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Holy shit. He wasn’t lying. I leaned forward, a little mesmerized.

Then, Luke paused, a wait for it move that caught the attention of every single pair of eyes in the packed room. The eyes that weren’t already locked on the six-foot-two, carved football stud with the cocky grin.

He gave a hip thrust worthy of the headlining act in a Vegas strip show.

I blinked.

He hadn’t just called my bluff. He was owning it. My friend could dance. Upping the ante, he ripped off his shirt, threw it to a nearby group of gawking men, and strutted to the edge of the stage, right to our table.

He didn’t say a word. He just danced at us, in his six-pack glory, wearing nothing but his jeans and a pair of Vans sneakers. He thrust his hips till not a queer soul in the club could picture anything else but this guy taking them home.

Did I picture sex? Well, ask yourselves. How could I not?

“Pay up,” he taunted me.

Just me.

But this wasn’t a prelude, surely. This wasn’t foreplay. No, this was just two good friends egging each other on.

Doing their I dare you thing.

I grabbed the bills I’d challenged him with. Then I stood, getting closer to the object of the club’s desire, and I tucked them into the waistband of Luke’s jeans, my fingers briefly brushing his V-cut as I went.

Nothing happened with him and me that night. We all just laughed and went our separate ways when the show was over. It was simply another night out with the guys, and we knew how to have fun.

That was all.

And for the next week or so, things with Luke continued as normal. But really, looking back on everything that went down with us, that night was the start.

I suppose I could blame the rules of dude dares for the series of events that came next.

But I could only blame myself for the big dare, the one that went down a few weeks later, when I banged on a door at a bed-and-breakfast at three in the morning wearing nothing but a lime-green thong.




A Few Weeks Prior

Repeat after me—dating doesn’t suck.

That mantra plays on a loop in my head as I finish getting ready to meet up with a cute guy for a beer.

I put on a splash of woodsy aftershave, a stylish button-down that hugs my guns, and the clincher—a change in my tune.


I’m dressed and all set to flip the script in my head. The one that used to say tonight will turn into another date that I hate.

Hell, I’ll willpower the opposite into existence. Tonight will end a string of outings that qualify for a clickbait headline of You won’t believe the things that happened to this pro athlete on a date!

I head to the door of my penthouse, then check my reflection in the mirror by the exit.

I even smile.

I am a new man.

Out in the hall, I press the button for the elevator and boom. It’s already here. I’ll take that as a good sign, thank you very much.

On the ride down from the twentieth floor, I shut out every negative thought about how hard it is to connect with someone these days. Really, these years.

As the elevator slows at the seventh floor, I’m imagining nothing but good vibes tonight when the doors open on Luke Remington.

Oh, shit.

Normally, I’m all for seeing my friends. They’re my family in a lot of ways. But lately, my longtime buddy who’s also my neighbor has been getting under my skin. If I’m not careful, he’ll knock me out of my positive-attitude zone by pushing my buttons too hard.

I better bat first before he can throw a zinger my way.

Luke looks like he wants some action tonight. His black shirt is tight. His blue jeans are tighter. There. I’ll use those obvious clues. “I guess you’re off to chess club,” I say dryly.

“Sex is like chess. You gotta know how to take a king,” he quips, and damn, he’s fast on his feet. Faster still when he eyes my attire, then says, “But I didn’t know you went to church.”

He’s setting me up. Of course he’s setting me up. That’s what we do. I try to keep my cool as the doors close. “Not dressed for the lord, Luke.”

“Are you sure?”

“Unless you count ending the night with a long string of oh gods, then I’m positive.”

“Huh. Just seems you’re clearly praying for a miracle.”

Don’t play in his trash-talk sandbox. It only winds you up.

But I’m not a quitter. I gesture to his jeans. They make me feel like I already know him carnally. “And you’ll clearly be praying to find a crowbar under the bed to peel those off you tonight.”

Smirking, Luke plucks at the waistband. “Are you offering, Sloan?”

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