Being Brooke

By: Emma Hart


LIFE TIP #1 : Don't fall for your best friend.

I never knew moving out would feel so good.

Of course, if you have the...privilege...of knowing my mother, you'd know it couldn't feel anything but good. My dropping out of college didn't go over too well—like a ten ton cliff made of shit collapsing on your head, actually—but I don't want to be a kindergarten school teacher. That's her dream, not mine. Who actually wants to teach a bunch of snotty-nosed brats?

Anyway, the bottom line: I've just moved out from my overbearing mother's home, away from my devil-may care brother and perfect princess sister into my first apartment and dropped out of college after two years.

We don't discuss that I'm ass-over-tit in debt because it was my second stint in college since my high school graduation. Although my grandmother's nest egg helped with that wasted first attempt at a degree.

Unfortunately, this leaves my job as a travel agent at the World's Worst Travel Agency as my life's sole achievement.

Yay, me.

Still, I've done it. I've moved out, all with the help of my best friend of ten years, Cain. Who is currently walking out of my new pink and white bathroom totally shirtless after his shower. I don't blush, as much as I want to, because Cain and I have the type of relationship where it's totally natural to wander around in your underwear.

Assuming, of course, we even touch on the border of 'normal' with this friendship.

It's been a long-ass ten years. When he moved from downtown Atlanta to Edge-Of-Nowhere, aka Barley Cross, GA, he was the new guy and, okay, I'll admit it, hot as hell, so Carly—my lifetime best friend—and I decided to take him under our metaphorical wings.

We've been best friends ever since.

But I'm also totally in love with him to the point I've considered photoshopping myself into pictures with him, so the best friend thing kinda sucks.

Hey. Don't judge me. We've all done it on Facebook. Mostly with Ian Somerholder or Alexander Skarsgaard.

Mmm. Alexander Skarsgaard.

In all seriousness, there's a torturous vibe in Cain Elliott stalking out of my shower like he owns it. Hell, it's torturous him being in my life in general some days, but there's something about water that makes his bright green eyes seem like gems and his strong facial features resemble a Greek god.

Don't even go there with the water droplet lingering on the curve of his bottom lip.

“I dunno how you did it, Brooke, but you got one hell of a shower in this place.” Cain drops his shirtless self onto the sofa next to me. He wipes the water droplet from his lip—damn—and shakes his head.

I hold up my hands between us to avoid being sprayed by water, courtesy of his dark, shaggy hair. “I did it because I tested the showers on every apartment. You know I'm picky.”

“You mean you showered every time?” His lips curl to one side.

I slap his arm and roll my eyes. “No, I just turned it on, dumbass.”

“Well, however you did it, I might have to take all my showers here.”

“I don't want your smelly male ass taking over my pink bathroom.”

He pouts a little and flutters his long, girly eyelashes at me. Honestly, he's unfairly bestowed with just about everything. Great hair, long eyelashes, captivating green eyes, plump pink lips...

I shake my head and laugh at his pathetic attempt to convince me. “I said no, Cain!” Because, seriously, if that's a regular thing, I'm gonna have to move out already.

He sighs dramatically and rests his head against the back cushions of my sofa. “You're so mean.”

“Whatever.” I nudge him with my foot. Hard. “Do I get the torture of you for dinner, too?”

“Shit! Dinner? What's the time?” He snaps his head up, and instantly, I know how the rest of this conversation is gonna go.

Same old, same old... It doesn't stop my heart sinking though.

“Almost five,” I answer. Reluctantly.

“Uh oh.”

I know that wrinkled brow, lips parted face. Inwardly, I sigh.

“I'd love to stay, Brooke, but—”

“You have to meet Nina,” I mumble and look down. “I know. I get it.”

I shouldn't even be pissed off. He's been here all day after all, but still... I need to sort my life out. Sue me, okay?

“I'm sorry,” he says sincerely, standing and kissing the top of my head before he straightens fully. I ignore the zing that always happens every time he does that. “I'd rather eat Chinese food here until I pass out on the sofa than get dressed up for dinner. Tomorrow though, yeah? She has some parent-teacher shit to go to, so I'm a free guy. Pizza and a movie?”