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Bonnie Paulson Books

eHoneymoon, book 4

eHoneymoon, book 4

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Two best-friends matched for marriage… One honeymoon to make it work.

Neither of them is certain they’re making the right choice…

Excerpt

Gripping my small purse, I slid into the seat across from him. Kicking his shin softly with my toe, I arched my brow. “How many phone numbers do you have so far? We haven’t even started the night and I can really see them checking you out.” I winked and opened the menu. I already knew what I would get. In fact, Dylan knew me so well, I wouldn’t be surprised if a Mai Tai and a plate of onion rings and mozzarella sticks showed up as I sat down.

“You’re just jealous. I told you, I could be a one phone number guy. All you have to do is say the word.” Dylan’s deliciously decadent lips curved in a knowing smile as he threw down the challenge that was so common between us. I swear he teased me just because he knew he could.

I folded up the menu and tapped its surface when I laid it down. “I couldn’t be with a guy who doesn’t order before I get here.” I had fallen for his games way too many times, believing it would always only be me.

He just didn’t know it.

We started out as close friends in junior high and graduated as best friends. We were inseparable. A lot of the guys I dated couldn’t handle me being best friends with a guy, especially one who looked the way Dylan did. In high school though, he was an extra hundred to a hundred-and-fifty pounds heavier. Back then, he wasn’t as much competition as he was now.

The older we got, the more we depended on each other. And dang it, the older we got, the more good looking he got. Some things weren’t fair.

Before it became impossible for us to distinguish between what was my life and what was his, we had to do something. I had an idea I wanted to implement that night, but only if he was up for it. He’d been talking about a marriage app for a while and I was finally interested in checking it out.

I leaned across the table and smiled, teasing him. “It’s okay, you’re getting old. I don’t expect you to order me a drink or my appetizers every time we come here.” I winked and scratched my nails across the green Formica top. I flipped my thick black hair over my shoulder. I’d left it down because Dylan convinced me down was the best style for the type of night we were up for. I wasn’t so sure since it was already irritating me.

He folded his arms and sat back, his forearms rippling as he considered me. Tilting his head toward the newly arrived waitress, he drawled. “I’ll take your apology whenever you’re ready to give it.” Of course, a Saturday would put them a little behind. The items were late and not because of Dylan.

Heat flushed my cheeks and I nodded my thanks to the woman as she sat my overflowing plate down, alongside a Mai Tai on a napkin. I waited until she dropped off his burger and left. I didn’t need any witnesses to my groveling. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I was just teasing, but I’m tense about this reunion. I still can’t believe you’re going on vacation in a week and a half. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with myself.

Big Dog won’t even need me. I won’t be needed.” I ended on a half-wail that I stopped with a side-smirk. “Don’t you feel bad for me?”

I wasn’t joking though. I really did feel like I was being abandoned. At least on some level I couldn’t reach. I glanced around the restaurant, the bright colors suddenly more somber at the thought of my impending loneliness and boredom.

“Come with me. It’ll be fun.” Dylan lifted his amber beer, peering at me over the rim of his glass. “We have to close Big Dog anyway. There’s nothing you can do while it’s under construction. Maybe you should come with me. We can do some market research.” He offered a compelling argument, but I couldn’t go on vacation with him. That’s where I drew the line.

I’d never been able to go when he asked me in the past. That was something for girlfriends or wives or parents. I was just the best friend. I knew my boundaries and where I belonged.

Except… I always wanted to go with him. The temptation was there and I didn’t like that sometimes I was more inclined than others. Right then, with the reunion minutes away, I was more susceptible to his suggestions than usual.

We’d be there with everyone happily married or dating someone. I’d be the single girl and Dylan would be collecting numbers left and right. Women were shamed for not being married and men were celebrated for being unattached.

Scrunching my nose, I wiggled my fingers at him. “It’s okay. Maybe I’ll go visit Mom or take in some reading. There’s a bunch of books I want to get caught up on.” I dipped a mozzarella stick in the marinara sauce and took a big bite as I looked around the bar at people I didn’t care about. I didn’t want him to push me too much, but a small part of me wanted him to push a lot.

How far would he have to push for me to give in?
“You can read where I’m going.” He was cut off by the sudden arrival of a long-legged redhead in tight jeans and a crop top I swear when out of fashion in the 1990s.

“I’m Simone.” She stood at Dylan’s side and put her hands on her insanely slim hips, thrusting her chest forward. She winked. “Want to share a Derailer, stud?” Stud? Maybe she’d already had one.

The Derailer was the most popular drink in north Idaho.

The bucket had more alcohol than should be considered legal and it was served with five cups of ice. Four or five people could easily drink out of the same bucket and walk away buzzed.

When someone wanted to split a drink like that, they offered more than just a one-drink time.

I tried focusing on my onion rings, but I couldn’t help but wonder what he would say. She was gorgeous and didn’t look like she was used to hearing no.

He grinned, letting his gaze rake her figure and commenting in a slow drawl. “Not right now, honey. Maybe later.” He winked and dismissed her by turning away to face me. Her jaw dropped and she stared at him a moment longer before turning in a huff and stomping away. In heels that high, stomping was an amazing feat.

A guy like Dylan had propositions coming out his ears.
I pushed the jealousy that was always present to the side. I’d made my decision in high school and then again in college and then again every year and almost every day since we met.

Dylan and I owned an amusement park together. We worked out together. We even lived on the same street. We had grown up as next door neighbors. We were habits that were hard to break.

We knew everything there was to know about each other – and then some.

He was the second constant man in my life. My grandpa had died the year before taking my only other steady man in my life.

My father left when I was younger. Dylan filled that hole in my heart and I refused to lose him because I couldn’t handle commitment.

Every man I had dated since then had just been like artificial sweetener to sugar. They never stuck around…

Just like my dad. Proving I was the common denominator. I wasn’t worth staying for. If Dylan and I got into a relationship where love was involved, how long would it take for him to leave, too?

If having a romance with me highlighted my negative aspects, I would do everything I could to not have that happen with Dylan. Besides, romance was overrated.

We had more than romance. Okay, we didn’t have more than romance and sometimes a woman needed that, but I wouldn’t trade what he and I had for a little bit of lust and candles. Eventually, they always left. I had plenty of experience in that department.

I didn’t want to scare Dylan off, too.

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