Next Door - Book cover

Next Door

Michael BN

Age Rating


After an accidental first encounter, Kit ends up giving private guitar lessons to River Young, the most popular guy in school. River is secretive about why he wants to play only one song until the reason becomes... irrelevant?

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Chapter 1

Book 1: Next Door

Have you ever ended up in a situation where you later think, “How the fuck did that happen?” Well, it recently happened to me, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

I was at a party. I know, I know, it always happens at a party. Hadley had convinced me to go with her to River Young’s “Back to School” White Night.

Sounds pretentious, doesn’t it?

Well, let me tell you about River. He’s built like a Greek statue, his family is loaded, and did I mention that he’s gorgeous? He was also completely outside of my social orbit, so we’d never really interacted.

At least, that’s how it had been throughout most of high school. Then, a succession of events put me and him in the same room! Yeah, I know! How…the actual…fuck?!

Well, it all began when Hadley ditched me. Ten minutes after we arrived, she was on the dance floor with her tongue down some guy’s throat.

When I decided to grab a drink, I passed by a drunk dude on a sofa who spilled his entire beer in my crotch.

Looking like a lost loser who’d pissed himself, I fled to a room upstairs. As I sat on the bed feeling sorry for myself, the door suddenly whooshed open and quickly slammed shut. River stood there staring at me for a moment before asking, “Hey, Kit. What are you doing in my room?”

He knew my name? He was a senior, and I was one year behind him. What reason could he possibly have to know MY name?

“I’m so sorry; I just needed a place to hide,” I said, standing up to show him why.

He didn’t laugh; he just scanned me up and down. Then, he pushed the wall in front of me, and I watched it rotate open, revealing an enormous walk-in closet.

“This might be a loose fit for you, but it’s clean,” he said, throwing me a pair of jeans.

“Thanks,” I whispered.

“You’re welcome,” he replied with a smile that could power a lighthouse.

That’s when I asked him why he’d escaped his own party. I was genuinely surprised by the answer.

“I’m trying to get away from Carrie. She’s been hunting me all night.”

“Carrie: the girl every girl wants to be and every boy wants to…? Well, some girls also want to,” I babbled stupidly.

River laughed before saying the oddest thing, “Yeah, she’s not really my type.” That’s when Ned burst into the room. He looked at River and then at me. “What are you doing in here, bro? Beer pong is about to start, and you know we can’t win without you.”

I thought that River would immediately distance himself from me in front of his friend, but instead, he asked, “Wanna join?”

I obviously declined.


I’d washed, ironed, and put River’s jeans in a fancy white bag together with a small box of Belgian chocolates that I bought at the mall. I knew that I’d gone overboard, but he’d literally saved me the night of his party.

Besides, everyone liked chocolate, right? Right?!

Oh, fuck! Was it too much? I really didn’t know what to do in these kinds of situations. When I approached him in the hallway, I wondered how he’d react.

“Hey, River,” I said tentatively.

“Kit!” he replied brightly.

I handed him the bag and said, “It’s your pants and a…”

I didn’t have a chance to finish my sentence because Darius grabbed me by the neck and said, “Is this little queer bothering you, bro?”

“What did you just say?” River demanded of his friend.

“Chill, dude. I just thought that Kitten here was bugging you.”

“Here is what’s going to happen, Darius,” River said menacingly. “You’re going to apologize to Kit for being a dick, and then you’re going to walk away.”

“Dude, did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” Darius said with a chuckle.

“Now!” River boomed.

“Fine. I’m sorry…Kit,” Darius said and walked off, shaking his head.

River’s face instantly changed back to a smile, and he said, “Sorry, nobody has the right to talk to you like that.”

“Thanks,” I whispered. I would never admit it, but it was nice to have someone stand up for me for a change.

River put the bag in his locker together with the rest of his stuff and pulled out his phone, which was vibrating. I assumed that meant our interaction was now over so I waved him goodbye and ran to class.


I was at home doing Math homework when my messenger buzzed.

RiverA 30$ box of chocolates?!
RiverFor borrowing a pair of old jeans?
KitHow did you get this number?
RiverI have my ways
KitSounds shady.
RiverSorry about Darius
RiverMy friends aren’t bad people
RiverThey’re just sometimes kind of…not smart

Did River just call his jock friends dumb? Holy fuck!

KitHey, don’t worry about it.
KitPeople have done and said much worse.
RiverThat’s not OK 😓
RiverIf anyone gives you any trouble, let me know
RiverI’ve been told that I can be very convincing

This conversation was going on for much longer than I would’ve imagined. What was he getting out of this? Brownie points for sticking up for the gay kid? Or was he just being polite because of the chocolate?

KitThanks, dude
KitI’ll be sure to keep that in mind
RiverJust remember
RiverWe’re never as alone as we think we are

Now, what the hell was that supposed to mean? What an unnecessarily obscure statement. Was he suggesting that I wasn’t the only one with problems? What did he suffer from? The occasional bad hair day?


River made a point of saying “hi” to me every single day. Especially, when he was talking to his friends next to his locker. They’d immediately start whispering, and I could more or less guess the content.

Then, one day, he came running after me. It was the weirdest thing. Almost everyone in a four-pace radius just stopped what they were doing to see what was going to happen. Even Mr. Sanchez, the smoking hot Spanish teacher, looked over his shoulder.

“Kit, I need a favor,” he said with that winning smile of his.

How was I going to refuse? I stood no chance against his charm and all these people staring at me.

Then he asked, “Can I join you for lunch?”

“Sure,” I breathed, trying to stay casual.

The crowd waited for more, but River seemed satisfied and walked off to class.

What the fuck just happened?!


At first, I thought that I’d imagined my morning encounter, but ten minutes after I sat down for lunch, River slid onto the bench across from me. Was it bad that I was happy that Hadley was working on an assignment?

“Buen provecho!” he said jovially.

“Okay, I’m literally bursting with curiosity. What could you possibly need from me,” I said, straight to the point.

Creepy Kate was looking at us from underneath her black hoody.

“Well, word on the street is that you’re quite the guitar player. I’m looking for private AND, most importantly…secret lessons,” River whispered.

“Why?” I asked. I actually meant, “Why me?”

“I won’t go into details, but there is a specific song I’d like to be able to play for someone.”

“Oh,” I said. My face fell, and he noticed.

“I’ll pay you, of course,” he said, thinking that was the issue. What actually was my issue?

“Two sessions a week, you bring snacks and a copy of Next Door,” I said as if negotiating a hostage situation.

“The gossip magazine?” he asked with a chuckle.

“I always stay up to date on celeb news and it needs to be hard copy so I can cut out the pictures of PJP.”

“What’s PJP?” he asked in fascination. I couldn’t believe he was still sitting here, talking to me.

“Not a what but a who! Prince Jean Pierre, to be exact,” I said, a sudden flash of Europe’s hottest Royal crossing my mind.

Now that I thought about it, River had many of PJP’s most flattering features, minus the ink. Unless… Nah, River didn’t seem the type for tattoos.

“I agree to your terms. Do we have a deal?” River asked, holding out his hand for me to shake.

“What?!” I asked, my mind had wandered far away from the original topic.

“The guitar lessons,” he whispered again.

“Oh, yeah. Deal!” I said, shaking his hand.

I thought that he was now going to get up and leave since his business had concluded. Instead, he stayed and asked about how school was going and if I had any other hobbies apart from the guitar.

Wait a minute… How the fuck did he know that I played the guitar in the first place?

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