Never Date Your Brother's Best Friend: Never Date Book 1
Never Date Your Brother's Best Friend: Never Date Book 1
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- Brother's best friend
- New adult/after college
- Instant attraction
- Small town
- Touch of suspense
My plan was perfect… My friend needed a date, and my brother’s best friend was single. Problem solved.
Until I saw Jaeger for the first time in years, and sparks flew in the wrong direction.
Jaeger has grown up and bulked up. But that shouldn’t matter, because I have the ideal life. Really.
Only my plans are beginning to unravel and now visions of Jaeger’s hard abs, broad shoulders, and intense green eyes fill my head.
I should hold back in case my friend is interested. Or in case of a million other reasons.
But if Jaeger isn’t willing to play by the rules, I don’t think I can either.
Chapter 1 Look Inside
Chapter 1 Look Inside
My legs quiver like Jell-O as I clamber over the last boulder on the east side of Eagle Lake, and my boyfriend Eric reaches for my hand to help me up. His sandy blond hair is slicked back at the roots with sweat, which shouldn’t be attractive. But for some reason he looks hot, all sweaty and disheveled. He’s not wearing his shirt, and the close proximity to his muscled chest ignites dirty thoughts of sneaking off behind a boulder and having my way with him.
He squeezes my hand and I glance up. His mouth twists. “Naughty.”
“What?” My expression is all innocence, but he knows me. Later, I plan to investigate those muscles with my tongue. That is, if things go well. We’re going through a dry patch I hope to remedy with his trip here.
I glance back, searching for Genevieve. Where the heck is she? We’ll be up here all day if she doesn’t hurry it up.
It’s our first hike in Lake Tahoe since our arrival a few days ago, but Gen should be in better shape than this. She’s a runner and athletic, whereas I avoid the gym like I’m allergic to spandex.
I should probably cut her some slack. The altitude in Lake Tahoe is higher than what she’s used to, the air thinner. But I won’t, because her reactions are hilarious when I don’t.
Finally, I spot her. She’s just now cresting the stones before the lake. “Light a fire under it, Gen!”
She glances up and swipes her forehead, her chest rising and falling with each deep gulp of air. Her lips pinch and I think her nostrils flare. She crosses her arms and glares.
I smile back.
Instead of moving toward me, though, Gen drops her arms to her sides and takes an unsteady step in the direction of the water. She crouches among the large rocks and I can’t see her anymore. A stone flies from her direction into the lake, sending out tiny waves.
I might razz my best friend, but she can hold her own. Taking a break when she knows I want her to hurry her ass up, a case in point.
This could be a while.
I turn and meander toward Eric, who’s now several feet ahead. The small alpine lake providing a perfect backdrop for his masculine beauty. I stop for a moment, taking in the sexy picture, and consider all the things I want to achieve this summer.
My goal in returning to my hometown is to immerse Gen in Lake Tahoe and lift her spirits, hopefully in the form of a cute summer fling. Gen just discovered—brutally, embarrassingly—that the guy she dated during our last year of college had a girlfriend back home. The bastard showed up with the other girl at the local bar during our last week of school.
Gen didn’t cry or drunk-dial him like any self-respecting twenty-one-year-old would; she went quiet, which is worse. He broke her heart, and I worry he broke her trust in men along with it.
The only positive is that she never has to see the A-hole again. We’re done with college, and thanks to my Tahoe connections, I’ve secured us jobs at a casino for the summer before grad school.
Graduate school. I squeeze my middle and take a deep breath. For some reason, every time I think about the future, my gut wrenches to the side.
Tahoe is the perfect place to get Gen’s mind off the A-hole and for us to spend quality time together before we go our separate ways in the fall. And maybe it’s the perfect place for me to get my head on straight. Because I need to be excited for what’s ahead. Right now, the idea of law school makes me itchy.
Eric stops at a swath of gravel and yanks off his backpack. He lays out towels and I make my way over. I sit and pull up my knees below my chin, arms wrapped around my shins, trying to not think about the future.
Several minutes pass, and there’s still no sign of Gen. Is she really that tired from the hike?
I glance over my shoulder. I can’t see her, and the water where she crouched is still as glass.
My pulse flutters. It’s been too long.
Rocking forward, I push to my feet. “Gen!”
She stands several yards away and raises her hand, ambling toward me like she’s on a Sunday drive.
I slump back to my spot and Eric steps beside me, his tall figure casting a shadow. “Serves you right for teasing her.” The sound of crunching comes from above, and crumbs rain down into my lap.
I flick off a few with my thumb and forefinger. “Tarzan, you want to take your chow somewhere else?”
“Sorry,” he mumbles, granola sticking to his lips.
I shake my head and smile. “I forgot to mention, my work schedule at the casino will be Tuesday through Saturday.”
We’ve only been here a few days, but Gen and I start work next week and I’m mildly nervous about the counting element of my job as a dealer. Which makes me sound mentally challenged. I’m not—I just seriously suck at easy math. I can write a ten-page essay on the women’s movement post industrialization in under an hour, dissect a frog, or explain Keynesian economics, but ask me to add numbers together on the fly, and my brain blows a fuse. I tend to overprocess the simple concepts.
The sound of mastication has ceased—the only sign that Eric heard me. He’s moved a few feet away, his back to me as he stares out at the water.
“Saturdays will be good tip nights,” I add, “but it stinks that my schedule will cut into our weekends together.”
Weekdays were too busy with classes and Eric’s fraternity obligations back at school, but we hung out every weekend.
He turns, unloads drinks from his backpack, and takes off his shoes. He stretches his arms above his head with a lazy yawn.
“That won’t be a problem, will it?” I say. “You don’t have classes Friday through Monday. You can still visit on the weekends if you want.”
Though we’re the same age, Eric has been a slacker. He’s taking summer classes so he can officially graduate.
He shrugs and picks up a smooth, flat rock from the shore. He flicks it with his wrist out at the water. The stone skips across the surface for several beats before sinking. “Work as much as you like. You want to save money for your fancy grad school. I’ll be busy with classes.”
Kind of a noncommittal response, and snarky. Eric’s never been enthusiastic about me attending law school, but he’s also never put me down for it. We haven’t discussed the future, but I figured we’d do the long-distance thing while I’m away.
Suddenly, the rift between us these last couple of weeks—and the sexual dry spell I’d attributed to end-of-school-year stress—takes on new meaning. Was he pushing me away?
I don’t do passive, so I ask, “You think you’ll be able to make it up here next weekend?”
Eric rummages around in his backpack. “Probably not.” He raises his head and waves to Gen, who finally nears. “I’ve been assigned my first project. I’m meeting with study partners next weekend. Then there’s a party with the guys.”
We’ve been together for two years and have never been attached at the hip, but the way Eric’s avoiding my eyes and the tension I sense from him has me on high alert. He’d say if something was wrong, wouldn’t he?
Gen drops her backpack on my towel with a thud, her face red, her mouth turned down.
I mentally pause from overanalyzing Eric to consider my BF.
Now Gen’s upset too? I razzed her earlier, sure, but she’s used to that, and she dishes it back in equal doses.
Was she thinking about the A-hole? Is that what took her so long and why she looks like someone stole her puppy?
I lift my chin, eyebrows drawn together, questioning. She shakes her head, but the troubled look on her face remains.
Eric sits beside me and rubs my shoulders too roughly. “Going for a quick dip—anyone want to join me?” He looks from me to Gen.
“Too cold,” I blurt absently.
“Didn’t bring my bathing suit,” Gen says without looking up. She scoops a handful of gravel and pours it slowly onto the ground.
Eric leans over my shoulder and grins lewdly. “Feel free to go in the buff, Gen. I don’t mind.”
Gen flinches, and I elbow Eric in the ribs. Ass. Can’t he see something’s bothering her?
He laughs and strides to the water’s edge.
His stupid comment has one positive effect. It’s wiped the depressed look from Gen’s face.
She shakes her head at his retreating back, her expression annoyed. “Do your hormones ever cease firing?”
“Never,” he shouts over his shoulder.
He jogs the last few feet to the water’s edge and dives in. The lakes is Tahoe are cold enough to shrivel his balls into tiny grapes, but he appears unfazed, skimming the lake in smooth strokes toward a giant boulder in the center.
Gen and I sit in silence as Eric climbs atop the rock like he’s Columbus discovering the New World.
She drops the gravel and brushes off her hands on her shorts. “How are things with him?” She balances her arms on her knees in a pose similar to mine, and stares at her feet.
First, the thing she’s not mentioning that’s upsetting her, and now the random question about Eric? I never mentioned the dry spell to her, figuring it was temporary.
She fumbles with the edge of my towel. “You ever worry about him? With—I don’t know—other girls back at school?” She holds up a hand. “He was joking earlier—about the naked swimming thing. But…”
Seriously, where is this coming from? I don’t like the concerned look on her face. She must be projecting. She’s had a shitty time of it, and now she thinks all guys are like the A-hole.
“We’re good, Gen.”
She lets out a slow breath. “Okay.” She sends me a warm smile and my stomach sinks.
Shit. Are Eric and I fine?
Things didn’t feel fine a moment ago. I’ve never worried about him, but I’ve been busy. Now that school has ended, have things changed?
I give my head a small shake. I’m overreacting. Eric and I will spend time together at the lake and get back on track.
Lines of strain form around Gen’s mouth.
“What about you?” I ask. “Ready to start dating again?”
She digs her heels into the gravel. “Sure. At some point.”
Gen has said this before, but it’s been a month since she got her heart crushed. Not long enough to heal, but sometimes getting back out there is the only way to pull out of a slump.
Eric splashes toward us, droplets running down his toned chest as he exits the water. I smile at him, and he grins back.
Eric and I are good. Of course we’re good. Gen will be good too. As soon as I find her a nice guy.
Gen is smart, beautiful, and funny as hell, though she doesn’t try to be, which makes her even more hilarious. I’m lucky to have a solid boyfriend, and I want that for her.
With the extra seasonal help at the casino this summer, there should be at least a few decent prospects. If not, we’ll scout the local hotspots and see who’s around.
Most of my friends from Tahoe are finishing college or have found jobs in San Francisco, but the populace of a vacation town is ever-changing. Lots of dating possibilities. I’ll find someone for Gen, or at least distract her from the slump she’s in and show her a good time.
Lake Tahoe is all about the high. How can I fail?
“And that’s Jaeger.”
Jaeger? That name sounds familiar, but I don’t recognize the guy.
Jaeger is wearing a casual T-shirt and worn blue jeans, and his arms are as long as a basketball player’s. His light brown hair is cut close to his head, and though there’s something familiar about his face, I can’t place him.
He’s cute, though, with a strong jaw line and symmetrical features that are too classically handsome to lump him in with the meatheads; his brows don’t protrude enough. He’s more genetically big than steroid-inflated.
Jaeger gives Gen a cursory glance, then looks at me. His gaze falters and holds a second too long. He half nods in acknowledgement, and returns his attention to his friends.
He hesitated when he looked at me. A sign I’m right about us knowing each other? I can’t ask him about it, though, because Adam is talking to him now.
I study Jaeger some more and my gaze catches on full lips, trailing down to a very broad chest, muscled shoulders and arms, and—large hands. The guy has strong, well-formed hands.
A shiver racks my body. I have a weakness for men’s hands… and I’ve veered off course. I’m checking out men for my friend Gen, not me.
This is beyond annoying. I swear I know this guy. Did we go to high school together?
I wonder if Gen has noticed Jaeger. If Mason doesn’t work out, Jaeger should be put at the top of Gen’s list of prospects.
“—we worked at Heavenly together,” Mason says, and I tune back in to the conversation. He’s just told Gen how he knows these guys.
I take a seat beside Adam and Jaeger, leaving Gen the chair between Jaeger and Mason.
We order drinks, and I turn and listen in as Adam continues what must have been the conversation Gen and I interrupted when we arrived.
“I don’t know what he was thinking.” Adam shakes his head in disbelief. “Why would he cheat with prostitutes? Groupies, maybe—but prostitutes? Germs, man. Disease.” He mocks a shiver. “Just not right, even for a celebrity.”
Gen and I are entertainment news junkies. I run through my mental Rolodex to ascertain which trashy celeb Adam’s referring to. The pop star? Or the athlete whose prior reputation was as a virgin former choirboy?
It’s a tough call.
I lean closer to catch the details, right as Jaeger eases back in his chair, his shoulder inches away. His body heat crosses the short distance between us, and a pleasant whiff of shaving cream fills my senses, making my heart beat faster. He runs his knuckles down firm thighs, and a ripple of attraction shoots through my belly.
What the hell? I sit up, eyes trained on Adam. I haven’t noticed another guy since before Eric and I got together, and here I am, checking out one of Gen’s prospects, like he’s for me.
My gaze darts to Jaeger’s face and I wonder again how I know him. The more I look, the more familiar he appears.
Jaeger nods as if he’s listening to Adam, but he doesn’t contribute to the conversation. As though he knows Adam will continue talking without input from the others.
Adam’s overly chatty. That’s annoying. It’s a good thing Mason introduced the girl beside Adam as his girlfriend, because I already struck the guy from Gen’s list.
Mason pushes a spear of olives from one side of his martini glass to the other. “Why bother getting married? He should have stayed single.” He lifts the glass and takes a swallow.
Gotta be the athlete. The pop star isn’t married. “You’re talking about that basketball player, right?” I say.
“He’s a bastard.”
A low rumble escapes from Jaeger. I glance up and catch a faint smile on his mouth.
The conversation slowly turns to skiing and snowboarding, and Jaeger’s shoulder dips closer to me.
“How have you been, Cali?” His deep voice turns my spine limp and spongy. I could melt from the sound of it and happily live as a sticky puddle on the lounge floor.
We do know each other. “I’m sorry—you’re familiar, but I can’t remember how.”
He leans forward, elbows on his knees, head angled toward me without directly looking. “Tyler.”
Tyler’s my older brother.
It all makes sense now.
Images cross my mind of a tall, slender guy with blond, shaggy hair who used to hang out with Tyler during my freshman year in high school.
My gaze rakes Jaeger’s hard, well-defined, and heavily muscled body. Is it possible for a guy to add sixty pounds of muscle and a couple extra inches of height between the ages of eighteen and—? I mentally calculate. He’s gotta be my brother’s age, about twenty-three—no, Tyler skipped a grade—Jaeger must be twenty-four.
His hair is darker, but it was longer and probably sun-bleached when we were in high school. The guy I remember also had an unusual name, though I couldn’t say for sure that it was Jaeger. He was quiet, like this guy, and now that I look closer, the face is similar.
This must be the same person, and if it is, he’s filled out. A lot.
He also used to be a skiing champion and had a long-term girlfriend.
I never thought he noticed me.
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