Chance of a Lifetime (Anderson Brothers)By: Marissa Clarke
By high school, she was hopelessly in love with her brother’s best friend. He was the only one who had ever treated her like she wasn’t blind. He let her go everywhere with him—to concerts, to movies, even on his family’s yacht. He’d never kissed her or acted romantic, but in her adolescent, romantic mind, that was because he was noble and polite. It wasn’t until later, after he’d disappeared without a word, that she realized the affection had been one-sided. If he’d considered her a friend at all, he would have answered her calls or at least said good-bye.
Her cane skittered across a fracture in the pavement and she slowed. She’d been an idiot back then to think Chance cared. He was almost three years older and never saw her as anything other than a little girl.
The pavement leveled out and she picked up her pace, sweeping her cane directly in front of her because of the number of people still out and about. It was one of the things she loved about living in New York City. She was never truly alone—which is how she’d felt for years after Chance disappeared without a word. And now, ten years later, here he was, probably still seeing her as that same little girl.
A hot wave passed through her at the memory of his body against hers as they kissed. He certainly hadn’t kissed her like he thought she was a little girl.
Fuck him, she growled in her head.
Cool air scented with baked waffle cone and fresh cream washed over Gen’s face as Sherry opened the door to the ice cream shop. Two beers and now ice cream meant an extra hot yoga class. Totally worth it, though.
Before they reached the counter, her phone rang. No doubt about who it was. Even if it weren’t for the customized ring, she’d know it was her brother’s routine evening call. “Hi, Walter. I’m fine.”
“Are you home?” It was silent in the background, which meant he was still at the office or at his apartment.
“Why are you still out?”
Angry prickles crawled up her neck. When would he realize she wasn’t a child? “I worked late.” No way was she telling him the truth. He’d probably threaten to withhold trust money.
“Call me when you get to your apartment so I know you made it safely.”
It was easier to agree than argue. Besides, she didn’t want another conversation with her friend about how she needed to deal with her big brother. “Fine.”
She slipped her phone into her bag as Sherry ordered a double-scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. Gen got her usual single scoop cup of double fudge delight.
“So, what’s next on your list after kissing a total stranger—or is that a do-over since he wasn’t really a stranger?” her friend asked as they tucked into chairs in the corner.
“No do-overs.” That kiss could never be topped. Her body thrummed with energy as her mind replayed the feel of his hands and mouth on her. “Next is a roller coaster.” Which didn’t seem nearly as daring or exciting as kissing Chance. But when she’d made the list at fifteen, it had held appeal.
Maybe because she’d envisioned herself doing it with her big brother’s best friend, who would have certainly wrapped a protective arm around her in her vivid teen imagination.
She dug her spoon into her ice cream and pushed the image from her mind.
“Soooooooo, you gonna tell me about it?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Not if you value your shins, because I’m going to move all your furniture around so you whack into stuff if you don’t give me the scoop on the doc and why you dislike him so much.”
She didn’t dislike him. That was the problem. Even after all this time, part of her still longed for him, while another part wanted to let him know how much he’d hurt her. She swallowed hard and took a breath. He probably hadn’t even thought of her after that horrible night. “I told you. Because he’s a jerk.”
“You can’t get off that easily. Not this time. There’s more to this. Spill.”
She took a bite of her ice cream and thought about how to sum it up concisely. A protracted discussion of her teen crush would only make matters worse. “We used to hang out a lot, Walter, Chance, and me. Our parents were friends—still are.”