After Cameron left I let the mask I’d been hiding behind drop. It was too exhausting to keep up and really it wasn’t fooling anyone. I’d seen the way Cam had looked at me before he’d left, like I would shatter into pieces that could never be mended if he so much at looked at me the wrong way. It was disconcerting to say the least. I kept going through the files Cameron had left out. I’d known when he’d given me the task that he hadn’t really expected me to actually do it but it was something to do and it helped keep my mind of things I’d rather not dwell on or I might burst into tears. I could already feel the tears pooling in my eyes but I refused to let them fall. I wasn’t going to shed anymore tears over my parents. I had to swear that to myself or there was no way I was going to be able to cope. I started sorting the files into 2 piles, one that I could work on and sort myself and one that Cameron would have to do since I had no clue what he wanted done with them. I was about 10 files in when there was a small knock at the door separating Cam’s office from the office I normally worked in. Suddenly flustered, although I wasn’t sure why, I looked up and found Corrin Liem standing there. She had a small, friendly, smile on her face which made the corners of my own mouth turn up slightly. She stood at the door smiling at me for almost a minute before I stupidly realised that she was waiting on me inviting her in. Feeling a blush threatening to darken my cheeks I lowered my head to try and hide my face but I still waved Corrin in. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be near Corrin right now but I also wasn’t sure I wanted to be on my own again. It was too late now to turn back either way.
Corrin came into the office without hesitation and grabbed a seat that was over from me. I shuffled my seat back slightly. It was hard enough being in the same room as her without being close enough to reach out and touch her. A flash of hurt crossed her face before she buried it. She must’ve pushed past whatever hurt she’d felt because it wasn’t long before a smile graced her face again.
“Hi?” she spoke softly. She sounded unsure, almost like she was asking a question instead of just saying a friendly greeting. I couldn’t quite make myself respond to her. I wanted too and I knew how rude it was to not answer her but, even though it didn’t make any sense, a tiny part of me still blamed her for my parents disowning me. It wasn’t her fault that liking her had made me discover that I was different. She didn’t even know about me but my brain was still holding onto the loss of my parents. The tears that had pooled in my eyes earlier threatened dangerously to bubble over. I lowered my head even more in an attempt to hide my face, hide my eyes that were full of unshed tears.
“Wh…what’s happened? Did I do something wrong?” Corrin asked almost as soon as my eyes started to fill with tears. She sounded so worried that it actually made me feel worse about myself. Why did I keep screwing up when it came to others? I took a rather shaky breath to try and centre myself before even daring to think of an answer.
“I…I’m fine. You shouldn’t worry about me” I tried to put as much happiness as I could muster into my tone but by the look on Corrin’s face after the words left my mouth I think I failed miserably. Even I could hear how my voice was beginning to shake so no doubt she could too.
“Oh, Raven-Jay” she sighed sadly “Is it something I did? Can I fix it? Is it something with Cameron?” she began to fret after a few silent minutes between us. She seemed so unsure of what to do. I really didn’t blame her. I was still unsure what to do with myself to be honest.
“No, no, it’s nothing to do with you or Cameron. You guys are great…” I quickly reassured her, or at least I tried to. My words seemed to have the opposite effect I’d intended because instead of letting it go like I’d hoped Corrin seemed to get more worried.
“What is it then? You seem so downtrodden, even though you try to hide it” her eyes met mine as she spoke and without really thinking about it I kind of felt myself get lost in her blue eyes. Maybe that is why I found myself telling her what was wrong. I don’t know. All I do know is that it felt easy, like it had when I’d told Cameron.
“My…uh…parent’s kind of disowned me last night” it hurt to even just say the words out loud let alone think about it but it had happened so I was going to have to deal with it at some point.
“That’s terrible! Why would they do that to you?” She gasped in shock. She kind of seemed at a loss for words.
“It’s nothing really, I just fell in love with someone that my parent’s would never approve of so they kicked me out and disowned me. Cameron let me stay at his last night” I shrugged, trying to downplay they whole thing even though my heart was aching and the tears I’d held back were starting to slowly fall.
“Sorry, crappy timing but that’s kind of perfect…I mean it’s not perfect but…um…I have a spare room if you need a place. My roommate just moved out to live with her boyfriend so I…uh…have a free room if you want it” Corrin offered softly. She seemed so shy about asking me. It was honestly kind of adorable and I kind of felt a weird need to just reach out and touch her. It didn’t even make sense but it was definitely there. I wasn’t sure what to say to her generous offer. I mean, what would I say to Cameron? He’d been so lovely to me and I didn’t want to just throw it all back in his face by moving in with someone else but at the same time I couldn’t keep letting him sleeping on his couch for me. There were also my feelings for Corrin that I had to factor in. They didn’t seem to be going anywhere, in fact they seemed to be growing, and it just didn’t seem right to move in with her without her knowing.
“I can see in your face that you’re probably going to say no” Corrin said after lifting her eyes to look at me again. She looked and sounded really disappointed.
“I wasn’t going to…Okay, I was but things are just really complicated right now” I tried miserably to explain. How could I ever explain why I had to say no without letting her know about my feelings for her? I really didn’t think I could.
“Please, you’d be doing me a massive favour. I hate living alone and since Daphne moved out that’s all I’ve been doing. It’s really lonely and I could use a friend” her tone was normal, conversational even, but her eyes pleaded with me to just accept. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe my feelings for her would eventually go away. I seriously doubted that but I would find a way to make it work because Cameron needed his bed back and Corrin needed a friend.
“Okay, fine, I’ll take your spare room. I’ll…uh…just have to tell Cameron and get him to drop my stuff, what little of it I actually have, round to your house” I grudgingly gave in. I still wasn’t sure if I’d made the right decision or not but after seeing the smile that spread across Corrin’s face and how it lit up I could definitely say that I was happy with the decision that I’d made. Without giving any indication that she was going to do it Corrin leaned across the gap between us and sort of gave me an awkward hug. The hug only lasted a few seconds but to me that time felt incredibly precious. I could smell the sweet scent of apple from her hair and everywhere our bodies touched I felt my skin tingle and flush. I yearned for so much more when she pulled away from me but I didn’t do or say anything. Instead I silently tried to pull myself together again. This was the first time I’d ever felt like this and I didn’t want it to end but Corrin still didn’t know about me yet and there was still the chance that she might react like my parents so I didn’t want to push anything.
“Hey, can I see your phone for a second?” she asked suddenly, breaking me out of my mental dilemma.
“Uh…sure” I answered as I fished my phone out my pocket and handed it over. I didn’t even think to ask what she needed it for. It was really weird how much I seemed to trust her already.
“There, all done” she handed the phone back to me after fiddling with it for a few minutes. “Now you can call me whenever you would like”
“Thank you” I said as I hastily shoved the phone back in my pocket. My voice came out a bit too high pitched but I didn’t think she noticed, or if she did she didn’t mention it.
We talked back and forth for a while after that, mostly about inconsequential things that kept the conversation light and easy to handle, while we both sorted through Cameron’s files. I didn’t ask Corrin to help me with them; she just kind of joined in when I started doing them again. I didn’t see any reason to object to her help. After all she probably had a lot more experience with these types of things than I did anyway. I just hoped Cameron wouldn’t mind. I wasn’t sure what exactly was going on between Cameron and Corrin so I really didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes by doing the wrong thing.
“So…what’s going on with you and Cameron?” I finally asked during a brief lull in the conversation. I hadn’t wanted to pry but I was just really curious. Corrin got kind of startled for a brief moment before she composed herself again.
“Nothing, he’s my boss, that’s all” she answered slowly, seeming to be picking her words very carefully before she said them.
“Really, because it doesn’t seem that way to me. There is so much tension between you two, it’s kind of weird” I said softly, I didn’t want her to think I was overstepping the mark, especially with her and me getting along so well. She didn’t say a word but she did kind of look embarrassed. I was sort of wishing I hadn’t asked now, but I still kind of wanted to know.
“C’mon, it can’t be that bad. Is he an ex-boyfriend or something?” I felt seriously stupid asking but it seemed like maybe it could be a legitimate question. I wasn‘t sure how to feel about that. I mean, I know everyone has a past but I don’t know…I felt kind of jealous.
“No, no, no, nothing like that. Let’s just say Cameron is not my type, at all!” she replied quickly, squishing any jealousy that had managed to creep up inside of me. It was completely stupid of me but I breathed a mental sigh of relief
“He and I…when we were growing up we were kind of like family. Our parents were really close so we pretty much got raised together. He was like my big brother for the longest time but…” she stopped and took a deep breath, like she was bracing herself to continue “about 3 years ago Cameron started dating this girl. They got serious really fast but Cameron didn’t tell anyone about her, or at least he never told me, so when I met her at a bar in town and she flirted with me I flirted back. I had no clue who she was or what she meant to him. If I’d known I never would’ve taken her back to my place and we never would’ve…” she stopped there for a moment and closed her eyes in what looked like regret. It actually made a lot of sense now why things were the way they were between Cameron and Corrin now.
“Anyway, when I found out who she was I went and told Cameron everything. He didn’t talk to me for a long time after that. He stayed with her, I think he really thought that he was in love with her, but they eventually broke up when he found out that she was just using him for his dad’s money. We sorted things out too but things are still a little weird between us and I’m not sure if that will ever change” She continued softly, her voice sort of faded near the end and she got this sad, faraway look in her eyes.
“I’m so sorry” I couldn’t think of anything else to say to make her feel better. It was so obvious that she missed Cameron but I knew from personal experience that it was sometimes hard to move past weirdness or tension. I really hoped they figured it out someday. She reached up to straighten the bow in her hair.
“It doesn’t matter, it was my own fault” she said, her eyes still kind of glazed over with that faraway look. It took her a few moments to shake her melancholy mood off “and anyway, at least this way I won’t have to see him running around in his underwear in the backyard anymore” she managed a small smile. That was the last thing I’d expected her to say so it took me by complete surprise. I felt a laugh burst out of me.
“Seriously?” I asked through laughter. I felt really bad laughing at Cameron’s expense but it was just so funny thinking about him like that.
“Yeah, his parent’s had this massive pool in their backyard so Cameron and I would hang around in it all the time but most of the time he never bothered to actually find a swimsuit, he just stripped to his underpants and jumped right in.” by the time she’d finished she was laughing too. Her laugh was amazing. It was the kind of laugh that made you want to laugh along with her. I opened my mouth to ask her another question about Cameron but before I could there was a knock on his office door. We both looked up and I kind of jumped back a little bit from Corrin, like I was a kid who’d been caught doing something bad, but when we both seen that it was Cameron at the door we both couldn’t help laughing again.
“You girls seem to be having fun” Cameron said when he came into the office. On impulse I looked over at Corrin and found that she was looking at me too. She had this mischievous glint to her eyes that made me smile.
“So what have you been up to since I’ve been away?” Cam asked when he didn’t get a response to his first question. He tried to make it sound like a casual question but I could hear the genuine curiosity and concern in his tone.
“Oh, Corrin was just telling me some old family stories” I replied after looking over at Corrin again. Her smile got wider and I couldn’t help but laugh again, especially when Cameron’s face got kind of red.
“You didn’t?” he immediately turned to Corrin, his tone full of embarrassment.
“Oh, but I did” she smiled sweetly at him. Cameron’s face turned even more red, if that was even possible, and he started to act all nervous.
“It’s okay captain underpants, I still love you” I said between laughs after a few moments of watching him squirm. I’m not sure what I said wrong but immediately the atmosphere in the room changed, gone was the light, happy feeling from just a few moments before. I looked over at Corrin to see if she might give me any indication of what I’d done wrong but she was already rushing out of her seat towards the door. What had I said to offend her that badly?
“Corrin wait…” I shouted after her but she didn’t stop.
“I’ve got to get back to work” she said to me just before she walked out the door. Cameron glanced back at where Corrin had gone for a second before he came over and took her old seat.
“What was that all about?” I asked, suddenly feeling very self-conscious. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d somehow done something that had upset Corrin in some way which is why she’d left so abruptly. I didn’t know exactly what I’d done wrong but my gut feeling told me I’d done something.
“It was nothing; Corrin just gets a little weird sometimes, that’s all” Cameron replied, shrugging it all off like it was nothing at all. Maybe it was. Maybe I was just making a big deal over nothing.
“Are you sure?” I couldn’t help asking him anyway. He turned to face me, his eyes meeting mine.
“I’m positive” he smiled at me which made my mood lift a little. Okay, so I guess this whole thing with my parent’s had made me super paranoid. Even with Cameron’s reassurance I still couldn’t help but think it was my fault. Instead of letting my mind dwell on it though I started sorting through Cameron’s files again in an effort to distract myself.
“You don’t need to do that” Cameron said softly.
“I know, I want too” I replied straight away, my voice coming out harsher than I’d intended. He didn’t say anything else; instead he picked up a file and started helping me, much the same as Corrin had earlier.
Not a single other word was spoken between us until hours later when Cameron announced that it was time to call it a day. I was too mentally tired to keep going anyway so I agreed with him. We went back to Cameron’s place where we found his father waiting for us outside. I waited back whilst Cam went to talk to his dad. Whatever they were talking about seemed kind of sad so I didn’t want to intrude. One thing I did notice was that Cameron’s father looked a lot older than the last time I’d seen him. His hair was mostly grey now and his face was more ashen and withdrawn than before. He used to be just as cheerful as Cameron but now when I looked at him all I saw was sadness and grief. For a second I thought I saw tears on Mr Connors face but I looked away before I could be sure. I really didn’t want to be a part of something that wasn’t anything to do with me. This was obviously a family thing and I wasn’t family, I wasn’t anything close to family.
Instead of standing about where I didn’t belong I took the keys Cam had given me earlier and made my way up to his apartment. Cameron came up on his own about ten minutes later. The sadness I’d seen in his father downstairs was now exuding from Cameron. He looked like he might start crying any moment now which was a really scary thought. For as long as I’d known him Cameron had always been the strong one. He’d helped me get through everything that I’d had to deal with without so much as faltering once so this must’ve been really bad to get him in this state. Without even having to give it a second thought I went over to him and wrapped my arms around him in the tightest hug I could possibly give him. Instead of helping him like I’d thought it would it seemed to make him weaker. He slumped against me, his head falling onto my shoulder. I could feel his tears soak through my sweater but I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was hold him until the pain went away.
“I thought I could do it. I thought I could cope with her being gone…but I can’t. I miss her so much!” he cried against me. I stroked his back in what I hoped was a soothing gesture. I’d really thought that he was okay with his mother’s death, okay so maybe okay wasn’t the right word but I at least thought that he was dealing with it. I think he’d honestly thought that too. I completely understood where he was coming from though. It was natural for him to grieve his mother, even if he kept telling himself that he’d known it was gonna happen and that he was prepared. Nobody is ever really prepared for the death of a loved one.
“I know, Cam, I know. “ I whispered to him as I continued to stroke his back. I continued to hold him and offer him what little comfort I could until his tears stopped falling and he pulled away from me. I have no idea how long I held him for but when he pulled away my arms ached from being in the one position for so long.
“C’mon, let’s get you to bed” I finally said after a few moments of silence between us. It was still a little early for bedtime but Cameron looked completely exhausted. Cameron just stood still, looking very much like a lost puppy. I offered my hand to him which he took after a few slow moments. He started to walk towards the sofa which he obviously thought I was meaning but he was upset so he deserved his bed back. I’d take the sofa since that’s where I should have been anyway. Cameron was too nice for his own good sometimes. He seemed a little confused when I pulled him towards the bedroom instead but he didn’t argue. He flopped down on the bed almost immediately, not even bothering to take off his shoes before he did. I reached down and pulled them off for him. Once I was done I turned to go back into the living room but before I could even get one step Cameron grabbed my hand again.
“Please don’t go” he whispered, tears filling his eyes again. How could I say no to him? It was simple, I couldn’t. Instead I nodded my head. He scooted over in the bed so I’d have space and then pulled me down beside him. It felt really weird lying next to him but he needed me so who was I to object. Cameron fell asleep really quickly but I couldn’t. Instead I lay staring at the ceiling, contemplating going back through to the living room. In the end I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I didn’t know how Cameron would be without me with the state he was in. So I lay there beside him and at some point I must’ve eventually fallen asleep because the next time I opened my eyes it was pitch black in the room, with the only illumination coming from the screen of my phone which was half hanging out of my pocket. With great difficulty I managed to pry it the rest of the way out of my pocket to see why it was lit up. When I looked at it I found a text from Corrin which had been sent hours ago.
‘Did you manage to tell Cameron about moving in with me yet?’ the message asked. Crap, I’d totally forgot to even mention it to Cameron with the state he’d been in. I quickly sent her a reply before sliding the phone back into my pocket.
‘Sorry, I couldn’t tell him yet. He needs me right now but I’ll tell him when he’s okay again’ It was probably too late for her to get the message at this time of night but she’d get it in the morning so I sent it anyway. After the message was sent I closed my eyes and tried to get back to sleep.
The next day Cameron was slightly back to himself but he was still sort of upset, even if he did try to hide it. It was because of that that I didn’t mention how embarrassing it was to wake up next to him and find his arms and legs wrapped tightly around me. I tried to wiggle my way free without waking him but as soon as I moved his eyes sprung open.
“I just had the most amazing dream…R-J, what the…” Cameron seemed so content when he woke, until he noticed our position. As soon as he seen how awkward it was he pulled away, freeing me.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t…” He started to say, his words coming out flustered and embarrassed. I rubbed the hand closest to me softly.
“It’s fine, honestly” I replied softly “Now I’m gonna go make us some breakfast, you should get changed while I’m making it” I pulled myself up from the bed and walked towards the door. I heard Cameron riffling through one of his drawers.
“Here R-J, take these. They’ll probably be a bit big for you but at least they’re clean” he shouted over to me. I spun around just in time to catch the clothes he’d thrown. He still seemed embarrassed but at least he was making an effort to act normal.
“Thanks” I replied before I rushed out of the room to wash up and get breakfast started. Cam was right about the clothes being way too big for me but it was able to keep the pants up by tightening the string around the waist. By the time Cameron finally came through to the kitchen I’d almost finished making the pancakes for breakfast. I hadn’t had much practise when it came to cooking so some of the pancakes were a little burnt but still Cameron proclaimed they were ‘the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted’. I’m pretty sure he was just being kind but it didn’t stop the smile from blossoming across my face. After breakfast Cam and I settled down on the sofa and watched a bunch of old movies that I’d never seen before.
The next couple of days were sort of the same, with Cameron getting a little better with every passing day. He talked to his dad on the phone a lot and after the calls his mood plummeted for a little while before slowly picking up again. We never slept together again after that first night, I think we were both too embarrassed about it really. We never even spoke about it to be completely honest. It was sort of silently decided between us that from then on Cam would have his bed back and I would take the sofa. He never even asked me to come into his bedroom again even to talk to him; instead he waited until we were both in the living room if he needed to speak to me. It was just too weird to even consider going back into his room with him. I was probably making a big deal out of nothing again but he seemed to feel the same way so I didn’t feel as bothered about it as I would have if it was just me. It was on the fourth day of us just binge-watching movies and TV shows that I finally realised that Cameron was mostly, if not all the way, back to his normal self and would probably be okay without me now. In the middle of, what was rapidly becoming, my favourite show I switched the TV off and turned around to face Cameron.
“Cam…there’s something I need to tell you” I started quietly. I wasn’t quite sure how to tell him. He just looked at me, encouraging me to go on.
“I…uh…I found a place. I’m…moving out” Even though it was incredibly hard, harder than I’d ever thought it would be, to tell him I somehow managed to spit it out. He looked dumbstruck.
“Is this because of what happened the other night because if it is I’m so sorry. You don’t need to go” He asked somewhat frantically. I reached out to him but thought better of it at the last moment and pulled away. Somehow I didn’t think it would help in the situation. So he felt the weirdness that had grown between us too. It wasn’t just me. Still I couldn’t believe he thought I was leaving because of him.
“I promise it’s got nothing to do with that. Actually she offered me her spare room before that even happened. I just wanted to make sure you were okay again before I told you” I tried to soothe him. This time I did reach out to him.
“Who is she?” he asked. He sounded a little defeated. He was going to find out anyway so I may as well tell him.
“Um…Corrin…Corrin Liem. Her roommate just moved out so she’s got a spare room and she said I could have it” I answered nervously. I had no idea why I was so nervous. It was an innocent thing. I was moving into her spare room, it wasn’t like I was marrying her so why was I so nervous to tell Cameron.
“You don’t have to go” he repeated his earlier sentiment, sadness shining in his eyes. I reached over and touched his hand in a soothing gesture.
“I know Cam, and I’ve loved staying with you, but I can’t live on your sofa forever” I replied softly. I felt a little sad about leaving him too but it was true; I couldn’t live with him forever and we would still see each other. He was my best friend, of course I’d still see him. He was silent for a while. I didn’t push him to talk or even talk to him, I just let him process what I’d told him.
“I’m glad it’s Corrin you’re moving in with then. She’s a good, caring person and you two will probably get on well” he gave me a sad smile before wrapping his arm around me in a one armed hug.