‘Welcome home sir.’

‘Thank you.’

Brodie walks into the arrival hall at Heathrow to see his siblings waiting for him, all four of them, as he suspected they would because he told his oldest brother he was coming home for the holidays. It is a little too early, but he decided to work from the London office for a bit before taking off for the holidays. He told Elliot and wouldn’t you know it, big brother with the big mouth has gone and blabbed to their siblings.

‘Welcome home.’ Anais his sister goes in for the hug before the others pile on, almost suffocating him.

‘Thank you for the reception committee.’ Brodie aimed his comment at Elliot but big brother laughs it off. If he thought this was going to get past his siblings he has another thing coming. Since the big flop, as they refer to the wedding, they have talked about nothing since, so it would have been weird if he didn’t bring them all to welcome their brother home for the holidays.

‘Oh don’t be such a grouch.’ Isabel says, leaning into her brother for another hug, ‘of course he had to tell us, imagine the hell we would’ve given him if he hadn’t. At least we didn’t tell mom and dad.’

‘That’s a mercy. It’s good to be home.’

‘It’s good to have you home middle child.’ Logan teased.

They head out to the car, Elliot is driving. He’ll be staying at the Connaught Hotel for the time being. Elliot offered him a room at his home, but with his wife and daughters in the house he is not ready for news of is return to spread across their community. This tight knit community of theirs, and before you know it their parents are butting into his life and he is not ready for that interruption. It will come, but he plans to hold it off for as long as possible.

‘So, how are you?’ Anais asks her brother.

‘I’m good. Don’t I look good?’

‘You do, but-’

‘I don’t want to talk about it ’Nais, I really do not want to talk about the wedding or anything else to do with it.’

‘You know Blu is back in London right.’

‘ANAIS!’ The entire car seemed to scold her. This was something they wanted to leave for when they could sit him down and talk.

‘Calm down guys, I already heard.’

‘Is that why you came back?’ Bella inquires.

‘I’m home for the holidays.’

‘This early in the month.’

‘I can just go back to New York you know.’

‘Fucking hell anyone hearing us would think we hate each other.’ Elliot already regrets his decision to include his siblings in this welcome.

‘Sorry. Sorry. I just wanted to know.’

‘I’ll answer your question- no I did not come back here for Blu. I haven’t come back I am simply home for the holidays like I am every year. Yes earlier than normal but if you’d been dumped at the altar on your wedding day you’d understand. Whatever happened, happened, and I am trying to get past it. If you must know New York reminded me too much about her so I decided to skip town for a bit. I’m allowed to not be okay after everything that went down aren’t I?’

‘You are. I’m sorry.’ Isabel apologises again.

‘Enough about me. How are you guys?’

The drive to the hotel was painless afterwards as the siblings catch up with each other.

Brodie called Blu one too many times after her performance at the altar, but after his calls went unanswered, it stopped going through to the number he had for her so he figured she’d changed her number. He has no idea why he is home this early for the holidays, he comes home every year but Isabel is right; it is too early, but he also wanted to get away from New York because everything about the holiday reminds him of her. Coming to London however might not have been the wisest thing to do, if he really wants to forget about her, he would have gone somewhere else. They met in London, moved to New York; she first, then him, they loved the city and wanted to build their lives there. The city became familiar to them and with them, so much so, it felt odd being in those places without her, he wanted to be there and not have to think about her, but thinking about her is all he has done since that fateful day. It made getting his morning bagels hard, going for a run in the Central Park hard, brunch hard, seeing their friends hard… it made life hard for him in the city he’d come to love and moved to in the name of love. She was all around and he decided to return home for the holidays earlier than planned. Coming home to London was not for her, he wanted to be amongst his kin, only they too remind him of her because they loved her so; his siblings at least, and his dad. His mother was a different story all together, then again she never really liked anyone her children brought home; par for the cause, it had become an inside joke among them. Needless to say she was not a big fan of Blu especially because he moved to be with her, away from home. Whatever his mother’s feelings, what Blu did was not only to him; being in the car with his siblings only makes him realise that, even more so.

‘Have you spoken to mom?’ Isabel asks as they help Brodie settle into his suite at the Connaught.

‘If you mean about the wedding, no, but we’ve talked a few times.’

‘And she hasn’t said anything about the wedding?’

‘No, she hasn’t not since the day it happened. I think she thinks she is trying to help me get over it by not talking about it.’

Isabel and Logan exchange a glance that Brodie does not miss.

‘What?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Bullshit. But I am too tired to care. I’m hungry, let’s get room service.’

With his siblings ordering from room service, Brodie steps out to the terrace with the view of Mayfair rooftops and the noise of Hyde Park in the distance thanks to winter wonderland. He loves the feeling of the familiar, being in the city. Home. Knowing Blu is here makes it feel even more familiar. They’d been together for three years, engaged for six months and should have been newlyweds but his bride-to-be up and left him at the altar without one word since. He would like to know why, so maybe part of him has come home to get some answers because he deserves to know what was so bad, she would do such a thing. If anything, he simply needs to know why. So maybe he is here because of her.

‘You alright?’ Elliot comes out to the balcony.

‘I’m good.’

‘You’re thinking about her aren’t you?’

‘I am. Hard not to.’

‘Have you spoken to her?’

‘Nope.’

‘Do you want to speak to her?’

Brodie looks at Elliot, both know what the other was thinking. ‘I would.’

‘Did you come home because of her Brodie?’

‘Part of me did.’ He has to be honest, and if not with his brother then who else.

‘Do you still love her?’

‘I do.’