Unfriended(Love in New Highland Book 1)(10)

By: Deana Farrady

"Obviously I'm a girl," she confided to Aura, "but you don't ever have to worry about fishy stuff between Asher and me. We're good buddies, that's all." She cuffed my scapula to prove it. "I mean look at the age gap. I'm way, way older than this guy."

"You don't seem older. How much older are you exactly?" Aura demanded.

"Four years. No, for real. We actually know each other because I'm friends with his big sister, Mel. It's almost as though we really are siblings, isn't it, Asher?"

"You betcha, sis," I said, with an edge of something I wouldn't let myself think about. Whenever Charis talked about how we were like brother and sister, it never failed to get my goat.

She held my gaze a moment, spacing out like she did sometimes, her soft brown eyes blinking. "So yeah, we just hang out and play games."

"Four years is a lot older," Aura said sweetly. I looked at her in growing irritation.

I'd hoped she'd let go of this shit once she saw Charis was not my type—a tomboy, a dude without the rude, an honorary fellow. Hell, Sloane used to practice soccer and baseball with us guys. I've seen her dripping with sweat. She laughs at penis jokes, for godssakes.

But Aura was assessing her in one of those cool looks women give other women. "How did you two meet, exactly?" she demanded.

And so, hugging her cute, knobby knees as she sat on the floor, Charis told her the story of our history together. She told about how, in my sixteenth year when her parents were abroad, she'd joined Mel at the Norrell family home for Christmas. In a nutshell: My family had all gone to bed, and Charis and I, both night owls, had stayed up in the kitchen together playing Mahjong and having an altogether holly, jolly time.

"So you've been friends ever since then?" Aura sounded surprised.

"Actually, no, I was attending college out of state and didn't make it home much," Charis said. "But then I came back to attend grad school at Marmot Canyon, ran across Asher on campus this fall, and we reconnected."

Charis was being tactful. She didn't mention the crush I'd had on her at thirteen, and she didn't mention being a regular visitor at my family home or that everyone thought of her as honorary family.

"So you see, for all intents and purposes, my friend here is a dude," I said, leaning in to kiss Aura's plump mouth. With my lips still attached to hers, I winked over at Charis, who jabbed my ribs and kicked me to boot—which I admit I fully deserved for the dude remark. Messing with Charis is hard to resist sometimes.

Aura seemed convinced at the time.

Turns out she wasn't. But I was. Fully, optimistically, blindly, then, and afterward.

I believed Aura was flat-out wrong when she got into her jealous fits. I didn't have a secret boner for Char. As everyone's always drumming on about, she's way older. Practically my grandma, with the way she dresses, in those old-fashioned sweaters and baggy slacks.

Sometimes we jabbed each other in the ribcage or exchanged a friendly tickle, sure. All of it was non-sexual. All Aura had to do was pay attention and she'd see we were not.


To each other.

At all.

My girlfriend, a law school student, wasn't swayed by the hard evidence before her. That hard evidence being literally my dick, which I stuck only in her. Kissing her, loving her, assuring her flat chests didn't do it for me, that I got hard for a woman's passion, not the ability to trounce me at games…nothing I did did any good.

Of course not. I know now that moving to the fucking moon with Aura wouldn't have done any good. But I put up with her refusal to believe in me for three mind-fucking years, complete with bursts of temper and crazy shrieking episodes.

Why? you ask. Because I was desperate. Because I couldn't control my cock. Because I had a platonic shutter bigger than a house hanging over my eyes.

A shutter that came up every fucking time I looked at Charis.

It slitted open every so often, but I always shut it fast. If my dick got hard for Sloane of all people, I must be missing Aura, and it was time to go. Was how my reasoning went.

I know, you don't have to say it.


Yeah, pretty much. Thicker than a tree trunk, that's me, forgetting that once upon a time, Charis Sloane had been utter perfection to my worshipful kid eyes. That in her own gamine way, with all her energy and enthusiasm for life, she'd supplied dozens of hard-ons and wet dreams to this growing boy.

Forgetting I used to fantasize about the smell of her sweat, for fuck's sake.

All this time, I never once put two and two together and thought, duh, Sloane is the person you'd pick to be stranded on a desert island with, no contest…

Sitting here now with her cradled in my lap—fuck, she smells good—I'm just beginning to discover how much of a dumbass I've been.

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