I stood in the shadows, watching Daphne pick up a frame and study the photo inside. I couldn’t see it from where I stood but I still knew whose image she studied—Beau Barrett, the man who was both my best friend and my nemesis, but only where the woman I stood looking at was concerned.
Beau and Daphne had been one of those on-again, off-again couples since they were teenagers. Every time they broke up, I hoped it would be long enough, I’d have a chance with her.
I nearly toppled over when someone nudged my shoulder. I glanced behind me at my older brother Brix.
He shook his head. “You gotta give it up, man,” he whispered. “Beau will be back before you know it.”
I led him down the hallway and into a bedroom. I shut the door behind us. “Not this time, bro.”
Brix rested against the wall and smirked. “You keep tellin’ yourself that. How long have you been crushin’ on Daphne Cullen? Ten years? More?”
“Things are different now. Beau is with Samantha Marquez.” Frankly, I was surprised he didn’t know given his wife, Addy, and Sam were best friends.
Brix chuckled. “Not a chance. There’s no way Sam would put up with his shit.” His expression changed. “Wait. Do you know where Beau is?”
Shortly after his mother’s funeral, Beau disappeared and until I saw him in New York, I’d had no idea where he was either. Turned out he was with Sam.
“I’m telling you, it’s serious between them.”
Brix pushed himself from the wall. “So where is he?”
“C’mon, don’t ask me that. He’s with Sam. That’s all I can tell you right now.”
“What makes you think they’re serious?” Brix shook his head. “No offense at all to Sam but I just don’t see her with Beau.”
I held up my phone so he could see the text I’d just received from our brother Salazar, who everyone called Snapper.
“No shit? Beau proposed and Sam said yes?” Brix practically shouted at the same time someone pushed the door open. When he moved out of the way, I came face to face with Daphne.
She spun around and raced off in the opposite direction but not before I saw tears fill her eyes.
Brix grabbed my arm when I walked past him. “Let her go.”
I shook my head and pulled away from his grasp. “I can’t.”
Brix stood in front of the door, blocking my exit. He put his hands on my shoulders. “This is going to sound corny as hell but, Cru, you’re supposed to be the leading lady, not the best friend, and for some reason you’re acting like, you know, the best friend.”
I took a step back from my brother. “What the fuck are you talking about, Brix? The leading lady?”
“It’s from a movie Addison and I watched last night. You get my point, though. You need to stop acting like the best friend so Daphne can see you as the leading lady—err, man.”
I shook my head and walked over to the window. As I could’ve predicted, Daphne was walking on the beach, alone. Even from here I knew she was crying.
Brix approached and stood next to me. “If you go out there now, she’ll cry on your shoulder, Cru. You’ll console her and it’ll be just another conversation about her and Beau. The next time you talk to her, it needs to change. No more her and Beau. Make it about her and you.”
“Like it’s that easy.”
“Take it from me, it is if you want it bad enough.” He turned to look at me. “Do you?”
“I’ve loved her as long as Beau has,” I murmured.
“Wrong. You’ve loved her when Beau never did. Now, convince her of that.”
I faced my brother and stared into his eyes. “What should I do?”