“Uh, thanks,” I tell him, totally conscious that I don’t know his name.
“You were quite something last night,” he says with an eager smile and takes a step toward me.
“Like a hot mess?” I supply, taking a step back.
“Like a hot fuck,” he corrects.
“How about round two?” he asks, reaching out to grab my hand.
Aw, hell no.
“Honey I’m home,” I hear Linden’s voice break through the moment and I give a small sigh of relief. The guy frowns in confusion just as the door to my bedroom opens and Linden appears.
“Wow, who is this one?” Linden asks, smiling as he looks the guy up and down. His tall build, broad chest and wide shoulders overwhelm the doorframe as he leans against it, looking casual but completely masculine in his black t-shirt and dark jeans. As usual, the Keds are on his feet.
I look to the guy, waiting for him to fill in his name since I can’t.
“I’m Drake,” the guy says, glancing between the two of us. He’s scared. It doesn’t help that Linden is a lot bigger than him.
“Drake,” Linden repeats then turns to me. “So, are you done with him? Is it my turn yet?”
“What?” Drake spits out, total fear rippling through him.
“Yeah,” Linden says, folding his arms. “See, Steph and I have this thing where we like to share. She has a go and then I have a go. You don’t mind, do you?”
The guy turns beet red and stammers, “Uh, uh, I think I should go.”
Linden raises his palms. “No, no, stay. We can both have you at the same time if that’s easier. As long as you don’t mind being on the bottom.”
Now Drake is grabbing his jeans and yanking them on. He doesn’t even go for his t-shirt, he’s panicking that much.
“Linden,” I warn and Linden grins, stepping to the side as Drake scurries past him and into the hall. I hear him grab his shoes and the front door shuts behind him.
“Rude,” Linden says. “The wanker doesn’t even say thank you.”
I roll my eyes. “You know, I could have gotten him out of here just fine.”
“Aye, but where would be the fun in that?”
The funny thing is, Linden rarely has to do anything to scare away the men in my life other than just show up. A lot of the guys I’ve dated had big, serious issues with Linden being my friend. They just couldn’t comprehend how we could be so close and yet never have anything happen between us.
I can’t really explain it either, other than the fact that I went out with James first. Although I worked with Linden, I only really got to know him through James and well, once you know your boyfriend’s best friend, they stay in that box. Even now, with the years between me and James’s demise, pursuing Linden would be wrong.
And of course, he’s my friend and I don’t think of him that way. Just the occasional ogle, remember?
“So where to?” I ask him when I’ve grabbed my purse and chucked Drake’s t-shirt in the garbage.
“Did you feel like taking a helicopter ride?”
I cock my head, caught off guard by this idea. “Are we going to call James, because if we don’t, he’s going to be really hurt.” James is always complaining about how Linden hasn’t taken him up in the air yet. He hasn’t taken me either but it doesn’t feel right to do it without James. We’re the three amigos, though lately it feels like it’s been splitting into two.
“He’s working, baby blue,” he says lightly. “You know he always is. It’ll just be you and me.”