Home > The Rule Book (The Rule Breakers #1)(7)

The Rule Book (The Rule Breakers #1)(7)
Jennifer Blackwood

“If you mean the day in which I called my boss the devil to his face? Nope, don’t want to talk about it.” But she already knew this after I’d sent an SOS Kill me now text promptly after the incident had occurred.

She just nodded. That was one thing I loved about Zoey. She never pushed for more information before I was ready to dish. “Leftovers are in the fridge,” she said.

I froze and took a deep whiff, checking for any evidence of smoke or burned food. Nope, just our raspberry vanilla wall plug in. Not a hint Zoey had touched a spatula or a pan. “You cooked?”

She snorted in response, and I relaxed. Zoey had been demoted to preparing cold meals only. Anything else was a fire hazard. “I felt bad about you moping around, missing your mom, so I went and got Luigi’s. Just make sure to brush extra good tomorrow morning so you don’t get in trouble with the Antichrist.”

Zoey and I had been best friends since she moved in down the street from me in seventh grade. She’d had the same bike as I did, and held a fierce love for New Kids on the Block, and we decided from that day forward, we were brain twins. After we both graduated college, she was offered an interior design job in downtown Seattle the same week Starr Media had offered me my job. So it was only fitting we moved in together.

“You’re the best.” I dropped my purse on the counter and excavated the takeout box from the fridge. Sweet, delicious breadsticks and angel hair pasta with shrimp in a cream sauce. My stomach let out a loud growl in response to the beautiful aroma hitting my nose.

I sat next to her on the couch and propped my legs on the coffee table, shoveling food into my mouth. One of the early seasons’ episodes was playing, where Rory was still with Lap Dog Dean. Zoey always hated when I used that reference, but I found it very fitting.

She pointed at the screen and said, “Now there’s a man who won at life when he went through puberty.”

“I think all the guys won at life on this show.”

“Amen.”

Dean was busy throwing a hissy fit about Rory needing to study. “I seriously don’t understand what she sees in him,” I said. Anyone who got in the way of a girl and her books deserved to be dumped, right there, on the spot.

She stole a breadstick out of the takeout box and waved it around as she talked. “Hot guy, has that whole caveman thing going on.” She lowered her voice to a gristly croak. “Me like Rory. Me stake my claim. It’s all very primal.”

“Yeah, that doesn’t do a thing for me.”

“That’s okay, I’ll keep him all for myself, thank you very much.” She took a bite of breadstick and smiled.

I polished off the last of the pasta and the final breadstick and dumped the box into the trash. It’d been a couple days since I’d talked to my mom and decided I’d call her before she went to bed.

Slipping into my room with my secret stash of Doritos, I dialed her number and lay down on my bed. I imagined she was in the same position, most likely watching TV.

She picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”

“Hey, Mom.” I shoveled a Dorito into my mouth, trying my best not to chew directly into the phone. Mom always complained that I chewed too loud, said I got that endearing quality from my dad (one of the nicer put-downs when it came to him). Five years ago, before he left us, I’d laugh and take pride that I was anything like my dad, but nowadays the thought that half my genes came from him soured my stomach.

“Hey, love bug.” She paused. “Jesus Christ, are you in a hail storm or something?”

“Eating.” I said with my mouth full.

“Are people around? You’re upholding our family name by at least covering your mouth, right?”

I rolled my eyes and swallowed. Even this sick, she was able to crack jokes. High spirits were definitely encouraging. Maybe treatments were going better than before I left for Seattle.

“Just Zoey in the other room, and she doesn’t care how loud I chew my food,” I teased.

She let out a long sigh, but I could hear the grin in her voice when she said, “Gives me the warm fuzzies knowing I taught you great manners.”

My smile faded. She was able to joke about it, but just how much longer would I have with her? Stage two ovarian cancer wasn’t a walk in the park. Chances weren’t super high at the moment that she’d be giving me manners lessons in the future. I threw the chip in the bag, my earlier hunger extinguished.

“How are you feeling?” I managed to ask over the lump in my throat.

I knew the answer. Chemo had taken my once vibrant mom and turned her into a zombified version of herself. Soft curves were replaced with harsh points. Easy smiles were fewer and farther between.

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