Boobs are my business.
Okay, yes, I know I said that before, but hear me out. Boobs—and the effort to save them—have brought me more than just my business and my livelihood. Thanks to boobs, I met my two best friends. Also, I got a second chance with the man who got away once upon a time—the same one who came back into my life and made everything wrong somehow right again.
But I digress.
Let’s get back to my friends. I met Sabrina and Coral on my first day of junior year at college. The weekend before I’d come back to school, I’d had sex for the first time—and it just happened to have been with my older brother’s best friend, the guy I’d crushed hard on all through my teen years. I was feeling all kinds of emotions, everything from guilt that I’d done the deed with someone who’d made it clear it was a one-night-only deal to hurt that he’d been able to walk away from me so easily.
So even though my family wasn’t really religious, I’d somehow wandered into a Catholic church. A priest was taking confession, and when I slipped into a booth and blurted out my sins, the kindly older man had offered advice along with absolution.
“You need to get outside yourself,” he’d suggested. “You know, help others. Volunteer with a charity. Work with the needy.”
I’d thanked him profusely and hightailed it out of there in case he planned to recruit me as a nun. But when I’d stepped out into the sunshine, I’d been smack in the middle of a big volunteer rally—how’s that for timing and coincidence, huh?—hosted by Young Survival Coalition.
Sabrina and Coral each had had their own reasons for being at the rally, but somehow, we’d found each other and formed a friendship that had never wavered over the ten years since.
But today, I was about to do something that was either going to strengthen that bond or threaten it. And I really wasn’t sure which way it was going to go.
“Babe, are you sure about this?” Ty’s skepticism wasn’t exactly helping me. “I mean, I know you have all the right intentions, but . . . it kind of feels like you’re interfering in your friends’ lives. In a big way.”
“No. Well, yes.” I frowned and shook my head. “But it’s for their own good. And really, it’s just a Christmas Eve party. An intimate little get-together for my friends.”
“And the guys who they’ve recently stopped seeing,” Ty added. “Don’t forget that little detail.”
“Hey, who’s side are you on, anyway?” My forehead wrinkled as I glared at him. “If the answer isn’t mine, then I think Santa just might not bring you the very special treat you were going to get tonight. After everyone leaves.”
“I’m always on your side, darlin’.” Ty’s haste to reassure me was sweet, but I wasn’t sure if it was genuine or encouraged by what he wanted to see on me—or off me—tonight in bed. “I always will be. But I’m also just a little worried that you might be in for a big disappointment—and your best friends could end up furious with you.”
“No . . .” To be honest, I wasn’t as settled on that point as I might have been. Sabrina was a dead-set against romance woman, and I knew that she’d been rattled by her renewed acquaintance with Wesley, the guy she’d thought had abandoned her after their first kiss back in high school. Coral, on the other hand, was all about romance—as long as it didn’t involve her own love life. Still, she’d spilled her guts to Sabrina and me about Dax, her temporary fake boyfriend, and in the course of doing that, she’d admitted that maybe she did have feelings for him.
“You don’t sound sure about that,” Ty observed, smirking. “It’s not too late to call this off, you know.”
“I’m not doing that.” Crossing my arms over my chest, I shook my head. “I want my best friends to be as happy together as you and I are. Wesley and Sabrina deserve a second chance to find out if they’re meant to be, now that they’re grown up. And Coral has to realize that she can’t live the rest of her life being faithful to a boy who died over ten years ago. She didn’t die with him.”
“Maybe that’s the trouble,” Ty put in. “Maybe she has survivor guilt.”
“I’m sure that’s part of it,” I agreed. “But I don’t want her to waste any more time with that guilt. I want her to find her happy ending. Or her new happy beginning.”
He studied me, his expression inscrutable. “You really are a good friend, you know that, babe? Sabrina and Coral are lucky to have you.”
“We’re lucky to have each other,” I corrected him, smiling. “And that’s why I need to do everything I can to help them out.”
“Well, then.” Ty stood up, stretching, and my lady parts sang as I drank in the sight of his toned, muscular torso pressed against his T-shirt. “I guess we’ve got some party prep to do.”
“Hey! I brought the rum!” Sabrina came through the front door wearing skin-tight burgundy velvet jeans and a creamy cashmere sweater with a deep V neck. She was gorgeous as always, even if I could see the hints of sadness beneath her holiday merry mask.
“Welcome! Merry Christmas.” I hugged her and stepped back, pretending to examine her outfit from head to toe. “Wow. Hot mama. Do you have plans after, or is all this sexiness just for Coral and me?”
“Hey, don’t I count?” Ty came up behind me, slipping his arms around my waist as he grinned at Sabrina.
“No, you don’t count, because you only have eyes for my girl here.” She gave his bicep a light punch. “As it should be. And to answer your question, Celeste . . . no, no plans. Just happy that I’m actually off duty for Christmas Eve.”
“That’s something to celebrate.” Ty reached over my shoulder and snagged the bottle of rum from Sabrina’s hand. “Let me add this to the bar I’ve set up. Can I make you a drink? Celeste and I came up with a twist on a coquito that’s pretty damn amazing.”
“Sure, I’ll take one of those.” Sabrina wagged her eyebrows at me as Ty headed toward the kitchen. “How adorable are you two! It’s like he can’t stop touching you, and every time you look at him, there are sweet little red candy hearts in your eyes.”
“Shut up.” I swatted at her, but she wasn’t wrong—the smile that wouldn’t wipe off my face was proof of that.
“Where’s Coral?” Sabrina tossed her purse onto the entry table and dropped down to sit on the sofa.
“She’ll be here soon.” I shrugged. “She said she needed to drive into Savannah to finish some Christmas shopping today. I think she’s trying to give Ty and me alone time, even though I told her that this is her house, too, and we both respect that.”
“Do you think you’ll end up moving out?” Sabrina cocked her head. “You know, so you can shack up with loverboy guilt-free?”
“It’s much too soon to think about that,” I answered loftily, even though I’d already been sneaking peeks at the real estate ads, just in case Ty and I decided to make Burton our joint home base. “Besides, he lives in Nashville.”
“Oh, with the way his star is rising, pretty soon our boy will be able to live wherever he wants.” Sabrina shrugged. “Besides, now that you’ve found each other again, why would you want to even think about being apart?”
“Funny that you’d say that,” I began, thinking that Sabrina had given me the perfect opening.
“Yeah, I’d kind of like to hear the answer, too.”
We both turned toward the door to see a tall guy who looked like he could’ve been Chris Evans’ stunt double. My mouth dropped open. Damn. Sabrina had told us that her old high school sweetheart was sexy, but I hadn’t realized just how hot he was.
“Wesley?” Sabrina stood up. “What are you doing here? I thought you left town. Linc told me . . . he said you’d moved on to a new job.”
“I told you that day in the basement that I wasn’t going to leave town again, wasn’t going to leave you.” He shut the door behind him and took another step toward us. “I had to go up to North Carolina for a few weeks to help with another project. But I always knew I’d be back.”
“I . . . I . . .” Sabrina stammered, and in all the years we’d been friends, I’d never heard her do such a thing. “That day in the basement, Wesley. What I said to Linc on the way out—and how I ran away—I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean it to sound the way it did.”
“Brina girl, have you been beating yourself all this time, thinking I didn’t know that?” Wesley closed the distance between them. “I knew what you meant. You were freaked out about the storm, and then Linc showed up, and that threw you for a loop.”
Sabrina sank back to the sofa. “But I left you there without saying anything, and then I didn’t try to call you or see you. . . I figured you’d given up on me this time.”
“Nope.” Wesley dropped to one knee next to my friend. “I had to leave the next day, and I figured you needed some space after—” He glanced my way, and one side of his mouth curled slightly. “After everything we, uh, talked about the day of the storm. I only got back to Burton yesterday. Celeste had texted me last week, though, to invite me tonight.”
Sabrina looked up at me, her brow knit together. “How did you even know how to get in touch with him?”
I shrugged. “I have my ways.”
Realization dawned in her eyes. “Jenna Turner.”
“She might have played a part,” I allowed. “I just really wanted you to have another chance to talk to Wesley. To figure things out.”
“Listen, Brina.” Wesley reached for her hand. “I’m not asking you to swear undying love to me. Not tonight, anyway.” He winked at her. “All I want is for us to take a chance—together. Let’s take the time to find out, once and for all, if that spark is still there. And at the end of the day, if it isn’t . . .” He lifted one shoulder. “Then we’re still two good friends who’ve been able to reconnect, right?”
Sabrina was silent for a moment, and then she nodded. “Right. But Wesley . . .” She threaded her fingers through his. “If that day in my basement is any indication, I don’t think a lack of spark is going to be any problem.”
Grinning broadly, Wesley straightened up and pulled Sabrina to her feet, too. Drawing her close to him, he said, “Maybe we should start testing that theory right now.”
The kiss he gave her just about blistered the paint on the wall of my living room. I looked away discreetly, wondering if I should step out, maybe see if Ty needed help in the kitchen—
“Well, hey. Looks like a win for little Miss Matchmaker.” My boyfriend came in bearing a tray of drinks along with crackers and cheese. “Not bad, babe. One couple down, one to go.”
“Wait a minute.” Sabrina came up for air just long enough to stare at me. “One down, one to go . . . does that mean that Coral—”
“Oh, my God!” My roommate and other best friend burst through the door at that moment. Dropping her bags, she covered her mouth with both hands, trying to stifle a shriek. “Is this Wesley? Sabrina, is this him?”
Snuggling a little closer, Sabrina nodded. “Wesley, you already met Celeste, but this is the third member of our little trio, Coral Jennings. Coral, Celeste surprised me tonight and invited Wesley to join us—and it turns out that we’re both in the market for second chances.”
“I can’t believe it! This is so amazing and wonderful and romantic.” Coral did a little dance. “I’m so happy for you, sweetie.”
“Well, uh—” Sabrina looked at me, her eyebrow arched meaningfully. “I’m glad you’re in favor of pop-up matchmaking, Cor. Because Celeste just might have interfered in your love life, too.”
Coral tilted her head. “Oh, really? So was it meant to be a surprise that you invited Dax tonight, Celeste?”
My eyes went wide. “You knew?”
She giggled. “As it happens, when the text came in, we were together. At his apartment in Savannah.” She paused for dramatic effect. “In bed.”
“How could you not tell me?” I wailed. “I was so worried about you.”
“Didn’t you wonder where I’ve been disappearing to for the last few weeks?” Mirth danced in her eyes. “Or have you been too busy shacking up with your own loverboy?”
Ty chuckled, and I elbowed him in the ribs. “Watch it, buddy. Remember my threat about that special treat tonight.”
“Hey, I’m just saying that the lady has a point.” Ty slung an arm around my neck and tugged me close. “So Coral, is Dax gonna make it here tonight?”
“He’s parking the car. We were going to walk in together, but we didn’t want to ruin your plans, Celeste.” Coral hugged me. “I really do appreciate you butting in, even though it was unnecessary in this case.”
“But what happened?” I asked. “The last I heard, Dax had turned down your friends-with-benefits proposal, and that was the end.”
“Well, it might have been, if I hadn’t been on the set of Diego’s movie,” Coral admitted. “Diego and I formed a mutual encouragement society—I pushed him to take a chance with Zander McCord, and he goaded me into admitting that maybe it was all right to take a chance on something real with Dax.” Her expression softened. “All this time, I’ve been telling myself that I could never really love again after Jason. But the truth was that I was terrified to go through that kind of pain again—the kind that comes when you really love someone and then lose him.”
“But we agreed that you’re never going to lose me.” Dax joined Coral in the doorway, looking all sorts of sinful in his leather bomber jacket and smoldering good looks. He drew Coral to his side. “And even if the unthinkable happened, we’d rather have this time together than miss out on what could be pretty damn spectacular.”
“What he said,” Coral sighed, snuggling closer. “I’m risking my heart on Dax because he’s worth it.”
“Well, come in and shut the door,” I said, waving them into the living room. “Ty’s brought drinks for everyone, and I, for one, think that this calls for a toast.”
“You mean Dax and me?” Coral inquired. “Or Sabrina and Wesley?”
“How about all of us finding love this year?” I suggested. “How about us celebrating this beautiful season with someone special by our sides?”
“I’ll drink to that,” Sabrina chimed in, lifting the glass that Ty had given to her.
“No, wait a minute.” Coral, our resident wordsmith, raised her glass and took a moment to look at first Sabrina and then me, her eyes shining.
“To friendship. To love. To being there for each other. To bonds that last. To sticking by each other, thick or thin.
“And most of all . . . to the Bosom Buddies.”
Thank you for reading Bosom Buddies!
Writing this serial has been so much fun–
and has let me spend just a little more time in Burton this year.
I wish you and your families–those you choose and those you were given–
the best of the holiday season.
And no matter how or when or if you celebrate,
I invite you to choose love every single day of the year.