Did I Mention I Need You? by Estelle Maskame


  12

  It’s late Monday afternoon when Snake starts pacing the apartment, repeatedly punching at his palms. He’s wearing a white and red jersey with the words “RED SOX” printed across the front. To complement it he’s also wearing a matching navy cap, settled backward on his head. I study the letter “B” on it for a while.

  “I thought we were going to the Yankees game,” I say. I throw him a puzzled glance from the couch, and he dramatically draws himself to a halt to stare back at me from the kitchen, mouth wide.

  “The Yankees disgust me. It’s the Red Sox game, alright? Red Sox.” He fixes me with a hard look when I laugh, so I quickly bite my lip to stop myself. Snake folds his arms across his chest. “And we’re going to win.”

  “It’s the Yankees game!” Tyler’s voice calls from his room. A few seconds later, the door swings open. He comes striding out into the living room, shoulders broad, chest out. He’s wearing a jersey, too, only his is white with navy pinstripes and the Yankees symbol is by the top left. There’s also a navy snapback in his hand, the peak white. “The Yankees game,” he says again, “where they kick your asses.”

  Snake shakes his head and staggers around the kitchen worktop, edging his way over to Tyler. He looks menacing. “And who won last week’s game?” he asks, eyes narrowed. “Oh yeah, that’s right. The Red Sox. We’re gonna do it again, so why don’t you save yourself the shame and stay here?”

  “Twenty-seven World Series championships,” Tyler says, voice firm, confident. He takes a step toward Snake and raises an eyebrow. “What about the Red Sox? How many have they won? Wait a second . . . Isn’t it only seven?” Tyler’s competitive grin turns playful, and he pulls Snake’s cap around to the front and pushes it down over his face.

  “That was a cheap shot,” Snake mutters, adjusting his cap once more and making his way over to the door. He’s scowling, defeated.

  Tyler turns his attention to me and I figure we’re about to leave, so I get to my feet and walk over to him. “Hmm,” he says. Studying my outfit, his expression tells me that he’s not all that impressed. He lifts up the Yankees snapback in his hand and places it on my head, pulling it down until it fits snugly. He points the peak upward and smiles. “Better. Tonight you’re a Yankees fan.”

  “God, Tyler, why do you have to put her through that embarrassment?” Snake comments from the doorway, smirking. “But seriously, guys, we gotta go. Gates open in thirty minutes.”

  Tyler nudges me forward as he reaches for the set of keys on the kitchen counter, swiftly scooping them up into his hand. There are no goodbyes to be said. Emily is already out, hanging with whoever the hell Emily hangs out with besides Tyler. The three of us head out into the lobby and Snake throws some more insults at Tyler regarding the Yankees as they lock up, but it’s all just playful. By the time we get outside, they’re both stoked. I’m even slightly hyped myself. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but I’m looking forward to experiencing my first baseball game.

  The weather is glorious, the same as it has been all weekend, and it seems that last week’s rain is long gone. The sky is blue and the sun is hot, and instantly I regret leaving my hair down. I’ll be sweating in no time.

  “Hurry up!” Snake yells over the traffic as he crosses Third Avenue, so buzzed for the game that he can hardly slow down, and so Tyler and I speed-walk to catch up with him.

  We make our way toward the Seventy-seventh Street station, and as soon as we near it, I can already tell that it’s much busier than it was when Tyler first took me here. It’s rush hour combined with a Yankees game, so I’m not that surprised. Snake shoves himself through the thick flow of people on the stairs, using his shoulders to barge them out of the way, and Tyler pushes me after him. It’s loud and people are yelling and I can hear trains arriving and Snake is muttering under his breath and Tyler is following close behind me, and we’re descending these stairs as best we can until finally we reach the ticket turnstiles.

  “We’re getting the 6 and the 4,” Tyler says loudly as he heads through the turnstile next to mine. Once through, he places a hand on my shoulder, and I’m assuming it’s so that we don’t get separated amongst the crowd. “The 6 to 125th Street,” he says while guiding me, “and the 4 to Yankee Stadium.”

  Snake has somehow managed to weave his way onto the platform, finding us a spot to stand in. Tyler and I join him a few seconds later, and with the station overflowing there are a lot of people to study while we wait. There’s some lady struggling with a stroller. Many people in work attire. Even more in baseball jerseys, mostly Yankees.

  “Are you excited for the game?” Tyler asks me, his voice slightly muffled under all the noise.

  “Yeah.” I angle my body around to face him fully, smiling. I watch as he raises his eyebrows.

  “Really?”

  “Yeah,” I say again. I am excited, but I believe Tyler might think I’m lying. “I wanna see this Derek Jeter guy you speak about.”

  Just then, the train pulls up and the crowd immediately starts shifting. Everyone makes a beeline for the doors, carelessly tripping over one another, and Snake is no exception. He grabs my arm and starts to tug me along with him, so I reach back and grasp Tyler’s wrist, the three of us holding onto each other as though we’re back in elementary school. Embarrassing or not, we all manage to get into the rear car with only a few seconds to spare, squeezing in and reaching for rails just as the doors close.

  “Fucking New York,” Snake mutters under his breath, but everyone hears him anyway. He receives some pointed glares, either because of his comment or the fact that he’s riding the New York City subway wearing the baseball jersey of a Boston team. The surrounding Yankees fans don’t look too impressed.

  Rivalry aside, the ride uptown is quick, and after gazing lustfully at the back of Tyler’s neck for the journey, he finally turns around to direct me off the train, with Snake striding along beside us. The 125th Street station looks a little bigger than Seventy-seventh Street, but it also smells like something died in here. I scrunch my nose up as I follow Tyler and Snake across the uptown platform until we’re approached by a guy trying to sell us loose cigarettes for a dollar. Snake buys two just to end the guy’s pestering.

  The 4 train arrives only minutes later, and again, it’s just as packed as the 6. This time, though, there are fewer people waiting on the platform, so we edge our way onto the train with ease and even manage, somehow, to locate seats. Before I know it we’re arriving into the 161st Street station for Yankee Stadium. It’s an elevated station and it takes me a minute or so to adjust to the daylight. By this point Snake is so hyped up for the game that he quite literally leaps onto the platform the moment the doors open. Judging by the amount of people who get off at this stop, it seems half the train is heading to the Yankees game.

  The stairs down to ground level are a nightmare, but Snake isn’t afraid to yet again shove his way through the flow of people while Tyler and I tag along behind him. I roll my eyes as I walk, and it’s not until we reach the bottom of the stairs that I realize we’re here—we’re outside Yankee Stadium.

  It’s absolutely huge, massive beyond comprehension. There are hundreds upon hundreds of fans lining the outside walls, their tickets in hands, kids fizzing with excitement around them. The structure is rounded, the gorgeous pale limestone walls giving it a clean and modern appearance. There are even narrow glassless windows near the top, and below there are ticket gates, the letters huge and colored a deep blue. The standout detail, however, are the words “YANKEE STADIUM” on the very top of the stadium wall, indented in gold in the limestone. It seems to glitter when the sun hits it at just the right angle.

  I let out the breath I’ve been holding in. “Woah.”

  “Right?” Tyler agrees, grinning from my side as he places both hands on my shoulders and directs me across the road toward Gate 6. Well, the line for it, at least.

  Unsurprisingly, Snake’s already there, keeping a spot for us as the line m
oves along quickly. He’s impatiently tapping his foot on the ground when we reach him.

  “Relax,” Tyler tells him, his grin shifting into a playful smirk. He lets go of me. “It must be tough knowing you’re gonna lose, but you need to chill out, man.”

  “Gimme the fucking tickets,” Snake snaps. He shoves Tyler in front of him, snatching the three tickets that are sticking out of the back pocket of Tyler’s jeans, while Tyler laughs. Snake studies the tickets for a moment, his eyebrows furrowing. “Where’s Section 314?”

  “Terrace level,” Tyler replies.

  Under the beating sun, the line continues to move along, and it only takes ten minutes for us to reach the gate. It’s a relief to get inside, away from the heat, and the three of us scan our tickets and head through the turnstiles.

  We enter a large concourse, with large banners of Yankees players along the walls. I hear Snake mutter under his breath, most likely something insulting, and Tyler throws his arm over my shoulders as we start to walk, leading us left.

  “This is the Great Hall,” he tells me.

  We don’t walk very far before we reach the elevators and stairs to the grandstand and terrace levels, and Snake makes for the elevators.

  “No.” I reach for Tyler’s arm and pull him back, pointing to the stairs as Snake glowers at me. “Always take the stairs.” Whether they’ll follow or not, I don’t care. I head off, making my way up the first flight, only slowing down when the two of them come rushing up after me.

  “How come you never use this logic back at the apartment?” Tyler asks once he’s by my side again. He matches his pace to mine while Snake groans from behind us.

  “Always take the stairs unless it’s twelve flights of them,” I correct, smiling. Tyler nods in agreement, and I let him take the lead again, but only because I’m not sure where our seats are.

  We wind our way up several flights of stairs, over and over again, through the mass of people milling around, all the way until Level 3. There are a lot of concession stands, selling beer and hot dogs and nachos and soda, and I can see Snake staring desperately at each one we pass. Echoing around us, the commentator is announcing safety information in between the sound of commercials, but I don’t pay too much attention. I’m too focused on the final set of stairs Tyler seems to be directing us up.

  It takes us outside to the terrace level, where we’re greeted by tiered seating beneath the grandstand. It’s louder out here as people find their seats, yelling and cheering, commercials and sound effects blaring around the stadium. It’s hard to believe, but somehow it looks even bigger on the inside.

  I follow Tyler and Snake to our seats, five rows back and three seats in, and they position themselves so that I end up in the middle. I sit down on the plastic seating and exhale. Overwhelmed, I try to take everything in.

  The stands above are rumbling, the levels below are buzzing, and all the noise clashes together to create an energetic atmosphere filled with hyped-up excitement for the game, both teams’ fans hopeful. We’re not that close to the field, but our view is still great and unobstructed. We’re situated to the right of the home plate and I run my eyes across the field. From what I can see of the bleachers the crowd appears pretty rowdy already, but there’s a lot of security throughout each section of the stadium, so I doubt any brawls will be occurring. Behind the bleachers, the video board has switched from playing commercials to playing footage from previous games. Around us there’s a mixture of Yankees and Sox fans, but I think there are slightly more Yankees jerseys and caps than there are Sox.

  “This is amazing,” I say. I’m not talking to anyone in particular, just stating a fact, but Tyler still smiles.

  “So,” Snake says. He leans forward, edging over me and raising an eyebrow. “Now that we’ve got our seats, I’m heading back for a beer. Eden?”

  I shake my head, declining the offer. I don’t think I can have another beer yet. We drank so much last week during our Harry Potter marathon that even the thought of it makes me feel nauseous. Snake, however, seems to survive on beer alone. He sighs at me before glancing at Tyler, who also decides to avoid booze for the night.

  Snake shrugs. “More for me,” he says, and heads off, shuffling his way back down the stairs.

  Left alone, just the two of us, Tyler takes full advantage of it. He angles his body slightly to face me more and he smiles, eyes smoldering. I try to look back at him, but I can’t. Seeing him look at me like that only makes me blush, so I bite my lip and stare at my Chucks instead. The pair he gave me.

  My attention shifts, however, when my phone vibrates in my back pocket. I’m grateful for the distraction, and quickly I reach for my device and tilt the screen up. It’s Dean calling. Of course it is, it always is. I can feel Tyler’s eyes on the screen too, so I angle it away from him, declining the call and shoving my phone back into my pocket. Now isn’t the time to talk to Dean. Not while Tyler’s by my side.

  “Why didn’t you answer that?”

  “Because I’m with you,” I say.

  Tyler nods once, turns to the field, stares at it for a few minutes in silence, and then out of nowhere he slips his arm over my shoulders and gently draws me closer to him. He lingers for a moment, and I wait, holding my breath while I try to figure out what he’s playing at. And then slowly he breathes a laugh and moves his lips to my ear. “I want you more than that kid down there wants to catch a foul ball,” he murmurs. His breath is hot, voice seductive. “I want you more than Snake wants the Red Sox to win.” Carefully, he brushes his lower lip over the soft spot just below my ear, and my entire body shivers. I’m frozen in position, though, and my eyes are set on the field below as I listen to his words. “You know what Derek Jeter is great at?” I can feel him smiling against my skin as he pauses for a moment. “Home runs,” he says. I sense him shift his free hand to my leg as he gently squeezes my thigh. “But I’m starting to wonder if tonight he wants a home run as much as I want you.”

  Everything inside of me, every single inch of my body, ignites.

  My stomach flutters and backflips and plummets and twists. My pulse pumps erratically beneath my skin so fast I can feel it. My heart is either contracting or exploding. Either way, my chest hurts with how hard it’s pounding. Goosebumps appear along my arms. My breathing slows until I think it’s stopped, until I think I’m suffocating. I can even feel myself breaking out into a sweat, but I try to convince myself it’s because of the heat and not the fact that I really, really want to kiss my stepbrother right now.

  “How about we make a deal?” Tyler whispers, voice as lustful as ever. I grip the edge of my seat to stop myself from making a move toward him. Right now is most definitely not the time for me to be all over him.

  “A deal?” I echo, but it sounds much more like a squeak than anything else. I’m still staring at the field, at the grass, at the home plate. Anything but Tyler. If I look at him right now, if I even so much as steal a glance at his smoldering green eyes, then there’s no way in hell I’ll be able to hold myself back.

  “How about,” Tyler murmurs quietly, softly, “we play baseball?” His grip on my thigh tightens.

  My voice catches in my throat when I realize he’s not talking about the sport. He’s talking about something entirely different, something so terrifying yet exciting at the exact same time. A thousand and one thoughts are consuming me as I try to process his words, and I’m so taken aback that there’s no way I can even attempt to reply. I feel sick with exhilaration and my chest rises and falls as I focus on my breathing.

  Tyler doesn’t wait for me to say anything. Instead, he starts to rub soft circles on my thigh with his thumb as he leans even closer to me. He buries his face into my hair, all while he presses his lips to the edge of my jaw. I feel him smile again. “If Jeter hits a home run tonight,” he whispers against my skin, “how about we get our own too?”

  He must feel my body shaking beneath him. He must surely feel the way I’m trembling at his touch. He must defini
tely notice, because when he pulls back slightly, out of the corner of my eye I can see him smirking at me. He knows the effect he has on me. He likes the effect he has on me. And admittedly, I like it, too. I like his proposition even more. I know I shouldn’t agree to it, though. I shouldn’t agree to it because of Dean, because I have a boyfriend back home, but it’s so, so tempting. How can I say no to Tyler? How can I say no to the person I’m in love with?

  Finally, I look at Tyler. He’s smiling back at me, eyebrows raised and eyes sparkling, emerald as ever. “Deal,” I whisper.

  13

  Snake returns shortly after with a plastic cup of beer in each hand and a wide grin on his face. He’s so pleased that I don’t think he even registers how on edge Tyler and I must seem. Tyler has scooted back over to the other side of his seat, as far away from me as he can possibly position himself, and I’m gnawing at my lip hoping that no one around us will somehow figure out that we’re stepsiblings. It’s impossible for them to know, but it still makes me paranoid knowing that they’ve most likely witnessed Tyler whispering in my ear and touching my body.

  As I try to relax, I realize how much the stadium has filled up. Most of the sections seem to be full by now, and only a matter of minutes later, roll call comes into action. The noise within the stadium amplifies as each player is announced, the crowds cheering and whistling as they stride onto the field. Beneath their caps, each player has a competitive look in their eyes. However, none of these players are the slightest bit familiar to me. There’s only one player whose name I recognize: Derek Jeter.

  His name is announced and the stadium erupts into applause: applause which I don’t hesitate to join in with. I’m on my feet alongside Tyler, chanting Jeter’s name in unison with the thousands of other Yankees fans while a middle-aged guy saunters onto the field, smiling. It occurs to me while I’m cheering that I’m seriously rooting for Derek Jeter. I’m depending on him to hit a home run.

 
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