[5] The Boy Next Door

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B A D
B O Y ' S
G A M E

Liam Blanchett is quite the notable figure.

Liam has been my next door neighbor since childhood, or until things got complicated for him. Complicated as in his father cheated on his mother in which followed with their divorce, a custody battle playing out until the end of middle school. He lives a minimum of four months a year in each home and then chooses where to go for the rest of the year. Liam easily could just choose to stay with his innocent mother, however, he's too good of a son to isolate his cheating father.

Liam and I are best friends, not quite lovers, and the strangest of two. He's Liam and I am Ellie, after all, that's what the tree in-between our houses has engraved into it.

And now at this moment, he's Liam, Archer is Archer, and I am Elliot.

"I missed you, Smelliot." he says, his voice coming off deeper than I remembered.

I wrap my arms around his neck and release a deep sigh, relieved that my best friend has returned home.

"I missed you, Liam," I reply, genuinely having missed my old friend.

Archer sways a bit in place and subsequently gets Liam's arms out from around me. I drop down from the jump embrace and pull down my shirt due to the fact it had risen a bit.

"Save the PDA for later," Archer says in a grumble, obviously not pleased by the appearance of Liam.

I blush a bit, not realizing that Liam and I were displaying a bit of PDA.

Liam lets out a deep chuckle and sits himself down on an island stool, making himself at home as if he never was gone.

"Later," Liam says, giving me a wink jokingly.

I blush a bit more, extremely aware of my surroundings and everything being said.

Archer scans Liam with his eyes, Liam looking quite nice and put together. He's wearing a plaid button down with neutral chinos, his outfit complimenting his blond hair and blue eyes.

"Archer West," Archer says flatly as an introduction to Liam.

Liam smiles and replies, "Liam Blanchett."

I make my way back to the sink to finish washing the dishes and monitor the boys, intuition telling me that Archer and Liam weren't hitting it off.

"Boy next door wanna-be?" Archer asks with a fake sweet tone.

"Self-obsessed bad boy asshole?" Liam asks back, giving a small fake smile.

My suspicions instantly being confirmed through the verbal and physical tension between them.

"Can't deny that," Archer says in defeat before he retorts a tricky response, "A self-obsessed bad boy asshole that kissed Grey."

I freeze, afraid to see Liam's reaction to Archer's unnecessary comment.

Liam doesn't say anything for a moment, silence filling the room.

"She's a good kisser," Archer says in order to get under Liam's skin even more so.

I let out a deep breath, knowing that whatever was to come would not be good. Archer's persistence in annoying Liam only supported the fact that he is indeed an insensitive asshole.

"Ellie?" Liam asks, calling me out loudly in a way I can't possibly ignore.

"Yeah," I reply chirpily, hoping he won't become excessively overprotective.

Liam always having the instinct to protect me from questionable guys since we were young, his reasons still unknown to me.

"You kissed Archer West?" he asks, staring me right in the eyes and ignoring Archer as if he weren't in the room.

I drop my smile, knowing that dishonesty would only aggravate him.

"Yeah, she did. Have a problem with it, boy next door?" Archer inserts before I even have the chance to answer Liam.

I bite down hard on mu bottom lip, unable to say a word.

"Jealous?" Archer asks, taunting Liam distastefully.

Liam scoffs and rises up from his barstool, reaching a state of disgust and annoyance.

"I'll be next door if you need me, Ellie," Liam says, brushing his hair back frustratedly with his left hand.

He slams the front door behind him, leaving Archer with a big smirk.

I breathe finally, finding the courage to speak. Being friends with Liam also meant knowing that when he was upset words could only do so much and that he could read me like a book.

"Must you always be a jerk?" I manage to ask Archer, the tone of my voice indicating that I'm tired of his attitude.

Archer shrugs without any traces of regret or sympathy on his face.

"Liam's a really nice guy, he didn't deserve to be welcomed back from Boston like that," I say, defending my friend.

He shakes his head before saying, "Nice guys don't want to make out with their best friend."

I raise my eyebrows, not understanding what Archer was implying. Liam is a nice guy with good morals, he had always been there for me and deep down I know that he always will be there for me.

"I would love to see you break his little boy next door heart," Archer continues with a smirk.

I finally muster up more courage and speak, done with being silent and passive.

"Sorry, but the only heart you're going to see me break is yours."

* * *

Guilt and regret usually followed after I spoke unkind things, however, I felt neither in the late hours of the night. Archer couldn't be scarred from what I told him, he too is trying to break a heart. Following my statement Archer left my house, no other words coming out of our mouths.

I lay in bed with the covers off, unable to sleep due to restlessness. My friendship with Liam seeming to be strained now with his encounter with Archer and Archer seemed to be too quiet.

A second later and my phone is buzzing, I check the flashing screen that causes my eyes to squint due to the bright light.

Liam Blanchett:
I'm sorry about earlier and storming out, Archer West just really pisses me off. I don't appreciate how he talks about you like you're a conquest or an object. Ellie you deserve a nice guy and he certainly isn't nice.

I smile a bit and squint at the bright screen as I prepare to reply, as I'm replying my phone buzzes once again.

Archer West:
I'll see you tomorrow night at the diner and cause you some heartache. I won't be just any guy who's vulnerable to heart break. You will be mine in a week, falling for me and becoming weak. Sorry in advance for being quite the player, I guess for now I'll just see you later.

A second later and the message is continued.

I liked how your lips felt against mine, that's a nice feeling I won't deny. The boy next door has every reason to be jealous; you're quite the catch I hope you know it. Falling for me won't be easy, knowing it will be one sided won't help it either. Tell me you love me and don't be ashamed maybe I'll say it back to you in one of your dreams, or even someday. I've got these bad boy tendencies and less than a million bucks, I'm betting two million that you will run out of luck and fall for the asshole you're thinking about at one a.m. Thursday, good luck.

I set down my phone and take a deep breath, knowing that Archer was good with his words. Luck would have to be on my side because after reading his message I realize the possibility of falling.

And I can't afford to fall.

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