The housekeeper’s apparently sick, so you and Killian are setting the table. Which is totally fine with you, since you are not at all comfortable with the domestic help. You really don’t feel than an elderly lady with manners better than yours should be serving you dinner.
Killian is placing the cutlery on the table.
“Listen, Wren, I have a favour to ask.”
“I mean I’d feel less awkward to ask Phil, but he’ll just tell me to bugger off. Anyroad… Can you two not… you know… tonight?” He gives you his famous puppy eyes. “I mean the walls between our rooms are made of bloody paper.”
You snort. “Sure, Killian.”
“Mom and Uncle will be fine, they are in a different wing, but I’m right there… I mean I’m all for giving you space, and thank you for texting me in advance all those times, by the way. Very considerate of you. Unlike my wanker of a brother.”
“I’ve lived with Thea for four years, Killian, I know how it sounds from outside, when you are not actually participating in it.”
“Yeah…” There’s obvious disgust on his face, and then he blanches. “I mean, not that I’m listening!” You laugh out loud. “It’s just you lot are at it like twenty four seven, seriously…”
You are snickering and putting plates around the table.
“By the way, Killian, where do you go when we so rudely occupy the flat?” Is that a blush? Interesting.
“You know, uni mates. The blokes from Med, and stuff…”
“Uh-huh.” You are feigning innocence. “A girl maybe?”
“What? No! I mean sometimes some bird from a pub or something.” He tries to pull on what he thinks is a smile of a player on his face. Adorable naive pup.
“Uh-huh”, you hum again. He is a lousy liar.
At dinner the conversation is easy and light. Even Dr. Grumpy has a hint of smile on his lips, definitely happy to see his sister. She asks about your classes, scolds Killian for slacking in his studies; the topic of your grant predictably comes up. You tell about the meeting you had with Dr. Maya Claufield.
“She is Yamataki’s leading biochemist. You have a lot to learn from her,” John announces in a neutral tone. You remember her more than friendly touching him during the signing of the grant contract.
“She’s brilliant, we had lunch together afterwards,” you mumble, staring at your potatoes.
“Meanwhile, I suggest you do not affiliate with her outside the work environment, Miss Leary.” His tone is sharp and unpleasant, and Phil jerks his head up to look at him.
“Is that the Maya Claufield?..” Deadre starts.
“Yes. And that is hardly a good topic for a dinner conversation.” His tone leaves no room for argument. He takes a sip of his wine to hide the harsh line of his lips.
What the fuck just happened? You screw your eyes at Phil, but he gives you an almost unnoticeable shrug. Hm… Dr. Claufield was pleasant enough during your lunch. You had a polite discussion of your life at uni, exchanged some banalities, she recollected her uni days. Since you have no mutual acquaintances, her being as blue-blooded as it gets, the meal was short.
After this setback, you go back to chatting amicably with Deadre. John’s seemingly lost in his thoughts. He is moving his food on his plate without actually eating anything and just sips his wine. You really should stop monitoring his every bloody move, Wren. You finally manage to refocus your attention onto what actually matters, and soon enough you are laughing at Phil’s impersonation of Perkins.
“Oh, don’t be cruel, Philly. Ronald is a wonderful person, if maybe a bit eccentric.”
“You are only defending him, mom…” Killian’s eyes are sparkling with mischief. “Because he was writing you sappy love letters when you were fourteen.”
“A man who compared my eyes to the gentle velvet of chocolate truffles cannot be a bad person.” Deadre batters her lashes in a funny unfitting gesture.
You laugh out loud and suddenly catch John staring at your lips. His eyes are a few shades darker than usual.
It’s so obvious that you shut your mouth with a clank of your teeth. Your first impulse is to check if Phil noticed. But he’s absorbed in the conversation with his brother and mother, and you return your eyes on John. He has a scornful expression on his face, obviously having noticed your reaction. Your cheeks are starting to burn. Fucking tosser. You have nothing to feel guilty about. He is the one behaving inappropriately here.
After the dinner everyone moves to a big drawing room. John and Deadre quietly talk in their chairs by the fireplace, and you three on the other side of the room are sitting on the floor leaning over a table with Operation on it. Phil cocks up another Water in the Knee.
“I just don’t understand! I’m a future surgeon. Bollocks!”
“Philip, watch your language.” Deandre’s tone is strict.
“There are other women present in the room, Philip.” John’s low voice’s imposing.
What? Oh, right. That was a bit too alpha male, wasn’t it Dr. Grumpy? Would you like to pee on a corner of the sofa too? Phil looks at you, and you give him a small supportive smile.
“Sorry, Wren, I’ll make it up to you later.” Killian chokes on a crisp he’s chewing. You think you can hear Deadre chuckle.
The buzzer goes off again. Killian guffaws and points at his brother with a crisp. “You are just too much in a hurry!”
“There’s nothing wrong with my timing!” Phil clenches his teeth.
Killian lowers his head to both of you. “What was that about that biochemist of yours at the dinner?” You look at Phil, who’s angrily staring at the tweezers.
“No idea, never heard of her before.” Phil shrugs and is grumbling something about messed up tweezers. You wonder if she is the one who arsed up the cogs in Dr. Grumpy’s brain. You remember her stroking his suit jacket clad forearm. Don’t know, don’t care, Wren.
You take the tweezers from Phil’s hands and successfully pull out Wishbone.
“How?!” Phil is only partially pretending to reel. He is very ambitious, let’s face it. Part of his charm. To be completely open, success and motivation are the best aphrodisiac for you. It’s Killian’s turn, and the buzzer goes off.
Suddenly John leans over Phil’s shoulder and takes the tweezers from the table. Like under hypnosis, you watch long manicured fingers pick up the small tool, his large hand with a surprisingly elegant wrist and black hair on the forearm, his sleeves rolled up. He twirls the tool in his fingers and seemingly effortlessly pulls out Bread Basket. He hands it to Phil.
“Finesse and technique, Philip. Or all you get is an annoying noise.”
He leaves the room, and you see that the muscles on Phil’s jaw are tense. You put your hand on his forearm, and he blinks and shakes off the white rage expression he’s been wearing. You smile to him and press your lips to his cheek.
“Common, kids, let’s watch a film.” Deadre stands up from her chair. Killian jumps on his feet.
“Just none of that independent Swedish films of yours, Mum, please,” he whines.
“The film was Norwegian, and no, I think this evening asks for a cartoon.” Killian dashes out of the room.
“Popcorn!” His voice is echoing in the hall. Deadre follows him to the kitchen.
And you pull Phil to your lips. You two are kissing, sitting on the carpet, his arms wrapped around your middle. And you don’t give a rat’s arse about Dr. Grumpy.