Iím nervous. This is ridiculous. Tracie and I have been out together dozens of times. If things are gonna get back to normal, we have to get back to normal. Deep breath, knock on door, "Hey, Trace." Shit! Has she always looked this good? Sheís wearing a cream colored silk dress. Spaghetti straps, low cut, and fitted perfectly to her. Her hair is up with a few loose pieces, and her tan looks amazing against this color.

She smiled and grabbed her bag, "Hey, Kevin. You look very handsome."

I let her walk in front of me, "You look very pretty." Understatement. Her walking in front of me was a bad idea. The back of her dress was cut all the way down to her ass. Shit.

Great party. Lee knew how to put one together. The rest of the guys were already there when we got there. We joined them at a table. AJ was Leeís date. Nothing going on there, both were single and the hostess needed a date. Brian, Nick, and Howie all had their dates. We had a table all to ourselves and cut up throughout the dinner and speakers. Lee had kept the talking part to a bare minimum. She had pulled in some political people as well as musicians, teachers, and local movers and shakers. After dinner we were all mingling and talking with new people. Tracie was up near the stage talking with some people she knew from the club. Lee, AJ and I were standing in the back. Lee was taking a break from kissing ass, I mean working the room.


If Kevin watched Tracie any closer his eyes were gonna fall out. Thing is . . . I donít think he even realized he was drooling. "Tracie looks absolutely gorgeous. We should make her dress up more often. Hard to think of her as just one of the guys with that dress cut so low."

Lee knew what I was doing and smiled. Kevin glared at me, "Donít start, AJ. Things are feeling pretty normal. Weíre keeping this laid back. See what happens."

"What do you mean see what happens?" It had already happened, been happening for probably as long as weíd known her.

"Aje, I donít want to lose my best friend. If weíre friends that will go on. If we take it to another level I could lose it all."

"What makes you think you can go back?"

"It was two kisses."

Ok, he was still being stupid. "Whatís going to happen to you when she shows up at a party with a new lover?" I saw him wince, letís see if he noticed.

"Itíll suck, but Iíll deal with it if it means I get to keep her forever."

Remember when I said that they both needed to find someone that they cared about more than themselves? "Hang with me on this one. Whatís going to happen to you when you show up at a party with a new lover, introduce her to Tracie, and see that same stab of pain in her eyes that I just saw in yours?"

He shot me a look and immediately took off. He could take being hurt, but couldnít take her being hurt. It feels good to be right.


I couldnít handle that. If I hurt her it would destroy me. It would destroy us, our friendship. I had to talk to her. We had to talk about this. I donít know what we need to talk about or what we need to do, but that first idea we had to just let whatever happen is not gonna work.

I headed toward her and she walked off. She went down the hall to the bathrooms. Iíd wait.


Kevin was pacing in front of the stage. Poor guy. I walked over and put my hand on him and he almost jumped out of his skin. "Sorry, whereíd she go?"

"Bathroom. Sheís been gone forever. Iím starting to worry."

"Come on, Iíll check." Isnít he the cutest?

We started down the hallway to the kitchen and the bathrooms. Tracie was standing there talking to Michael Woodford. Gorgeous, and very well connected. I smiled as I saw Kevinís eyes flash jealousy. We walked up and I put my arm around Tracie, "This is where you ran off too. Cornering the eligible bachelor."

Tracie looked uneasy, "Not exactly."

"Michael Woodford this is Kevin Richardson. You two have some things in common, both of you are working toward a better environment. Michael is working in his state at the city level. Heís quite the up and coming political figure."

Tracie was looking at her shoes. Kevin looked at her and his eyes narrowed, "I get the feeling we interrupted something here."

Michael spoke, "No problem, Kevin. Theresa and I are were reacquainting ourselves."

"Theresa?" Tracie looked at him and shrugged her shoulders.

"Yes, we were engaged."


I could see the bells going off. I watched Kevinís left hand clench, pull back, and smash into Michaelís mouth. Michael was knocked backwards and his hand went to his mouth. He looked at the blood and pressed his handkerchief to it, "What the hell is your problem?"

Kevin strode forward and got right in his face, "Donít you ever lay a hand on a lady. Especially this one." He grabbed my hand and practically pulled me down the hall. He kept flexing his left hand, "Dammit, that fucking hurt."

"Let me see." We stopped right outside of the hallway. I took his hand and could see the redness left by the contact, "You didnít bust it open." It wasnít swelling or anything. "Kevin . . ."

He cut me off, "I wanted to dance with you. You headed to the bathroom and you were taking forever. Iím glad we came looking for you."

"Me too." I felt trapped. Michael wasnít letting me go.

"Will you dance with me? Now."

"Sure." I took his hand and he led us into the song. I was thinking about the repercussions of decking Michael. For Kevin. I could tell he was thinking too and he kept looking at his hand.

Lee walked up, "Strangest thing happened. Michael Woodford, that politician guy. He drank too much, tripped on his own feet, and fell. Busted his lip on the water fountain by the bathroom. I expected better behavior from him. Heís left. Have fun you two." She winked and smiled.

I breathed.


We have danced like this so many times. Only this time is different. Since we kissed this is the first time weíve been this close. We always kiss hello, goodbye, and we hug all the time. But not since we kissed. We were keeping our distance. My hand was on her waist, but my fingers wrapped around her and were touching bare skin. I was trying to figure out what to say when she looked up, "Thank you, Kevlyn."

"Iíve wanted to do that for over a year. It was my pleasure." She laid her head on my shoulder and moved her body next to mine. She was facing my neck and I could feel her breath on my skin. "Trace, what are you doing?"


I could feel every single cell in my body. I wasnít breathing. "Tracie, look at me." She looked up. Have her eyes always been this blue, her lips so perfect, has she always been this pretty? Have I always felt this way?

My hand moved onto her back, holding her next to me. My other hand went under her chin to turn her face up to me, hold her there, "You are beautiful." Thatís not want I meant to say, but itís what came out.

"Thank you." She stretched up and kissed me. Nothing big. Not unlike weíve kissed a hundred times before.

Only this time I couldnít stop. I didnít want to stop. Her eyes told me she didnít want me too. I lowered my mouth to hers. Her lips were so soft. I kissed her a few times before parting my lips. My tongue licked at her lip. Begging her to let me in. So easy, she let me in so easy. Both times Iíd kissed her before it was unplanned, sloppy, and I honestly donít remember much. Besides the shock of it. Not this time. I used my tongue to find hers. I felt every nerve fire. I told myself to keep it simple, keep it easy. Slow it down. We traded off exploring each other. Iím not sure which I enjoyed more. Me tasting her, or allowing her into me. God, this felt so fucking good.

Both of us backed up simultaneously. Her mouth was still open and she touched her lips. Still looking at me. I saw a flash of recognition in her eyes and she looked behind her then back to me, "Your hands are on my ass."

I hadnít noticed that. I looked over her shoulders and followed my arms to my hands. Which were indeed on her ass. Iíll be damned, donít know how that happened. "Yes they are. I think theyíre gonna stay there."

"Whatever." She rolled her eyes. That was my best friend. Then she smiled at me. That was my . . . soon to be . . . lover. Somewhere in the last ten minutes I decided I would make her mine.


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