Read Out Of The Friend Zone Online

Authors: Stephanie Nicole

Tags: #Romance

Out Of The Friend Zone (3 page)

BOOK: Out Of The Friend Zone
12.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

After Brynn was finished at the school, she headed back to her new house to finish unpacking. She had done most of it that weekend, but there were still a few boxes left. She knew that she would want to do some work around the house after moving, so she had taken the whole week off from work. She had to paint Barrett's bedroom, along with a few other rooms, to make the house more like their own. All of the walls were currently white, and Brynn needed to add color. White was just too boring for her.

By the time Barrett got home from school, his room was completely transformed. The walls were still white, but they had navy blue pinstripes running from the ceiling to floor, with a big New York Yankees symbol painted above his bed. Brynn worked hard to get it finished so that she could surprise him after his first day at school. He wandered around, looking at all the new decorations his mother had put up for him, smiling broadly.

"This is so cool, Mom! Can I show Willow?" The child was giddy with the new changes.

"Yeah, why don't you go get her? She can come over for cookies and milk too. Sound good?"

"Only if they're chocolate chip! I'll be back." Barrett ran out of his room and slammed the back door as he left.

A few minutes later, Brynn heard the door again. She went to the kitchen to get out some cookies and pour the milk while waiting for the kids to come down from Barrett's room. She listened as the kids ran up the stairs. There was a moment of silence, then a high-pitched squeal of approval from Willow. Brynn laughed quietly as she put the cookies on a plate.

The kids ran into the kitchen after a little while, looking for the after school snack that was promised them. They sat at the breakfast bar while Brynn handed out the cookies and glasses of milk.

"Mmm...chocolate chip! My favorite!" Willow said.

"Mine too," Barrett said with a mouthful.

"So, you never told me, how was your first day?" Brynn asked her son.

"It was good," Barrett said, as he concentrated on his cookies.

Ten minutes later, Brynn started to clean up from the snack and noticed the time. "You two better get ready for t-ball. We have to leave in half an hour. Willow, tell your babysitter that I'll drive you over there. If she has any questions, she can call your dad at work."

Barrett and Willow both raced to get ready. After they had changed and gotten their gear together, Brynn packed them into her Isuzu and headed to the ball field. She parked and headed over to the field where the team would be practicing.

Willow pointed out the coach, and Brynn went over to introduce herself and Barrett. The coach gave Barrett a jersey, and sent him out into the field to warm up with the rest of the team. Luckily, this town started their t-ball season later than their last town, and Barrett had only missed one week.

After talking to the coach for a few minutes, Brynn sat on the bleachers and watched the kids throwing the ball around. She tucked her shoulder length brown hair behind her ears to keep it from blowing in her face, and put her hand to her forehead to shield her hazel eyes from the bright sunlight.

"You know, they have this new invention called sunglasses...They work a lot better than a hand over the forehead," a deep voice said. Brynn looked over and saw Chandler walk up.

He pointed to her and his grin grew wide. "Ah, and I see you even have a pair clipped to the neck of your shirt. Last I knew, you didn't have eyes on your neck," Chandler teased.

Brynn rolled her eyes and laughed. She was always losing her sunglasses by putting them on her shirt and then forgetting them. She put them on. "You're right, they work a lot better when you use them like this," she joked back.

"Thanks for bringing Willow to practice today," he said.

"Oh, it's no problem. Actually, I was thinking about something. Do you think there's any way we can maybe work out a trade...I have to go into work early in the mornings, and I won't have time to drive Barrett to school, but I'll get home in enough time to pick him up from school. Do you think that when you bring Willow to school in the mornings you could bring Barrett too, and I'll pick them up in the afternoons?"

"That sounds like a great idea." Chandler said. "And if you want, I can keep Willow at my house until you get home. There's no need for you to have a babysitter for her. She and Barrett will most likely go out and play after school anyway."

"If you don't mind...I don't want to seem like I'm imposing on you," he replied.

"Not at all. I need to be there for Barrett, so Willow being there won't make any difference," Brynn said.

"Well, I've got to tell you...I'm really glad you moved next door. Free babysitter!" Chandler joked.

"Ah, funny guy, huh? What a jokester!" she teased.

"Actually, the funny thing is that I haven't really joked much since Brooklyn died. This is pretty rare for me lately, so take it while you can get it." Chandler said.

Brynn wasn't sure why she said what she did next. For the next few days she would wonder what the hell got into her, and why she thought it was her business at all. But something about the way Chandler spoke to her - perhaps a glimpse of the man he had been when his wife was still alive - was enough to make her speak up.

"Not that it's any of my business or anything, but just because your wife died doesn't mean that you have to," she said softly. From the corner of her eyes, she saw him stiffen and stare at her. "I know I'm out of line here, but you need to realize something. Brooklyn is gone, and she's never coming back. But you're still here, and you have a long life ahead of you. Do you really want to be miserable for the rest of your life?"

Chandler was still staring at her. She felt her cheeks grow hot. His voice came in a low growl. "You know what, you're right, you are out of line. You don't know the first thing about losing the only person you were ever in love with. Besides, I've heard it all before, so don't go trying to spread your dime-store wisdom on me."

Brynn should have let it go, but she couldn't. "You know, I may not know what it's like to have the love of my life die, but I know what it's like to lose. You think I never loved Nico?" She took a deep breath and was thankful for the sunglasses that hid her eyes. She didn't want him to see the tears in them. "You think it was easy for me to know that he cared so little for me that he cheated on me for years? I know all of that isn't the same as someone you love dying, but maybe it's worse."

"I doubt it," he snapped.

"Maybe, but...Willow can't see her mom because she died, and that's a lot easier for her to understand than for Barrett to know that his father is still alive, but doesn't
to see him." Brynn stopped and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry for what I said, but you really can't dwell on the past. Maybe you're not ready to move on yet, but you need to realize that there will be a day when you are ready."

"I'm the one who will know when that happens, if ever."

Brynn nodded. "I'm not trying to be mean. I'm just trying to be a friend."

There was a long moment of silence. Chandler finally sighed and buried his head in his hands. For a moment Brynn thought he might be crying, but then his voice came, steady and strong. "I know you're not trying to be mean. It's just that I keep hearing people say the same things over and over. I used to think they were telling me that stuff because I wasn't the same person as before, but when you said it, it kind of hit home, since you don't really know me and you didn't know how I was before Brooklyn's accident."

"I guess I said it because I got a glimpse of the guy you might have been," she admitted. "The fun, teasing part of you...did that die along with her?"

They both sat in silence, contemplating that. "Maybe it did," he finally admitted.

"I hope not," she said sincerely, and looked at him.

"I know you're going through a rough period, too. I'm not totally insensitive, just a little wrapped up in my own self-pity sometimes," he told her with a shy smile.

"I understand that," she said.

"So, can we end this pity party now? The kids' practice is almost done."

"You got it," Brynn said, and smiled. "I'm not usually one for pity parties anyway. There are so many ways to better spend time."

The kids ran over soon after, and left with their respective parents. Barrett chatted non-stop as he rode home with his mother. He told her all about his first day at school, and how he really liked all the kids. He liked his new team too, so things seemed to be going well for the young boy.

"So Cole, your big birthday party is coming up soon. Are you getting excited?" Brynn asked him.

"Yeah, I can't wait. I get to invite a few of my old friends, and all of my new friends, right?"

"You can invite whomever you want. It's your party," Brynn told him.

"What about Dad?-If you want to, we can invite your dad. That's up to you."

"Nah, he won't come."

Brynn took a deep breath to mask the pain of that. It wasn't fair that such a young body already knew his father well enough to know that he wouldn't bother to come to his own son's birthday party.

But then Barrett smiled broadly. "Can we ask Willow's dad to come?"

"Absolutely. I'm sure he'll be there anyhow, since we're going to have it in our backyard," she said. "You sure you don't want to invite your dad?"

"I'm sure. Can I have a couple of friends spend the night too?"

"Of course! That's a great way to christen your new room, isn't it?"

"You rock, Mom!"

Almost two weeks later, Brynn was in her backyard decorating for Barrett's eighth birthday party. She had slept past her alarm that morning, and she was already way behind schedule. The kids were going to be showing up soon, so she was trying to hurry. As she was standing on the ladder trying to tack up the Happy Birthday banner, she started to lose her balance. She regained it, reached to tack it up again, and then lost her balance in a more serious way.

Just before she tumbled, she felt a pair of strong hands grip her waist to steady her.

Brynn looked down to see Chandler. "I was just coming over to ask if you needed any help, and it looks like I got her just in time!" Chandler told her.

"Thanks. I didn't really want to spend my son's birthday in the emergency room!" Brynn said as she smiled at Chandler. "I just have to finish tacking this up and I'm done." She started to reach up to tack the banner, while Chandler reached up to support Brynn and keep her steady. She got it tacked up and started to climb back down the ladder.

"I appreciate the help. Thanks again," Brynn said, trying to hide her blush. She could still feel the way his large hands fit perfectly around her waist.

"Anytime. Need any other help? The kids will be here soon."

As if on cue, a bunch of little kids came running and screaming into the back yard, led by Barrett and Willow. "There's my answer," he laughed.

"It's going to be a long day!" Brynn said, as she watched the kids run around. More and more kids filtered into the yard until all of the invited guests had shown up. They played around for a while, and when Brynn's best friend Nyla showed up, Brynn told the kids to sit in a big circle, so that Barrett could open his presents.

Barrett loved the attention he was getting. Everyone watched as he opened all of the wrapped boxes to find whatever special item was inside. He was very polite and thanked each person after he opened each gift. When the gifts were all opened, Barrett started to stand up.

"Hold on Cole, you have one more present. You didn't think your own mother would forget to buy you a birthday present, did you?" she asked. Brynn carefully took the large box that her friend had brought with her, and carried it over to Barrett. "Happy Birthday," she said, and moved away from him. She picked up the camera and took a picture as soon as he opened the box.

Barrett stared into the box. His eyes grew wide. Then they filled with tears. He took a deep breath, trying to stay calm, but there was no use. The little boxer puppy in the box suddenly leapt up at him, licking his face, making the crowd release a collective "awww."

"Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh," Barrett gushed even as he reached for the puppy. "Is he mine, Mom?"

"He sure is!"

Barrett squealed with delight and wrapped his arms around the squirming puppy. "He's mine!" he hollered.

"That means you get to feed him and walk him and take him out to potty. You get to name him too," Brynn said.

Barrett was staring at the dog as if he had never seen anything so beautiful. All the kids were crowding around, wanting to touch the puppy.

"Can I name him later? I need some time to think about it," Barrett finally said.

"Take your time. He's going to have to live with that name for a long time!"

Barrett picked the dog up out of the box and cuddled him. Then he put the puppy down, and ran over to his mother and gave her a big hug and kiss. "Thank you so much! You're the best mom in the world!" Barrett didn't care if his friends teased him for the hug or kiss; he was just so happy.

Brynn smiled and returned the hug and kiss. "Hey, how about some birthday cake?"

All the kids shouted that they wanted cake, so Brynn lit the candles and they all sang to Barrett. After that, she cut the cake and handed it out to all the kids. She took pieces for her, Nyla, and Chandler, then went to sit with them.

Chandler smiled at her. "That was such a cool thing you did for him. You're a really generous mother,"

"Then why do I feel like I'm trying to buy his happiness?" Brynn wondered. "Am I just trying to over-compensate for the divorce?"

"I don't think so. Why did you buy him the dog?"

"Well, he's always wanted one, but Nico hated animals. I could have gotten Barrett a little dog, but since it's just me and him living here, I wanted a bigger dog to feel a little more protected," Brynn explained.

"See, nowhere in there did you say that you bought the dog to help him get over the divorce. You said he's always wanted one, and you want to feel more protected. I would say that doesn't qualify as buying his happiness." "I have to agree with Chandler. Besides, what's wrong with spoiling him a little bit right now? I'm sure if his dad wasn't such a deadbeat, you wouldn't have to worry about spoiling him to make up for his dad's lack of attention," Nyla agreed.

BOOK: Out Of The Friend Zone
12.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Killer Colada: a Danger Cove Cocktail Mystery by Hodge, Sibel, Ashby, Elizabeth
The Magic of You by Johanna Lindsey
The Wrong Chemistry by Carolyn Keene
Terra by Gretchen Powell