Home > The Fill-In Boyfriend(14)

The Fill-In Boyfriend(14)
Author: Kasie West

“Right. But we didn’t see anything and I haven’t really let him explain.”

“You’re going to forgive him?” Claire asked, standing to face me.

“No.” It was nearly impossible to convey two different things at the same time. I couldn’t let my brother go back to Bradley with the cheating story, but I didn’t want Claire to think I was getting back together with him after he “cheated” on me.

“Huh,” my brother said. “I hadn’t heard that side of the story.”

“What did you hear?” I asked, unable to contain my curiosity about how Bradley was telling the story.

“He just said you had a fight and he’d been trying to call you. He asked how you were. I said I hadn’t talked to you in a while but that according to Twitter you were . . . um . . . how did you put it? ‘Chillin’ at home’?”

“You really said that to him?”

“That’s what you wrote on Twitter. You’re okay with the world reading it but not Bradley?”

“The world doesn’t read my Twitter,” I mumbled.

“Do you want me to find out if he’s cheating on you? I have connections.” He said this in a mob-boss kind of voice.

“No,” I said, but Claire said, “Yes” right over me.

He looked between the two of us.

“No,” I said again. “Please, I don’t need my brother policing my relationship.”

He leaned into the table. “Gia, I hope you’re not trying to pretend everything is fine if a guy cheated on you. You should be pissed about that.”

“I am. I mean, I would be if he really had.”

Claire’s mouth dropped open at this point. Drew shook his head. “Claire, in case you haven’t learned this about my sister, everything in her world is perfect. Even if it really isn’t.”

I had almost forgotten how Drew was. He liked to stir up trouble. It was like he lived for it. He got some sick, manic pleasure from it.

“You’ve at least talked to the parents about this, right? Or someone?” He looked at Claire with his last sentence.

“Claire was there that night. And yes, Mom and Dad know we broke up.”

“And I’m sure you had a real heart-to-heart about it. Dad told you some overused metaphors, Mom told you not to stir up trouble, and you smiled like they are the best parents in the world.”

“Stop it.” I wanted to get along with my brother, but the only thing he wanted to do was make me feel bad about myself.

“Or what?” He smiled at me.

“Just don’t. Please.”

He held up his hands. “Fine, I’ll stay out of it.”

“Thank you.”

He put his plate in the sink. “Gotta do some laundry. We’ll catch up more later.”

When he was gone, Claire said, “You’re not really thinking about getting back together with Bradley, are you?”


She shook her head. “That doesn’t exactly sound like conviction. Don’t let his dreamy blue eyes and perfect smile make you forget what he did.”

I felt my face wrinkle into confusion before I remembered she was describing my fill-in date. I nearly laughed at her description. He did have dreamy blue eyes and a perfect smile. And was too skinny and had shaggy hair. “Right. I won’t forget what he did.”


I was a ball of nerves. What was I supposed to wear to a graduation party where I was playing the fake girlfriend? I called Claire and Laney over to help me pick out an outfit, trying to keep the same pre-date routine I always had.

Carrying a Coke Freeze, Claire walked into my room and sat down in my desk chair. Laney took the bed next to the clothes I’d laid out. “Are these the top choices so far?”

“Yes.” I grabbed the first outfit, a pair of shorts and a flowy blouse, and went to my closet to change.

“Where’s Jules?” Claire asked.

“She said she couldn’t come.” I’d told Claire I’d try, and even though I hadn’t really wanted her to come over, I’d called and invited Jules.

“I talked to her on the way over.”

“Oh, good. Did she change her mind?”

“She said you didn’t invite her.”

I came out of the closet half dressed. “She said what? I called her and told her to come. How is that not inviting her?”

Claire sighed as if she didn’t know who to believe. “You guys need to get used to each other or you’ll never survive next year.”

I started to continue arguing about inviting her but then stopped. “Wait, what?”

“Next year . . . college.”

“She . . .” I didn’t even want to finish that sentence.

“Yes, she got into UCLA. She didn’t tell you?”

She was too busy sabotaging me. “No, she didn’t.” I slunk back into the closet to put my shirt on. This was not good news. It made my insides burn. I tried to push that feeling away and walked back out, holding my hands to the sides. “Yes?”

“No,” Laney said. “Too casual.” She threw me the yellow sundress.

Claire said, “She said she was going to tell you.”

“This is the first I’m hearing of it. But that’s great,” I said from in the closet because I wasn’t sure if my face would support my words. “It should be fun.” I really did have to fix something, because there was no way I wanted to continue this drama in college. “Now I really wish you were coming too, Laney.”

“I know. Don’t remind me. Community college is sounding worse and worse every day.”

“It’s not too late to join us,” Claire said.

“Actually I’m about four years’ worth of good grades and thousands of dollars too late for UCLA.”

“Who needs money and good grades when you have community college?” Claire said.

“Exactly what I’ve been saying for the last four years,” Laney said. I could hear the embarrassment in her voice and I felt bad that school had been a struggle for her.

I pulled the dress over my head, straightened it, then joined them in my room. “You’ll have fun, Laney. And we’re only three hours away. We’ll see each other all the time.”

She folded the outfit I had already tried on and smoothed the shirt over and over. “You hardly saw Bradley at all and he was your boyfriend.”

“Exactly. He was just my boyfriend. You’ve been my best friend for five years. It will be way different.”

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