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She stopped talking, and he could tell she was suddenly nervous, something he hadn’t seen from her as often in the months since they’d become friends. The silence drifted long enough that most people would have found it awkward and sought to fill it with meaningless jabber, but he knew it wasn’t unusual for Beaumont to go quiet while she sorted through her thoughts.

So he waited.

“What about instead of double or nothing,” she said at last, “we change the wager?”

Gage’s curiosity was piqued. “What do you mean?”

Beaumont’s cheeks grew pink, and once more, she fell silent.

He’d heard some of the things the guys in IT talked about—hell, he’d added his own risqué stories to his share of the conversations—and Beaumont always took it in stride. Sometimes it was easy to forget she was a woman. But now…

“Are youblushing?” he asked.

Her hands flew to her face. “No. I mean…it’s hot in here,” she lied.

“What do you want to wager, Beaumont?”

“Favors. If I win, you have to do what I ask. If you win, the same.”

“Favors? Just random favors, or did you have something in mind?” It was clear there was something Beaumont wanted, but she didn’t want to say. However, he wasn’t the type to walk into a wager like this blind.

Beaumont shrugged. Another lie.

“I need to know the stakes before I agree.”

She sighed, her gaze suddenly glued to the floor. “I have a milestone birthday coming up in a month.”

“Oh yeah? About to hit the big three-oh?”

She shook her head. “No. Twenty-nine.”

Gage chuckled. “Pretty sure that doesn’t count as a milestone.”

She lifted her eyes just in time for him to see them roll. “My brother said the same thing, but you’re both wrong. This is going to be my last year in my twenties, which means I only have one more year to make this decade count. So far, the twenties have sucked.”

“You want me to throw you a wild party or something? Because I could get behind—”

“No,” she interjected. “I need…I want to change some things about myself.”

“What things?” Gage asked, even though he was afraid to hear the answer. What if she was serious about taking the job offer from Frost? What if he couldn’t change her mind?

He was ready to match their offer. No. Fuck that. He was ready to beat the other offer. She was amazing at her job, but more than that, he liked being around her and Toby and Rich. They called themselves the nerd circle, but the truth was, they were probably the coolest people Gage knew. Because they were the most real, the most genuine, the most what-you-see-is-what-you-get. On top of that, their interests matched his, and they’d welcomed him into their midst. With them, he could set his gamer, D&D side free, could shed the carefree playboy bachelor billionaire persona, and just be one of the guys.

Once again, she lowered her eyes, embarrassed by whatever she planned to say next. “I saw you with your date the other night and…well…I want you to teach me how to be likeher.”

“Like Marjorie?”

She nodded. “Yeah. I don’t really have anyone else to ask.”

“What about Jess? I’m sure she could give you some pointers on…” He stopped, not even certain what Beaumont was asking.

“Oh, Jess is great. And I’m definitely going to ask her for some help with hair and makeup, but she’s really busy with her son and the new relationship with Tony and Rhys and—”

“She reallyiswith both of them?” Gage had heard rumors, but he’d dismissed them as just that. Rumors.

Beaumont looked up again, her eyes narrowed. “Don’t be a prude, Gage.”

“I’m not. Forget I said anything.” He’d have to think about Jess and her guys later. “Spell this thing out for me, Beaumont.”

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