* * *

I’m lying in bed—Xander’s enormous, bigger than king-size bed has the most incredible mattress, not to mention the fluffy down comforter that feels like a warm hug of air on top of me—when my phone rings. I roll toward it, expecting Xander. He only just kissed me goodbye ten minutes ago—well, kissed, and then stripped, and then kissed and fucked and licked and sucked and only just managed to drag himself with regret toward the office at long last—which is the only reason my tired as hell brain hasn’t shut off yet.

All I can do is keep thinking about the wild day I’ve had. Or feeling the way Xander’s hands felt all over my body, how his tongue felt between my thighs. I clench my legs and savor the warm, hot burn between them. I’m going to be sore in the morning, but oh god is it worth it.

But the name lighting up the screen of my phone isn’t Xander’s. It’s Devan.

Oh, shit. My stomach plummets as I recall what I promised: to call her the second I got in safe. I pick up and press the phone to my ear at once. “Devan, hi.”

“Hi? That’s it? No explanation for where the hell you’ve been? I thought you got lost or kidnapped or your plane maybe exploded—”

“I’m fine,” I interject. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see your messages. It’s been a hectic day.”

“You promised to call and let me know you were doing okay.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. I just, first Xander brought me to his penthouse, and then we had to run out to shop for a change of clothes for me before we met his brother and sister—”

“Hang on, you’re doing meet the family stuff already?” she interrupts.

I swallow hard. Dammit. I probably shouldn’t have said that. I let out a huffing sigh. “It’s kind of fast, yes…”

“Kind of?” my best friend barks.

“Okay, very fast. But it’s been amazing, Devan. And oh my god, New York City… you would love it here. It’s everything we ever thought it would be and more. I feel like I’m living in a movie or something. I keep pinching myself, but I don’t wake up…”

“Did you say penthouse?” she finally asks, her grudgingly interested tone belying what she’s unwilling to admit. But I know Devan has dreamt about the big city for almost as long as I have.

“It’s wild. It’s bigger than our whole damn house like, twice over. And it’s right on the edge of Central Park, with the most killer view…”

“Ugh, stop. You’re killing me,” Devan groans. “I’m dying of jealousy here. Although, I’m mostly just glad that you aren’t murdered. And happy you’re enjoying yourself. Like 90% that. But 10% flaming jealousy.”

I laugh. She does too. Then I let out a sigh and sink back into the pillows, where my gaze lands on the other object propped next to my bed. One that I’d forgotten about.

Use it, Xander’s voice whispers in my memories. However you want, enjoy anything you desire. What I really desire, way more than any fancy presents I could buy myself right now, is for my best friend to be here with me. To share this experience of a lifetime with the girl who’s been by my side for my whole lifetime.

I roll over in bed and sit upright, an idea sparking in my mind. “So come visit,” I say.

On the other end of the phone, Devan groans again. “Okay, now you’re just rubbing in it.”

“No, I’m serious. Xander gave me his credit card, he said I could spend it on anything I want. Anything that would make me happy. Well, flying you out here for the weekend would make me happy.”

There’s a long pause on the other end of the line. Then Devan clears her throat. “Okay, skipping right past the part where your new boyfriend is fine with giving you his credit card, apparently—”

“Hey, I tried to refuse it,” I protest.

“Girl, why would you do that?” Devan snorts. “Just saying, the whole situation is kind of… well, strange.”

“Believe me, I know. But…” I lick my lips. Swallow hard. Lying to Xander’s family, who are pretty much strangers, is one thing. Lying to my best friend is quite another. Yet the words that rise to my lips then aren’t a lie, I realize. And that makes them scarier than ever. “I’m really enjoying this. I like being with him. I like him, Devan. So, as weird as the whole situation is…” And oh, it is so much weirder than she even knows. “I’m happy. Right now.”

“Good.” I can almost feel her smile, even through the phone. She lets out a soft sigh. “That’s all I want for you, Mel, you know that. I just also don’t want to see you get hurt.” There’s a long pause. “You really don’t think your rich beau would mind flying me out there for a weekend?”

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