“What are you doing in LA?” I ask.

“I… “ She pulls in a deep breath. “It's a long story. Can I come in?”

“Of course.” I'd been practically guarding the door like a jackass. I step aside and welcome her in. She has a large suitcase with her, and I offer to take it, pulling it inside and leaving it by the front door, since I have no idea what its presence means.

“Your home is amazing,” she says, her eyes darting up the curved staircase that rises above us.

“Thank you,” I murmur. I don't want to talk about my home, I want to understand why she's here. The mischievous twinkle in her eyes has dimmed, and even though I haven’t seen her in fifteen long years, I hate the thought that something happened to her. This woman once meant everything to me.

I show her around, giving her a brief tour of the first floor before leading her into the library. My drink is still on the side table, reminding me of my shitty afternoon. “Would you like one?” I ask.

“Sure,” she says. “But only if you have something a bit less manly than whatever that is.” She waves her hand at the glass of amber-colored liquor.

“I think I can make that happen.” I head to the small bar in the corner of the room, and pour some vodka into a glass, then reach into the mini-fridge below and grab cans of lemon-lime soda and cranberry juice. “Will this work?” I ask, holding them up for her approval.

She nods and smiles at me. It was always so easy to make her happy.

I hand her the pink drink, and she joins me, sitting down in the leather armchair across from mine.

Seeing her here, watching her cross her ankles, and the delicate way she brings the glass to her lips…it evokes all kinds of memories.

Our relationship had never been romantic—we were friends—best friends. But when I lost my mom tragically in an auto accident at age fourteen, it was Mia who was there for me. It was Mia who I wanted. For days I couldn’t eat, wouldn’t talk to anyone, not even my brothers. I remember Mia holding me with my head against her chest. I listened to her heartbeat while she stroked my hair and told me silly little stories to distract me. The pain was so all-encompassing, so deep, I didn't know how to put it into words. But Mia didn't need words. She knew.

It was after one of those sessions that we shared our first kiss. It felt natural with none of the fumbling, over-zealous tongue attacks that some of my previous partners had. I'd instantly grown hard for my friend, and that confused the shit out of me. I'd never seen her as more until that moment. But something changed that night, because from that day on, I began noticing her as a developing woman. I would catch her watching me too, her eyes following me around the room with a certain curiosity twinkling in their green depths.

It was about a year after my mom's passing when she told me she had something important to tell me, and we agreed to meet late one night out on my dad's boat.

It sat in its slip at the dock, and while there was no sign of Mia, I climbed below deck, surprised to find she was already there waiting for me on the pullout bed. I crawled up beside her, the moon our only source of light. With a solemn expression, she told me that her parents were moving across the state, and that they couldn’t afford to send her to private school anymore.

I remember my stomach twisting into a knot, and pulling her close to me. I couldn’t stand the idea of her leaving. Needing to fix it, to take away Mia’s tears, I'd called my father on his cell phone right then. I asked him about paying for her schooling so she could remain at Linden Academy, but he'd blown me off. He said there would be other girls and I shouldn’t give my heart away at age fifteen. But he didn’t know that I'd given her my heart the day we met. We were five years old, and I still remember the first time I laid eyes on her. She was so small, much smaller than all the other kindergarteners and was being bullied by a couple of the older kids. Unable to stomach the thought of someone so defenseless being hurt, I rushed to her side. The big green eyes that latched onto mine pierced straight through me, and the silly smile that uncurled on her mouth did me in. She'd captured a piece of me that day.

When I hung up with my father, the look in Mia’s eyes told me she already knew his answer. But the next words out of her mouth shocked the shit out of me. She told me she was a virgin, which I assumed, and said she wanted me to be her first.

God, just thinking of that conversation transports me back to that humid July night. My stomach was rolling with nerves, and even though I knew we probably shouldn't, my dick was rock hard at the thought of fucking her.  At being inside her first.

Hoping she didn’t look down and notice the erection straining in my gym shorts, I told her we couldn’t. We weren’t even dating, and with her leaving the next day, I was worried she'd regret it, and I didn't want her to feel bad after. She said she didn’t want it to be with anyone else and wanted to always have the memory of her first time being with me. She made a very convincing argument, or hell, maybe I didn’t need much convincing.

I only agreed to do it because I made her promise that she would be okay when she left the next day. She promised me she'd move on, accept her move, and date other guys at her new high school. I believed her.

I gave her one slow kiss, pressing my lips against hers, giving her the chance to change her mind and pull away. Only she didn't. Her tongue licked against my lower lip, and when I opened, it slipped inside my mouth and stroked mine.

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