North of Light(5)

By: J.M. Paul


“Of course I came. I told you I would, CC.”

I turn my head toward the intruder but not before I notice Connor stand, lift his turkey hat to run his hand through his dark hair, and then place the stuffed butterball back onto his noggin. His eyes bounce between the newcomer and me in disbelief.

Strange.

Cami Camden—I call her CC—my best friend since fourth grade, wiggles me back and forth and beams in my direction. Her blue eyes sparkle, and her red hair is so shiny, I think it’s blinding me.

The whore doesn’t have to do anything for her beautiful strands; it’s all natural. I have to bathe my lady locks in mayonnaise for days, and my head still ends up looking like a frizzed-out bird’s nest half of the time.

“Have you been waiting long?” Cami sits on the stool next to me.

“Long enough.” I shrug and then look at Connor.

He’s still watching us with a blank face. I scrunch my forehead in question, but I don’t get a reaction from him.

“Oh, hey! You two have already met!” Cami beams at Connor and then me.

“Uh, yeah?” There’s a question in my tone, but then it dawns on me that she performs here semi-regularly, so of course she knows the staff.

Cami’s a talented musician—she plays acoustic guitar and sings—and does solo gigs at local bars around Michigan’s metro Detroit area. That’s why I’m here—to watch and support her.

“Awesome.” Cami stands on the bar’s footrest and tilts toward Connor, her lips puckered.

Connor’s eyes flash to me, and I know he can read the confusion written on my face because he has the audacity to look sheepish before he gives Cami a chaste kiss on the corner of her mouth.

What in the ever-loving hell?

“Mmm. You taste like peppermint.” Cami licks her lips as she plops back down onto the stool.

The silence between the three of us is heavy. Well, it’s weighted between Connor and me. I don’t think Cami has a clue that she interrupted something between me and him when she arrived.

“Connor, this is my bestie, Noel North. Noel, this is my boyfriend, Connor Vanstone,” Cami says cheerfully.

Boyfriend?

When we look at each other, I know Connor and I are wearing matching horrified expressions.

Shit just got real.





Green with Envy


I gulp down the rest of The Grinch drink and feel my heart shrivel to three sizes too small. Dr. Seuss’s green grouch has nothing on me.

“Boyfriend?” I squeak.

Maybe the Grinch is green with envy.

“Well, we’re not technically dating.” Cami gives Connor a salacious smile.

Barf.

The lighting is low, but I think I see Connor’s cheeks turn pink. His jaw clenches as his eyes bounce around the bar, probably looking for an excuse to escape. I sure as heck would like to disappear.

“Nice to meet you, Connor.” Every word is filled with disdain.

“You, too.” He nudges his chin toward me but won’t look me in the eyes.

I slap the glass down on the bar, and my attention volleys between Cami and Connor. “So, you’re saying you’re fuck buddies?”

Cami’s eyes fly to Connor when he makes an awkward gurgling noise and pounds his fist against his chest once.

I pin him with a glare and motion toward the now-empty cocktail. “I’ll take another.”

Connor sweeps the glass up into his hand and flees.

“I guess that’s what you’d call us.” Cami rests her chin in her hand, completely oblivious to the tension between me and her boy toy.

“Although have you taken a good look at Connor? He’s USDA Prime meat, and I wouldn’t mind buying the cow after I’ve already sampled the milk … if you know what I mean.” She waggles her brows.

Unfortunately, I know exactly what she means, and I find myself growing angrier with Connor. He’s screwing my best friend—whom he didn’t know was my closest girlfriend—and he accepted an invitation to coffee or something with me.

Pig.

“I thought you weren’t limiting yourself to one guy for a while. After you know who …” I let the statement hang because it only upsets Cami when Kyle, her ex-boyfriend, is mentioned.

She sits straight in her stool. “I’m not. We’re just messing around, but”—Cami’s eyes flit over the room—“he’s different, you know? He’s one of the good guys, and I’m not used to that.”

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