My Best Friend's Ex(9)

By: Quinn & Meghan Quinn

“Damn,” Adalyn says from behind me. “I wish I grew up with him. Hell, I wish he would grow inside me right now.”

“Self-respect, Adalyn,” Logan chastises. “Christ.”

“Be back.” With drink in hand, I walk over to Tucker who turns on his stool, one arm still resting on the bar, the other gripping the back of his chair. He watches me walk toward him, and I realize it’s the way he’s always watched women walk toward him: with unbridled attention. It would be intimidating if I didn’t know the boy Tucker once was.

“Never would I have imagined seeing your tiny ass in a place like this. I thought college girls like yourself hung out downtown,” he says in greeting, that smirk turning into a full smile now. He runs his hand through the side of his already unruly hair, giving him some amazing sex appeal. It’s really unfair how some men can grow hotter and hotter by the minute.

I pop my hip to the side and say, “I’m almost a graduate. I have to start expanding my bar options. Downtown is so last year.”

Like second nature, I open up my arms and pull him into a hug, which he returns, bringing me into his familiar arms. Since Sadie is one of my best friends, I’ve spent a lot of time with Tucker, a lot of time talking him down when he and Sadie would get in a fight, and a lot of the time lecturing him on how to handle Sadie who also dealt with her fair share of childhood drama.

“It’s good to see you. Where’ve you been? I didn’t see you at Smilly’s for her Christmas gathering. You missed out on dirty Pictionary.” Smilly is the queen of the group. She throws the parties whereas I watch over the parties, ready to spring into action when needed.

“Wasn’t my scene.” He shrugs and then takes a sip of his drink.

Wasn’t his scene? Translation: he didn’t want to see Sadie with her new boyfriend who everyone loves. Hell, Tucker even liked Andrew before he knew Andrew was dating Sadie. It’s hard not to like the guy. And I would never say this to Tucker, but Andrew is perfect for Sadie. He has shown her joy, contentment, and the softer side of life, qualities from a man she needed . . . desperately. Not that Tucker couldn’t give her those things, but it was as if they were stuck and couldn’t find their way out of the quicksand sucking them both in.

Tucker has always been somewhat serious and somber, as if he carries the burdens of many on his broad shoulders. He hid this from most, but I spent a lot of time on the outside watching my friends hurt each other, time after time. Looking at him now, he still seems somber and serious, but also . . . melancholy. When he smiled in greeting, it almost looked as though he doesn’t do that as often as he used to. Smile, that is.

Knowing diving into the reasoning he avoided the group at Christmas would be a tad cruel, I say, “Well, we missed you. It’s never the same without you.”

“Maybe next time.” It’s a generic response, one I don’t think he means. I’m not sure we’ll ever see Tucker at another party, and that makes me sad.

“How’s life? How’s the job?”

He nods. “Good. I’m a project manager which has its good and bad days.” He glances over at Adalyn and Logan and nods, “Boyfriend?”

I laugh as I look back at Logan and shake my head. “No, just a friend.”

“Huh.” He takes a sip of his drink and then looks at me with a tilt of his head. “The way he’s staring at you, you could have fooled me.”

“Just friends.” I pause and then ask, “Want to meet them? You’re just sitting here over by yourself, might be nice to have some company.”

“How do you know I’m not waiting for someone?” he asks, a smirk on his handsome face.

“Are you?”

“Nah.” He chuckles and stands from his chair. With his arm wrapped around me, he walks me back to my friends.

When I approach, Adalyn’s eyes look like they’re about to pop out of their sockets. It’s a natural reaction when in Tucker’s presence. He’s gorgeous with his dark blonde, messy hair that’s trimmed shorter on the sides and thick on top, his five o’clock shadow, light blue eyes, and unforgiving, hardworking muscles. But Logan doesn’t look as thrilled with the addition to our little get-together.

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