Tuesday, December 25th; Christmas Day.

“Breanna and Jackson, good to see you,” I hear Carson’s voice as I’m cutting up carrots. 

“Carson, what a surprise,” I hear my mum squeal, but at the same time I know there’s a sadness in her eyes. This was our first Christmas without Grant. It was hard. On all of us. 

I stay where I am. We had done what we weren’t supposed to do the last time I went to New Temple and I kind of dropped out of a few trips afterwards, avoiding Carson in any way that I possibly could. I didn’t want to talk about the fact that I couldn’t stop having sex with my brother’s best friend.

“Eryn,” I hear the gruff voice from the first night at New Temple and a hand find its way to the small of my back.

“Car,” I say, smiling weakly at him. He eyes me and I know he wants to talk about it. My father clears his throat and we both look at him while he eyes sparkle. Grant got his eyes from my dad. He was just as mischievous too. He could read into things when he shouldn’t.

“Everyone is on their way,” My mother announces as I throw the veggie plate on the table. Carson smiles at her. 

“Would you guys mind if I stole Eryn away for a bit before everyone gets here, of course,” He says, my parents already giving their permission as soon as he opened his mouth. They loved Carson.

He grabs my coat and his. “Here,” He says, holding out the coat for me to put my arms through. I roll my eyes at him a bit and I see him smirk.

“Ugh,” I say as soon as we’re outside. He chuckles again.

“What’s up with you?” He asks genuinely as if he had no idea. “You haven’t been in New Temple since it opened back up.”

“I’m fully aware,” I say. “I need to stay away from you. We aren’t good together.”

The words were out there. I couldn’t take them back even though I didn’t mean them.

“We’re great together,” Carson counters. “I know you think this entire thing is because of Grant but I’ve had feelings for you since I met you. I would have made that move whether or not Grant died.”

Even though I said that my brother was dead, it still made me cringe when anyone else brought it up. I stare at him. My eyes were doing this weird thing where they welled up with tears, but I blamed it on the cold.

“I can’t do this knowing he wouldn’t have wanted it,” I say to Carson, before walking back to the house. Carson standing there a bit before running to catch up with me.

“He wanted it,” He says.

“Excuse me?” I say incredulously, stopping just at the stoop of my home.

“You were too young back then. He said we’d be good together eventually. Just not then. At least that’s what he said to me,” Carson explains. I stand there for a bit and stare at him.

He smirks at me – that famous smirk. The one that Carson Ryan smirked when he knew he was going to get what he wanted. I saw it too many times after studying him in New Temple after he was declared off limits.

“At least come to New Temple for New Year’s,” He says, opening the door for me back into the house.

I shrug my shoulders at him.

“I won’t have anyone to kiss at midnight if you don’t,” He whispers in my ear as he helps me take off my jacket. I smile, hoping he couldn’t see it.

“I’ll think about it,” I agree somewhat begrudgingly but part of me already wanted to go. He smirks again, hanging up my coat and his as we greet the rest of my family members who had arrived within the short time frame outside.

“Oh good, Carson, you’re staying!” My mum exclaims as Carson takes a seat beside me. He smiles, offering some lame excuse about how his family was working at the restaurants and he had nowhere else to be.

I was spending Christmas with Carson – not with Grant. It wasn’t right, but something about it felt like it was.
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