Reece raised his brows.

“What? I dare you to deny such label,” she challenged. “Do it. Make my day.”

I giggled.

“I wasn’t going to deny it,” Reece replied. “But thanks for stealing our thunder.”

Unabashed, Katie rocked back on what appeared to be six-inch heels. She spun around, clapping. “Reece and Roxy, whose names link together in an incredibly cute way, are totally doing it!”

“Oh my God,” I whispered, eyes wide.

“Well, that’s one way of making an announcement.” Reece sighed.

A whole bunch of heads turned in our direction. By the grill, Jax raised his hand and gave us a . . . he gave us a thumbs-up? Really?

“I’m so proud of our babies,” Nick commented from where he sat near the grill, sprawled in a lawn chair he looked like he overgrew a few feet ago, a hoodie up over his head and rocking dark sunglasses. “They’re all grown up now. What shall we ever do?”

Calla walked to us, her long blond hair swishing in a ponytail. She grinned as she took the potato salad from us. “I have so many questions,” she said to me meaningfully. “But since Katie pretty much just put that all out there, I’ll wait.”

“Thanks,” I muttered dryly.


She laughed as she plopped the container on a card table someone must’ve dug up from a basement or a frat house, from the looks of it. “You make this?” Her brows rose.

“Yes,” I answered, not even blinking an eye.

Reece swallowed a laugh that earned him a strange look from Calla, and I pulled my hand free, shooting him a death glare over my shoulder. His grin spread.

“You totally didn’t make this,” she said, brows arched.

I sighed. “No.”

Calla laughed again. “I was going to say I didn’t know you peeled potatoes.”

“Peeling potatoes is hard,” I grumbled.

Avery joined Cam, who immediately draped an arm over her shoulders. “You feeling okay, shortcake?” he asked, concern evident in the way he stared at her. When she nodded, he dipped his head and kissed the tip of her nose and then looked up. “The hamburgers are almost done. Got some hot dogs on the grill, too. Wanted to grill some chicken, but Jase didn’t want to wait so long.”

Jase, the extremely good-looking one of the bunch, folded his arms. “Especially when you want to baste it like you’re fucking Betty Crocker or some shit.”

“Don’t hate on Betty Crocker,” Cam warned him.

Cam kind of made me nervous. Not in a bad way, but mainly because he was a pro soccer player—a freaking pro soccer player. I always felt out of my element when I was around him.

“They smell great.” Reece glanced at Jax. “Colton’s going to try to make it, but no promises.”

“Understandable,” he returned. He waved his hand at the numerous lawn chairs. “Help yourself.”

Calla gestured at the group. “Brit and Ollie couldn’t make it. He’s got a big exam on Monday and Brit’s staying with him in Morgantown, but I think you guys know everyone here except—”

“Me.” A guy with beautiful mocha-colored skin and bright green eyes stood from one of the chairs. He was tall and lanky, and vaguely reminded me of Bruno Mars. He was wearing a gray loose-knit beanie I kind of wanted to steal. “I’m Jacob. I go to college at Shepherd. I’m a Gemini. I’m allergic to Game of Thrones, because I can’t keep track of everyone who dies on the show. If you talk shit about Doctor Who, we cannot be friends, and I still want a goddamn pony and no one will let me buy one.”

Teresa, who was sitting in one of the plastic chairs, ran her hand through her mane of dark hair. She looked stunning, as usual, a modern-day Snow White. “You’re the only grown person who wants a pony.”

“I kind of want a llama,” I said.

Reece looked down at me, lips pursed thoughtfully, as if he was rethinking the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing.

“Why would you want a llama?” Calla sounded genuinely curious.

I shrugged. “Who wouldn’t want a llama?”

“Um . . .” Avery wrinkled her nose. “Don’t they spit?”

Jacob shushed her and then grinned at me. “I think we’re going to be great friends. We could take our pony and llama on playdates. Oh! Ollie could totally fashion leashes for them. I want one with Swarovski crystals.”

Another man I hadn’t met before groaned from where he stood. “That is not going to happen.”

Jacob then shushed him. “Mr. Dream Crusher, also known as Marcus, is my boyfriend. He doesn’t understand the need for an obscenely large four-legged friend.”

I grinned at what had to be the greatest introduction of all time.

Marcus was equally handsome, even more so, and nicely tanned. “Out of college,” he said, standing and offering a hand to Reece and then me. “I don’t know any of these people.”

“That’s probably a good thing,” Jacob said. “Half of them are insane.”

“Hey!” shouted Teresa from her seat. “We’re not insane. We are eccentric.”

“Speaking of insane”—Katie returned to our huddle, holding a bottle of Corona—“have you thought anymore about trying out that pole?”

Jacob choked on the beer he was drinking and turned sideways quickly, waving a hand in front of his face. Before he could say anything, Jase’s head swiveled around so fast I thought it might spin right off. “What?” he demanded.

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