“What?” It was too early in the morning for this. “Why?”
He shrugged. “This isn’t a solution to our housing problem.”
“And mum’s is?” My eyes snapped to my watch. Five minutes before I had to leave so I could make it in on time.
“It will be more comfortable. No-one has to share a bedroom and we won’t be under foot.”
It rose up again, the guilty feeling of not being grateful for the work they’d done. But there was still that outrage of having my project taken over. “You’re not underfoot, Andrew. I know the living arrangements are not ideal, but I like having everyone here. And I want to say thank you for doing all of the work around here.”
He smiled at me.
“But can we talk this afternoon? If I don’t leave now, I’ll be late for work.” I reached over and gave him a massive hug hoping that I haven’t just brushed him off. “I don’t want you and the kids moving out.”
Gruffly, he chuckled. “We’ll talk.” Extracting himself from my arms, he made sure he was looking me directly in the eye before adding. “All three of the adults will have to talk.”
I nodded my head like a bobble head doll and dashed out of the kitchen, stumbling over little girls and their rats nest hair and grumbly bellies. “Catch you later girls.”
Work was nice and busy, keeping my mind off the talk the boys and I would be having later. It wasn’t until knocking off time that rocks appeared in my stomach. I didn’t want to go home and face the music. I wanted to do overtime and move into another place and pretend nothing was going on. Which it wasn’t, not really. I was being childish.
Dad would be having a fit if he knew what I was doing and how I was treating those boys. “Keep your workers happy; provide them with breakfast and lunch. Make their working day enjoyable and they will come back and do more work.” He told all of us kids over and over about what to do on a worksite.
He also filled our heads with the horror stories of working on wages or not having clients pay their bills or of other people doing substandard building work.
I slammed the door on my car and rested my head on the steering wheel in defeat. “They’re doing everything exactly the way that I would… I can’t let either of them run off and leave me alone with that house. Fuck.” I understood, I was limited with my ability to do the heavy lifting. That was biology. So I had to be dependent on others to give me a lift.
I jammed the key into the ignition.
“Well, fuck, I’ll just have to improve their working conditions… maybe apologise to Kent for yesterday.”
The drive home, I worried. Would they still be there? Or would Andrew have already driven off with the kids? Would Kent have skipped out of town to go someplace else for adventure?
I parked the car on the curb. “What the fuck?”
Shane’s ute was in my drive.
I hurried out of the car and to the rear of the house.
And found three men sitting on outdoor furniture having a laugh and a drink. “Hey sis,” Andrew grinned. “What do you think?” Jerking his finger over his shoulder he directed my attention to the monstrosity parked beside the laundry.
“Is that a caravan?”
“More precisely, that’s my caravan,” Shane smirked. “Another favour for my little sister.”
Ignoring him, I looked to Andrew and Kent for answers. “Want to explain?”
Kent sucked on his bottle and said nothing.
Andrew sighed. “I think it’s self-explanatory, Lori. I called Shane to see if he could lend us the caravan while no-one is using it. Now the kids and me can live in that while we do up the front of the house.”
Improved living conditions.
“Okay. So no more talk about moving back in with mum?” I swallowed hard. Why didn’t we think of this before? It was great. Andrew still had to share space, but now they could be a little family unit again.
“For the moment.” He patted the empty chair between him and Kent. “Come and sit.”
“Where did this come from?” I asked as I took the space offered. “I don’t recognise it.”
Shane chuckled. “The little old couple I’ve been working for this week wanted to get rid of it. It was either you or the dump for this set up.”
I smiled sweetly at him. “You were thinking of your little sister? Wow, I am shocked and feeling the love.”
“Piss off. I said it was you or the dump.” Even though he growled, I could see the tinge of blush in his cheeks.
“Well, then, thanks.” I didn’t push it any further.
Kent stood up, his chair skidding against the concrete. “I’m going for another drink. Anyone else want one? Lori?”
“Is there a cider?”
“I’ll come in and have a look. And change my shoes.” I complained. Once in the kitchen I scrunched up my face and charged ahead. “I’m sorry about yesterday.”
He shrugged. Again.
“I am grateful for what you and Andrew have been doing around the house.”
“There isn’t any cider. Are you sure you don’t want beer?” He held the fridge door open.
I blinked at him. “Are you still mad at me?”
Sighing heavily, he closed the door, making the bottles in side clink. “No. But we don’t do the touchy feely shit. Never have. Why are you trying to now?”
“Because I don’t want you giving me the silent treatment. I fucked up and got emotional on site, sorry.”
“This doesn’t feel like anything has been resolved.”
He threw his hands into the air. “What more do you want from me? You apologised and I accepted, let’s move on.” Squinting at me and taking a cautious step back he asked. “Are you on the rag?”
“NO! You arsehole! How dare you ask that?! How dare you stereotype me like that?!” I snatched up the tea towel and used it as a whip, striking out at him.
He yelped and raced out the back door. I gave chase. That’s when I heard it. “Stop laughing and get back here!” I growled.
My brothers chuckled behind us.