Home > Everything for You (Bergman Brothers #5)

Everything for You (Bergman Brothers #5)
Author: Chloe Liese


1

 

 

OLIVER

 

 

Playlist: “Capsized,” Andrew Bird

 

 

I will be the first to admit that I am not my best self when intoxicated. A generally upbeat, sociable guy, I don’t seek alcohol for its loose-limbed, easygoing buzz, and after throwing back a few, I don’t get it. I simply turn, for lack of better words, into a highly unfiltered emotional mess.

Which is why I will not be drinking this weekend. Nope, not a drop. Not when I’ve just started to feel like myself again, months after getting my heart crushed. Not when I’m about to spend spring break celebrating my brother’s marriage alongside my still-very-much-in-love parents and six siblings, four of whom are also happily partnered.

Drinking would be a bad choice. Not only because, as I’ve said, I’m no peach when drunk, but because it won’t take much to send me spiraling into the bleak thoughts that have plagued me since my breakup.

“Oliver.”

My brother Viggo, so close to me in age and looks that we operate like twins, turns off the rental car’s stereo, bathing us in silence.

I glance his way from where I’ve been staring out the window. “What?”

“I’m talking to you.”

“So keep talking.”

Viggo sighs and rakes a hand through his unkempt brown hair, our only discernible difference, compared to my dark blond. Same angular jaw and faint cleft chin as our dad, same high cheekbones and pale blue-gray eyes that we inherited from Mom. Same tall, lean bodies, except I’ve started putting on more muscle, thanks to weight training so I can hold my own on a D-1 soccer field.

“I could keep talking.” Viggo throws a concerned glance my way, eyes on me much longer than they should be for how fast he’s driving. “But I don’t think you’ve been listening.”

“I’m listening,” I tell him so he’ll keep his eyes on the road and not get us killed before we even make it to the party.

“Uh-huh.” Thankfully, he trains his gaze ahead even as he leans my way, wrinkling his nose.

“What are you doing?” A smile I can’t help tugs at my mouth. Viggo drives me up the wall, but he’s just about the only person who both indulges my rare foul moods and can pull me out of them.

“I’m sniffing you,” he says, throwing on his turn signal and passing a slowpoke in front of us.

“Sniffing me.”

“Mhmm. I smell the angst wafting off of you.”

“Shut up.” I punch his thigh. He twists my nipple. I yelp in pain. “Dammit, Viggo! That hurt!”

“Serves you right,” he says. “That’s my gas leg you hit. I could have caused an accident.”

I slouch down moodily in my seat and stare out the window. Sharp lemon-yellow sunlight slices through the slate-blue sky marbled with clouds. It’s early spring, and—unlike our family’s current home base of Los Angeles—Washington State, where Mom and Dad first lived and started their brood of seven Bergman kids, feels like it fights for every fragile blossom and green shoot that muscles its way through the cold, hard earth. In the Pacific Northwest, there are edges and effort. Here, hope feels hard-won.

That’s how hope feels inside me, too.

Lowering the window, I suck in a gulp of mid-fifties, wet air—petrichor and the promise of full-blown spring just around the corner. God, I love this place.

“So…” Viggo clears his throat, yanking me from my thoughts. “I know you’re dreading seeing everyone in their coupled bliss.”

“Coupled bliss?” I snort a laugh, trying to deflect how on the mark Viggo is. Annoyingly, this is typical, his confident and freakishly accurate emotional intuition. After reading hundreds of historical romance novels, my brother considers himself an expert on the human heart.

“I’ll be fine, Viggo. I’m over it.”

Mostly.

For once, my brother lets it go and stays quiet, though his skeptical arched eyebrow speaks volumes as he takes the hairpin turn preceding the entrance to our family’s getaway home, a lakeside A-frame nestled in the woods.

Well, we call it “the A-frame,” but it’s actually been expanded extensively. As Viggo pulls into the drive, the view hits me like a direct kick to the chest. Dark wood and steep roof, tall glass windows across the front, the sprawling addition that made it spacious enough for all of us looming to the left, smoke curling from the chimney. Tiny green leaves and pink buds kiss wet black branches, forming a canopy over us.

It’s a view so bittersweet-beautiful, it hurts. A lump forms in my throat.

“I have a plan to cope, okay?” Viggo slows as we roll over a pothole.

“A plan.”

He nods. “So, Axel and Rooney are already married—”

“I do remember being informed of that last month. Sort of hard to forget, along with the sight of your face when you found out.”

Viggo scowls. He hasn’t recovered from the devastation that his romance-reading radar didn’t pick up on our brother Axel and Rooney’s covert marriage.

He mutters darkly, “I’m still salty about that. A secret marriage! An elopement! How did I miss it?”

“Because they weren’t speeding off in a horse-drawn carriage to Gretna Green?”

“Shut up.”

I pat his back to console him as Viggo mutters under his breath about emotionally constipated siblings. “Even if you did read romances post-dating the nineteenth century,” I tell him, “you weren’t going to have a clue what was going on until Ax was ready to tell us. That’s just how he is.”

My oldest brother’s a man of few words. Deeply loving but intensely private and quiet, Axel lives on the family property, here, in his own cabin, so we see and hear from him less often, and when we do hear from him, it’s frequently via the written word.

Axel’s on the autism spectrum and finds writing the easiest way to tell us personal things. Which is why, when he told us how twisted up he was over Rooney this past Christmas—when I saw how long they spent alone on the porch after she showed up, how close they seemed while she spent the next few days with us—I wasn’t terribly surprised to receive a beautiful hand-written note from Axel last month, explaining that since the fall, he and Rooney had been together and that they were now married. The letter also said that he was sorry he hadn’t been able to make us a part of their wedding, but he still very much wanted to celebrate their marriage with us.

The only thing that made getting that heartfelt letter written in Axel’s tall, sloping scrawl even better was watching Viggo’s dawning horror as he read his letter, too. Not because he disapproved of Axel’s methods but because he’d been clueless about what was going on.

“As I was saying.” Viggo sniffs, maneuvering around the other vehicles parked in the clearing. “My plan to cope. It’s a low-key party. It’s not like you’ll have to see them get married. Knowing Axel, it’ll be chill. Practical. Relaxed. We’ll pound some delicious food. I’ll get you good and liquored up, tuck you in, and you’ll sleep it off. Tomorrow it’ll be back to the same old family shenanigans, and you can blast me in the face with a soccer ball when we play pickup.”

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