Experimental Marine Biology - Susannah Nix Page 0,1

had asked if she’d give her a recommendation for it. She’d seemed surprised Brooke had decided to go for it, but she’d wished her luck and agreed to write the recommendation.

“Monica Speight is submitting for it too,” Brooke told Tara.

Monica was a year ahead of Brooke in the program and everything Brooke aspired to be. Top of her cohort, top of their research team, top of the department. She was every professor’s favorite grad student, and every undergrad’s favorite teaching assistant. She’d been picked for the top fellowship two years in a row and had more papers accepted to conferences than any other grad student in the entire college of life sciences. While everyone else was scrambling to find a postdoc position, Monica Speight would probably have programs lining up to court her.

Brooke didn’t just want to be Monica, she wanted to beat her.

Ever since she’d entered the program, Brooke had been stuck in Monica’s shadow. No one cared that Brooke was top of her own cohort, or that she came in a close second to Monica in almost everything. There was never a chance to stand out and be recognized for her own achievements with Monica hogging all the glory.

Just once before Monica graduated, Brooke was determined to beat her at something.

Tara snickered. “Yeah, of course she is. That one’s never seen an award she couldn’t win. I suppose that’s why you’re going for it too? The next step in your plan to Single White Female our Monica.”

“I’m not trying to Single White Female anyone.”

“Come on, you two are like peas in a pod. You even look alike.”

Brooke supposed they sort of did, if you didn’t look too closely. Brown hair, brown eyes, medium heights and builds. But where Monica’s complexion had a uniform golden glow, Brooke’s went to paleness and freckles. Lots of freckles.

“I just want to prove I can beat her at something. It’s not a weird love-hate obsession, like with you and Mathias.”

“Bite your tongue!” Tara shot back. “Mathias is my nemesis. It’s not a love-hate obsession, it’s hate-hate.”

Tara and Mathias were both third years, and they’d been feuding since the moment they first laid eyes on one another.

“Because of that one time he accidentally upset your experiment two years ago.”

“That was no accident. He totally did it on purpose!”

“I seriously doubt that. You should let it go.” Brooke actually thought Mathias was pretty nice. And his Norwegian accent was kind of sexy.

“It’s not just that. He doesn’t follow the cleaning schedule unless you nag him about it, and he’s always using my pipette tips instead of refilling his own tip boxes. Plus he leaves crumbs all over the desk in the office.”

“Why don’t you talk to him about it? Maybe if he knew it bothered you, he’d try to improve.”

“Screw that. I’d much rather wage a silent war of passive aggression. Like with you and your bestie Monica.”

“Fair enough,” Brooke said, knowing there was no point trying to reason with Tara. She was completely unreasonable on the subject of Mathias. There was actually a pool going among the grad students about when Tara and Mathias were finally going to bang it out. Brooke had twenty bucks on the week of October 4-10, which was coming up fast.

“That reminds me: What’s a mansplainer’s favorite animal?”

“A whale, actually,” Brooke answered automatically. “You told me that one last month.”

“Dammit! I’ll have to up my game. Right! Good luck with your ELISA. I’m off on my run. Back in an hour.” Tara gave a salute on her way out the door.

Brooke went back to working on her hormone assay. Twenty minutes later, as she was putting her samples on the plate shaker where they’d spend the next two hours, she felt her phone vibrate in the pocket of her lab coat. After disposing of her gloves, she went into the shared office next to the lab and checked her messages.

She grinned as she saw the text from her childhood friend Dylan.

Hey! What are you doing week after next?

Brooke hadn’t heard from Dylan in months and hadn’t seen him in years, but it didn’t matter. They were the sort of old friends who could pick back up at a moment’s notice. Every so often, one of them would randomly reach out to the other, and they’d fall right back into talking like no time had passed at all.

They’d always been like that: drifting in and out of each other’s orbits, but always coming back around again eventually. As reliable as