Wasted Words

By: Staci Hart


She shifted and looked away. “I dunno, Cam.”

“Psh. What is there to know?”

“Maybe that he actually likes me? That would be nice to know before I throw myself at him,” she said, exasperated. “I’m kind of a relationship idiot. I took a job at Habits from a guy who only wanted to have sex with me, and once he did, I got shipped off to Rose to get rid of me.” Her cheeks were pink, and she sniffled, her eyes shining. “I don’t want to get hurt again or taken advantage of. That’s kind of my track record, you know? I just want a good guy who loves me and brings me donuts when I have a bad day. Is that too much to ask?”

I pulled her into a hug, and she sighed against me. “No, it isn’t too much to ask. But Greg is a good guy. He’s not going to hurt you. He’s one of the most stand-up guys I know.” Next to Tyler. I almost said it out loud, but hesitated. Not sure why. I just saw Bayleigh with Greg before Tyler. Maybe it was those high standards.

Bayleigh sighed and pulled away. “That’s true. I’ve just ended up with a long line of scumbag douchers, and I’m kind of done.”

“Well,” I said, “be glad you weren’t here earlier, because the doucheking was in here with Tyler a bit ago.”


“Oh?”

“Yeah — Kyle Churchill.”

Her eyes widened. “The same Kyle Churchill who plays for the Giants?”

I wagged my finger at her. “Ah, ah, ah. That’s exactly the look that will end up getting douche all over you. Go for Greg. He’s a catch, just ask Rose.”

She nodded. “It’s true. He and I went on a couple of dates, but I was still hung up on Patrick. He’s one of the good ones.”

“Well, then why doesn’t he have a girlfriend?” Bayleigh asked, still suspicious.

Rose shrugged. “It’s not for lack of trying. He’d hit the online meat market looking for someone, but that didn’t pan out, and then his dad got really sick and passed away a few months ago, before we opened.”

“I had no idea,” Bayleigh breathed.

Rose nodded. “Yeah. So he’s really busy outside of work. But I’m sure if you can be patient and understanding about his family life, it could definitely work out.”

Bayleigh’s big, brown eyes were soft. “Yeah. It’s really admirable that he would sacrifice so much.”

“It is admirable,” I said. “He’s an admirable guy with muscles and tattoos and a great smile, which is exactly what you need. And you, my gorgeous, loving friend, are exactly what he needs.”

She smiled, her cheeks flushing yet again. “Maybe you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right.” I bumped her hip with mine. “I’m always right.”





Tyler

I’d come home to the quiet apartment and changed out of my slacks and button-down, opting for sleep pants and a T-shirt before settling into the couch to read.

Or: try to read.

The only books I’d ever read were for school, never for entertainment or leisure, and on hearing that truth, Cam made it her personal mission to find a book I’d love.

Over the last year, I’d read — tried to read — dozens of books, from a slew of graphic novels to high fantasy, sci-fi, and even romance. But so far nothing had captured my interest, not even the one in my lap — The Martian. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, because I did. It was fascinating, but I kept getting bogged down by the science, which made me feel dense, and when I tried to skim forward, I felt like I’d missed something.

I’d started and stopped the page I was on probably three reading sessions in a row, and that night, I abandoned the story, opting instead to troll my phone. I was in the middle of an article on predictions for college ball that week when Cam walked in the door.

She smiled cheerily as she removed her key from the lock and made her way inside. “Hey. What’s up?” She glanced in my lap, and when she saw the book, she lit up like the Fourth of July. “You’re reading!”

Her bag hit the ground with a thump, and she bounded around the couch, flopping down next to me so we were shoulder to shoulder. Or more like shoulder to bicep.

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