More Than Friends(Eric & Clint Series Book 1)

By: Jerry Cole

“Better than that, we are back together again,” I say overenthusiastically.

She sputters for a moment on the other end of the line before handing the phone to my dad with instructions to “talk to your son”.

“What’s going on, buddy?” Dad must have been in the next room, because he sounds clueless.

“Nothing much, Dad,” I say casually.

“He is trying to kill me,” my mother yells in the background.

“Why are you trying to kill your mother?”

“I don’t choose boyfriends based on who is most likely to give mom a stroke, Dad. You should know that.”

Clint is laughing silently, his fist pressed to his mouth as he listens to the absurdity of this conversation.

“So, who is it this time?”

“The same as the first time. I am with Clint. We worked it out,” I say honestly, elbowing the jerk who is nearly doubled over with laughter.

“I should have breastfed you. Then, you would have more consideration for your mother,” my mom screams in the background. In my imagination, I can see her preparing to stick her head in the oven as a protest and I am forced to fight back my laughter.

“I am sorry to hear that, Eric. I like Clint, but I wish you would consider your safety. It's your decision in the end, but I can’t say I’m not disappointed,” he says in a grave tone.

“I’m sorry to hear that too, Dad. But I am not willing to stop dating somebody who loves me because other people might not like it,” I say, dropping the “L” word so that my dad can hear it.

By this point, we have stopped walking, and Clint is staring at me, waiting for the insanity with my folks to finish.

“Well, let me pull your mother down off of her cross before she scares the neighbors. I love you, kiddo. Be safe,” he says before hanging up.

“Breastfeeding?” Clint chokes the word out before erupting with laughter.

“Maybe we should rethink this whole marriage thing. If you marry me, that will be your mother-in-law,” I quip with a chuckle. He waves me off and then pulls me into a tight hug.

“For you, anything,” he says, and I know he means it.

“Nice to see you two together again,” says a familiar voice.

Clint doesn’t let go of me, but I don’t have to turn around to know who it is.

“Nice to see you too, Claire, and Claire’s new boyfriend,” Clint says rigidly.

“Ali,” says the unfamiliar male voice.

“Hello, Ali,” we say in unison.

“You look different today. Happier,” Clint says. I crane my neck around to see a brunette version of Claire, dressed in the kind of hat and coat set that suburban moms buy for their teenaged daughters. It’s cute. I barely recognize her.

“I am. Happier, I mean. Thank you for noticing,” she says shyly.

“We are meeting my mother here,” Ali interrupts, indicating the café we are standing in front of.

“Okay, have a good day,” Clint says flatly.

“Thanks, you too,” says Claire, looking down at her feet rather than meet Clint’s disdainful gaze.

“Hey, Claire,” I call on a whim. “Why don’t you call me sometime this week? We will grab some coffee or something.”

Her face lights up like a little kid, and Clint’s body goes rigid in my arms.

“Really?” she says.

“Yeah. It’s been a while. We should catch up,” I say.

“Okay, talk to you soon,” she says, disappearing inside the café with her new boyfriend.

“Why would you do that?” Clint turns me loose as soon as the pair is out of sight.

“I’m not saying ‘let’s be besties.’ I’m saying ‘let’s have a cup of coffee.’ She was a pretty shitty friend but, I don’t know, maybe she has grown up. You certainly did.”

He grabs my hand and presses it against his crotch.

“Want to know how to keep me growing?” He wriggles his eyebrows at me and smiles that boyish smile that gets him out of everything.

“I think we have that base covered, Mr. McClintock,” I say and lean in for a kiss.