Authors: Jessica Jayne
More Than Friends
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
More Than Friends
Copyright© 2012 Jessica Jayne
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde
Editor: Jeff Curry
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
Cobblestone Press, LLC
To my husband—You have been my support and encouragement for all my dreams, including my dream to become a writer. Thank you for never letting me give up.
To Mrs. B.—You told me in tenth grade creative writing class that I had what it takes to be a published author. I’m so glad you never let me forget it!
Staring out the tiny airplane window, Jeni Acerna watched as the vehicles below transformed into matchbox cars and the slight cityscape of Tampa soon became a miniature play set. She was on her way to Cleveland for her college roommate Bethany’s wedding…alone.
Jeni had recently ended yet another relationship. Stephen Weller. He was a corporate attorney at a large firm in Tampa, Florida, working his way to senior partner. Handsome. Intelligent. And
to his work. He had to actually schedule time for Jeni on his Outlook calendar. Even when they had some time together for dinner or such, she had to regularly battle for attention with his iPhone. Jeni did not consider herself high maintenance. She was a small town Ohio girl, who moved to Florida like many northerners. She did not need constant attention. But she never expected to have to call her boyfriend’s secretary in order to arrange a dinner date with him. Stephen was reluctant to let the relationship go. He told her he truly enjoyed their time together, even if it was minimal. Jeni had some reluctance as well. She was twenty-eight years old and several relationships deep. But she wanted a relationship that involved spending time together and allowed for some spontaneity. At this point in Stephen’s career, that was not going to be possible. They went their separate ways.
It looked as if Jeni would be attending Bethany’s wedding solo. Not a big deal. Several of their college friends would be there, so Jeni would know more than enough people to keep her from feeling lonely. But a part of her dreaded the thought of going without a date. Many of her college friends were either married or engaged. Weddings were a great reminder that she was still so very far from having one of her own.
Instead of sulking to the wedding single, Jeni did what she inevitably did every time she traveled back home to Ohio—she called Brian Hamilton. Brian and Jeni grew up together. They had been best friends, but Brian had always been more than a friend. He was Jeni’s sex addiction and perhaps one of the big reasons none of her romantic relationships seemed capable of succeeding. She either compared her boyfriend at the time to Brian or could not keep herself from fucking Brian when she saw him.
“Hey, Jeni,” Brian said. He answered the phone in his usual cheerful manner.
“Hey, Bri,” Jeni replied. She was grateful to hear his voice, even though it had only been a couple weeks since they had actually spoken. “How are you?”
“Usual. Busy and bored,” he said with a laugh. Brian still lived in Canton Falls, Ohio, their small town about an hour south of Cleveland. He was a CPA working for his dad’s accounting firm, which consisted of Brian, his dad, and his older brother, Phillip. Brian enjoyed the work itself. He was always a numbers kind of guy. But living in Canton Falls could be suffocating. And Brian had made his way through most of the local attractive female population.
“Maybe I can brighten up your day and add some excitement. Would you want to meet me in Cleveland this weekend and go to Bethany’s wedding with me? I’m flying in on Friday evening.”
“You’ll be in Ohio next weekend and I am just hearing about this now?” he asked, pretending to be hurt. “Oh, wait! You must have broken up with dreamy Stevie, and now you need a date for the wedding.”
“Cute, Brian. And yes, I did.” He knew Jeni so well. Too well.
“Ha-ha,” he said with a laugh. “I knew it wouldn’t last. Jeni Acerna does not take well to being second fiddle. He’s a fool!”
“Thanks for the positivity,” Jeni said. “So, you’ll come with me?” To be honest, Jeni could not think of another person with whom she would rather spend the weekend.
“This is kind of short notice,” he said. “You know my social calendar is jam-packed.” He laughed. In their last conversation a couple weeks ago, Brian told her he had taken Samantha Franklin out on a date. She was the much younger sister to one of their high school classmates. Sam had had a crush on Brian since she was a little girl. When asked how the date had gone, he chuckled and said there was zero chance of them getting serious, but that it was fun to date a twenty-one-year-old again.
“You already have plans?” Jeni tried to disguise the disappointment in her voice.
“Tentatively,” he said. “Besides, it would be nothing but trouble for us to see each other.”
“Why would you say that?” she asked.
“Didn’t you say you wanted to ‘cool things off’ between us?” he asked.
“I suppose I did,” Jeni replied. She had made that request when she thought she and Stephen might have a chance at a real relationship. Brian always complicated things, because Jeni had an almost impossible time resisting him, and Jeni made regular visits to Ohio to see her parents, siblings, and friends. Brian had not been overly thrilled with the request, but he respected her and agreed to her “cooling off.” Jeni could kick herself now for ever suggesting that to Brian. There was little she wanted more than a dose of Brian Hamilton.
“Jeni, you know you are to me what alcohol is to an alcoholic. When I am around you, I can never get enough…no matter the situation.”
Jeni’s heart skipped a beat at the fact that she still had such a profound sexual effect on him. He, of course, still made her knees weak and her panties wet.
“I’d never be able to keep it cooled off spending the weekend with you. You should know that.”
And she did know it. They had seen each other only twice since the cooling off began several months ago, and both times were planned with many of their friends around them so as to avoid the one-on-one time. Even then, they had a difficult time keeping their hands off each other. She found his hand at the small of her back or on her thigh during dinner. She couldn’t stop from ruffling his silky, brown hair or nuzzling into his neck when they said goodbye.
They had had a secret love affair or rather sex affair for years. But she knew that it had never actually been a secret to anyone. They had known each other since they were born. Their parents were good friends and had gone to high school together in Canton Falls too. Since Jeni and Brian were fifteen, they had a magnetic attraction to each other. Their sexual relationship started in high school, continued through college, and carried on even after Jeni moved to Florida five years ago for warmer weather and a job in hospitality marketing at a large resort in Clearwater. Anytime she returned home to Ohio to visit her family and friends, she and Brian found a way to be together. And when she saw Brian, Jeni had an extremely difficult time not fucking him.
When they were in high school, they had tried the boyfriend-girlfriend thing. At the time, neither of them wanted a serious relationship, so they agreed to be friends with benefits. Since then, they never approached the subject of a “relationship” so as not to ruin the good thing they had. And it was good. Very fucking good!
“Are you turning me down because you might not be able to fuck me?” Jeni asked. Brian laughed.
“Might not? I’m turned on just thinking about being in the same room as you,” he said. “There is no way either of us would get out of that hotel room not completely sated.”
“Maybe the cooling off period can be over,” she teased. “Could we make a game out of it?” A thought popped into her head that could make it a challenge. Brian could hardly resist a challenge, especially against her.
“What kind of game?” Brian asked, intrigued.
“Every time we meet up, we are fucking within ten minutes,” Jeni said.
“It’s one of the many pleasures of getting together with you.”
“I’m not saying I don’t enjoy that aspect, because, of course, I do. But it might be fun to restrain from our natural instinct even if just for a little bit. Let’s agree not to have sex for the first twenty-four hours I’m in town. That still leaves about forty-eight hours to play.”
“That’s such a waste of twenty-four hours,” he said. “What do I get out of this?”
“The challenge,” she replied. “I know you can’t last that long being in a hotel room with me with nothing but our clothes separating us.” She heard him snicker on the other end of the phone. Brian could never pass on a challenge. He was way too competitive. “Whoever begs to be fucked first owes the other five hundred dollars. So make sure you bring cash when you pick me up from the airport.” Jeni knew they would not likely make the twenty-four hours, and she did not mind coming home with a little extra cash.
“You know me too well, Jeni,” he said. “I’m always up for a challenge. I’ve got you on this one! You’ll be begging me to fuck you well before that twenty-four-hour period is over. Keep the money in your bra. I’ll find it!”
Jeni laughed at his cockiness. Brian was always that way when they chatted on the phone before a visit. He was going to use restraint. He was going to let them have a conversation and maybe dinner before he disrobed her. But he had far less restraint than he cared to admit. Jeni gave him her flight information, and they ended the conversation with their little game on the table.
Now, Jeni was on her way to Cleveland. She laid her head back against the airplane seat and closed her eyes. Lord knew she would not be getting a tremendous amount of sleep this weekend.
Jeni walked down the terminal corridor and ducked into the closest restroom. She peered at herself in the mirror and ran her fingers through her long, chestnut hair, letting it fall over her shoulders. She pulled out her lip gloss from the side pocket of her brown shoulder bag and spread it over her lips.
She smiled. She was ready to see Brian. She headed for the escalator that would take her to the baggage claim area, where Brian was meeting her. Her heart raced a bit as it had been several months since she had seen him alone. She could never really explain why she got the jitters before seeing him. They had known each other for eternity. But the butterflies fluttered in her stomach.
As she stepped on the escalator, she saw him standing at the bottom, waiting. His crooked smile spread across his lips when he saw her. He had on an Ohio State baseball cap, and his dark brown curls wisped out from underneath. His black T-shirt decorated his torso snuggly, showing off the lean muscle tone of his arms and chest. His light blue jeans hung low on his hips. His chocolate eyes sparkled. There were five people in front of Jeni on the escalator, but she didn’t care. She marched down, slinging her duffel bag over her shoulder. As she reached the bottom step, she tossed her bag on the floor and threw her arms around his neck. He picked her up and swung her around.
Jeni buried her face in his neck. He smelled so good. So familiar. Fresh mint with a hint of testosterone. God, she loved the way he smelled. Like home.
“I never realize how much I miss you until I see you again,” he whispered in her ear.
“I know what you mean,” she said. Pulling back from her nestled spot on his neck, she looked at his face. His smile remained. “You look great!” She kissed his cheek.
“As do you,” he said and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. His lips were soft, and they moved over hers gently. He slid his tongue over her lips, and Jeni moaned quietly at the feel of it and the taste of him. He tasted like bubblegum. She felt his smile against her lips. He loved to hear her moans. She pulled back from the kiss and smiled at him. His eyes twinkled with mischievousness. She knew if she let that kiss go any further, they would barely make it back to his car. She shook her head. He smiled at her. Then he grabbed her bag and her hand. They headed out of the airport to his car in the parking deck. And off they went to the hotel in downtown Cleveland, not far from Progressive Field or The Jake, as locals liked to call it and where the Cleveland Indians called home. They checked in and decided to grab a bite to eat at the little pub down the street from their hotel. The sun had already fallen behind the buildings.