They've been best friends for years, but all it takes is one spark to start a fire.
It only takes one spark to start a fire…
Ashley’s best friend Reid has been the one constant in her life since her father left when she was in the fifth grade. She’ll never admit to wondering about kissing him a time or two over the years because mistakes like that ruin friendships.
Then one night, Reid crosses the line and changes everything between them. The spark he ignites reveals a possibility she never dared imagine, but fear of losing the friend she cherishes most keeps her from letting him pull her across the line with him.
“Why don’t you just be yourself, Ash? Why not give these guys a chance to love you like I do?”
She frowned toward the door. “The Reid Maxwell experience sucks.”
“You’re avoiding the question, Pez.”
Because she realized he was right.
The sound of the other diners crowded in until she couldn’t take it anymore and said the words whirling in her head. “Because no one wants me.”
Thanks to her dad, the admission came out way more emotional than she’d expected. Reid reached across the table to grasp her hand. His touch was warm and familiar, and so damn comforting.
“Who wouldn’t want you?” he asked. “You’re beautiful, smart, and funny. And you own a successful business.”
She swallowed past the lump in her throat. “You’re the only one who gets my humor and laughs at my jokes.”
“Yeah, I guess I am weird that way.” His mouth quirked in a wry grin as the waitress dropped off their appetizer.
Ashley took one of the mozzarella sticks he offered and dunked it in the marinara sauce. “You are. Unless they’re all just pity laughs?”
“No.” He flicked his gaze to hers mid-dunk of his own cheese stick, then ate most of it in one bite. “You know me better than that.”
“Exactly. Which is why you get the real me. You’re my best friend, and you know me too well for me to be anything but myself.”
“Well, let’s give it a test run tonight. I’ll pretend to be this psychiatrist, and you just be you.”
Him pretending to be someone else? I’d rather have the whole, authentic Reid Maxwell experience.
Whoa—where’d that come from?
She gave him a vague smile, her stomach fluttering as she ignored her mozzarella stick and turned back to her wine.
“So, Judy Walsh tells me you own a flower shop?” he asked in a formally curious tone.
The crisp, slightly sweet Riesling flowed over her tongue as she regarded him over the rim of the glass. Really? He wanted to keep playing it this way? She sipped once more before setting her glass down. No matter who he pretended to be, he’d still be Reid, so what did it matter? She could even have some fun with him.
“Yes. The Pikadaisy. Maybe you’ve seen it in town?”
“I have. Very nice place.”
“Thanks. But, I’d much rather hear about your job. It must be interesting delving into the psyches of so many people every day.”
After taking a pull off his beer, he dipped his cheese stick for another bite and tilted his head slightly to the right. “Why is it you’d rather hear about my job than talk about yours?”
“I just arrange pretty flowers in vases.” She did so much more than that, but he already knew the ins and outs of her business. “Your work sounds much more interesting. Any juicy drama you can share?”
“Is that what you think I want? To only talk about myself?”
She huffed out a breath. “No. I’d never ask the real guy that. I’m totally being myself right now. Like you said.”
He grinned. “I know. I’m just delving into your psyche.”
Ashley gave him a considering stare. What could she ask him that would totally throw him off? She never worried about a filter with Reid, so there probably wasn’t much that would rattle him, but she’d give it a shot since he was pretending to be someone else.
With a twist of her wrist, she tucked her wine glass in close to her chest and batted her eyelashes at him. “Are you going to kiss me at the end of this date?”