Thanks For Last Night by Lauren Blakely

Teagan hums, tapping her lip-glossed mouth, which is distracting, I admit. Hell, the way her finger presses to her lips is a double whammy. Now I’m thinking of lips and fingertips.

“I don’t know,” Teagan says, giving me a naughty look. “That’s not what I heard about how long you last, Ransom.”

I dole out a sharp stare. “I have excellent stamina.”

An eyebrow arch is her answer, and then she throws a saucy question at me. “Do you though?”

“Don’t make me prove it to you,” I say, as if I don’t want her to take me up on that.

Wait. I don’t. I swear, I don’t.

Brain, remember your mantras: Love sucks, and friends with breasts do not get to be friendly with your body.

Fitz raises both hands like he’s about to take off. “Well, I think that’s my cue to make myself scarce.”

Teagan pats the table. “Don’t be silly. Stay, Fitz. We always talk like pigs.”

“I am very proper,” I say, all hoity-toity. But I say to my bud, a little hurt in my voice, “Also, I can’t believe you’re hounding me for not winning laser tag, which is more than I can say for either of our sorry asses on the ice a few weeks ago. That second round of the playoffs was brutal.” I shake my head sadly.

“Low blow, Ransom,” Fitz says. “It’s devastating to come so close, but not close enough.” But the truth is, he’s not terribly sad that we missed out on the Stanley Cup Finals. All his postseason energy is on his guy. Fitz is marrying Dean next weekend, and he’s pretty much the happiest man I know.

As for me? Not making the finals definitely still stings. But days like this and time with friends make the loss hurt a little less. I’m hoping the ache disappears completely before the charity gala this coming weekend. I have a bet with some of my frenemies who play for the Yankees that our hockey team will beat their fundraising total, and I intend to do my part to decimate the Bronx Bombers, because that’s what we do—that’s how we are. Because my teammates don’t back down from a dare—especially one with our charities benefiting from the competition.

Logan and Bryn return with beers, so we toast to Bryn’s new business. After a long pull, Teagan tenses, then reaches into her back pocket. Grabbing her phone, she slides her thumb across the screen, peering at it closely. She looks up apologetically. “Email from a board member. I know it’s after hours, but . . .”

Bryn shoos her away. “Answer it. I know it’s important.”

Teagan rises. “I’ll do it in the hall, so I can focus.” She pats my shoulder, squeezing it, and says to the crew, “Don’t let Ransom sing ‘Summer Nights’ without me, or I will make him sing ‘The Boy Is Mine’ with me instead.”

I should fire off a quip or a snarky reply, but when my eyes drift to her hand on my shoulder, I’m kind of transfixed by her touch. What would it feel like if she wrapped that hand a little tighter? Maybe roped that other one up into my hair?

Mmm. Yeah, that’d feel fantastic.

Or hey, how about I do that to her?


Hold on.

Where the hell is my brain galloping to?

That’s hell no territory.

I blink away my wild thoughts. “Your threats don’t scare me, King,” I say, serving up the trash talk. “I’m secure enough in my manhood to sing ‘The Boy Is Mine.’”

“Fine. Then you and I will need to lay down some karaoke bets when I return from the ladies’ room.” She sashays away, and I watch her as she goes. The whole ensemble—snug jeans, pink Chuck Taylors, a light-blue tank top—is doing things to my head. Add in the spring in her step and the flip of her hair, and they’re activating all kinds of neural pathways.

Ones that had definitely been buzzing before but seem to be crackling faster and stronger today.

Maybe because of how she looks in that shirt? Or maybe it’s her lips? But then, her hair is invitingly lush too.

Hell, she’s just insanely attractive. As in, one of the hottest women I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And that’s saying something, because my life has never lacked for attractive women. I’ve enjoyed an embarrassment of riches in that department.

Lucky me.

Trouble is . . . Teagan is a friend and only a friend. We run in all the same circles. Teagan and I are too tangled up in each other’s lives.

In short—our friends are our team, and you don’t bang a teammate.