Rule Number 19: The Maturity Clause*

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Hey, everyone. Here's chapter 19. I hope you like it.

* Rule Number 19: A Bro must know when to act like a grown up, and when to act like the immature-five-year-old-boy that he is. Learn the difference as soon as you can, and when faced with the opportune moment, man the fuck up.


My mom sounded frantic on the other end and my heart immediately sank. The sanctuary I'd established with Eliza dissolved into the air around me. “Nick, can go to the hospital? Your dad has another tumor. They’re giving him surgery tonight.” I would have told Eliza if my mom had said anything else to me.

At the same time I was ending my call with my mom, there was a knock on the door and I heard Carter’s voice on the other side, “Eliza? Is someone there with you?” Shit.

If I’d ever asked for proof that the universe hates me… well, there it was.

I would have told her that I was completely and totally in love with her.

But I didn’t.


I opened Eliza’s bedroom door to see Carter standing on the other side of it, looking like he was ready to murder someone. His jaw was clenched and his arms were folded tightly against his chest. The last time I’d seen him with that kind of expression was the soccer game, when we both beat up that tool Ben from Littleton-West. The ‘someone’ he was seemingly ready to murder could have easily been me, but instead of throwing me a right-cross, he relaxed when he saw my face. One of the perks of being Carter O’Connor’s best friend is that he doesn’t see me as a threat. The irony of that would make the truth hurt him one hundred times more. “Hey, Nick. What are you doing here?”

Excellent question, Mr. O’Connor, funny you should ask… A quick, smooth lie was on the tip of my tongue, but Eliza answered for me, “He came to sleep over tonight. We were waiting for you to come home from tutoring and I had a nightmare and Nick came to check on me.”

Carter nodded as if that were an acceptable response. “Thanks, bro.”

I exhaled. My heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty, but it didn’t look like I’d be getting my ass kicked that night. “Yeah,” I shrugged it off. I acted like it was no big deal, even though I was riding an emotional rollercoaster with this ‘I love you’ business, and Carter coming to Eliza’s room, and my dad’s current location… that reminded me. “I actually have to go to the hospital now though. My dad’s having some kind of impromptu surgery.”

“I’ll come with,” Carter offered, his voice filled with sympathy, just like it always was whenever I mentioned my dad, “Did you drive here?”

“Yeah I did,” I walked over to Eliza’s bed to pick up my car keys. They’d apparently fallen out of my sweatpants’ pocket, probably while I was entirely not paying attention to anything except my lips being firmly locked between Eliza’s, but Carter didn’t seem to think it was weird that my keys were on his sister’s mattress. “And thanks, but you really don’t have to do that.”

“Yeah I do, Maguire. You’d be doing exactly the same thing.”

Eliza, who’d been watching the conversation unfold up until that moment, spoke up, “I’ll come too.”

“It’s a school night,” Carter immediately shot her down, “You have to go to sleep.”

“Oh and you don’t?” She sassed him back, getting up from her bed to find her shoes. I tried not to grin, That’s my girl.

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