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“You’re all jelly you can’t slay a thong like I can,” Gunnar shouts as the music blasts.

Since rules are rules, we all shuck off our suits, and toss them to the guy next to us. Gunnar plops down next to me, water sloshing everywhere.

I groan.

He slings me his dental floss, and I catch it then stare at the barely-there suit. “Seriously?”

“Better move fast, pretty boy, or you’ll be stuck with it,” he says.

I yank them on and, fuck, that’s uncomfortable. Just as quickly I start to shed them when Gunnar pops up and hits end on his phone.

“Boom! Hope your balls enjoy it,” he says, and I drag myself out of the tub, and head to the chairs several feet away to snag my towel. At least I can cover up my ass as I hightail it to the room to see Luke and make the most of tonight. Make him feel incredible, then find a way after the wedding to ask him to be my man. Pretty sure he wants it too, judging from the things he said after dinner.

Jason climbs out quickly, following me. “Do it now, Sloan. Do it now,” he says, when he reaches me.

“Do what?”

Jason gestures to the hot tub full of guys—everyone’s here but Maddox and Luke—then lowers his voice so they can’t hear. “Gimme my wedding present.”

He must be really wasted. “What are you talking about?”

Jason rolls his eyes, then drops a hand to my shoulder. “I’m getting married today, and this is what I want my gift from you to be.” He clears his throat, and says just for me, “Go man up and tell Remington you want to date him for real instead of just banging him and pretending you’re only friends.”

I freeze. Holy shit. We are that obvious.

“How can you tell?” I whisper but it doesn’t matter how he figured it out. I can’t deny it, and I don’t want to deny it anymore.

“He wiped sauce off your lip at dinner,” Jason says, fondly, like he found the incident adorable.

The memory of that moment and the tenderness in it wallops me all over again. Makes me forget I’m wearing a lime-green thong.

I reach for the towel on the chair, but Jason’s faster. He grabs it, then gathers everyone’s towels in his fast hands. Seconds later, he returns to me. “You’ll get your towel back after you tell Luke he’s the one. I dare you to.”

“Fuck you,” I say, but I’m not mad. I’m excited.

With his other hand, he cups his ear. “What? Did you say I love you for daring you? Now do it, do it, do it.”

From the hot tub, the other guys get in on the chorus. I’m not sure if they’re aware of what they’re encouraging me to do. But I don’t care.

I was so close earlier to saying something. Sometimes you just need a thong to push you over the edge.

“I’m doing it,” I shout, buoyed by their encouragement.

Three minutes later, I’m up the stairs, heading down the hall, fueled partly by the dare, but mostly by the wild hope I’ve been feeling all day.

It’s going to be great.

I just know it. Luke is feeling it too, but someone has to take a swing. I can bat first.

When I reach the room, I pat around for the key then roll my eyes at myself. I’m in Gunnar’s green thong, so I don’t have it.

I knock like my future happiness depends on it.

Luke takes ten, twenty, thirty seconds to answer, but that only gives me time to build up a head of enthusiastic steam. When he answers, I’m ready to burst. I barely even catalog his expression as I jump headfirst into my unplanned speech. “Date me. For real. I don’t just want to sleep with you. I want to try this thing with us. I know you said we’re in different places, but it sure doesn’t feel that way to me. I feel something with you, Luke Remington, and if you feel half of what I’m feeling then we should give this a shot.”


I did it.

I take a breath, eager for his hot kiss, his hell yes, his did you tell me you were into me while wearing a green thong and holy fuck let’s do it.

But instead, he stares blankly at me for several terribly long seconds. His green eyes flash with pain. Maybe even shame. Then he frowns. “Don’t make me do this.”

It’s like I’ve been clobbered. “What?” I rasp out, blinking.

“Don’t make me say this,” he mutters, then drops his face into his hand, shaking his head.

This is worse than I’d ever imagined. I feel cold and horribly foolish when he lifts his face and says, like it pains him, “I can’t give you what you deserve. I’m sorry. I’m just…so sorry.”

I read everything wrong.