“Death!” The word grumbles from deep down in my gut. I hardly recognize my voice as it leaves my mouth, sounding raspier than fuck, like I smoked twenty packs of cigs.
Also, cigarettes are gross, kill your liver, not your lungs, at least that bitch regenerates.
Okay... I’m just kidding, uber dramatic and snarky as fuck in my current state. Speaking of gut, mine is rumbling and churning, delivering a special little reminder that I filled it with a vast array of different alcohol. Never drinking again. That’s probably a lie.
I smash my head into the pillow, not wanting to risk tearing my face away and meeting the blinding light that I’m sure will amp up this banging headache to a near explosion. I choose suffocation, instead.
“Death,” I repeat in a mumbled tone. Take me, I’m yours.
Reaching down, I dig my phone out from my jean pocket, already knowing I’ve—thank yeezus—somehow made it back to Chaz’s place. The black leather sofa the front of my body is currently sticking to, mixed with the smell of him... isn’t it weird that different peoples’ homes have their own unique smells? A text from the said bestie, that he’s at work but took off the next two days, and I better recover for Friday night.
What’s Friday night?
My mind travels back to yesterday’s events and I grumble a few more times, pressing my face harder against the fluffy pillow. Damn though, Trey really moved up on the hotlist.
After I tried to order that ridiculous drink—speaking of—a screaming orgasm is legit. A delightful mixture of vodka, kahlua, amaretto. My stomach gurgles and contracts in a full-blown protest at the thought of the mingling booze. But anyway, after that coffee kind of concoction it’s like a fade to black... never good.
I let out a quiet whimper and begin the internal battle, trying to will my mind not to think about all the different liquors—swishing, swirling, curdling. I do my best to ignore the sharp sting in my nostrils and the extremely parched feeling in my throat. The impending dread sets in as the bile itches its way up.
“No,” I rasp, sounding like Roz—please tell me you know what I’m talking about—the wave of nausea working quickly through my body. The clamminess, the cold sweats.
Please God, please. I promise if you spare me from bowing down to the porcelain throne, I’ll be so good. Best behavior here on out.
In a swift, cherubs singing sort of change of events, the bubbling in my stomach detours, I let out a long sigh, turning my head to the side. Oh well, I’d do it even if Chaz was here. Not like he hasn’t heard it before. Arching my spine, lifting my ass in the air, I cringe just the tiniest bit as the gurgles come to a stop, and I rip the loudest, longest, manliest fart that’s ever been ripped.
“Relief!” I exclaim with a sigh, focusing on trying to be a mouth breather for the next minute or so. Facing the back cushions of the sofa and finally prying my eyes apart, stretching my arms above me before rolling onto my back. And my fingers were totally crossed with that silent prayer, by the way.
My eyes snap open even wider. A deep voice, that deep voice, asks, with a few short chuckles. Twisting, wrapped up like a mummy in my blanket, looking over at the other couch, I get an eyeful, a nice one at that, right before I tumble onto the floor.
“Oh my God!” I fake cry as I whimper the words, my cheeks burning, probably a deeper shade of red than they’ve ever been. I lay, paralyzed, on the ground, trying to keep the blanket as tight as possible around my body to hold in any evidence.
I just farted.
“No,” I mumble into my hands, covering my embarrassment. Actually, I do feel better, but hell, the mortification level is at a ten. Spreading my fingers apart, uncovering one eye, I see him, Trey, standing directly over me, an enormous smile on his face. “Why are you even here?” I don’t give him a second to answer. “Can you please just...” I close my eyes. “Can you please just leave me? Let me die in peace?” I pull the blanket over my head. Asphyxiation it is.
And without a single word or another laugh, he walks away.
Okay, so thank God that Trey is an actual decent human. He played off the whole wind-breaking moment like it wasn’t a big deal, not bringing it back up, saving me from further embarrassment. After I’d somewhat gotten myself together, he told me why he stayed at Chaz’s, explaining that I got a little off the hook last night—imagine—and he thought there was a good chance I’d be sick.
Chaz was apparently less than entertained that I’d interrupted his beauty sleep, and Trey offered to keep an eye on me. Opting to crash on the other couch, instead of going back to his hotel, which he probably spent a ridiculous amount of money on.
That’s pretty sweet.
Also, I’ll be twenty-five on Friday—oh right, Friday, birthday celebration—look at me Ma, mid-twenties and I need flipping babysitters, oh well.
“So, on a scale of one to ten, how bad was it?” I cautiously question Trey after sliding into the booth across from him. How could I turn him down when he asked if I wanted to grab something to eat? Saying he had a few hours to kill. I desperately needed breakfast, anything to soak up the alcohol andhopefullyfacilitate my crippling hangover. He’s in town for some meeting or financial shit with Chaz and has a plane to catch later today.
“Hmm,” he replies, lips moving side to side, a definite gleam of humor in his eyes. “How much do you remember?”
“Ugh,” I groan, making a face, fingers pressing to my temples. That’s never a good sign when someone asks you that. “Just give it to me straight.” I close the menu, letting the plastic-covered pages smack down on the speckled tabletop, taking in a long breath. “Band-aid style, Moreau.” I pull off my sunglasses. Yes, I’m aware I looked ridiculous wearing them inside, I just don’t give a shit.
Trey’s eyes lock into mine in that unnerving sort of way that forces me to look somewhere, anywhere. The restroom recollection makes me squeeze my thighs together. Absently touching the side of my neck, almost able to feel the way his facial hair tickled my skin as his lips and tongue danced over top. I let out a quiet, closed mouth, moany type of ultra sexual whimper.
What the hell!?
“Are you ready to order?”
A bubbly and high-pitched voice rings out, making me wince ever so slightly, I shake my head trying to forget the impending O. I feel like I’m not gonna be able to get this one outta my head. Nope, I won’t. I continue staring at him. He is my newest itch. And you know what they say... got an itch, gotta scratch it. She glances back and forth between us, Trey lifting his arm over the table, gesturing to me. “Ladies first,” he drawls, and it’s a nice drawl, a panty-soaking type of drawl.Damn.
He clears his throat a few times. “Briar?” he says my name in a questioning tone, brows raised over the crystal looking sea-glass type of color of his eyes. Definitely remember them. His dark lashes lining the top and bottom make me lick my lips.
I’ll have one of him, preferablynotin a bathroom andabsolutelyfully naked.
“Hm?” I respond in a full-blown daze of a pounding head, mixed in with a pounding straight down to my pounding—
“You gonna order?”
I snap back to reality, or whatever this version of it is. “Sorry”—I search the name tag on the light pink top, which has me thinking about Pepto Bismol, and I could probably down a bottle of that right now—“Linda.” She smiles back at me. One of those faces that’s lined with wrinkles around her eyes and lips, genuinely cheerful, and it makes it impossible not to return the sentiment. I go on to order, a ridiculous order, promising Linda a killer tip because I’m being such a pain in the dick. But a hangover breakfast is one of utmost importance, a pivotal meal, and it must not be screwed up.
Bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel. But not just any bagel, oh no, aneverythingbagel. And it can’t be lightly toasted, not a shot. That sucker needs to be nice and crunchy, same with the bacon. The thought of chewy bacon has my stomach churning again, nope can’t have that, don’t need a reoccurrence of the ass blast heard ’round Chaz’s apartment. So anyway, after I order that, throw in a side of hash browns, add in some waffles and French toast for good measure, and plead for the bottom of my coffee cup to never be seen, I turn my attention to Trey.
His jaw hangs open, staring at me not quite with disgust, more a sense of astonishment as I lift a shoulder. I’d like to say I feel a little shameful for my gluttonous order, butmeh, I don’t. I’d never have ordered like this in the past, and definitely not with a breakfast date, but I feel strangely comfortable around him. Wait, is this a date?
No, I’d say it’s not. And rightfully so, I highly doubt I’m oozing attraction at this stage of the game. And I’ve noticed how he pulls his eyes from mine, how he keeps turning to look out the window at the hustle and bustle of the city street.
Briar was one of those girls, well, women now. One of the mythical magical types of creatures. She always looked feminine, even more so now. But she could hang out with the guys. Not gonna lie. The few times she visited, I’d made myself scarce. Chaz ensured we all understood that she was more valuable to him than anyone else in the world. And if we got within ten feet of her, he’d threatened everything from disembowelment to castration and anything in between.
Last night was a mistake, an error in judgment that could put my current business venture at risk, and I can’t risk that. Not to mention, I respect him.
I’d saved a bit of money, and had opened up a small club, back home in Georgia, right after college. But the club had taken off and even though I was moving into the green, it takes money to make money. And that’s where Chaz came in. I’d never ask him, never. But he offered a loan, said he’d never be able to spend it all, and he wanted to help. He’s actually a good guy, though he treats most women like things, minus Briar.
I felt like complete shit when he told me she was going through some sort of quarter-life crisis. That was, of course, after the bathroom run-in. That on a whim she up and moved from Arizona, hiding out at his place for a few days before moving back home. He was worried that the dickhead who walked over might take advantage of her, and he knew he could trust me.
Yeah, I feel like a real douche of a friend.
I knew it was wrong; I knew I should’ve stopped it. But when she looked at me with that almost black long hair and those chocolate eyes, it was like a wet dream come true. And I got caught up. The best thing I can do is get away from her as fast as possible.
But when she woke up, completely embarrassed, I felt so bad. And despite everything running through my head, I selfishly wanted to spend just a little more time with her.
But it’ll end here.
“Okay,” Briar continues once Linda finishes collecting our order. Pulling me away from my absent stare out of the window next to our booth. Something about the city and all its hustle makes me feel at home, but in the same breath makes me miss the slower-paced life I’d moved back to. “So you gonna tell me about my hot mess self, or ya gonna keep me in suspense?”
She pours an unhealthy amount of sugar in her coffee before gulping it down. Cautious eyes meeting mine.
“You were fine.” I smile at her. I don’t know how to explain it, but just being around her makes me smile, makes me feel happy. And I can’t lie, the last two months I’ve been a wreck, myself.
Briar lets out a little snort. “I feel like that’s bullshit, Trey.” The way she says my name makes me look at her again. One of her dark brown eyes narrowed, the corner of her pink lips curled up. “Give it to me straight,” she says. “I can handle it.”
“You want the truth?”
She alternates nodding and shaking her head. “Maybe just a buffered version of it?” She laughs nervously, the tiny light freckles crinkling on her nose, stopping her fingers from strumming on the top of the table when I shift my stare to them.
“You were fine,” I repeat. She was more than fine, she was amusing as all hell. Told the Spencer guy that had come up to our table that he spent too much time at the spa by the looks of him, but only after he wasn’t taking her small shootdowns to the constant advances he was making. Offered a few... things... to me in exchange for a slice of pizza. And trust me, I’d love nothing more than to take her up on it. But the bro code... I just can’t break it.
“I don’t believe that for a second.” She leans back against the red booth, crossing her arms over her chest.
“You told me we almost had to get married,” I say the words to her with a smile. She was so funny about it too, sitting on the sidewalk, eating the slice of pizza she folded in half. She kept closing one eye at a time, touching me every chance she got. But I kept thinking of Chaz’s words, that she was going through something.
“I did?” She gulps down a nervous sip of her water, dark lashes lifting as her look of alarm grows even wider. The pink flush that’s been permanent on her face since she woke up seems to drain. “Don’t tell me I told you...” she trails, shaking her head. Her eyes close for a brief second before she opens them, staring at the ceiling. “I did not tell you the backstory... please, please tell me I didn’t....”
I look down at the table before swallowing the little laugh. She did, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t go straight to my head, straight to both of them.
“Nope.” I do a terrible job keeping the amusement from my face, failing to conceal the grin tugging at the corner of my lips.
“Ugh,” she groans out, prompting a few of the restaurant-goers to turn and look. “I can’t believe I told you that. No!” she repeats several times, unable to hide the smile on her face once she finally pulls her hands away from it. “Death!” she exclaims, dramatically lifting her palms over the table. “Could I be more of a train wreck?”
“Can I be honest with you?”
She stares at me for a few seconds. Lips pressed tightly together, drawing in a deep breath. “You’ve heard me fart, Trey.” She blinks her eyes a few times. “I think we’ve passed a certain stage of shyness.” Her nostrils flare with each shake of silent laughter.
And despite what my friend warned me about. And even though I know this will go nowhere, because it can’t. I live hours away, and I’m leaving this afternoon. But because I’ve been going through a weird time myself and I don’t know, I’m not sure what’s up with her, but I feel the need to say it.
Briar leans in, her elbows on the table, hands over her face with her fingers spread so a tiny slice of her brown iris peeks out. I bite on my bottom lip a few times. It’s a lot easier to say certain things when you’re caught up in a moment of passion than it is in the sobering daylight, but here goes nothing.
“I think you...” I keep my eyes on her, saying what I’m thinking isn’t really a strong suit. I’d never have told her this years ago. But something about her is so refreshing. How she just kinda says what she wants. And in the spirit of living, at least for this one moment.
“Here we go.” Linda chooses this exact moment to return to the table with multiple plates of food. Briar rubs her palms together with a huge grin.
“Wait.” She stops after layering syrup over the plate of waffles. “What were you gonna say?”
“Nothing,” I reply, shaking my head. Internally scolding myself for the fact that I was about to tell her she’s like the girl of my dreams. What the fuck?!
We finish up in complete and comfortable silence. Briar eating little bits from each plate she ordered. Not gonna lie, she can put it down. She refused to let me pay, saying she owed me.
“So...” she says, pulling her sunglasses back onto her face as we walk out of the diner. “Your place or yours?” She lets out a chuckle.
“I’ve got a meeting to catch, I—”
“Was totally kidding,” she sings out the words. “Thanks for all your... um... help.” Biting down on her lip, she sighs, turning in the opposite direction of where I’m going.
She gives a warm smile. “Goodbye, Trey.”
A/N: ahahahhahahahaha farts are funny🥴🥴🥴 could you even? This chapter goes out to _iheartcoffee_ 💨 For real though this chapter is long. I swear this book’s chapters will NOT be long. Anyway, thoughts comments?