A sexy friends-to-lovers romance in Lexi Ryan’s irresistible The Boys of Jackson Harbor series is out today, and I have an excerpt for you.
Carter hasn’t shaved today, and his cheeks are scruffier than usual, making him exude even more testosterone and sex appeal than normal. His long-sleeve T-shirt is molded over his chest and shoulders, and when he shoves his hands into his pockets, his jeans dip dangerously low on his hips and expose the waistband of his boxers.
A shiver runs through me as I remember the feel of him—hands roaming, his hard body pressed against me, hot breath on my neck. Every cell between my thighs and my navel is suddenly doing its best Oliver Twist impression: “Please, sir, I want some more.”
“Is it okay that I’m here?” he asks cautiously.
Probably best to play it cool. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
He studies me for a beat before slowly shutting the door, as if he was considering leaving it open. Maybe he should so we both have an easy escape from what promises to be an awkward conversation.
I pour us each a cup from the fresh pot and doctor mine with cream, stirring thoroughly as an excuse to avoid his eyes. When I can’t delay it anymore, I cross the kitchen to the other side of the island and hand him his coffee. I still can’t look him in the eye, so I keep my gaze on his chest. Coward.
“What was Shay doing here?”
“You know, trying to get the scoop on what happened between us last night and threatening to do me bodily harm if I break your heart.”
He grunts. “I thought it was your brothers who were supposed to threaten me.”
“I don’t have any brothers, so I guess you lucked out.”
He shrugs, as if he wouldn’t mind, or maybe he’s distracted. He seems . . . off. “Regardless, I’m sorry she’s butting in. I’ll talk to her.”
I wave a hand. “She’s my best friend. I’d be worried if she wasn’t trying to pry the details out of me.” I wince, realizing we’ve landed right on the conversation I was hoping to put off until . . . never. “Not that I admitted anything, but the hickey you left behind probably did the confessing for me.”
He squeezes the back of his neck and grimaces. Awkwardness threatens to creep back into the room.
Now’s as good a time as any. “About last night,” I say, at the same time as he says, “I’m sorry if things moved too fast.”
I blow out a long breath. “It’s not that, Carter. It’s . . . you’re my friend.”
He takes a seat at the table. “And you’re mine. I’m not interested in changing that.” His eyes wrinkle at the corners, and he laughs, some of that uncharacteristic tension leaving his shoulders. “But if those panties are supposed to keep me from thinking about last night, I have to tell you, they’re failing spectacularly.”
When that self-assured gaze of his dips again, I remember I’m not wearing pants. Sleep must still have ahold of my brain for me to forget that quickly. I yank my robe closed and tie it tight, embarrassment licking flames up my neck and into my cheeks.
His gaze lingers below my waist for a beat, as if he can see right through the terrycloth. “Should’ve kept my mouth shut.”
“So you could stare at my crotch over coffee? That’s mature.”
“Never claimed to be.” He winks at me. “Are we really going to pretend that what happened last night could happen between two friends who aren’t attracted to each other?”
I snort. “I’m plenty attracted to you.”
“Wow.” He grins.
“You surprised me, that’s all.”
“Come on.” I take the seat across from him. “You have enough of an ego to know you’re attractive. Enough to know I find you attractive.”
He shakes his head. “Oh, I know you do.” Cocky sonofabitch. “It’s not that. It’s just . . . I didn’t expect you to admit it.”
“What’s the point in denying it now?”
His gaze drops to my mouth, and I’m there all over again—in the office, pressed against the wall, his mouth at my ear. Would it be so bad to have a repeat performance before we have this conversation? If the damage has been done, is it much worse if I drag him into my bedroom to finish what we started before we officially declare it a mistake and say never again?
I swallow. Be strong, Teagan. “But we’re just friends. Regardless of that attraction. Last night was an anomaly and never would have happened if we hadn’t been . . . pretending.”
He scratches his stubble. “So you hadn’t thought about it before I kissed you onstage? Not once?”
“I didn’t say that. I’m saying I’m not going to think about it again.”
His grin widens. “I’m gonna call bullshit on that.”
“You’re thinking about it as much as I am. I can see it in your eyes and your pink cheeks . . .” His gaze trails over my face, and his voice softens. “And the way you’re looking at me.”
“Fine. I’m thinking about it, but that doesn’t mean I want it.”
Another smirk. “Sure. If you say so.”
I growl. “Okay, so I want to do it again.” And more. As soon as possible, please. “But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.” I fold my arms and shoot him my best scowl. “It would be really helpful if you’d stop looking all hot and self-assured. I’m trying really hard not to let my hoo-ha call the shots right now.”
He coughs and raises a hand, one brow arched. “Can I be team hoo-ha?”