“What?” I asked defensively.

“Time to shake things up, girlie,” she said mysteriously.


On a sigh, I shook my head to clear it and rolled out of bed, padding to the kitchen to get a drink. Obviously there was just too much going on in my head for me to even try to sleep, especially because I couldn’t get Allie’s advice to quit looping endlessly like one of those little gif thingys that everyone is so fond of using these days.

I leaned against the counter, sipping at an ice cold bottle of water, still thinking about everything Allie had said. The last words she said to me definitely had the wheels spinning in my head, wondering just what she had in mind. I mean, on a good day she’s devious enough on her own, but now she’s pregnant and has all those extra hormones surging through her…God only knows what the hell she had up her sleeve.

My cell phone rang on the counter and I jumped, the sound startling me in the silence. I picked it up, glancing at the clock on the wall to see that it was after midnight. Dread pooled in the pit of my stomach. Calls this late at night are rarely good…

Without looking at the name, I answered. “Hello?” I said anxiously.

“Hey…uh…it’s Brandon.”

“Oh, umm…hi?”

He cleared his throat and said, “Look, I know it’s late, but I just got done at the shop. I had some late night appointments, people that made arrangements with me because they didn’t have time earlier, and…uh, your house is closer than mine and I’m exhausted. Can I just crash there in the spare bedroom tonight?”

Huh. That came out of left field. I pressed my hand to my stomach, cursing the butterflies that had taken wing the second his voice came through the phone, and stuttered, “Y…yeah, sure.”

“Sweet, thanks!” he replied and the phone went silent in my hand.

I laid my phone down on the counter and jumped again, letting out a little squeak when the doorbell rang. Seriously? What the hell did he do, call me from driveway? I headed into the living room and opened the door.

Brandon pushed past me and shut the door behind him, locking it and turning the deadbolt before facing me and scolding, “You didn’t even check to make sure it was me before you opened it. It’s after midnight, Chloe, and you’re here by yourself. You should know better!”

I opened my mouth to defend myself but closed it again immediately because he was right.

He paused for a minute and looked at me closer. I was standing there in a pair of short shorts and a tank top with no bra, my standard pajamas, and I knew my hair was a mess from tossing and turning. He cleared his throat. “You are alone, aren’t you?”

I rolled my eyes and walked away from him to curl up on the couch.

He followed, collapsing into the recliner, sighing before he sat forward to take his boots off, then slouched back into the recliner again before he said, “Okay. So I lied. Nah, I didn’t really lie, but I didn’t tell the whole truth. I’m fuckin’ beat and your place is closer, but honestly?”

He paused and looked over at me. I cocked my head and nodded, silently urging him to continue.

“I just wanted a break from the lovefest I live with. Jesus, Luke already knocked her up and I swear they fuck like rabbits now, worse than they did before!”

Laughter burst from my lips, sounding loud in the silence, but I couldn’t help it.

He smiled wryly at me and shook his head. “Yeah, you laugh, but you don’t have to hear him try to pound her through the floor.” He groaned, thumping his head back into the chair. “I just need to get my own place, I guess.”

I made a non-committal noise in my throat and shrugged. A huge yawn caught me off guard and I glanced at him sheepishly when he chuckled.

We looked at each other for a minute before I jumped up and asked in a rush, “Do you want anything to drink? Or do you need anything to sleep in? I think I have a pair of basketball shorts that I stole from Jackson a few years ago…” I broke off on another yawn. Wtf? I couldn’t sleep for shit before he called and now I’m ready to pass out?!

He nodded. “Sure, that’d be great. Thanks.”

I turned and retreated to my bedroom, finding the shorts in the back of my dresser. They were a little wrinkled, but hey, he was only sleeping in them. I made my way back into the living room, tossing the shorts at him as I turned to go to the kitchen to get him something to drink, pausing only long enough to ask what he wanted.

After grabbing a bottle of cold water from the fridge, I handed it to him and bent to grab his boots, moving them to the tile by the doorway. He made a garbled sound behind me and I rolled my eyes again where he couldn’t see me, sure that he was laughing at the fact I couldn’t leave his boots in the middle of the floor. I’m slightly OCD, so what?

I glanced at him as I bent to put his boots down again, shocked to see that he was definitely not laughing. In fact, his eyes seemed to be glued to my…Oh, shit! I straightened quickly, tugging down my shorts that I’m pretty sure had given him quite the view when I bent over.

“I…uh…” I stuttered, trying to think of something to say but coming up blank.

I blinked in fascination as Brandon shifted, the tight front of his jeans looking decidedly tighter. I heard him make another noise in his throat, this one seeming born out of desperation as he shot forward in the recliner, shielding his lap by resting his arms on his knees.

“Well,” I tried again, still at a loss, the butterflies battering my insides back in full force, but stopped when he jerked his head side to side, a cutting movement that had coldness quickly replacing the warmth that had started to seep through me.

“Go to bed, Chloe. I’m sorry for waking you up, but thanks for letting me crash. You’re a great friend…” he said distractedly, his words trailing off as he realized what he was saying. I could almost hear him swallow hard, like he wanted to take back the words immediately after he said them.

And just like that, the awkwardness and tension was back. I sighed, nodding half-heartedly at him before I made my way down the hall. I heard him mutter and then curse softly and my heart broke just a little bit more at the fact that we can’t even talk to each other anymore, that things had changed so drastically between us. All because I couldn’t keep my stupid, drunk lips to myself.

I shut my bedroom door quietly, the soft click echoing with finality, and curled up in my bed, praying that sleep would come quickly…but I should have known better.

Morning came after what seemed like six days of tossing and turning in my bed that suddenly felt like a stone-cold slab of concrete. I shuffled into the bathroom and groaned at the sight of the dark circles under my eyes; hell, you could go on vacation with the bags under there, too.

I turned away from the mirror and grabbed my robe before making my way into the kitchen, intent on getting some caffeine in my system by way of my best friend, Kuerig. Ten minutes later, I was tucked into a chair on the back porch, sipping English toffee cappuccino and enjoying the sunny Saturday morning.

The door to the spare bedroom was still closed when I’d walked by and I resisted the temptation to peek in. And by resist, I mean like, seriously had to force myself to keep going and not touch the door.

Shit…what the hell was wrong with me that I can’t quit thinking of him all of a sudden? It was a kiss, just ONE kiss and now…ugh.

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