What Are Friends For?(4)

By: Lynn Lafleur

She wouldn’t settle for anything less.

The bell over the door snagged Erin’s attention. Her friend and co-worker Zoe walked in, carrying a small white bag. She walked over to Erin’s desk and held out the bag to her.

“I brought you a cheesecake brownie.”

Erin groaned. “I love those.”

“I know you do. And since you shared Luke’s mother’s cookies with me, I’m returning the favor. I know how you need your afternoon sugar fix.”

Erin could always depend on the cute redhead to take care of her. She pinched off a bite of the brownie and popped it in her mouth. She groaned again. “Oh, that’s so good. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Zoe took the chair at her desk, placed her purse in the desk drawer. “Have the Jeffersons come and gone already?”

“No. He called while you were at lunch to say they were running about twenty minutes late. They’ll be here soon.”

“That won’t mess up your plans, will it?”

“What plans?”

“Don’t you have a date with Gary tonight?”

She and Zoe had been so busy this morning, she hadn’t had the chance to tell her friend about Gary’s lack of follow-up to their last date. “There is no more Gary.”

“Wow. He didn’t last long.”

“They never do.” Her stomach now churning too much to eat, Erin placed the rest of her brownie back in the bag and folded the top. “I’m giving up on men. They aren’t worth the hassle.”

Zoe gave her a sympathetic look. “Don’t be that way. Not all men are bad.”

“You can say that since you got the last good man out there. Peter is a prince.”

Zoe’s sympathetic look turned to one of a woman in the throes of newly wedded bliss. She sighed in pleasure. “Yes, he is.”

Envy stabbed Erin in the stomach. It pleased her to see her friend so happy, yet she couldn’t help being jealous that she couldn’t experience the same happiness herself.

“I’ve decided it has to be me,” Erin said. “Men give up on me after we’ve had sex. I have to be lousy in bed.”

“I doubt that, Erin.”

“Well, what other reason could there be? Gary and I really clicked. I enjoyed our first two dates. We had sex on the third one. That was last Saturday and I haven’t heard a word from him since.”

Zoe turned her chair toward Erin. “You called it sex instead of making love.”

Erin waved a hand in the air, irritated that Zoe picked up on something so trivial. “Semantics.”

“No, it isn’t. There’s a big difference between sex and lovemaking, Erin. Both have their place, depending on the mood. But it seems to me if you really clicked with Gary, you’d say you made love with him.”

“Why does it matter what I call it?”

“Because there’s a difference,” Zoe said slowly, as if to emphasize her point. “When’s the last time you made love with a guy?”

Erin had to think before she answered that question. Not that she’d had dozens of lovers since she discovered men were really nice to have around, but she had to think about the last time she’d felt really close to a guy. There’d only been one and he had trampled on her heart. “In college. I was ridiculously in love.”

“What happened?”

“I wasn’t the only girl in his bed.”

Zoe flinched. “Ouch.”

“That’s what he said when I kneed him in the balls. Plus a few other colorful phrases.”

Zoe’s eyes grew wide. “You didn’t!”

“I did. And I never regretted it.” Erin picked up the stack of travel brochures she had ready for the Jeffersons and rearranged their order. “It has to be me, Zoe. Since the same thing always happens, it has to be me. I just wish I knew what I’m doing wrong.”

“Why don’t you ask Luke to help you?”

Erin blinked, certain she hadn’t heard Zoe correctly. “Luke Duvall?”

“Yes, Luke Duvall. I don’t understand why you didn’t tie him to your bed years ago.”

That thought was so ludicrous, Erin burst into laughter. “No way!”

“Why not?”

“Luke is my friend. We aren’t interested in each other sexually.”

“Then you’re a fool. That man is the perfect example of prime male flesh. Not to mention that mane of dark hair and those gorgeous blue eyes.” Zoe closed her eyes and shivered. “Oh yes.”

Erin couldn’t believe her friend was going on and on about Luke. “Excuse me, but did you forget you got married two months ago?”

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