Best Friends, Secret Lovers

By: Jessica Lemmon

“Do you have to charm everyone you come in contact with?”

“I wasn’t charming them. I was being myself.” He grinned. Gage was both boyish and likable. The thing was he wasn’t lying. He hadn’t been trying to charm them. Flirting came as naturally to him as breathing. Still, she doubted the wink-and-smile routine would silence the girls permanently. They would tell a friend or two or be overheard dishing in the employee lounge and then the entire company would know about Flynn’s outburst. Damage control would take a miracle.

She didn’t want anyone to think poorly of him, even though he’d been an ogre since he’d taken over the company. But couldn’t they see he was hurting? He needed support, not criticism.

Gage came to stand next to her where he, too, watched the door. “Who’s in there with him?”

“Mac. And, judging by the voices, a few other executives. I don’t hear Reid.”

He shook his head. “I passed by him in his office before doing a lap to check on the sales team.”

A meeting where none of them had been included. Hmm. She wondered who had called it.

“Did something happen this weekend?” she asked as they faced the door. Maybe the bar night where many drinks were consumed prompted Flynn to admit his feelings...though, she doubted it.

“Drinks. More drinks. Reaffirmation that the pact was the right thing to do.” Gage shrugged.

“Seriously how can you continue with that cockamamie idea?”

“You know no one says cockamamie any more, right?”

“Veronica is a hot mess, but you can’t celebrate the end of her and Flynn’s marriage like a...a...”

“Bachelor party?”

“Yes.” She pointed at him in confirmation. “Like a bachelor party. Especially when you are celebrating being bachelors forever and ever, amen.”

“Sabrina. If you want in on the pact, just yell.”

“Pass.” She rolled her eyes. Why did everyone keep offering her an “in” like she wanted to be a part of that? “I’ve never been married, but I’ve watched friends go through it. Divorce is devastating. And after losing his father, it’ll be like another death he’ll have to grieve. A weekend of shots isn’t going to remedy it.”

Over the last six months, she’d watched Flynn deal with his father’s death. The grief had hovered in the anger stage for a while, before he’d seemed to lighten up. The day they did a champagne toast to their new offices, Flynn was all smiles. He stated how Monarch was going through a rebirth. There was a sincere speech during which Flynn thanked them for sticking with him, which simultaneously broke her heart and mended it at the same time. Now the optimistic Flynn was nowhere to be found. He’d looped around to the anger stage again and was stuck in the rut worn of his own making.

“He’s busy.” Gage palmed her shoulder supportively. “Running this place is stressful and he doesn’t have the respect he deserves. Don’t worry about his emotional state, Sab. He’s doing what needs to be done. That’s all.”

But that wasn’t “all” no matter how much denial Reid and Gage were in. She knew Flynn. Knew his moods and knew his values. Sure, they’d suffered a bit of distance since his marriage to Veronica, but Sabrina had still seen him day in and out at work. She’d shared countless meetings and lunches with him.

He used to be lighthearted and open and gentle. He used to be happy. Who he was now wasn’t in the same stratosphere as happy. Though if she thought about it for longer than three seconds, she might admit that he hadn’t been truly happy in years. Veronica, even when she hadn’t been cheating on Flynn with his brother, wasn’t an easygoing person. She had a way of sucking the oxygen from the room. As much as Flynn had scrambled to appease her, it was rare that she was contented.

Sabrina shook her head, as sickened now as she was then. Flynn deserved better.

“It’s more than that,” she told Gage.

“He’s fine. Probably needs to get laid.”

Sabrina recoiled, but not at Gage’s choice of phrasing. Gage and Reid, along with Flynn, had been close friends since college. She was comfortable around them in and outside of work. No, what had her feeling uncomfortable was the idea of Flynn sleeping with someone else. She’d grown accustomed to his belonging to Veronica, but the thought of him with someone else...

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