Bosom Buddies Episode Nine

If you missed Episode One, read it here.

If you missed Episode Two, read it here.

If you missed the Bonus Episode, read it here.

If you missed Episode Three, read it here.

If you missed Episode Four, read it here.

If you missed Episode Five, read it here.

If you missed Episode Six, read it here.

If you missed Episode Seven, read it here.

If you missed Episode Eight, read it here.

Dax

I love my job. Seriously, I do. I don’t have any grand ambitions to do something else with my life, which is pretty unusual. You know, a lot of bartenders are just doing this until something better comes along. They want to be lawyers, or actors, or musicians . . . that whole deal. But not me.

I’ve been a bartender since I was twenty-one—officially, that is. Before that, I worked at my grandfather’s place in a tiny little map dot in North Carolina. My job description was waiter, but I took my share of shifts behind the bar, too. I knew enough to watch out for the kind of people who might be tempted to turn us in, and the locals didn’t care how old I was as long as I kept pouring beer and whiskey.

When Gramps had a heart attack and sold the bar to my uncle, he offered to let me stay on, but I’d decided that it was time to move on. I left North Carolina and headed south, mostly because I’d heard that the theme parks in central Florida were always looking for bartenders. But when I stopped for dinner in Savannah, I met a girl . . .

All the best stories start that way, don’t they?

Anyway, I ended up staying in Savannah and finding a job. The job lasted longer than the girl did, sadly. One bartending gig led to another and another until I realized I’d been in Savannah for twelve years. By then, I’d scored a prime role here at the Gwynn Regal, climbing the ladder to a spot where I could pretty much choose my own shifts, was known to the best customers and had the freedom to change the drink menu whenever I felt the urge.

Which brings me to why I was strutting through the lobby of the Gwynn at seven on a Thursday evening, my mind a thousand miles away. I’d just finished working on the specialty cocktails for the upcoming weekend and was heading toward the office of the food and bev manager to drop it off. But I wasn’t sure about the last entry on the list; I’d decided to add a caramel apple mule as a nod to the change of season. But maybe that was the safe choice. I frowned at the paper in my hand.

And then—whoomph! Something hit me—and I realized it wasn’t a thing but a someone. All I saw was a blur of arms and legs flailing. Realizing it was a woman, I dropped the paper I’d been reading and tried to grab her before she fell.

But it was too late. I missed her arm, and then her legs went out from beneath her, and she hit the marble floor.

“Oh, fuck.” I dropped down to kneel next to her, frowning as I stared into her eyes which were huge and scarily unfocused. “Are you all right? Hey, uh, miss! Can you hear me? Can you see me?” I snapped my fingers. “Hey, are you hurt?”

Her forehead wrinkled, and I felt a little bit of relief since this seemed to be a reasonable reaction. Then she spoke, and my relief evaporated.

“Hey there, hot stuff. What’re you doing Saturday night?”

***

“I’m fine. Seriously, I’m really all right.”

The woman I’d accidentally bowled over was sitting on a stool at my bar, holding a bag of ice wrapped in a thin white towel against her head. She lowered her eyes, and a tinge of pink colored her otherwise pale face. She was clearly mortified by having fallen. Despite my repeated requests that she allow me to call an ambulance—which was backed up with even more insistence by the hotel’s legal team, who saw a lawsuit under every rock—she’d even refused to see the house physician.

“I just bumped my head,” she muttered now. “It’s no big deal, aside from me being embarrassed.”

“No reason you should be.” I shrugged. “I’m the one who bumped into you and knocked you over. I wasn’t looking where I was going.”

“I stopped walking and turned around without any warning,” she countered. “Even you had been watching, I would’ve run headfirst into your—um, you.” She closed her eyes. “Crap. This night has been a disaster from the moment I got out of the car.”

“Uh, okay.” I didn’t know what to do with that. I was aware that a woman in a situation like this probably needed some consoling, a shoulder to cry on, but I didn’t have the first fucking clue how to comfort. My experience with women was only in working with them or fucking them. Aside from that, females as a species were foreign to me.

So I did what I knew how to do: I turned around, picked up a glass, filled it with ice and then added soda water and a twist of lime.

“Here you go. Try this.” Another thought occurred to me, and I reached under the bar to find the small first aid kit we kept there. “And don’t tell anyone I’m doing this, but take this ibuprofen. You’re going to have a hell of a headache.”

“Thanks.” She held out one small hand, and I dropped the pills into her palm, watching silently as she popped the meds into her mouth and gulped the soda water. “This is perfect. Seltzer with lime is my favorite non-boozy drink.”

I grinned. “Happy to help.” I swiped a towel over the already pristine bar top to kill time for a moment before I spoke again. “Do you have . . . a husband? Boyfriend? Girlfriend? Roommate?”

She squinted at me, and I wondered if the dim lights of the bar were hurting her eyes. “Um, I share a house with a friend. Why?”

“Because I don’t want you to go home to bed by yourself.” I realized how that sounded. “I mean, you shouldn’t. You probably have a concussion. Someone needs to watch you.”

“Great. Just what I needed.” She sounded defeated, and for some reason, I found myself feeling like I wanted to fix that.

“I can call you a cab to get you home. Courtesy of the Gwynn. You shouldn’t be driving.”

“Since I don’t have a car—or a license, for that matter, you’re probably right,” she returned. “But I can’t take a cab home. I live in Burton. It’s like fifty miles away from here.”

Damn.

“Okay.” I crossed my arms over my chest, regarding the woman before me again. She was what my Gramps would’ve called a pretty little thing, short and slim, but now that she wasn’t lying prone on the floor, passed out, I noticed the swell of her breasts under the rust-colored dress she wore. It was tighter at the waist and then had one of those little skirt deals. I couldn’t tell right now, but I wondered if she had a decent ass to go with the rack.

Her black hair was short, and the front of it was just now sticking up in the air as she’d run her fingers through it more than once. Her skin was still a little pale; even the slight blush from moments ago had disappeared. Huge eyes that were the most interesting shade of gray-blue dominated her face, and their expression was bleak.

“Okay,” I repeated. “So tell me to mind my own business, but why are you here at this hotel without a car? You already said you’re not staying here.”

“No, I said I hadn’t checked in. Yet.” She held up on finger. “I was just about to do that when I wound up on the ground.”

“Oh, right.” I nodded. “Are you in town on business?”

She sighed. “Not really. I was meeting someone.”

My eyes narrowed. “You were? So is whoever you were meeting wondering where you are now?”

“No. I did meet—him.” She shifted a little and began to wrap the ice pack more securely in the towel.

I began to suspect where this was going. “So you met a guy, and you were on your way to get a room, huh? For the . . . two of you?” I raked my gaze over her again. Could she be a pro? It didn’t seem like she was, but then again, every now and then, we got high-priced call girls—escorts—here at the Gwynn. It was policy not to encourage such things, but at the same time, we didn’t make a big deal about it, either.

“No, not for the two of us. God, no.” She wrinkled her nose. “He wasn’t interested in me. I was walking away from him when I bumped into you.” She gnawed at the corner of her lip. “I ruined it tonight. It was my one chance, and I completely screwed it up. If only he hadn’t brought up pirates.”

I began to wonder if maybe I should have pushed harder for this chick to get checked out by a doctor. “Uh, well, yeah, that would be . . . weird, I guess. Right?”

“He thought he was bringing up a topic I’d find interesting.” She gingerly positioned the ice on her head again. “But I have an unfortunate tendency to . . . babble. Especially when the topic is related to my work.”

“You work with pirates?” This wasn’t so odd as it might sound to someone from any place but Savannah.

“No, not exactly.” Her eyes darted up to me for a moment. “I write about them. Not all of the time, but my most recent series involves them.”

“For real? You’re a writer?” I leaned on the bar, interested. “What’s your name? Would I have heard of you?”

For the first time since we’d crashed into each other, she smiled. “Unless you read historical romances—the kinds of books with covers that feature shirtless men and women with heaving—uh, bosoms—probably not. Although you might have seen ads for a movie made from one of my books.” She paused before adding, “My name’s Coral Jennings.”

It didn’t ring a bell. But then, I didn’t go to the movies very much, and when I did, it was always to see sci fi or fantasy films.

I shook my head. “Sorry. I’m not a big romance fan, though.”

“Oh, it’s not a big deal.” Coral waved her hand. “Most of my earlier books were made into series on TV, but I’ve had three that were films.” She lifted one shoulder. “My fourth one opens on Saturday night. The premiere is here in Savannah. Which is why I was at the restaurant tonight, meeting Dr. Dopey.”

“Okay, that needs more explanation.” I rested my elbows on the edge of the bar. “Who is Dr. Dopey, and why does he have anything to do with your movie?”

Coral rolled her eyes and then winced. “Ouch. That hurts. Remind me not to do it again.”

“Will do.” I waved my hand. “Come on. Start talking.”

“Fine.” Her chest rose and fell on a long exhale. “My agent and my publicist said that I have to have a date for this movie premiere. They’re negotiating my next book contract with the publishing house, and if I can sell myself as more than just your run-of-the-mill romance author, they have better standing to get me a sweet deal. Or so they tell me. My publicist is feeding the local media this story about my big romantic life. Which is a huge joke, because I’m boring, awkward, and hopelessly single.”

I couldn’t help chuckling. “Aw, it can’t be that bad.”

Coral snorted. “Trust me. It’s worse.”

Want to know what comes next?

Episode Ten is coming next Friday, October 29th!

And we’ll find out what happened on her disastrous date.

What about Celeste?

Her romance is revealed in

TITS THE SEASON

which is part of the holiday benefit anthology

TINSEL AND TATAS

 Get yours today!

Get your copy of Tinsel and Tatas Today:

Amazon

Apple Books

Kobo

Google

Barnes & Noble

 

Bosom Buddies Episode Eight

If you missed Episode One, read it here.

If you missed Episode Two, read it here.

If you missed the Bonus Episode, read it here.

If you missed Episode Three, read it here.

If you missed Episode Four, read it here.

If you missed Episode Five, read it here.

If you missed Episode Six, read it here.

If you missed Episode Seven, read it here.

 

Coral

There’s never an invisibility cape around when you really need one.

I don’t write fantasy or paranormal or any other kind of book that might include such a thing—my gig is strictly historical romance—but that doesn’t stop me from wishing they really existed. And if they did, that I had one that I could stash in my purse for moments such as these. Times like this, when I’ve said or done something so mortifying that I just can’t bear the idea of anyone looking at me.

But since this kind of wish almost never comes true, I did the next best thing. I whipped my phone from my huge handbag and put on my best expression of horror.

“Oh, my God, I can’t believe this! My sister’s been trying to get in touch with me—she just texted that she’s stuck along the side of the road. Her car broke down.” I rose to my feet, grabbing at the napkin that had been resting in my lap before it could hit the ground. “I’m so sorry about this, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave.”

Maybe part of me was still holding onto hope that I hadn’t embarrassed myself beyond redemption—that maybe the total fox sitting across the table from me might look at least slightly disappointed that I had to take off. If so, that hope was in vain, because if anything, the sexy face only appeared to be relieved.

Not that I could blame him. Tonight hadn’t been the romantic frolic that I’d been fantasizing about ever since my best friend Sabrina—well, one of my best friends—had offered to set me up with a hot hematologist from the hospital where she worked. Tonight was meant to be the meet-cute, the warm-up act to the big event that was happening this weekend.

But it looked like this show was closing before opening night.

***

Crap.

My date—and I was using that term loosely now—did not offer to come help me rescue my sister. He didn’t even stand up to acknowledge I was leaving. Matter of fact, he didn’t bother to put down his fork.

“Best of luck,” he mumbled through a full mouth of risotto. “Great meeting you.”

“Yeah, you, too.” I pushed the chair under the table with just a little too much force, rattling all the dishes and glassware on the table. The doc never missed a beat; he kept chewing even as he reached out to steady his glass of wine.

“Pig,” I muttered to myself as I walked away from the table, clinging to as much of my dignity as possible. I mean, was it my fault that the date was an utter disaster from the word go? Probably, yes. Was I as awkward as all hell? Definitely.

But still, that was no excuse for him to be so rude. Just because he looked like sex dripping from a stick didn’t give him the right to treat other people like they were the dirt under his very fancy, very expensive Italian leather loafers.

I made my way out of the restaurant and into the lobby of the ritzy hotel, pausing for a moment to catch my breath and get my bearings. I’d taken a YouRideIt to dinner, partly because I figured I’d be drinking, partly because I’d hoped the night might end with me not being alone . . . but mostly because I didn’t drive. That little factoid wasn’t such a big deal usually, but tonight, being stranded at a hotel in Savannah, almost an hour away from home, felt huge. And overwhelming.

I knew I should probably just go outside and flag down a cab to take me . . . where? To Sabrina’s townhouse? That was a possibility, though she was more than likely at the hospital, working a shift. I wasn’t going to get any taxi to carry me all the way to Burton, to the house I shared with our other best friend, Celeste. It was too far and too late.

So my options were taking said cab to another hotel, which seemed absolutely ridiculous, or checking to see if this lovely and fancy place happened to have a vacancy tonight. It wasn’t like I couldn’t afford it. I almost never splurged on anything, so I could’ve booked a month in the priciest suite in this place and never even blink.

There was only one small detail holding me back, and that was so silly that it didn’t even bear considering. Who cared if Dr. Dopey, formerly known as my date for the evening, spotted me checking into this hotel and realized that my reason for abandoning him at the table had been nothing but a clever ruse? He had it coming. I didn’t owe him a damn thing.

“Not a damn thing,” I said aloud, and then I pivoted on the balls of one foot, intending to march toward the reception counter with my head held high.

Instead, though—because I’m me—I slammed into something solid that was moving in the opposite direction. And before I could help myself, my stupid high heels—the ones I’d picked out for this evening and paid way too much money to own—okay, so maybe sometimes I did splurge—anyway, those shoes lost their contact with the shiny, highly polished marble floor.

The next thing I knew, I was flying through the air. Someone was shrieking, and it occurred to me that someone just might have been me. Then I was falling, and my head struck something hard and unyielding that would probably turn out to be the ground.

The world waved and shimmered around me, and the edges of my vision grayed.

“Oh, fuck, are you all right?” An unfamiliar but very attractive, very sexy male face came into my wavering line of sight. “Miss, hey, there, miss! Can you hear me? Can you see me? Are you okay?”

I wanted to open my mouth and say something witty—or maybe just something basically appropriate for once in my life. But instead, my lips formed words that my brain hadn’t approved.

“Hey, there, hot stuff. What’re you doing Saturday night?”

And then the world went dark.

Want to know what comes next?

Episode Nine is coming next Friday, October 22nd!

And we’ll find out who knocked Coral off her feet.

What about Celeste?

Her romance is revealed in

TITS THE SEASON

which is part of the holiday benefit anthology

TINSEL AND TATAS

99 cents only until Tuesday so get yours today!

Get your copy of Tinsel and Tatas Today:

Amazon

Apple Books

Kobo

Google

Barnes & Noble

Tinsel and Tatas Release Day!

Get your copy of Tinsel and Tatas Today:

Amazon

Apple Books

Kobo

Google

Barnes & Noble

*******

Enjoy this little tidbit of my story, Tits the Season . . .

“You know, Celeste,” I began conversationally. “I could be remembering wrong, but I think you and I used to like each other fine. Back in the day, I mean. When we were growing up, and when we were in high school.”

“What’s your point?” Her hands gripped the steering wheel a little tighter. 

“You’re pissed off at me for something, and you have been since I got back to town. I don’t know what I did to deserve it, though. You called and asked me to perform this weekend, and I didn’t even hesitate. I said yes. But from the time I saw you at the bar last night until now, you’ve been bristling at me like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

Celeste shot me a glare filled with venom. “I don’t bristle. And don’t compare me to a cat.”

“I happen to be a big fan of cats, so it’s not like that’s an insult,” I returned calmly. “My point is, darlin’—” 

“Don’t you darlin me, Ty Hollins.” 

I ignored that. “The point is that you’re acting like I’ve wronged you in some way, and I can’t think of anything that might qualify. So I’d like you to enlighten me.” 

She was silent, but I saw the tension in her jaw. With a sigh of defeat, I slumped down and stared out the window. 

I forgot sometimes how dark it got out here in the country, especially around midnight in December. Still, the headlights picked up enough of our surroundings that I had a good idea of where we were. Almost without thinking about it, I began to reminisce. 

“Krissy and Carl Hochuck’s place is out this way, I think.” I paused for a moment. “That was some party they threw that year—it was the end of the summer a few years after Danny and I graduated. Do you remember?” 

Celeste snorted and rolled her eyes, and it was about that time I began to get a clue. 

Bosom Buddies Episode Five

Episode One

 

If you missed Episode One, read it here.

If you missed Episode Two, read it here.

If you missed the Bonus Episode, read it here.

If you missed Episode Three, read it here.

If you missed Episode Four, read it here.

Sabrina

“Great. Just abso-fucking-lutely great.”

With a scowl and a glare into my rearview mirror, I shifted my car into park and hit the button to kill the engine. I’d just barely managed to fit my sensible little compact car into this tiny space, and I wasn’t entirely sure that the giant gas-guzzler SUV behind me wouldn’t ding me on its way out.

I’d had to park nearly a block away from Celeste’s shop because all of the spaces in front of Between the Sheets were already filled. I’d have said that was good news for my friend’s business, but I had a feeling it was just a typical Saturday morning on the main street of Burton. The town tended to bustle on weekends.

And yeah, I was in a little bit of a pissy mood. I wasn’t exactly sure why. Today was the third day in a rare five-days-off break, and considering how much sleep I was getting—a hell of a lot more than normal—I should have been floating through life, sprinkling freaking fairy dust from my hands. But instead, I was growling, grunting, and grumping.

Did I realize deep down inside that this state of mind had something to do with one Wesley Crane and my last awkward encounter with him? Maybe. Was I going to admit that to myself or to anyone else? I was not.

That day last week, I’d given myself a stern lecture all the way from Savannah to my house. I had been prepared to see him again—or so I had told myself. When Linc had greeted me at the front door, I had been cool and relaxed, pretending that I didn’t have a care in the world. I’d oohed and ahhed over the changes and the finished walls and floors. I had laughed at Linc’s quips and had generally been a delight.

But the moment I’d caught sight of Wesley at the top of the steps—I’d been about halfway up at that point—the gig had been up. I’d nearly tumbled down backward, and I’d no longer had control of my breath, my heart—or my words.

That had been abundantly clear when I’d sniped at him. I’d been so flustered and embarrassed that I’d used a casual text from Coral as an excuse to run away.

I had two choices now, as I saw it: I could pull up my big-girl panties and start acting like a grown-ass woman, pretending that I’d never met Wesley before, treating him like a stranger. Which he basically was, come to think of it. I hadn’t seen him since we were teenagers, and that meant everything that had happened to him since was a mystery to me.

Or I could sell the house and never have to see Wesley again.

With a smothered sigh at my own ridiculousness, I yanked open the door to Celeste’s shop and stomped inside. My friend was standing at the counter, and she glanced up with a frown at the sound of the bell over the door ringing.

“Oh. Sabrina.” She blinked, tilting her head. “I didn’t expect you so soon.”

“You said you needed me here ASAP,” I reminded her. “Your text said it was an event-planning emergency.”

“Well, I might have been a little dramatic when I said that,” she conceded. “It’s not so much an emergency as it is that I needed your input on a few decisions.”

I threw up my hands. “And you couldn’t have just called me? We could have video chatted. Saved me time and a tank of gas.”

“No, because I wanted to see you.” She grinned. “You know, sometimes it’s just nice to spend a few hours with your bestie.”

“Uh-huh. But we have a date this weekend to help Coral find a dress for her big premiere shindig, remember? You’re both coming into the city to stay with me and shop?”

“Well, sure, but maybe I wanted to talk with just you. I thought we could discuss Coral’s date situation. Have you talked to the hematologist yet? Is he interested in being Coral’s escort that night?”

Damn. I’d been so preoccupied with my own life that I’d neglected to reach out to the guy as I’d promised.

“Um, I’ve laid the groundwork,” I answered, using mental reservations to justify the fib. I planned to take care of it, and I’d do it the minute I went back to work.

“Okay, well—” Whatever Celeste had been about to say was lost as the bell over the door rang again, admitting a pretty woman with long dark hair in large sunglasses.

“Jenna, wow, great to see you. What a surprise.” Celeste rounded the end of the counter and crossed the store to greet the newcomer.

“Um.” She took off her glasses. “I just stopped to pick up the thing I ordered.”

“Yeah, of course.” Celeste nodded vigorously. “The peignoir you wanted for the romantic weekend Linc’s planning for you.”

“Right. That’s it.” Jenna’s smile seemed a little . . . relieved? But before I could I mull over that fact, I realized that I recognized her name.

“Wait a second. Your name is Jenna? And your husband is Linc Turner?”

“Guilty and guilty.” She offered me her hand. “You wouldn’t happen to be Dr. Hudson, would you?”

“Also guilty. But please, call me Sabrina.” I shook her hand. “Linc speaks of you often. I’m so glad to meet you.”

“He’s said nice things about you, too. And he’s kind of got a crush on your house.” Jenna rolled her eyes. “Which isn’t as unusual as you’d hope it would be. Also, I’ve heard Celeste talk about her best friends and all of the great work you’re doing for the benefit this Christmas.”

“I was saying to Jenna the other day that Coral and I are dying to get a look at the house, but that you won’t let us until it’s finished.” Celeste pretended to pout.

“You saw it in the before stage when I’d just bought it, and then you’ll get to see the massive transformation,” I told her and then turned back to Jenna. “What Linc’s doing there—it really is beyond my wildest hopes. Every time I get to take a look, I’m completely blown away.”

“He’s got mad skills, my man,” Jenna waggled her eyebrows. “And his team is incredibly talented, too. Have you met them all?”

“Uh . . . most of them,” I hedged, not loving where this was going.

“We had everyone out to our house for a barbecue last weekend, and I got to know some of the newer people.” She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “One of the guys in particular . . . he was telling me—” Jenna closed her eyes and shook her head. “Fuck it, Celeste. I’m crap at this kind of thing.”

I glanced from my friend to Jenna Turner. “What?”

Celeste groaned. “It’s not you, Jenna. This was all stupid. Men and their lame ideas.” Wrinkling her nose, she leaned back against the display case behind her. “Linc put Jenna up to this, and she recruited me to help.”

“What are you talking about?” I was bewildered.

“Wesley Crane.” Jenna wrung her hands. “Linc wanted to figure out a way to make sure you knew what really happened with Wesley all those years ago. And he thought maybe if I just kind of casually brought it up in front of you, maybe you’d listen.”

My cheeks went hot. “This was Wesley’s idea?”

“No, not at all.” Jenna shook her head. “This was totally my husband’s brainstorm. He has a huge heart and good intentions, but he doesn’t always stop and think.”

“If Wesley wants me to know something, he can just tell me himself,” I sniffed. “I don’t know why it even matters.”

“But you won’t stick around long enough to let him give you his version,” Celeste reminded me. “And Sabrina, seriously, you need to hear this.”

I rounded on her. “You already know?”

Guilt etched in her eyes, she nodded. “Jenna told me.”

For a long moment, I was silent, curiosity battling with stubbornness in my head. Finally, I shrugged.

“Okay. Tell me what you know. It’s not going to make any difference,” I hastened to add. “There’s no excuse for what Wesley Crane did to me back then.” Lifting my chin, I clenched my jaw. “Absolutely none.”

***

“Oh, my God,” I murmured, my arms tingling as I rubbed my hands over them. “That’s . . . it’s really true? You’re sure this wasn’t just Wesley spinning a pathetic story to get sympathy?”

“It’s true,” Jenna assured me. “Linc believed him, but he figured you’d have questions, so he did the research. There were a couple of police reports from years ago, when Wesley’s mom was still angry enough to report the abuse. Then there’s the death notice for Wesley’s father. It was right when he said it happened. It’s all legit, Sabrina. He didn’t know he would be leaving town that night. But he couldn’t risk his father finding them.”

From the vantage point of adulthood and new information, I remembered a few incidents now with new clarity. Wesley’s father had rarely been part of our lives, and when he had shown up, things had been tense. I recalled that when Wesley had vanished, my own dad had been thoughtful and sober, gently advising me to give my friend the benefit of the doubt. I wondered what Daddy would say now if I told him what I’d learned.

“I feel horrible for what I said to him,” I confessed to Celeste and Jenna. “He was trying to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen. I couldn’t see beyond my own hurt.”

“The good news is that you still have a chance to make up for that,” Celeste reminded me. “Wesley is here. Just a few miles away, putting in hours on your house. You could go out there and tell him . . . well, talk to him.”

“Does it even matter?” I wondered out loud. “We were kids. We were friends, but barely more than that. Life tore us apart . . . and maybe we should just forgive each other and move along.”

The other two women sighed in unison. “Sabrina, I don’t know you, but I’d have to wonder why you were so angry—and shaken—by seeing Wesley again if it really means so little to you.” Jenna patted my arm.

“You told us once that he was your first love,” put in Celeste. “You owe it to sixteen-year-old year to at least see if there’s something there.”

“But how do I do it?” I gnawed my bottom lip.

“I think you just drive over to the house, and you walk up to Wesley . . . and you ask him to tell you everything. You tell him you’re ready to listen.”

The idea of doing that made me break out in cold sweat. What if Wesley blew me off? What if he was angry about how snarky and mean I’d been? What if he told me that I’d never mattered enough to miss? What if he thought that I’d been making a big deal out of something that did mean that much?

But at the same time, beneath the terror and uncertainty beat a small yet persistent thrum of hope.

“All right,” I said at last. “I’ll do it. I’ll go see him. I’ll talk with Wesley.”

Want to know what comes next?

Episode Six is coming next Friday!

Sabrina and Wesley finally talk. And listen.

And . . .well, wait and see!

The tale of Coral’s movie premiere date

is coming in this month, too.

What about Celeste?

Her romance is revealed in

TITS THE SEASON

which is part of the holiday benefit anthology

TINSEL AND TATAS

Releasing October 5th

Preorder Tinsel and Tatas Today:

Amazon

Apple Books

Kobo

Google

Barnes & Noble

Bosom Buddies Episode Three

If you missed Episode One, read it here.

If you missed Episode Two, read it here.

If you missed the Bonus Episode, read it here.

 

Sabrina

“How many margarita sleepovers have we had?”

There was a moment of silence as my eyes met Coral’s across the kitchen table, and then we both burst into laughter.

“What?” Celeste spread her hands and gave us wide eyes. “What’s so funny?”

“You are,” Coral giggled. “You are so totally predictable, Celeste.”

“Every single time we have one of these, as soon as you get a little bit drunk, you ask us that question. And then you get pissy when we won’t stop and try to count them all up.” I lifted my purple margarita glass. “To the Bosom Buddies and our margarita sleepovers . . . however many of them we’ve had.”

The girl clinked with me, echoing my toast before we all took fortifying sips of our tequila.

“And to the Tinsel and Tatas Benefit 5K Run and Weekend Celebration.” Celeste raised her glass. “May we all survive the biggest charity event Burton’s ever seen.”

“Survive? We’re going to rock the whole damn thing.” Coral quirked one eyebrow. “Should we also drink to the weekend’s entertainment, one very hot, very famous, and very familiar—at least to one of us—country singer Ty Hollis?”

Celeste rolled her eyes. “Don’t start up with me again about Ty. I told you both that this is all business. It has nothing to do with what happened between the two of us almost ten years ago.”

“Time will tell,” Coral replied airily. “Just mark my words, girls. Remember that I told you so.”

Celeste patted her arm. “Of course, you did, sweetie.” She reached for the blender, where another serving was waiting. “But I think it’s time to get to the real juice of the evening.” She poured us each another drink and then fastened her gaze on me. “What’s going on with you, Sabrina?”

“Not much.” I left my glass on the table in my hurry to change the subject. “Coral, your movie premiere is next weekend, isn’t it? Are you getting excited?”

“Arrrgh.” She flung one arm onto the table and dropped her head down on top of it. “Don’t remind me. Why was I stupid enough to set this book in Savannah?”

I patted her hand. “Because you wanted to do a story that could include all of the history around here, remember? After we did that weekend in the city and went on the carriage ride and the ghost tour . . .”

“It was a rhetorical question, Sabrina.” She lifted her eyes. “Because when I set my books in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and Colorado, the movies premiere in New York or LA. But this time, with it taking place in Savannah, they thought it was such a great idea to premiere it here. And they say it’s absolutely essential that I’m part of the whole mess.”

Have I mentioned that Coral can be just the teensiest bit dramatic?

“I think it sounds like it’ll be amazing, Cor,” Celeste said, her enthusiastic cheerleading smile glowing. “Didn’t you say something about tickets for your closest friends? You know, your bosom buddies?” She winked.

“Oh, yeah, I’ve got that all set up.” Coral waved her hand. “That’s not the problem. The problem is that my publicist Sherell told me I need to bring a date. Like, a man.”

“Aha. Now the plot thickens.” I wagged my eyebrow. “This is getting juicy. Who are you going to invite, Coral?”

“I don’t know!” She practically wailed the words. “I was thinking of my cousin Gary, but then I saw the family newsletter, and I guess he got married or something. And anyway, Sherell says it has to be a romantic interest because they’re going to play up that angle—that I’m a romance author who leads this super exciting, sexy life.” Coral blew out a sarcastic breath. “As if! The most romance I get is when my fingers accidentally graze the barista’s hand when he’s giving me my coffee.”

“That’s no one’s fault but your own,” Celeste began, but I interrupted before we could get too far off track.

“So you need to find a hot guy who’ll be your date for that night.” I drummed my fingers on the tabletop. “I think I have an idea. There’s a new doc in the hematology department, and he’s kind of cute. I heard through the grapevine that he’s single—he broke up with his college girlfriend last year when she moved to Africa.” I shook my head. “Sorry, trivial detail. Anyway, I bet I could talk to him and see if he’d be willing to be your date for that night.”

Coral’s eyes lit up. “Seriously? Oh, Sabrina, I’d owe you forever.”

“Nah, not forever.” I grinned. “Just introduce me to whoever’s playing the leading man in your next big movie and we’ll call it even.”

“Oh.” She tilted her head. “The next one is shooting here in Burton this fall. I just got an update on the production schedule. Since they’re filming it here, I’m going to be an extra in one of the scenes. But the lead in that one was just cast—and it’s Diego Ramos.”

“Yummy.” Celeste took another long drink of her margarita. “But he’s not going to be interested in any of us, unfortunately. He was with that adorable guy who played a manny on the TV show—what his character’s name?”

“Chip,” I supplied. “But they broke up, or so I read.”

“Too bad for them.” Celeste licked a tiny bit of salt from the corner of her lip. “Now that we’ve got Coral sorted, time to turn out attention back to you, Sabrina. Don’t think I didn’t notice that you ignored my question. What’s up with you?”

I’d put this off as long as I could, and I knew when I’d hit the wall of defeat. “Okay, okay. If you must know, when I stopped by the house last week to see how things are progressing, I . . . met someone. Or rather, I had an unexpected reunion.”

Both of my friends wore puzzled expressions. “Who was it?”

I toyed with the edge of a napkin. “Do you remember when I told you about Wesley?”

“Oh, my God, Wesley,” Celeste clapped her hand to her chest. “You didn’t really find the boy who broke your poor teenaged heart, did you?”

“In fact, I did.” I swallowed. “He’s working on the house.”

“This is the most perfect romance ever,” Coral breathed. “It’s like a made-for-film second chance love story. Tell me everything.”

“There’s nothing to tell,” I retorted. “I walked in, he came down—he’d seen me from the upstairs window before I walked in—he told me who he was.” I took a deep breath. “And I basically yelled at him for leaving me without any warning or explanation, and he tried to give me some lame excuse. . . and then I left.”

“And you haven’t been back to the house since?” Celeste wanted to know. “I mean, aren’t you curious, Sabrina? Don’t you want to know what happened to him when you guys were in high school?”

“Why would I want to know that?” I retorted. “It all happened a long time ago.”

“Because he hurt you,” Coral answered me gently. “I remember when you told us the story. It was the first time I ever saw you cry.”

I blinked and pressed my lips together, unwilling—or unable—to answer.

“Wesley was your best friend. He’d been there for you all of your life, especially after your mom died.”

“Mmmm.” I nodded.

“And then you started to have feelings for him, like that you wanted to be more than friends, and you were afraid that he didn’t feel the same way until one night when you were walking home together. He asked you to the—was it the prom? Or cotillion or something?”

“The Holiday Ball,” I supplied hoarsely. “It was a huge big deal in our school.”

“Oh, that’s right,” Celeste agreed, taking up the narrative. “And then even better, he kissed you and told you that he’d been trying to work up the nerve to ask you out for months.”

When I closed my eyes, I could still remember that night so clearly. I didn’t think about Wesley all the time—a demanding college schedule, med school, and life had kept me too busy to wallow once I’d left Wisconsin after high school. But on nights when I was by myself and lonely, the memory of Wesley’s shining eyes, how his lips had felt against mine, the joy in my heart when he’d confessed that he liked me . . . it felt all too close.

“I really thought it was the beginning for us,” I mused, staring down at my hands on the table. I thought all of my dreams were finally coming true. I went into the house after he’d kissed me goodnight, and I remember that I cried just a little because I wished I had my mother there, to tell her about Wesley and me. I wanted her to squeal with me and get all excited about finding a dress for the Holiday Ball.”

“Oh, sweetie,” Celeste murmured, reaching over to clasp my hand.

“Once I got into bed, I just lay there imagining how different my life was going to be. I pictured Wesley and I walking to school together the next morning, maybe sharing a few kisses. I giggled at how surprised everyone would be when they saw us holding hands in the hallway—Wesley was a big deal, the hottest guy in the school, and I—well, I wasn’t. I was the poor little girl who had no mother and was kind of a nerd.”

“Nerds rule,” Coral informed me solemnly. “Wesley would’ve been damn lucky to get a girl like you.”

I offered her a small, sad smile. “Unfortunately, he didn’t stick around long enough to figure that out. Because the next day, he never came to my door. For as long as we’d been going to school, he’d been there every morning. I was late to my first class, and I was so worried—at lunch, I snuck away and called him, which was totally not like me—I was a rule follower.” I closed my eyes, the waves of hurt breaking over me again, almost as devastating as they’d been that late autumn day fourteen years ago. “I thought he’d pick up or it would go to voicemail, but I just got a message that the line had been disconnected.”

“Son of a bitch,” Celeste swore. “How in the hell could he do that to you? Don’t you want to know why?”

“I don’t know,” I replied slowly. “Does it even matter? I went by his house and knocked on the door, and there was no answer. That weekend, I saw his father outside and asked him if Wesley was okay. I said he hadn’t been in school or in touch for three days, and I was concerned.” I bit my lip. “His dad was always a little bit of an asshole. He told me that Wesley had decided to finish high school in California because he’d have a better chance of a football scholarship. He seemed surprised that I didn’t know, that Wesley hadn’t told me. Apparently, his mom had driven him out there, and later that month, Mr. Crane followed.” I drew in a ragged breath. “He knew he was leaving the next day, but he didn’t tell me. Instead, he gave me the cruelest kind of hope, and then he disappeared from my life forever.”

“Oh, Sabrina.” Coral stood up and staggered around the table to gather me close to her in a sloppy kind of hug. “I knew the story already, and I still feel my heart breaking for you. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

Celeste looked thoughtful. “It just doesn’t make sense,” she remarked. “Wesley was always your friend. If he knew he was leaving the next day . . . what would make him treat you that way? I think there’s more to what happened, Sabrina. And I think you owe it to yourself to find out, now that you have this chance.”

“I don’t care about his reasons.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “Nothing he could say would make me feel better about what he did.” I paused, remembering the light in Wesley’s eyes when he’d come down the steps last week. “And what’s more, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like I’m going to fall into his arms like some lovesick girl in a romance novel.” I slid a glance Coral’s way. “No offense, Cor.”

“None taken.” She waved her hand. “But Sabrina . . . don’t you think it’s weird that Wesley came back into your life this way fourteen years after you saw him last? Don’t you think it might be a little bit of kismet?”

I snorted. “No, I don’t. I think it was coincidence and my bad luck. If I don’t see Wesley Crane again for the rest of my life, I’ll be perfectly fine with that.” I reached for my margarita. “Now let’s change the subject. All of this maudlin shit is harshing my tequila vibe.”

I took a long drink, pretending that I didn’t notice the loaded glance my friends shared. That was fine; they could believe whatever they wanted. But there was no chance in hell that I was giving Wesley another opportunity to hurt me.

No fucking way.

Want to know what comes next?

Episode Four is coming next Friday!

And we’ll hear Wesley’s side of the story . . .

The tale of Coral’s movie premiere date

is coming in September, right here.

What about Celeste?

Her romance is revealed in

TITS THE SEASON

which is part of the holiday benefit anthology

TINSEL AND TATAS

Releasing October 5th

Preorder Tinsel and Tatas Today:

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