Camp NaNoWriMo part 13
The Darius who came back looked like he had just run a marathon.
“I thought you were going to the library,” Wilfredo blurted out.
“I changed my mind.”
Wilfredo stepped back to let his housemate into the house. “You really like running.”
Darius laughed as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah.”
His housemate turned into the living area and froze, obviously not expecting to meet anyone in the house. Wilfredo clapped him on the back and started the introductions.
“Brother, this is Darius, my housemate. Darius, this is my brother, Baldemar. Baldy for short.”
Baldemar narrowed his eyes at Wilfredo.
“And this is why people target you even though I’m the family head, Wilfredo.”
“Some people just can’t take a joke. Right, Darius?” Wilfredo turned to look at his housemate, but the younger man had frozen like stone. Wilfredo shook his shoulder. “Darius?”
“I thought you were Walter.”
He pointed at his niece. “She’s actually Lilibeth.”
His niece snarled and threw a pillow at him. She followed that up by jumping on him like a cat. He caught her with one arm and tickled her with the other.
Baldemar was nine years older than him, but in that moment, those nine years felt more like twenty. Wilfredo dropped his niece like a hot kettle, but more carefully, because her papa bear was right there and he liked his bed tiger-free.
He hooked an arm over Darius’ shoulders and led him to the dining table.
“So, Darius, my brother wants to have a chat with you. Take a seat.” He sat Darius down on a chair. “I’ll play host. Have fun.”
Wilfredo swept into the kitchen, where he could pretend to be busy while shamelessly eavesdropping on his brother and housemate.
As always, his brother took charge of the environment, reversing their roles as he became the hose and Darius the visitor. Some people would get offended. Darius was more laid back than that. Plus he had more things on his mind, like making a good impression.
To be honest, if it was up to him, he would only have called Darius back after his brother and niece were gone. He was supposed to protect Darius, and pulling him into his family crisis, even peripherally, was the opposite of keeping him safe.
But how long more was he supposed to babysit? Esther said she only needed two months at most. Well, those two months were long gone, and in a few months she would have been gone for a year. She hadn’t told him what she was doing, and he didn’t press her back then because they were old friends, but as the months passed, he wished he had forced her to explain after all.
“You may join us if you wish, Darius.”
Wilfredo slapped the counter top. “No. He’s not going.”
His brother gave him a cool look that never failed to make him feel like a small kid again. “Wilfredo. If you want to join the conversation, come here and sit down.”
He picked up the new dishes for Darius and sat at the table. Darius wouldn’t look him in the eye.
“You didn’t tell me you were going to bring Darius into this,” Wilfredo said.
“Is he incompetent?”
“Then what is the issue, Wilfredo?”
He should have fought harder to keep Darius from meeting Baldemar in the first place. At least then he had a chance of winning.
“Have you ever wondered why I disappeared last year?” Wilfredo asked.
He pointed at Darius with his thumb.
“I disappeared because of him.”
~To be continued~