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I shoot Court, now standing on the side of my bed one of the shittiest, lip-curled, eye-popping, nose scrunching looks as she raises a shoulder, palms planted on her hips with an accomplished grin.

Glancing down at my phone, laying flat on the bed, ensuring that the vid chat has in fact ended. Better close the app. Actually, let's go ahead and power this thing off.

After my lovely friend informed us both of our new weekend plans—which I'm not hating—I developed a serious case of the stutter bug. Sitting up abruptly, at this new, forced revelation. Not that I don't want to go, of course, I do. But tomorrow? That escalated quickly.

Trey blinked a few times, looking honestly calm—what the hell—as he stood up from his bed. I noticed the grey painted walls and felt my lips, despite gaping open and closed, tugging to a grin. My favorite color scheme.

Anyway, Court said the ticket was booked, non-refundable. That Heath, her husband, had a few appointments in the morning but could give me a ride to the airport. She may have some of the fastest and most skillful texting fingers north of the Mason Dixon. Let's be real here, we know who holds that rank on the opposite side.

Ugh. I'm trash.

It's like she predicted any and every excuse I'd try to come up with before the words left my racing mind and exited my mouth. Tongue-tied is a fucking thing.

I'd offered to book a hotel, make some sort of arrangements, being all last minute and whatnot. Trying to ignore the stampede of fluttering butterflies in my belly, and a definite tingle in my own Southern Hemisphere.

Court swatted my arm when I nervously stammered over the words. She threw a look to me, then him, suggesting—no, she told both of us—that Trey could handle the bedroom arrangements. She offered him an exaggerated wink, which he'd returned with a laugh, nodding in agreement.

Why's he seem so much more chill?

Ending the video call with us both looking bewildered on the screen, yeah, it's just me. Talk about being put on the spot! I catch a hint of excitement—at least here's hoping—in his eyes. Trey said he'd be there at six, would meet me at the arrivals area.

Before I could backpedal or think of an acceptable excuse, Court told him I had to go, that her clock was ticking and we'd have plenty of time to play—she totes raised her eyebrows with the last word—this weekend.

I smack a palm against my forehead with a loud groan. "Don't you think... wasn't that a bit..." I drag my eyes to meet hers as she slugs back a sip from the almost empty bottle, waving a dismissive hand. "Maybe a little forward?!"

"Well," she says, wiping the back of her arm across her lips, head tilting with a smirk. "Someone had to do something about the pussy-footing, I felt like I was eavesdropping on a middle school crush conversation. Anyway, speaking of pussy..." She gives me a slow wink before I close my eyes. "Time to weed your lady garden."

"Gross." I cough out a few laughs before shaking my head.

"Let's give your downstairs a shine up."


"We gonna trim this motha fuckin' quim." Her eyes shift side to side before nodding, a large grin forming as she bats her far from innocent extension'd up lashes. No judge though, like I said, she's flawless.

My disgusted look quickly falls, and I purse my lips, trying to fight off a smile. Okay, no chance of that. This crazy ass is humorous. I mean, you gotta give credit where it's due. Also... I let out another groan, eyes rolling all over the place. "Now I know where I get it from," I mutter.

What is it with the need to rhyme and make up punny sayings?

"You're welcome," she replies with a little curtsy, walking out of the room. She swiftly returns as I remain in my current state of bamboozled, already trying to mentally fling all the clothes out of my closet, plotting which outfits to bring. What will show off my best... assets?

Not that it matters. No, absolutely not. I'll be going there to help him, to grow my portfolio. Yeah, that's it.

I'll just go ahead and call bullshit on my own damn self.

Wait. What if he's seeing someone? What if he's had sex with someone? Not like I can say shit, but ugh. Also, maybe he hasn't. Was I really only his second? Why didn't he try to reach out? I mean, I did say take care. Did he feel that strange sappy kind of connection or was he just being nice? I mean, I know he likes me, or he did. But what if I put too much—

"Get out of your head!" Court snaps pulling me from the thoughts reeling through my brain.

My lips press to a straight line as I sit, cross-legged on my grey comforter. I narrow an eye at her, watching as she quietly hums, looking accomplished as fuck.

"What?" she asks in a mock innocent voice, laying all her stuff out on my bedside table, plugging in the small crockpot looking, wax thingy. Her mouth growing wide over her teeth, pressed together—I swear, she enjoys inflicting pain. In all ways, shapes, and forms.

"I can't just take off." I throw my hands up to the sides. "I mean, I have..." I search the walls of my bedroom as if they'll hold an answer or something. Truth is, I have fuck all that I actually need to do.

"Of course you can," she says in a huff, pulling the band from her wrist and quickly throwing her shoulder-length hair into a low pony. "You can do whatever you want."

"But... I have a..."

"What?" She smacks her lips together, perfect dark brows raising over her hazel eyes. "A house plant? I'll water it."

"I was gonna say a job," I reply, thinking of the slight look of alarm that flashed in Trey's eyes, quickly dissipating when Courtney told him to handle the sleeping arrangements. It seemed like there was something... but I don't know, I'm not gonna overthink it. Okay, yes I am. But he said he'd love to see me. Love? No... he probably said like.

Ew. Brain, stop it!

"Lucky for you"—she mixes her little wooden stick of torture—"you're still a puny assistant."

"Rude." I scoff, letting my head fall back onto the plushy pillow. She's not wrong though. Once I'm selling, it can be any day of the week. But for the time being, while I'm the team's barista bitch, I'm working a regular nine to five. Well, seven to three, you get it.

"I have lunch with Dinny every Saturday."

She narrows her eyes, cocking a brow at me.

Yeah, okay... that one's a little bit pathetic. I mean, Dinny, my aunt, well, technically my mom's aunt, is cool as fuck. She'd of all people understand and support this little business—cough—arrangement.

"I'll go have lunch with the old bird. Anything else you wanna throw at me?"

"Guess not," I mumble.

"Listen, Bri." She sits down on the side of the bed, grabbing my hand with hers. I let my forearm, which is currently covering my eyes, drop. She stares at me for a few seconds, a more serious look coating her face. "I know we haven't been around each other for years, at least not in person."

"I know... I'm sorry... I should have made it a point to—"

"No." She shakes her head, giving my hand a little squeeze. "That's not what I mean." She forces, no, she genuinely curves her lips into an authentic smile. "What I mean, is that we haven't been around each other in person, so I couldn't see the look on your face when you talked about any of the guys you had met or were dating. But I can see it now."

"What if he's not into me?" I ask, staring up at the ceiling.

"Come on." Her body shakes, along with her head. "I could see his face, too."

Okay, I'll give her that one.

"He's Chaz's friend," I say, scrunching my lips up to the side, turning my head to meet an endearing look.

"Fuck Chaz." She laughs, laying her head next to mine on the pillow. "You need to do what you wanna do, spend some time ogling that gorgeous face that makes you smile lip this." Court taps a finger on my chin.

She's right. As crazy as it is, there is just something about Trey that makes me feel... accepted.

"Just go," she offers, tucking a stray hair behind my ear. "Live it up, you're young, don't put any pressure on it. Soak up some rays, and let loose, have fun. I can tell you've been stressed out being back."

I blow out a long breath, sitting up, smoothing my fingers through my hair. Spur of the moment decisions have never been my thing. Well, besides the whole deciding mid-bang that I was gonna up and make a cross-country move, break my lease, leave all my friends. Right, right, that shit. Anyway, where'd that even get me? Right back at home under my parents' thumbs.

"Seriously, though." Court yanks me out of my thoughts. "Fuck Chaz and his stupid ties"—she air quotes with an annoyed huff—"or whatever idiotic shit he said to you."

I chuckle. "It's not even about him, it's just... I don't know, I've been trying to forget..." I let out a sigh. "He makes me feel... nervous."

"Duh," she says, standing from my bed, stirring the now gold, shimmery looking wax. Drawing in a long breath, she widens her eyes. "Have you seen him? He's fucking hot."

He most def is fucking hot.

"But so are you, and this is your life, your story. So get a bit of that gusto back. Have a nice weekend. Do you. Hell, do him." She waggles her brows. "Let loose, be wild, be free, and just be totally"—her gaze flickers to the ceiling, wheels turning while she searches for the word—"uninhibited."

"Hmmm..." I bite my bottom lip, scrunching my nose. My mind traveling back to how nice those few days felt when I was doing and saying—mostly—what I wanted. No judgment, no shitty looks, no demands for me to act any certain, appropriate way. Wasn't it Trey who told me not to change?

I begin to nod my head slowly, picking up tempo—slow clap style, erupting into a loud applause—realizing I have absolutely nothing to lose.

"There she is," Court says with a wink taking in the
massive smile stretching across my lips.

"Hell yeah," I reply.

Shit. She's like a really good friend.

"That's the spirit." Court does some sort of little fist pump in front of her before jutting out a thumb, tilting her head. "Now lay back, you beautiful bitch. Before you go to Georgia, you're going to Brazil."


Leaving New York, staring at Briar, who was sleeping so peacefully, looking like that perfect mixture of an angel, with a definite splash of devil added in. Not in a bad way, but in a way that she's got an undertone of mischief, and infectious personality that draws you in. She was exactly what I needed... at the time.

Anyway, leaving her there felt like some really strange kick in the junk. Because something happened that shifted her from being this dream girl—which she still kinda is, by the way—to a human. One with flaws, one that seemed imperfectly perfect.

I felt it.

That feeling.

The same one I had before.

The one where I got way too into someone who just wasn't into me. And no matter what, I won't do that again. Not to mention, after a failed long-distance, bullshit relationship, that's left me in serious debt, no shot in hell that shit's ever happening again, either.

Briar was like that myth, that fantasy... well, it became a reality. And thank God I could get my mind to drift elsewhere for a few seconds, because I almost blew it—literally—when I felt the warmth of her amazing body wrapped around my dick.

That would've been embarrassing as hell.

When I boarded the plane, I decided on a few things. I was gonna take a page out of her playbook. I was gonna stop giving such a fuck about things. I was gonna do whatever felt right, say what I wanted—within reason—I was gonna quit being the guy everyone wanted to hook someone up with because they're stable, sweet, all that bullshit.

I was going to get out there, live life, and finally have some fucking fun doing it.

I almost faltered when I messaged her two days after that night, which felt like a vast difference from what I'd equate to a one night stand. Chaz congratulating me for sleeping with her felt a little... uncomfortable. My heart skipped a beat when she replied, almost instantaneously. Then I was reminded of our agreement to keep things casual when she told me to take care.

I started to put myself out there, finally letting my one sister, Tara, set me up with a work friend. Nothing serious, a few dates, just trying to let loose. Trying to forget about her.

Anyway, with Briar coming here, helping me get on the right path to a good look for my new venue, that I'm hoping will be in a different direction from Kyra's picks. Well, all of that, and then getting to shack up in a hotel—I'm going to have to find a way to charge it, not like she can stay with me in my current living arrangement—is a win, win.

It's her and that wild attitude that gave me the push I needed to try out this new way of life, and I gotta admit, it's a good time.

I resolved myself to viewing Briar as a fuck buddy—a superiorly hot one, at that. Someone, when given the opportunity, to have some fun with.

Nothing more.

A/N: yuuuuuppppp lol. Ok so, thoughts? Comments. Where's sweet Trey????

Sorry for errors Bc I'm on a plane and stuff isn't saving but... moving on!
Check my IG if you wanna see some mountainous adventures.

And Lemme know what ya think ❤️

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