Blurred Lines Page 29

I ignore this.

“You know, I wouldn’t have this problem if you’d let me ask out Park—”

“Nope,” I say, before he’s even finished the sentence.

“But she’s single now.”

“How do you know?”

“I ran into her at Starbucks the other day. I think she was giving me hints.”

“Trust me. She wasn’t.”

Parker thinks Jason’s a total tool, and I can’t blame her. The guy’s one of my better work friends, but he’s got a bad habit of talking to women’s chests. He’s also got a knack for spending an hour chatting up a woman at a bar, only to get her name wrong at the end of it. And he wonders why he doesn’t get any phone numbers.

“Hey, speaking of Parker…” Jason says.

I whip my head around in the direction he’s indicated. No Parker, but it is her BFF Lori.

She seems to sense our gaze, and her face lights up in a smile as she beckons us over.

“She’s so hot,” Jason mutters under his breath as we make our way toward the gorgeous blonde.

“Hey, join me!” she says, gesturing toward the empty chairs at her table. “I skipped breakfast today and was starving but couldn’t talk Parker into an early lunch.”

She’s talking to both of us, but her eyes never leave mine, and I’m struck by the weird realization that this is one of the first times I’ve ever been around Lori without Parker.

Jason and I both sit down, he a bit too close to Lori, but she’s cool and doesn’t seem to mind.

But ten minutes into our lunch, I’m getting distinct vibes of weird. Despite Jason’s very dedicated attempt to draw Lori into conversation, she manages to shift everything back to me.

“Were you at that concert, Ben?”

“Ben, doesn’t that remind you of the time that we…”

“I’m not sure what I’m doing this weekend. Ben, do you have plans?”

Lori’s always been flirty. I guess I’d always thought it was just sort of her personality.

Now, without Parker around to redirect conversation, I’m wondering if it’s not a little bit more than that.

I finish my burrito and lean back in my chair. Jason is rambling on about how his uncle has a shot at getting Super Bowl tickets.

I glance at Lori—how can you not, when you feel someone’s eyes burning into you?—and she gives me a shy, private smile.

I smile back, reflexively, but one thing is abundantly clear: Parker and Lori’s Monday morning gossip session hadn’t included the little arrangement Parker and I made.

Lori and Parker are tight, and even though Parker and I aren’t a thing, there’s no way Lori would be giving me all sorts of blatant hints if she knew that I was about to see her best friend naked in, oh, eight hours and ten minutes.

Not that I’m counting or anything.

“Yo, Olsen. Where’d you go?”

I glance over at Jason, who’s giving me an impatient look.

“Sorry, what?”

“I was just saying that the four of us should go try this karaoke place my cousin told me about on Friday. Lori’s free, and I’m sure you can talk Parker into it. You in?”

He gives me a look that informs me bro code demands I say yes, and I have to bite my tongue to keep from asking which girl’s going to be the object of his slobbery affection on Friday night.

Still, I’ll confess that I do love a good round of tipsy karaoke, and he’s right—I can definitely talk Parker into it, because she also loves karaoke. Give her a glass or two of champagne, and you’ll be fighting her for the microphone.

“Sure, why not?” I say.

Lori’s smile turns into an all-out beam, and I have the first stab of awareness that my arrangement with Parker has the potential to get a tad more complicated than we thought.

Chapter 11


I keep waiting for things to turn weird with Ben and me.

I was braced for it this morning when we bickered over whether or not he used my towel again.

(He did. I totally know he did.)

I waited for it while he gamely sang along to my Taylor Swift album with me on the way to work.

I waited for it on the way home while I listened to him rant and rave about how his most recent work project had been put on hold because the funding had been applied to a higher priority project that he thought was “complete and utter bullshit.”

But by the time he helps himself to the chicken Parmesan I made for dinner, deliberately ignoring the salad, my fear has all but subsided.

Maybe we really can do this. Because, so far, the looming naked time hasn’t done crap to rattle our friendship.

Now, granted, we haven’t exactly seen each other’s nether bits yet. That will be the true test.

I sneak a peek at the clock. Seven fifteen.

Forty-five minutes.

I wait for nervousness or second thoughts to settle in.



Nope. I’m pretty damn excited for this. My lady parts are in need.

“Hey, you wanna go to karaoke on Friday?” he asks.

“Oh, right,” I say, using my fingers to pick up a long string of mozzarella cheese and plop it into my mouth as I settle at the kitchen table. “Lori mentioned it. Some new place that Jason found?”

“I don’t know that it’ll be any Cody’s,” Ben says, referring to our favorite karaoke bar from college. “But I’m game if you are.”

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