Authors: Steph Campbell
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Teen & Young Adult, #Love & Romance, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New adult
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The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Cover photography by:
Lindee Robinson Photography
Cover featuring models: Madison and Chad
Cover design by: Danielle Styles
Interior Formatting by: Angela McLaurin of
FRIEND IS A FOUR LETTER WORD
Copyright © 2014 Steph Campbell
All rights reserved.
My best friend.
My business partner.
My partner in wanderlust.
(And fellow gold medalist at knowing ALL of the four letter words… and using them generously.)
I lean over the back seat to see Quinn nervously fastening and refastening the strap on the back of her black high heel.
“Okay, so I’m just going to go up to the door and tell him… Tell him what?” Quinn asks picking off the nail polish she took an hour painting on.
“You’re an asshole?” I offer, reaching back to swat at her wrist. She glares, I glare back, and she drops her hands in her lap with a growl, looking like the Quinn I know and love/hate. Too bad that look disappears and is instantly replaced with that
That look I’ve only seen on the faces of girls who are stupidly wrapped up in a guy.
If I’m honest, there have been dozens of times that I’ve fantasized about being one of
girls. The ones so blindly and achingly in love. So wrapped up in another person that they’re willing to traipse up to their man’s house, unannounced in the pouring rain, to fix things because they’re practically psycho without their guy.
one of those girls.
I don’t want to be losing sleep over anyone. I won’t be skipping meals because my heart aches so badly. I’ve never been in love, and frankly, never really wanted to be. Casual works well for me, always has. I don’t want to be in the backseat of someone’s car, unable to stop screwing around with my shoe because I’m so nervous.
And those shoes? The ones about to make a mad dash to Ben’s door to proclaim undying love? Those belong to Quinn tonight, not me. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
I’ll sit back and watch the chips fall where they may. And—bonus—Carter is our chauffeur tonight, so if things work out for Quinn, it may give me a shot at hooking up with her super sexy brother.
“What if he doesn’t even open the door?” Quinn asks. She rubs her palms down the length of her moss green dress.
“Have you looked in a mirror tonight, freak? He’ll open the door.” I raise my eyebrows and nod towards the door so she’ll take the hint and get out when she needs to. Go chase down this second-chance romance. Face her destiny. Run into the arms of the guy she loves. All that ridiculous, romantic crap.
“Ouch.” Quinn’s brother Carter blows out a breath along with a small laugh at his sister’s expense. “I thought you two were
“Barely,” I sneer. I catch his eye for the quickest of seconds and give him a wink.
Quinn and I have this weird love-hate relationship. We aren’t quite friends, but, somehow, I relate more to her than anyone else in my life right now, so call that whatever you wish. Maybe it’s because there’s so much the same about us. The matching take-no-shit attitudes for one. Which makes her anxiety over talking to a guy that much more unnerving.
If it could happen to her, it could happen to me, and Quinn is a ball of wrecked nerves I wouldn’t wish on anyone right now.
Carter steers the car onto Ben’s road. I look over the back seat once more and Quinn is staring out the window, her knee bobbing up and down with the nervous tap of her foot. Carter puts the car into park, but Quinn doesn’t move for the door handle. She’s still. Silent even. It’s off-putting because it’s so unlike her.
“Hey,” I say, reaching over and swatting at her leg. “It’s going to be okay. I mean it.”
Her chestnut hair bounces on her shoulders as she gives a small nod, clearly unconvinced by my lame motivational speech.
“Quinnlette, you don’t have to do this.” Carter sits up straight, hands tight on the steering wheel. He glances back in the rearview, and I feel a weird tightening in my chest.
Not only does Quinn have Ben, who’s probably inside pining for her right now. She also has a brother who is always willing to stand firmly by her side.
Or stand firmly in her way.
It’s sweet. But she doesn’t need sweet. She needs a push, and I’m more than ready to shove her over the edge. In the name of true love and all that crap, of course.
Quinn is staring at Carter, looking half relieved and half deflated. “Do you not think I should? I mean, I haven’t talked to him since—”
“She should definitely do it,” I press, pointing to the door just in case she’s not taking my not-so-subtle verbal hint. “It’s that, or we’ll both be listening to her whine for the next ten years about how she let Ben get away.”
She presses her lips in a flat line, pushes the car door open, and then pauses. “I have my phone, I’ll call if I need you to come and get me.”
“We’ll wait here,” Carter decides without checking to see if I want to spend the rest of my night spying on Quinn and Ben’s date like some kind of creepy voyeur. Before I can protest, Quinn jumps in.
She shakes her head firmly. “No, don’t do that. It’s Christmas Eve, you guys go do something fun.”
Carter sighs and glances at the rain streaking down the window. “Quinn, it’s pouring out. I’m not going to leave you—”
She throws her hand up and stops Carter mid-sentence. Thank god.
“Really, I want you guys to go.”
“What if he’s not home?” Carter demands, his jaw tightening obstinately. “We’ll just wait a minute then.”
Quinn looks over her shoulder and points to the second floor of the house, where there’s an inviting, golden glow. “There’s a light on in his room.”
“What if his mom doesn’t let you in?” I mutter under my breath. Much as I want to get out of her way, I’d hate to have her stuck in the rain with Ben’s mom staring her down. Quinn cuts her eyes at me. I crack a smile and say, “I mean,
she’ll let you in.”
“Please go,” Quinn pleads again, her voice shaking at little.
She locks eyes with me for the briefest of seconds, and, in that moment, I know exactly what she’s thinking and why she wants us to leave.
If the guy she’s in love with doesn’t let her in, there is no way in the world she wants to walk back to the car and be forced to face our sad, earnest expressions.
I feel for her, and I honestly hope she doesn’t wind up with her heart shattered. But she’s not going to know if she stays in this car with me and her overprotective big brother. I nod and she lets out a long breath.
Quinn shakes her hair back, pushes the strap of her dress back up onto her shoulder, and slips her heels off, then darts from the car up the path and to the front door without giving us a backward glance.
Once the car stops shaking from the slam of the door, the air in the tiny space fills with an awkward quiet. The pounding of the rain on the roof and the squeak of the windshield wipers are suddenly deafening.
I don’t do well with awkward quiet.
“So are we staying or going?” I ask Carter, trying not to stare at the way the muscles in his arms bulge under his sleeves. I’m pretty sure Quinn mentioned her brother had some cushy office internship—how the hell does he have arms like a lumberjack? I stare straight ahead to keep from drooling.
Ugh, I’ve clearly been hanging out with lovesick Quinn for too long.
Carter looks over at me, letting his eyes linger on my legs before saying, “I guess we’ll take off. You ready to head home?”
I glance back over at him. His messy brown hair is falling in his face a little—something my parents would hate, which of course, makes me smile more than it should.
“Hardly,” I say in a low voice, loving the way he smiles. Like he’s up for whatever I have in mind.
I part my lips and lean in closer toward him. Now that we’re alone in the car, I’m suddenly more aware of the pounding of my heart, how flush my face is. I don’t usually feel so nervous around guys. Something about Carter is different, and it isn’t just that he’s a few years older.