Best and Honor

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Chapter 5

Sophie

What I thought would be a relaxing day on the beach turned into the sweetest form of torture I have felt in a very long time. Stepping off the curb in front of the hotel to see all 6’3” of solid muscle waiting for me had been so exciting it felt like a spark had ignited somewhere in my gut. He was wearing a tight fitting t-shirt that did very little to mask the lean muscles it was covering. His board shorts hung low on his hips and he must’ve run his fingers through his hair minutes before I’d seen him because it looked perfectly messed in a way that made my fingers itch to run through it.

He appeared not to notice the way the female population on the strand seemed to feel his presence and turn their heads to watch him as he walked beside me. It was as if his piercing masculinity was calling out to their biological clocks and they were helpless to stop it. He was doing a number on my insides as well. Clearly every part of me was interested in every part of him, and the warm tingles were everywhere making it impossible to ignore.

I was proud of myself for pulling it together by the time we had made it to a location that was far enough away from the hotel. My heart slowed down and I felt my stomach unknot with the chance of running into the girls decreasing each step we took. Of course, that relief was short-lived because Andrew had reached down and taken my hand in his as he guided me onto the sand. It was the briefest of moments, but I swear it made my insides completely melt.

I didn’t think he could be any more perfect, but then he removed his shirt. I watched from behind him as his muscles pulled and flexed with the movement and I felt my mouth go completely dry. His dark tattoo was a beautiful addition to his glowing skin. I was totally staring, and not in a way I was ever going to be able to play-off as a quick glance or accidental peek. This was full on hero worship. My skin prickled with goose bumps even though the temperature outside had to be in the high eighties. It was as if my body was was trying in vain to rise up and get closer to him in any way it could.

I’ve been a good girl for a very long time. It’s been helpful for me to bury myself in my work so the pain of what Evan and Rachel have done doesn’t sting so much and the fear of trying to rebuild a relationship with someone else doesn’t seem so daunting. The problem is apparently not having a man’s hands brush across my skin has made it all the more exquisite when I finally feel Andrew’s touch on my bare back. There is no describing the way my nerves lit up and sent pulses of electricity down my spine and across my skin.

So I lay here with my eyes closed after returning the favor of wiping sunscreen all over his broad shoulders and back, because if I leave them open, I will surely thrown myself at him. I need to remember the purpose of being on this stupid trip and forget about the way my body hums with an angst and energy that is begging to be released by none other that my ex-boyfriend’s best friend. Yes, I am hot for the best man.

It isn’t my imagination that he keeps looking at me. I can feel it like it is a physical touch, the way his eyes glide over my curves. The first few times I turn over or adjust my top, his eyes fall to where the movement is and he seems mesmerized by the small peek of new flesh that has been previously covered, or the motion of my curves as I turn to feel the heat of the sun somewhere new. OK, so maybe I move a little more than I would if sunbathing with a female friend, but I can’t help it. He has me so wound up I need to do something to burn the energy.

After a few hours we pack up and head back to the hotel. Rachel and Evan have plans for us to all have a few drinks tonight in a hotel bar so those of us who don’t already know each other can get better acquainted. At first I thought drinking my way through this weekend would be the right move, but now I wonder if adding the alcohol will lower my inhibitions enough I’m going to end up in a big heap of trouble with the best man.

***

I rub the lotion down my freshly shaved skin and breathe it in reminding myself I’m almost one more day closer to returning to my predictable life in California. Tonight is supposed to be casual so I’m sliding my favorite sundress over my matching lacey underwear. The dress is a soft lace that falls to the top of my thighs and loops around my neck in a halter style. No bra is possible since the top is more like a bikini than anything you might wear to a work meeting. A thick band of lace connects the triangles to the rest of the snug fitting fabric and a gold loop sits delicately just above each breast.

Having my skin sun-kissed is helping to make the bright teal color of the dress stand out. I have my long hair curled and pulled off my neck in a ponytail with my bangs swept to the side to soften my face. A small touch of make-up and of course the perfect shade of pink lip-gloss complete the whole look.

I stand back from the mirror to make any last minute adjustments and worry maybe the dress is too revealing for a wedding event. Who am I kidding? If I had to put money on it, Rachel will be wearing less fabric than me. I slide on my silver sandals and grab my clutch. As I reach for the door to my hotel room, my phone chimes with a message.

Andrew: Evan has already been drinking. Thought you should know.

I stare at the screen as my heart pounds so hard it might crack a rib. This will be the first time in four years I will see him in person. Rachel of course has had his image plastered all over her Facebook page and Instagram since the moment she told me they had begun dating, so I have an idea of what he looks like now. Maybe I just need to put myself on the same playing field.

Twisting the small top of the vodka bottle is getting easier. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I tip it up and drink it down, feeling the burn in my throat as it slips down and creates a ball of heat in my stomach. If one seemed to help, maybe two would totally do the trick. It’s worth a shot. By the time I finally step out of my room, my limbs are warm and relaxed and I feel a warm flush of heat in my cheeks.

The bar they chose is in a hotel a small walk from the one we’re staying at. I take the strand to get there and offer my ID to the bouncer at the door. I turned twenty-one a few months ago and barely even use my ID in California since going out isn’t on the top of my list when I’m working long hours. The bouncer takes a little longer than necessary to make sure my picture matches my face and the last time I checked, my legs were not featured in my DMV photo. He hands it back to me with a smile and I tuck it back in my clutch.

The music is so loud I can feel it vibrate in my body. I stand on my tiptoes so I can see over the crowd to find the wedding party. It looks like most of them are gathered around a few tables in the back corner. I drop back down flat on my feet and take a big breath before pushing my way through the mass of hot bodies to get to where they are. When I finally step out of the crowd and stand at the far outskirt of the group, my eyes meet Evans and my heart completely sinks.

I can’t tell you what the feeling is. At first I think it’s longing, like my soul misses him, but then it begins to feel more like regret or embarrassment. Most accurate would probably be a mixture of a few emotions and none of which feel good. His smile falls for a second and his eyes sweep over my body. I’ve changed in the last four years, what once was the body of a teenager is now the well taken care of body of a woman.

I take a step closer and his smile returns as he opens his arms to give me a hug. I turn my head to the side and catch a glimpse of Andrew as he looks at me over his drink. There is a warning in his eyes, but I don’t know if it’s for me or Evan. I feel Evan’s hot breath on my ear as he slurs, “Fuck Sophie, when did you grow up?” As the heat leaves his mouth and fans out across my skin it becomes ice water, chilling me down to my bones.

Rachel puts her hand on my back and Evan pulls away. Suddenly I understand the warning text and wonder when’s the earliest time I’m going to be able to get out of here without seeming like a sulking child. Rachel hugs me and leads me over to where the rest of the women are standing. It looks like they might have been here for a while and I feel embarrassed that Rachel hadn’t told me, but I don’t blame her since I bailed on the afternoon of gossip at the beach today.

I stand for a minute in the circle as the women talk about their weddings and the upcoming events. Everyone is trying to shout over the loud music and it makes hearing anyone more than a few inches away from me impossible. Finally when it seems like they have all fallen into a comfortable flow without me, I slip away and saddle up to the bar. It only takes a second to get the attention of the young bartender when I lean over and use my assets to speed up the service. Sometimes guys make it so easy.

“What can I get you?” His voice is deep and he has to lean across the bar and yell in my ear as the speakers above him blare the loud music.

I lean forward a little more and yell, “What do you recommend? Something sweet and girly.”

“I know just what you need.” The innuendo makes me giggle as he winks and pulls out a thin hurricane glass, filling it with a few different alcohols and finally some sort of pink juice. He finishes it off with two strawberries and slides it over to me. I reach into my clutch to pay, but he clamps his hand on top of mine and says, “It’s on the house. Just come back to me when you’re ready for another one.” His smile is very charming and I blow him a kiss before sucking the magical concoction through the red straw.

I look across the bar and check on Rachel’s group. They seem to be getting along just fine without me, so I sit on the bar stool and sip my drink. It’s not long before I feel the presence of a man behind me. He puts his large hand on my back and his soft lips brush against my ear. “Evan’s trashed. If I were you I’d stay away from him tonight.” Andrew’s voice rolls through me and I might have actually closed my eyes, as his words seem to heat up my skin.

He sits down on the stool next to mine and turns so his legs are on either side of my body.

“I kind of got that. Thanks,” I say, turning my body towards his. I pull a strawberry from my glass and suck the pink liquid from it before taking a bite. I’d done it because it looked delicious, but seeing the way Andrew’s eyes turn dark and follow the wet berry to my mouth is so hot. When I lick my lips slowly it’s done completely on purpose to drive him a little crazy.

He takes a drink of his dark colored liquor. I let my eyes move from his dark pupils to the little bit of scruff he hasn’t shaved. He’s wearing a black button up shirt that fits snugly and is left untucked from his dark jeans. I can smell his cologne again and can’t resist leaning up to his ear to announce, “You smell good.” When I move back to look in his eyes I can see he is pleased.

This time he leans in, “You smell like heaven and sin, but it’s nothing compared to how you look tonight.” I really love tipsy Andrew. I feel my skin pebble again and every part of my body that is intended for making babies tightens and aches for him. It’s a heady feeling that makes my buzz so much more disorienting.

It’s wildly inappropriate to be having dirty thoughts about the best man in the middle of a bar during a wedding event for my best friend, but that doesn’t stop my brain. This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and I’m enjoying the feeling of being desired again. Since it’s so loud I mouth, “Thank you,” to him to which he nods. My fingers dip into my glass again and find the second strawberry.

This time when I pull it from the pink liquid, I hold it up to Andrew in an invitation to take a bite. His smile brightens but he hesitates. I worry maybe I’m being a little too forward, but then he leans in again and his husky voice slides across my skin, “As hot as it would be to eat that strawberry from your delicate fingers, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to watch your lips on it.” Now the ache I’ve been feeling for him seems to scream as the coil inside me grows tighter and tighter.

His hand has rested high on my thigh and he doesn’t move it away as we sit locked in a stare with the glistening strawberry between us. The sexual tension is so thick it could be sliced with a knife. The buzz of alcohol and the alarms ringing inside my body conspire to create a genius idea. I let my tongue lick slowly across my lips before lightly sliding it across the dark red skin of the strawberry.

Andrew watches, his breathing noticeably affected and his pupils dark with need. I encircle the red berry with my lips and then slide it slowly from my mouth with a small pop when it’s finally free. I think I hear a groan, but the music is so loud it’s hard to tell. I turn the berry towards his lips and they part slightly as I rub it along them. I press it into his mouth and he sinks his teeth into it, sending heat down my arm and straight to my core.

His hand on my thigh grips me tighter and I dip my eyes down to follow his strong arm from where his hand is on my skin back up his body. His jeans are noticeably tighter and he doesn’t shy away when he sees me looking. When I finally drag my gaze the rest of the way up I’m so lost in the lust between us I feel drunk. He folds the small red straw in his cup over the edge of his glass and downs the rest of his drink as if it will help to put out the fire we’re creating. He sets it back on the bar and I watch as his lips part to speak but it isn’t his voice I hear.

“What the fuck is going on here?” The slurred voice of my ex rings out above the loud base of the song screaming from the speakers above us.

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