For instance, in seventh grade I failed a math test on the holiday because the teacher claimed I hadn’t turned it in. Bianca’s handiwork? Perhaps.

In ninth grade, I’d brought a white teddy bear for my friend Madison Greenbray, a cute, nerdy girl. But when I reached for it in my locker to give to her at lunch, the bear was missing. He turned up later that day in the dumpster.

As a senior, when all the girls were swooning over the Valentine’s Day flower exchange, I decided to try again. I ordered a red flower for Lily Van Tassel, a good friend at the time.

Only one problem.

Everyone else liked Lily Van Tassel. Everyone sent her red roses. Including Chuck Zorax, the wrestler who was seven feet tall and built from redwood trees. When he found out I’d sent a rose to Lily—even though I was one of so very many who did—he introduced my nose to his fist.

As the doors to the elevator open, I step in, rubbing my palm against my nose. Yup, still have the crook in it to prove that sliding out of the friend zone doesn’t work.

Learned my lesson.

Love and friendship don’t mix.

That’s why I haven’t tried to level up in the friendship game with a certain someone.

Sexy, snarky, lively Macy who thinks Valentine’s Day is fabulous.

Macy thinks everything is fabulous.

She’s the most upbeat person I know. She’s the Tigger to my Eeyore.

I reach the sixth floor and head into the rehearsal space to find her standing on a stepladder, pinning a pink paper heart to the wall. For a moment, I savor the view. She’s wearing tight jeans, black boots, and a pink sweater that’s as snug as a sweater on a babe should be.

So snug I want to pull it off and discover what’s underneath. To get my hands all over her lush, trim figure.

But I can’t linger there too long or it’ll be tent time.

Can’t let on I have dirty, filthy fantasies about the sweet, perky blonde.

Especially since she’s one of my best friends. I stare at the decorations, since they’re a boner killer, and in seconds, that does the trick. Tent’s all packed up. “Wow. Did Hallmark lose its lunch in here?”

She shoots me a smile that stretches from her green eyes to Queens and back, chiding me as she reaches for a red paper heart from a bag on the top step. “Don’t be silly. This is way more than Hallmark is capable of. This is what happens when Target meets Pinterest meets Etsy and I assemble the most beautiful valentine decorations in the world.”

“And please tell me why our rehearsal space has turned into a valentine fiesta?”

She spreads her arms out wide. “Because Valentine’s Day is wonderful. It’s romantic and full of all the best things in life—like hearts and hope and love and red. Have I mentioned I love the color red?”

My eyes drift to the decorations. “You didn’t have to mention it.”

“Don’t be such a naysayer. The rehearsal space has never looked better.”

I furrow my brow. “You can’t be serious about all this.”

She climbs down the ladder, parks a hand on one hip. Her pouty pink lips curve into a grin, and I’d like to kiss that smile off her face. Kiss it and make her moan against my mouth, sigh against my body.

But yeah, there’s that little matter of friendship, and that big curse about how friends can’t be lovers.

“I’m deadly serious. I never joke about valentine decorations. Just look at all the yumminess here.” With her blonde ponytail bouncing, she strolls over to the grand piano, where my sister and I will perform our patented duets for a new YouTube series. Macy taps a glass bowl crammed with red candy.

“I love cinnamon.” She dips her hand into the bowl, plucks out a red cinnamon heart, and pops it in her mouth. Her eyes seem to light up. They twinkle. They sparkle, and her lips do all sorts of interesting things, as she sucks on that red heart. My dick does all sorts of things too, perking up and taking notice.

Down, boy.

“Do you like cinnamon?” There’s something new in her voice. It’s a little sultry, a bit naughty.

And matters south of the border are liking that voice. I step behind the piano. God bless erection shields.

“Love cinnamon.” I bet she tastes like cinnamon. I bet the taste would drive me wild on her tongue.

“Then you won’t object when the Zimmerman Duo’s new series is Valentine’s themed.”

I press my hands together in a plaintive plea. “Please, for the love of all that is holy—like spring training, the power play in hockey, and any and every Rolling Stones tune—tell me you’re joking.”

She clasps her hands over mine. “You are twenty-seven and a total curmudgeon.”

“So that’s a maybe that you’re joking?”

She squeezes my hands tighter, and this isn’t such a bad turn of events. Macy touching me? I’ll take it.

Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance