Home > A Year of Love

A Year of Love
Author: Helena Hunting





When I was eight years old, I walked in on my older brothers Maverick and Robbie dressing up a bunch of bananas in costumes. They were laughing so hard they had tears streaming down their cheeks. At one point, the two of them fell into a heap on the floor, gasping for air. Maverick actually peed himself. At the time, it really didn’t make a lot of sense. I had no clue where they found the costumes, or why they were playing dress up with them. Or why they wouldn’t let me play dress up too.

Fast forward to today, which happens to be New Year’s Eve, and I’m once again staring at a bunch of bananas dressed in a variety of festive holiday costumes. There’s Santa, of course, and three different elves, as well as a snowman and a reindeer. They’re arranged on the dining room table in suggestive positions.

Santa is giving it to the reindeer from behind. The snowman is getting a blowy from an elf, and the other two elves are engaged in a sixty-niner.

For a moment—a very, very brief one—I contemplate how hilarious it would be to put these to use with my boyfriend. Except I’m aware that they’ve already dressed up more than bananas.

That particular fact I didn’t learn until long after I found my brothers in tears on Robbie’s bedroom floor.

For a lot of years, I was blissfully unaware of what they were meant for, other than banana costumes. When I was a teenager, Maverick explained that our mom dresses up our dad’s business in them. Now, I can’t unknow that piece of information.

I also can’t believe that my mom hasn’t found better hiding spots for these.

“Maverick!” I call out.

Robbie is currently in the middle of nowhere, living in a tent with his girlfriend, working on his PhD in pot, so I know he had nothing to do with this, not this time. We FaceTimed with him on Christmas Day. He was higher than Snoop Dogg in the 90s, but also ridiculously happy.

It isn’t Maverick who appears in the dining room doorway. It’s my twin, River. “He took off about an hour ago. What’d he do now?”

“Where’d he go? Did he go to Kodiak’s without us?” I motion to the dressed up, sexualized bananas.

“Oh shit.” River covers his mouth and snorts a laugh. “I think Mav went back to school.”

“Why would he do that on New Year’s Eve?” All our friends are here, and Mav rarely misses an opportunity to party. Well, in the past that would be true, but lately he’s put the breaks on the party bus. At least that’s how it seemed at the end of the semester.

River lifts one shoulder and lets it fall. “He gave some bullshit excuse about having to grab a textbook for one of his classes next semester so he could get a head start on reading.”

“Wow. That’s . . .”

“Unbelievable?” River supplies.

“Totally. He basically waits until the eleventh hour on everything that isn’t hockey-related.”

“Yeah. I know.” River nods and pulls out his phone, snapping photos of the porno-banana gangbang.

“What do you think he’s really doing?”

“That’s a good question. Usually I have the market on morose and emo cornered, but he’s stepped into that role over the holidays like it’s his damn job.” River rubs his chin. He hasn’t shaved in a few days, so he has some sparse, patchy growth going on.

“Right? He’s been super moody. Like PMS-style cranky,” I agree.

“Maybe it’s because he hasn’t been laid in a a couple weeks?” River speculates.

“It’s possible. He typically has a new girl lined up as soon as he dumps the old one, but come to think of it, I haven’t seen him with anyone since that Talia girl, the one he dated after Carrie? Or maybe it was Carly,” I muse.

“Carly, I think. She was all right.”

“Did you ever talk to her?” I generally smiled and waved whenever they walked through the kitchen/living room/back yard on their way to his bedroom. If they stopped to grab a snack, I would say hi and ask about mundane things like the weather or classes. But I didn’t bother getting to know Maverick’s girlfriends since they never stuck around long.

River frowns. “Uh, come to think of it, nope. I take back the she-was-all-right part.”

“Now I want to know what the hell is going on with our brother. Do you think he has an actual girlfriend?”

“Doubtful. Especially since it’s the holidays. And I can’t see him getting involved with one semester left and a deal with Nashville dangling like a carrot.”

“It’s definitely weird.” And now I really want to get to the bottom of it. But not badly enough that I’d drive to campus to see what he’s up to. “Maybe Kodiak knows.”

“I don’t know that he would tell Kody.”

“They’re best friends, why wouldn’t he tell him?”

“Because you’re Kody’s girlfriend, and girlfriend status trumps best friend status. If Mav tells Kody, and you ask him, Kody will most definitely tell you.”

“Not if Maverick told him not to say anything to me. He’s a pretty loyal guy.”

“Yeah, but if you ask him after sex, when his guard is down and his brain is functioning at about twenty-five percent capacity, there’s a chance he’ll accidentally tell you. And then he’ll feel like a bag of guilty assholes. Mav knows this, so I don’t think he’s said anything to Kody, but feel free to prove me wrong and ask anyway.”

I scowl at my twin. “I don’t want to make Kodiak feel like a bag of guilty assholes.”

He shrugs. “He always feels guilty; it’s not like it’s new for him.”

I elbow him in the ribs. “I don’t want to make his guilt worse.”

“Why, because you’ll feel guilty for making him feel guilty?”

“No. Well, yeah, but when he feels guilty, he gets clingy.” And needy. Sometimes the needy is fine. Most of the time, actually. But occasionally he gets a little obsessed with making me feel good. There have been a couple of times that he’s been so fixated on giving me guilt-inspired orgasms that he’s licked my clit raw. Once it was a result of a run-in with Bethany, who was my roommate when I tried to live in the dorms for all of thirty-six hours. She was also a stick chaser and tried to hook up with Kodiak before he became my boyfriend.

During our short, unpleasant exchange in the campus bar’s bathroom, she told me that she and all her friends had masturbated in front of my boyfriend. It wasn’t true. I know because I asked Kodiak point-blank and told him that I wasn’t going to be mad either way, I just needed to know so I could deal with it and we could move on.

Kodiak can’t lie to me. Which probably sucks for him, because it means if I want to ruin a surprise, I can. So I don’t abuse the fact that I’m his personal truth serum.

While his knee bounced a million miles a minute and his mouth was so dry that he had to drink two liters of water, he explained what had really happened. On the first day of classes—after he dropped me off at my place, we’d argued, and I’d stormed off, flipping the bird over my shoulder—he’d gone home to stew in some self-loathing for being an asshole to me.

Bethany had come up to his room and tried to get with him, right after she’d been fooling around with Quinn, one of Kodiak’s roommates. Kodiak had told her he didn’t have condoms, which was a lie. Kodiak always has three boxes on hand. He considers us to be running low when we open the second-to-last box, and immediately goes online after we have sex and orders more. He has a condom subscription on Amazon because he gets a better deal that way.

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