As we all caught up, I did my best to dismiss the peanut gallery’s—both the guys’ and my sister’s—unsolicited romantic advice. But that proved damn near impossible because my mind was on Kate. And I was in the mood to spend some time with her.

Perhaps I needed to follow some of that unsolicited advice this weekend.

Soon Nina and Adam hit the dance floor, and so did Finn and Lily. That left me and Kate.

I flashed her a grin. “What’s it going to be, Williams? In the mood for a spin on the dance floor or a drink? Or do you have a secret hankering to bet on the ponies?” She smiled as I made my opening offer to assess her interest. But before she could answer, I held up a hand. “Don’t tell me. I bet it’s the horses.”

Laughing, she shook her head. “You’d be wrong.” She glanced at the time on her phone. “I need to take off soon, since I have a meeting in the morning, but I can handle one round.”

And that didn’t bode well for my chances, but I wasn’t going down without a fight.

“Door number two, then,” I said. We headed to the bar and ordered gin and tonics, and as we waited, I asked what she was up to after her meeting tomorrow. “Friday night, that is,” I added, since that was the time on her schedule I wanted to occupy.

“Depends on how much work I have to do over the weekend.”

I affected a shocked expression. “Work over the weekend? Say it isn’t so.”

“You’re one to talk. Aren’t you all work and no play lately?”

I lifted a finger. “Was. I’m taking the weekend off, per my sister’s instructions. She made me promise I’d lay off the emails and contracts.”

“And, being a good younger brother, you’re listening to her words of wisdom?”

“But of course. And I think they should apply to you as well, Ms. Work All the Time. Make it a no-work weekend.”

“Since you’re doing it, I should do the same?”

“What a brilliant idea,” I said playfully, then I snapped my fingers like I’d just thought of a grand idea. “How about you help me while away the next two days? Maybe some blackjack, or some glow-in-the-dark mini-golf. Hell, we could go to the movies.” None of those options really felt like what Kate would want, but the suggestions might give my Kate radar a baseline reading. Besides, they were friendly options, and we were friends.

“Let me get this straight. You want me to go whack a ball, play some cards, or see a flick so you have something to do on your no-work weekend?”

I flashed her a huge grin. “Exactly.”

“Dare I ask the next thing?”

“What’s in it for you?” I supplied.

Laughing, she nodded. “Yes, since you seem to be lining me up to be your Sunday Funday plus-one.”

“Why, I thought you’d never ask. One, it’s on me. And two, I’m an excellent way to spend the weekend.” If I kept the invitation light and easy, I’d be good. I wouldn’t be pushing her in ways that might make her uncomfortable.

Laughing, she shook her head. “You’re too much.”

With an indignant huff, I answered, “Fine, we can do dinner too.”

She knitted her brow, going serious in a second. “Like a date?”

I had no clue how to read her tone. None whatsoever. Was she asking about a date because she wanted the same? Or because she wanted to know enough to turn one down?

My radar was silent, so I stayed on the same path. “No. Like dinner. They serve food. You eat. It’s good.”

She stroked her chin. “Hmm. Food can, in fact, be good.”

“See? Now you’re getting the hang of hanging with me. I’ll make sure you’re well-fed.”

“What more could a girl ask for?” Her expression shifted to focused, professional. “Seriously, though, it depends on how things go tomorrow. My schedule might be crazy busy, but if it’s not, it would be fun to see you this weekend.”

See you this weekend.

The radar beeped.

Faster. Louder.

Because those four words sounded like an opportunity of the golden variety.

We clinked glasses and toasted to friendship, as was our custom.

It fit. We were indeed friendly.

But tonight, I was feeling frisky, too, and with the see you this weekend in my crosshairs, I needed to take a shot. Maybe with a bet.

As I knocked back a swallow of my drink, I glanced at the dance floor. A woman in black leather sidled up against a man with sleeves of ink on both arms. They didn’t touch, but they danced at each other. Yes, that was a perfect entrée, and I was going to use it.

“I bet they’re grinding in thirty seconds,” I said to Kate. She was a cat with catnip, unable to resist getting cozy with a wager.

She arched a playful brow. “You’re only betting because you lost the last one.”

Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic