Two best friends say "I do" to living together, for better or worse, in this bold women's fiction novel from Alexa Martin.
Jude Andrews is famous. Well, at least on Instagram. Her brand is clean eating, good vibes, Pilates, and casually looking like a sun-kissed goddess. In real life, however, she’s a total disaster. She has a strained relationship with her fame-hungry mom and her latest bad decision emptied out her entire savings account.
Lauren Turner had a plan: graduate medical school and become the top surgeon in the country. But when she became unexpectedly pregnant, those plans changed. And when her fiancé left her, they changed again. Now navigating the new world of coparenting, mom groups, and dating, she decides to launch a mommy podcast with all the advice she wishes someone had given her.
Jude and Lauren don't have much in common, but maybe that's why they've been best friends since the third grade. Through ups and downs, they've been by each other's sides. But now? They’re broke, single, and do the only thing that makes sense—move in together, just like they talked about when they were teenagers. Except when they were younger, the plan didn't include a five-year-old daughter and more baggage than their new townhouse can hold.
|Penguin Publishing Group
|5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Children and hangovers do not mix.
I'm sure it's common sense to most people, but this is not a problem I ever thought I'd have.
For one, my uterus is under heavy'protect'on. And two, by the time I have kids-if I ever do-I'll be a real adult who makes grown-up decisions. You know, like one glass of heart-healthy red wine with a well-balanced meal and not the parade of low-carb vodka shots I had after eating a side salad, no dressing, last night.
But as the sticky, tiny fingers literally peel open my eyes, and my tongue is uselessly stuck to the roof of my mouth, I have the very unkind realization that this is my new life . . . at least for the next year. And for the millionth time, I hope that if a giant sinkhole were to open up, it does so underneath Asher Thompson's feet.
"Auntie Jude, Mommy made pancakes. She said to ask you if you want some before you go to your special meeting." Adelaide holds my eyelids hostage and stares into my eyes, which are no doubt bloodshot, with the most innocent expression that it almost makes me smile. Almost.
"Addy." I push her hands off my face and resist the urge to hit her with my pillow. But, seeing as she's only five, I feel like society and her mother might frown upon that kind of thing. "We have to find a new wake-up technique. You're going to give me crow's-feet."
Her mouth purses and her little nose scrunches, giving her these wrinkles on the top of her nose that are adorable now but might make her consider Botox in about thirty years. I don't tell her that. "You'll get a birdie's feet?" Her voice is a screech, and she honestly sounds appalled. "What happens to the rest of the bird? How will it land with no feet?"
"Oh my god." I wrap my arms around her and pull her down to me, covering her chubby cheeks with kisses until she squeals. "This is why I'm obsessed with you," I shout over her peals of laughter before sitting up with her and ignoring the slight pounding against my skull. "Crow's-feet aren't birds. They're the little lines around eyes that make your grandma Keane always look so sleepy and old."
"Oooh." She nods, but I'm pretty sure she still has no idea what I'm talking about.
"Yup." I crawl out from under the duvet I spent way too much money on, but photographs like a dream, and climb over the boxes I have yet to unpack. "And you don't want Auntie Jude to look like Old Grandma Keane, do you?"
Instead of answering and then apologizing profusely for endangering my skin, she shrugs, and I'm pretty she couldn't actually give a fuck. Rude. "Are you going to eat pancakes with me?"
"No pancakes for me." I grab her hand and walk with her down the stairs of our new townhome. "Repeat after me: carbs are evil."
"Carbs are evil," she mimics. For a five-year-old, she follows direction beautifully.
"Carbs are not evil," Lauren says from somewhere. And even though I can't see her, I know she's glaring at me.
But whatever, sue me. Someone needs to teach kids the importance of diet. That high metabolism and glowing skin they are unfairly blessed with aren't going to last forever.
"Mommy!" Adelaide drops my hand like a bad habit and takes off running to the table, where a plate of cut-up pancakes is waiting for her, complete with eggs and a healthy serving of fruit. "Wanna know what Jude taught me?"
Lauren walks around the corner, a coffee mug to her lips, looking way too hot in her mom pajamas and headscarf. The glare I knew she had is directed at me before she drops it and aims a bright smile at Addy. "Sure, baby."
"She said that Grandma Keane looks so old because of all the birdie feet on her face." She pops a grape in her mouth, completely unaware of the rising tension in the kitchen. "And what's a carb anyway?"
We're going to have to work on keeping secrets.
"Carbs give you energy to make you big and strong. And Grandma Keane doesn't look old, she looks wise." Lauren goes to put down her mug before grabbing the organic maple syrup and drizzling the saddest little sprinkling that I've ever seen on her pancakes before making direct eye contact with me. "Can we talk for a second?"
I know that tone. It's the same one she used in sixth grade when we were locker partners and I took one of her glitter gel pens out of our locker without asking . . . and every time I've pissed her off since.
"Actually." I make a move to the coffee machine, in desperate need of both caffeine and an excuse. "I'm really thirsty."
Lauren grabs my arm and pulls me out of the kitchen with a smile that both terrifies and intrigues me frozen on her face. "Eat your food, Adelaide, we'll be right back."
I look to Addy for help since she's the one who ratted me out, but instead her eyes are closed and her shoulders are bouncing as she chews her pancakes.
Maybe I do want carbs and sugar. I'm not sure I've ever looked as happy as Addy does. And if pancakes and organic syrup are the answer, who am I to argue?
"What the hell, Jude?" Lauren snaps me out of my syrup-coated fantasy. "You can't talk to Adelaide like that. Do you understand the hell Ben will give me if she goes to visit him and she tells him we're over here talking about how old his mom looks?"
"Fuck Ben and his mom. She's a bitch and he's trash. He should really just be happy I'm not saying more." I have to fight back the rage that always tries to claw its way to the surface whenever I think of Lauren's piece-of-shit ex. I really try to be Zen- and peace-like, but that dirtbag always fucks up my chi.
Lucky for me, I guess, my anger seems to defuse Lauren's.
"What're you fucking smiling at?"
"You're just so cute when you're mad." She pinches my cheek, something she knows I hate. "Plus, my mom still defends Ben whenever he comes up, so it's nice that someone has my back."
"Well, your mom's a bitch too. But she's still goals AF when it comes to aging well, so I couldn't use her for an example with Addy." I'm sure you're not supposed to talk about your friend's family like that, but Lauren and I don't lie to each other, and Mrs. Turner really is a bitch. She never liked me and I'm a fucking delight. But I never liked her, either, so it was completely mutual. Even eleven-year-old me knew I never wanted her approval. The same could not be said for my people-pleasing best friend . . . which only made me hate Mrs. Turner more. I wouldn't mind if she shared her beauty routine, though, but I'm thinking my lack of melanin might prevent me from ever being on her level.
"I can't say you're wrong about any of this, but you still can't say it to Adelaide." Lauren fidgets with an imaginary string on the sleeve of her flannel pajamas. "You know how hard it's been for us. I just don't want her to go see him and say something that gives him an excuse to walk away from her and blame me for being the crazy baby mama."
Lauren is a spitfire. She's confident and strong and the smartest person I've ever known. Whenever I have a problem, she's the first person I tell. She gives me the best advice, and when she's done talking to me, I feel like fucking Wonder Woman. She knows what she wants in a way that both intimidates and inspires me. But whenever she talks about her douchebag ex, it's like I can see her visibly fold into herself. She shrinks right in front of my eyes and becomes this meek person I don't even know. And if he wasn't my favorite five-year-old's dad, I'd have already paid a hit man.
Well . . . I would've when I wasn't broke as a joke.
"I'll try to be better," I reassure her, but when she glares at me, I know I've failed. "Fuck. Fine." I uncross my fingers from behind my back and hold them in front of me. "I promise not to say anything about Ben or his stupid family in front of Addy."
"Thank you." She smiles and her perfect white teeth gleam against her brown skin. "And when she's not around, you can talk all the crap you please."
"I guess that's fair." I pout like Addy did the other night when Lauren told her she had to take a bath. "You know, it's still so weird to me that you're a mom. Like, you grew a fucking human! A really cute one at that. But, now when you give me the mom eye, it actually scares the shit out of me."
Even before Lauren had Addy, she would look at me like I was crazy. I do have a knack for putting myself in not the greatest of situations. I used to laugh her off and try to get her to join me (which never happened), but I guess losing countless hours of sleep and wiping butts for years just gives that look more authority, because now I cower.
"I know, and as a mom, I have to ask if you remember that you have a photo shoot in an hour?"
"Duh." I totally didn't remember. Because where Lauren is an actual adult, I just play one on Instagram.
"Mom . . ." Addy's hesitant voice calls from the kitchen. "I think I might've put too much syrup on my pancake."
"Crap," Lauren whispers underneath her breath before calling into the other room, "it's okay, accidents happen, here I come."
And on that note . . .
"You have fun with that!" I run to the stairs, not missing Lauren flipping me off before I go.
I might be living with a small child, but at least I'm not responsible for keeping her alive. Because for real? I'm not doing the best job of it for myself.
But at least I look fucking fantastic doing it.
I know syrup is practically a staple of breakfast food for children all across America. But after spending twenty solid minutes and two rolls of paper towel cleaning up what had to be the entire bottle of fifteen-dollar, organic syrup off the floor, I'm pretty sure it will now be forever banned from my house.
Well, technically not my house.
Our house, Jude's and mine.
When we were in high school, we always said we'd live together when we were adults. I just didn't think we'd be doing it because we were both in terrible places in our lives.
"Adelaide, please, please, please just put on your shoes. Your dad is expecting you, and I do not want to be late."
"But I don't know where they are." Adelaide pokes her bottom lip out and works her hardest to squeeze out a tear that never comes before plopping on the ground.
And most definitely not looking for her shoes.
I close my eyes and do the deep-breathing technique one of Jude's yoga friends taught me to calm down. She is five and I'm the adult. I need to take charge of this situation.
One, two, three, four, five.
"Adelaide June Keane, get that butt off my floor right now and go find your shoes. Remember when I bought them? You promised to keep them in your closet. If you kept that promise, we wouldn't be having this problem. I don't make rules to be mean, I make them to avoid situations like this."
My voice starts to rise at the end of my rant, but how many times do we have to have the shoe conversation before she just listens? I mean, make it easier on yourself, kid!
She swipes a stray curl that escaped from her headband out of her face, and my heart melts a little bit looking at her. She is the perfect mix of me and her dad, inheriting the best both of us had to offer. Her big brown eyes sparkle against her golden skin, and her pink lips with a deep cupid's bow form the perfect pout. Remembering how many times we were late to preschool for this exact reason is the only thing preventing me from kissing that look off her face.
"I did put them away, Mommy." She lies straight to my face. "I think Sparkle Glitter must have moved them."
Oh dear lord.
"Sparkle Glitter did not move your shoes. She's in the North Pole with Santa, she's an elf, not a leprechaun."
Sparkle Glitter is our Elf on the Shelf. Adelaide gets a kick out of her, but I think it also scares her a little bit. Which? Fair. It's the creepiest concept, and I might hate whoever came up with it. As if the holidays aren't taxing enough, now we have to add moving an elf around every night to the list? My mom always asking why I'm not teaching her about "Jesus on the cross" instead doesn't help either.
I hope I never become that woman.
"What's a leprechaun?" Adelaide asks. Now she's just being deliberately obtuse.
"Oh for the love!" I throw my hands up in the air and spin on my heel to find her shoes. "I'll do it. I do everything," I mumble under my breath as I resist stomping up the stairs.
Be the adult. You're in charge. Be the example she needs.
It takes me two minutes to find the freaking shoe.
"I thought you said you looked in your closet." I dangle the rhinestone-encrusted tennis shoes in front of me.
"I did!" Adelaide jumps up, her pouty face and crocodile tears a distant memory. "Sparkle Glitter must have brought them back!" She snatches them out of my hand, but before I can lecture her about manners, the sound of Velcro fills the small foyer and the front door swings open, almost knocking Adelaide over.
"Auntie Jude!" Adelaide jumps up, one shoe on, one completely forgotten.
"Addy girl!" Jude drops into a deep squat and swoops my girl into her arms, peppering her face with kisses.
And it's almost too much. The free, joyous, and contagious love that they have for each other.
It's what I've always dreamt of for my daughter but was never able to give her.
To be fair, though, it's kind of hard to create a loving, stable home when your fiancé is sleeping with another woman . . . or, as it turned out, multiple other women.