Friends. Just friends. Does Lenny not understand the concept? No worries. Lexi will explain it to him.

Lenny is bouncing at the walls, ready for his love story to begin. Lexi? Not so much.

Lexi is determined to keep her relationship with Lenny at friends only. Lenny pretends to agree. He’ll simply break her barriers down one by one until she’s ready for him.

But then Lexi’s past catches up with her and Lenny’s done with gentle. He’s breaking through the friendzone barriers and protecting Lexi. Even if it’s from herself.

Will Lexi succumb to Lenny’s charm? Or are these two destined to remain friends forever?

Want a sample before you buy? No problem. Here you go:

Chapter 1

The difference between a girlfriend and a girl friend is the space in between is called the ‘friend zone’.

Whack! I grunt when the bridal bouquet hits me smackdab in the face. I watch as it falls to the floor. I could catch it, but I’m not going to, because I – Lexi Mullins – have no intention of being a bride, thank you very much.

The current bride, Faith, points to the bouquet and yells, “It’s your turn next!”

At her words, a cheer rises up from the crowd. They can cheer all they want. It doesn’t change a thing. Love is not for this woman. I’ve learned my lesson.

It’s past time to escape, but I don’t have a chance to stand before Lenny appears in front of me. Great. Another situation I don’t want to deal with. The man refuses to understand the term ‘friend zone’ no matter how many times I explain it to him.

But boy, oh boy is the man pretty to ogle. I fist my hands to stop from fanning myself at all the glory that is Lenny looming above me. The man may be over fifty but he’s still sexy as all get out. He has dark brown eyes I can’t seem to look away from, laugh lines around his eyes that tell me he enjoys a good time, and a dimple in his chin I want to lick while I scratch his always present five o’clock shadow.

He’s also several inches over six-foot-tall, and his clothes are covering up a whole bunch of muscles. Trust me. I know. For one delicious moment on New Year’s Eve, my hands roamed all over those muscles.

Unfortunately – ahem, I mean, fortunately – my mind overruled my body and reminded me of how all his friends and my friends are intertwined. Which is a dang shame. If they weren’t, I’d take him for a test drive with no intention of buying. Alas, things would get way too complicated way too quickly, and I can’t do complicated. Not yet, at least.

“Not now, Lenny,” I tell him before he can open his mouth.

I’m not blowing smoke up his ass – no matter how much I’d love to. Now is really not the time to discuss our non-relationship. This is a wedding. Weddings are for watching the newly married couple look disgustingly happy – gag – and laughing at all the single bridesmaids getting drunk and hitting on the single groomsmen.

Considering this wedding is happening on Valentine’s day, I would normally expect the single bridesmaids to jump on any single man in this place before the nuptials have even been spoken. Which would be absolutely hilarious to observe. But there’s one problem. Lenny and I are the only unattached people in the room. Even the bride’s son has a girlfriend.

Lenny ignores my warning – what’s new? – and leans over to place his hands on the back of my chair. He thinks he’s got me blocked in. Silly man. He forgets who I am and where I come from. Also, I don’t fight fair.

“Doll.”

I roll my eyes. He calls everyone doll. He doesn’t seriously believe I think he’s treating me special when he calls me the same endearment he uses for every other woman in his life, does he? How stupid does he think I am?

“When are you going to stop fighting our attraction, Lexi?”

I snort. “Um, never. Friend zone, remember? Do you need for me to explain it to you again?”

“You can’t fight our attraction forever.”

“Never going to happen.” Judging by the heads turning in our direction, I must have yelled. Oopsie.  

“It is,” he growls.

My insides quiver, and my middle tingles at the sound. I ignore my body’s response. It’s not running the show here. I am.

“Dream on.” I shove him out of my way before standing and marching away.

I make my way to the restroom, but I’m ambushed before I can open the door. My friend, Chrissie, stands blocking me with her arms crossed over her chest. I step back and slam into a different body. I whirl around to find another friend, Hailey, barring my escape route. Behind her stands the rest of the girl crew. Aka Suzie, Phoebe, Val, and Mary Ann.

“Goodie. The gang’s all here.”

Faith comes rushing down the hallway. “Wait for me.”

Correction. Now, the gang’s all here.

I’m still not convinced about this group of women. Except for Chrissie, I’ve only known them since I showed up on Christmas Day for Chrissie’s surprise wedding. She wasn’t the only one surprised. I didn’t know the woman was dating anyone, let alone ready to legally attach herself to a man. But her boyfriend, Wally, called me and told me to get my butt to Milwaukee if I wanted to be at my best friend’s wedding.

When I hopped on the plane in D.C., I didn’t believe for a minute Chrissie was getting married. I assumed the call was some part of an ambush. There was an ambush all right. Just not the kind requiring guns and grenades. Instead, Wally surprised Chrissie with a wedding on Christmas Day.  

Chrissie grabs my arm and frog marches to the office. She throws the door open like she owns McGraw’s Pub. She doesn’t. The bride’s husband, Max, owns the pub, which is why the wedding took place in a bar of all places.

As soon as I hear the door of the office click closed, I whirl around on the women. “What is wrong with you people?”

Phoebe raises her hand. “I’m pregnant, my feet are swollen, and I feel nauseous all the time.”

Suzie frowns at her. “She didn’t mean literally.”

“I did,” I say. Mostly, to hear what Suzie’s response is. The woman is crazy. The fun kind of crazy. Not the ‘I have to kill her to save the world’- kind. I’m finished with those kind since I quit my job.

“Oh, in that case, same as whiny girl here. Except for the nauseous thing. I’m over it.”

Mary Ann, who happens to be a nurse, asks Phoebe, “How far along are you? If you continue to feel nauseous, maybe you should discuss it with your OB/GYN.”

With the women distracted discussing pregnancy, I decide it’s time to take my leave. I’ve got the door open and one foot in the hallway when Chrissie stops me.

“And where do you think you’re going?”

I shrug. “Back to the party.”

A champagne cork pops, and Val waves a bottle in the air. “But the party is in here now. Don’t leave me here alone. The pregnant women can’t drink.”

Hailey’s hand shoots into the air. “I’m not pregnant.”

While Val pours glasses of champagne, I decide to try and sneak off again. Once more, I don’t make it far. Chrissie grunts before stomping to me, grabbing my upper arm, and dragging me back into the room. “It’s time for you to fess up.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Fess up? About what?”

She already knows I quit my job. I have no other secrets to tell. My phone in my pocket beeps with a message. Okay, maybe I have one more secret she doesn’t know about.

“I vote we let this play out,” Hailey says.

Suzie snorts. “Yeah, because today’s your day.”

I widen my eyes and pretend I don’t know what’s going on. “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t act as if you don’t know,” Chrissie mutters.

Of course, I know. These women haven’t exactly made a secret of how they’re betting on when Lenny and I will burn up the sheets.

Mary Ann giggles. “Have I mentioned lately how much I love all of you?”

Val lifts her glass. “Here. Here.”

“Can we get this over with?” Faith asks. “I want to get back to my groom.”

I motion to the door. “By all means.”

She doesn’t move. “Not before you tell us what’s going on with you and Lenny.”

If you read the entry for ‘nosy’ in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of this group. I thought my family was nosy, but they can’t hold a candle to these people.

“There’s nothing to tell.”

Hailey crosses her arms over her chest. “Really? Why was he caging you in your chair?”

“And why did he look like you stole his puppy when you walked away?” Val adds.

I place a hand on my chest and gasp. “I would never steal a puppy.”

Chrissie shoves everyone out of the way to stand in front of me. Her hands fist at her hips as if she’s preparing for battle.

“The quicker you answer our questions, the quicker you can return to the party.”

I place my hand on my chest and feign a tremble. “The big bad intimidating interrogator has arrived. I’m scared.” For good measure, I curl my button lip out in a pout.

Chrissie’s hands drop and her shoulders slump. “You’re one of my oldest friends. Why won’t you tell me what’s going on?”

I’m surprised she doesn’t wipe at her eyes as if tears are forming. There’s more than one way to interrogate a suspect after all. And Chrissie is an expert in all of the methods. I know this for a fact. We used to work together. While I was an analyst who kept my butt firmly imprinted on a chair behind a computer, Chrissie was out in the field doing all kinds of things that would give most people nightmares.

I decide to give in. I need to get out of this room before I fall for one of Chrissie’s interrogation methods and accidentally spill my secrets.   

“There’s nothing going on between Lenny and me.” Before I can finish, everyone’s shouting out their disbelief. I hold up my hand to cut them off.

“I’m serious. Lenny is in the friend zone. And it’s where he’s going to stay.”

Chrissie taps her chin as she studies me. I keep my face blank and wait. After thirty incredibly long seconds, a smile breaks out on her face.

“This is going to be fun.”

I don’t wait for whatever else she has to say. The smile is my get out of jail free card and I’m not wasting it. I open the door and hightail it away from the women.