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Authors: Barbie Bohrman

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BOOK: Something More Than This
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He motions to the monitor in front of him and I nod in understanding.

“Well, if you need any help or anything, call me, okay? I’ll come back in if you want me to.”

“Is that your way of saying that you’re at my beck and call?” he asks in amusement.

I smile and start to leave. When I reach his door, I turn around and hold the knob only to find him leaning back in his chair while putting his glasses back on.

“Sure, why not?” I say and open the door wide to leave.

As I pass by Phoebe, who gives me a look that leaves no question that she’s been sharpening knives while I was in his office, I hear Dylan say, “You might regret that one day, Katy.”

CHAPTER TWO

Y
ou look tired. Are you okay?”

Mimi, my other best friend and my roommate, says this to me as she places a container of takeout on the bar in front of me. She’s a bartender at Canyon Café, which supplements her income as a fashion designer. She’s in design school because, according to her, you can never gain enough knowledge or insight into the world of fashion. And she lives by the very sage advice of one Tim Gunn, her idol:
Make it work.

While Dylan is my best friend from my college days and I love him to death, he’s more like my sounding board because he is a great listener and an all-around good person. And then there is Mimi, my best friend from high school and the best friend to end all best friends. She’s the kind of person who you call in the middle of the night to help bury a body. She would show up with a shovel, no questions asked and without the slightest hesitation. She’s that loyal.

“I’m fine.” I take a sip of my Diet Coke. “The practice just ran a little long and I still have to type up
and
organize all my notes before I go to bed.”

“I don’t know.” She tilts her head to one side and inspects my face more carefully. “There’s something else going on. Tell me.”

I laugh. Mimi is good at interrogation. Like really, really good. Sometimes I think she missed her calling and should have pursued a career in the FBI. I know I won’t last a second under her line of questioning. She can read me like an open book.

“So, come on,” she demands. “Tell me all about it. You know you’re dying to anyway.”

Just then a male customer on the far side of the bar calls out to her. She turns her upper body in his direction and says, “I’ll be right there.”

As she walks the length of the bar to take his order, she says over her shoulder, “I’ll be right back, and then you’re gonna spill.”

I take the straw from my glass and entertain myself with capturing some soda in it and then draining it back into the glass a few times while she’s busy. The incident with Dylan is still bothering me. I thought it was resolved, and he even texted me while I was at the practice to let me know that tomorrow’s trivia question was going to stump me. So I honestly don’t know why it would still be festering in my head and plainly visible on my face for Mimi to detect.

Mimi sashays back, her small frame encased in tight black jeans and a black fitted tank top, her signature uniform while she’s working behind the bar. She hates being objectified, but the tips at the end of the night are always worth it, or so she tells me.

“That guy was a jerk,” she says in a hushed voice. “He actually had the nerve to ask me for my number.”

I look at the guy in question. He’s not bad looking. Kind of tall, which is my best guess since he’s sitting in a bar stool, and definitely built but in a not-so-over-the-top way. He has dirty-blond hair and piercing blue eyes that blaze with anticipation while he stares at Mimi’s backside.

“He’s staring at you,” I tell her.

“Of course he is. Have you seen my ass?”

I choke on my soda and start to cough.

For the record, Mimi benefits from what some people would affectionately consider the “J. Lo effect.” That might be attributed to her Latin gene pool. Her mother is Cuban and her dad is Puerto Rican.

“Ignore him.” She waves a hand by her ear like she is shooing away a fly. “I’m not interested in him anyway.”

I lean forward. “And why not? He’s kind of hot, Mimi.”

“I’m not dating. You already know this, Katy.”

“Oh right, I forgot. Why is that again?”

She lifts the drink gun from its holder and proceeds to fill up my glass with more Diet Coke. “Listen, Miss I-Think-I’m-Being-Clever-by-Turning-the-Tables-on-My-Friend, I’m still seeing that guy every so often, and you know I don’t do the whole dating around thing.” She tops off my glass and then puts the drink gun back in its place before adding, “And no, I’m not going to tell you his name.”

“Come on, that’s not fair,” I whine. “You’ve been keeping this mystery man under wraps for like three months now.”

“And what’s your point?”

“My point is by the guidelines set forth in the unofficial best friend handbook, you are required to divulge any and all information pertaining to said mystery man to your best friend.” I point to myself and smile. “Who happens to be yours truly.”

She squints her caramel brown eyes at me and then leans a little closer. “Nice try, Katy. Don’t think I don’t remember that you’re supposed to tell me what’s got you so upset.”

“I’m not
that
upset.”

“Aha!” She points her index finger in the air. “I knew it!”

“You knew what?”

“I knew you were upset about something,” she says with a gratified smile.

I walked right into that one. But instead of spilling my guts about Dylan, I decide to tell her about my scouting from the practice earlier today.

“Well, it’s just the Barracudas coach was telling me that Jenkinson—you remember him, right? He’s that senior offensive lineman I told you about who’s coming off of the injured reserve list. Anyway, Coach is concerned that he won’t be ready to play at full—”

Mimi drops her head on the bar and starts to snore out loud. Very loud. So loud that a couple of patrons stop and stare at us.

“Mimi,” I say in a low voice, “what the hell?”

She pops her head back up and rubs her eyes as if she just woke up from a catnap. “Oh my God, I’m sorry, Katy. I was just so bored I fell right to sleep while you were talking about sports. Again. For like the millionth time.”

“Ha-ha, God you’re funny.”

“Yeah, I know.” She takes the towel from over her shoulder and wipes down the bar quickly. Then she throws it over her shoulder again. “Start talking or else.”

Her eyes pierce mine with a glare that I know means I need to take her seriously. One of these days I want to find out what “or else” means. She’s petite, so I don’t think she could inflict much damage. And I would really like to see her try sometime. I’m pretty sure it would make me laugh in her face.

“Jeez, fine, I’ll tell you. It’s about Dylan.”

Her eyes widen and her mouth morphs into the most ridiculous grin. I should have kept my mouth shut. Mimi is under the delusion that Dylan and I are soul mates. That by some great cosmic misalignment that she cannot ever clearly describe, we are being held captive by our own stupidity and blindness.

“Stop it,” I plead in an effort to calm her down. “It’s nothing like that.”

“You let me be the judge of that.”

“Fine.”

So I proceed to tell her about what occurred earlier today, careful not to leave out any detail since I know she will pounce on me if I do. Why I entertain her notions about Dylan and me, I have no idea. But it seems to give her a small sense of satisfaction for some reason. As evidenced by the look of wonderment plastered across her face.

“Katy, Katy, Katy,” she says with a lilt in her voice. “How many times do I have to tell you? That man is head over heels in love with you. And you’re too busy with your silly little football statistics and God knows what else—actually, there isn’t anything else, is there?”

“There is something . . . else.” My voice falters at the end, much to my dismay.

“Really?” Her eyebrow arches in curiosity. “Tell me what else is there then.”

My fingers find the corner of the bar napkin and start to methodically fold it over and over onto itself, until I’ve made some sort of misshapen origami swan.

Mimi tilts my chin up. “I’m just saying that
this
is all you do. All day, every day, three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. When was the last time you had a real boyfriend or even went out on an actual date? And now that I think about it, when was the last time Dylan had a real girlfriend too? Man, you two are on a serious dry spell. It must be frustrating for him to have
all
that stuff backed up inside of him. You know, I read somewhere recently that men’s semen can build—”

“Mimi! I do not want to think about Dylan’s semen buildup!”

“Yes you do, you little liar. You just don’t want to admit it.”

I roll my eyes for what feels like the millionth time in the short while since I’ve been here. For the record, there is nothing to admit. Dylan and I are fine as we are and always will be. Plus, there are rules in the workplace in this day and age when it comes to dating your subordinate. So I’m sure the thought hasn’t even crossed his mind. Not to mention that we’re just friends. End of story. And no matter how many times I’ve tried to convey this to Mimi over the last few years, it goes in one ear and out the other. The worst is when we all hang out here for happy hour, and she tries to ply us with alcohol to, as she puts it, “make things happen.” It only makes things uncomfortable for Dylan and me, which of course makes Mimi’s day, because she thinks that’s just more proof that she’s right about us.

“So I’m trying to remember when the last time was for you,” she says seriously.

I open my mouth to respond but she beats me to it.

“And no! No way in hell can you say Bailey’s name to me. I will not allow it.”

Bailey was my boyfriend up until about seven or so months ago. We met at an annual journalism award ceremony and hit it off immediately. He is a columnist at the bigger newspaper in the area and covers major nationwide stories, but he never took what I did seriously because he thought sports was not real news. And it bothered me. A lot. Until my resentment built up and boiled over and I finally told him our relationship had run its course. A tiny part of me hoped that he’d see the error of his ways and tell me that he had made an awful mistake in downplaying what I do for a living. But no such luck. He didn’t even deny it. He simply grabbed his jacket from the back of my couch and walked toward the door. When he reached the threshold, he turned around and said, “Stop dreaming, Katy. Nobody’s ever going to take you and what you do seriously.”

“Look, I’m sorry,” Mimi says softly. She covers my hand with hers and gives it a light tap. “It’s just I worry about you. You’re always so wrapped up in your head and working all the damn time that you never give yourself a moment to unwind.”

“What do you call this?” I motion to the bar around us.

“This is you being a good friend and stopping in to say hello because you know I always hook you up with the best chicken quesadillas in all of Fort Lauderdale.” She smiles sweetly at me, then folds her arms across her chest.

“Look, Mimi, I—”

Right then, the door to the restaurant opens, and Mimi’s eyes narrow. So I pivot in my bar stool to see to whom she’s directing her hateful gaze.

I should have known. My brother Simon is still dressed in his officer’s uniform with an aura flying off of him that warns anyone who so much as looks in his direction that they shouldn’t mess with him.

He walks straight over to us. When he’s standing right next to me, Mimi says, “Are there no cats you can be saving from tree limbs right about now?”

I try my hardest not to giggle out loud but fail miserably. Simon gives me a stern look that shuts me up, then directs his attention to Mimi. His glare is enough to frighten me to death, but she just tilts her head as if to say,
Go ahead and give it your best shot.

Simon, in a very restrained voice, says, “Kiss my ass.”

“Shave it first,” she responds with a face-splitting smile.

“Okay you two.” I try to stop them before it escalates. “Cut it out. I’m not in the mood.”

I have no clue why they hate each other so much, but that’s the way it’s been ever since they met when Mimi and I were in high school and Simon was just starting out in the police academy. The insults never stopped flying, and the sheer amount of “yo momma” jokes that have been tossed between them would even make
Def Comedy Jam
veterans cringe.

“Anyway”—Simon rolls his eyes—“I drove by your place and didn’t see your car, so I came by here to check up on you.”

“How did you know I was here?”

“I
am
a cop, Katy.”

“Are you?” Mimi asks. “’Cause I could have sworn you were just an asshole.”

Simon ignores her, which is probably his best move, since Mimi seems as though she has a pocketful of comebacks that she’s been waiting to unleash on him for days.

“So if you weren’t at work or at the high school tonight, chances were that you would be here. And lo and behold, here you are,” he says.

“Okay, I guess.” I snatch up my takeout container. “I was just getting ready to go home anyway, so thanks for checking up on me.
Again.

Simon has made it his life’s mission to track my every move, which might have something to do with the fact that our parents were killed by a drunk driver on their way home from a New Year’s Eve party when I was a sophomore in high school. As a consequence, he stepped up to the plate and worked two jobs while making sure Jonathan and I were okay through one of the most difficult times of our lives. Not to mention that he did all of this while in the police academy. To this day, I don’t know how he managed it all, but I’m grateful nonetheless. He’s become that stereotypical overprotective big brother who in the past has scared away potential dates, and he tries to play it off like he’s doing me a favor in the process. I don’t know when he will ever get the hint that I’m a grown woman and can take care of myself, but I hope it’s soon, because I’m so over it by now. And God forbid I voice my opinion on the matter. Because that would start the always fun conversation of how he’s my legal guardian—technically,
was
my legal guardian since I’ve been legal for quite some time, but he conveniently forgets this fact—and how it’s his responsibility to watch out for me and make sure I’m safe and sound at all times, day or night.

“Mimi, I’ll see you at home later. Be careful, okay?”

She props herself on her elbows and leans forward to kiss me on the cheek. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. Go home, heat up that food, and get some rest. We’ll continue our conversation tomorrow.”

I say good-bye, and Simon follows me to my car as I try my hardest to ignore him, which is impossible to do. He’s just over six feet tall and is built like a middle linebacker. He’s always been a bit of a health nut, but in the last couple of years his health kick has turned into more of an obsession. But he’s not at all vain, even though he’s probably propositioned by women daily. This would inflate the ego of most men I know, but not Simon. As protective and intimidating—and annoying—as he comes across, he’s actually quite humble and sweet. I do love him very much and always will . . . of course I do, I mean, we
are
family. But I don’t need him to constantly be watching over me like a hawk. At some point he has to take a step back and let me live my life.

BOOK: Something More Than This
5.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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