Rule Number 17: A Bro Calls It Like He Sees It

Start from the beginning

Austin was acting like his regular self, easy going and extremely relaxed. I wasn't even close to being as nonchalant as he was. Austin was leaning back in his wooden chair like he was too cool for gravity - something I'd shown him how to do, and I was leaning forward on the table like I was afraid to let go of it. Act normal, I told myself. Be cool. That was a lot easier thought than done. I couldn't shake the idea that my whole world, which at the moment was basically Eliza, would come crashing down on me in just a matter of seconds.

Oh how right I was.

Austin opened his mouth to speak first, choosing his words carefully. "She's a phenomenal kisser, isn't she?" His tone was flat, hardly like he was reflecting on an experience worth remembering. He was asking me a question he already knew the answer to. I felt like a four-year old, and I was hating every second of it. For a moment, I'd almost forgotten that Austin had dated Eliza. They'd gone out when we were sophomores and Eliza was a freshman. It had lasted about four months.

I was hesitant to reply. I looked at Austin. He didn't have that Cheshire grin on his face that Madison would have if she'd discovered my biggest secret, ready to throw it in my face. He didn't even seem mad that I hadn't brought up my relationship with Eliza to him. In fact, he seemed perfectly calm, like we were discussing the weather, or the Olympics, or the time we'd photocopied Carter's A+ geometry test and distributed the answers to the entire school - the stuff we had in common. I shivered. Sociopaths are calm in a time like this. Bad guys with bad news are clam in a time like this. And now, Austin was clam too. I need to stop watching so many horror films. "Yeah," I finally opened my mouth to speak, "She's wonderful,” I said, feeling like the breath had been knocked out of me.

"Yep," Austin replied, popping the ‘p’, as casually as ever, "So how long have you two been... is together the term for it?" He sounded half-bored and half-impatient, like he was just asking me as a formality, quick to get this over with, toying with me because he knew what the outcome of this conversation was going to be and there was nothing I could do to influence it.

It didn't even occur to me to lie to him. Not for a second. I might have, if there was even the slightest possibility that he hadn’t us in the pool and he couldn't say with absolute certainty that Eliza and I had a thing; but I knew the secret was already out. I could see the confident gleam Austin held in his eye – (another thing he’d learned from me) that he knew what he was talking about here. I might as well just give it to him straight. "A couple weeks."

"Does Carter know?"

I swallowed and eventually shook my head. "I think you're the only person who knows about this." As far as I knew anyway. No one had said anything to me, and Eliza and I seemed to have a general understanding that we wouldn’t tell anyone. I guess that’s because a secret is easier to keep when it’s only between two people. And this… thing, Eliza and I had had to remain a secret because Carter couldn’t find out about it. Now, of course, none of that mattered. Because Carter would find out. Austin would tell him and the whole keep-it-a-secret-thing would be completely shot to hell.

In the five hours between the soccer game and my drive to Austin's house, I'd been mentally preparing myself for this meeting. I’d predicted that there could be two possible outcomes:

Worst Case Scenario:

Austin starts hating me

Austin tells Carter about my relationship with Eliza

Carter starts hating me.

Best Case Scenario:

Austin and I are still bros

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