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I’ve seen pictures of his house, of course I have. We traveled together for a year, backpacking across the world. He became my closest friend and confidant. He’s the best person I know, which is what brings me to now as I stand here, looking at his bloody beach house! It’s like something Barbie would live in except it’s not pink.
How can Mad be such a cool person when he came from all of this money? It’s insane. The pictures he showed me make the place look a lot smaller than it actually is, but he’s very good at photography. I bet he did it on purpose.
“Not one to brag are you, Mad?” I grin at my friend as he climbs out of the black Uber and opens the boot of the car. “You weren’t lying when you said there’d be space.”
He nudges me with his shoulder, looking embarrassed by it all, and slings both my heavy backpack and his onto his shoulders. “Come on. Let’s see if Dad’s home.”
I trail behind a little, taking in the scenery, it’s hot here, nearly as hot as India but not quite. India’s heat is a bit dryer but more powerful. This is a bit more humid, probably because we’re on the coast and there’s a nice breeze to take the edge off.
The breezy places are killer though, because you don’t feel your skin burning until it’s too late. I need to lather on my factor fifty before leaving the house.
I can’t believe I’m staying here.
When he opens the door, I yank on the bobble at the back of his curly, dark hair. He needs a trim but he won’t. He’s growing it until he can chop it off for a cause. Nothing that Mad does is for selfish gain.
“Leave my hair, Pest,” he snaps playfully, his eyes twinkling with humor as he kicks the bottom of the door. “Get the handle.”
I yank it down, trying to peek through the glass on either side but loose voile covers them, making it hard to see much but a spacious hall. This is confirmed when we step inside.
I feel so out of place and funnily enough, I can tell Mad does too.
“Beats that shack in Cambodia,” I mutter and bend down to undo the laces of my walking boots.
“Leave them,” Mad says, dropping our bags on the floor next to a white door which I’m guessing is a closet. “DAD?”
This place is so big, his voice echoes. I’ve never seen such high ceilings in a home before. In fancy hotels and such, yes, but not homes. I bet it costs a fortune to keep cool.
“I told him we wouldn’t be here until four, so he might not be home yet.” He looks around anxiously and I can tell he’s missed his dad.
He scrunches up his nose, making his plump upper lip seem thicker. “I got the timeline confused.”
“Now why doesn’t that surprise me?” I laugh and grab my bag. “I really need a sho—”
“Maddox?” A deep, male voice echoes over the sound of a door sliding open somewhere beyond the long hall. I can’t wait to tour this place.
I’m anxious to meet his dad, I’ve seen a picture of him smiling with Mad on his shoulders when he was a young boy. I didn’t inspect it thoroughly and now I really wish I had.
As his father rounds the corner, where the hallway opens up on the right at the very end, my breathing stops. My eyes are likely as round as saucers and I genuinely forget to breathe.
He has thick brows, those are the first thing I notice, but they’re thick in the way everybody wants their eyebrows to be thick. They shadow sky-blue orbs that have a powerful dark ring of midnight around the striking edges. I want to paint them, I want to stare into them and capture every fleck of color, every genetic imperfection of his iris and pointed pupils. Thick, long lashes cast a shade onto his lower lids which only make the color pop more. Mad has similar eyes, I think, but nowhere near as striking as this.
I’m staring. I can’t help myself.
He has dimples that are slowly vanishing as his smile becomes a frown and his frown becomes a scowl in my direction.
“Dad, meet Pest,” Maddox introduces me, placing a hand on my elbow. “Pest, this is my dad, Sargent.”
I already knew his name but I pretend I didn’t and extend a hand which could be cleaner, but in my defense, we just traveled for eight hours from Cambodia to LA and there are no showers on airplanes the last I checked.
“This is Pest?” Sargent looks at his son, his blue eyes glowing with confusion and ire as he ignores my hand and lets it hang between us. This is awkward.