Copyright © 2013 Jess Dee
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
“Okay, if you space out on me one more time, I’m going to start thinking it’s personal.”
Lucy blinked and brought her attention back to the man sitting opposite her. Not that she’d ever lost her focus. Nope, her attention had been on him the whole time. Maybe just not on what he’d been saying.
“Loo, that’s about the tenth time you’ve zoned out. You haven’t heard a word I’ve said in the last five minutes. You gonna tell me what’s going on?” He set his tea down on the table.
She shook her head as she looked at his cup. “You realize you are the only man in Sydney, maybe in the world, who drinks Earl Grey?” The cup seemed small and dainty beside his strong, tanned hand.
He shrugged. “I like it, as you well know. Now forget about the tea and tell me what’s bothering you.”
Her gaze drifted from his teacup to his chest, and she admired the way his T-shirt sat snugly across his shoulders. How was it possible she’d never appreciated the broadness of those shoulders? Had his hair been so long it had hidden their extraordinary proportions?
She sighed. “You wouldn’t believe me if I did tell you.”
Seb shot her a strange look. “When have I ever not believed something you’ve said?” He took a chip from their shared plate, dipped it into tomato sauce and popped it in his mouth. Then he repeated the process, only this time he popped the chip in Lucy’s mouth.
It was all she could do not to close her lips around his fingers and trap them there. But then trapping fingers, a chip and a dollop of tomato sauce in her mouth was hardly sexy, now was it?
She chewed thoughtfully and swallowed, desperate to open up with the truth and admit her feelings, yet paralyzed by the prospect. For the first time ever, she had trouble voicing her thoughts to Seb.
“You know, I’m a pretty good listener.”
She smiled, trying to keep the mood light while her insides were so heavy. “Then why do you always complain that I never stop talking?”
He grinned. “Maybe because you never stop talking.”
“I’m not talking now,” she pointed out.
“Which leads me to believe there is something very wrong, ergo my willingness to listen.” He dipped another chip and offered it to her.
She shook her head. Her stomach was queasy and trembling, and though she and Seb always shared a plate of chips after seeing a movie together, she suspected fried food would do no good whatsoever. “I’m full.”
“Full of shit, maybe. C’mon, Lucy-Loo. Out with it. What’s bothering you? You fidgeted the whole way through the movie and haven’t been able to hold a simple conversation since it ended.” He gestured to the people sitting around them, enjoying a meal or a drink in the trendy little café in Newtown. “Everyone else here is chatting away. The only one not talking is you.”
“Okay, so you talk to me. Tell me how your hot date went the other night.”
The strange look was back on his face. “I spent the last five minutes telling you about it.”
She stared at him, dismayed. “You did?”
Seb nodded. “I did.”
Lucy gave him an apologetic look, staring into his eyes, willing him to forgive her.
Seb said something, but Lucy missed it, mostly because staring into his blue eyes dazzled her senses and once again took her breath away. A feverish flush seeped into her skin, heating her flesh. Just like that, Lucy was lost in a haze of desire, lost in the realization that her body was responding to Seb’s proximity. Being this close to him made her heart pound and her pussy clench. She wanted him fiercely. In a way she’d never desired another man. In a way she’d never desired a friend. In a way she had no place desiring a friend.
She had to say something, had to tell him how she felt. She couldn’t exist like this anymore, couldn’t go on living this way with him. Forever friends, nothing more.
“Lucy!” His sharp exclamation snapped her back to attention.
“I love you, Seb.” It was out before she had a chance to think twice.
“I love you too, babe, but if you don’t tell me what’s going on, I’m taking you to the closest medical center to have you checked out.”
“No, I mean I love you. Like, really, love you.”
He grinned his beautiful grin. “So you tell me every time you get trashed on red wine. You love me and you think I’m the bestest friend in the whole widest world.” He tapped her half-empty wineglass. “Although you surprise me tonight. You haven’t even had one glass. Usually you have to have three or four before you start getting this sentimental.”
She bit her lower lip, sucking it into her mouth before releasing it. “I’m not drunk.”
His grin told her how much he believed her.
“I’m not,” she said again. “Truth is, I’m stone-cold sober. And the reason I haven’t been concentrating is because I’ve been trying to figure out a way to tell you how I feel.”
Seb’s smile began to fade, and his blue eyes widened as he stared at her.
“It’s changed, Seb. Everything’s changed. I’ve changed. My feelings for you have changed.” She took a deep, fortifying breath and the words tumbled out. “Y-you’re not just my friend anymore. You’re…more. I dunno what happened. And I dunno how I never felt this way before, but I…I…” She pressed her hand to her chest. “I have all these feelings for you, just sitting here, pressing on my heart, and I can’t ignore them. Can’t pretend they’re not there or they’re not real.”
Sebastian’s jaw dropped open.
Now that the words had started, she couldn’t hold them back. Didn’t want to. This was Seb she spoke to, and she could tell him anything. Had always been able to, and now was no different—even though everything was different.
“I dream about you at night. And at work, when I’m not sleeping. Dirty dreams. Filthy, really. Dreams a girl shouldn’t dream about her friend, but there you have it. And when I see you, I wish, just wish, the dreams were real. I wish you’d kiss me the way you do in my imagination. Wish you’d tear my clothes off and do filthy things to me. I wish, wish that you felt for me what I feel for you, and we weren’t sitting here at this very moment, drinking red wine and Earl Grey tea.”
Lucy paused to draw breath, her heart beating frantically, her cheeks burning.
Seb just gaped at her.
“I lay in the bath earlier, thinking about you. Fantasizing about you. I touched myself, wishing it was your hand. Couldn’t stop touching, until…until…” Lucy closed her eyes, mortified that she was voicing all of this, yet unable to stop. After months of keeping it to herself, the confession felt liberating. “I came thinking about you. And it wasn’t the first time. But the thing is, I don’t want to just fantasize anymore. Don’t want to just dream about you. I don’t just want to be your friend. Can’t be your friend, ’cause what I feel for you goes way beyond friendship. I’m like, wildly, crazily in love with you.”
“Lucy…” Seb’s voice sounded hoarse, scratchy. He looked dazed. “Geez, I don’t know what to say.” He drew a shaky hand over his shaved head.
Her breath caught in her diaphragm and she hiccupped. “Say you feel the same way. Or at the very least, tell me there’s a chance you could feel this way.”
“I love you too. You know I do.” Again he drew his hand over his head. “You’re my gal, my friend, my mate. ’Course I love you. Just…”
Lucy’s heart stopped beating. Or maybe her lungs stopped working. She couldn’t tell. “Just…?”
His blue gaze held hers. “Just…not like that.”