A heartwarming new friends-to-lovers romance is coming next week from Helena Hunting, and I have a wonderful sneak peek for you. It’s the story of Avery Spark who, at twenty-eight years of age, is living her best life. She has a great job, a loving family, and a best friend she loves hanging out with. But when a car accident suddenly leaves her in need of someone to take care of her, her roommate and best friend Declan McCormick steps up. The more time they spend in compromising positions, the more their long-hidden mutual attraction becomes impossible to ignore, and before long their friendship finally becomes something more. But their fragile relationship is tested all too soon…
Declan is standing beside my bed with his hands jammed into his sweatpants pockets. It’s basically all he wears these days. Gray sweats that, depending on how he’s standing or sitting, sometimes give me a great view of what he’s packing behind that fabric.
I’ve been trying and failing not to notice how good he looks in those sweats, but this morning was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and apparently my resolve. I’ve been trying to tell myself it’s deprivation that makes him more appealing these days, but that’s a lie. We’ve been spending so much time together and he’s been so attentive, so good about anticipating all of my needs, there to motivate me with physical therapy, with everything really, that it’s become impossible not to see him through different eyes. And realize that what I’m feeling has been there all along. I just pushed those feelings down and tried to suffocate them.
He clears his throat. “I don’t want you to lie, but I don’t want to make you uncomfortable either.”
I sigh in defeat. “Unless you have the sudden magical ability to make me spontaneously orgasm, I don’t know that there is anything you can actually do.” I try to make it sound like a joke, but I’m not sure I’m successful. Spontaneous orgasms would be a great superpower, though.
“Uh, I was thinking maybe we could get some ice cream or something.” He chuckles nervously.
“At nine thirty in the morning?”
“What about chocolate chip pancakes, then? Chocolate is supposed to be a good substitute for orgasms, isn’t it?”
I arch a brow. “If you’d gone without an orgasm for weeks, would chocolate be a reasonable substitute for you?”
He makes a face. “Not really, no.”
I consider how much longer it’s going to be before I can get myself off on my own again, especially with my preferred arm in a cast and my limited mobility. I have a couple more weeks before the cast on my arm comes off, and even then, I’ll need rehab before my hand is up for the task. It’s an unreasonable length of time to go without an orgasm.
Especially not with Declan still helping me with showers and doing shirtless burpees, looking more and more delicious with every passing day. The attraction I once felt back when we were freshman in college seems to have found its way out of the friendship box I stuffed it into years ago.
I bite my nail as heat creeps into my cheeks. Declan and I have been more touchy-feely lately. We used to sit at opposite ends of the couch, but now he’s always next to me and keeps his arm around me. And whenever we pass each other, I find myself reaching out. But it’s gone beyond that. When he’s done rubbing my back, he’ll often pull me back against his chest and snuggle with me for a while. There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve felt him. It’s excited me more than I care to admit.
“Maybe you could help me.” The words pop out, more accidental than purposeful, but it’s too late to call them back.
Declan blinks at me. “I’m sorry, what?”
I swallow down my mortification. “Nothing. Never mind. I’m kidding. Obviously.”
He crosses the room to come to the edge of the bed, his expression shifting from shock to something I can’t read. “I don’t think you are.”
“Just forget I said anything. I’m frustrated and talking out of my ass.”
“What’s the longest you’ve gone without an orgasm?”
“I don’t know. Like the first seventeen years of my life.” I’m embarrassed, and I don’t want to get into this with him, but at the same time I do.
“I don’t mean when you first had an orgasm. What’s the longest you’ve gone since then?” His voice is quiet and low, and the way he’s looking at me makes it hard to hold his gaze, so I stare at his fingers, gliding across the fabric near my leg.
“Until this accident, maybe three days, but I had the flu and I could barely get out of bed.”
“I imagine that’s pretty uncomfortable, then.” His fingertips graze my knee and my skin breaks out in a wave of goose bumps.
“It is,” I whisper.
“Avery.” His voice is gravelly.
I lift my head slowly, gaze dragging along his forearm, catching at his waist, where I can very much see the effect this conversation is having on him. “I can’t focus on anything,” I admit. “It’s such a distraction.” He’s a distraction. The kind that makes my current predicament even worse. “Just forget I said anything. I’ll deal.” Or die of embarrassment.
Declan’s chest rises and falls with every uneasy breath, and he rubs his fingers over his bottom lip. His throat bobs with a nervous swallow. “Ask me again. I wasn’t ready before.” His heavy, fiery gaze meets mine.
I don’t know what’s happening here, but I feel powerless to stop the words from pouring out, and I’m not even sure I’d want to if I could. “Will you help me?”
“Be explicit, Avery. Ask me for exactly what you want so I know we’re on the same page.”