Home > Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(13)

Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(13)
Author: Lauren Blakely

He squares his shoulders. “Honey Lavender, do you want to sing with me?”

I throw my arms around him and say yes. He hugs me back, and I inhale his woodsy scent, sharpened by the cold and smelling more delicious than a friend of mine should rightfully smell.

I shouldn’t linger on how yummy Miller smells, but I’m so damn excited I don’t care. I inhale one more happy lungful of him before my boots sink down to the sidewalk.

“I guess you’re excited.”

I hold up a thumb and forefinger. “A little.”

He rubs his hands together. “Let’s get cracking. Since Savory Gerbils, Balloon Buddies, and Hashtag ZimmerHart are out, want to discuss better names and rules of engagement?”

My eyes drift to Rockefeller Center. “I have thirty minutes before I need to head downtown. Let’s do three things at once.”

Chapter 12

Ally

Fifteen minutes later, I’ve laced up a pair of skates, and so has Miller.

As we circle around the ice rink, we decide we’ll tackle a few originals, with him doing most of the writing, since he’s quick and fast. Plus, he has some songs he’s been working on for a few months, and he’ll put the finishing touches on them to suit our duet style. I’ll plan some covers and secure rights for us to sing those online and on stage. If it all goes well, we’ll try to land a gig soonish. Time is of the essence, so we’ll squeeze in recording sessions quickly.

“This is easy,” I say, gesturing with my mittened hands as we glide and talk, since we both can hold our own on skates. “All we have to do is remember that our friendship comes first. Above all else.”

“Does that mean we agree that if we disagree, we’ll remain friends?”

I laugh as we glide past a family of four, skating in a row like ducks. “Sort of. But we also agree to talk things through. To be adults. We don’t throw video game controllers from windows, or stomp off like children.”

Miller nods like he’s processing this information, as we weave around some teenagers taking selfies. “And we have that time limit,” he adds. “We’ll see how it goes for a month and then regroup.”

“Exactly. We have the rules of engagement in place. It’s like in a novel where the hero and heroine agree to a thirty-day arrangement and then walk away.”

He shoots me a curious look as we skate. “That happens in young adult books?”

“It’s more common in romance. Let’s say the heroine is a little inexperienced and wants some lessons in seduction. They might agree to thirty days of sexual education. Or maybe they both have issues from the past and don’t want commitment, so they agree to a month-long deal. Or maybe they’re friends but want to scratch an itch, so they lay out the rules of the road.”

Miller digs his blades in to stop, grabs the side of the rink, and doubles over. “To scratch an itch?”

I laugh too, as I stop next to him. “Yes, sometimes friends get horny for each other in romance novels.”

“If we get hot to trot, do we outline the rules of the horny road?”

I swat him, because it’s easier than dealing with the little zing in my chest when he says hot to trot in reference to us. “We’re singing together, not making out.”

His expression turns deadly serious. “Promise me something, Ally.”

“Yes?”

He sets a hand on my shoulder and takes a deep breath. “If you ever want lessons in seduction from a friend, please come to me.”

I roll my eyes, doing my best to make light of his suggestion, even though a part of me knows he’d be the first person I’d ask. Except I don’t think I need or want lessons in seduction, even though it’s been a while for me. “Yes, Miller. I’ll come to you with ribbons and a request to try various positions. But only if you answer the door freshly showered and wearing just a towel.”

He pretends to consider it, then nods. “That’s a deal,” he says, offering a hand to shake.

I take it, and he growls in appreciation, a sexy, husky noise I’ve never heard from him before. The sound tangoes over my skin, and unexpected tingles zip over my chest. The sensation surprises me, like someone jumped out from behind a door. But then I try to reason it through. When I narrate battle scenes, my heart often pounds harder. It’s not unreasonable I’d have a physical reaction to this kind of vaguely dirty back-and-forth.

“Ribbons and Positions. Can that be our name?”

I screw up the corner of my lips, thinking. “Positions with Ribbons?”

“Other Uses for Ribbons?” he posits, and I giggle. Because it’s honestly not a bad name.

“That’s a little bit naughty.”

He brings his face closer to mine, like he did when we sang. “You’re a little naughty when you’re Honey.”

Heat unfurls in me, spreading from my chest to my arms. Normal reaction, I remind myself. It doesn’t mean anything at all, so I keep going with it, volleying the flirting ball right back at him. “You’re naughty when I’m Honey.”

He whispers a hoarse, “I know.”

I swallow roughly, and before the moment veers into another kind of thirty-day arrangement that would be far too dangerous for either one of us, I push off, skating again. “C’mon, friend,” I say, emphasizing the role he plays in my life.

We’ve been friends for six years, and it’s hard to imagine anything getting in the way of that, even playing music together.

We met at a retro arcade in Brooklyn one evening. He saw me kicking butt on Donkey Kong and recognized me from my YouTube videos.

During a break in my game, he introduced himself and told me how much he enjoyed the Zimmerman Duo, especially our performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Naturally, that delighted me. I’m not spotted often, and I’d liked it coming from someone like him, since I was familiar with his success as a Heartbreaker.

He’d returned to his game of Joust but was failing miserably at it. I’ve always been good at arcade games, so I gave him a few pointers and then showed him what to do to reach the next level.

He followed my tips and was successful.

The funny thing is, I felt a little spark that first night, especially when he thrust his arms up in victory, wrapped me in a hug of thanks, and asked me if I wanted to grab a beer.

I’d been tempted to act on that spark. To slide in next to him on his side of the table. To flirt and then some. But I had a crystal-clear vision of what would happen if I did.

I saw us hooking up, kissing hot and heavy. I saw me inviting him to my place and us spending the night tangled up together.

I’d thought of Lindsay, home with her daughter. I wasn’t worried about an accidental pregnancy, per se. But I was worried about never seeing Miller again, like Lindsay never saw Chloe’s dad again.

Miller and I got along so well I knew right away I wanted him in my life. I didn’t want to risk losing him to the end of a fling. I liked him so much as a person that whatever flicker of attraction I felt, I forced out of my mind, sweeping it away.

“Do you want to be friends?” I’d asked him.

He’d flinched, like he was taken aback, coughing on his beer. But then he’d nodded. “Yeah. Let’s do this again.”

I’ve seen him through girlfriends; he’s seen me through boyfriends. We’ve leaned on each other through heartache and heartbreak, sorrow and joy, side by side.

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