By: Lauren Layne
Releasing August 25, 2015
In a novel that’s perfect for fans of Abbi Glines and Jessica Sorensen, USA Todaybestselling author Lauren Layne delivers a sexy take on the timeless question: Can a guy and a girl really be “just friends”?
When Parker Blanton meets Ben Olsen during her freshman year of college, the connection is immediate—and platonic. Six years later, they’re still best friends, sharing an apartment in Portland’s trendy Northwest District as they happily settle into adult life. But when Parker’s boyfriend dumps her out of the blue, she starts to wonder about Ben’s no-strings-attached approach to dating. The trouble is, even with Ben as her wingman, Parker can’t seem to get the hang of casual sex—until she tries it with him.
The arrangement works perfectly . . . at first. The sex is mind-blowing, and their friendship remains as solid as ever, without any of the usual messy romantic entanglements. But when Parker’s ex decides he wants her back, Ben is shocked by a fierce stab of possessiveness. And when Ben starts seeing a girl from work, Parker finds herself plagued by unfamiliar jealousy. With their friendship on the rocks for the first time, Parker and Ben face an alarming truth: Maybe they can’t go back. And maybe, deep down, they never want to.
Most of the time, having a girl for a best friend is awesome.
Among the highlights:
(1) My color-blind self never has to worry about going out the door looking like a sad clown.
(2) The Brita water filter is always replaced on time.
(3) Parker actually likes doing laundry for fun, and she only complains when I sneak my stuff in with hers about 30 percent of the time.
Oh, and as this morning’s adventure displayed, she’s an excellent excuse when a person needs to rid himself of clingy one-night stands.
But then there are the not-so-great parts. Like when she’s spent thirty-five minutes looking at lamps.
“Just get that one,” I say, lifting my arm to point at a random floor lamp as the noisy, child-filled scariness that is IKEA threatens to choke me.
She barely glances at the one I’ve selected. “It looks like a uterus.”
“What the fuck does a uterus look like?”
“Like that lamp. And honestly, for as much time as you spend rummaging around in women’s panties, you really should get familiar with their parts.”
“Isn’t the uterus the—” I break off, looking for the right word to describe the random memories from eighth-grade sex-ed class.
Parker lifts her eyebrows. “The baby cave?”
Like any normal guy would, I wince. “Christ. Why would I need to know about that? I use a condom.”
“Several of them, judging from the state of your bedroom,” she says, tilting her head to study the lime green lamp shade in her hands. “Do you think this would clash with my bedspread?”
“You’re asking the color-blind guy? Like I have any clue what color your bedspread is.”
“Seriously? Don’t act like you’ve never seen it. Two nights ago you flopped onto my bed in your sweaty gym clothes and it took me two washes to remove the man stank.”
I shake my head. “Poor Lance. Do you make him wear a plastic bag when you guys hook up so he doesn’t get his man stank on your sheets?”
“Lance doesn’t have man stank.”
I frown. “Hold up. If I have man stank, Lance has man stank.”
I open my mouth to argue, but instead I shrug. That’s another thing you learn having a girl best friend. You pick your battles.
“You have two more minutes to pick your lamp,” I say. “I’m starving.”
Parker adjusts her purse strap on her shoulder. “Oh, I’m not buying a lamp. I was just browsing.”
I inhale deeply to rein in my women suck rampage when I catch her smirk.
“Oh, I get it,” I say as we move toward the end of the store where we’ll pick up my dresser. “This is payback. You’re mad because I made up that story about you having a creepy doll collection.”
“Actually, it was more punishment for destroying the house rules. I’m totally laminating them next time.”
“Or you could just create an online version and keep them in the cloud like normal people born after 1980.”
I see a little lightbulb go on in her head and almost regret giving her the idea. Not that it matters much. I’ve never really followed her fussy rules anyway, although for the most part I try to not be too much of a dick. The towel incident this morning notwithstanding, it’s like I said, Parker loves laundry. I knew she had extra clean ones stashed away.
“Seriously, don’t get that color finish,” she says, shaking her head at the dresser box I’m about to pull off the shelf.
“Wood is wood,” I say with a shrug, starting to maneuver the huge box onto our flat cart.
“No, there’s old-man wood and there’s modern wood.”
I raise my eyebrows. “Old-man wood, huh? You and your kinky fetishes. Do you make the dolls watch?”
She ignores me, and uses her hip to push the box I’d started to move back onto its shelf. “That one.” She points.
“Espresso?” I ask, reading the label.
But Parker is now typing away on her phone. I shrug, pushing her out of the way so I can get at the box she indicated.
“How about tacos?” she asks, glancing up briefly from her phone.
“I just had Mexican last night,” I say through a grunt as I move the box into position.
“You said I could pick.” She gives me a challenging look, her goldish brown eyes practically daring me to argue with her.
“If it was a unilateral decision, why’d you even ask?”
“Unilateral. Good word. And it was a test. You passed,” she says, trotting to catch up with me as she replaces her phone in her purse. “So how did you and Airhead meet? The Beta Phi party last night? She looked like she was eighteen.”
“Airhead?” I ask.
“It was written on her pants. Literally.”
“Oh, right. Those weren’t her pants. Lindsay left them last week.”
She makes a disgusted face as she pulls her long dark hair into a messy bun. I don’t notice most things about Parker as a girl, because, ya know, it’s just Parker, but she does have some damn good hair. It’s all Victoria’s Secret model–-like, long and dark with lightish streaks running through it.
The rest of her is kind of Victoria’s Secret-ish, too, but other than an initial moment of whoa when we first met, there’s never really been anything between us. I guess you could say I like her too much.
That and she’s dating Lance, and I like the guy. I mean, we’re not best friends or anything, but it’s impossible to live with Parker and not have some sort of friendship with her significant other.
Lance and I stop short of braiding each other’s hair, but we watch games together on occasion. I’d never make a move on his girl—even if I wanted Parker.
Which I don’t.
“So let me get this straight,” she says, as I swipe my credit card through the self-checkout machine. “One of your booty calls leaves her pants, which is weird, by the way, and then a week later, an underclassman sorority girl willingly puts them on?”
I shrug and give her a look out of the corner of my eye. “What’s wrong with that?”
Parker closes her eyes and sort of scratches at her eyebrow. “You don’t tell your mother any of this, do you?”
“Sure, we actually have a family blog, and I list my sexual activity for the week every Sunday. Is that weird?”
She ignores me, pulling out her phone again.
Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.
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