"Thanks for meeting me for lunch, Man," Charles said the following day over sandwiches at the Caramel Cafe.
Connor shrugged. "No big deal. Not like it's a date."
Charles snorted, then grew serious again. "I'm worried about you, man. A lot of us are."
"No reason you should be," Connor said, taking a big bite of sandwich.
"Look, Charles," Connor said, setting down the sandwich with a sigh, "I've taken just about eveyrthing I can take, all right? Can you just let me deal with it in my own way?"
Charles met his eyes, and then nodded. "Yeah, of course. Of course. I'll tell the others to lay off too."
They ate their sandwiches in silence for a while.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Charles said.
"I mean, damn, man, you keep all that inside you're gonna explode."
"I find ways to vent."
"Yeah, so I've noticed," Charles said. "Who'd a thought you were such a player."
"I've got something to tell you," Charles said after another long silence, "and I'm hoping you won't lose it on me."
"I told you I don't date guys," Connor said, and Charles laughed.
"Well, yeah, there's that, and then--"
"Just tell me, Charles."
"I'm seeing your sister."
Connor raised an eyebrow, took a long drink of his soda, played with his napkin.
"Say something, Bro."
"I think you're making a mistake, honestly," Connor said. "I mean, she's my sister and I love her but she's going to break your heart."
"Let me worry about that," Charles said with a shrug. "I can take it."
Connor shrugged in return. "All right, then. Better you than anyone else. But I thought she was seeing Sparrow."
"He cheated on her. The day of the funeral she came home to him flirting with another girl."
Connor made a mental note to hit Sparrow next time he saw him. "That's cold," he said finally. "But seriously, I just want to know, if she dumps you, you and I will still be cool, right?"
"Deep in my heart, I'l always love you best," Charles said, fluttering his eyelashes and gripping his heart dramatically.
Connor laughed. "You are such a dork."
Charles grinned at him. "Gotta fit in with you country types."Next Chapter