Did I Mention I Need You? by Estelle Maskame

  “Filling in for Meghan,” Dean says. He’s wearing a pale-blue shirt and dark jeans, and he stuffs his hands into the front pockets. “It was really last-minute. I thought my dad wouldn’t let me take the time off work, but he told me to go for it. Rachael’s idea.”

  Both Tyler and I fire our eyes at Rachael at the exact same moment. She’s watching the scene unfold with a beaming grin spread across her face. Right now, neither Tyler nor I are impressed. Inviting Dean to New York? That’s quite literally the worst thing she could have done.

  “Tyler, I brought you your best friend. Eden, I brought you your boyfriend,” she states, grin stretching even wider. “Am I the greatest best friend in the world or what?”

  I can’t even bring myself to reply to her. I know her intentions were good, but she has absolutely no idea what she’s just done. She’s made everything so much more complicated. I doubt either Rachael or Dean notice it, but to Tyler and me the tension in the room is starting to feel unbearable.

  I shoot him a panicked glance and he closes his eyes, running a hand back through his hair. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to do. And as Dean joins me by my side again, throwing his arm around me and pressing a soft kiss to my cheek, I begin to feel even worse.

  Are we supposed to tell him the truth now that he’s here in New York? Or do we wait like we’d planned? That’s the hard part. Knowing when to hurt Dean. It’s inevitable that we will: It’s just a matter of when and where. Not here, that’s for sure. Not right now. But soon, perhaps.

  And if I thought it couldn’t get any worse than this, then God, I’m so wrong.

  The bathroom door swings open, drawing the attention of all four of us, and as I furrow my eyebrows in confusion, I hear a voice gush, “Guys, the tub is amazing.”

  It’s another voice I recognize. A voice I never thought I’d have to hear again. A voice that belongs to someone I haven’t spoken to in two years. And just as the color in my face begins to drain once again, she steps out of the bathroom with her hair thrown up into a messy bun and nothing but a white towel wrapped around her tiny body. She stops when she spots us and her eyes flicker between Tyler and me for a moment, and then, so slowly that it becomes almost painful, Tiffani smiles. “Why didn’t anyone tell me that my favorite pair of stepsiblings had arrived?”


  I’m convinced that none of this is really happening. It can’t possibly be happening. Dean can’t be in New York. Tiffani can’t be standing opposite me, wearing a seemingly innocent smile. Only I know her better than that, and I know that behind that innocence there is deviousness. That’s all Tiffani is and it’s all she ever has been. Manipulative, controling and willing to defy everyone and everything in order to get what she wants. In her mind, her way is the only way. And she’s standing in the same room as both Tyler and me. She’s standing across from the two people she knows she can get the better of, the two people who are desperately trying their best to hide a secret only she knows about.

  “Are you kidding me?” Tyler hisses, his voice slicing through the thick atmosphere. He’s shifted his glare from Dean to Tiffani and he shakes his head in disbelief.

  Rachael heaves a sigh as she folds her arms and leans back against the arm of one of the vintage chairs. She kicks at the rug and fixes Tyler with a hard look. “Can’t you guys grow up already? You broke up, whatever. That was two years ago. Get over it.”

  “Are you being serious right now, Rachael?” Tyler blinks back at her, his eyes widening. He laughs, so stunned by the situation that I think laughing is the only thing he can do. “Fuck this. I’m out.” Throwing his arms up in defeat, he turns around and strides straight for the door, pulling it open so forcefully that the hinges squeak. “I’ll wait for you in the car, Eden,” he throws over his shoulder, and promptly slams the suite door shut. There’s a tremendous echo.

  “So moving to New York clearly hasn’t fixed his anger issues,” Rachael says after a moment of silence. She’s making a joke, of course, but I don’t find it funny. In fact, I find it totally disrespectful. So rude that I can’t help but glare at her.

  “Why’s he always such an asshole?” Tiffani adds, voice sweet and soft, as though she’s deeply offended. “He’s got serious issues. So aggressive. He clearly gets it from his dad.”

  I’m about to say something, about to open my mouth to call Tiffani out for saying what she just said, but surprisingly, Dean beats me to it.

  “Guys, really?” he asks, dropping his arm from around my shoulders to around my waist. “Give him a break.”

  “He’s a bit dramatic, though,” Rachael murmurs. “Don’t you think so? Storming out like that. Same old Tyler, I guess.”

  “I can’t blame him,” I say as I throw a pointed glance at Tiffani. I’m not even going to attempt to hide my contempt for her. Rachael is slowly aggravating me too. Same old Tyler? They’re only seeing him right now. Of course he’s going to get mad when Tiffani turns up out of absolutely nowhere. Neither Rachael nor Tiffani have really seen him, the Tyler who’s always laughing those hearty laughs and smiling at random moments throughout the day. They haven’t seen the new Tyler yet. Sure, he’s still a work in progress, but he’s getting there. He’s a lot happier than he ever was before, and their insults are pissing me off. I’m always going to defend him.

  “Not you too,” Rachael groans, tilting her head back and closing her eyes.

  “God, Eden,” Tiffani says, “I thought maybe now that you’ve graduated you’d have matured.” She flutters her eyelashes at me from the bathroom door and holds on to her towel, pursing her lips.

  “What’s your problem with me, Tiffani?” I demand, losing my temper as I shrug Dean’s grip off me and make a move for her. “Why have you always been so—?”

  Dean grabs me from behind again, pulling me back against his body as he stops me from lunging toward her. “Tiffani,” he says. “Don’t be a bitch.”

  “Shut the hell up, Dean,” she orders. Her voice has lost its gentleness and now it sounds sharp. Fixing the two of us with a fierce glare, she storms into one of the bedrooms and slams the door behind her.

  I glance back at Dean as his hold on me loosens, and he just shrugs at me as though it’s no big deal. He’s defended both Tyler and me, and it only makes me feel even guiltier than I already did. Dean’s just like that. Always there for people. Soon I’ll be throwing it all back in his face. It’s difficult to think about, so I focus my attention elsewhere.

  “She’s a bit dramatic, though, don’t you think so?” I throw at Rachael, quoting her earlier words about Tyler. I step away from Dean and fold my arms across my chest, raising my eyebrows at her. “What the hell is she even doing here?”

  Rachael stands up from the chair, sighing as she walks over. She brings with her a waft of her perfume again. “She was always going to be coming, Eden. I just didn’t mention it to you because I didn’t want you complaining about it for months. Can’t you guys just let all of this go?”

  “Let it go?” I echo. “Seriously?”

  “Look, I get it,” she says. “You hate her because of what she did to Tyler and she hates you because you took his side. But that was years ago. Don’t you think you’re being a little childish? Can’t you just forgive and forget? Tiffani has. She’s ready to be friends with you again. Both of you.”

  I want to laugh, just like Tyler did, in disbelief. Rachael has no idea what really went down two summers ago. Sometimes I wish she knew. But she doesn’t, so I can only grit my teeth to stop myself from telling her the truth. “I’m never going to be her friend, Rachael. Never.”

  “Don’t worry about it,” Dean says from behind me, and I flinch. I’m not used to hearing his voice. The fact that he’s here is still taking me by surprise. He puts a hand on my shoulder and steps by my side, offering me a smile of reassurance. “You don’t have to be friends with her.”

  “C’mon Dean,” Rachael murmurs, “you have to admit that it makes it awkward for the rest o
f us.”

  “I don’t find anything awkward,” Dean states, expression calm as he shifts his gaze back to her. I can sense that he’s lying, but I know he’s only trying to fight my corner, so I remain still beneath his touch. “Nothing’s awkward unless you make it awkward, which is exactly what you’re doing right now.”

  Rachael presses her lips together. “All I’m trying to do is bring everyone back together,” she says, but she sounds a little sad. She says nothing more, though, and turns and heads for the same bedroom as Tiffani, leaving Dean and I alone.

  He turns to face me, looking a little deflated. I don’t think any of this has turned out the way they’d planned. “Maybe it was a bad idea asking you and Tyler to come over here,” he mumbles. “We wanted to surprise you guys, and I just had to see you tonight. I couldn’t wait until tomorrow.”

  “Well, here I am,” I say half-heartedly. I laugh, but it’s not genuine. I’m starting to feel sick. I can’t handle both Dean and Tiffani being in New York. It’s too much to cope with all at once.

  “And people say the skyline is the most beautiful thing in New York,” he says, lips curving into a smile as he raises his eyebrows at me. That’s when I notice he’s shaved that awful stubble he’d been growing.

  I roll my eyes and push his shoulder. “God, Dean, really?”

  “I just had to,” he says. His wide grin reaches his eyes as he places his hands on my shoulders, his gaze mirroring mine. “In the month that you’ve been gone I’ve thought of so many corny phrases I can throw at you.” He kisses me then, and because we’re alone this time he runs his hands down my body, from my shoulders to my waist. He kisses me like it’s the first time.

  I find it hard to kiss him back with enthusiasm. How can I? I try, though, because I’m not ready to raise any suspicions yet. I’m trying to act normal. I’m trying to act as though I’m not in love with his best friend and I’m trying to act as though I’m not going to be telling him the truth very, very soon.

  I’m the one to pull away, when kissing him becomes unbearable. Shrugging, I frown and glance over to the door. “Dean, I should go,” I say quietly. “Tyler’s waiting in the car.”

  “Yeah, that’s okay,” he says. Finally, he releases his grip on my body and steps back. He’s still smiling. “Us three are gonna head out for something to eat, anyway. See the city, I guess. But tomorrow, we’re hanging out, okay?”

  I don’t think that’ll go down well with Tyler and I find myself stammering that I have plans already tomorrow, but Dean just looks confused. I don’t know what to do: Am I supposed to continue to act normal around him or am I supposed to give him the cold shoulder so that he knows something’s up? I can’t tell which will hurt him less, so I end up agreeing to a date tomorrow night instead.

  All of this is too much to take in, and as I’m sharing a goodbye with Dean and yelling bye to Rachael through the bedroom door, I realize that my hands are shaking. I get the hell out of the hotel suite as fast as I can without looking like I’m desperate to leave, and I don’t wait for the elevator. I’m in too much of a rush to get as far away as I can from both Dean and Tiffani, so I take the stairs, jogging down all ten flights of them at an uneven pace before striding through the main lobby. I burst through the main doors before the doorman even has a chance to open them for me, and he arches an eyebrow at me as I jog by him.

  Thankfully, Tyler’s car is still parked against the sidewalk, still outside the Santa Fe Opera. The engine is running, and I promptly throw open the passenger door and slip inside, yanking the door shut behind me.

  Breathing heavily, I immediately glance at Tyler. His body is stiff against the seat, both hands gripping the steering wheel so tight his knuckles have paled, his arms rigid. He doesn’t even look back at me, only clenches his jaw as he continues to stare out the windshield.

  As he parts his lips to speak, all he can say is, “What the fuck do we do now?”

  “I don’t know,” I say. Groaning, I throw my head down against the dashboard and run my hands through my hair. I squeeze my eyes shut as I try to process everything that has just occurred, but it all just feels like a messy blur. I can’t piece anything together. Slowly, I lift my head back up and turn to face him. “Tyler, should we tell him? I mean, it’s the right thing to do, isn’t it?”

  “We have to tell him,” he says, but he’s talking more slowly now and his voice is much calmer. He shifts his stare to mine, worry within our eyes. “I know we were going to wait until we got home to tell him, but he’s here now and we’ve got to do the right thing for once.”



  I swallow the lump that’s rising in my throat. “When will we tell him?”

  Tyler shrugs. “We can tell him tomorrow. Hell, we can walk back in there and tell him right now, but that means we’re going to ruin his trip to New York, because he’ll be going through hell. Or,” he says, “we can wait until their last day. Tell him the night before they leave. At least that way he’ll be able to enjoy New York, and he won’t have to be around us for long before he can hop on a plane and get the hell away from us. Get it?”

  “You want me to pretend everything is fine for five days?” Nervously, I interlock my hands in my lap. I love Dean. That’s why this is so hard. I’m not going to break up with him because I don’t want to be with him. I’m going to break up with him because I’ve found my way back to Tyler, because it’s unfair on Dean to have a girlfriend who’s in love with someone else.

  “Just act a little different so that he knows something’s up,” Tyler tells me, but he’s frowning as he starts up the engine. “God, he’s really gonna hate us, isn’t he? Could you see the way he was looking at you?”

  “Looking at us,” I correct. I reach for my seatbelt and click it on, letting out a sigh I didn’t know I was holding in. “He looked so happy to see us.”

  “Actually, forget Dean for a sec,” Tyler says as he pulls out of the spot and heads onto Madison Avenue. His tone turns bitter once more. “Why is Tiffani here? ‘Favorite pair of stepsiblings’? The fuck is that all about? She knows she hates us.”

  “It’s just me she hates, actually,” I say with the smallest of laughs as I settle back against the seat, watching Tyler as he drives. “You know, ’cause I totally stole her boyfriend and all.”

  Tyler glances sideways at me as he laughs, too, his expression softening up. One hand on the wheel, he reaches over the center console with the other, taking my hand in his. He intertwines his fingers with mine, his skin soft and warm, just like it always is. “I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am that you did.”


  The next day, both Tyler and I are on edge. We can’t help it. It’s so nerve-wracking knowing that Dean’s within such close proximity. We have to be extra cautious again, monitoring what we say and ensuring we never look at each other for too long. We’re back to being nothing more than stepsiblings again.

  And although we’re trying to act as normal and as innocent as we can, Tyler’s finding it difficult to hide his aggravation at the fact that Dean’s about to pick me up any second. He’s been brewing himself some coffee over in the kitchen as I pace the living room, awaiting the sound of a knock against the door, and eventually Emily picks up on the tension.

  She pauses the TV, much to Snake’s annoyance, and cranes her neck to look at us, her eyes flickering back and forth between Tyler and me. “What’s the matter?”

  “Eden’s got a date,” Tyler says. His eyes are zeroed in on me, and he stirs his coffee without even glancing down. His jaw is tight. “Her boyfriend surprised her last night by turning up in the city. Did I mention my psycho ex is here, too? Because she is.”

  “Tiffani?” Emily asks.

  I stop pacing the living room to throw Tyler a curious glance, an eyebrow raised. He must have told Emily about Tiffani. In fact, I think he must have told her just about everything about his life. She always seems to know the smallest of details.
  “Yeah,” Tyler says stiffly. He turns away from us and focuses on his coffee, and it gives Emily the chance to turn her attention back to me.

  “Eden, I didn’t know you had a boyfriend,” she says, eyes studying me intensely. It makes me uncomfortable.

  “Yeah, yeah, who cares?” Snake mutters. He tries to lean over her to grab the remote for the TV, but she presses a hand to his chest and holds him back, her eyes never leaving mine.

  “We’ve been together for over a year and a half,” I say quietly. A year and a half. That’s how much of Dean’s life I’ve wasted. “His name’s Dean.”

  As if right on cue, there’s a knock at the door. All of us glance over at once, but Tyler and I are quick to flash our eyes back to each other. He stops dithering with the coffee, his hands pausing mid-air, and I gnaw at the inside of my cheek. I don’t particularly want to see Dean tonight, but if I don’t he’ll know immediately that something’s wrong. I’m not ready to tell him yet.

  I can sense everyone’s eyes on me as I turn for the door, smoothing out my skater skirt on my way over. Slowly, I fiddle with the locks and swing open the door. And, of course, I’m greeted by Dean.

  He breathes a sigh of relief the moment he runs his eyes over me, a smile on his lips. “Oh, thank God we got the right apartment.”


  Right then, Rachael and Tiffani appear at the door behind him, slightly out of breath, as though they’ve climbed up all twelve flights of stairs. My grip on the door tightens as Tiffani smiles at me, eyes wide.

  “What are you guys doing here?” Tyler calls from the kitchen, and when I glance over my shoulder I see he’s abandoned his coffee on the worktop and is making his way over. He’s stuffed his hands into his pockets, but it doesn’t stop me from noticing the way they’re balled into fists.

  “We wanted to see your apartment!” Rachael tells him, voice cheerful. However, it quickly falters and she shrugs a little sheepishly. “And also because last night sucked. We wanna talk to you.”

Previous Page Next Page
Should you have any enquiry, please contact us via [email protected]