How did I know?

Call it instinct. Call it a gut feeling. Jake was a friend, and I’d been well aware of his appetite in the bedroom.

All I had to do was drop his name as the necessary third party, and Lily was game.

I wanted Lily to be happy. She deserved it, and Lord knew the woman was going to be driven mad by her obsession till she chased it down. So I did what a friend would do. A nudge here. A nudge there. Everyone enjoyed their night.

But now, here I was, enjoying eggs and hash browns and the post-game satisfaction of having called it from a mile away, and looking at Jake in a new light.

Was that part of my kink? Was he?

Perhaps he could be.

I couldn’t deny that a part of me was damn curious what Jake was like in bed.

More than I’d been before.

I hadn’t lied when I’d told Lily I wasn’t attracted to Jake. I never had been. I didn’t gaze longingly at him from afar, nor did I stalk his photos on social media. He wasn’t in the cards, but that was more that I’d never thought of him like that before, even though Lily had suggested him to me in the dress shop. Maybe I hadn’t let myself think of him that way since I’d always had a hunch he’d be the perfect party for Lily’s fantasy. I didn’t want to stand in the way of her pleasure. What kind of friend would do that? Not this one.

I’d kept any interest in him at arm’s length, because I knew he’d be the right man for Lily’s fantasy.

But now her fantasy had played out.

It was over and done.

And perhaps that’s why I was checking out the man. Noting the cut of his jaw, the shape of his lips, the roughness of his stubble.

There was something about him.

Perhaps something I hadn’t seen before.

And now, here at breakfast, I was trying to figure out what I was suddenly feeling for him.

It sure felt like attraction. A stirring, potent attraction to the tall, dark, and handsome man across the table.

That was new. Wholly new.

And I liked it. It heated me up. It made my skin tingle. It made me ponder all sorts of possibilities.

Biding my time, I picked up my glass of water, took a drink, and set it down. “We all have different fantasies,” I said.

His eyes held mine for a long beat. Longer than they had before. In them, I felt heat and I saw intrigue.

“I’d like to find out yours,” he said.

Funny, because I didn’t mind that idea.

Didn’t mind it one bit.

16

Lily

The next morning I showered in the hotel with Finn, savoring the feel of the water sluicing down my body. And savoring the feel of him too.

But more so, what I delighted in was both what we were and what we weren’t.

We were the same.

But we were also better.

“What do you want to do when your conference ends?” he asked as he shampooed my hair.

“Mini golf? Or maybe pool?”

“You’re only picking those because you’re so good at them, and you want to beat me.”

I laughed. “I didn’t realize it was a competition.”

He winked. “Baby, I’m always competitive.”

He was when it came to work, but he also wasn’t. A competitive man wouldn’t have let another in the bedroom. “I call BS on that,” I said.

He arched a brow. “Is that so?”

I rinsed my hair. “I don’t think you were competitive last night.”

He hummed, as if considering, and when I raised my face from the water, he said, “Because I don’t have to compete for you. I have you, and all I want is to keep making you happy. Even if that means letting you beat me at pool.”

I swatted him. “I win fair and square.”

“We shall see.”

When we dried off and dressed, he walked me downstairs to where the conference would be held, then he pressed a soft kiss to my cheek. “Go get ’em today, tiger. You’re the best sports reporter the network has ever known.”

From last night to today, I was me.

I was doing it all. Having it all.

I went to work. And I didn’t feel like I had a split personality at all.

Not anymore.

I was no longer ravaged by my imagination. I wasn’t torn up over whether I was good or bad.

I was good. I was all good. And I was good to myself.

I walked on stage, and introduced the panelists during the

Negotiation Skills session. I zoomed right into business mode, talking about Haven’s performance in the Olympic Games when she’d won her gold.

“That has to help when you’re negotiating,” I said. “The fact that you know what it’s like in the heat of the moment, to have everything on the line.”

Haven nodded crisply. “I do think it helps, and I would urge anyone considering a career in sports marketing to do some research to truly understand the mind of an athlete.”


Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic
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