Authors: Delaney Diamond
Tags: #seattle, #billionaire, #friends to lovers, #family series
“Oh, that’s the other thing.” She pointed to
her eyes. “Contacts.”
“Yes. I have the long-wearing ones that you
can sleep in. It took me a while to get used to them. Sometimes I
still reach for my glasses and then realize they aren’t there. It’s
crazy, but yep, I’m wearing contacts now. I’ve had them for a week
Trenton scratched the back of his head. “I
don’t understand. What’s going on with you? What’s with all the
Alannah shrugged and started spooning food
onto the plates again. “Like I said, I’m not getting any younger.
It’s time for me to act and look like a woman.”
“I liked the way you looked before.”
She smiled briefly at him over her shoulder.
“That’s sweet, but you’re saying that cause you’re my friend. I
want to know what a man thinks.”
“I’m a man.” What the hell?
She giggled on her way to the refrigerator.
“You know what I mean. You’re more like a girlfriend than a
Trenton stiffened. Since when?
As Alannah poured lemonade—hers was good and
tart because she made it with fresh lemons and none of that
powdered stuff—into two glasses, he paid closer attention to her.
She didn’t just look different, she was acting different. She
displayed more confidence than usual. And the shorts had to be the
shortest pair of shorts he’d ever seen her wear. They put her legs
on display in a way that made him take notice. Had her legs always
been that long?
She was small up top but thick on the bottom,
and the contrast was never more noticeable than today. Her butt
appeared round and full, and her hips looked as if they’d widened
since he’d seen her last. Not likely, but still.
“No comment?” Alannah handed him a glass of
Trenton blinked. “About what?”
“About everything. My new look?” Her voice
fell off into a soft, disappointed whisper. She’d expected a
different reaction, and for the life of him he couldn’t figure out
why he wasn’t excited for her.
“You look nice. I mean, you know, it’s
different. The changes will take some getting used to.” Trenton
took a large swig of lemonade, wishing the glass contained
She nodded and handed him a plate of brown
rice, seafood with panang curry, and three basil rolls.
“Hey.” He stepped closer, studying her
downturned face. “You took me by surprise, but you look really
nice.” This change couldn’t have been easy for her to make. She
wasn’t the kind of person to bring attention to herself. She
preferred to be quiet and in the background, so auburn hair really
was a drastic change.
“You’re not just saying that?” She looked up
at him with uncertainty.
“From one girlfriend to the other, I’m not
just saying that.” He grinned and she grinned back. “Come on, let’s
go watch that movie you promised me. It better not be a foreign
“You liked the last one,” she said, following
him into the living room.
“Just because I liked it doesn’t mean I want
to see that mess all the time.”
She sighed dramatically. “This one is a South
He groaned. “So I have to read
“Oh my goodness. What a horror. You have to
“That mouth of yours is going to get you into
serious trouble one day.”
Plates in hand, they piled onto the sofa and
set the drinks on the table closest to Trenton. Alannah folded her
legs beneath her and turned on the television. A few presses of the
remote and the opening scene rolled out, immediately capturing
their attention with an explosion.
Trenton forked a shrimp into his mouth. He
chewed slowly, ruminating on Alannah’s altered appearance. “What
brought on all these changes? Are you really worried about getting
Her hesitation caught his attention. “Well
what? Are you seeing someone?” He stared at her.
“No.” She ducked her head and her hair fell
forward, hiding her face so he couldn’t see all her features.
“Are you sure that’s a no, or do you really
mean yes?” Discomfort set up residence in his stomach. She hadn’t
mentioned she was seeing anyone, and if she was, he’d certainly
never seen her go to all this trouble for a man before.
Alannah moved rice around on her plate with
the fork. “I’m not seeing anyone, but there is a guy at work. I
don’t know…he’s attractive and seems nice.” She shrugged.
“What guy? I didn’t know there was a guy.”
They told each other everything, but she’d been holding out on
“It’s not a big deal. He doesn’t work in my
department. I noticed him, that’s all. And I think he already has a
girlfriend, anyway.” She bit into a basil roll, the crispy
vegetables crunching between her teeth.
“Do I know him?” He’d been to her job plenty
of times and knew a lot of her coworkers.
“No,” she said shortly.
“Hold up, what’s going on?” Trenton set his
plate on the glass coffee table. “If your mystery man is with
someone, why are you going through all these changes?”
She sighed. “Can we watch the movie,
“No.” Trenton picked up the remote and paused
She shot him an annoyed look.
“Talk to me.”
Alannah gave him the silent treatment and
stared at the TV screen.
“What happened in Arizona?” Trenton
She tilted her face away from him, again
keeping her expression hidden.
“Hey.” Trenton grasped her chin and forced
her head back around to him. “What’s going on, Lana? What happened?
Did somebody hurt you?” The thought of anyone hurting her filled
him with rage. One hand clenched into a fist, and he leaned in,
paying close attention to her body language.
She shook her head. “Nobody hurt me, and
nothing happened in Arizona. It’s…everything, Trent. I’m tired of
being me. I want to be noticed.” Watery eyes looked up at him.
“What’s this?” Trenton took her plate and
placed it beside his. Then he pulled her into his arms and she
pressed her face into his chest. “There’s nothing wrong with you,
She sniffled and swiped a tear from her
cheek. “I know there’s nothing wrong with me—not anything major,
but I want to stand out.”
“Well, auburn hair will do it,” he said. She
lightly punched him in the stomach and he laughed, giving her an
affectionate squeeze. “It’s a compliment, dipshit.”
“Promise. I like the color.”
“Terri suggested it,” Alannah said, referring
to one of her close girlfriends.
He had reservations about her friend’s
influence but kept the comment to himself. He kissed the top of her
head. A new scent. Liking it, he smiled a little and took a bigger
“Your hair smells different.”
“I’m trying a new shampoo. It’s honeysuckle
Trenton took another whiff. He really liked
that scent. Stroking her hair, he asked, “Nobody messed with you,
“No, Trent.” She sat up and away from him,
breathing heavily, an annoyed sound. “I’m not eight years old
anymore. You don’t have to keep protecting me.”
His throat closed up, and the discomfort he’d
experienced earlier reappeared and filled all the corners of his
stomach. He’d always been there. For twenty-two years, they’d
always been there for
. He didn’t know any other
way to behave.
“That’s bullshit. We have each other’s
Her shoulders slumped. “I know,” she said
He took her hand, rubbing a thumb over the
slenderness of her wrist and the delicate, narrow fingers. “We look
out for each other. That’s what we do.”
“Yeah.” Her upper lip trembled but she forced
a smile. “Best friends forever,” she said, repeating the mantra
they’d said for years.
“Forever,” he confirmed. He squeezed her
Instead of happiness, Trenton thought he saw
sadness in the depths of her eyes. But before he could properly
analyze the emotion, she averted her gaze, picked up her plate, and
restarted the movie.
“Yay, I’m really looking forward to reading
this movie,” he grumbled.
Alannah rolled her eyes. “Give it a chance,”
she said, past a mouthful of seafood.
He picked up his own plate, set his feet on
the coffee table, and reclined against the back of the sofa.
But Alannah’s minor meltdown stayed with him
for a long time after the movie started. Every now and again he
watched her from the corner of his eye. She appeared normal enough,
back to her old self, yet he suspected she hadn’t told him
everything. The makeover and what she’d said worried him. He had a
feeling even bigger changes were coming.
And he wasn’t going to like a single one of
Alannah put away the dishes and then walked
quietly back to the living room where Trenton was fast asleep.
After the South Korean flick they’d watched a full episode of
Law & Order
, but fifteen minutes into the second episode
she’d glanced over and saw his eyes were closed.
Despite being a member of one of the
wealthiest families in America, no one could ever accuse Trenton of
being a snob. His total lack of pretentiousness wasn’t limited to
his friendships, and even extended to the clothes he wore. Tonight,
for example, he’d dressed down in a simple polo shirt and jeans,
and it wasn’t uncommon to see him do something as unorthodox as
pair a department store shirt under a Brunello Cucinelli
As Alannah watched his six-foot-three body
loll on the sofa, legs outstretched and head resting on the back of
the chair, she smiled. Full lips, way too luscious for a man, were
partially open in the deep throes of sleep. She should take a
picture and blackmail him with it, but even in this comical pose,
he managed to be endearing and was still the most attractive man
she’d ever laid eyes on. Sexy and with an abundance of
testosterone, he had an impressive build of lean, taut muscles that
traversed his body from top to bottom.
His height could be imposing, particularly
since she was a full nine inches shorter than him, but there was
nothing threatening about Trenton. He smiled too often and had an
arrestingly beautiful and friendly face that made him well liked
and put people at ease. In fact, he couldn’t stand to see anyone
upset and was that rare type of person beloved by both men and
women. He’d even figured out how to remain friends with his exes,
including the ones who swore undying love to him.
Her gaze skimmed his wide shoulders and the
colorful tattoos staining his muscular arms like shirtsleeves,
hidden under pricey suits Monday through Friday but today fully
exposed because of the navy-blue polo shirt. Dark jeans hugged
muscular thighs and long legs that strode with confidence wherever
he went. And his big, masculine hands easily swallowed hers every
time he’d ever taken her hand in his.
Alannah bit down on the inside of her bottom
lip, fighting back the soul-crushing longing of wanting to touch
him the way his lovers could. What did his mouth taste like? What
would it feel like to have his powerful body take possession of
Between her legs tingled from the arousing
thoughts and she closed her eyes. She’d never know. Why even allow
her mind to go in that direction, where she dwelt on her pathetic
feelings and desires for her best friend? She’d had plenty of time
to think, and she intended to carry out her plan. Boring, quiet
Alannah was a person of the past. Exciting, sexy Alannah would make
a splash in Seattle and date up a storm.
She walked over to the sofa and shook
Trenton’s shoulder. His head popped up, eyes fluttering open. They
were a brilliant green color, the same shade as English peas or the
fresh blades of grass that emerged in the spring. The pupils
appeared hazy and then focused on her as he came fully awake.
“I fell asleep?” He stifled a yawn.
“For a little while.”
“I better get out of here.”
He stretched as he stood, reminding her of a
mountain lion—big, golden, and powerful. He even moved like the
dangerous predator, with an economy of motion that suggested he was
never in a hurry, but always ready to pounce on prey. She envied
the women lucky enough to be his victims.
“If you’re tired, sleep in the guest room,”
Trenton shook his head and rubbed his hairy
jaw. “I need to head home. I’m going to the club to play squash at
eight.” With a big yawn, he trudged toward the door.
She followed, ogling the way the jeans hugged
his tight butt, and stifled a sigh.
Trenton turned with his hand on the knob.
“I’m going to dinner at Mother’s tomorrow night. You coming? I can
swing by and pick you up.”
“Can’t. I have a full day tomorrow. I have a
million things to do before I go back to work on Monday.”
“Adelina’s cooking a traditional Mexican
meal.” Adelina was his mother’s housekeeper who’d been with her for
many years. “Do you understand what that means? Chicken mole is on
the menu. You cannot, under any circumstances, miss authentic
Alannah laughed. His sense of humor was one
of the many things she loved about him. “Yes, I understand, but I
have to pass. I really can’t make it.”
Trenton placed a hand on each of her
shoulders. The heat from his touch singed through her clothes to
the skin underneath. She wished he would touch her, just once, in
an inappropriate way.
He searched her face. “You’re all right,
“Of course.” She smiled brightly to put his
mind at ease. “I had a weird moment earlier, but I’m fine. And of
course you know I’d come if I didn’t have a million things to do,
which includes picking up Angel from the kennel.”
At the mention of her brown and black
Yorkshire terrier, Trenton wrinkled his nose in disgust and dropped
his hands. He’d given her the dog as a Christmas present several
years ago after she’d fallen in love with a mutual friend’s