Carter's house could put Tony Hawk's personal playground to complete shame.

 The O'Connor mansion is seriously legit. It's huge, first of all, since it has this giant swimming pool with three water slides, an indoor basketball court and ice rink, more gaming systems than any kid could ever ask for, and the walls are actually cool colors: none of that beige stuff at that my parents used on our walls.

 Carter's room has a mural of a surfer beach party on it. Needless to say, it's one of my favorite places in the whole world.

 I drove my car into the long, brick driveway and Javier, the valet took my keys from me so he could park it. Just kidding. Carter doesn't have a valet. But he does have a butler named Hank who's from Brooklyn. Has the accent and everything.

 "Good Afternoon, Mr. Nick." Hank opened their door to let me inside. "It's good to see you."

 "Thanks, Mr. Hank." I stepped into the wide entrance hall. "It's been a while."

 "It has." The butler gave me an amiable smile. "Although I can't say that's a bad thing."

 I cracked a wide, sheepish grin. Hank knew me too well. He'd been the O'Connor's butler for 14 years, ever since Carter and I were three years old, and he'd seen us grow up together. We'd both put him through our childhood with us, and he'd experienced the kind of hell we were capable of raising first hand.

 "I think you'll find Master Carter in his room," Hank told me, resting his big hands behind his back. That was my cue to leave. As fun as Hank could be, sometimes he just wasn't a people person. It was funny; he'd lived out of city for so long, but he could still give off that aloof, 'don't mess with me' attitude that every New Yorker has.

 Only sometimes though. The rest of the time he's the absolute man, even despite the fact that he likes the Yankees.

 "Later, Mr. Hank." I sent him a nod and started up the spiral staircase towards the third floor, where Carter was.

 On the way, I passed Eliza's room. Her door was closed but she was blasting Adele from inside it so I knew she was there.

 It was strange, having someone actually in that room again. For the past year it had been completely empty every time I walked by it, but now that she'd come back from Australia it was like nothing had changed.

 Somehow, it was a comforting feeling. It was like I'd finally realized she'd come home, and that made everything seem so much more normal.

 When I reached Carter's room I gave him our secret, three-tap knock letting him know it was me. His door was already half open, so I could see him slouched-down in his hamburger-shaped chair with the video game console in his hands.

 "Hey, dude!" He barely glanced at me when I took the pizza-shaped chair beside him. Just handed me another controller and tried not to ruin his kill streak. I didn't take it badly though. If I'd been playing Black Ops and someone came into the middle of it, I'd have given them a similar greeting.

 Three minutes later, I assassinated his sorry ass and the screen went black. "And that's how it's done." I leaned back in my chair. "C'mon, man, you were practicing all afternoon and that's the best you can do?"

 Carter punched my shoulder. "Nah. I just know how you get when you lose, and I didn't want to ruin your night at 4:00 in the afternoon." I flipped him the bird but he just laughed it off.

 "Then I want a rematch," I told him. I hate it when people say they lost on purpose. Drives me insane.

 Carter's eyes narrowed and the playfulness was gone. Now it was all business. We take our video games pretty seriously. "You're on, Maguire," he told me. "But don't cry when I shoot you."

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