“Seriously, bro, hook me up.” Kade punched my shoulder as if that would make me change my mind.
“Dude, she’s my best friend.” I punched him back. “I wouldn’t set you up with her if you were the last two humans on earth.” Stepping down the front porch stairs of our modest home. I dreaded having to introduce my long-estranged twin brother to my next-door neighbor, the sweetest girl I’d ever met. This town had been my refuge from the life we’d known back in Nashville. Two years without drama and now, in the spring of my senior year, he comes waltzing back into my life as if nothing ever happened.
“When are you gonna forgive me, Tay?” Kade asked, remorse and hurt creeping into his otherwise cocky demeanor. “Seriously, haven’t I done my time?”
“Kade, I’m not sure I can ever forgive you.” I kept walking away, knowing he’d follow whether I wanted him to or not.
“Taylor,” he called to me when I’d only made it four feet down the driveway. He meant business if he hauled out the big guns and called me by given name. Nobody called me Taylor. I’d been Tay since I could remember. “Don’t do this, man. We’ve been apart long enough, don’t you think?”
“Kade, I finally have real friends who don’t know you exist. I’ve never told any of these guys about you. I don’t want you screwing up my life again.”
“That’s harsh.” Kade scuffed his foot on the sidewalk. Here in Grand Haven nobody had ever judged me because I was Kade’s brother. I turned to confront him.
“Can’t we just stick to the plan, call you my cousin who came to live with us because your parents are going through a divorce?”
“Do you honestly think people are going to believe that?” Kade raised his eyebrows. “We may be fraternal, but we still look like twins.”
“No, Kade, we don’t. I would never wear my hair that long.” I lifted one of his rock star wannabe shaggy curls, then glanced at his upper arm. “I don’t dress in black clothes and I can’t imagine getting a tattoo.”
“Don’t dis the tat. This baby’s a work of art.” Kade lifted the sleeve of his faded Buxton Peak concert T-shirt to reveal a tattoo of their logo. Obsessed much?
“How did you even get that?” I asked. “We’re not eighteen yet.”
“I got a fake ID, bro.” Of course, he did. Why was I even surprised?
“See and that is why I will never let you date my best friend.” I started checking off indiscretions on my fingers. “Dishonesty, theft, selling drugs, using drugs—”
He cut me off. “I have been clean for two years.”
“Only because you’ve been locked up,” I said, stepping closer and getting in his face. “Now that you’re out, who’s to say you aren’t going right back into your old ways?”
“I’ll prove it to you,” Kade said. “I won’t let you down this time.”
“Prove it by pretending to be my cousin and don’t screw up my life again.”
“Now who’s being dishonest?” Dang, he had me.
“In this case, it’s justifiable.”
“Yeah, well, mine was too.” His gaze lowered again. “You don’t know the whole story. And if you did, you’d be thanking me.”
“I doubt that,” I grumbled. I understood that he deserved a second chance. But not at the expense of my best friend. “I’ll try to forgive you. But I’m not setting you up with Gracie.”
“Whatever, Cuz.” Kade bumped his shoulder against mine. “Introduce me to your best friend and I will try not to flirt with her.”
“Thank you.” I led him next door and knocked on the screen.
She bounded down the hall, squealing with excitement. “He’s here, he’s here, he’s here!”
“You told her I was coming?” Kade asked.
“I had to have an excuse why I missed her tennis match this morning.”
“Do you attend all her tennis matches?”
“And you claim you’re just friends?”
“Best friends,” I corrected him. “There’s a difference.”
“Right, we’ll go with that.”
Gracie swung open the door with enthusiasm, a grin spread across her face.
“Hello, gorgeous.” Apparently, Kade had a nonexistent short-term memory because he forgot about the promise he’d just made not to flirt with her. She giggled in response.
“Gracie, this is my cousin, Kade.” I cringed as the lie fell from my lips. “Kade, this is my best friend, Gracie.”
Book Club Discussion Question: How quickly do you think Gracie will figure out that Tay and Kade are twin brothers instead of cousins?