“Why do I feel like whatever you’re about to say is going to be life-changing?” Mila expressed with wide eyes.
“Because, my lovely Lala, you know I’m wise beyond my years.”
He’d been calling her Lala since we were kids. It was his nickname for her. I don’t know why he decided to name her after what sounded like a Poodle, but whatever.
“You still think James Bond is a real person.”
“He’s not ready to talk about Sean Connery, Mila. None of us are,” Sawyer explained.
I nodded. “It’s too soon.”
“Oh my God. I’m surrounded by idiots. How many times do I have to tell you Sean Connery is an actor? He’s not James Bond.”
Our eyes went wide.
“Don’t you ever say that again!” Cain ordered in an offended tone.
“You respect the dead!” I demanded, following his lead.
“Guys!” Leo shook his head. “I was having a moment here. Can I continue?”
We nodded while bringing our attention back to him. He looked at us and without any hesitation, he said six words that would change the future of our lives. “We’re going to make a pact.”
We peered at him like he was crazy, and I asked first, “What kind of pact?”
“A lifelong one,” he remarked, speaking with conviction. “The Playboy Pact.”
Cain chuckled, “You sound like a needy chick.”
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. None of us had plans of settling down, and I didn’t see that changing anytime soon. If Leo thought this would keep us all close and in one another’s lives, then I’d be the first one to sign up for that. I couldn’t imagine my life without these assholes in it.
“Bros before hoes.” Leo nodded, reading my mind.
“Guys before lies,” Sawyer uttered, on the same page I was thinking.
“Masturbate before asking her to date.” I smiled.
Our stares shifted to Cain.
“Dicks before tits,” he asserted.
“And we’re gonna make sure of it.” Leo didn’t waver, adding, “We’re going to make a pact to stay single and never fall in love.”
I signed that pact in blood.
“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Sage, happy birthday to you!”
I smiled at my parents, my best friend Aspyn, and my older brother by two years, Brady.
“How does it feel to be sixteen?” my mama asked, handing me a few plates so I could cut my cake.
I shrugged. “It feels the same as being fifteen.”
I refused to have a sweet sixteen party like most of my friends were having. I wasn’t much for being the center of attention, and all I wanted was to celebrate with my family and closest girlfriend. For the next hour we did exactly that until my brother left to go hang out with his friends.
“You need to get showered and dressed, Sage.”
I rolled my eyes, staring at her through the mirror in my bedroom. “I already told you I’m not going.”
“And I already told you, you are.”
“I don’t want to hear it, Sage! It’s your sweet sixteen, and it happens to fall on the biggest party of the year! We have to go.”
“No, we don’t.”
“Yes, we do.”
“Are you where fun goes to die?”
I rolled my eyes again. She was always so dramatic, but she was still my best friend. Had been since we were in Kindergarten. Her favorite color was pink, my favorite color was pink, and BAM, instant best friends.
“I have fun.” I pointed to myself. “I’m actually a very fun girl.”
“Sage, we both know that you’re a very fun girl. Except, I haven’t seen that very fun girl since Memphis broke up with you.”
I glared at her, and she raised her hands in a surrendering gesture. “Yes, yes, I broke our cardinal rule. I mentioned the dreaded ex, but he’s going to be there, and it’s your birthday! I think the sweetest revenge is for you to show up looking smoking hot and to have the time of your life.”
“How do you know he’s going to be there?”
“Because he’s Memphis, and he’s single now.”
I thought about it for a second.
“I know you still love him, Sage.”
I sighed deeply; she was right. I couldn’t help it. We’d dated this entire year, and out of nowhere he just broke up with me.
“Sage, you know I care about you, but I’m graduating soon. I’m going out of state for college. It wouldn’t be right if I kept this going.”
His words from a few weeks ago ran rampant through my mind. I thought he loved me too. He said he did.
Love was so confusing.
“You know what? I think you’re right.”
“Of course, I’m right. Now…” She jumped off the bed and walked toward my closet. “The most important question of the night—what do you wear? His jaw needs to hit the floor and break into a million pieces and then maybe, only then, you can say hi to him.”