How to Marry Your Frenemy - London Casey Page 0,1

Mom’s voice yell at Frank.

Frank laughs and wishes her good luck sleeping in a box by next Wednesday.

I look back just in time to see him coming toward me.

He curls his lip.

I curl my lip back.

He pauses at my stand and swipes a cup.

He takes a drink and smacks his lips together.

“Not bad,” he says. “Now get out of here with this. No selling stuff on my property.”

“I’m trying to-”

“I said out!” Frank yells.

He starts to walk away.

“That’s coming out of our rent!” I yell to him.

“What? This?” He waves the cup of lemonade. He laughs. “Sure thing, Callie. I’ll take the fifty cents off the rent. That’ll save you and your mother.”

He waddles off for good.

I look back and see Mom crying into her hands.

Yeah, this is pretty bad.

And it’s also why I’ll always take care of myself first.

No man is ever going to mess with my money, my heart, or my life… ever.

(a younger Jackson - age 19)

I find the shittiest bar and walk in to find it mostly empty.

Two guys at the bar look at me.

A second later, I’m invisible to them.

To my right, some guy is sleeping at a table.

Behind him are two women, sitting, looking like they’ve had a really long night.

This is home for a little while now.

I settle up to the bar and order two shots. Three fingers for each.

The bartender asks what that means and I show him three fingers.

In other words, fill the fucking shot glasses up.

For good measure, I take out a fifty-dollar bill and put it on the bar.

Suddenly the bartender is my best friend.

I throw the shots back like ice cold water on a hot day.

Every muscle in my body flexes.

The other guys at the bar look at me again.

I put my hands to the bar and stand up.

They both show their hands in defeat.

Am I that big, strong, and intimidating?

Yes, I am.

“Look, buddy, no trouble,” the bartender says to me. “Over there? That’s Gabe and Bill. They’re in here all the time. They let me know if anything’s off.”

“Am I off to you?”

“Yeah,” he says. “You’ve never been in here before.”

I reach into my pocket and take out the ring and put it on the bar.

The bartender looks at it.

Then me.

He nods.

“Next drink is on me,” he says.

I make fists and stare down at the bar.

Hey, Nelle, remember that time your parents got all financially fucked up and you wanted to go to Paris so bad? And I went out of my way to give up my dream car to surprise you with two tickets? It was me and you, babe. That entire flight you were wired, bouncing like a kid on Christmas morning. Remember when we met in the bathroom and not only joined the mile-high club, but shattered its one-time record? By the time we landed, my balls were sore. And you said you couldn’t walk straight. But that didn’t stop us from getting to the hotel and going at it again.

Do you remember that?

Do you remember that it was no expense spared?

I do.

You don’t know this part, but I had to call Vince for money two times.

Two fucking times I had to call him and ask for money.

But it was anything for you.

And I waited.

I watched you come to life in a way I never thought possible.

You teased me and said you wanted to move to Paris and write poetry. You wanted to sip coffee, eat croissants and laugh.

Do you remember me staying up late, making a business plan to show Vince? I wanted to expand the company to Paris. I wanted to set up right in Paris. For you and me.

I couldn’t speak a word of French but for you… anything.

Do you fucking remember that, Nelle?

I do.

Do you remember when I proposed to you.

At the Eiffel Tower.

The most cliché way to do it.

But for you…

I grab the shot glass and down it.

The bartender is right back with two more.

“On the house?” I ask.

“No. Gabe and Bill.”

I take one of the shot glasses and lift it so they can see.

I nod.

They both nod back and wave a couple fingers at me quick.

The bartender points to the ring. “Not the answer you wanted?”

“Oh, I got the answer I wanted,” I say.

“She’s not wearing the ring.”

“I know,” I say. “Anything else you want to know about me? My address? My high school mascot? The size of my cock?”

The bartender backs off and only serves me drinks.

No mindless chatter.

I’m here to drink her away.

I hooked my pinky