West laughs, and she glances over at him. "You're from Texas."
"So?" Claire fakes a pout, but it quickly disappears when he leans over to kiss her. His hands glide over her bare shoulders, and okay, maybe the heat really isn't so bad after all.
They're interrupted by someone behind them clearing their throat, and she looks up, expecting to see her dad.
She slides out from under West's hands as she gets up, running over to embrace Peter in a tight hug. After a moment, she pulls away, and smiles up at him. "I didn't know you were coming."
"I thought I'd fly over." She raises an eyebrow, and he smiles. "On a plane."
After a minute, she can hear West move to stand behind her, and she turns around. "West, this is Peter," she says, ignoring his look. "Peter, West."
"Her boyfriend," West clarifies, and she rolls her eyes. Peter grins at her, and she tilts her head as if to say be nice.
"Pleasure to meet you," he says, managing to sound as if he actually means it a little. He glances back at Claire, and she smiles.
"Okay," she says, after a beat. "Anybody want a drink?"
"I'd love one," Peter says, and she wants to tell him to stop, but she's not sure exactly what he's doing. He and West follow her as she makes her way into the kitchen, and she wouldn't be surprised if she turned around to see them bumping shoulders.
She pours three glasses of lemonade, and waits exactly four seconds before the silence gets uncomfortable again. "West," she says, keeping her voice light. "Would you help me make some sandwiches?"
She can feel Peter watching them as she butters the bread, and West slides an arm around her waist protectively.
"So," he says, a little too casually. "Is he your ex?"
She doesn't look up at him. "No," she says, and hopes he can't see her cheeks burning. "Definitely not."
She would add he's my uncle, but that would lead to a whole other set of questions she isn't ready to answer, only some of them about her family. Instead, she manages a smile, and lays the sandwiches out on a plate.
"Food's ready," she says brightly, and doesn't bother to hope that will keep them quiet for more than a few minutes.
"So," Peter says between mouthfuls, and she almost throws her hands up in frustration. "West. You go to school with Claire?"
"Yeah," he says, and glances at her. "How do you know Claire?"
Peter smiles. "I'm a friend of the family."
"Okay," Claire interrupts, and the fake cheeriness is starting to wear a little thin. "What do you say we go back outside?"
"Sure," West says, but he isn't looking at her. "I think I saw a football lying around somewhere."
"I'm up for a game," Peter says, and she rolls her eyes. Neither of them is exactly the sporting type, but maybe this is just what guys do when they're trying to establish a pecking order. She doesn't know whether she should be flattered or offended.
"Great," she says, figuring that playing along is probably the least harmful thing she can do at the moment. "West, why don't you go get it?"
He leaves, with a backwards glance at Peter, and she moves the glasses to the sink. When she looks up, Peter's standing beside her, and she waits for whatever's coming.
"That's your boyfriend?" he asks, and she's aware that they're standing a little too close. She nods, and moves away.
"Yes," she says. "And I like him, okay?"
She stares at him, and after a moment, he nods. "Okay," he says, and she lets out a breath.
She doesn't get a chance to say anything else before West gets back, glancing from her to Peter. She gives him what she hopes is a reassuring smile, and leads them back into the yard.
It isn't exactly a friendly competition, even if they're still smiling. She wonders if it'd be more dangerous if either of them were actually good at this, and sighs.
When Peter throws the ball a little too high, West jumps to catch it, and she can see him hover a moment before his feet touch the ground again. Stupid, she thinks. Peter glances at her, and she knows he caught it, too.
West throws the ball even higher, and Peter barely hesitates before he floats up, catching it a few feet off the ground. West stares for a minute, then glances at Claire, and Peter's next shot catches him off guard, throwing him back as it hits him - hard - in the stomach.
"Hey!" she says, and Peter has the grace to look a little embarrassed. West throws the ball to Claire as he straightens, a pained look on his face. She passes it to Peter, and he isn't looking at her as he throws it back.
It goes wide, and she reaches out a hand to catch it. It hits her little finger, and she winces as it twists out of place, then slowly rights itself.
"Okay," she says, no longer amused. "That's enough." West is already at her side, and she glances from him to Peter.
"I should go anyway," Peter says. "I've got to get back tonight."
She nods, and smiles at West, who's hovering protectively. "I'm fine," she says quietly. "Can you give us a moment?"
He doesn't look happy about it, but he goes, and Peter looks at her apologetically as she approaches him.
"Sorry," he says, and she waves it off. Her finger's already healed.
"Next time, don't play so rough," she says, and he manages a smile. They stand in silence for a minute, and he takes her hand as if to check that it's okay.
"I don't like him," he says finally, and she smiles.
"Don't be a stranger," she says, and he nods. He doesn't kiss her goodbye as he leaves.