Troublemaker - Kayley Loring Page 0,1

house in Silver Lake on an elementary school teacher’s salary.

Franklin has been vehemently disappointed by most of my life choices ever since we met, but he was so happy to hear that I had finally decided to break up with Brent for good that he begged me to move to Los Angeles and offered to let my dog and me live with him for as long as we need to. I insist on paying him an adequate amount of rent and a portion of the utility bills, of course. But what I’m really giving him in return for this exquisitely decorated space is permission to push me outside of my comfort zone.

“If I go out with you this one time, will you let me stay at home for the rest of the summer and stay in with me at least one night a week?”

“Absolutely not, young lady. Why are you so opposed to having fun?”

“Why is fun such an important thing to be had? And who says it’s not fun for me to stay home with Atticus and do my crafting?”

“First of all—never say the word ‘crafting’ to me again. Secondly, it doesn’t matter how much you bedazzle your vibrator; it’s never going to turn into a real sparkly penis. This is not a negotiation.”

He pulls me up and then opens up the closet to pick out an outfit for me to wear. His face falls immediately. “Oh God. It’s worse than I thought.”

“What? I organized everything by garment type and color. The color scheme matches the color blocking of my book collection. See?”

He doesn’t even attempt to look at my bookshelves of awesomeness. One judge-y fist snaps to his hip as he flicks his other hand dismissively. “Okay, this is not an organized closet.” He makes a supremely dramatic, sweeping gesture. “This is a declaration of celibacy and a silent cry for help.”

“These aren’t celibate clothes. I wore these clothes back when I was still having sex with Brent.”

“You mean before or after you broke up for the last last time?”

I sigh. “No comment.” I may have had sex with Brent once or twice in the four months since we officially broke up—but in my defense—it was really boring sex and it made it easier for me to get over him. And we were still living together because I didn’t have time to find a new apartment while I was finishing out the school year in Paso Robles, and it seemed like a better option than moving back in with my parents. And I was a little bit drunk.

Franklin continues to stare into the abyss of my somewhat conservative apparel. “Permission to take this dumpster fire of a wardrobe, which represents your dumpster fire of a love life, to an actual dumpster and set fire to it.”

“Permission not granted. These are very work appropriate. Seven-year-olds like and respect me when I wear these clothes.”

“Right, well, my grown man penis literally started shriveling up as soon as I saw these cardigans.”

“It’s taken me years to assemble this selection of fun cardigans.”

“That is the saddest sentence I have ever heard, and there is no such thing as a fun cardigan.”

“Could you maybe wait until you’re actually the host of a makeover show before acting like the snippy host of a makeover show all the time?”

“Just because you don’t see any cameras following me around, that doesn’t mean I’m not the snippy host of a makeover show. And I’m about to remind you of who you really are and not who you thought Brent and your parents wanted you to be. You know what the title of this episode is? It’s called ‘Dress You Up in Self Love.’ Cue Black Eyed Peas song. Commence shopping and makeover sequence.”

“It’s very confusing when you reference a Madonna song and then cue up a Black Eyed Peas song.”

He squeezes his eyes shut, rubbing his temples like I’ve given him a migraine. “Shut up. Just shut up and be your fun self, I’m begging you.”

“This is my fun self. Dude, I just moved to Los Angeles. And I just called you ‘dude.’ That’s like…next level fun.”

I get zero response for that, not even an eye roll.

I cross my arms and frown at him. “Cardigans can be very sexy with the right accessories, you know?”

He scoffs. “Did you hear that, Atticus?”

Atticus barks and gazes up at me lovingly. Such a big, sweet, nonjudgmental dog. Why can’t everyone be a dog?

“Ferris. I’m not going to buy all-new clothes