Sara Banks is a virgin. Apparently that word can make a grown man run scared--at least that's what her last boyfriend did. Now she's on a mission to shed her good-girl persona and start living. But the best Helios, Arizona, has to offer pales in comparison to her best friends Rob and Marc. She'd love nothing more than to go home with them--either of them. If only they could see past their childhood friend to the woman she's become.
Rob and Marc can't believe their eyes when they enter the hottest bar in town and see tomboy Sara dressed to kill, doing the bump and grind on the dance floor. Once they learn she's finally single, the hunt is on. Each is determined to prove he's the only man Sara needs. But to get the girl of their dreams, the best plan of attack might just be a joint, friendly seduction.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Friendly Seduction by Gillian Archer
Sara Banks was feeling no pain as she bounced to the music with Mr. Bushy Brows. Damn it, what was his name? She probably shouldn't call him that to his face. He was her first choice for a one-night stand. Although given the slim pickings, he was probably her only choice.
At least he had been until Rob and Marc showed up to rain on her little parade. She'd have a hard time sneaking out with Mr. Bushy Brows if those two shadowed her all evening.
But did she really want him? Was he the one for her? She peeked up at his face but just couldn't get past those eyebrows. They looked like two furry caterpillars. Especially when he wiggled them like that. Did he think that was hot?
"I'm gonna grab another drink," she shouted above the pounding music as she pulled out of his sweat-dampened arms. Ugh. She swore she could feel a slimy residue on her hips.
She darted through the crowd. No need to give him the opportunity to hang around any longer.
When she reached the bar, she collapsed on a stool and lifted a finger at the bartender. No more communication required. He plunked a frosty bottle of hard lemonade in front of her but waved her off when she started to dig into her tiny clutch. He jerked his head, signaling behind her. Sara turned on her barstool and her breath stalled in her chest. Her euphoria disappeared in an instant.
Marc towered over her and he looked pissed.
Sara grabbed her bottle, hopped off her stool and started for the dance floor. Three steps later she froze when Marc's hand curled around her elbow.
Fuck. A. Duck.
She just couldn't get a break tonight. Sara blew her bangs out of her eyes and met Marc's glare with one of her own.
"Thanks for the drink." She turned to get away from his big-brother stare but couldn't shake his grasp.
"We need to talk."
She didn't try to hold back the eye roll. "Ah, no we don't. I need to find a dance partner and you need to find some other helpless little woman. Because this damsel doesn't need saving." She jerked her arm again but Marc held firm.
"Well, why didn't you say so, princess? I'd love to dance." Marc plucked the bottle from her and slammed it on the bar before steering her toward the dance floor.
Crap. Sara tripped over her feet as she struggled to keep up. Her short, little legs were no match for Marc's long, lean ones. After finding a small clearing a few feet from the DJ, he pivoted and brought her into his arms with a flick of his wrist. She stumbled, crashing into his chest.
Mmmmmmm and what a firm chest it was. Unlike most of the men's here, Marc's chest was solid the old-fashioned way, from hard physical labor. His calloused fingertips sent shivers down her spine. What she wouldn't give to feel those calluses rubbing her in a far more sensitive place than her bare arms. Crap. She couldn't think like that. Marc was a friend. Her best friend, or one of them anyway. He obviously felt as if he had to play the overprotective older brother tonight.
She fought the urge to whine and stamp her feet. Why tonight of all nights? All her plotting and primping would go to waste. Her plan of a simple one-night stand wilted beneath the glare of Sergeant Sourpuss. But why easygoing Marc? It was usually Rob who played the overprotective, save-the-damsel-in-distress caveman. Marc was the one she could count on to crack a joke and lighten the atmosphere.
She peeked up at his face. Judging by his stony expression, he probably wasn't in the mood tonight.
"Um, Marc?" she whispered before mentally slapping herself. There was no way he was going to hear her over--
"What, princess?" His growl vibrated the rock-hard chest beneath her ear.
"Where's Rob?" She cursed under her breath. That wasn't what she wanted to say.
Why did she go from confident She-Ra warrior to helpless Victorian virgin just because some tall, gorgeous man put his strong, firm arms around her? And his calloused fingers rubbed her exposed back in short, tantalizing circles, making her wonder what they would feel like when he parted her thighs and--
Stop. She shouldn't think that way about her best friend. Friend. Not the guy she was here to pick tonight to help her--
Wait a minute. Why hadn't he answered her?
"Marc?" Her head tilted back to meet his gaze and she searched his hazel eyes.
He seemed...conflicted. The muscles in his cheek flexed as he bit down, anger evident in the curl of his lips. But his eyes...they were sad. As if he had just lost his best friend.
"Oh God. Is he okay? What happened? He was just here!" She panicked at the thought of Rob hurt, in pain. The sexually induced haze cleared from her brain as she pulled away and looked around the room for his trademark auburn cropped hair.
"Sara, he's fine. He's just--"
"Right here," a deep voice finished behind her.
She knew that voice. Had heard it mature from a gorgeous alto to its current husky baritone. Sara sagged into Marc's arms as all the tension left her body. Rob was okay.
But that still didn't explain Marc's conflicted emotions. Or the tension the throbbing music couldn't mask. Something was up with the two most important men in her life. And she was literally caught in the middle.
"Mind if I cut in?" Rob's husky voice in her ear caused the tiny hairs on the back of her neck to vibrate as a shiver rocked her body.
God, his voice was hot.
"Actually, we're in the middle of--"
"No, I'd like to dance with you, Rob." She didn't know why there was so much tension between them but it was probably better if she separated them quickly. With the looks Marc was tossing over her shoulder, bloodshed was sure to follow.
"Looks like you're the better man, Rob. Congrats and all that." Marc pulled away from her before stomping over to the bar, grabbing her drink and taking up residence on the barstool.
"What's--" she gasped as Rob pulled her into his arms. From one hard chest to another. Wow, these guys smelled good. She cleared her throat. "Uh, what's up with you and Marc?" Sara tried to look into his blue eyes but couldn't get past his lips.
"Nothing. We're good."
Sara snorted. "Uh, yeah, I don't think so. Marc's not good. He just walked away like someone with their panties in a wad. You guys have a fight or something?"
"I didn't ask you to dance so we could talk about Marc." With that, Rob pulled her in close until her groin rubbed up against his jean-covered thigh.
Was that... He wasn't... He couldn't be! Sara couldn't believe she felt Rob's erection rubbing against her belly. It had to be just the fit of his jeans.
Yeah sure, the little voice in her head answered sarcastically. His jeans and the sock he hid in his pants.
But it couldn't be over her--Rob had never shown even the slightest hint he saw her as anything other than a friend. Crap, she was beginning to hate that word, friend. Lord knew she had a special ability to make any erection disappear. Just ask her ex.
He probably just got an erection from dancing with another girl and wanted some time to cool off before he went home with another woman. Like every other Friday night.
"Sara?" Rob murmured in her ear.
"If you get any stiffer, someone's gonna call the morgue."
Sara's lips curled. Normally Marc was the funny one but she appreciated Rob's effort to lighten the mood. But he had her beat in the stiffy competition. She gave in to his subtle demand and let her body melt into his. For once in her life she wanted to indulge in the fantasy of being with Rob. If only for one dance.
They moved to the smooth beat of the music. Heaven. Sheer heaven. Sara couldn't imagine a more perfect place to be than in Rob's arms. Unless it was in Marc's. She tensed at the thought. Shit, she couldn't even let herself pretend for one moment that this would last forever, since apparently she couldn't even choose between them in her fantasies.
She pulled back to get some distance from him. She needed to think and feeling his body against hers just confused her.
"What's wrong, darlin'?"
She tried not to whimper as Rob ran his thumb over her trembling lips. She couldn't help but think if only. If only Rob wanted her like she wanted him. If only he weren't her best friend. She'd give anything to throw caution to the wind and throw herself at him. If only she weren't afraid of the damage it would do to their friendship when he politely turned her down.
And that's what he would do. There was no way a man like Rob would even look twice at her if she hadn't been his friend since childhood. Short, chunky tomboys like her never drew the attention of guys like Rob. Or Marc.
She forced her lips into a semblance of a smile. "Nothing."