Just Friends by Monica Murphy
Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Genre: New Adult Romance
It’s the end of summer. Just before I start senior year with my two best friends in the whole world. Dustin and Emily are everything to me. We’ve been inseparable since middle school, and when we’re together, nothing can go wrong.
But things aren’t always what they seem. Em’s turned into a drunken mess who parties too much. Dustin and I have hooked up a few times―and now he’s ready to take our relationship to the next level. Yet I’m not sure I want things to change. I’m scared if I take it any further with Dustin, our friendship will be ruined forever. Then there’s Ryan. The new guy. He’s hot. He flirts way too much. And Em has totally set her sights on him.
So when my best friend betrays me in the worst possible way, guess who’s there to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart? Ryan. But he’s so confusing. Annoying. Sweet. Sexy. I want to trust him, yet he makes it so hard. What I really want is for everything to go back to the way it was before.
Before I found out that best friends make the worst kind of enemies.
“Liv! Finally you’re here.” She curls her arm around my shoulders and forces me to face Ryan, who’s still sitting on the edge of the bed with his legs spread in that way boys sit, wearing only swim trunks again. Does the guy ever wear actual clothes? “We’ve been waiting for you. Tell Ryan hello.”
“Hello,” I say in a monotone voice, incredibly uncomfortable from interrupting what was surely a private hookup moment. He smiles and rises to his feet, smoothing a hand over his rumpled hair, his biceps bulging with the movement. Hair Em was probably responsible for rumpling. “Hey, Livvy.”
Tingles race over my skin and I force myself to ignore the signs that I might be attracted to this boy who just had his tongue in my best friend’s mouth. I don’t even know him. It’s purely a physical thing, as in every single thing that makes him up physically, I find attractive.
And I shouldn’t. He doesn’t belong to me. He belongs to Em. I should be thinking about Dustin.
“I’m so glad you’re finally here.” Em turns toward me, and envelopes me in a warm hug, her mouth on my neck as she starts to speak again. “I’ve missed you.”
I hug her back, my gaze meeting Ryan’s as I say, “I’ve missed you too.”
He sends me a playful, rolling eyes look that I ignore.
Em kisses my neck and pulls away, her blue eyes bright, her cheeks flushed. She’s wearing a white lacy cover up over a black string bikini and her chin-length, gold-streaked bob is tucked behind her ears. She’s effortlessly gorgeous, all rosy from kissing a cute boy for who knows how long. “Now that you’re here the party can start.”
I laugh and shake my head. “Looks like it’s already been going for the last few days.”
Em rolls her eyes and lets go of me, heading for her dresser. “I was just biding my time until you showed up.”
“So I bring the party?” I tease, meeting Ryan’s gaze once more.
“You definitely bring something,” he tells me before pulling me into a tight hug. My chest presses against his, my arms going around his waist for the briefest moment before I release him and back far away.
He makes me nervous.
“Aw, I love that you guys are already hugging!” Em cries as she watches us.
Guilt swamps me but Ryan just smiles. “I’ll leave you girls alone.” He looks at me. “See you at the pool.”
And then he’s gone.
The air seems to cool the moment he’s le the room and
I go to stand next to Em, watching as she digs through the top drawer of her dresser. It’s an elaborate piece of furniture, cream-colored with an endless number of drawers, every one of them stuffed full of clothes. The one she’s digging through now is over flowing with lacy scraps of fabric. There are panties in every style and color, boy shorts and thongs and bikinis, some of it standard, most of it sexy.
Her underwear drawer is like Em in a nutshell.
“So how’s your summer been? Besides the partying and hanging out with the popular crowd? Have you done anything else?” I’m trying to make conversation but she’s hardly paying attention to me.
“It’s been so boring without you here,” she says, her head practically buried in that drawer.
I think she’s saying that to make me feel better. Not that she needs to. I’m a big girl. She’s allowed to have fun when I’m not around.
“What are you looking for?” I ask.
“A black lacy thong I bought last week.” She lifts her head and smiles at me. “I want to wear it tonight.”
“But aren’t we going swimming?”
Em blows out a frustrated breath. “Yeah, but I don’t want to forget. I want to wear it for...” Her voice drifts and she purses her lips.
She sighs and slams the drawer shut, turning to look at me. “Well, yeah. But it’s no big deal. We’re just friends.”
I raise a brow. “Is that what you call it? Because I hate to break it to you, but you were kissing him just a few minutes ago, and he had his hand on your boob.”
“So crude.” She nudges my shoulder with hers. “Voyeur.”
“Just stating facts. Facts I saw with my own eyes.” I pause, but she doesn’t say anything. “I don’t get why you can’t say that you like him and he likes you. What’s the big deal?”
“Because he refuses to make this a big deal so I can’t, okay? He told me straight up that we’re going to be just friends and that’s it.”
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.
She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she's not writing, she's reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She's a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.
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