I adjust my hips then take a swing. The ball glances right past the hole.
“Dammit,” I mutter.
He laughs. “I guess every man has a weakness, Remington. I’ve found yours.”
Ha. Not exactly. My weakness is this new way I’m thinking about his stroke, or his stick. But I’m not letting on. I switch tactics, since swagger won’t work when I have mini golf egg on my face. “Clearly, this course is rigged.”
“That must be it. Elias is a Minotaurs fan,” Tanner says.
“Obviously,” I say, grateful Tanner’s not poking at my soft spots today. I tap the ball the rest of the way in, then thankfully finish this hole.
As we head to the next one, he points at the string of lights hanging over the branches of a fake tree, giving it a romantic glow. “This place though,” he says. “Nice, isn’t it?”
That word tickles at my brain. When did he use it before in that tone? It sounds so familiar. Ah right, it was several months ago at Gin Joint when I’d ribbed him about a date, and he’d said maybe nice is a euphemism.”
I come out of that memory a little hotter than when I entered it.
“Yeah, it’s nice,” I say, my voice a little strangled.
“Glad you think so,” he says, then flashes me a smile that makes me feel like he’s undressing me.
It’s hot in here even with the low hum of the air conditioning. I tug on the neck of my tight polo. His eyes stay on me. Longer than is friendly. So much longer.
I’m starting to find answers. Pretty sure he’s feeling the same way.
I tear my gaze away to glance around. The college women are still a few holes ahead, practically out of sight. Behind us is an older couple, just starting the course.
Not too crowded at all.
But what are you gonna do about that?
Hmm. Not sure if that’s my devil or my angel whispering in my ear, so I focus on brass tacks, setting the ball at the tee. The soft lights from the tree flicker nearby. This whole adults-only theme here is weaving dangerously around me, like a seduction. It’s making me think a whole lot less about the risks, and a whole lot more about immediate rewards.
“Or maybe I’m just letting you win,” I say, trying to wrestle some control.
“Well, then. How about a bet?”
Intrigued, I turn around, club in hand. This time, his blue eyes are darker as he holds my gaze. Just fucking holds it. He’s kind of fearless in this moment. Where he’s been surly recently, today he’s like a Viking leader or something on a ship. Confident, bold—nothing can knock him off his game.
I swallow past the desert in my throat, eking out, “What’s the bet?”
“If you can stop letting me win, I’ll buy lunch,” he says, his gaze as confident as his tone.
That’s a clue, possibly. Tanner’s betting like we’ve always done as friends. Except, buying lunch after this nice “date” feels like more of this nice “date.”
And the thing is…I do want more of this date. More of this time with him, even while I’m uncertain, even while I’m confused. And, honestly, even if it’s risky to our friendship.
Because I’m feeling a little fizzy too. And that feels incredibly good.
“Fine. You’re on,” I say.
But I go on to finish over par at the next hole, and the next, and the next. “Dammit. I thought I was good at golf,” I mutter as we reach a waterfall cascading down fake rocks that form a small cave.
Tanner clears his throat. “Want help?”
I look up, confused. He’s never offered to help before. In any game. “Lunch is obviously on me. You’re going to win. Why are you offering?”
“Because you don’t seem like yourself,” he says in the same friendly tone he used to reassure me after the tough loss last season. “And I know you can play regular golf. Mini golf is different, but I can help.”
The offer is a reminder. The word too—help. That’s what we do for each other as friends. We help. We support.
So what if I bid one hundred thousand? The money goes to a good cause, nice date or not. Lust fades. Friendship lasts.
“Sure,” I say, taking what he’s offering.
Tanner moves behind me. His heady scent invades my nostrils, winds through my body. Then, his voice drifts past my ear. “Can I show you?”
That rumbly tone sends sparks crackling along my spine.
“Yes,” I say on a rough swallow.
He inches closer, wraps his arms around me, and covers my hands on the club. His breath hitches.
And it answers the question once and for all.
He is feeling this too.
The fire ignites in me. I’m warm everywhere.
To the casual observer, there’s nothing too sexy about the way we’re touching now.
Just one dude helping another with his golf swing.
But to me, this is all the confirmation I needed to know that this is not a one-way street. This is not a friendly golf lesson. It’s so not friendly, that my concerns about friendship slink away. They’re nowhere to be found, not as his arms line up along mine and not as he moves closer. I can barely remember my reasons to resist when he says in a tempting, sensual tone, “Your hands are too tight. You want to loosen them up.”