Dad was at the kitchen table, sipping his coffee and flipping through his beloved Writer’s Digest.
“Good morning,” he said, without looking at me.
“Morning, Dad.” I fell into my seat and practically inhaled the golden brown omelet, plump with melted cheddar and overflowing with mushrooms. “I’m going to the mall today,” I announced, silently hoping he’d let me. Sometimes Dad’s just in a stay-at-home kind of mood, but today he seemed passive. I think I’ve earned it, spending all of Saturday doing homework.
He chewed his food, his eyes glued to the magazine. “Sure, sweetie,” he mumbled.
I smiled and finished my breakfast.
“Don’t you have homework, Adonia?” Sullivan mocked in Dad’s direction.
I rolled my eyes.
Sullivan has brown hair that hangs halfway down his neck, which he parts down the middle and tucks behind his ears. His eyes are hazel and his mouth is too big for his face—no surprise! He teases me about everything, and even became friends with Jake after the break up. The little pest invited him over to play video games and kept me cornered in my room.
I shot him a look. Luckily, Dad hadn’t even looked up.
“Jake’s coming by today,” Sullivan informed me, looking for a reaction.
“So? I’ll be at the mall all day.” I took a sip of orange juice. “You know, I can hear your music all the way over here,” I said loudly, hoping Dad would lecture him again. But Dad still didn’t look up, and Sullivan pointed at me and laughed noiselessly.
“What do you two want for dinner?” Dad asked lamely, still reading.
Sullivan slammed his fists on the table. “Lasagna!”
Dad looked bewildered. “Lasagna? For the third time this week?”
I shook my head and rinsed off my plate.
“Be back by nine,” Dad said. I turned and looked at him. “It’s a school night!” he briefed. Then he buried his head back in his magazine.
I sighed, walked to the front door and put on my sneakers.
“And keep that cell phone on!” he insisted from the kitchen.
I stepped into the chilly Alaskan air, headed for Mom’s silver Jeep Grand Cherokee. She lets me drive it while she’s away. She’s in Australia until late November, doing research on the Aborigines.
I cranked the engine and sat waiting in my seat. The car reeked of vanilla. I adjusted the automatic leather seat and carefully backed out of the long driveway. It was overcast out, like it’s going to snow. I’m not a fan of driving in snow, but it’s better than not driving at all. I haven’t crashed a car yet, and I’ve been driving since sixteen.
For a Sunday, the mall was pretty dead. It’s not a huge mall by any means. It has a pet store, a book store, a food court, a couple clothing stores, a Halloween shop, a music store, a movie theater, and an arcade. If you have lots of interests, you can spend a good day there. I’m particularly fond of the book and pet stores, though I couldn’t buy any pets there anyway, because pets are big no-no’s with my parents, especially Dad. When I get my own place, I’m buying a puppy before I even fill the fridge.
Upon entering the bookstore, I was greeted by a tall, nerdy clerk. He knows me. I’m one of the regulars.
I usually spend a while in there, browsing the young adult novels.
Classical music played over the loudspeaker, and the place smelled incredible—there’s nothing like the smell of ink and paper! At least, not for bookworms like me there isn’t!
I seated myself at the base of a bookshelf in the back of the store and looked through some books. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I’m one of those people that do—I like to see what the guys portrayed inside look like, and read through the book briefly. I’m not into naughty books, but I’ll have to admit, I am seventeen, and I am curious.
I spent a good hour reading, ignoring all the passersby and the loud giggly girls—as I call them—who walked in and headed straight for the adult romance novels. You know, the books with the half-naked men and extremely content women on the cover? Those novels.
The girls gathered around in a circle, whispered loudly, read and pointed and giggled, and this would—on some days—go on for about thirty minutes straight. This time, though, they went on for nearly an hour, about twenty or so feet from me, laughing wildly. It annoyed the hell out of me.
I skimmed through a book titled Love at the End of the Day, which seemed like another I’m-going-away-to-college-and-I’ll-miss-you kind of book. The kind that depressed me in more ways than one, because I too was facing the uncertainty of college. And—what’s worse—I had no one to say goodbye to, because I was single.
I closed the book and sighed uneasily. My focus turned suddenly to a guy dressed in loose black jeans and a white muscle shirt. He wore a silver chain around his neck, held a black leather jacket, and strolled through the aisles in search of something. His hair was golden blond, split down the middle like Sullivan’s, but far shorter, leveling off at the top of his ears. He stopped in an aisle in the center section of the store, between me and the giggly girls. I thought he stopped in the travel section, but I wasn’t sure. Not until he picked up an atlas of Alaska.
I watched him curiously for some time. I hoped he wouldn’t look my way, because I stared like he’s a Greek god or something.
This guy is seriously hot! Too hot to even live here!
He eagerly skimmed the atlas. After some time, he bent over, put it back on the shelf and picked up another. He stood back up and looked through it, and when he tilted his head my way I got a glimpse of his eyes. His eyes are a light crystal blue, unlike any I’ve ever seen before! They’re incredible! Too hot for words!
I jumped and practically juggled my cell phone when it rang. Looking around sheepishly, I hit the green talk button.
“Hi!” It was Lilly.
“Hi,” I breathed softly. And I nearly choked on my spit when I saw him eyeing me! His head was slightly turned my way.
“We need to get together. I’m leaving in the morning,” Lilly said, preoccupied in the background. “Do you want to meet at the ice rink? It’s been a week and I won’t have any practice for another three.” Chatterbox Lilly has a tendency to go off on tangents. This time I couldn’t catch it all because a Greek god distracted me.
His eyes alternated between me and his book, though each time our eyes met, he looked away. “Lilly,” I hissed so he couldn’t hear me, “there’s a seriously hot guy in here.”
She stopped talking to her mother in the background. “What? I didn’t hear you.”
I turned my head toward the bookshelf so he couldn’t read my lips. “There’s this guy in here, and he’s really, really HOT.” I turned my head in time to see him stick his nose back in the atlas. “Did you hear me?” I asked in my normal voice.
“Yeah,” she uttered, “something about a hot guy. So go talk to him!”
“I don’t know...” I was always the shy type.
“No, you should. Where are you?’
“At the mall,” I replied. Then I remembered. “Hey, how’s your brother?” Please mention his name!
“Oh, he’s good,” she breathed. “He met Burke this morning, because Burke was on a business trip much of the weekend,” she said, going off on another tangent.
The giggly girls grew noisy, so I pressed the phone hard against my ear to try to make out what she was saying. I couldn’t catch most of it.
“Are you there?” is the next thing I heard.
“Yeah,” I breathed. “Can you come by the mall?”
“I’d like to, but I’m packing. Can you come by here? When I finish, maybe we can go skate?”
I was about to say yes when a smile formed on his lips. He was still looking at the atlas, but it felt like it was directed at me. I bit my lip, trying to decide—best friend or drop-dead gorgeous hot guy? Ugh, decisions! But what kind of a friend would I be if I refused to see her before she left on vacation? “I’ll be right—”
She cut me off. “Someone’s on the other line, how about I call you in a few hours, okay? I think it may be my brother, probably lost already. He’s been out all weekend in some cheesy rental! I just hope it’s not that dumb jock again!”
“Um, okay.” I was going to ask if she wanted me to drop by, but she hung up.
I put my phone away and looked at the giggly girls. They’re all pretty short—not that I’m tall or anything—two brunettes and three blondes. All between fourteen and sixteen. One of them pointed to him, the others checked him out and whispered back and forth like sixth-graders.
Annoyed, I stuck my nose back in the book. When my eyes wandered a few seconds later, he was looking at me, plain as day!
He gestured to the giggly girls with his head, made a bit of a face and smiled.
My shoulders sunk toward my feet and my mouth formed a grin. He’s looking at me! Naturally, I tried to contain myself—I’ve imagined things like this before. Yes, I’ve imagined gorgeous, literate guys checking me out, when they’re merely zit-faced losers with braces, dirty hair and the inability to formulate a sentence.
Need I remind you, the guys at school are not much to look at?
His attention shifted away from me. He put the atlas back on the shelf and pulled out another. Yup, I’d imagined it! But I found pleasure in watching him anyway, so I did.
There’s a term for that—it’s called stalking, right?
Before I could stalk much longer, he put the atlas down and very coolly strolled my way.
I pretended not to notice. I didn’t want to look dumb when he’d pass by me. That’s happened before, too, and not with a guy this hot.
My eyes fixed to page sixteen. I waited in suspense.
No one passed by. My breath stopped when I looked up: There he was.
“Good book?” he asked with a half-smile.
“Uh-huh,” I uttered, unable to find my voice.
He cocked his head and looked at the cover. “Love at the End of the Day,” he read, straightening his head and nodding as if that answered his question. “Going to buy that?”
I glanced toward the front of the store, where the clerk sat in a rotating chair, blowing a bubble and lost in a book. My eyes met the Greek god’s. “I don’t know. Should I?”
He shrugged. The giggly girls laughed loudly, but he blocked my view of them. “You could buy it and have lunch with me. Or you can leave it and have lunch with me…” The corners of his mouth rose into a seductive smile. “Or, you can bash me over the head with it for asking.” He grinned.
Excerpt from "My Best Friend's Brother".
Copyright © 2015 by Chrissy Favreau. All rights reserved.