“You know you like it.” I jumped when his voice came from directly behind me. He took the food out of my hands and put it on the counter before grabbing the skillet out of the cupboard. “If you didn’t, you wouldn’t keep cooking for me.”

Rolling my eyes, I tried to act like his voice and nearness didn’t have any kind of effect on me. But I’m sure I wasn’t succeeding. I was positive he could hear the way my heart was pounding, the way my breaths were coming far too quickly, and see the goose bumps covering my arms.

We worked quickly and easily together in the kitchen, and soon my body relaxed as I remembered we could only be friends and we slipped into the comfortable banter Kash and I had shared over the last week.

Just as we were finishing up and I was grabbing plates out of the cabinet, Mason walked in without knocking and announced, “Kash, we gotta go.”

“Breakfast,” was his only reply.

“Nope, now.”

I set down the plates just in time to be picked up in one of Mason’s bear hugs, and he kissed the top of my head as he set me down. “You want breakfast, Mase?” I asked.

“Thanks, sweetheart, but we need to get going.” He picked a piece of sausage out of the pile of paper towels and shoved it in his mouth.

“Dude, we just finished making this. Let me—”

“Kash.” They shared a look for a moment. “We need to go work out.”

Kash’s eyes widened and he glanced over at me. “Rach, I’m sorry, I forgot today was Thursday. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow.”


Before I could respond, they were both walking out the door, and I was left there with enough breakfast to feed five of me.

“CANDICE, ARE YOU serious? I’ve been kicked out twice this week already. I don’t feel like going to Starbucks again tonight.”

“No one said you had to go to Starbucks every time I have someone over.”

“Well where else am I supposed to go?”

She dropped her towel and began putting on pink lingerie. Why she even bothered with the lingerie, I had no idea. “You could go hang out with, oh, I don’t know, Kash. Especially tonight. He’ll be lonely.” She winked.

“It’s not Kash’s job to babysit me when you decide you need to get some. And Mason . . . again? Really?”

“Ohmigod. Rach, he’s incredible. He does this thing—”

“I don’t want to know!” I shouted, and slammed my hands over my ears. “Mason is like Eli to me.”

She made a face and shuddered.

Since the past weekend, I’d spent most of my time with Mason and Kash. They were usually home during the day while Candice was at cheer camp, and on Tuesday Kash had begun bartending at a bar/restaurant near campus. Mason had gotten the same position at a different bar downtown the next day. I was surprised they found work so quickly, but I guessed when you looked like them, it wasn’t hard to find jobs.

I was happy for them. They were both only part-time, but it was something for now, Kash said, and they seemed happy about it. Throughout the almost-week with them, Mason had quickly taken on the role of the big brother I’d never wanted. But honestly, I loved the guy. His cousin, on the other hand . . . I wished I could view him the way I saw Mason, but every thought I had about Kash Hendricks was anything but sisterly. And while I knew we needed to remain friends, it was a near-constant struggle to get my body and heart to understand that too.

Mason walked into the apartment without knocking, as was becoming his usual routine, and I rolled off Candice’s bed and went to grab my purse, phone, and keys. Mason grabbed me in another big hug and kissed my head. “Kash isn’t working tonight.”

I grumbled to myself and started picking everything up off the entryway table. “Just call me when I’m allowed back in.” I’d barely stepped outside when they shut the door and locked it behind me. “Rude.”

Taking a few steps toward the parking lot, I paused and shifted my weight a few times as I looked at the guys’ door. With a deep breath, I gritted my teeth and walked quickly over to the door before knocking on it. Kash opened it after a moment in nothing but a pair of low-slung jeans and my mouth went dry.

“Rach.” He laughed low and my eyes snapped up to his. “What’s up?”

“Oh, um . . .” This was a really bad idea. Would I look like a complete freak if I took off running for my car right now? “Well, I . . .”

“Yes . . . ?”

“You, uh, wanna have a lock-out night with me?”

He mouthed the words lock-out night before recognition flashed through his gray eyes. “Mason with Candice?”


“You don’t have to ask or have a reason, Rach. You’re welcome here whenever.”

My eyes drifted over the colorful artwork covering his shoulders and arms and I somehow made it into the apartment without running into anything. I wanted to study the tattoos but he was still smirking, so I forced my eyes onto the TV and walked past him.

“So did you get tired of hanging out at Starbucks for hours on end, or did they finally kick you out?”

I huffed and shook my head. Such an ass. Spinning around, I began walking right back to the front door. I don’t care that he’s half-naked and I have to use superhuman strength to not throw myself at him and explore his sculpted body with my hands and mouth. He’s just such a freaking pain.

“I don’t think so, Sour Patch.” He grabbed my arm and pulled me back until I was standing in front of the couch. “Sit.”

“I’m not a dog.”

He rolled his eyes. “Sit down, woman. I’ll be right back.” With a shove strong enough to send me down to the couch, he smiled wryly and turned toward his bedroom.

“Put a shirt on while you’re in there!”

He snorted.


HELL NO, I’M not putting a shirt on. She could act all she wanted. There was no mistaking that she was, at the very least, attracted to me. Her cheeks would flush whenever her eyes trailed over me, completely giving her away.

No need to make it easy for her by covering up.

Looking over my shoulder to make sure she was still on the couch, I shut my door and grabbed at my things. We’d just gotten back from being at the department for last-minute meetings all day, and my gun, holster, badge, and card to get into the department were all sitting on the bed. I walked quickly into the closet and put everything but my gun on the top shelf, where even I couldn’t see them, before going back and putting my gun in the nightstand. After taking one more look around to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, I walked back out to the living room.

Rachel’s brow furrowed for a minute when she saw me, but not two seconds later, a blush stained her cheeks. Quickly averting her eyes, she looked back at the TV and continued scrolling through the guide. When she gasped, I rushed toward her, but she just looked up at me with the widest grin before pressing more buttons on the remote.

“Wait. Do you already have this movie?”

“The A-Team? No.”

With a disappointed shake of her head, she hit record and clicked on the channel as the credits ran from the previous movie. “You’re not allowed to delete this recording then.”

I flopped down next to her on the love seat rather than going to the couch and tried not to smile when she inched away. “I’m guessing it’s a good movie?”

She did a quick double take when my words finally clicked. “Are you— Wait. You’re joking, right? You . . . you have to have seen this. You’re a guy!”


“Oh my word. You really haven’t seen this? I’m pretty sure that’s like . . . a sin. Or against the law, at the very least. This movie is amazing.” She jumped off the couch and went over to browse through our Blu-ray collection, and when she turned back around to join me on the love seat, her face was full of pity. “It’s okay, Kash. I’ll educate you.”

Rachel set about looking up movies on the guide and setting them to record whenever they were coming on next. Some I’d seen previews for during commercials and looked funny. Some I shook my head at when she hit the record button. Others were just not okay.

“Hell. No. I’m not going to watch a movie called Bridesmaids.”

“Um, actually, you will, and I’ll bet you one hundred dollars right now that you’ll willingly watch it more than once.”

“I’ll bet you two hundred and a week’s worth of pancakes for breakfast that I won’t make it twenty minutes in.”

Her eyes never left the screen, and her hand never stopped clicking buttons on the remote as she set up endless movies to record, but a smug grin crossed her face and she held her free hand out to shake on the bet. “Deal.”

After we finished watching The A-Team, which was actually good—though I honestly think the best part was how damn cute Rachel looked as she quoted the entire thing—we got two movies on demand. After we finished the first one, Rachel and I wandered into the kitchen.

“This is no good.”

I stopped grabbing stuff out of the pantry and looked at her standing in front of the opened freezer. “What’s no good?”

“First, you have no taste in movies, and now you have no Ben and Jerry’s. Really, Kash . . . how did you survive all these years?”

I snorted. “We have great taste in moves. We have all the Alien movies, Rocky, Rambo, the Die Hard movies . . .”

“Exactly, nothing funny.”

“We have Office Space!”

“True. You deserve a gold star for that one.” She shut the freezer and faced me. “But literally, your collection probably came off a list of the top hundred guy movies or something. You need a little variety, and you need good ice cream. So thank the good Lord above I finally have a legit reason to ask you to put a shirt on, because we need to run to the store.”

I set everything back in the pantry haphazardly and shut the door before stepping right up to her and backing her into the refrigerator. “Why can’t you just admit you’re attracted to me, Rachel?” I asked into her ear as I pressed my body against hers.

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