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A Perfect Wreck Mila Crawford, Aria Cole 2022/8/3 13:46:52

“Let’s not put it all out in the open, okay?”

Crosby is, of course, referring to sex. I’m fine with that too. I don’t want anyone besides Asa to know how little experience I have.

“I’m happy for you, Crosby. Did I tell you that yet? I think you chose the right guy, and you deserve nothing but the best.”

Crosby flings herself across the Formica table, upsetting the ketchup bottle to grab me in a huge hug.

“You’ve always been family to me, Cal, whether you become my sister-in-law or not.”

I’m watching the game with Dad when Crosby slips through the front door. She hangs her coat and drops her keys and purse dramatically, then walks into the living room with her hands on her hips.

“How was Callie?” Dad asks her cheerfully.

I try to control my face, not to show any emotion. I don’t know what Callie has done to me that has me constantly feeling excited, vulnerable, and highly sensitized to everything around me. Maybe that’s what love feels like, a swelling of myriad emotions, continually churning and spilling over. I feel like I’m unable to contain any part of myself.

“Oh, Callie is good. Probably better than ever. And she’s got a boyfriend, so as you can imagine, she’s excited.”

I raise one brow at Crosby without turning my face from the game. I can’t help but wonder what Callie said about me or if she even told Crosby that the boyfriend she was referring to is me.

Crosby still has her hands on her hips, and she’s looking directly at me expectantly.

“That’s great news, isn’t it, Asa?” Dad is a champion of love. He also loves it when those he loves are happy.

I glance at him, mouth agape, words failing me. Should I tell him now? What if Callie didn’t tell BeBe yet?

“Can I talk to you downstairs?” I ask my little sister. She’s got a smug look on her face, and she waggles a finger at me.

I flick on the overhead lights in my basement apartment and immediately start pacing the room. I don’t want to make this into a big deal, but it is, so I have no choice but to do so.

“Crosby, I’m sorry for the overprotective bullshit I put you through when we were younger. I know you can make your own choices and that you’re strong and capable. I never thought any different. It’s just that Mom and Dad drilled that caretaker instinct into me. I thought it was my duty. I’m sorry if I took it too far. I don’t want you to think… I don’t think Weston is the enemy. I know he has good intentions.”

“Then why are you so angry at him? You do realize how hypocritical your behavior has been, right?”

“I’m happy for you, Crosby. I’m glad you picked him.”

“I’m not the one who needs to hear it, Asa. Tell your best friend. And as for you and Callie, I’m happy for you both. Maybe if she were young Callie, I would have called you crazy. But Callie the adult has proven herself. I don’t think you would have recovered like you did without her. I know she loves you. It’s written all over her face.”

My heart feels heavy in my chest like an anchor. I’m so scared of fucking up. I’m so lucky to have Callie in my life. I open my arms to Crosby and pull her into a hug.

“Weston is lucky. And you’re lucky too. He’s the best guy I know, BeBe.”

Love saws through the center of my heart. Life shifts and changes, and the beauty is that we can bend and sway to fit those new positions. I really cannot imagine my sister with anyone else. And I can’t imagine a life where Callie isn’t the center of my universe.

“Forgive me?” I pull a tissue out of the box on the coffee table and hand it to my sister.

“I love you, Asa. I’m so glad you made it home.”

Who gets nervous for a date at twenty-five? Apparently, this guy. I change my shirt four times and put on deodorant twice.

I’m picking Callie up tonight and taking her to dinner. We said we’d play it by ear afterward, and my imagination has been running wild—alongside my libido. I already jerked off twice in the shower.

When I pull up in front of her house, I’m conflicted about whether or not to go in. Callie’s parents are conservative, and I’m not sure how they’ll feel about our date. But I decide to throw caution to the wind and jog up their front steps.

Ms. Langdon opens the door and puts her hand on her heart. I stupidly forgot that seeing me might be triggering for them.

“Asa!” she exclaims. I was going to just shake her hand, but without thinking, I pull her into a hug. I lost friends over there, contemporaries and mentors. War is violence and death, fighting is tremendous sacrifice, and making it out alive is nothing short of miraculous.