Monteira.
And seriously, I kinda sorta didn’t want to go back to my own life. Like yeah it sucked being a guy sometimes.
Peeing standing up was straight up WEIRD.
I about DIED when I had to handle Dr. Day’s package. Like yeah…totally didn’t think I’d ever see THAT!
But after a few days, I got used to it. And I could get used to driving in his brand new Jeep Gladiator, too. Who wanted to go back to my beater? Not me.
“Liam…is that…tuna I smell?” Zack’s voice surprised me and I jumped.
Wow. Didn’t think Zack was a vegan, too. “Like yeah…um…decided I was going overboard with the whole vegan thing. Didn’t think fish would be a problem.”
He arched an eyebrow. “But you gave me a whole sermon about how the world is overfishing and you wouldn’t be a part of the depletion of an ecosystem.”
I chuckled, “Yeah…you know…sometimes I overthink things.”
“Mmmm…I like this new you, Liam,” Zack’s friend, Reed said. I’d gotten to know him a little yesterday. He was really cute and very gay and I got the idea he had the hots for Dr. Day.
Which now that I thought about it, made things SUPER convenient for me, too. I winked at him. “So glad you approve.”
Zack’s eyes grew two sizes as I served our meal. Uh oh…maybe I should dial down my personality. Wouldn’t want Zack calling 911 to get me committed or anything.
“I didn’t know you were such a gourmet chef, Liam,” Reed added.
But damn this was fun. I couldn’t help myself but flirt back. “You’ll find I’m full of surprises.”
“I can’t wait for you to unveil them all to me, dear,” Reed said with a sultry look. “May I have a taste?”
Ever since Liam came back from the jungles, he hadn’t acted like himself. I could only attribute the change to his new relationship with Charlie. He was so relaxed. Happy even. I felt badly for busting his balls about changing his stance on veganism. He’d talked me into the lifestyle, so it was a bit upsetting he’d throw all his morals out the window for a woman. But if it’d made him happy, I’d support him in whatever way I could. He had been so broken that I thought I’d never see his old spirit and love of life again.
I enjoyed how he was clowning with Reed, too–giving it back to him like I did. Something the old Liam would never do.
“You’ll find Liam is a brilliant chef, Reed, although I’ve never tasted his meat dishes.”
He took a crunchy bite. “Mmm…the smoky flavor mixed with the slaw slides over my tongue in the most titillating way, Liam. I’m getting goosebumps.”
I laughed. “God, Reed. Why does everything you say have to be X rated?”
“It’s a slam dunk then!” Liam said, sitting down next to Reed. Whoa. That was a first. Usually, Liam would say a few niceties then slide out, giving us some excuse about grading tests or doing research.
“Oh that was yummy,” Reed said, practically cooing at my brother. “What’s for dessert? If you don’t have anything, I’ve got a few ideas.”
My brother winked and said, smoothly, “I bet you do, big boy. Maybe I’ll have you whip something up for me sometime.”
“By all means, sweetheart, just say the word. And I might have a bit of whip cream to add to the dish.”
I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. My brother was totally flirting with Reed–my best friend who honestly made Liam uncomfortable with all of his romantic teasing. It was like Liam was a different person now. It confused the hell out of me, but maybe this was my brother’s new normal. Why did it send up red warning flags to my inner peace? Like my brother was on the verge of a mental meltdown?
Omg, that Reed was a HOT TAMALE! We had so much fun flirting back and forth. All harmless. Not gonna lie, it satisfied a whole boatload of fujoshi fantasies I’d had back when I was in high school. But now, real life and my situation hit me like an ancestral totem pole. Dr. Day deserved better than me having fun in his body. I owed it to him to make his life better. But how?
Dr. Day had it all. Heck, I wanted to be him. But I knew he wasn’t happy. What he needed was a beautiful woman who could help bring sunshine and rainbows to his heart.
Someone like Ginny.
I wondered if there were any old emails or love notes or something that Ginny had left that would clue me in on the type of girls Dr. Day liked. I could ask him myself but I knew he’d tell me to go jump in that archway and never come back. No…I had to figure it out myself.
I’d no sooner clicked on his inbox when I heard a knock. “Come in,” I said.
It was Zack, staring at me like I was some specimen in a petri dish. “Liam, could we talk?”
“Sure, bro, what’s on your mind?”
“I just wanted to say that I really like the changes I see in you. Ever since our sister’s death, then Ginny’s disappearance, you haven’t been the same. And honestly, I wasn’t thrilled about Charlie, but if you’re happy, I want to tell you I one hundred percent am in your corner. Just tell me if you’re feeling badly about anything. Got it? I’m here for you.”
That shocked me. His sister had died, too? I remember seeing her cute face in an old photograph he’d had in his office. Wow. No wonder he never smiled. He never told me about her. But then why would he? I was just some dumb crazy student in his class that he didn’t like to teach anyway.
And awww…Zack was such a great brother! Of course, I knew that. He was an awesome boyfriend to Myla. So, I tried to sound as much like Dr. Day as possible to reassure him his big bro wasn’t going bonkers. “Thank you for that, Zack. It means a lot. But just for the record, I am not seeing Charlene. We are friends only.”
He smiled at me like he didn’t believe me. Rubbing my shoulder he said, “Okay. I understand. Have a good night, Liam.”
When he left, I got a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was like that genie was trying to send smoke signals to me. What was it?
A crazy knowledge swept through me, telling me to look inside Liam’s dresser.
I didn’t want to snoop. Like what would be in there anyway?
I fought with myself until I couldn’t take it. I had to look. Peering into each drawer, I noticed all of his socks were neatly folded, color coordinated. And his underwear. Nothing different from before. But then I saw a green piece of paper peeking out from his undershirts.
When I looked it over, what I found made my mouth drop.