Blurred Lines Page 16

“Thanks.” I shift my weight, wondering where the but is.


There it is.

“I just thought you’d want to know that your slide on the first-quarter projections was a little bit crammed. I had a hard time reading it from the back of the room. I’m sure Michelle was a little disappointed, seeing as the senior VP showed up.”

Michelle is our boss, and considering she already told me the presentation was flawless, I’m not even remotely worried.

“I hope you don’t take that the wrong way,” she says.

“Oh, gosh no, it was super nice of you to let me know,” I say, already moving away. “Since we’re exchanging advice with no hard feelings, maybe sit in the front of the room next time? It sounds like possibly you’re a bit nearsighted.”

I move away before she can think up some sort of passive-aggressive comeback and make a beeline for Lori’s desk.

She’s on the phone with a vendor, so I hop up on her desk, waiting patiently for her to finish.

“We should go out tonight,” I say, the second she hangs up.

Lori’s blond eyebrows creep upward. “It’s Monday.”

“And that’s stopped you when?”

“I’m not the problem here, babycakes. You’re the one who likes to be tucked in by nine p.m. with your Ovaltine on weeknights.”

I hold up a finger. “Lance’s girlfriend didn’t go out on weeknights. But single Parker could definitely go for a couple cocktails.”

“Count me in,” she says, her voice slightly wary. “Is there an agenda?”

“Picking up boys,” I say, kicking my heels slightly against her desk drawer.

“Damn, Rebound Parker moves fast,” she says approvingly.

Rebound Parker. I like that.

“But, sweetie,” she says, flicking my knee with her fingers. “You’re not going to go dive-bombing into another relationship, right? You need time.”

“Fret not, dear friend. My needs are more…carnal.”

Her blue eyes go wide at that. “You’re looking to get laid?”

“Definitely. Well, eventually,” I amend. “But I’ve been out of the game awhile. I figure I need a few practice rounds, remember what it was like to flirt.”

“Honey, with looks like ours, we don’t need to flirt. A bit of lip gloss and a tight shirt, and they’ll be begging to take us home.”

I smile at Lori’s immodesty. I’ve always thought of myself as decent-looking, but Lori’s gorgeous and she knows it. She’s got long silky blond hair and these super-light-blue eyes that she accentuates with perfectly applied dark eye makeup. Adding insult to injury, she’s tall and lean and has amazing fashion sense.

“How about Whitehall Tavern?” I ask.

She purses her lips and considers. “A good training ground.”

“Training ground?” I ask, not at all liking the sound of it.

“Hey, you’re the one who said you need practice. And who better to show you the ropes than the Dating Huntress of Portland?”

I snort. “I thought you said just this morning that you want a steady boyfriend?”

“I do. Doesn’t mean I’m not really good at playing the field. Stick with me, my young apprentice.”

“That’s my plan,” I say, hopping off her desk. “Meet at seven?”

“Perfect,” she says. “Hey, you bringing Ben?”

I give her a look. “I thought we were over this.”

She gives me an innocent look. “Well, I’m just thinking that a guy’s perspective can’t hurt here.”

“I’m aware,” I say dryly. “And I have every intention of him being my other wingman. But not unless you promise me that you’re not still harboring your crush.”

“I don’t have a crush.”

I lift an eyebrow, and she groans. “It’s just that he’s gorgeous, Parks. You don’t see it, because you two have that weird blindness-to-each-other thing, but trust me. Ben Olsen is exactly the type of man that every woman should have in her bed at least once.”

I point a finger at her. “No. Promise me. No hitting on Ben.”

Lori’s lips move into a pout that somehow works for her. “But why?”

“Because despite all your Huntress of Dating babbling, I know you want something real,” I tell her, keeping my voice gentle. “And I love Ben to death, but the guy is not cut out for commitment.”

“Maybe he just hasn’t met the right girl.”

“I mean this with love, but I don’t think you’re the first girl to think that.”

Lori sighs.

“I just don’t want you to get hurt,” I say.

“And if I just want to use him for his beautiful body?”

“Don’t be gross. And I’ve seen the way you laugh way too loud at his jokes. You’re halfway to a full crush, and not just on his biceps.”

“And yet he never makes a move,” she says, tapping her lip. “Am I not his type?”

I roll my eyes. Lori is definitely Ben’s type. Lori is every guy’s type. But I’ve given him this exact same warning. Not just about Lori, but all of my friends. It’s one of my house rules:

Don’t hit on my friends.

It’s not that I think every girl falls head over heels in love with Ben or anything, but if one of them does and gets hurt, I’m terrified of having to take sides. Of losing a friend.

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