“I will, but don’t talk about other guys.” It’s an order.
“Don’t you either,” he says, giving his own too.
What other guys? “I won’t,” I say tightly. “I haven’t thought about other dudes for the last week.”
“Me neither,” he says. It comes out clipped, maybe even defiant.
He turns around quickly, like he needs to make some space from that admission.
I do too from my own, so I focus on the task. I wash his hair, slowing down my pace, turning it into a leisurely massage. Soon, he’s murmuring happily.
The sound stirs my heart. A little more than I want it to. I’ve got to end this moment, so I set my hands on his shoulders. “There. Done.”
“Thanks.” He rinses his hair and washes off. We finish cleaning up and step out of the shower quietly. I’m not sure what to say.
Tanner grabs a towel for himself, then tosses me one that I catch easily.
As I dry off, I watch his every move. The way he slicks on some deodorant, puts on face lotion, then how he nods to his bedroom. “You spending the night?”
It’s a question. But there’s an edge to it, an unspoken you’d better.
Hanging up the towel, I answer him the only way I possibly can. “I am.”
But once I’m under the covers in his bed, my body feels heavy, and not in the good, sleepy way.
More like something’s sitting on my chest. A weight maybe? As Tanner smacks a pillow to get it just right—something he didn’t do at my place, which makes it an even more adorable move I should not like so much—I glance around the darkened room so I don’t stare dopily at him.
Or say something cute like, “You smack your own pillows into submission.”
My gaze catches on something I didn’t notice before when we came into his room. His carry-on suitcase. It’s parked near the door.
He leaves tomorrow morning for the All-Star game, then an away series after that. That must be why I feel odd. “What time is your flight?” I ask, reaching for my phone where I set it on the nightstand.
“Nine. Don’t worry. I set an alarm. I’ll wake you up,” he says.
“Thanks,” I say, putting my phone back down.
He finally settles into the pillow, then yawns deeply. It’s contagious so I yawn too, then close my eyes.
But the weight doesn’t move from my chest.
Because you weren’t worried about an alarm, you dumbass.
I face the scary truth. Since he’s leaving tomorrow, I won’t see him again until Jason’s wedding. Will we sleep together then? That seems risky since the guys might figure us out. So will we hook up again when Tanner and I return to New York? That’d be a fourth time.
And if we hook up more than three times, the situation might get messy.
I want another night with Tanner.
But I also want football and friendship. Maybe there’s a way.
I sit up, my heart racing. “Tanner,” I whisper.
Tanner pushes up too. “What’s up?”
“Football has rules,” I say.
“Yes. It does.”
“Baseball too,” I add, making this up as I go.
“That’s also true.”
“We need rules,” I say, and holy shit. I turn to him, excited again and in a whole new way. “It was seriously hard not to touch you tonight at the concert.”
“It was,” he says, cautious as he clearly lets me take the wheel of this conversation.
“And it’s going to be seriously hard not to touch you at Jason’s wedding too,” I say, building up a new head of steam. “But I don’t want to draw attention from them. I don’t want to take away from their wedding, know what I mean?”
“And we don’t want the media to catch on about us, and then say we’re a thing, and then say we broke up. Right?”
He winces, like that’s a bitter thought. “Right,” he grumbles.
“So what if we cool it for the wedding, and then when we’re back in New York after your away series—” I begin but then stop when I remember something awful that happens when we return to New York. His brother’s wedding is in a few more weeks. His sister wants to set him up with a date for that wedding.
But the idea of Tanner with some other guy is too terrible a thought for my brain to handle, so I slam the door on that image. I focus solely on him and me. “Maybe when we’re back in New York we can have one more night together before I go to training camp?” I ask, and my voice pitches up at the end like I’m asking for something extraordinary.
Maybe I am.
Sex with my friend is extraordinary, and I don’t want it to end. I know it can’t last. Truly, I do. But I don’t want to give him up.
Tanner’s silent. The moonlight illuminates a sliver of his face, so I can’t entirely read him. His voice is cool too, when he speaks. “You’re saying you want to go cold turkey at the wedding, then fuck one more time here?”