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“Yeah, yeah…just watch the show.”
 

 

~*~

 

Two hours later, she had to admit—Drew was right.
 
The Abby Roadies were much more than a cover band—in fact, they were as close to the real thing as Anna could imagine existing.
 
They looked similar to the original Beatles, especially with their costumes, and they sounded so close to the real deal that if she’d had another couple of beers, she might not have known the difference.

“Could you say that just one more time?”
 
Drew asked as they stepped outside.
 

“You were right, I was wrong…”
 
It was at least the third time she’d said it, and she refused to say it any more.
 

“Music to my ears.
 
Especially after that ruckus.”
 
Before Anna could stop herself, she reached out and hit Drew in the arm.
 
“Okay, okay, it wasn’t
that
bad.”

“I really did have a lot of fun.”
 
She admitted as they neared her car.
 
“Thank you.”

“What are friends for?”

“Exactly.”
 
It was all that much clearer to her how right Drew had been when he’d suggested that she could use a friend.
 
She hadn’t had so much fun in—well, she couldn’t remember how long.
 
Not with her sister, and certainly not with Jeff.
 

And all she’d done was sit at a table and enjoy some music.

“So—should we do this again?”
 
he
proposed.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.”
 
Anna told him.
 
“Maybe lunch some time this week?”

“Lunch sounds good.”
 
He offered her that boyish grin of his and she couldn’t help but smile back at him.
 
It was impossible not to share in Drew’s jovial nature.
 
“I’ll…text you?”
 

“Texting is good.”
 
She nodded, opening her car door and standing behind it.

“Well, then, good night, Miss Annabelle.
 
It was wonderful to hear you tell me how smart I am.
 
We’ll definitely have to do that again some time.”

“Good night, Drew,

 
she
rolled her eyes at him as she climbed into the car, feigning annoyance.

But she didn’t stop smiling the rest of the night.

 

Chapter Six

 

 

Drew was leaning back into his very comfortable couch, a controller in his hand and a video game on the screen.
 
It was Sunday, and he’d had yet to find a reason to get in touch with Anna.
 

Sure, he knew he was supposed to text her about setting up another non-date.
 
But it felt weird to just…ask her.
 
He had begun a number of messages before discarding them all.
 

He sighed loudly as he tossed the controller aside and found the remote.
 
There was a football game starting, and he would be in for it tomorrow morning if he didn’t at least watch some of it.
 

It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy his job—he did.
 
He knew he was incredibly lucky to be able to get paid for talking—and not even about anything important.
 
He could spout whatever silly nonsense he wanted, within reason, of course—and people just came back for more.
 

They loved the character he’d created.

The very same character that would definitely not have spent his weekend trying to figure out what to say to a girl he
most
definitely wasn’t trying to date.
 

He felt like he was in high school again.

Not that Drew had ever really been that guy in school, either.
 
No, he had always been the kind of guy that women just sort of…opened themselves up to.
 

Which was why this was really getting to him.

Anna wasn’t even in the realm of possibilities.
 
He knew that.
 
Aside from that drunken offer, he was pretty sure she would never even consider it, for one.
 
And two, she was his best friend’s girlfriend.

Ex
girlfriend.
 

Which put them smack-dab in the middle of Friendship County.

Maybe that’s what it was—maybe he was just having so much trouble because he was truly in unfamiliar territory.
 
He knew how to flirt with a girl.
 
He knew how to make her smile at just the right moments, and he knew when to cross that line.
 

What he didn’t know was how to stop
himself
from doing all of that.

Or
wanting
to do that.

He remembered how, when they’d been at the pub, she had leaned forward with a competitive glint in her eye.
 
And, for just the briefest moment, he remembered what it felt like to touch his lips to hers.
 
How the world had faded away, and he’d wanted nothing more than to just keep on kissing her.

Just a
moment,
and he’d shoved it away.

Mostly, anyway.

When Drew’s phone sounded from the coffee table in front of him, he lunged forward, grabbing at it hopefully.

And he tried to ignore the disappointment when he realized it was a message from Jeff.
 

But when he read the text, a new disappointment took
it’s
place.

 

 

Jeff:
 
Don’t hate me.
 
I have to cancel next weekend.

 

 

Before he knew what he was doing, Drew swiped his thumb across the text so that he could call him.
 

“I know, man—I’m sorry—”

“No—you can’t just send me a text canceling on the Big Game, Gardner.
 
You call me to tell me about your dry cleaner’s vacation.
 
Really—a text?”

“I know
,
I just knew how disappointed you were going to be.”
 

He was right.
 
Drew was beyond disappointed.
 
“Jeff.
 
The Bengals actually made it into the playoffs.
 
Then they made it to the AFC Championship.
 
I
have tickets.
 
And you’re
canceling
.”

“I know, and I feel like a jerk, but I just have too much—”

“I swear, if you say work, I will get in my car, drive to Chicago, and choke you out.”
 
Drew leaned forward and massaged his temples with his free hand.
 

“I really am sorry, Drew.”
 

He knew it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but for some reason, Drew felt as if he
needed
to have some one on one time with his best friend.
 
He needed to be reminded of the good old days.
 

“It’s no big deal.
 
Whatever, it’s mostly a work thing anyway.”
 
He was supposed to spend the afternoon tailgating for the station, and after that, he had planned on having a few beers and losing himself in the crowd with his oldest friend while watching the game they had been dreaming about since they were kids.
 

“Are you sure?”

“I mean, it still sucks.
 
I was really looking forward to it.”
 
An understatement if he ever made one.
 
While all the little girls were planning their future weddings, Drew and Jeff were planning the day they would watch the Bengals actually make it to the playoffs.

“Take Anna.”
 
Drew actually snorted.

“Right, because she’d really get a kick out of that.
 
Even I know that girl hates football.”
 
He shook his head.
 

“So what?
 
Invite her anyway.
 
You never know.”

“I
do
have other friends, Jeff.”
 
But they both knew he was lying.
 
Outside of work, Jeff was really the only person Drew had a personal relationship with.
 

“Then invite one of them.
 
Go to the game, get drunk, start a fight.
 
You know,
your
usual.”
 

Drew remembered those days with great fondness.


Right,
and I’ll have Anna be my wingman.”
 
He shook his head again, this time sighing.
 
“Well, thanks for letting me know.”

“I’ll pay you back for the ticket—”

“You know I won’t take it anyway.”
 
Drew reached out and traced a pattern on the table.
 
“It’ll be payback enough to know you’re holed up in some tiny, windowless office, while I’m sitting there watching something historical
take
place.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine.
 
You always are.”

“Yeah, yeah…I’ll be sure to enjoy myself extra hard.”
 

“Thanks,”
 

And with that, Drew ended the call and tossed the phone on the couch beside him.
 
He leaned back once more, turning the TV up a little louder.
 

He tried to imagine taking Anna to a football game—how bored she would be, how annoyed she would get with him.
 
He couldn’t even bring himself to imagine asking her.

But then he pictured her sitting beside him, her cheeks pink with cold, her green eyes shining brightly…

And he decided he’d better break out the liquor.
 

He obviously needed to kill a few brain cells.

 

~*~

 

Anna was sitting at her desk when her phone vibrated.
 
She looked up and touched the screen to open the message.
 
It was just one word, but she couldn’t deny the smile that touched her lips.

 

 

Drew:
 
Coffee?

 

 

She stared for a moment before typing back, debating what to say.

 

 

Tea?

 

 

It was barely a minute before she received a response.

 

 

Drew:
 
Be there in 5.

 

 

She had been wondering if she was going to hear from him again.
 
After the weekend had passed, and Monday and Tuesday had come and gone, she’d pretty much decided that Drew had indeed come to the conclusion that the world of adult relationships was something that he couldn’t quite handle.
 

It was nice to know that he hadn’t given it up just yet.

She closed the folder she’d been staring at just moments ago and put it away, deciding she should probably call it for the day.
 
A game would be picking up in the gym and she was ready for a little distraction.

She met him in the lobby, where he was casually leaning against the wall.

“Couldn’t wait to see me?”

“Couldn’t wait for that, actually.”
 
Anna pointed to the cup in his hand and he grinned as he righted himself and held it out to her.
 
“Would you like to join me?”

“Ooh, where are we going?”
 
he
asked.

“To watch the basketball game, of course.”

“Funny you should mention watching a game…”
 
Drew held the door open for her and followed her through, waiting to continue until they were seated.
 
Anna didn’t miss the way the three girls sitting a few rows higher up leaned in and whispered as they looked her way.
 
She raised her eyebrows at them knowingly before she waved.

“Go on, Drew.”

“Well, you know…I was just going to see if you wanted to go to a game with me.”

“A basketball game?”
 
She turned to look at him.

“Actually, a football game.”

“You’re kidding.”
 
She almost laughed at him.
 
If there was one sport she just couldn’t bring herself to like…it was football.
 
It was too much testosterone and not enough…anything else.

“What?
 
I thought you might enjoy it.
 
Didn’t you say you needed to try new things?”

“I don’t believe I said that, no.”
 
Anna turned her eyes briefly to the court, where three boys were scuffling over the ball.
 

“Oh, well—then perhaps I’m suggesting it.”
 
He took a drink from his cup.
 
“I mean, I don’t know what happened with you and Jeff, Anna, and I’m not asking.
 
But, as an outsider—I have to say…you seem bored.
 
Whatever happened to that spunky girl with the red streaks in her hair?”

“She grew up.”
 
Anna turned back to the court now, avoiding his eyes.

“Well, growing up and forgetting what
it’s
like to live are two entirely different things.”
 
And as he said the words, she thought of her grandmother.
 
Hadn’t Nana said something similar to her only weeks ago?
 
“Come on, Annabelle.
 
In the name of friendship, please don’t turn me down.”

“I wasn’t your first choice.”
 
It wasn’t a question—she was certain that, originally, Drew and Jeff had made plans to go to the game.
 
She didn’t want to get into the specifics of what had happened, but she could only assume that Jeff had canceled on Drew.

“But you’re much prettier company.”
 
Anna rolled her eyes at him before she turned back to the court and sighed loudly.

“Fine, I’ll go.
 
But I’m warning you in advance—first, I know nothing about football.
 
Second, I don’t really care to learn.”

“Yeah, yeah, just wait until you’re there.”
 
The smile on his lips reached his pretty blue eyes and she had to turn away again so that he wouldn’t see her own smile.
 
She wasn’t quite ready to trust Drew, and more to the point, she didn’t want him to see that he could affect her so easily.
 

Which is actually my second point.
 
Do you mind…meeting me there?”

“So not only are you asking me to spend my Sunday at a
football
game, but you want me to drive to Cincinnati on my own?”
 
She immediately wondered whether she was being invited along simply as the designated driver.

“It’s for your own benefit—I’ve got to be there a few hours early for work, and I don’t want you to waste your
entire
day.”

“Oh.”
 
Anna felt her cheeks flare and Drew chuckled beside her.
 
“Then sure, I can drive myself.”

“I’ll just drop my car off at your place Sunday morning, then?
 
That way you don’t have to go out of the way or anything—”

“I don’t mind—”

“No, no, I insist.
 
Really, I’m already inconveniencing you enough—

 
His
tone was exaggerated, and before she could stop herself, she swatted playfully at his shoulder.
 
His eyes found hers and she felt her breath catch in her throat for just the briefest of moments.

She understood exactly why so many women seemed to melt in the palm of his hand.

His charm was undeniable.

“I’m just glad you’re going with me, Annabelle.”

“We’ll see if you’re still saying that Sunday night.”

 

~*~

 

Once Anna finally made it through the hell of traffic and parked her car—luckily, Drew had given her his VIP parking pass—she had to check her phone for directions.
 
He had sent her a message before she’d left telling her where to find him, but she still felt nervous going into unfamiliar territory.

BOOK: Single, Available, and Completely Attached
6.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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