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Only Friends Sample Sunday



Release Date: TBD. Unedited and subject to change.


-


My date was on his phone again.


Only an hour in, Chris had tuned me out to fixate on whatever had him so engrossed in his phone. Being ignored was a pet peeve of mine, so of course, it bothered the fuck out of me.


I’d been content with harmless flirting and the occasional text until we got to know one another better. He’d been the adamant one, wanting to meet in person and take things to the next level. I’d agreed, not expecting it to be at a place with cheap dinette, plastic utensils and servers rushing by with trays of semi-warm, unappealing, poorly prepared food.


It was only our first date, so I hadn’t been expecting fine dining like La’Mars but damn. He might as well have invited me to Johnny B’s.


Nah, I take that back. Johnny B’s was miles better than this shit.


Chris and I matched on a dating app before exchanging texts and phone calls with increasing frequency. I’d started liking him, which was another reason I hadn’t wanted to meet in person.


Anytime the person you connected with online was too perfect, usually they were too good to be true.

I hadn’t wanted to ruin the rapport we’d built and the chemistry we’d formed, knowing that the in-person meet-up would reveal his true colors.


I felt a headache forming, so I rubbed my forehead, searching for something more interesting to look at in the small establishment. The big man at the table behind me laughed, bumping against my chair again, nearly knocking me on the floor. He tossed yet another half-hearted apology over his shoulder before guffawing at something else his companion said before doing it again.


Chris finally looked up from his phone, eyeing my annoyed expression and the man’s proximity. I don’t know what I expected, but him looking back at his phone without a word had not been it.


I rolled my eyes away from his tired ass, once again searching the room before settling on a cute, brown-skinned teenage girl. Though she sat at a table full of people, she looked withdrawn from the lively conversations going on around her.


Alone in a room full of people.


A state I’d grown familiar with in my many years of foster care. My heart went out to her, hoping she was just being a moody teen and not suffering the way I had. No child should ever have to bargain for anyone’s love. That could fuck someone up for life.


I was a testament to that.


Her eyes suddenly met mine, cold and empty. Familiar. My heart went out to her, so I flashed a weak smile before dropping it when she rolled her eyes and looked back at her plate, arms folded defiantly in front of her.


I watched her for a few more moments before bringing my attention back to our table, glancing at my half-eaten, overcooked burger and limp fries. I grimaced, then glanced at his empty plate. He’d demolished the food, leaving behind only streaks of ketchup as evidence that he’d had food on his plate at one point.


“You’re going to stay on that all night? Or pay attention to the woman you invited here?”


Nearly half a minute passed before he realized I’d spoken. His brows lifted, then dropped before his dark gaze rolled over my upper half in what was supposed to be a sensual glide. A look that heated should have me squirming in my seat, turning me on with its intensity alone.


But I was cold as ice and dry as a damn desert.


Chris was pleasant to look at, hence the reason I’d accepted his request for private messaging. He was of average height and build, but his face was perfectly made, sculpted with the finest precision. His features were so perfectly proportioned that he was almost pretty. I’d been dazzled by his looks and what I’d thought was a matching personality.


The lie detector test determined that was a lie.


The charm and wit he’d displayed through text over the last month was nowhere to be found. Chris, the real Chris, was a straight up asshole, displaying traits that turned me off mere moments after we’d arrived at this hole-in-the-wall ass restaurant.


“What do you want from me, Elle?” He finally responded, face contorting with annoyance. “You already said you weren’t trying to fuck after this, so we ain’t got shit to talk about. I’m just waiting on you to finish.”


This motherfucker.


My neck reared back, face contorting, barely resisting the urge to get up and knock the hell out of him. Instead, I took deep breaths, trying to reign in the temper I was on the verge of losing. If he’d paid an ounce of attention, he’d have realized that I’d finished this nasty ass food long ago.


When the silence stretched on, he chuckled and tucked away his phone. “I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be back.” He didn’t give me a chance to say a word before he pushed away from the table.


My eyes followed him until he disappeared down the hall. I pulled out my phone, sending a quick text to my best friend with a frown on my face.


Elle: Get off Silas’s dick. I need to vent.


Her response was immediate.


Bliss: I got off it about thirty minutes ago. *tongue emoji* How’s the date going?


Lucky bitch.


Elle: *eye roll emoji* Terrible. He basically asked me to fuck before I’d even ordered my Long Island.

Bliss: Damn! Warm a bitch up first. Dine and ditch his ass.


I chuckled at the gif she sent of a woman running full speed, damn near toppling over in her heels, arms loaded down with bags of food.


“Are you ready for the check?”


I jumped, glaring at the server who’d snuck up on me before glancing at the time on my phone, realizing that Chris’ absence had made it to nearly five minutes. “Uh, not yet.”


She nodded with a promise to return later. Before I could start showing concern, another body slid into his seat. I tensed, then relaxed, filled with relief at the familiar face. “When did you get here?” I asked, taking a bite of a soggy fry before grimacing, forcing it down my throat then chasing it with a swig of water.


My other best friend, Miller took his time in answering, intense gaze searching my face. The tension I’d been expecting with Chris now flared to life, and I shifted uncomfortably. Jeez, I was pathetic, crushing on my best friend like an idiot. I needed to get laid. Fast.


“I got here before you did,” he said, tipping the rim of his half-empty bottle of beer towards me, “But you were too busy making goo-goo eyes at that pretty nigga to notice. Walked right past my table.” He hefted his chin, gesturing where he’d sat somewhere behind me, but I didn’t bother to turn, too infatuated with his white-teeth and curved lips.


“Shut up, Mill. I don’t make goo-goo eyes.”


His fingers trailed through the condensation his beer left behind on the table while his eyes stayed locked on mine. I squirmed again, feeling that phantom like touch as if he was caressing my skin instead of the scratched-up wooden tabletop.


“You don’t?” He asked, settling back in the seat, unbothered that my date could return any second now. “Then what’s that look on your face right now?”


“Hmm?” I asked, averting my gaze and searching the room for Chris. I’d rather have him in my face right now, ignoring the fuck out of me, rather than Miller. At least then I could pretend that I wasn’t being turned on and aroused by just looking at one of my best friends. Harmless flirting had been the norm between us since I’d moved into the same apartment building seven years ago, but this all-consuming lust was not.


Our acquaintance began with me aggressively instructing him and his fine ass brother, Mo, to help me unload my moving truck. We’d been neighbors at an apartment complex, forming a friendship that had lasted well past us both moving out. Besides Bliss, he’d become the most reliable person in my life.


Hence the reason he was here tonight.


Since I’d gotten it into my head to meet up with men I’d met online, Miller had taken it upon himself to tag along. He’d always respected our privacy and kept his distance, sitting far enough to not be obvious but close enough to get to me if something went down.


His presence had come in handy on the few occasions where I’d gotten weird vibes and needed to get the fuck out of dodge.


He was always there when I needed him. Whatever woman he ended up with would be a lucky bitch.


I damn near choked on my water when I jerked forward from the big man behind me colliding with my chair again.


Aye!”


I jumped at Miller’s harsh bark, eyes widening when he moved to slide from the booth. I grabbed his arm, glancing at the man behind me whose face contorted in a confused frown.


“I’m sorry. Did I bump you again?”


“Yeah, you did.” Miller answered for me, fist clenched on the tabletop, staying seated only to appease me. If he wanted, he could’ve shaken free of my light grasp with no effort. “That’s like the third or fourth time tonight.”


My eyes bucked, surprised he’d noticed from across the room. The man flashed me a sheepish smile, scooting his chair to the other side of the table. “I’m sorry, ma’am. Won’t happen again.”


I flashed him a thankful smile before looking back at Miller who still glared at him. “Stop.” I admonished. “He apologized.”


“He could’ve been apologized if that weak ass nigga you were here with would’ve spoken up when it first happened.”


I pressed my lips together, silently agreeing. Once I was sure he wouldn’t jump the man, I released him, relaxing back in my seat, watching the crease between his brows disappear.


“I can’t believe you ate that shit.” He used the bottle again to gesture at my plate. I grimaced, dreading how the weird, tough meat would settle in my stomach later tonight.


“I know,” I whined, grabbing my stomach, praying for mercy later.


“Don’t call me if it fucks up your stomach,” he teased, “I’m not bringing any Pepto over to your shitty ass again.”


I burst into laughter, remembering the time I’d come down with a stomach bug that had me in a bad way. Thank God for Miller. We’d been so comfortable with one another by that point that I hadn’t even cared he’d seen me that way. I’d just wanted to feel better, and he’d gone above and beyond to make sure I had.


Ten minutes of comfortable silence passed before I frowned, looking around the room again. The same waitress stopped by and laid the check on the table with a promise to return for payment after she delivered drinks to another waiting table.


“I think your date might’ve snuck out the back.” Miller said, voicing my fears when Chris still didn't appear.


“Are you fucking kidding me?” I sucked my teeth, snatching my purse from the chair next to me. Thank God Chris brought us to this cheap ass restaurant. There was no way I’d go broke paying both portions of this cheap ass meal.


Asshole.


He better be glad we couldn’t leave reviews about dates the way we do for restaurants. Zero out of five stars, would not recommend.


My movements became more agitated as I searched for my debit card, irritated that I’d had yet another date fizzle out. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to connect with anyone. Not even for a quick hookup which I was pretty desperate for at this point.


But at thirty-four years old, what I wanted was to have kids before my damn eggs shriveled up.


“Don’t disrespect me like that.”


I paused with my card halfway out of my wallet, brows dipped in confusion. Miller pulled his card out instead, sliding it into the black fold that held our check before handing it to our waitress. She smiled with a promise to return with the receipt.


“Mill, you shouldn’t have done that. I can pay fo-”


He cut me off. “I’ll never leave you out here to pay for something another man left you with.”

I wanted to protest but knew his stubborn ass would’ve let it float in one ear and out the other. Instead, I smiled and thanked him. “Why can’t all men be like you?”

The silence that followed was heavy, filled with tension before he spoke. “Why you need them to be like me when you already got me?”

I laughed but stopped when he didn’t crack a smile, face as serious as I’ve ever seen. “Wh-What?”

He never answered, staring at me until the waitress brought his receipt. His eyes left me long enough to look down and sign the paper before passing it back with a hefty tip. “You ready to go?”

The tension in the air crackled between us. If I had any sense, I’d run from him just as fast as Chris had ditched me. I couldn’t afford to lose or jeopardize such an important friendship because my lonely ass was lusty.

“Yeah,” I said, pulling out my phone, “Let me get an Uber.”

His face contorted a second before he snatched the phone from my grip. “Why you keep fuckin’ trying me?”

I held my hands up, unsure what I’d done to earn his ire. “I took one over here.”

“And I’m sitting right here waiting to take your ass home. The fuck you need an Uber for?”

Damn.

He was so beautiful when he got all frowny and aggressive, I loved. That was another reason I needed to be taking my ass home alone. I wasn’t sure if I trusted myself not to jump him before we made it out of the parking lot.

I was dangerously horny.

“You don’t live anywhere near me, Mill. Taking me home is out of the way.”

“Ain’t nothing out of the way when it comes to you.”

His comeback effectively shut me up, so I nodded, grabbing my purse then reaching for my phone. Instead of handing it over, he slipped it into his pocket and linked our fingers, holding my hand securely while leading me outside.

“You’ll have better luck next time, baby girl.” He encouraged, placing a kiss against my forehead.

Yeah, right. With my track record, the next time would probably end in an even bigger clusterfuck.




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