New story! This will be a short story that will last for the duration of the summer. It's just something short and sweet and fluffy that's dedicated to and inspired by a couple good friends of mine that went through the same thing, even though I've lemoned it up.

Remember: Reviews are ALWAYS welcome!

A Happy Birthday Indeed: Leah and Jacob have been best friends since grade school, but their separate adult lives have kept them apart since college. However, when Jacob decides to surprise Leah on her birthday, it's an event that will change their lives, and their friendship, forever.

Chapter One

"This looks great, Kim!" I said, flipping through her photos. "The readers will love this. How'd you get Rosalie and Emmett to agree to do this?" Each photo was romantic and silly, which lent a perfect tone to the mood of the article.

Too bad that in real life, their relationship was not as harmonious as it seemed in print. She is tough as nails lawyer and he is a stock broker for a financial firm and they just didn't mix. But their animosity towards each other did nothing to hide their obvious sexual attraction. Emily and I placed bets on how long it would take until they slept together.

"It was no biggie. Rose is always up for anything that involves pictures of herself. Emily just had to bribe Emmett with dinner at the brownstone again..."

"That's great!"

"... So you're gonna have to do some grocery shopping, 'cause it's your week to cook." Emily finished for Kim from her desk, giggling when I tossed a stack of Post-It notes at her retreating back. "And before I forget, he wants your world famous pot roast!"

"That's not so great, but will do!" I replied, flipping through the pictures once more. Rose and Emmett really did look great for our Valentine's Day spread. I thanked my lucky stars that they were so absorbed with themselves.

The phone rang and I bent over the front of my desk to answer it. Emily, from the office manager's desk in the middle of the room, looked up from her tarot cards, but I nodded so she wouldn't worry about getting the phone.

"NYC Beat. Leah Clearwater speaking." I greeted, feeling the usual surge of pride when I said the name of my small, successful urban magazine.

"So that is what two years of success sounds like..." Drawled a familiar voice. I shot up and smiled, walking to look out of my window.

"Oh wow!" I squealed, gripping the phone hard in my excitement. "Jake! How are you?"

"I've been good. But enough about my awesome life. Someone's birthday is tomorrow isn't it?"

"Yeah..." I sighed, thinking about the organic birthday cake Emily planned to make me... And the full-fat, chemical filled, frosting covered deliciousness that Rose would sneak into the freezer tonight. "The girls are really excited about it."

"But you aren't?" He asked, reading my voice well.

"Not everyone wants to make a production out of turning thirty." I said, taking a jab at the big blowout party he had had in L.A. a couple months before which we had attended. "Besides, I plan on being twenty-nine for a good five years, or until I start getting hot flashes. Whichever one comes first. But enough about that. How's your day been?"

"About to get better." He replied. "I'm sending your birthday gift to you right now."

"Let me guess..." I paused. "Is it a double chocolate, chocolate chunk birthday cake?"


"A male stripper?"


"A male stripper in a double chocolate, chocolate chunk birthday cake?"

"Nope. Something even better. Something that'll make you smile."

"If it's not a male stripper, or a birthday cake, or a male stripper in a birthday cake, then it's bound to fail at making me happy." I said, laughing so hard I was tearing up. It was then I went blind. I freaked out until I realized that the darkness covering my eyes felt like hands and the expensive cologne scent in my nose was most definitely real.

"I'm hurt, Lee. I thought I would be a better gift than a male stripper, but if you insist..." Jake pulled his hands away.

"Mud Pie!" I tackled him into a huge hug, laughing happily. "Oh my gosh, of course not! You're here! What... How... When... Oh my gosh!" I was so happy at seeing my best friend, I was stuttering over my words.

"Wait, wait, wait. Chill with the 'Mud Pie'." He straightened and adjusted his tie. "It's Jacob now."

"Oh. Going by the government name, aren't ya?" I teased, putting the phone down. "Guess being a big shot record producer is feeding your already inflated ego."

"Hey! I'm still down home and cool. I have two secretaries that tell me so."

I laughed. "Well as long as I'm around, you're Mud Pie to me. So what are you doing here?"

"I had to check out some new talent for the label and thought I'd surprise you for your birthday. I'm here for three days." He glanced at my half full appointment book and smirked. "So clear your calendar, because we're gonna tear this town apart."

"Jake, we're full fledged, mature adults now. We can't run around like we did when we were young and stupid." I threw an arm around his shoulder. "You know, dancing all night... Partying 'til dawn... Taking turns puking in sewers... Throwing snowballs at the cops..."

He sighed with the memories. "Christmas was fun... But seriously, let's go out tonight! I made reservations at that fancy place that serves expensive Japanese beef. You know how much you like the foreign meat."

"You just knew I would say yes, huh?"

"I was hoping..." He jutted out his bottom lip, making me laugh again.

"Okay. Just be lucky that I enjoy dining on expensive Japanese meat product on someone else's dime too much to say no."

"Good! Now, how's Alice?"

"Ah, you know her. Lookin' for love in all the wrong wallets. But at least she got a job as a shopper for a boutique. Too bad that large commission is going to her head. Instead of beer, chips, and pick-ups, it's champagne, and caviar, and limosines." I said in my most snooty voice.

"Don't worry about her. Alice always had expensive tastes. She'll get over it soon enough. What about Rosalie?"

"Let's see, she's still tall, blonde, model-gorgeous... Need I go on?" I passed him a picture of us on the beach to prove my point. "That's from our Bahamas trip in March. Alice's boyfriend-of-the-minute paid for all of us to go. She broke up with him afterwards. It was tragic. I actually liked James."

"And how's your family?"

"Dad's doing okay but Mom is still watching him like a hawk after his heart attack." I replied, thinking about my father's desperate plea for a real New York pizza before my mom wrestled the phone from him during their weekly call.

"Yeah... Your mom: Always the health nut. Still got that vintage Thighmaster she sent you for Christmas?"

"Nope. Gave it to my gay neighbor. Victor -I mean, Victoria- has been enjoying it a little too much."

"I was thinking on the plane ride here: What ever happened with that bugged out cousin of yours from Forks? You know, the one you told me was coming to New York to be an accountant?"

I grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around, pointing to where Emily sat at her desk, chanting and shuffling her tarot cards with her eyes closed. He tilted his head specutively, not sure what to make of her.

"Is she possessed?"

"No. That's her daily positivity chant. It's supposed to spread love, joy, and good vibes around the office and it's occupants."

"Oh... That's nice... And not weird at all..." His cellphone beeped in his pocket and he glanced at the text message. "Listen Lee, I've gotta go, but what do you say I pick you up at eight?"

"That sounds great. I'll bring my empty tummy."

"And I'll bring my wallet."

"Sounds like a plan." I walked him to the elevators and waved goodbye. Upon my return, I stopped by Emily's desk to pick up my mail for the day.

"Who was that?" She asked, still shuffling her tarot cards.

"That was Jacob 'Mud Pie' Black." I replied, flipping through the various envelopes.

"Oh. He's the guy you're always talking about." Emily probed. "It's always 'Mud Pie this...' or 'Mud Pie and I...' or my personal favorite, "I remember when Mud Pie and I got arrested for (insert illegal activity here)..."

"He's my best friend. Since diapers, practically. We took baths together, made mud pies together, went to school together for a decade and a half. Our friendship's been going strong for nearly 20 years. We're like this." I crossed my pointer finger and middle finger. "And we were never truly arrested. The police just took us into the station to get picked up."

"What does he do?" She asked.

"He's a record producer. He lives in L.A. now, so I don't get to see him as often as I'd like." I watched as she absorbed this information and took that opportunity to sneak away. "Listen, I'm going to go out with him tonight, so let's wrap things up here and get back to the brownstone."

"So it's like a date?"

"No. Not like a date. I told you, he's my friend."

"Whatever. Just remember that we've got to clean out the fridge when we get back." She called as I walked away.

"Ahhh. It's so nice to relax and unwind and wash away all the anxieties of the day in a hot bubble bath..." Alice drawled as she exited the bathroom in her silk robe, leaving a trail of scented steam in her wake.

"Alice, you've been home all day. There was no anxiety to wash away in the first place." I answered, pulling a container of something resembling chicken from the fridge. "Emily, does this smell like we can get another week out of it?"

She sniffed it delicately. "I can't tell. Alice, you try."

"Hell no. I've got sensitive nostrils and it looks like it's going to sprout legs and walk away at any moment." She said, grabbing a bottle of water and seating herself at the kitchen table, taking in my appearence for the first time. "And may I ask why you're sniffing your way through two week old yogurt and moldy chicken in that outfit?"

"Why?" I asked anxiously. "Did I get something on it? Do I look okay?"

Emily giggled and answered for me. "Someone named 'Mud Pie' came in today and they're going out tonight."

"Jacob's in town? And you didn't tell me? What's he doing here?" Alice asked, shooting up out of her seat. "What time is he going to get here? Where are you going? And why are you wearing that?"

"At eight, I think. We're going to that new Japanese beef restaurant, then we're going to check out some new groups for his label. He's here on business, Alice, don't get any ideas." Then I froze. "Wait... What's wrong with my outfit?" I gestured to my black pencil skirt, white silk tank top, and burgundy sweater. "I thought I looked okay."

"Don't listen to Alice, Leah. You look very pretty for your date." She reassured me, then turned to Alice. "Alice, your idea of datewear is frightening. I have never met someone who can manage to be overdressed, yet underdressed at the same time."

"This isn't a date! It's two friends getting together to catch up and have fun." I defended myself.

Alice and Emily exchanged a look, but Emily was the one who spoke up. "Okay. Whatever you say, Leah. Now, does this go into the Dump Pile or the Keep Pile?"

Before I could answer, Rosalie threw open the door and closed it with a slam. "What's up y'all!'

Rosalie Hale lived in the brownstone next door to us, but she was just as much a fixture in the house as any of my roomates. She offered great advice, ate us out of house and home, and hung out with us everyday after work.

"Damn Rosalie. How the hell are you always getting in here?" Alice griped. "If you paid for all the time you spent here and all the food you ate, I would be able to live here rent free."

"Dear Mary Alice, how I've missed your sparkling wit and personality. Leah gave me a key in case of emergencies, if you must know." She threw down her briefcase and took off her coat. "Now, what do you have to eat?"

Alice grabbed the chicken and shoved it at her. "Here, try this."

Rosalie grabbed a leg, took a huge bite out of it, and began to chew. Then she spit it all out in the same second. "Ew. What the fuck was that?"

"Dump Pile." Emily, Alice, and I said at the same time. Rosalie glared at us and stomped over to the kitchen table, finally taking in my outfit.

"That was nice. Really fucking nice." Rose nodded at me. "Why do you look so dressed up?"

"Leah's got a date." Emily said, pulling out her Accounting textbook and seating herself next to Rosalie.

"It is not a date. We're just good friends!" I exclaimed to my hard headed friends.

"Whatever it is, you aren't wearing those are you?" She gestured to my comfy suede flats.

"Why not?"

"Because any self respecting fashionista knows not to pair an outfit like that with flat shoes. Wear those brown suede platforms I got you for Christmas." She ordered.

"I tried to tell her. She wouldn't listen." Alice shook her head and re-tied the sash on her purple silk robe. "Would you look at her? She's not even wearing make-up. And no Leah, Chap-Stick does not count as make-up."

"Any self respecting fashionista?" Emily teased. "This is Leah. She'd be lost if we didn't dress her in the morning. Remember when she tried to pair that blouse with those sweatpants?"

"Yeah, yeah. I get it. Poke fun at the no dressing fool. I'll wear the shoes, Rose. I'll have to get them from the hall closet."

At that moment, the door burst open again and Sam and Emmett stumbled through. Emily stood up with her Accounting book and notes and waved to Sam. "There's my Accounting tutor. Sam said he'd help me out before my exam."

"Accounting? What do you know about accounting, Sam?" Alice scoffed.

"I know a good bit about it." He drawled. "I run my own handy-man business, for one. And I once repaired an air conditioning unit at an accounting office." He smirked and straightened his suspenders. "Bet you're feelin' foolish now, huh?"

Sam Uley and Emmett McCarty were our upstairs neighbors, who shared our rent in the brownstone. It was a wonder to me how he and Emmett managed to live with each other, let alone be best friends seeing as they were polar opposites.

Sam was a good Southern mama's boy who, as mentioned, owned his own handy-man business. He was a whiz at fixing anything that was broken, except for refrigerators. There were definite benefits to having a jolly handy-man living in the house. For one, we never had to look far for him, and because Sam was seriously taken with Emily, it meant we got all the repairs we needed for free. Emmett, on the other hand, was a clean cut stock-broker who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. At times, Emmett could be downright arrogant and self-centered, especially when he and Rose were in the middle of one of their famous verbal sparring matches, but at other times, he could be as charming and as cheery as the next guy.

"Why are you all dressed up?" Emmett asked as soon as he saw me. "Do you have a date?"

"Oh, for the love of Christ, for the last time..."

"IT'S NOT A DATE, WE KNOW!" Alice, Emily, and Rose said in unison.

"Right. It's just two friends getting together to catch up." I finished.

"Whatever you say, Leah. Now, come on Sam. We've got studying to do." Emily grabbed Sam's hand and led him away, where they disappeared to the living room through the swinging door.

"So it's just a night out with a friend, right?" Rose asked, pushing her glasses further up her nose.

"Yeah. Jake and I always have a good time when we get together." I said as I pulled the shoes from a shelf in the closet. "No make-up, no mind games, no manners, no pressure. Just good fun with my buddy."

"Damn it, Leah. You can be ugly and rude with us." Rosalie said.

"It's not the same. It's like going on a date, but not going on a date. You know?"

"Are you saying he's a player for the other team?" She replied, looking mischeivous.

"No! That wasn't what I meant. He's just a friend. I assure you, he's not gay."

"What's the point of going out with a guy that's not a friend? That's like taking a fish for a walk." She muttered. "And I'm still really hungry. Bring me back a doggy bag will you?"

"Rose, they named a bag after you..." Emmett deadpanned as he sat down with a mug of tea. "You should feel honored."

Rosalie's eyes flashed dangerously and she gave him a benevolent smile, picking up the box of tea bags he'd set in front of him. "How charming Emmett. Let me ask you, do you use that flattering line with evey woman you meet?" She pretended to think, putting a finger to her chin. "If so, it's no wonder you haven't had a date in... How long?"

"Six months?" I offered helpfully as I pulled on the shoes and wiggled my toes.

"Shut up, Hale. And it's five months." Emmett muttered.

"Like that makes a difference." I giggled as the doorbell rang. "Oh, that must be Jake now."

Emmett and Rosalie followed me into the living room so I could get my coat. Emily had opened the door and was greeting him happily, sans chanting. Alice suddenly burst into the room with my black cashmere thrench coat.

"You'll thank me later." She whispered as she thrust the coat into my arms. Then she straightened and opened her arms. "Jacob! How've you been?"

"Alice. Still short and scrawny, I see. Ouch!" He said, wincing when Alice pinched him hard on his upper arm.

"And don't you forget it! Oh, and this is Emmett and Sam. They live upstairs." She introduced the guys and they all shook hands. "You already know Rose and Emily, Leah's cousin."

Up until that moment, I'd thought Emmett was the biggest guy I'd ever seen. But seeing them side by side, Jake really gave him a run for his money. Both were tall and formidable, with large shoulders and arms and strong looking thighs and legs.

"Oh. What's on T.V.? Is that the game?" Jake leaned against the arm of the couch.

"You like football?" Emmett asked.

"Yeah. I saw the last game they had." He gestured to the television, where the game was still in full swing. "Their defense sucks... Hard."

"I know what you mean, man." Sam agreed, then leaned toward Emmett. "I like him."

I jumped in before they could start talking sports, because I knew if I didn't I would be there all night. "Come on, Jake. I'm hungry."

"You're really greedy you know that?" He waved good-bye to the guys.

"Of course I am." I said good-bye to the girls and the guys as I opened the door.

"Be good, kiddies. I don't want to have to pick you up from the subway because you're too drunk to navigate yourselves home." Alice glared at us from the top of the stairs. "Alice needs her beauty sleep tonight."

"Don't forget that doggy bag!" Rose called, then glared at Emmett. "Don't even start it, McCarty."

"Bye Leah!" Emily called from the couch, where she and an adoring Sam were seated. "It was nice to meet you..." She giggled. "Mud Pie."

"I thought you'd gotten over that." He teased as we skipped down the stairs. "That girl is never going to take me seriously."

"Sorry, Jake. Guess she heard me say it and it caught on." I checked my watch. "What time were those reservations for?"

"Eight. We better hurry." He replied, taking hold of my hand to pull me along to the subway. "I know how impatient you are to go."

"Of course I am. I didn't eat lunch. Fancy meat... Here I come!"

"I really liked the girl group from the Bronx. They had a nice vocal range, plus, they were the only ones who did original songs. Every one else did covers." I said as we walked out of the club.

"I thought I would die laughing when the Jewish rapper did that cover of Britney Spears." He said. "But I have to give him credit for trying."

"Too bad he sucked. I thought my brain would bleed out from my ears, he was so bad." I muttered. I felt my cell phone vibrate in my coat pocket and pulled it out, stopping to check it. "Sorry, it's Emily."

"Take your time, Lee." He spied the entrance of a corner store behind me. "I'm going to get a pack of mints. My breath is smelly enough to melt steel."

"No one told you to order the steak with onions." I scolded as he walked away. Punching in Emily's number, I pressed the call button and waited as it rang.

"Leah!" Emily breathed into the phone. "I was freaking out. My chakra's all out of wack because I was so worried."

"Well, I'm calling now. What's wrong?" I asked.

"I forgot the mock-up at the office. It needs to be dropped off at the printers tomorrow morning." She said in a small voice.

"Em. How could you forget that?"

"I'm sorry! I've just been super stressed about this accounting exam. I didn't mean to." She exclaimed, just as I spotted Jake walking toward me.

"Why didn't you go back and pick it up?" She was silent and I groaned. "Again? Emily, that's the third set of keys."

"It's not my fault they fell down the kitchen drain! I asked Sam to try and get them, but he's not having any luck." I sent a prayer of patience heavenward and tossed my hair over one shoulder.

"It's okay. I'll pick it up and drop it off before I come home." I sighed and gave Jake a small smile.

"Really? Oh thank you, Leah! I really am sorry! This is such a relief. Now I can get back to rebalancing my peace and serenity before the exam. I'll make you some tea when you get back."

"There's no need for that." I said, thinking of the nasty bitter green concoction that always made me gag. I only sipped it to be polite for Emily's sake, but that didn't mean I couldn't try my darndest not to drink it. "I'll call you later."

"Everything okay?" Jake asked, passing me a piece of gum. I hung up and slid the phone back into my bag.

"Yeah. Um, you wouldn't mind taking a detour to the office before we go back to the brownstone would you?" He checked his watch and shrugged.

"Sure. That's no problem. But you might have to explain to Mother Hen Alice why you're getting home so late." He teased.

"Oh please..." I scoffed as I pulled him toward the subway. "Alice doesn't scare me... Much."

"Just can't stay away from this place, can you?" He teased as I opened the door.

"Shut up. This will only take a minute." I shot back, smirking when he leaned against Emily's desk.

"You're not gonna make me type anything are you?"

"No. But you can grab that broom over there and start sweeping." I peeked out from under Emily's desk to turn on the desk lamp. "Start by the coffee machine. There's always spilled sugar over there."

"Um... No. I'm good. But don't rush." He muttered. I laughed as I unearthed the mock-up from Emily's desk drawer. I stood and moved to the copy machine to print out a back-up in case something went wrong. "I think I'll just check you out in the shadows of the moonlight."

"Hah! You should see me when I'm under fluorescents... I glow!" I retorted as I flipped through the mock-up for any small mistakes. I realized that Kim's pictures weren't included, so I ducked behind the wall to my open office to grab the folder from my desk. I selected the nicest ones and slipped them into their appropriate places. As I did this, I decided to try and make conversation.

"So do you think you're gonna sign any of the bands we saw tonight?" I asked over my shoulder. "You know my choice, but the last band was nice too. If you do sign any of them, I hope you sell first interview rights to NYC Beat."

"Well, I'm not really sure. I really don't think I have the extra time to develop them." He said distractedly. "You ever feel like you want something, but you just don't have the time to devote to it?"

"Do I ever." I said, still arranging the pictures. "This magazine has become my whole life. Sometimes I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to do what I want and need to do. And there's not much time for anything else."

"I guess we can't complain. I mean, look at us. You have a great life in New York, living your dream. All you could talk about in college was owning your own magazine. And now look at you. I don't care how you spin it, Leah. Your magazine's doing really well. I thought I saw someone reading it at a coffee shop in L.A."

"Really?" I said, still trying to get the pictures just right. I couldn't deny the swell of pride that filled my chest when he told me that.

"Really. I was really proud of you." He said. "Still am."

"Well, what about you? All you could focus on when we were growing up was music, even though Billy wanted you to take over the family mechanic garage. Now look at you. You live the high life in L.A. doing what you love. I think we're both very fortunate and lucky." I replied. "I saw that new singer you produced on the cover of Rolling Stone the other day. And no matter how you spin it, you're good at what you do."

"Then I guess it was well worth the sacrifice." He said. I could feel him watching me adjust the photos and it made my skin tingle. "We made it."

"Yeah. I guess we got everything we wanted, huh?" I replied as I nodded in satisfaction at the arrangement and tucked away the remaining photos. Closing the mock-up, I whirled around to leave only to collide with Jake's hard chest. I was about to apologize when I looked up and saw the look in his eyes.

"Not everything." He whispered, leaning in close to me. I gasped when he softly touched his lips to mine, clutching the mock-up close to my chest. He pulled away to pry the file from my hands and set it on my desk. Then he pulled me closer and kissed me properly, winding his arms around my waist as I sighed in bliss. His lips were so soft, yet so insisting. It almost made me forget that he was my best friend...


I pried my lips away and tried to muster up enough outrage to glare up at him. I failed miserably and my voice came out shaky and small. "What was that?"

"You don't know when you've been kissed?" His eyes locked on to mine, so dark and smoldering, my breath caught in my throat. I let out a choked sound as he leaned forward again. "You're crazier than I thought, Clearwater."

Before I could come up with a quick retort, he kissed me again, making me melt in his arms. I sighed in surrender and wrapped my arms around his neck, pressing myself closer to him. All at once, his lips became more insistent and he pushed a hand through my hair to gain better access. I ran a hand through his soft hair as he pulled me up onto the desktop. My legs parted instantly to allow him to come closer.

I was in bliss and I was loving it.

My mind and my body were occupying two different universes. One one hand, my mind was telling me to stop, that Jake was my best friend and that I should salvage what I could of the friendship before we went too far. But my body was singing under his touch and that made it impossible to even contemplate telling him to stop.

He moved his head to kiss my bare neck, nibble at my ear, nip the sensitive skin of my shoulder. I couldn't pull in enough air, my breath coming out in desperate little gasps. I took in the white walls of my office, the abstract painting on the wall, my Garfield wall calendar. Anything to fight off what was going on below the belt. But I still felt drugged and euphoric as I pulled my hand through his soft hair.

"Jake..." I whispered, feeling the muscles low in my stomach tightening quickly. As much as I loathed to do it, I dragged my hands between us and pushed at his chest. He seemed to be in a trance, still kissing my neck and tightening his hold on my waist. "Jake..." I said again with even more urgency.

"Hmm..." He groaned against my skin. I pulled his head away and jumped off of the desk, instanly feeling bereft and cold when I pulled away from his warmth. I straightened my sweater and my skirt and my hair, feeling the flush of my cheeks heating my face in mortification.

"We shouldn't do that... We just can't." I whimpered, mostly to myself. I caught a glimpse of the mock up on my desk and grabbed at it as if it were a life raft. "I have to bring this to the printer. I have to straighten out my desk." I set to work righting everything that had been messed up while we were distracted. My hands and voice shook, and I wobbled on my ridiculous heels.

"Leah." Jacob broke into my frantic thoughts, closing his hands around my wrists to stop me from moving. "Leah. Calm down."

"I can't calm down!" I screamed in frustration and gestured to the area where I'd lost control. I hated the fact that my traitorous body still burned for him in the place I wanted him most. "That shouldn't have happened. You're my best friend, Jake."

"Your best friend who wants to become more to you." He said simply. I hated that he looked unruffled at what had happened, as cool and calm as a cucumber.

"Jacob, you're not thinking rationally. You had a glass of wine at the restaurant and it's going to your head." I grabbed his arm and tugged on it. "Let's get you back to your hotel so you can sleep it off."

He surprised me by pushing me against the wall, engulfing me completely into his huge shadow as he trapped me against it. "Dammit Leah, that's not what's happening and you know it. You don't honestly think I'd risk our friendship over a drunken hook-up?"

"The same way you believe that I'm going to risk it over a few hours of really great sex." I countered. He didn't answer but ran a hand through my hair and pulled me close to brush his lips against mine. My guard fell again and I melted in his arms.

He pulled away and pinned me with his gaze. "Come back with me to my hotel... I'll show you how wrong you are about us..." He kissed me again. "I'll make it good for you..."

I debated for a long while, taking in the earnest set of his mouth and his sincere gaze. Closing my eyes, I felt him all around me, clouding my judgement. I was drunk from desire for him.


One word had never been so full of meaning and importance.

All at once, I threw caution to the wind. I'd wanted to know what it would be like with him since high school and through college, even as an adult. I never allowed myself the luxury because I thought he didn't want me in that way. And now he was here, essentially telling me that he'd been wanting this for as long as I had. What did I have to lose? If our friendship was as strong as I thought, it would have no problem surviving this.

And that thought alone gave me the courage to give him my answer.

"Yes. Yes, I'll go with you."

I'm still debating on whether or not I want this as a three-shot or a five-shot. I guess I'll see how long it goes until I stop.