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Brother's Best Friend: An Older Man Younger Woman Romance (A Man Who Knows What He Wants Book 50) by Flora Ferrari (1)


CHAPTER 1

 

 

Leah

 

I can’t stop thinking about him.

 

And that means there’s no way I’m falling asleep anytime soon.

 

I was absolutely convinced he wouldn’t make it to my college graduation party.  I really only sent him an invite out of courtesy.  But he came.  Oh did he ever.

 

The second I saw him walk through the hotel banquet room doors it was like no one else existed.  My grandma was holding my hand telling me how much I looked like my mom, but hers and all the other voices and sights immediately melted into the background.

 

He strutted in like he owned the place, and he might as well have.  He certainly owned my heart.  And the real graduation gift I wanted was for him to own the rest of me.  My body.  My mind.  My everything.

 

I’d been crushing on him for years.  I remember the first time my brother brought him by the house.  It was the summer before their senior year of college and they wanted to perfect their game leading into their final year.  I’d seen pictures of him in the paper and had heard my brother talking to him on the phone, but never actually seen him up close.  There’s only so much you can really see at a game when he’s wearing his pads and helmet, not that his muscles, size and tight tush didn’t go unnoticed.

 

I ran upstairs and pulled the curtains back watching him catch and throw the ball with my brother that day nine years ago.  I just stared at him.

 

And of course the day he picked to come over was one of those muggy summer New York early evenings and he just had to take his shirt off.

 

In the summer their team had “two-a-days” for football practice.  He’d already practiced twice, but yet here he was still full of energy.  He had the stamina to go all day.  Back then it was just a teenage crush and my thoughts weren’t as aggressive as they are now.  Now I’d wondered what it would look like to see him go all night.

 

My mind races back to today.  He was wearing a charcoal gray suit with a crimson pocket square and the shiniest shoes ever.  Surely they were from a top Paris fashion house.  I hadn’t been the only one who noticed just how incredible he looked back then.

 

When their season ended and the reality of college life coming to a close was also staring them in the face they were both about to start job hunting.  But his life took a drastic turn when a model scout happened to be at their final game.  The scout was there to cheer for her nephew on the opposing team, but apparently she couldn’t keep her eyes off Xavier.

 

After the game she approached him and asked him his future plans.

 

He hadn’t lined up anything yet, but with a finance degree, good looks, and connections he was likely to wind up on Wall Street.

 

Instead he wound up on Savile Row.  And then Milan.  Paris.  Tokyo.  He went everywhere and I would cut out the pictures I’d see of him in magazines and keep them in a scrapbook.  The same scrapbook I kept in a chest in my room.  The one that held one of his college practice T-shirts.  The one he took off that first day and forgot in our backyard.  I scooped it up later that night and have cherished it ever since.

 

I look at the clock on the nightstand next to my bed in the hotel room.  It’s 1:30 a.m. in New York City, but my body thinks it’s 10:30 p.m. thanks to spending the last four years in Los Angeles at U.S.C.

 

My entire family has this floor of the hotel for the graduation party which just wrapped up.  And to me friends count as family.

 

But what is he?  Xavier is my brother’s friend.  Sure he’s his best friend and that’s probably the only reason he came today.  He probably just wanted to catch up with his buddy and maybe run into some of his other old teammates as well.  They were older now.  Thirty-one.  It’s not like they got a chance to see each other much anymore so my graduation party would be a good chance to catch up with everyone.  He wasn’t here for me.  I’d just provided the venue.

 

And I know this but there’s something inside me that’s trying to think positive.  Just maybe there is something here.  But there’s not.  There’s just no way, but still I wonder.

 

Even though I’m on West Coast time I should be dead tired after entertaining guests all day back home here in the Big Apple.  It’s just something about seeing him that energized me.

 

I’ve got way too much energy to even consider trying to go to bed and I’m not about to sit up here and watch crummy hotel television.

 

A walk would be good for me anyways.  I’m still in my dress from today and it’s not like New York goes to sleep at 2:00 a.m. like California does.  I’ll just step outside and take in the energy of the city hoping it over stimulates me and wears me out.

 

But oh how I wish he was the one up here in my room right now wearing me out.  My college graduation night and I’ve even got the best suite in the building, but no one to share it with.

 

But there’s a lot to be thankful for and to reflect on and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

 

I step out of my room and take the elevator down to the ground floor.  I pass through the lobby and at the far end I see it.

 

The crimson pocket square screaming at me from that charcoal gray suit.

 

I freeze.

 

His head slowly rotates towards me and our eyes lock.

 

His elbow rotates on the bar and when his forearm becomes vertical he motions with the back of his fingers in a come hither motion.

 

My legs feel wobbly and my stomach tightens.

 

He’s calling me over.

 

I take in a deep breath trying not to let my chest rise and fall.  I don’t want him to see the effect he has on me.

 

For some reason my legs are frozen.  I just stare at him staring at me.  He motions to me again.  He’s not giving up.

 

I lift my stiletto from the marble floor.  My leg feels like it’s cast in a concrete bucket.  It’s like I’m stuck in quicksand, but my foot manages to go forward.

 

But my head is spinning and my balance isn’t true.  I feel my knees buckle and I look down watching my collapse to the floor in real time, but in slow motion.

 

My body goes limp and my mind blank as I’m about to faceplant right in front of the hotel reception.