Brooke was impressed with the front window of Indulgence. While she and Mia had been painting Rafe’s living room, Mia had told her all about the incredible new store just down the street from where Brooke’s new store would be. Indulgence was owned by one of Mia’s closest girlfriends, a woman named Colbie, who believed every woman should not only indulge herself, but the man in her life as well. And when Mia had mentioned that the store carried a few things in her Members Only room that were so naughty even she hadn’t bought them for herself, Brooke had made a mental note to pay a visit to the store on her next trip to Seattle.
Downtown Kirkland, with its abundance of children’s toy shops and housewares stores and cafes, wasn’t the kind of place a girl went to find super-sexy lingerie, or so Brooke had always thought. She walked in, and a beautiful woman immediately greeted her with a warm smile.
"Hello, how are you doing tonight?"
Brooke immediately felt at ease with the woman behind the register. "I’m doing great, thanks. Are you Colbie?"
"I am. And you’re one of Mia’s friends, aren’t you?" When Brooke nodded, Colbie laughed. "I don’t even know why I pay for advertising when she’s better at spreading the word than any newspaper or magazine could ever be."
"Mia raved about your store." She looked around at the beautiful merchandise on tasteful display. "I can see that she was right. I’m Brooke."
Colbie’s grin grew even wider. "You’re her childhood friend from the lake the Sullivans used to visit! I can’t tell you how thrilled she is to have found you again after all these years."
"I’m thrilled, too." Brooke suddenly realized that by coming here and saying who she was, Colbie might very well know precisely which man she was shopping for.
"Can I help you find something specific, or would you like me to leave you alone so you can browse in peace?"
"Actually—" Brooke felt her face flush and covered her cheeks with her hands to try to hide it.
"Do you want to see what I’ve got in my Members Only room?" Colbie guessed.
The other woman grinned at her. "I knew I liked you, right from the moment you walked inside. Follow me."
As they headed past a gauzy curtain, Brooke felt her face heating up again, but she was here, wasn’t she? She needed to be brave enough to follow through with her purchase.
She’d seen pictures of some of the merchandise in the velvet-lined display cases, but even though the very sexy products Colbie carried were actually quite elegant, Brooke just couldn’t see herself wearing or using any of them. She wanted Rafe to understand that her boundaries were further out than he obviously thought they were, but she also needed to stay true to herself.
Besides, he hadn’t needed anything but his hands over her wrists last night...
"Let me know if you have any questions," Colbie offered.
Brooke’s eyes had caught on one possibility. "Tell me more about these."
Colbie grinned as she ran the length of colorful silk between her fingertips. "My fiancé loves these. So many possibilities..." A low man’s voice asked for her from the other side of the curtain, and she literally glowed with happiness at hearing it. "Noah is a little early to pick me up for dinner, but I’ll tell him to relax for a while."
But Brooke had already made up her mind. "I’ll take the silks." She pointed at the lingerie on the mannequin. "That, too, if you’ve got it in my size."
Brooke went out into the main room and met Colbie’s sinfully gorgeous fiancé, Noah Bryant. The way he looked at Colbie, as though she were brighter than the sun, the moon, and the stars combined, had Brooke barely containing her sigh at how sweet they were.
Was there any chance that Rafe would ever look at her that way?
Or maybe, just maybe, if Mia was to be believed, was there a chance that he already did?
* * *
Rafe had just finished laying the final floorboard when his phone rang. He hoped it was Brooke letting him know she was on her way home.
But it wasn’t. Instead, his cousin Sophie’s name lit up the screen.
Always glad to hear from one of his many cousins, he picked up. "Hey, Soph, how are you, Jake, and the kids doing?" He could hear a baby girl’s laughter in the background, and then her husband Jake’s booming laugh a moment later.
"Amazing," she answered. "And loud. Really, really loud, if you hadn’t noticed."
Sophie’s nickname was Nice. On top of that, she was a librarian, so she was used to working in a quiet space all day. He imagined marriage to the owner of a chain of Irish pubs, and then having twins, had taken some getting used to. Clearly, though, she was happy with the huge changes to her life, especially since Sophie and Jake had been in love with each other since they were kids.
It wasn’t, he suddenly realized, too different from his situation with Brooke. Sophie and Jake had known each other since she was five or six; Rafe had known Brooke even longer than that. And then one day Sophie and Jake had gone from being family friends to much, much more, just as Rafe and Brooke had. The only difference was that where Jake McCann had changed from not wanting a serious relationship to happily marrying and having a family with Sophie, Rafe and Brooke were simply having a good time with each other.
It was only a summer fling, just for fun, wasn’t it?
Belatedly, he realized Sophie was talking.