Helena had never realized she possessed such a knack for complicating situations. A week earlier, all she had needed was a date to take to her high school reunion. Now, two of her friends had agreed to do so. That was wonderful. However, neither of them wanted to give up the privilege. She'd been worried about not being able to find anyone willing to masquerade as her boyfriend. She'd had one when she got the reunion invitation, so she'd responded and marked herself down as bringing a guest. They'd broken up, and even though he'd offered to go, she didn't want to jeopardize their amicable break up by sharing a room with him for a whole weekend. It was silly to care about going alone simply because everyone would be expecting her to bring a date, but she couldn't shake the feeling of dread when she considered it.
At first she had been concerned she might offend her friends by asking, but that had turned out not to be the case at all. She'd asked Julian first, but Tom had been the first to agree. She could have avoided this entire situation if she'd waited for Julian to "think about it" because it only took him an hour to come around, but she'd been so worried about not finding anyone among her single friends, and she had no intention of asking anyone in a relationship to help her out in such a way. Tom had agreed immediately. She'd been both surprised and pleased. When Julian had called her back, he'd seemed upset when she told him Tom had already agreed to help her. He'd then tried to persuade her to reconsider going with Tom and go with him instead. Julian had wanted to meet with her to talk about it because she had asked him first, and she had eventually agreed, but then Tom had insisted he be included in this conversation when she called him back to tell him she wanted to reconsider the whole thing. She'd spent half the afternoon on the phone with both of them. Now the three of them were sitting in her living room discussing the situation.
"Okay, look," Helena said as she tried to gather her thoughts. "This is starting to feel a little surreal. Why are you both so interested in doing this? Do you actually think it's going to be fun? You'll be stuck with a bunch of strangers, spending most of the time trying to make small talk and having to pretend you're someone you're not."
Julian smoothed his hair back.
Something about the way he looked at her made her stomach do a flip.
"Isn't it obvious it's you that we're both interested in, not the reunion? I wanted to jump at the chance when you asked me, but since I had plans to ask you out on a real date very soon, I thought it would mess that up. Then, I thought about it and saw it as the perfect opportunity. I had no idea you'd immediately ask someone else before I gave you my answer."
Tom rolled his eyes. "But she did, and I said yes first. I seized the day. I didn't even have to think for two seconds.
He smiled sexily at Helena.
"I knew the chance of lifetime when it presented itself to me."
Why had she asked Tom? Simply because he was more adventurous and likely to say yes? Then why hadn't she asked him first? He was sexier, no doubt, but even though they were all three the same age Tom acted about ten years younger. He would still fit in perfectly on a college campus. Tom had long silky black hair, vivid blue eyes, and a pale, gothic complexion. He also had an amazing body that would turn any woman's head. Julian had short brown hair and a well-trimmed beard. He had broad shoulders and a nice body, and no one would deny that of the two he was the handsome one. Her classmates would see Tom as a hottie and envy her imaginary sex life. They would see Julian as a fine catch and good husband material. She didn't care who she went with at this point. What she wanted more than anything was for this conversation to be over.
"I think you need to chose, Helena. It's the only fair way," Julian said.
She shook her head. "I can't." She looked at Julian. "You want to date me, so this kind of masquerade seems like a bad idea." She turned to Tom. "Unless I'm reading your signals wrong, you want to fuck me, which is not going to automatically happen because we're pretending to be a couple. It would kill our friendship." Her gaze fell between them. "So asking either of you to do this is wrong."
"I want to date you too. There does not have to be sex if we go together," Tom said. "I mean, I want my interest in that part of the relationship to be very clear, but that is a decision two people make in private."
"Or in the backseat of a taxi," Julian said.
"That was one time!" Tom protested. "Excuse me for shocking you."
"Okay, that is not the point!" Helena said.
"How can it not be?" Julian asked. "This is ridiculous. You asked me first. I gave it careful thought because I am interested in far more than a roll in the hay. I think I'm the better option."
"A minute ago you said the only fair way to handle this was for her to pick," Tom said.
"Well, after your insinuations, I thought she'd look on me with more favor. I'm man enough to admit it."
"How is that fair?"
"It's fair because we both have all our cards on the table."
"I don't want to go with either of you now!" Helena said.
"Why not?" they both asked.
She laughed. "Do you need to ask?"
"I have a better idea," Tom said. "You were going to go with Jeremy, but you broke up. It's a month away. What if you have a new boyfriend by then?"
She didn't see that happening, but she wanted to know where he was going with this question. "Meaning?"
He looked over at Julian and then he looked back at her. "Go out on dates with both of us. We both have feelings for you, so taking either of us would be hurting a friendship. We act like rational adults. We push this conversation to the back of our minds and forget it. Give us both a chance. Isn't a real boyfriend better than a fake one?"
She looked at both of them. Did she want to go out with either of them? How would dating both of them really help? Julian hadn't objected. He seemed thoughtful. She met his gaze. "What do you think?"
Julian sighed. "I said it should be your choice, so why not?"
Why not? She could think of lots of reasons. They were both her friends. Wouldn't she lose one of them by choosing the other? Her relationship with each of them would change the moment she said yes.
Tom crossed his arms and sat back on the couch. "He's right. Everyone's cards are on the table now. It's gonna be weird no matter what. We can't pretend this didn't happen. We can't unsay things and change it all back now, but we can try to move forward."
She nodded slowly. "You're right. I'll go out with both of you."
"You don't sound thrilled," Tom said.
Julian added, "He's right. There's no point if this isn't what you want. It won't work if you're not comfortable."
She let out her breath in a huff of exasperation. "I asked for this favor because you are my friends. This is not what I expected. That's what's causing my hesitation."
"Is it such a bad thing simply because it was unexpected?" Julian asked.
His question made her wonder. Was it a bad thing? When would Julian have asked her out if this hadn't happened? Would Tom ever have made his feelings known? Would she ever have considered dating either of them on her own? "No, it's not necessarily a bad thing at all. I do have to say though there's very little chance of you two getting along any better now, and I feel bad about that."
"That wasn't likely to happen anyway," Julian said. He glanced at Tom. "No offense," he added in a condescending tone.
Tom gave him a very fake smile. "Wasn't planning on asking you to go clubbing or anything. Might keep you up past your bedtime."
She hated it when men acted like this. Two women would probably be screeching at each other and possibly pulling some hair by this point, but that didn't excuse it. "Okay, why don't you each call me when you get home?" Helena said. "Meaning we stop talking, and you two both go home right now before you both say things you shouldn't. Does that sound good?"
They looked at each other and nodded.
"Fine," Julian said.
"Sounds like a plan," Tom said.
They both seemed to have calmed down when they saw their snippy comments were upsetting her. That was a good sign. "Thank you."
They all stood and walked to her front door. She knew she needed to say something else, but what on earth could she say? She'd never seen either one of them as being very competitive, but of course she'd never seen either of them in this kind of situation before now. She had a sneaking suspicion Tom would try to kiss her on the cheek, so she stayed in her doorway after both of them had walked outside. She didn't want to escalate the situation again. She let the screen door close between them.
"Bye," she said, raising her hand briefly.
"Bye," Julian said.
"Catch ya later," Tom said.
They both backed toward their vehicles, glancing at each other, and when she didn't move they both waved and turned. She almost laughed at them. Tom pulled away first, speeding down the street in his Mustang. Julian glanced up at her and waved again before pulling out of her driveway and going in the opposite direction.
The idea of going out with Julian was almost as exciting as the idea of sleeping with Tom. Was that wrong? A date with Tom would be fun too, and she liked the idea of sleeping with Julian now that she was considering it. So how was this going to turn out? She didn't want to admit that her interest in each of them was biased and unbalanced. Her brain said Julian was by far the superior choice in the long run. Her body did not want to pass up the chance to have sex with Tom. How soon would Tom want to have sex? The first date? Would Julian be interested right away or want to wait? They hadn't exactly set any ground rules. She was glad she'd stayed on the pill. Would it be awkward to talk about that? Would either of them feel right asking if she was on anything? Surely they'd both be fine with condoms given the situation, and she was pretty sure she still had some she and Jeremy had bought. She shook her head to clear her mind. She'd cross that bridge when she came to it. Could she have sex with both of them, or was she supposed to resist both of them until she made up her mind? How much would each of them want to know about what was happening with the other one?
Questions whirled through her head. What had she gotten herself into? More importantly, how much was she going to enjoy it? She smiled to herself as she closed the door, wondering how each man was going to try to win her heart...among other things.
Tom pulled over at a gas station and flipped his phone open. He dialed Helena's number. He knew Julian would wait until he actually got home. If she was free tonight, they could go have dinner or maybe hit a few clubs. Did she like stuff like that? She used to, but maybe she didn't go out as much anymore. What he really wanted to do was race back to her place and let his mouth convince her body he was the one she needed. Julian was good-looking and smart, but would he really be able to please her? Helena was a lady, and no one would deny it, but he knew she had a little wild streak in there somewhere. They'd have so much fun together if she gave him the chance.
"Hey, it's Tom."
She hesitated, and then she said, "You can't be home yet."
"Nope. I wanted to see if you were free tonight. I thought it would be rude to ask in front of Julian."
"I need to wait for Julian to call, but after that we could do something."
How long did she plan on talking to him? Surely the guy would phone her as soon as he walked in his door. "So an hour? I'll run home and change and then come back to your place?"
"How about I call you after I talk to him?"
That wasn't what he wanted to do, but it seemed better to agree. "Yeah. That sounds great. I'll go home and change and see if anything interesting is happening downtown. Then I'll come get you?"
"Okay. I'll call."
He headed home. Should he buy her something? What were the rules? Since it had been his idea in the first place, he probably should have thought of that. He decided to hold off on presents so she wouldn't think he was coming on too strong.
He was going to have to be on his best behavior. Helena was funny, beautiful, smart and successful. He was amazed she was still single. She and Jeremy had been together for a long time. Why had they broken up? They both said it was mutual. What could have happened? Jeremy was a cool guy, but he would have to look for a long time to find a girl like Helena again.
Tom took several deep breaths. If he could get her in bed, he would win. He wanted her so much. His cock twitched as he pictured her naked. He had to force himself to focus on the road as his mind wandered. He began imagining himself kissing her, fondling her breasts, sliding his cock into her. He pulled up to his apartment just in time and slipped inside, carrying his jacket in front of him. He went into the hall bathroom and dropped his pants. If he was going to be on his best behavior, rubbing one out now was the best move. He thought about her breasts and her mouth. He pictured her jerking him off. He imagined fucking her full, perfect breasts. He thought about fucking her, about what she would sound like when she came, and that made him explode. It took him a minute to catch his breath and several minutes to clean the bathroom.
"I'm sure she'd find this charming," he murmured to himself as he sprayed cleaner across the counter and wiped it down.
He felt more relaxed though. He smiled as he went to get dressed. As odd as this day had been, he had a feeling something good would come of it.
Julian sat down on the couch and stared at his phone. He knew Tom had already called her. He'd been amazed he hadn't tried harder to hang around in the first place. Tom turned women's heads, but Helena was no ordinary woman. She was charming, beautiful, witty, and intelligent. She wasn't going to let Tom's looks, or even his skills in the bedroom, convince her to go against her heart.
Was he fooling himself? He'd always felt a connection with her, but was that an illusion? Was he only reacting to the strength of his own feelings? She had asked him first. There had to be a reason for that. She favored him, at least a little bit. He dialed her number.
"Hi. It's Julian."
"I'm going to go out on a limb and assume Tom has already made a date with you."
"That's a safe assumption. He barely got away from here before my phone started ringing."
"And you're still okay with this?" He didn't know what he'd do if she said no, but he wouldn't force her into this if she started having doubts.
"Yes. I couldn't choose, so I should give you both a chance. If I were independent enough to go to my reunion without a date, it wouldn't even be an issue."
"Don't say that. Those things can be nightmares. You're more than independent and confident enough to brave it quite well alone, but that doesn't mean you should be forced to do so." He took a deep breath. "And I really was on the verge of asking you out, so I'm not giving up this chance if you're still up to it."
"Yes, I am. I'm not sure what the rules are here though."
He'd been worried about that as well. "We didn't exactly cover that. You were trying to keep us from going at each other in your living room. Have you ever dated two people at once before?"
"Neither have I. I don't think it will take you long to decide who you prefer. Best course of action is honesty. When you know which one you want, don't prolong things. End it with the other person."
"You're right. I'll make a decision well before the reunion, I think." She paused.
"So when are you two going out?"
"He wants to do something tonight."
Of course he did. Julian had expected that. "Have fun. He and I aren't really friends, and as you pointed out that is definitely never going to change given what's happened, but you guys are friends, so just enjoy yourself."
"I'm sure I will."
"Do you think you'll be too exhausted for dinner tomorrow night?"
"No. That sounds wonderful."
"Good. Pick you up at seven? Something casual?"
"I'll be ready."
"I know this is a little strange, but I'm glad I'm getting a chance with you no matter how it happened or how odd the circumstances."
"Yes. Can I talk to you again when you get in?"
"To check up on me?" she joked.
"Maybe. Give me a ring about eleven. If I'm not too tired we can gossip for a few minutes."
He laughed. "I'll take what I can get." He knew he needed to make himself hang up before he started rambling. "Have a good night."
"Thanks. You too."
He sighed heavily as he set his phone down. He meant what he'd said, but he knew he was in for a long night as he wondered where she was and what she was doing with Tom.
Helena felt a wave of nervousness move through her stomach when she heard Tom's car pull up into the driveway. She peered through the blinds to see what he was wearing. Black jeans, black t-shirt, and his black leather jacket with black motorcycle boots. She tried to ignore how well the jeans fit him.
She'd opted for a very simple navy dress and flats, and she'd put her curly red hair in a low ponytail. She added a simple silver chain before heading downstairs to get the door.
"Hey," she said as she let Tom in.
"Hey, you look great," Tom said.
He leaned in to kiss her on the cheek.
"When I got home, I remembered a friend of mine was playing with his band at The Shadow Club tonight. They're kind of dark, but it's not metal or anything. The music itself is pretty mellow. The food has definitely improved under the new owner too."
She smiled. "That sounds good."
"Great! They go on at nine, so if we head out now we can probably finish eating before they start."
She grabbed her purse and fished her keys out. She locked up while he headed to the car. He held her door open for her, something she hadn't expected. Tom was sweet, but he didn't seem like the type of guy who would even think about something like that. Of course, she had to remind herself that a little competition could make a man do lots of unexpected things.
After he got in, he turned the car on and adjusted the air conditioner before turning to look at her. "I'm really glad this is happening." He brushed his lips against hers.
His lips were soft, and he smelled amazing. She responded to the kiss, and he put his hand on her cheek and pulled her closer. He was a great kisser in a teasing sort of way. He would evoke a response and then pull away a bit and nibble on her lip before deepening the kiss again. He finally pulled back and let out a deep breath.
He smiled sexily. "I had to get that out of my system. I've wanted to kiss you for a long time."
"And why didn't you?"
He pulled out of her driveway and headed downtown. "Well, when we met I was with someone. You were single, and I really liked you, but the relationship I was in was good. By the time I was single, you were seeing Jeremy. I thought about it a few times over the past year. I'll admit I might have said or done something if I hadn't liked Jeremy, but he was cool and you seemed happy."
She nodded. "We were. It just wasn't right."
"Can I ask how?"
"We had a good friendship and a good sex life, but we want different things. He wants to move to a much bigger city, but I love it here. He wants a big house and lots of kids. I'm not sure I want even one kid. After we decided not to get married, we agreed it was best to break up so we could both find what we were looking for."
"I've never wanted kids. I hate telling people that though. They look at you like you're a horrible person."
"I know. It's worse as a woman. It's like you're unnatural if you don't want to have children."
"I do like kids. My sister has twin boys. They're three now, and we have a blast. I'm like a big kid to them. Instead of talking to them like they're kids and just giving them gifts I play games with them and build stuff with them. It's fun."
She laughed. "That's cute. I'm not great with kids. I like babies because you have a pretty good idea what they need and you just give it to them. I'm not good at talking to kids at all."
"See, most people are nervous around babies. I like babies, but I don't know what to do when they cry."
"It's easy once you've done it a few times."
He laughed as they pulled into the parking lot. "This is one sexy conversation we're having."
She laughed again. "I know. I'm surprised you didn't rip my clothes off."
He let his gaze slide over her body. "I'm trying to keep those thoughts in check for now." He touched her hand briefly, and then said, "Stay there. I want to see if I can be gentlemanly all night."
He hopped out of the car and came around to her side to let her out. She felt her spirits lifting as he extended his hand and helped her out of the car. She hadn't relaxed and enjoyed herself in weeks. She really needed this right now.
Tom smiled at Helena when their eyes met. He thanked the bartender and went back to their table. His friend's band was warming up. They hadn't talked much during dinner because the bar had been crowded and lots of people had been dancing. The dance floor had emptied now that the band was getting ready to go on, and most people had settled down in booths or at tables.
"So how's the new job going?" Tom asked when he sat down and passed her drink across the table.
"Not bad. I'm getting to know my coworkers and settling in. I'm more confident than I was."
"Good. I haven't seen you much since you started. I know you've been busy."
"Things are slowing down. I'm adjusting to the earlier schedule. It's nice to get home before rush hour though, so getting up earlier isn't so bad now."
Tom looked up and saw his friend Ian heading their way. "Hi, Ian. How are you?"
"Good. How've you been?"
"Good." Tom knew he couldn't get around introducing Helena, and he hoped Ian could control his big mouth for once. Ian was great, but he tended to blurt out the first thought that popped into his head, and Tom knew he'd mentioned Helena in front of him before. "Ian, this is Helena."
Ian extended his hand. "Nice to meet you."
She shook his hand and smiled. "Nice to meet you too."
Luckily, for once, Ian interpreted Tom's silence the right way.
"You kids be good. I think my friends just arrived." He waved as he began to walk off. "Catch you later."
When he turned back to Helena, she was smiling at him in a very knowing way.
"What?" he asked.
"You looked like you were terrified he was going to divulge your darkest secrets."
Had he really? He'd thought he was being nonchalant and cool. "And what do you think my darkest secrets are?"
"I doubt they're very dark. Probably just gossip about old girlfriends."
He liked the playful tone in her voice. "Nah. Men don't gossip."
"Yes, they do. All humans do it. We're naturally interested in what is happening to other people."
"You think so?"
"Of course. Even if you never wanted to see one of your ex-girlfriends again, wouldn't you be miffed if your friends knew she was getting married and didn't tell you? Or some guy you went to school with goes to jail? It doesn't have to be malicious."
"I see your point." He glanced around the room. "I'd bet everyone would be interested in what we're doing."
She laughed. "Even the strangers. We'd be the center of attention."
"I don't want to tell anyone. Are you going to?"
She shook her head. "I don't think anyone would understand." She shrugged. "I'm not even sure I understand."
"Is that okay?"
"Yeah, it is. It's exciting. And a little scary."
He cringed. "I don't want you to feel that way." He touched her hand. "I'm your friend, no matter what happens. I know guys say that all the time, but I mean it."
She put her other hand on top of his. "I believe you. It might be hard, but I think you made a good point earlier. I had reasons for asking both of you besides the fact you're single."
"Would you have gone out with me if I'd asked you?" He would not have dared to ask if he thought the answer would be "no," but he really wanted to hear her say it.
"Yes, I think I would. You're not really my type, but we have lots of fun together."
He tried to focus on the beginning and ending of her answer and ignore the middle part. Not her type? Was Julian more her type? Was that why she had asked him first? Or had Julian seemed safer? Had she avoided asking guys who fit her "type" because she'd gone into this looking for a date and not a boyfriend? "You know, everyone thinks I'm wild. I guess I can be a bit flashy, a little loud. I like to go out and I like to drink, but I'm tame when you really get down to it."
She smiled and shook her head. "No, I meant your looks. In case you haven't noticed, Tom, you're really hot. Women flock to you."
"Women flock to me?"
She glanced behind him. "The blonde at the end of the bar keeps looking this way, even though we are obviously on a date, and she tried to get your attention when you got our drinks. The bartender spent longer talking to you than she has to most of the patrons."
He turned his head a little. The blonde did smile at him. The bartender did too.
"They aren't my type. Either of them. Plus I think it's just your imagination."
"My imagination isn't that vivid."
"You have a great imagination. You did engineering in school, right? That takes as much critical thinking and creativity as any other field." He held her gaze for a few seconds. "Besides, you're the only girl I'm looking at."
She blushed. "I've noticed."
He really wanted to kiss her, but he didn't know how she'd react if he leaned across the table to do so. He looked down at his hand, which she still held between hers. "Good. I've been trying to get you to do that for ages."
The band began playing, and they both turned their attention to the stage. He shifted his chair next to hers so he could put his arm around her. She leaned into him, and the scent of her hair made him want to get her alone. He settled for holding her against him as they listened to the music, and he was pleased that it didn't feel like settling at all.
Helena felt confined in her clothes as Tom kissed her. She hadn't invited him in so they could make out on her couch, but she wasn't going to send him home anytime soon either.
His hand moved from her waist to her thigh. His fingers traced circles against her skin. He broke off the kiss and began to kiss and nibble her neck. Her breasts felt heavy, and she wanted to undo her bra, but that seemed like an open invitation to sex. She didn't want that to happen yet, but he felt so good she couldn't help imagining what it would be like. The hand on her thigh moved up to cup her breast while his other arm stayed around her waist. He massaged her breast, and then he lifted it and moved his mouth lower. He undid her first two buttons and kissed the swells of her breasts.
His hot mouth made her moan. He unbuttoned her dress further. Her bra fastened in the front, and he undid the clasp. His mouth roamed over one nipple and his hand massaged her other breast as he leaned her back further. Her pussy was wet, and if he touched her there he'd know how much she wanted him inside her.
He didn't move his hands down though. He remained focused on her breasts. His touch was both exciting and frustrating. She wanted more, and the feel of his mouth and tongue on her breasts had her panting. He raised his head and looked into her eyes. He kissed her slowly.
"You're so beautiful," he said. "I've wanted to touch you like this for a long time."
She wished he had, but saying that seemed like more encouragement than she was ready to give. "You feel good."
His lips met hers in another slow kiss. "I need to leave before I completely blow being a gentleman."
He covered her breasts with her dress and pulled back.
"Though you won't have to do much to get me to stay."
"You're making the right choice. We should say good night." She hurriedly buttoned her dress, shifting a little to fasten her bra. "I had a wonderful time."
"Good. I had a great time too. Can I call you tomorrow?"
"I won't be here in the evening. How about I call you before I go to bed?"
He hesitated. "You going out with Julian?"
"Okay. Just promise me one thing?"
"What?" She wondered what he could want her to promise him. That she wouldn't have sex? That she wouldn't do what she'd just done with him?
"If he gets details, I get details. Agreed? Just treat us the same. That's all I'm asking."
She nodded adamantly. "Of course. I promised him I would end the whole thing as soon as I was sure what I wanted."
He stood and helped her to her feet. "I can deal with that."
They walked to her front door, and he gave her one last slow kiss before leaving. She'd half-expected a wild night, but every touch had been sweet and sensual. Making love to him would probably make for a very long, satisfying night.
"Good night, Helena."
She locked her door and then moved to the window to wave. She watched him drive away with a sigh. She rubbed her breasts as she went into her bedroom. She needed to come. She pulled her cell phone out of her purse. She had a missed called from Julian an hour earlier. She went ahead and listened to the message. He wanted her to call him no matter how late it was. It was just after midnight. Had he been disappointed she hadn't answered? Was he wondering where she was? What she and Tom were doing?
She hung her dress up and then took her bra and panties off. If Julian didn't care how late it was, he could wait five more minutes. She stretched out across the bed and spread her legs, massaging her clit. She was wet, and her fingers slid in and out of her pussy easily. She focused on her clit and thought about Tom's mouth. She imagined his teeth and tongue playing with her nipples. What would it be like when he went down on her? She pictured that in her mind. The thought of his tongue playing with her clit made her come hard. She massaged herself for a moment, enjoying the pleasure rippling over her body. She got up and washed her hands, feeling much more relaxed, and then slipped a t-shirt on. She pulled clean panties from the laundry she'd done earlier and put them on before reaching for her phone. She took a few deep breaths. She didn't want to sound too satisfied, but she hadn't wanted to talk to Julian while she was so frustrated. Having a naughty phone conversation before they'd even had their first date seemed a little too forward to her.
"Julian? It's Helena."
"Hi. How was your date?"
He sounded casual enough, but he'd answered on the first ring, so she knew he'd been waiting by his phone. "Nice. We had dinner at The Shadow Club and saw some of his friends play."
"You had a good time?"
"Do you want to know what happened after?"
"You called me back. That's all that matters to me."
She couldn't help raising her eyebrows, even though she knew he couldn't see her. "Really?"
"I'd rather drive myself a little crazy wondering what you two are doing than brood because I know too many details. I'm focusing on what you do with me."
She felt a little playful after her orgasm, so she asked, "Isn't that giving me a little too much power?"
"Maybe. I want you to be happy."
"What woman wouldn't be happy with two men vying for her affections like this?"
"I'm not in a position to answer that question."
"I'm teasing, Julian."
"I like it when you tease me."
Her eyebrows shot up again. "Do you?"
"It's the main way you show affection. We've been friends long enough that I've noticed that."
He was right about that. She smiled, feeling a rush of happiness because he'd noticed such a thing. "And do you want bonus points for that?"
"What do bonus points get me?"
"That can be negotiated."
He sighed. "This is nice," he said, his voice low and sexy.
"What?" she whispered.
"Talking to you in bed."
She couldn't help giggling. She didn't believe in stereotypes, but she genuinely hadn't expected him to say something so suggestive. He simply didn't seem like the type. Thus far, he and Tom had both surprised her. What should she expect next?
"It's something I could get used to," he added.
She felt a telltale tingle low in her belly. Why had she never noticed how sexy his voice was before? "You think so?"
"I've thought so for a long time. It's my fault for doing nothing about it."
"No one could accuse you of doing nothing now. And you wouldn't be the man I like so much if you'd tried to interfere in my relationship with Jeremy."
"You're right on both counts. And I have lots of plans for doing far more very soon."
They'd already made plans, but his change in tone was intriguing her. "You know, tomorrow is Saturday. Do you want to meet up earlier? I don't have anything planned."
"I'd love to. I'll call you in the morning. We'll make plans."
"Sounds good. Until then."
"Good night, Helena."
She put the phone down and let out a deep breath. She was glad she had taken care of her frustration before calling him. They really would have wound up having a naughty conversation. She shifted on the bed, feeling frustrated again. Thirty minutes ago, she'd been in Tom's arms and now she was picturing herself in Julian's. She hoped she'd have a new perspective on the situation after a real date with Julian. Right now, she was surprising even herself as she considered the possibility of having her cake and eating it too.