“Cold?” Nathan asked.

“A little.”

He put his arm around her and tugged her close to his body as they walked. She was instantly warmer.

“Your body is like a furnace,” she said.

“Hey, I’m hot. Everyone knows that.”

She lifted her gaze to his. “Everyone? Hyperbole much, Nathan?”

“Everyone who has gotten naked with me knows that.”

“Better. And I’ve been naked with you.”

He arched a brow. “See how getting naked with me is always on your mind? It’s probably making you warmer just thinking about it.”

If she didn’t know Nathan so well, she’d think he was some asshole, always thinking about sex. But she was well aware of his teasing. She did the same to him. The one thing she liked so much about Nathan was his blatant honesty. Even if said honesty often included sex banter. It was when she didn’t know what was on his mind that she became concerned. Nathan had always been an open book with her. That’s why they’d become such close friends.

She dug her keys out of her clutch and opened the door, then flipped on the light.

“If I remember, there’s a bathroom downstairs, right?” he asked.

“Down the hallway to your right.”


“I’m going to grab a glass of wine. Do you want a beer?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

She went into the kitchen and turned on the lights, dropped her clutch on the kitchen island and pulled a wineglass from the cabinet. She reached for the wine bottle and set that on the island, then went to the fridge to grab a beer for Nathan. By the time he came out of the bathroom she was opening the bottle.

Nathan took his beer and opened it, then wandered into the living room. Mia poured her wine and followed him, taking a seat on the sofa next to him.

She had a game of solitaire on the table that she’d started, and Nathan had picked it up and continued it so she joined in. They played the game for a while, chatting while they did.

“Oh, you know what?” she said as they paused to refill their drinks. “Amy Mackenfield broke up with her boyfriend.”

Nathan feigned shock. “What? The couple that was going to be together until the end of time?”

Mia laughed. “That was my thought, too. I guess ‘until the end of time’ didn’t last very long past college graduation.”

Nathan braced a hip against the kitchen island. “So what happened?”

“She got a job offer in Houston and Bill wouldn’t make the move with her. He said his job in Austin was going so well that he didn’t want to lose it. They tried the long distance thing for about six months. Amy realized it wasn’t going to work any longer, so she broke up with him.”

“Ah. I always thought they were mismatched anyway.”

She tilted her head at Nathan as they made their way back into the living room and resumed their seats on the couch. “Really? How so?”

“She’s very ambitious. He was content with the status quo and wasn’t the motivated type. Seems that didn’t change much after college.”

“You’re right about that.” She swirled her wine around in the glass, then took a sip. “I don’t know of many relationships that last through the tumultuous years of college.”

“Ours did.”

She laughed. “We’re not in a relationship, Nathan. We’re friends.”

“Is there a difference?”

She leaned back and kicked off her shoes. “Of course there is. I’m friends with several people from college.”

“Close friends?”

“Maybe not. I’d say I’m closest to you and to Monique. You’re the two people I tell all my secrets to.”

“I’m glad I know all the dirt. At least the non-sex dirt.”

She laughed. “That’s true. You don’t get to hear about my sex life.”

“Why is that?”

“Because that would be weird.”

“In what way?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess maybe because we’ve been intimate before. Or maybe because you’re a guy. I don’t know.”

“Now you’re being sexist. Just because I’m a guy doesn’t mean I can’t hear the dirty details of your sex life.”

“Oh, right. Like you share the details of your sex life with me.”

“True. I don’t. I wouldn’t want to make you weep about what you’re missing out on.”

She rolled her eyes. “Please.”

“See? Now you’ve resorted to begging. I knew this would happen.” He stood and reached for the zipper of his jeans. “Okay, give me a second to lose my pants and we’ll get down to it.”

She was laughing so hard she had to put her glass down. “Oh, my God, Nathan. Stop.”

He stilled and turned to face her. “This is not the reaction I typically get when I’m about to drop my pants, Mia.”

She wiped her eyes. “Well, I’m not your typical woman, am I?”

He took a seat and picked up his beer. “No, you’re not. I can’t figure out why you’re so immune to me.”

She leaned into him. “I wouldn’t say I’m exactly immune to you. I find you immensely hot. It’s just that I love our friendship more than I love your penis.”

He sighed and tugged her close. “Dammit. Maybe I should be meaner to you.”

“Oh, please don’t do that. Then who would give me those awesome shoulder rubs when I’m tense?”

“Was that a hint?”

“Not even a hint.” She pulled herself forward. “I’ve had a rough day.”

He sighed. “Come on and sit between my legs.”

She got up, then nestled her butt in between his thighs, spreading her fingers over all that delicious hard muscle.

Keep it in the friend zone, Mia, she reminded herself. Ignoring her body’s reaction to being cradled against him, she decided it would be more prudent to keep the touching to a minimum. She removed her hands and placed them in her lap and focused on the way his hands moved over the tight muscles of her shoulders. He knew exactly where the knots of tension were located. In a matter of minutes all those muscles were relaxed as his fingers glided over her skin.

But as he moved his hands over her body, that tension was replaced with something else. For some reason, she was aware of Nathan like never before. The way it felt to be caged between his thighs, the sound of his breathing as he leaned forward to dig deeper into her muscles, and his cool, clean scent whenever she took a deep breath.

What was wrong with her? This wasn’t the first time he’d given her a massage. But for some reason, tonight she was vibing off him in a distinctly sexual way.

She found it very disturbing. After that one night a few years ago, she’d shut those feelings down completely. Other than having a penis, he’d been no different than one of her girlfriends.

Something had definitely changed, though. It had to be the unmet sexual need on her part that had surfaced with all the stress she was under.

She really needed to take care of it so that whenever Nathan put his hands on her or looked at her or breathed near her she’d stop feeling achy and aroused.

And stop feeling this overwhelming need to ask him to strip her down and lick her all over.

Oh, God, her body throbbed as she visualized him doing just that.

NATHAN NOTICED RIGHT AWAY THAT MIA WAS TENSE. More edgy than usual. He chalked it up to being wound up tight about the new business. She probably had a lot on her mind and wasn’t sleeping well. He knew all about pressure and what it could do to your body.

Maybe the wine tonight and the back rub would relax her. Though if she continued to wiggle against his crotch, he was going to get a hard-on. She might be all “let’s be BFFs” about him, but ever since that one night in college, Nathan wanted Mia and that hadn’t changed.

He’d sucked it up and toed the line on the friendship side because he cared about her happiness and that’s what it was going to take to stay in her life, but if it was up to him she’d be in his bed.