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I'll Be There For You
By Ellen Fisher
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2006 Ellen Fisher
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAt the stroke of midnight, someone knocked on Alexander's door as he was getting ready for bed. He spat out the toothpaste into the sink, wiped his mouth hastily, and headed for the door.
He slid back the bolt and opened the door, and a honeysuckle-scented tornado swept in and wrapped itself around him.
"Oh, Xander," Jeri said against his shoulder-his bare shoulder. He suddenly remembered he'd stripped to the waist in preparation for bed. Good thing he'd left his jeans on. "I just love you. You're the greatest."
He cleared his throat and put his arms gingerly around her slim waist, more aware than he wanted of the satin warmth of her cheek pressing against his shoulder, and the softness of her golden hair brushing against his chest. Her five-foot-seven frame fit nicely against his six-foot-two body, almost like they'd been made to fit together. It was a damned good thing he'd left his jeans on. Even so, he was in danger of a seriously embarrassing situation here.
He shoved her away and looked down at her, trying to look severe, rather than glazed with lust. "You shouldn't have done that to me, Jeri."
"I couldn't help it," she said, bouncing energetically into his living room. "It was a golden opportunity."
Cool night air drifted into the room, and he closed the door behind her. "Look, maybe you want to marry the guy, but I don't. I've kind of grown accustomed to my privacy lately."
"You have no privacy with me around anyway," she pointed out.
"True. But I like you. Connor seems okay, but I may hate him when I get to know him. Besides, for all we know Connor is an ax murderer. What if you come over here looking for Rocky Road ice cream some evening and find me chopped up in little bits in the freezer?"
"Yuck. That would seriously depress my appetite."
"Yeah, well, I don't think I'd like it either."
She settled onto his couch and grinned up at him. "Connor's okay, Xander. I've heard plenty of gossip about him, and none of it has suggested he's a psycho killer. He's a doctor, and he's been doing his residency with a thriving practice."
"Which he left behind, even though he doesn't have family here anymore. That's kind of weird, don't you think?"
"There's nothing weird about it. He probably completed his residency and didn't want to stay in Seattle any more. I bet he just wanted to return to his roots."
"Maybe," Alexander said doubtfully. He sat down next to her on the black leather couch, the same as he always did. It was a mistake. The flowery fragrance of her hair, warm and sweet like summer honeysuckle, floated up to him, and he felt himself go hard. Really hard.
He was shocked by his reaction. Yes, he'd secretly lusted for Jeri for a long time, but something was different tonight. There was an undercurrent of electricity he'd never before felt in her presence.
Maybe it was the fact that he was sitting here half naked. Or maybe it was the fact that she'd found a man who interested her, after he'd come to think of her as his over the course of the past four months or so, and he was jealous as hell. Either way, his hormones were charged up and racing through his veins like unruly Thoroughbreds in the Kentucky Derby.
She was totally oblivious to the bulge in his jeans. It was a damned good thing he was sitting down, he thought grimly, or she wouldn't have been so oblivious. There was no way she could have missed the Eiffel Tower if he were standing. "So are you going to do this for me?"
"You mean am I going to sacrifice my privacy and general happiness for you? Why should I?"
She blinked and turned her enormous blue eyes up to his. "You always have before."
Okay, so he was a big softie. "Maybe I'm getting a little tired of always letting you have your own way," he grumbled, as gruffly as he could manage. "Maybe I figure you owe me something this time."
Like a night of hot sex.
He managed to prevent himself from blurting out the words, aware that they were crazy. She'd never shown any sexual interest in him, and now that she was obsessed with Connor Addison this sure as hell wasn't the time to bring up the subject.
A little voice inside his head pointed out that this might be the last chance he'd get to broach the subject. What the hell was he waiting for? He didn't want to blurt out an objection at her wedding, for God's sake. Now might be his final opportunity.
But a glance at her glowing eyes and flushed cheeks convinced him it would be fruitless. She was in love. Okay, maybe not in love, but seriously infatuated.
And the object of her infatuation wasn't him, but Connor Addison.
It wasn't the first time he'd seen her go for another guy, of course. She'd had quite a few boyfriends over the years, and he'd seen that happy glow in her eyes before. It drove him crazy that he'd never seen it aimed at him, though.
The funny thing was, up till recently he hadn't cared that much. Yeah, he'd always had a bit of a thing for her, but he'd been able to tolerate her seeing other guys. But a few months ago everything had changed, and he wasn't sure why.
No, he was lying to himself. He knew exactly why. It was because she'd kissed him.
Jeri was a touchy-feely kind of girl, and she hugged him and kissed his cheek all the time. A few months ago, though, she'd stood up on tiptoes and tried to plant a friendly good night kiss on his cheek.
He'd happened to turn his head a little, and their lips had brushed together.
Electricity had rushed through him, and it had been all he could do not to grab her, yank her against him, and kiss her senseless. The incident had completely freaked him out, the more so because she hardly seemed to have noticed it.
For days afterward, all he'd been able to think about was the gentle brush of her lips against his. It had totally altered his feelings for her, from friendly, indulgent older brother to seriously turned-on male.
He'd thought maybe the feelings would fade with time, but that had been three months ago, and he still couldn't get near her without feeling his heart pound.
And without getting a major hard-on.
Which was damned embarrassing.
Excerpted from I'll Be There For You by Ellen Fisher Copyright © 2006 by Ellen Fisher. Excerpted by permission.
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