Authors: Lynn LaFleur
What Are Friends For?
Copyright© 2011 by Lynn LaFleur
Cover by Lynn LaFleur
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters and events are creations of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and unintentional by the author.
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The sound of his doorbell seeped into Luke Duvall’s brain. Hoping he imagined the annoying noise, he burrowed his head farther into his pillow. The sound repeated a few seconds later. And a few seconds after that. Unable to ignore the summons, he lifted his head and peered at the digital clock on the nightstand. Luke groaned. Someone better be in the middle of an emergency to ring his doorbell at seven o’clock on a Saturday morning.
Luke threw off the covers and staggered to his feet. A wave of dizziness made him grab his head to make sure it stayed attached to his body. He shouldn’t have had that last shot of tequila with his brother John. Or last three shots.
Another burst from his doorbell urged him to head for the front door. It had to be his best friend, Erin Snyder. He didn’t know anyone else who would dare to bother him this early on Saturday. Erin had no concept of time. When she wanted to talk to him, she showed up with no warning.
Ten feet from the door, he realized he was naked. He doubted Erin would notice since she didn’t look at him as a man, but simply a friend. However, he didn’t want to accidentally flash his neighbors. He backtracked to his bedroom, pulled on a pair of denim cutoffs, then returned to the living room.
Erin breezed past him as soon as he unlocked the door and pulled it open. “I have one question for you,” she said, her back to him.
“Good morning to you too.”
She turned to face him. “Why are all men inconsiderate idiots?”
Translation—Erin had broken up with her latest significant other. “I can’t possibly answer that question until I’ve had caffeine.”
Luke led the way through his house to the kitchen, not bothering to check if Erin followed him. He knew she would. After four years of friendship, there wasn’t much about Erin he didn’t know.
“What happened this time?” he asked as he filled the coffee carafe with water.
“The same thing that always happens.” Leaning against the counter, she crossed her arms beneath her breasts. Her arms pushed up the mounds, giving him a very nice view of the top of her breasts in the round neck of her sleeveless dress. He and Erin might be only friends, but that didn’t mean he didn’t find her attractive.
attractive. Her slim body, huge green eyes and long, curly blond hair all combined to make her stunning.
“Want to elaborate a bit on that?”
“The sex was lousy.”
Outspoken and honest as usual. Luke didn’t expect anything less from her. Nor did he flinch at her telling him something so personal. They’d spent many evenings curled up on his couch, talking about family, jobs, men, women, sex. It had always been easy for him to talk to Erin, or for him to listen to her.
He scooped coffee into the filter, pressed the button to start the liquid caffeine brewing. “Why?”
Rolling her eyes, Erin released a frustrated huff. “If I knew why, don’t you think I would’ve fixed it?”
“Not if you don’t know how.”
“I can’t know how when guys won’t
to me.” She seemed to deflate before him, like a balloon slowly losing its air. “I don’t know what I do wrong, Luke. I try so hard, but the guys… Once we have sex, they don’t ask me out again.”
“Sounds like you’re dating the wrong kind of guys.”
“I guess.” She blew out a deep breath, ruffling the wispy bangs on her forehead. “Dating sucks.”
“Amen to that.”
Luke knew exactly how to make Erin feel better. He went to the pantry and removed the plastic container of chocolate chip cookies his mother gave him yesterday. “How about some cookies to go with our coffee?”
Her eyes widened in pleasure. “Your mom’s?”
“I’ll get the napkins.”
His stomach wanted protein, like bacon and eggs, but he’d rather put the smile back on Erin’s face than worry about his stomach. He could eat something healthier than cookies later.
Luke poured two large mugs of coffee, set them on the table in the breakfast nook, then went to the refrigerator for the liquid creamer for Erin. He usually teased her about liking a little coffee with her cream. He decided to hold off on the teasing today since she needed support more than ribbing. He grabbed a spoon for her coffee, sat at the table opposite her.
“What’s the inconsiderate idiot’s name?” he asked, taking the lid off the cookie container. The scent of chocolate wafted to his nostrils, making his stomach growl. He picked up one and ate half in a single bite.
“Gary.” Erin took two cookies from the container and laid them on her napkin. “I met him last month when he came in the agency to see about booking a cruise for his parents’ anniversary.”
“Sounds like a generous guy.”
“That’s what I thought too.” She broke a cookie in half and took a bite. “Oh wow, this is good. Your mom makes the
cookies.” Erin laid down her treat, picked up the coffee mug. “I figured any guy who would lay out that kind of money for his parents had to be considerate and thoughtful. And he seemed to be on our first two dates.”
“What happened on the third date?”
“We had sex.”
When she said nothing else, he prompted her. “And?”
“Did he ask you out for a fourth date?”
Damn. That Gary guy was an idiot. “Did he at least say he’d call?”
“Oh, sure. But he hasn’t.”
Scratch idiot. Gary was a moron. If things didn’t click with a woman, Luke told her so up front instead of giving her the “I’ll call” line. “You said the sex was lousy. Why was it lousy?”
She shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe it wasn’t
, but it wasn’t…what I want.”
“What do you want?”
Erin set down her mug and stared into it, as if the answer to his question could be found in the hot liquid. “I want a connection, something that makes me feel there could be more than just sex.”
“Don’t you think you should give the guy more time? You can’t expect to fall in love after the third date.”
“Why not?” She raised her head and looked at him. The tears shimmering in her eyes tugged at his heart. “My parents did. They fell in love on their first date. That was thirty-five years ago and they’re still in love. I want that too, Luke.”
He understood how she felt. Seeing his two brothers and one of his sisters happily married with children had awakened a yearning inside him, one he tried to appease by dating any woman he could. He hadn’t done any better in the satisfaction department than Erin. The orgasms left him feeling more empty than fulfilled.
“Maybe it’s me.” Erin picked up her half cookie and broke it into two more halves. “Maybe I’m lousy in bed.”
He didn’t believe that for a second. “No way.”
“How can you say that? You don’t know. We’ve never had sex.”
“Of course we haven’t.”
She dropped all the cookie pieces to scatter across her napkin and onto the table. Pain flashed through her eyes. “Why do you say it that way, like you can’t stand the thought of touching me?”
Okay, Duvall, you have to fix this before you dig a hole you’ll never get out of.
, Erin. I can get sex anytime. I can’t find another best friend.”
She looked at him for so long, he almost fidgeted in his chair. “Why are you staring at me?”
“Have you ever thought of me sexually?”
What man who saw you wouldn’t think of sex?
“Erin, you’re a beautiful woman. I’ve seen you in a swimsuit lots of times and you have a killer body. Plus you have all that long blond hair that can wrap around a guy’s fingers. Your eyes are…” He stopped before he admitted looking into her eyes made him think of cool sheets and moonlight shining on naked bodies.
“My eyes are what?”
“Nothing.” Needing some time away from her, he grabbed his mug and carried it to the coffeepot. “Do you want a refill?”
She didn’t answer him, but he sensed her walk up behind him. He quickly replaced the carafe on the warming plate before he dropped it.
“My eyes are what, Luke?” she asked.
Her low, husky voice caressed his cock. Shit. He didn’t want to develop a full-blown erection in front of her.
She touched his back, between his shoulder blades. Her hand felt cool against his skin that suddenly seemed stretched too tight. “Finish your sentence, Luke. I need to know. Please. I need something positive right now.”
He turned to face her. Once again, her eyes shimmered with unshed tears. He did what he’d done dozens of times since he’d known her—he drew her into his arms. He kissed the top of her head, rested his cheek on it. “Your eyes are as beautiful as everything else about you. The only problem you have… Well, okay, you have more than one.”
His arms tightened around her when she tensed as if to pull away from him. “We all have problems or quirks or whatever you want to call them, Erin. Your main one is a lack of patience. Two of your friends recently got married. Your sister had a baby. You’re looking in from the outside and wanting what they have. I understand that.”
“Sure. Guys want love and happiness too. We just aren’t sappy about it the way women are.”
He heard her chuckle, which made him feel a lot better. She lifted her head from his shoulder and smiled at him. “You’re good for me, do you know that?”
“Hey, what are friends for?” He dropped a quick kiss on her lips. “Do you work today?”
Erin nodded, took a step back so they no longer touched. “From nine to two. I have a couple coming in the agency today who are planning an around-the-world trip for their twenty-fifth anniversary.”
“Wow. That should be a nice commission for you.”
“I can use it. My air conditioner isn’t cooling as well as it should.”