That’s when I’ll return to the friendship zone.
But there’s a rap on the window and I startle. Luke’s staring at me quizzically, with eyebrows lifted at the car in question.
I shrug, like what can you do as I unlock the passenger door. He gets in, tossing his duffel bag on the backseat.
“Um, hate to break it to you, but this is not a McLaren,” he says as he buckles in.
“It’s a silver fucking car, dude,” he says, emphasis on silver, AKA the height of boring.
“Shit. Why didn’t they tell me?” I drop my shades on and pull away from the curb. Maybe the shades will hide this wild beating of my pulse. Because, damn. My friend looks good, all casual hot in shorts and a T-shirt.
“You tricked me,” he says.
“Yes. I tricked you into letting me pick you up at the airport. I tricked you into driving my fake sports car. And I tricked you when you were begging me for a ride to the wedding, you freeloader,” I say, heading toward the airport exit.
“Begging for a ride? Was I really begging, Sloan?”
“Felt that way,” I say, and hell yes. I’m doing it. I’m Mister Zing Zing Zing again.
Once I merge onto the ramp, Luke sets a hand on my leg. “But how does this feel though?”
My lips part, and I breathe out hard. “Pretty good.”
Luke runs his big hand over the hair on my thigh. I’m wearing shorts today. I pat myself virtually on the back for that fashion choice.
“Mmm. I’d have to agree,” he says, then covers my knee.
But that’s entirely distracting. So I bat his hand off me. “Don’t want to get in an accident,” I say.
“Not before Christmas,” he says, low and playful.
Shit. I’m going to have to tell him next week is off. I’m going to have to tell him soon.
But as I drive north out of San Francisco, I can’t bring myself to say a word about my change of heart over our plans for next week. Especially since I return the favor, setting a hand on his knee. Running my hand over the coarse hair there, then on his thigh.
“That feels good, Sloan,” he says as he leans his head back against the seat, like one of his cats, indulging in touch.
“Such a shame we’re not in a McLaren,” I say.
“Yeah, what a bummer,” he says, closing his eyes.
An hour later, we’re slugging along the roads to Lucky Falls, with traffic stop and start. But I don’t mind the clogged roads for once. It’s more time alone with Luke. We’ve been debating if hockey is better than basketball.
“Basketball wins. You can actually see the players,” I point out.
“You perv. I don’t need to see their arms or their hair to appreciate their bloodthirsty moves on the ice,” he says.
“I’m not perving on them. I’m just saying, I like to be able to watch the athleticism of the game.”
He snaps his gaze to me. “Wait. Are you saying football is not athletic? Or fun to watch?” He goes full Edvard Munch’s The Scream, clutching his face. “No! My man doesn’t like football.”
I jerk my gaze to him. Did he just…call me his man?
My pulse soars to the stratosphere.
When Luke lets go of his face, I expect him to catch his misstep. But he doesn’t. He just cranes his neck to get a better view past the traffic. “Looks like we’re stuck for a while,” he says.
But he doesn’t sound annoyed. He sounds…delighted.
“Yeah, we are,” I say as we idle in the stalled traffic.
When he looks my way, his laughter vanishes. Heat flickers in his green gaze as he sets a hand on my thigh again. “So I can finally do this now?”
A tremor of lust rattles my entire being. “Yeah,” I say, a little strangled.
He runs his hand up and down my thigh, and it feels incredible. All my nerve endings spark and sizzle.
“Don’t stop,” I murmur even as the car in front of us inches ahead a few feet, then a few more.
“I won’t,” he says, his voice husky.
For the next few minutes as we drive slowly, he massages my thigh. Soon, I’m burning up with lust, and I’ve forgotten all the reasons why I wanted to cancel Christmas. I check the GPS, hunting for openings, when I spot one on the screen. A country road up ahead. No one will be cutting through that street since it goes in the opposite direction to the traffic.
When I reach it, I flick on the turn signal, and press the gas.
“Where are you going?”
“Detour,” I say, and five minutes later, after we pass houses with weather vanes and horses, then farms with chicken coops and mini vineyards, we’ve reached the end of a country road.
I cut the engine. The windows are tinted. I grab Luke’s face and haul him in for a hot kiss.