Only With You(9)

By: Lauren Layne

So they’d done the teenage unthinkable. They’d become friends. Real friends, not like the usual high school friends of the opposite sex that claimed they were “best friends,” but really were just stalling until one of them finally admitted their true feelings.

And perhaps because Will and Sophie had become friends without any of the usual hormonal complications, their friendship had actually lasted. Despite Will going to college three years before her, he’d kept his promise to stay in touch. And when Sophie had headed off to Stanford, putting even more distance between them, they’d e-mailed regularly and been nearly inseparable over their Christmas breaks.

Everyone waited for the inevitable moment of romantic realization, but here they were several years later, still completely platonic as ever.

Will had practically become a part of the family after his own parents had moved out of state without much of a backward glance. As with the fledgling high school romance that had started it all, the dinner arrangement was mutually beneficial. Will got the chance to eat something other than takeout, and Sophie had someone to help distract her parents from their constant meddling.

The only person who didn’t like the arrangement was Brynn.

Sophie’s older sister wasn’t exactly the forgive-and-forget type, and when Brynn had been a freshman in high school, Will had been responsible for her 32A bra finding its way up the football field’s flagpole. At the homecoming game.

It had been the start of a beautiful hatred, and their dislike had only increased over the years. Even Sophie’s knack for easing awkward situations hadn’t been able to resolve their animosity.

Realizing that her sister still hadn’t arrived, Sophie glanced at the clock. Brynn was late. Something that happened…never. “Where’s Brynn?” Sophie asked her mother.

Dinner was always served precisely at seven, but Marnie encouraged (or mandated, depending who you asked) that everyone get there around five thirty for her aperitif hour.

“Oh, she won’t be here until six,” Marnie said cheerfully as she seasoned the chicken.

Had the tardy daughter been Sophie, a lecture would have been in order. But when perfect Brynn was late, there was always a good reason. Sophie took another sip of wine and tried not to care.

Sophie’s dad wandered into the kitchen, having finished up his phone call. A recently retired doctor, Chris Dalton was struggling with what he interpreted as the “utter uselessness” of retirement, and was loving the fact that some of his former staff still called to ask for his opinion.

“Hey, Dad!” Sophie said brightly. She and her father weren’t close, but he didn’t pester her as much as her mother. In fact, he didn’t pester her much at all. Or even really talk to her.

“Soph,” her dad said, planting a distracted kiss near the side of her head as he plucked a wineglass from the shelf.

She turned to face him. “How’s that golf handicap these days? Mom mentioned you’d—”

“Will!” Chris said, interrupting Sophie and shaking the hand of the closest thing he had to a son. “Just heard that the Ms signed two new pitchers. I think this will finally be their year, no?”

Ugh. Baseball. Not her thing.

“Can I help, Mom?” Sophie asked, watching her mom dredge the chicken breasts in flour.

“Oh, no thanks, dear. I’ve got it under control. Just some simple lemon chicken paillards, some truffled mushrooms, and a sherry-vinaigrette shrimp and caprese salad tonight.”

Sophie raised an eyebrow at the complexity of the meal. Her mom must have gotten a new cookbook.

“What’s Brynn up to?” Sophie asked, toying with the stem of the wineglass. “I haven’t talked to her all week.”

Marnie looked up, her eyes glowing with the opportunity to share Big News. “Oh, then you haven’t heard? Brynn’s got herself a boyfriend! She’s bringing him to dinner.”

Oh, yippee. The evening ahead was sure to be rife with yawns. Brynn had a knack for finding men that most closely resembled doorknobs and attempting to date them.

At least the unexpected company explained why they were having chicken “paillards” when they normally got overdone pork chops.

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