Ikey worked silently as the other men talked about what they were going to eat for dinner. He usually joined in with a thing or two about his mother's cooking but this time his mind was otherwise occupied. He glanced at Eddie and watched his friend haul chunks of wood into the flatbed of his truck to take home.
Eddie hadn't said a word after Janet and Emily left. When Nick asked him if he wanted to build a chute for the logs to go directly into the truck he grunted in response.
Ikey didn't know what to do. There was so much his best friend needed to know about the woman living in his home. Information he didn't ask to have in the first place.
"Ahem," he began by clearing his throat, "So what do you think Janet will have waiting for you when you get home buddy?"
Eddie looked up across the truck to meet his friend's eyes as if just noticing he wasn't alone, "Huh? Oh I don't know. A chair to the head probably."
"C'mon man," Ikey scoffed, "When are you going to just drop the act?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Like heck you don't," Ikey shot back and Eddie glared at him.
"Ikey, you got something you wanna say why don't you just come out and say it?" Eddie's eyes flashed and he took a menacing step toward Ikey who didn't so much as flinch.
Well, well, well. Someone has put on his big-boy pants today, Eddie smirked at the thought.
Phil walked up to them, ever the peacemaker, and stood by the tailgate, "Come on fellas, let's not get into this. We just had a good day of work we may as well finish well too."
"Naw man, that's okay Phys. We have to get this out." Ikey said without glancing at Phil, "Eddie wants to know, I'll tell him. You wanna know why she's been giving you a hard time, Eddie? Because you've been a jerk all week long. She made a mistake aw'right? And she wants to fix things but you ain't giving her the time of day. Wanna know how I know that? Because she told me. I had to sit there and watch her cry because the one dude she wants to talk to about all this with is too much of a moron to see it himself!"
"Oh really? Who made you an expert on relationships?" Eddie shot back, a surge of anger shooting through his veins. "When was the last serious relationship you had? High school?" Eddie saw something that looked like hurt flash across Ikey's eyes and instantly regretted saying that.
"You know what, you're right. I haven't had a real relationship in a while. Maybe it's because I haven't had a girl that terrific come into my life. But you do and it's a waste because one day you're gonna wake up and realise she's not going to be there anymore. You're too busy feeling sorry for yourself since Rory died."
"Ikey!" Eddie barked angrily.
"Poor Eddie," Ikey sneered, "he has no one to love him, everything got taken away from him, he has to give up the land he worked so hard to get. Poor Eddie, he's all alone in the world with only a squirrel to keep him company."
Eddie grabbed fistfuls of Ikey's shirt and hauled him closer until they were practically nose to nose. The other men leaped to break up what was going to be a fearsome confrontation. The pair stood that way for a moment before Eddie realised that Ikey stood limply in his grasp, his eyes silently daring Eddie to make the next move. Slowly, Eddie eased his grip and let go of Ikey's shirt.
"You don't know what the hell you're talking about Ikey. And I'll thank you to stay out of my business!" Turning on his heel, he stormed back to his truck.
Eddie drove back to the cabin in a daze. Who the hell did Ikey think he was anyway? And since when did he talk to Eddie like that? For as long as they were friends, Eddie was top-dog in the group.
Eddie pulled over, realising he wasn't paying attention to the dirt road and leaned his arms on the wheel.
No one called him on his choices and no one, but no one went toe-to-toe with him. What had gotten into Ikey? And was what he said about Janet really true? Did she really cry on his shoulder? A stab of jealousy pierced Eddie in the gut. Why didn't she talk to him?
Eddie sighed. Face it, Latekka, Ikey was right. You have done everything in your power to push her away. Truth be told Eddie was surprised she was still here.
Eddie gripped the steering wheel tightly and his knuckles turned white. Why is being around Janet so hard? Why did he get angry every time he looked at her?
Turning the ignition back on he pulled back onto the dirt road just as it began to rain.
When he got to the cabin, and he got out of his truck he saw that the cabin was plunged in darkness with only a slight glow emitting out of the window near Janet's bed.
He frowned as he jogged up the steps and unlocked the door. Nothing surprised him more than the sight before him; his entire cabin had been rearranged. The kitchen was the bedroom, his "reading nook" was in the spot of his dining table and dining table was in the bed's place.
Janet emerged from the bathroom and found him glancing around. She planted her hands on her hips and quirked an eyebrow.
"What did you do to my house?" Eddie thundered.
Janet scoffed, "Hm! Your house?"
"Janet…" Eddie's voice warned.
"As far as I know, I'm the only resident of this cabin. I cook, I clean up, I eat my meals here… I don't see how this can be your house if you don't do any of those things here."
"Janet I'm in no mood to get into it with you. Just put everything back the way it was and we don't have to talk about it anymore," Eddie said over his shoulder as he shrugged his rain-soaked puffer off.
"Oh yeah, you'd like that wouldn't you?"
"What?" Eddie asked incredulously.
"To not talk about anything. To sentence me to another week of silence and the cold shoulder treatment," she accused, her voice quivering, "Well too bad. We're going to talk and I'm not moving anything an inch until we do."
Eddie stared back at her for a moment. "Has everyone been bitten by a rabid beast I'm not aware of? What has gotten into everybody today?"
"I don't know who you're talking about, but I can speak for me," Janet replied walking over to his willow chair where he sat. She knew that the only reason she appeared to tower over him was because he was sitting down. Still, she'd take what she got.
"I am sick of this wall of silence we have between us. I want to talk about what happened last week at the festival."
"There's nothing to say," Eddie said quietly hanging his head and staring at his hands.
"I don't think so. There's plenty to say, and you're going to hear me out first." She said poking him in his chest with her finger.
Eddie frowned and then fought back a smile. Did she really think she could intimidate him with her towering tactic? The urge to smile evaporated the second it came on. He mentally kicked himself. Dammit even when he was livid at her, she made him want to smile. He caught her finger in his hand. Tight. Never leaving her gaze, he slowly stood. Janet tried to tug her finger out of his grasp and failed.
"Let go of me," she insisted continuing to tug at her finger.
He stared at her until she quit tugging and met his gaze, then he let go of her finger. She rubbed her finger in her other hand.
"You wanted to talk," he reminded her, his voice suddenly deepening to a low growl like the rumble of rocks in a brook.
She walked over to the bed in the kitchen and sat down on it, "You came out of nowhere with this whole Roundtree thing. I was taken so off guard. How can you blame me for freaking out the way I did? I just assumed…" she asked still clutching her finger.
"You assumed a lot."
"Do you really mean to tell me that you would have refused if I offered to help you out with this deal?" she asked, her eyes narrowed.
No. "Yes" he answered he looked at her and something in her eyes caught him by surprise. Was that disappointment he saw? "No."
Eddie sighed audibly, as if he was bored. Or maybe it was exhaustion. Either way, Janet couldn't tell. "No, you're right. I probably would have taken you up on it. But you had no right to assume I wanted to marry you solely for the purpose of gaining the land."
Janet looked at him for a moment then shrugged her shoulders, "Anyway it doesn't matter. The pass will clear any day now and I'll be a fading memory to you."
Not bloody likely.
Janet got up from the bed again and walked over to him and planted herself on the chest nearby.
"Eddie since we have to live together, at least for now, don't you think we should at least be able to talk to each other? For the sake of civility if… if not friendship."
Eddie leaned back in the chair and extended both his legs forward, bracketing her between them. Janet glanced at his legs consuming the space around her and Eddie tried not to smile again. As much as it pained him to agree with her about there being no point in their relationship he forced out, "Fine."
"Yeah. I guess I owe you an apology. I should have just talk to you about it instead of… of acting the way I did."
A small smile crept on her face, "Apology accepted. And I'm sorry…, "she began, "I'm really truly sorry about jumping to conclusions."
"We're square. Don't worry about it," he said getting out of his chair, "Well, roomie, I guess rearranging my house kept you busy enough all evening but now we don't have anything to eat for dinner. Do you want an omelette?"
Her brows shot up in surprise, "You're gonna make an omelette?"
"You can't cook."
"There you go assuming things again. I'm a man with many talents," he wiggled his brows comically and she giggled. Of course, omelettes were the only other thing he could actually cook besides his mother's stew but Janet didn't need to know that.
"Well in that case Chef, I will have extra cheese on my omelette."
"Sounds good," Eddie nodded, "But first we make the kitchen, the kitchen again."
They set out to organise the cabin back to the way it was and then Eddie took his station at the stove while Janet helped cut up some of the vegetables and meat he wanted.
They worked in tandem and harmoniously, but neither one would acknowledge the niggling feeling in their hearts; they were far from wanting the things they discussed. Janet didn't want to leave the Ridge and Eddie wanted her more than he was willing to admit.