Four inter-connected standalones about a group of friends navigating the world of love.
Chapter One of Audacity:
“Cammy! Ice cream party in thirty. You in?” My brother’s voice breaks my concentration, and I shake my head. Of course I want ice cream, but I’m determined to finish the task at hand.
“One second!” I yell back down.
“Alright,” I say to my computer. “Let’s do this.” I click submit and slump back into my chair when the page loads. It’s done. Four years of tests and stress and now it’s all over.
“Bart! I’m coming. Cool it.”
I skip down the stairs as the weight of the world leaves my shoulders. No more professors. No more late night hours spent writing papers on topics I would never remember. The freedom is intoxicating.
“Oh good. You are alive.”
“Very funny,” I say as I slide onto a stool at the counter.
“Mom called earlier and said she was sending a search party over if you didn’t text her back soon.”
“Noted.” I pull out my phone and send her a brief text letting her know I’m alive and done with school. My phone instantly dings with her messages of congratulations, and I smile as I slip the phone back into my pocket.
“Can you help me with these?”
Bart’s struggling under the weight of bags filled with ice cream, every topping imaginable, a few boxes of cones, and a bag full of chips.
I grab a couple of bags from him and follow him out to the covered patio. “What’s the big celebration? You didn’t know I’d finish my stuff today.” I had spent the week before making it abundantly clear that I needed to be left alone until Monday. Or at least until that precious submit button was clicked, but with Bart it is always easier to tell him something just beyond the bounds of what I actually need. Case in point, this moment.
“You’re done?” He drops the bags in his hands and gives me a gigantic bear hug. “Way to go!”
“Thanks,” I say as I duck my head. “It was nothing.”
“Don’t sell yourself short. It’s a big accomplishment.”
He would know. He graduated two years before me and is still reeling from the stress of it all. Most people take a gap year before starting school. He’s taking his now that he’s done, and that one year has solidly turned into two with no end in sight.
“Who’s all this for?” My brother has a tendency to get distracted and needs reined in from time to time.
“Theo? Like Theo Theo?” I drop the cones in my hand and stealthily inspect them for any cracks. All good.
“Yeah, he and the girls are going to be here soon.”
“Didn’t I mention?”
“No, I’m pretty sure I’d remember if you mentioned Theo coming over tonight.” My rapidly increasing pulse is making me sweat. I try to cover it up by touching the ice cream until I’m certain I’m going to melt it.
Bart’s face is the epitome of innocence. Justifiably. He doesn’t know how I feel about his best friend, and I know it’s best to keep it that way. “Hm, well, they’re staying here for the weekend until their new apartment is ready.”
“New apartment? Is Cynthia coming too?” It’s becoming increasingly difficult to ask questions and sound nonchalant.
“No, that would defeat the purpose of getting away from her.”
Get away from her? Why is Theo getting away from his wife? A glimmer of hope makes itself known in my heart. “What are you talking about?”
“How long has it been since you came out of your room?”
“For anything other than bathroom breaks and to grab food? A week?” With finals, I didn’t have time for socializing. I didn’t expect the entire world to change in a matter of days.
“Wow. Well, a few days ago, Cynthia told him she was done. They’re splitting custody of the girls, and the first weekend is his. I can’t say I’m sad about that. They were babies the last time he came here, and I’m excited to see them.” Bart continues talking while my mind races.
Theo Flynn is coming any minute and I can feel my nerves bundling with every second that passes.
“Do I have to be here?”
“What’s with you?”
“Nothing,” I say too defensively.
“I know you and Theo aren’t that close, but he’s a great guy.” Bart’s face twists up in confusion and I swallow hard.
I know exactly how great Theo is. I haven’t seen him in a long time, but my imagination is efficiently filling in the missing pieces for what he might look like now and it’s too much.
“I’m sorry,” Bart says, and his apologetic eyes make me feel bad.
“What’s there to be sorry about?”
“I didn’t realize you were so against Theo staying here.”
“Oh, it’s not that,” I say, too quickly again.
“Then what is it?” The front door opens, saving me from any further discussion.