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Sweet Heat at Bayside(7)

By:Addison Cole

Three hard raps at her door startled her to her feet. Breathing too  hard, she went to the door and peeked out the sidelight window. Relieved  to see Drake, she let out a pent-up breath, only to stifle it again  when he lifted his face and she saw tension written in the creases  around his eyes and the telltale dimple in his cheek. She opened the  door, and he barreled in, bringing a gust of tension with him. He  carried a bag in one hand and a bundle of flat boxes in the other.

"You send that to the guys, and I'll send this to the girls." He set the flat boxes against the wall and handed her his phone.

She glanced at the picture he'd taken at Undercover a few weeks ago. She  was sticking her tongue out and shoving her finger into her mouth, like  she was gagging. In the background Rick and Desiree, Matt and Mira, and  Dean and Emery were slow dancing and gazing lovingly into each other's  eyes. "You wouldn't dare!"         



Drake's deep laugh wound around her. "Bet they'd love seeing your  reaction to their kissy-kissy-lovey-dovey dance." He set the bag on the  coffee table.

She looked at the picture again, unable to stop smiling. "I'll tell them I was making the face at you, not because of them."

"Yeah, they'd believe that." He grabbed his phone and pocketed it. His  gaze drifted around the room, landing on the single box she'd begun  packing. "Wow. You're really making a dent in packing, huh?" He picked  up the bottle of wine and cocked a smile. "Serena's little helper? Is it  that bad?"

She groaned. "I hate packing as much as I hate grocery shopping. Thanks  for bringing boxes. I set an alarm on my phone for noon tomorrow so I  wouldn't forget to pick some up. I totally flaked on picking them up  before shopping, and then I was tied up too late with the girls."

Drake smirked, his eyes darkening.

She realized what she'd said and rolled her eyes. "Not that kind of tied  up. Although, you never did finish telling me about your dirty deeds,  Mr. Grey."

"I'll plead the Fifth on that one." He reached into the bag he brought and withdrew a half gallon of milk.

She squealed, pleasantly distracted from her dirty thoughts. "Thank you! How did you know I needed milk?"

"You always need milk. Besides, I figured you'd need it with these." He  pulled out a package of snickerdoodles from Because We Can bakery, which  was open 24/7.

"I love you!" She snagged the cookies and headed into the kitchen. "I take back everything bad I have ever said about you."

"You've said bad stuff about me?" he asked as she took two cups down from the cabinet.

She gave him a deadpan look and poured the milk. "Do you need a list?"  She handed him a cup and said, "I called you a pain right before you  arrived. Or, to be more accurate, a big pain."

"Ouch." He gave her a cookie and took one for himself. "I guess that's only fair. I called you stubborn."

She touched her glass to his. "A toast to big stubborn pains and snickerdoodles." She lifted the glass to her lips.

"You are the only person I know who can drink milk after wine and not get sick."

"I've got mad cookies-and-milk skills. What can I say?" She waggled her  brows and bit into the cookie. "Mm. This is just what I needed. The  perfect dinner."

"You didn't eat dinner?" He pulled out his phone. "I'm ordering us a pizza. You figure out where we should start packing."

"Drake, you don't have to-"

He stepped closer, his body brushing against hers. She felt her body  heating up. That was new-and nerve-racking. Her body hadn't responded to  him like that in years.

She glanced up at his authoritative expression, and she knew arguing  with him would get her nowhere. Given the way her body was suddenly all  lit up inside, she also worried their bickering might further confuse  her lonely hormones. Maybe she needed to push finding a man to the top  of her to-do list when she got to Boston after all.

"You're so good to me," she finally managed.

The edges of his lips curved into the smile she'd fallen head over heels  for all those years ago, and he said, "Someone's got to be."

Her own mother had ignored her enough for her to know that wasn't true.  Nothing was a given in this life, especially being cared for.

"That's what friends do, Serena," he said, once again reminding her where she was firmly slated in his mind.

She stepped back, putting space between them and reminding herself how  foolish she was being. It was like ninth grade all over again. "Well,  that's not really true, but I'm glad you are."

He set that concerned stare on her again. "You're easy to be good to,  Supergirl. Don't ever let anyone make you think otherwise."

That made her feel all kinds of good, and also a little awkward. They  were still standing in her kitchen, and she couldn't drag her eyes away  from his.

"We've been so busy," he said, breaking the silence, "I haven't had time  to ask if you've found a place to live in Boston or if you need help  moving."

"Thanks, but I'm keeping the lease on my cottage until it ends in  October so I can come back and help with the music store and see  everyone. KHB owns a block of furnished apartments walking distance from  the office. They let their first-year employees use them at a reduced  rental rate, so there's no heavy moving. I should be all set with just a  few suitcases and boxes."         



He nodded, looking a little disappointed, and said, "Good. I'm glad  you're all set, but if you need help, just let me know. Day or night,  whatever you need, you know I'm here."

Why did she feel like she might cry? "What will I do without a friend like you in Boston?"

A genuine smile crawled across his face, stealing most of the  disappointment from his eyes. "Throw yourself into your career so you  can shoot to the top of your field. I want that for you, you know."

Her chest filled with love for him. Not hot-and-bothered take-me-now  lust, but deep-seated, fill-her-heart-up love for the man who understood  her, liked her despite her faults, and had always supported her  decisions. Even when she wasn't sure if she could pull something off, he  always pushed her to try. He may have blown off her romantic notions  all those years ago, but look where they were now. She wouldn't trade  this for the world.

He grabbed the box of cookies, slung an arm over her shoulder, and  headed for the living room. "And come back on the weekends, of course,  so I have my partner in crime to hang out with."

WHEN THE PIZZA came, they polished it off, along with half the cookies,  while they packed Serena's movies and books, reminiscing about old times  and talking about her new job. She had never been one of those girls  who was always on a diet. It was just one of the many things that set  her apart from most of the women Drake knew. He glanced at her, sitting  with her back against the couch, knees pulled up despite the miniskirt  she wore, which bunched around her thighs as she flipped through an old  yearbook. One bare foot rested on the other, her toenails painted a  pretty shade of pink. A flash of memory sailed into his mind from when  they were young, when she and Mira would paint each other's toenails in  his parents' living room. They'd sit on the floor facing each other,  painting with tiny sparkly nail polish brushes while they talked about  who knew what. Something that made them giggle a lot-he remembered that.  After they finished their nails, they'd do their hair and then insist  he and Rick watch their silly fashion shows. That was a hundred years  ago, and he remembered it as clearly as if it had just happened. Back  then Serena's eyes had seemed too big for her face, her lips too full,  like she'd accidentally been given an adult's features. But the beauty  gods sure knew what they were doing, because by the time she was a  teenager, she was flat-out stunning. As a guy filled with too much  testosterone, that had proven problematic when they'd go to the beach  and Serena would wear one of her skimpy bikinis. Drake had spent much of  those early summers waist deep in the frigid sea.

"Drake, look at this." Serena's voice pulled him from his memories.

He moved beside her against the couch. "Is that your senior year?"

"Mm-hm. This is the guy I went to prom with, Rod McDale." She pointed to  a guy with longish hair like Drake's. He had on a Black Sabbath T-shirt  and jeans, and he was leaning over a keyboard.

Drake's gut clenched.

"I saved every penny I earned for a whole year to afford the dress I  wanted." She flipped a few pages to the part of the yearbook that  featured pictures from prom.

His eyes were immediately drawn to a photograph of a group of girls  standing arm in arm, wearing bright, sparkly dresses, but all he saw was  Serena's beautiful face, caught midlaugh as Mira and whoever the girl  was on her other side kissed her cheeks. Serena wore her hair pinned up,  with side-swept bangs, and her cheeks were flushed. The yellow  halter-top dress with a thread of gold beneath her breasts might have  looked simple on anyone else, but on Serena it looked elegant. On her  wrist she wore a corsage of white roses, and a strange beat of jealousy  pulsed through him.