Fake Friends - Saxon James

To anyone who’s ever had to fake it.

Saxon James

There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to choose which of his friends to give twenty-five thousand dollars.

And more importantly, which of them looks best in a swimsuit.

I take a sip of my beer and push the offer to the back of my mind. There’s still a week until Royal Swimwear wants a response, and while the money means sweet fuck all to me, Royce and Tanner could probably put it to good use.

Royce is smiling across the table like a goddamn idiot, which only makes me laugh. For someone who’s usually so guarded and straight-faced, he’s been walking on clouds since he and Tanner got together.

I lift my glass. “Congrats again, guys. If anyone can turn that filthy shack into a home, it’s you two.”

My best friend, Leon, knocks his glass against mine, and Jules giggles.

The last few weeks, I’ve been coming into town less and less, and I’m a bit worried I’m sinking back into that reclusive side of me that comes out when I need to hide from the world. So tonight has been nice. Celebrating Royce and Tanner buying their house together actually makes me happy. Because they’re happy.

Drinks and deep-fried mozzarella sticks with my best friends in the world. Who the hell could feel down after that?

If I say it enough times I might convince myself.

Leon nudges his elbow into my side. “What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing.”

“Bullshit. I know that look.”

“Then you know there’s nothing wrong.” I force a big smile his way, which does nothing to dissolve his concerned expression. Not that I can blame him. I haven’t seen Leon since the Sunflora Festival two weeks ago, and we never let that long pass without catching up.

“I saw Rowan Harvey the other day.”

My back immediately stiffens at the name. Instinctively, I know Leon has pegged what’s wrong, but I sure as hell wasn’t expecting him to call me on it. “That’s awesome news. I’m so happy for you.”

“Cut the shit, Circus. Why is he back?”

“Why don’t you ask him? Then we’ll both know. Or, better still, let’s just go on pretending that asshole doesn’t exist and continue to live our lives in peace.” My voice comes out a whole lot happier than I feel.

“I can strongly suggest he leaves town again.”

“No need, I already made my thoughts very clear.”

“Circus …”

“How about we skip this conversation?” I drop the happy act. “We’re here to celebrate, so why don’t we just do that?” I raise my voice. “Who wants another round?”

I slide from the booth before anyone can comment and head for the long bar where I place an order for drinks. I add another platter of wings and mozzarella sticks to my bill, thinking that while they cook, it’ll give me a few minutes away from everyone, where I can force Rowan Harvey back out of my mind.

Knowing he’s in town, over five years since I last saw him, has had me on edge. It’s why I’ve preferred to stay hidden away at home these last few weeks, too far out for anyone to find me.

And yet, I’ve been glancing at the doors all night. The Ugly Mug is the only bar in town, and other than driving over to Port Welling, there’s not much else to do on a Saturday night in Sunbury. I’ve been expecting Rowan to walk in at any second, and the thought fills me with so much anger, I’m about to work myself into an ulcer.

I remind myself, again, that Rowan is firmly in the past and has nothing to do with me now.

I fish my phone out of my pocket and immediately the anxiety starts to settle. Social media is the ultimate distractor, and whenever I’m feeling down, or thinking too much about the past, it has a way of lightening my mood. There’s a fair few notifications waiting, but when I click over to the photo I posted earlier, of me in the garden, overlooking the rocky face of Crown Trails, shaggy hair a mess in the wind, my gut sinks.

Less than a thousand interactions.

My second post in as many weeks that hasn’t even broken four figures.

The urge to panic floods my mouth with a bitter taste, and I hurry to click back on the comments.

Circus is life

Ily please marry me

It’s my birthday can you say hi?

Omigod PERFECTION

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Each comment fuels my need to be loved, and I store their words

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