She"d taken him shopping, taken him to Astros and Raiders games, even taken him to her high school homecoming dance two years in a row. But she"d never taken him to bed. Except one time when they"d been teenagers, she"d rarely allowed her mind to go there. Until tonight.
Now that it had, it didn"t seem to want to go anywhere else.
In a blink, she was back in his bathroom all those years ago. She"d wandered in to ask him a question, nothing important, just everyday stuff. But sometime when she hadn"t been looking, Shawn had matured into a boy on the verge of manhood. He"d known it, even if she hadn"t.
He"d leaned out, his bronze shoulders gleaming with water, to shoo her away before closing the shower door. But she hadn"t left.
His hair had been longer in those days, wavy and as bright as sunlight. Over the years, the blond had darkened to a rich gold he now wore clipped short in a style that hung low in front to flirt with his eyes. But back then, his hair had brushed his shoulder blades every time he took the water full in the face.
She had never glimpsed a man"s body before that day. At fifteen she"d never gone beyond the one hasty, fumbling closet clutch she"d shared with Shawn two years before at Tony Felder"s house. But as she"d examined his nebulous form silhouetted behind the glass—the corded line of his arms, the flex of his muscular legs, and especially the swell of his grade-A ass—her mouth had gone dry.
And another part of her had gone wet.
Rachel ducked her head under the water and held it there until her lungs quaked with the need to breathe. She emerged with a gasp, her head light from the extended oxygen deprivation. But the images remained.
Her best friend. He"d never let her down, not once. Every time she"d gotten dumped, or worse, he"d been by her side in an instant, no matter what time of day or what he was doing. She"d always joked he"d be her man of honor at her someday, far-off wedding. He"d merely smiled without making the same offer in return.
She pressed her water-shriveled fingertips to her lips. Did he have feelings for her? Actual man-for-a-woman feelings? Could it be possible?
As quickly as the thought arose, she pushed it back down. Nope. No way.
Shawn had had his chance with her a year after the shower incident. She"d been overcome by curiosity about sex, which had led to her suggestion they do some exploring of their own—and to Shawn"s revelation that he already had explored, thank you very much, and that she was a kid who needed to keep her mind on her classes where it belonged.
It wasn"t that she"d assumed he hadn"t had sex. At that point he"d been seventeen, so she"d known he"d likely had a lover or two. Maybe more. But she hadn"t expected him to be so opposed to doing what seemed natural to her. They were best friends. Why not enjoy sex together too? But he"d acted as if she"d suggested he streak naked through town.
She scowled at the star-sprinkled deep blue sky. As annoyed and embarrassed as she"d felt back then, she"d been puzzled too. Surely she hadn"t misread every one of his signs? The times his hand lingered too long on her back, or their bodies brushed, and he leaped back as if he"d gotten burned on the stove…
After that spectacularly embarrassing day, she"d worked hard to banish all impure thoughts about him. Later that year, she"d met Ryan. He definitely hadn"t seen her as a kid. No, he"d been more than happy to help her blossom into a sexually active, hormonally obsessed woman.
Until he left town, anyway, two days before she discovered she was pregnant.