Confused Hearts - Nicky James
Every cell in my body told me it was a bad idea. I didn’t want to be here. Watching my ex-best friend rolling around in the good life with his fancy, city-born boyfriend hurt more than shoving glass under a nail. Why I’d told him I’d come over, I still didn’t know. It was easier when I avoided him. It saved me having it rubbed in my face.
My truck rocked and bounced up the service road, its dead shocks making for an extra bumpy ride on the uneven terrain. I needed to take it into the shop and have Philly look at it once and for all. It was worse than riding a bull, and I’d been putting it off for far too long.
Easton’s new house came into view, all two stories of it with its log siding, slanted roof, and huge windows. Expensive and showy in the middle of the vast mountainy landscape. A gift from the boyfriend.
Who the hell gifted a house?
I didn’t think Easton was the type to be bought, but lately, it seemed like I didn’t know him at all anymore. His arrogant, wealthy, and perfect-looking boyfriend made sure of that. Fancy Lachlan Montgomery strolled into town a year ago and stole my best friend right out from under my nose.
He wasn’t good enough for Easton. They didn’t make sense together, but the more months that passed, the happier they seemed, and the more miserable I got. The house was the icing on the cake. When Easton told me Lachlan had built them a house, I’d not taken it well. That was a month ago. The shock had settled some, but the steady ache in my chest only grew more intense as the days passed.
A house meant what they had was stable and likely permanent. This guy, Lachlan, wasn’t going anywhere soon.
Under the carport sat Easton’s old beat-up Ford and the boyfriend’s new Range Rover. Did that mean Lachlan was here? I didn’t sign up for that. There was no way I was visiting Easton with that prick around. It was bad enough Lachlan was all he could talk about, I didn’t need to see his stupidly handsome face too.
I would have turned around on the spot except the front door swung open, and Easton leaned on the doorframe, arms crossed as he watched me approach. His smile grew, creasing the sides of his mouth like it did nowadays. It hadn’t been like that in high school. He’d been more baby-faced back then. The passing years had put those creases there, and he wore them well. As pissed off as I was at his recent abandonment, it settled me a fraction being the recipient of that smile. It glowed in the sunlight and reminded me of the good old days when it was just him and me.
Riding horses together.
Sharing a beer after work at the brewery.
Doing nothing on a cold winter day except chat and pick on each other.
I missed those days.
I tightened my hands on the steering wheel as I parked in front of the house, killing the engine and listening to it tick as it cooled. Easton waited while I took a minute to ground myself before getting out. I’d come this far, all I needed to do was stay long enough to listen to whatever it was he had to tell me that was so important it couldn’t wait. It had sounded urgent on the phone, and as adamant as I was about avoiding Lachlan, I still couldn’t deny Easton anything. He’d asked me to come over, so there I was, heart and emotions in a blender.
We had a bro-code. If Easton needed me, no matter what, I’d be there. Lately, I couldn’t be confident it went both ways, and I was too afraid to test it. I’d shifted on his scale of importance and spent more and more days without Easton’s company. Without those smiles.
But he’d called. He needed me. I couldn’t tell him no. He was a part of me in a way I couldn’t describe. We’d grown up side by side, and I wouldn’t leave him hanging, despite Lachlan and his “Here, let me gift you a house.”
I cracked my knuckles and did what I could to shed the funk before Easton saw it and accused me of not being nice again.
As I got out of the truck, the asshole appeared at Easton’s side. The scant pieces of joy I’d managed to scrape together upon seeing Easton for the first