Nolan was my brother’s best friend since forever. Miles had a few of those since he played soccer. Nolan was a goalkeeper, and my brother was a sweeper (a.k.a. center back defender). However, it was Jack that really brought them together. He was their team captain and center forward.
They all should’ve lost touch since they had gone to different colleges, but they didn’t. Jack kept everyone together. Miles also always kept in contact with all of his friends from high school, but Jack would organize everyone and bring them together for pick-up games every now and then at different fields.
I ended up going to college in the same city as Nolan and even ran into him once at a party. I found him wasted puking up his guts all over himself in the bathroom; he didn’t even make it to the toilet. Instead, he was slumped over some gross tub.
I helped clean him up and got some friends to help me take him to my dorm room. I couldn’t tell what he had taken, but he was so gone that his eyes were barely open. He could stand, but he couldn’t walk. He would stumble around and collapse.
Thankfully he calmed down and finally went to sleep. I let him take the bed while I slept on the floor, which definitely wasn’t the best idea because he puked again in the middle of the night. I woke up to the smell seeping into my clothes.
He was surprised to see me when he woke up and thanked me profusely. He helped me clean despite the fact he probably felt like shit and apologized for what he put me through. He promised that I could call if I ever needed anything, and he would help me like I helped him.
Time to pay up, Noles, I thought, grimacing.
I hoped he would answer on the first ring, but he didn’t. He didn’t answer on the third or the fourth, or the fifth. In fact, I got his voicemail. I called again.
“Hello? Who is this?” He asked, and I could hear music blaring in the background.
“Nolan, it’s Zoey,” I said and then realized that he might need context, “Miles’ sister.”
“Oh yeah. Hey. What’s up?”
“Remember that favor you promised?”
“Yeah,” he said, drawing out the vowels.
“I’m cashing in. I need your help.”
I started walking to a nearby intersection and waited for him at a bus stop. I held my breath hoping Gavin wouldn’t drive down this way. I chose an area to meet Nolan a few blocks away. It wasn’t too crowded, but Los Angeles wasn’t the safest place in the world in the middle of the night.
“Get in,” Nolan said as he drove up.
“Thanks,” I said.
The car ride was awkward and quiet. I didn’t really know what to say or how to begin. I was going to try to say something when he finally broke the awkward silence.
“How bad was it?” He asked.
“Bad. I mean, I called you,” I said.
“Miles would tell me sometimes about what it was like for you in that house when we were in high school,” he said, and my eyes widened, “it sounded bad.”
“Then why did you go back?”
“I couldn’t find a job. I mean, I graduated, I have my degree, and no one is willing to hire me. I just need a chance,” I breathed shakily.
“What do you want to do?” He asked, staring into the road.
“Anything. I’d do anything.”
“I’m in between assistants, so this might work. You can still crash at my place, and when you get on your feet, I can help you find a place.”
“Wait… what?” I could feel the tears I was trying so hard to suppress just start flooding forward. “Thank you!” I said as I leaned over and awkwardly hugged him.
“Yeah. It’s no big. I know what it’s like being in a tough place and just needing someone to take a chance on you,” he smiled.
We pulled into this building downtown, and he led me up to his loft. He had to turn a key to press the button for his floor. I should’ve known by his car that he was doing well, but his apartment was definitely more opulent than I thought it would be.
It looked like I had walked into a magazine. I wasn’t all too convinced that he even lived here. His furniture didn’t look like anyone used it, and this wasn’t the Nolan I remembered. The Nolan I remembered was definitely a lot messier than this.
“I have a maid,” he smiled knowingly, as though he could read my thoughts.
“Makes sense,” I said, peaking my eyebrow.
“This is the living room, kitchen,” he said, pointing, “my room and my office are upstairs, the guest room is here, and your bathroom was the door we just passed. So you can make yourself at home.”
“Hey Nolan,” I said as he started walking away, “thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet. We start tomorrow at 10am.”
That’s rather late, I thought to myself as I closed the door. I looked around my room and was grateful I was okay. The setup was pretty much the same at my Mom’s, minus the bullshit. Plus, I have a job.
I sent an email to my aunt and regretfully informed her that I would have to withdraw from my position at her restaurant effective immediately due to personal conflict. I didn’t want any family drama, so I just asked that she keep my last paycheck as my apology for any distress I would be causing with my decision.
Checking my phone, I saw that I had multiple missed calls. My mom had called and left multiple messages. I saw her text messages flooding in and turned off my phone. I didn’t want to think about it. I just needed to sleep.
Besides, tomorrow will be the first day of my new life. I put my head on the pillow and just started thinking about tomorrow. I was so excited I forced myself to lay still and close my eyes. I basically willed for tomorrow to come.