Next to You

A Novel

About the Book

Two friends battle feelings for each other as they work together to renovate a school bus into a home in this charming romance novel from the viral TikTok author of Next of Kin and Out on a Limb.

“Warm, sexy, and vulnerable . . . Hannah Bonam-Young needs to be on your romance radar.”—Hannah Grace, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Icebreaker

Lane is in the middle of an identity crisis. Her friends are all partnered up, her career is heading nowhere, and simply put, she’s not happy. So, after a night out celebrating her birthday, she makes one hell of an impulsive purchase: a giant yellow forty-eight-passenger school bus that she intends to make her home.

With little-to-no renovation experience but a large sum of inheritance money, Lane enlists the help of her friend Matt—a mechanic by trade, handyman by practice, and hottie by nature.

While their mutual attraction is undeniable, Matt and Lane have silently agreed that a friendship is the only thing that can ever exist between them. Matt’s a total family guy with “settle down with me” tattooed across his forehead, whereas Lane is entirely commitment averse. It could never work . . . right?
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Praise for Next to You

“Heartfelt and hopeful—everything a friends-to-lovers romance should be.”—Lyla Sage, author of Done and Dusted

“Warm, sexy, and vulnerable. Hannah Bonam-Young needs to be on your romance radar.”—Hannah Grace, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Icebreaker
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Next to You



I have been propositioned for a threesome four times this afternoon after being on the lovebite app for only six hours. This has to be some sort of record. People read “interested in anyone” and take it to mean everyone and all at once.

And while in college, I would have perhaps been more than happy to oblige. The difference now is that it is exclusively couples asking for me to join them. Which just about sums up my life these days.

Emily and Amos are newly engaged, and Chloe and Warren married last summer. When the five of us hang out, I’m watched over like a child, talked to like a sweet, innocent newborn on the teat of life. Someday, they all hum merrily into their drinks, it’ll be your turn, patronizing me as they feed one another grapes. That last part is an exaggeration, but only slightly.

But today—­the day I signed up for my first ever dating app because I admittedly may be having a hefty dry spell and a crisis about said dry spell—­is my twenty-­seventh birthday. The end of my “mid” twenties, and the dawning of a new era of “full adulthood.”

So, in the words of Taylor Alison Swift, this is me trying . . . to get laid (Taylor’s Version).

My computer chimes with the sound of another message from my boss—­but I ignore it while on my smoke break.

I don’t actually smoke, but in the interest of equality, I take a ten-­minute break every few hours, as my co-­workers might.

This break has been met with an onslaught of incoming notifications, and I’ve yet to put my phone down. Other than the threesome requests, I have a few comments on Instagram, a text from Emily about how excited she is for my surprise-­it’s-­not-­a-­surprise birthday dinner, and an email from Matt.

Yes, an email. I’m insistent there was a mix-­up with Matt’s driver’s license, which I made him show me, and they incorrectly printed his birth year as 1995 instead of 1959. He emails almost exclusively. The guy actually texts with a single finger and signs his name on each message, so, honestly, email is less painful. That he can type out on his desktop computer at work.

Instead of opening the email, I click on the “you have a match” notification. Ah, yes, the pretty brunette, Valerie. Twenty-­nine, single, interested in women, Gemini. Her bio reads, “here for a good time, not a long time,” which makes me wonder if it’s a Walk to Remember situation or if she’s that cliché.

I message, “Stop making a fool out of me. Why don’t you come on over, Valerie?” and pour one out—­hypothetically, because my coffee is piping hot—­for my girl Amy Winehouse. I screenshot it and send it to my group chat with Em and Chloe.

CHLOE: Make sure to ask if she has a good lawyer.

EMILY: Tell her you miss her ginger hair!

I love them.

LANE: What are you wearing tonight? How fancy do I have to be?

CHLOE: What’s tonight???

EMILY: She knows.

CHLOE: What?! Dang it! Ugh . . . I’m probably going to wear my yellow dress.

Emily sends a photo of her in a fuchsia two-­piece pantsuit.

LANE: Gotcha. Effort required.

CHLOE: It’s your birthday, Lane. If you want to have a sweatpants party, then we can do that.

LANE: Hmm . . . Thoughts, Em?

Emily sends a GIF of a forced smile and a twitching eye.

LANE: Effort is fine. I have that vintage jumpsuit I’ve wanted to wear.

CHLOE: Ooh! I love that one!

LANE: I gotta get back to work. See you ladies tonight.

A few hours later, I finish my packaging design idea and send it off to my supervisor. A box that will house the newest, most rugged, most hardcore, most extreme, most badass, underwater, 360-­degree, high-­definition camera with a battery life longer than my will to live. I sign off and begin my grueling commute home, shutting my laptop and taking twelve steps from my dining table to the couch.

“What a day, huh, Simone?”

Simone is the rabbit I bought to replace Emily when she moved out of our place and in with Amos. I was having a vulnerable moment when I opened Marketplace, and there she was. She and her three siblings. I feel like the siblings are worth mentioning to reflect that I had some self-­control. I only got one!

“I don’t want to be rude . . . but you’ve yet to wish me a happy birthday.” I sit up, looking at the bunny condo that cost me more than a month’s rent. “Simone?”

F***. The cage’s door is open.

“Simone!” I look around frantically. She’s a little Houdini on the best of days, but she couldn’t have gotten far—­typically she just burrows under a blanket or laundry pile.

My phone rings, and I answer without thinking. “Hello?” I say, voice hysterical.

“Hello?” my sister responds in obvious confusion at my urgency. “Everything all right?”

“Sorry, yes . . . I thought you were someone else.”



“Your rabbit?”

“No, Simone Biles! Yes, the rabbit! She’s missing.”

I hear a soft sigh and a shuffle that sounds like Liz moving the phone to her other ear. Shit. She’s annoyed. I forgot to call her back yesterday. Or today.

“Happy birthday, Lane,” she says haughtily.

“Oh! You remembered!” I tease, attempting to lighten the mood. “Happy birthday, Pudge.”

“I asked you to stop calling me Pudge. We’re too old for it. Especially now.”

Pudge was the nickname my father gave her because she couldn’t pronounce fudge. A silly little thing, but it stuck.

“Do not remind me how old we are.” I stand and lift a blanket off the floor. No Simone underneath.

“Mom call you yet?” she asks.

“Yeah, this morning before work.”


I don’t love that my twin sister is making sure our mother called me on our birthday to check that she shouldn’t feel guilty for being the favorite and undoubtedly getting the same deposit into her bank account this morning. I look at the doors to each bedroom and the bathroom, all shut. Simone has to be here somewhere. Unless she could fit through the vents? Shit. Can she?

“Can rabbits do that thing cats do and fit through small spaces?” I ask.

“I don’t own a cat,” Liz says, matter-­of-­factly.

“I’m wondering if Simone escaped through the vents,” I explain.

“Oh, I hope not. Your building will kick you out if the forced air starts smelling like decomposing rabbit.”

“Elizabeth!” I gasp.

“What? Sorry . . .” She huffs.

“My rabbit ran away on my birthday.” I slump into the chair. “I’ve never been lower.”

“Really? Are you sure about that?” she asks flatly.

“Ow,” I whisper.

Liz can’t help it. She’s always been . . . a bitch curt. My mother loved to say that we were left brain and right brain personified. Liz is the pragmatic, logical, detached one. I’m the impractical, creative, emotional one. Together we’d make one fully formed being.

I never settled into the idea of being half of anything. My brain felt whole—­just different from Liz’s. But hers is similar to my mother’s, and I’m more like my father. My parents were a great team as the left and right melded together, so I know it was with endearment that my mother considered us twins the same. But when Dad died, it made the family’s score uneven. Lonely on the right.

Suddenly, qualities that I had been celebrated for—­spontaneity, imagination, empathy—­began to make me feel alien in my own family. That, and my feverish desire to get away from my own personal haunted mansion, had me applying to arts college far from home. When I arrived here, I found creatives again. I found acceptance. I found my people.

But now they’ve both found their other halves, and I suddenly don’t feel whole again.

Then there’s Matt. Sweet, handsome, kind Matt who flew through the stages of a crush to too risky in the span of one brief New Year’s Eve kiss.

Turns out our first real encounter, when I was drunk, complaining about my life and listing off my many failures, was not the sexy type of impression that would score me a date or a shag, regardless of my own intentions.

He started calling me “kid” shortly after our kiss and has even noogied me once. The universal gesture of the friend zone. It’s very disappointing to Chloe and Warren, who are enthusiastically hoping we get together, but I’m glad for it.

About the Author

Hannah Bonam-Young
Hannah Bonam-Young is the author of Next of Kin, Next to You, and Out on a Limb. Hannah writes romances featuring a cast of diverse, disabled, marginalized, and LGBTQIA+ folks wherein swoon-worthy storylines blend with the beautiful, messy, and challenging realities of life. When not reading or writing romance you can find her having living room dance parties with her kids or planning any occasion that warrants a cheese board. Originally from Ontario, Canada, she lives with her childhood friend turned husband, Ben, two kids, and bulldog near Niagara Falls on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. More by Hannah Bonam-Young
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