“What?” she challenged. “It’s like a typical playground love affair. Instead of you two pulling each other’s hair and pushing each other down, you get on each other’s nerves on purpose.”
“I’d like to think I’m a bit more mature than that.”
She arched a dark eyebrow.
I giggled. “Okay. Maybe not.”
“Yeah,” she dragged the word out. “You guys have hooked up before, right?”
Shooting her a look, I shook my head. “Um, no.”
A look of doubt crossed her face. “You’ve made out, then—”
“No. No, we haven’t.” I laughed under my breath, because I was so not counting that kiss. “Why do you think that? He and I have never done anything. I would’ve told you.”
The disbelief didn’t fade from her face, and I wondered why in the world she’d still think that after all this time. Pushing the conversation out of my head, I dragged in a deep breath and smiled. I realized there wasn’t a hint of fumes or body odor or any other nasty street smell that clung to the city, a kind of smell you got used to until you were out in a place like this. Clean air. Lord, I’d forgotten how nice that was to breathe.
“Let’s go help them.” Looping her arm through mine, she slipped her sunglasses down and then led me to the back of the SUV.
Tanner had a duffel bag slung over his shoulder, and it boggled my mind how guys could pack for a week in a bag I could easily double as a purse. In his other hand was my pink and purple polka-dotted suitcase.
Slipping free from Syd, I went to his side. “You don’t have to carry that.” I reached for my suitcase.
“I got it.” Facing me, I could clearly see myself reflected in the silver aviator-style sunglasses he’d slipped on. Damn, he looked good in them. Air Force pilot hot.
“I can carry it,” I insisted while Kyler headed around the SUV. Syd was behind him, carrying an armful of plastic bags.
Tanner grinned as he stepped back, holding the stuffed piece of luggage out of my grasp. “Grab the leftover bags. I’ll carry this.” He pivoted around.
We’d stopped at the grocery store in town and there was a load of groceries in the back, enough to feed an army. Grabbing two paper bags, I lifted them out, eyeing him warily. “Are you trying to get laid or something? Because I know going a whole week must be hard for you and all.”
Tanner stopped and then turned back to me. One brow rose above the rim of his sunglasses. “Now, come on, Andy. There’s no such thing as trying when it comes to this.”
My eyes narrowed as I walked to where he stood. “What is that supposed to mean?”
He lowered his head so that we were almost eye level. His lips tipped up at the corners and he spoke in a voice only I could hear. “If I wanted you, I’d have you.”
What in the holy hell hotcakes? My jaw hit the gravel as I barked out a short laugh. “Oh, wow. That’s cocky.”
One shoulder rose. “Nah, just confident.”
I snorted. “Or really optimistic in a special kind of dumb way.”
He laughed under his breath as I shifted the bags in my arms. “Let’s make a bet, Andy.”
“Stop calling me that,” I ordered, but hated—absolutely loathed—the breathlessness of my voice. I wanted to punch it out of my chest. Or him. Yeah, punching him would be better. “And I’m not making any bets with you.”
I walked around him, stomping on the gravel with my sandaled feet. I’d taken a few steps when he said, “That’s because you know you’ll lose.”
Halting suddenly, I almost tripped over my own feet. I whipped around, facing him once more. He did not just say that. No way. “Excuse me?”
Tanner’s grin and walk were full of swagger as he strolled on past me. “Yeah, it is. You know you’ll be under me by the time we leave this cabin.”
Andrea’s cheeks matched her hair, and that was…it was cute. I didn’t do cute. Or at least I didn’t until now. Now I was all about the cute—the Andrea kind of cute.
I knew I should’ve felt like an ass for saying what I did, but I didn’t. No regrets. None whatsoever. Heading up the porch steps, I realized I had no idea what that said about me.
And I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t know what I was starting, because I did. I fucking knew exactly what I was provoking, but I had no game plan when it came to how this was going to end—no clue. And I always had a game plan.
Or, in other words, an exit strategy.
I’d always been a “no relationship” kind of guy. Everyone knew that. It wasn’t that I ruled them out completely, but I didn’t go there unless I really wanted to go there. Something fucking bizarre had happened between Friday night and this morning, because I knew I wanted to go there with Andrea. I couldn’t put a finger on what exactly had happened to cause that and I wasn’t sure why it was even Andrea. Why not Brooke or Mandie? Or Lea? Never once had they made me want to slam my face into a wall, and Andrea had brought me to the edge of crazy many times over.
Shit. I knew enough, to be honest. Andrea gave as good as she got. She was smart, and when she wasn’t pissing me off, she was funny. And there were moments she could be the sweetest thing, and not just when she was falling asleep. None of that was news, but why now?
I honestly didn’t have an answer for that.