Authors: Connie Stephany
Fooled Around and Fell in Love
Tom Parker was in love with his best friend.
He finally said it.
In his car.
He was on his way over to her house for their weekly Sunday morning routine, donuts and Caribou coffee in hand.
He knew everything about Colleen Toogood, and as her last name suggested, she really was too good for him. Tom loved everything about her. But they were best friends, nothing more.
As he pulled into her driveway, Colleen opened the front door and yelled, “Hurry up! I want my Mint Condition before it gets cold!”
Colleen had a huge grin on her face. As he looked up, he couldn’t help but notice she was still in her fuzzy pink pajama pants and bright pink tank top that hugged her luscious curves. Her dark hair was in a messy ponytail and her blue eyes were sparkling.
God, she’s beautiful.
Shaking his head, he grabbed the goodies and walked up the driveway, saying “Pushy pushy! Aren’t we impatient today?”
Tom handed her the drink and then watched in appreciation as Colleen took her first sip of the chocolaty, minty goodness.
She closed her eyes in delight and her smile got even bigger. “Ahhhh, thank you.”
Colleen started laughing. “Sorry! You were supposed to be here 10 minutes ago. You cannot keep me waiting when it’s your turn to bring the coffee. I was going crazy!”
They walked inside Colleen’s house and made themselves comfortable in the living room on her soft gray microfiber couch. They sat facing each other, sipping their coffee.
“What kind of treat did you bring today?” Colleen stared at the bag in his hands. “Was Abby there this morning?”
“Yes, and she says hi.”
Colleen grinned but didn’t reply.
“For madam, we have a chocolate croissant.” He reached in the bag and took out the pastry, handing it to Colleen. Tom had to admit he had a horrible French accent but continued anyway. “For monsieur, we have an apple fritter.”
“Thank you, monsieur.” Colleen told him, and then took a large bite of her yummy treat. “Ready to start the movie?”
Tom shook his head and Colleen looked at him, raising one dark eyebrow. He loved when she looked at him that way.
So. Damn. Sexy.
He took an enormous bite of his donut to allow him to stare while he chewed. It was all he could do not to glance down at her lovely mouth as she devoured her pastry.
After chewing slowly, he replied, “Before we start the movie, we have to iron out our plans for this weekend. You’re coming with me to my mom’s birthday party, right?”
Colleen nodded her head. “I’m planning on it, yes.”
“Good, because I thought of
prank to pull on my mom for April fool’s this year.”
Tom began rubbing his hands together and he grinned at Colleen.
“Yeah? It better be a good one. She really got us last year.”
Tom thought back to the joke his mom had played on them the year before. They had plans for her birthday dinner and that year was going to be at his parent’s home. When they showed up for dinner, they learned she tripped the night before and ended up with a huge goose egg on her forehead. They were told they went urgent care shortly after it happened, where they took a CAT scan. The CAT scan was normal, so she was sent home with pain meds and advice not to be left alone for a couple of days and to return if any symptoms worsened.
His dad called everyone that evening to let them know what happened and that she still insisted on having the family over the next day for her birthday.
When the while family showed up the next afternoon, his mom pretended she couldn’t remember any of them. Tom didn’t question it because her forehead was black and blue and the bump on her head looked almost as big as a baseball. She even left the house, claiming she said she didn’t belong with them. His dad followed her and convinced her to return to the house where she continued the act, looking panicked and scared.
They were all trying to convince her to go back to the doctor when she started laughing hysterically.
The woman was merciless with her tricks and Tom decided it was time to get her back this year.
“That’s why I want to get her back!”
“Okay, then let’s hear it.” Colleen waved him on in encouragement.
Tom was thrilled for what he believed to be the ultimate hoax.
“I even have the perfect prop!” Tom grinned. “You know my mom always bugs me about getting together with you, right?”
Tom leaned in close, so close that he could smell her perfume and it almost drove him insane. He explained his brilliant plan and shoved the prop in her face.
Tom saw Colleen’s blue eyes widen when she saw the sparkling diamond ring and then she looked back up at him with a questioning glance. “Is that what I think it is?”
Tom nodded, grinning. “It was my great-grandmother’s wedding ring, which was passed down to me. They’d never guess I’d play a joke with that.”
to be kidding.”
His gut sank at her reaction. “No. Why? It’s perfect!”
She can’t turn me down.
“Are you nuts?” Colleen’s eyes were wide. “I mean, that just seems wrong on too many levels. Besides, they won’t actually believe it, will they?”
“Why not? What’s so wrong about it? I think it will be good to finally get her back.” Tom gave her a smirk. “Trust me, she deserves it.”
They sat in silence while his best friend appeared to be thinking. He could almost see the wheels turning in her pretty head and he smiled at her.
For the millionth time he thought about how beautiful she was. She had very dark brown hair, to the point of being almost black, bright blue eyes and pale skin. In the past, when she had boyfriends, he just tried to push aside his jealousy and tried not to let it show. He’d also had plenty of girlfriends, but no one ever compared to Colleen.
He was just too chicken to admit it to her.
They’d both been single for almost a year, so he figured the prank would be harmless.
Seriously, what could go wrong?
Colleen looked into her friend’s gleaming eyes, and simply took the opportunity to stare.
She contemplated his fake proposal, wishing it were real.
But they were best friends.
That was it.
He grinned at her and she was glad she was sitting down. That smile got to her every time.
His blonde hair, dark skin and green eyes made him the subject of many crushes from various women over the life of their friendship. He was hot as hell, had a body to die for, one that he kept in shape with multiple trips each week to the gym. To top it all off, he was a genuinely nice guy.
“Well? What do you say?” Tom pushed her. “Want to give my mom a run for her money?”
He looked entirely too excited and she found that she couldn’t turn him down. “I guess we could give it a try. I mean, she totally deserves a joke on her for once.”
Tom smacked his hands loudly together and a wild gleam filled his eyes.
“Yes! You won’t regret this! Now, let me tell you how it’s going to go down.”
Colleen listened to Tom explain his master plan, which although was quite brilliant, left her with an uneasy feeling.
Her gut told her they shouldn’t really be doing it. She just had to tell herself it wasn’t real and she wouldn’t get hurt.
She pushed the doubts from her mind and told herself his mom deserved it.
She tried on the ring and looked down at her hand. To her utter surprise, the ring fit perfectly and was exactly her style. It was old fashioned with tiny diamonds surrounding the larger princess cut stone in the middle, and there was intricate detail on the sides of the platinum band.
She sighed deeply and wondered how she would manage to pull it off without showing her true feelings.
“Well, does it fit?” Tom’s voice drew her eyes back to his.
“It’s perfect, actually.” Colleen said quietly. “It’s really beautiful, Tom.”
“So you like it?”
What an odd question. Why would it matter if I liked it?
Colleen gave him a small smile. “A girl would be crazy not to.”
“Good.” He grinned widely. “I can’t wait to get my mom back!”
Tom kissed her on the cheek and then jumped up to turn on the movie.
As they settled in to for the show, Colleen found that she had a hard time concentrating.
She kept glancing at Tom while thinking about the joke and the beautiful ring that was still on her finger, wondering how she’d feel when she had to give it back.
Two days later, Colleen found herself in Tom’s car, driving towards the restaurant where the grand scheme would take place.
She was nervous as hell.
They were going out for his mom’s birthday, which happened to fall on April 1st. It would perhaps explain why his mom loved playing pranks so much on her victims.
Colleen was barely listening to Tom’s excited chatter as they drove into downtown Zimmerman, which had one main street. It was a small town and she loved it.
Tom hadn’t stopped talking since he picked her up just ten minutes earlier from her country home, a few miles outside of Zimmerman.
What the hell was she thinking?
This was a bad, bad idea.
She wanted to scream, STOP THE CAR, but she didn’t want to look like a raving lunatic so she kept her mouth shut and tried to sit still.
The thought that she’d just end up getting hurt kept running through her mind.
Even if she did get hurt, it wouldn’t be Tom’s fault. It wasn’t like he knew she was head over heels. She was never brave enough to tell him.
Now she had to pretend to be engaged to him. A man she had loved forever.
She sat there, pulling on her seatbelt. Why was it so damn tight?
“You’re awfully quiet, Colleen. Getting in the zone?” Tom gave her his knee-weakening grin, grabbing her hand and giving it a squeeze.
“Yeah, something like that.” Colleen murmured.
She squeezed back before reclaiming her hand. She wondered if his hand was tingling the way hers was.
She could see Tom glance over at her from the corner of her eye.
“You look great, by the way. You don’t wear dresses often, but I like it.”
Colleen looked back at Tom and turned pink at his compliment.
“Thanks. I figured maybe I should look the part tonight.”
She went shopping with her other best friend, Abby, who thought Colleen was crazy. She lost count of how many times Abby told her just to admit her feelings to Tom. She was convinced that Tom felt the same way, but Colleen couldn’t bring herself to believe it.
Abby helped Colleen pick out a little red wrap dress, which hugged her curves in all the right places. She also picked out a pair of black heels with red soles, which she had to admit were sexy as hell.
The look Tom gave her when she opened her door had her smiling again. Even if he didn’t like her that way, he certainly had taken a good look at her tonight!
“You look pretty good yourself, Tom.” She noticed he had a couple-days growth. It was the look she loved best. He smelled divine, too, and she found she kept inhaling deeply to get a whiff. It was making her dizzy.
“Thanks, pretty lady.”
Why does he have to flirt like that?
Before she knew it and definitely before she was mentally prepared, Tom had parked the car in the little corner lot and they were walking towards the entrance of the Whistling Pickle, aka the WP, a bar/restaurant with the best chicken wings in town.
The coolest part of the WP was they had a hired magician, Peter, who walked through the bar on weekend nights doing cup, card and coin tricks which were absolutely mind-blowing. He also happened to be a friend of Tom’s.
They walked into the front entrance, and saw that the rest of his family was already there. Colleen spied Tom’s mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law and their kids.
The guilt hit her, thinking about how she just loved the kids and that they’d be upset that it was just a joke.
She pushed the thought out of her mind.
The family had agreed to a late dinner, so by the time they arrived it was already 8:00 pm. It didn’t surprise her to see the kids even that late. She knew from past experience the entire family were night owls.
Colleen was invited each year to celebrate Tom’s mom’s birthday, so no one thought twice about her being with Tom that night.