The third standalone in Devney Perry’s Runaway series is out this week, and I have an awesome sneak peek for you. The unrequited love trope is like catnip to me, and this super emotional story of two best friends who find themselves on a road trip of a lifetime—one desperately trying to exorcise her feelings for her best friend, and the other finally coming to terms with the way he’s always felt for the woman sitting right next to him—might be my new favourite in the series.
“Cash,” Kat snapped as the tires buzzed on the rumble strip.
I jerked my gaze up and righted the car before drifting into the other lane. Thankfully it was empty.
Fuck. What was with me today?
“What’s with you today?” she asked.
Of course she’d snatch the words from my head. The two of us had been friends for so long, it wasn’t uncommon to finish each other’s sentences.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “Just, uh, lost in thought.”
Katherine hummed and returned her gaze to the passenger window, staring out over the green fields that rolled beyond. Her attention had been fixed on the landscape all morning, which was probably why she hadn’t noticed that the reason I’d been bouncing between the white line of the shoulder and yellow center divide for the past twenty miles was because my eyes hadn’t exactly been on the road.
They’d been on her.
I ran a hand over my jaw, then gave it a smack, wishing I could knock some sense into my head. Since I hadn’t shaved my beard yet, maybe it would cover some of the confusion on my face.
Something was not right. Things felt . . . weird. With Kat. And I couldn’t put my finger on why.
Last night, we’d had a normal dinner. At least, it should have been normal. Just two friends sitting across from one another, talking. And she’d confided in me. Finally, Kat had trusted me with details from her past.
Was that why dinner had felt so . . . intimate? Maybe it was just the setting, but damn, it had felt like a date. I’d teased her about thinking of it like one but hadn’t expected to actually fall for it myself. And not just a date.
A good date.
The best date.
I shook my head and gripped the steering wheel harder. Eyes on the road. Do not look at her knees.
They were just knees, like the shoulder I’d been glancing at a minute ago was just a shoulder. It was only bare skin, smooth and creamy. Flawless except for the one freckle that dotted the apex of her arm and the other that peeked out from the hem of her denim shorts.
When had Kat gotten freckles? Why was I noticing today?
I reached for the console and cranked up the air conditioning. Maybe if it was colder she’d cover those knees and shoulders and skin with something. Because Kat hated to be cold and if I dropped it low enough in here, she’d produce the sweater that was no doubt hiding in that suitcase she called a purse.
When had Kat begun showing so much skin? Normally she wore jeans and long sleeves, her shirts always embroidered with the resort’s logo. Even on weekend workdays, she wore a T-shirt and jeans. Was that even a tank top? With its lace trim and satin sheen, it looked more like lingerie.
The temperature had spiked today and the sun was beating down on us since she’d asked to drive with the top down for a while.
“Why did you turn the air on?” she asked, looking above us to the open air.
“I’m hot.” Desperate. What would it take for her to put on a goddamn sweater? “Are you wearing sunscreen?”
“Uh, no.” She gave me a sideways glance. “Why?”
“You’re going to get burned.” Get the sweater, Kat. You know you want to.
“I’ll be fine. At the next gas station, I’ll grab a bottle for us.”
Us. Why did that word sound so serious? It wasn’t the intimate kind of us. There was no us. Not in the couple sense of the word. Did I want there to be an us?
That lightning-fast internal response nearly had me slamming on the brakes, turning this car around and going back to Montana, where the world was normal.
Kat was my friend. My best friend. Roommate. Coworker. Pseudo sibling. There were days when I’d trade Easton for her permanently. Okay, any day. There were plenty of ways to label our relationship and us was not one.
I could not—would not—tear down the boundaries that nearly a decade and firm family reminders had put in place.
Yes, Kat was a beautiful woman. But like I’d told myself at the beginning, after my family had practically adopted her, Kat was off-limits. A single prime-rib dinner and a trip to Oregon weren’t going to change that.
I was blaming Harry’s Supper Club and the Imperial Inn. That goddamn hotel. Tonight, we were sure as fuck staying somewhere nicer. A hotel with working alarm clocks and decent towels. Big towels. Towel sheets. The scraps they’d justified in the Imperial were a goddamn joke.
Because maybe if I hadn’t witnessed Kat clutching a scrap of terry cloth to her naked, dripping-wet body this morning, I wouldn’t be so spellbound by her knees. It would be easier for me to remember that she was off-fucking-limits.
Fuck you, towels.
I’d woken up this morning at my normal time, around five thirty. I’d showered and done my best to shake off the non-date dinner. Then I’d dressed, packed my bag and gone to Katherine’s room.
I’d knocked once and waited. Then twice. After the third time with no answer, I’d been ready to kick the door in when her footsteps had sounded, running for the deadbolt and chain.
Kat had flung the door open and my mouth had gone desert dry.
The image was printed on my mind like a brand on a steer’s hide, burned there forever.
Her hair had been dripping wet, the dark strands depositing glistening drops on her skin. They’d run over her shoulders and down the line of her neck and collarbone. They’d raced over the swells of her breasts, disappearing into the towel.
Her face had been clean and her cheeks flushed, like she’d raced through the end of her shower to answer the door.
She’d rambled something about an alarm clock and her phone not being charged and sleeping late. Her words had been a jumble, delivered so fast they hadn’t penetrated my haze, but I could recall with vivid clarity how her lips had moved, soft and pink and ripe. The hand not clutching the towel had flailed in the air as she’d spoken, the movement causing the terry cloth on her left breast to slip and a hint of areola to show. The hem of that towel had barely covered the supple cheeks of her ass as she’d dashed toward the closet to pull out some clothes, only to disappear into the bathroom to get dressed.
I’d forced myself to close her hotel room door, her on the inside, me on the outside, and suck in some damn air as I’d tried to get my hard-on under control.
I’d gotten hard for Kat. My Kat. Katherine Gates, my incredibly sexy, incredibly off-limits best friend.