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Authors: R. Cooper

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A Wealth of Unsaid Words

BOOK: A Wealth of Unsaid Words
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A Wealth of Unsaid Words • R. Cooper

A Wealth of Unsaid Words

f there was one thing to be relied upon in this world, aside

from the obvious finalities like death and taxes, it was

I that even a bitter, crazy nonbeliever like himself could be

warmed by the bustle and cheer of the Faraday clan at

Christmastime.

The whiskey in his coffee didn"t hurt either, but even

before Everett"s father had poured a generous amount into

his cup, Alex had felt himself relaxing into the cushioned

bench of the breakfast nook and smiling a little at the

familiar, welcoming chaos of arriving sisters and brothers

and cousins.

Family came in through the side door, banging into

walls as they tried to squeeze their luggage past the laundry

room and through a kitchen already filled with Everett"s

mother and sisters as they prepared plain sandwiches for an

increasing number of guests.

The number seemed to be getting larger by the minute,

but maybe it only seemed that way since Alex hadn"t been

here since last Christmas and so had missed new babies and

roommates and growing children. He would wonder where

they were all going to fit for the next three days, but he knew

without asking that room would be found for everyone.

As though to prove his unspoken point, Rachel"s four-

year-old adopted daughter climbed onto the bench seat of

the nook, and everyone shifted to give her space. Already

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A Wealth of Unsaid Words • R. Cooper

wedged in the corner between Everett"s father, George, and

his sister"s new best friend-slash-roommate, who hadn"t had

a place to go for the holidays, Alex slouched back to give

himself a sliver more room.

George responded to that by shifting over again to grant

him a speck more breathing space and then poured more

whiskey into his cup. With all his newfound clarity of

thinking, Alex knew that drinking too much wasn"t the best

idea, but he couldn"t formulate a very convincing argument

against it, not with the whiskey warming up the shivering

butterflies in his stomach. The whiskey was honestly too

good to be wasted by pouring it into coffee, but he didn"t

protest.

“It"s Christmas.” George must have read the uncertainty

in his expression and offered a flawless counterargument

which earned him a toast from Alex before he took another

small sip. Christmas. There was a power and magic in the

word that allowed the rules of the everyday to be broken with

impunity, and which promised untold treasures for those

who respected it.

Alex hadn"t lit the candle, but he was warm with hope.

That it was most likely the whiskey warming him didn"t stop

him from wishing for one moment to be a child who could

make Christmas wishes and expect them to be answered. A

child, or a braver man. He cleared his throat.

“Are you sure?” There was a devil in Alex that never let

him stay silent when he should. But when he gestured at the

garlands of pine and twinkling lights on the walls and the

rainbow of hanging, blinking bulbs visible through a window,

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A Wealth of Unsaid Words • R. Cooper

George chuckled. His cheeks were red, but it was more his

nature in general than the whiskey that allowed him to be so

forgiving of Alex"s sarcasm. It was no wonder Everett was

Everett with such a figure for a father.

Most people, even those lucky enough to have relatively

stable childhoods, did not have parents like George and Ally.

Most people dreamed of a Christmas that looked like this

one.

“I"ve never seen anything like it outside of a movie.” The

roommate, the earnest type with the styled hair and clothes

of someone determined to prove he was cool, was staring

around the kitchen with wide blue eyes, as he had been

since he"d arrived with Everett"s younger sister an hour ago.

Alex smiled into his cup with sharp sympathy. His own

disbelief hadn"t faded in nearly twenty years.

“This is
all
family?” The boy paused when he looked over

and caught Alex"s smile.

“Mostly,” he murmured, only to be overruled by

Everett"s younger sister and George. Molly hip-checked her

father and scooted her way onto the bench next to him. Alex

rolled his eyes at her as he was crushed once again. If he"d

been standing when she"d shown up, she would have hugged

him. Hiding behind the table of the nook was just trading

one brand of Faraday family closeness for another.

Molly had the same height as her brothers, but where

Everett and his other sister Rachel had taken after their

mother with strong, supple limbs and a sort of tireless grace,

Molly, like Robert, had George"s chubby, rosy cheeks and

4

A Wealth of Unsaid Words • R. Cooper

dimpled arms and a tendency to be caught either frowning or

laughing. She did have Everett"s dark, coarse hair, but she"d

cut it short and dyed it a flaming red sometime since he"d

last seen her.

“Yes,” she and her father said in unison, but only Molly

continued after that. “Yes, Ty, it"s all family. Not the great-

aunts or anything, but the close family members. Even Alex

here.” She slid the whiskey bottle over to look at the label,

but didn"t open it. It had probably come from her brother

Robert, who worked in liquor distribution and often gave

pricey bottles as gifts. “He"s like a brother
and
Everett"s soul

mate.”

“That"s enough out of you, miss.” Ally swooped in from

nowhere, dropping off a tray of sandwiches and silencing her

daughter. There was more gray in her hair, or so it seemed,

but the year between visits could have been playing with his

mind. Maybe nothing had changed here. Or perhaps

everything had.

Alex"s butterflies were growing decidedly more anxious,

but he winked at Ally and smiled wider when she winked

back. Then he took a sandwich before she could force him to

eat one. The alcohol was a bad idea, never the depressant

with him it was supposed to be, and the caffeine was slowly

adding to the tremors in his hands. Food would help.

He stopped after a few bites and ran through his

thoughts for the last few minutes, checking to make sure

none had been too grandiose or intrusive. It was easy to fall

back into bad habits, not eating, not monitoring his

thoughts or his lithium levels, thinking too much and too

5

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