Best Friends, Secret Lovers

By: Jessica Lemmon

“No.” Flynn gave him an impatient look. “It didn’t.”

Reid swiped his hand over his brow in mock relief.

“Come on, Parker, you’re high on drugs,” Gage said with a head shake. “We made that pact because your mom was sick and your dad was miserable, and because Natalie had just dumped me. We were all heartbroken then.” He considered Reid. “Except for Reid. I’m not sure why he did it.”

“Never getting married anyway.” Reid shrugged. “All for one.”

“So? Swear again,” Flynn repeated. “On your tallywackers.” That earned a smile from Reid. “Big or small, they count.”

The first time they’d made the pact none of them truly knew heartache. Breakups were hard, but the decimation of a marriage following the ultimate betrayal? Much worse. Reid and Gage didn’t know how bad things could get and Flynn would like to keep it that way. He didn’t want either of them to feel as eviscerated as he did right now—as he had for the last three months. All pain he could have avoided if he’d taken that pact seriously.

His buddies might never find themselves dating women who slept with their family members, but it wouldn’t matter how the divorce happened, only that it did. He’d heard the statistics. That 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce was up to around 75 nowadays.

He’d heard some people say they didn’t harbor regret because if they’d never married, and divorced, they wouldn’t have learned life’s lessons. Blah, blah, blah.


Flynn regretted saying “I do” to Veronica all the way down to his churning stomach. The heartbreak over her choosing his brother would have been more bearable if she’d told him up front rather than three years into an insufferable marriage.

“I swear,” Reid said, almost too serious as he crashed his glass into Flynn’s water bottle, then looked at Gage expectantly.

“Fine. This is stupid, but fine.” Gage lifted his glass.

“Say it,” Flynn said, not cracking the slightest smile. “Or it doesn’t count.”

“I promise,” Gage said. “I won’t get married.”

“Say never, and we all drink,” Flynn said.

“Wait.” Reid held up a finger. “What if one of us caves again? Like hearts-and-flowers Gage over here.”

“Shut up, Reid.”

“One of your monthlong girlfriends could turn into the real thing if you’re not careful.”

“I’m careful,” Gage growled.

“You’d better be.” Flynn stared down his friends. The enormity of the situation settled around them, the only sound in the room the fire crackling in the background. “The lie of forever isn’t worth it in the end.”

Reid eyed Flynn’s broken leg, a reminder of what Flynn’s stupidity had cost him, and then exchanged glances with Gage. These men were more like Flynn’s brothers than his own flesh and blood. They’d do anything for him—including vowing to remain single forever.

“Never,” Gage agreed, holding up his own glass.

Reid and Flynn nodded in unison, and then they drank on it.


Flynn Parker, his stomach in a double knot, attempted to do the same to his tie. His hands were shaking from too much coffee and not enough sleep. It wasn’t helping that the tiny room in the back of the funeral home was nearing eighty degrees.

Sweat beaded on his forehead and slicked his palms. He closed his eyes, shutting out his haggard reflection, and blew out a long, slow breath.

The service for his father was over, and when Flynn had left the sweltering room, the first thing he’d done was yank at his tie. Bad move. He’d never return it to its previous state.

God help him, he didn’t know if he could watch his father being lowered into the dirt. They’d had their differences—about a million of them at last count. Death was final, but burial even more so.

“There you are.” Sabrina Douglas, his best friend since college, stepped into view in the tall mirror at the back of the funeral home. “Need help?”

“Why is it so hot in here?” he barked rather than answer her.

She clucked her tongue at his overreaction. Much like this moment, she’d come in and out of focus over the years, but she’d always been a constant in his life. She’d been at his side at work, diligently ushering in the new age as he acclimated as president of the management consulting firm he now owned. She’d been with him for every personal moment from his and Veronica’s wedding to his thirtieth birthday—their thirtieth birthday, he mentally corrected. Sabrina was born four minutes ahead of him on the same damn day. She’d jokingly called them “twins” when they first met in psych class at the University of Washington, but that nickname quickly fizzled when they realized they were nothing alike.

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