The following is an excerpt from ‘Secret’, coming soon!

THE SCENE: Shayla has been living with Trent ‘Trey” Denison for awhile and he’s intrigued by her, but considers her somewhat of a mystery, even though they’ve become friends. One night his best friend Darren and he take her out with them, and Trey is surprised to find himself bothered by the apparent chemistry developing between Shayla — who is a little drunk– and his best friend. Unbeknownst to him, Shayla has already decided that what she needs to complete her personal transformation is a quick, meaningless, purely physical affair. And for now, Darren seems to fit the bill.

What the hell?

D was making a move! On Shayla. Trey took a long swallow of his beer and wondered how Darren was planning to manage his weekend on the Shore at Gail’s and have Shayla along for the ride as well.

“I thought you had plans, man,” he said.

Darren looked at him evenly. “Plans can change.”

“Yes they can,” Shayla said, oblivious to the power-move that was being made right under her nose. “And with the right offer, I might be inclined to change mine. But for now . . . I have to go to the ladies room.”

She slid off her stool and headed in the direction of the restrooms.

“So what’s up?” Trey asked as soon as she was gone.

Darren grinned at him. “I invited her to the Shore. So what? You did ask me to look out for her while you’re gone. This way I can keep a much closer eye.”

“Look out for her. Not try to fuck her.”

Darren pulled back. “Okay, you got five minutes to tell me why the hell not,” he said. “Because I’m feeling a vibe, man and as soon as she gets back to the table . . .”

“Because I don’t want you to.”

“That reason is inadequate,” Darren joked. “No. Grossly inadequate.”

“It’s all I got,” Trey said looking at him, his face serious.

Darren studied him for a moment and Trey could see the moment when his friend decided to give in.

“Damn shame,” Darren said taking a swig of beer. “She’s looking good in those jeans.”

Trey said nothing. She was looking good in those jeans. His whole night had been fucked up watching her in those jeans, leaning over and laughing with Darren, flirting with him. She was like a completely different person. She never flirted with him. Not that he’d wanted her to, or even considered her in that light. But watching her with Darren had made him feel . . . betrayed somehow. Her smiles, her laughter, all of that felt like it belonged to him. Until this moment, he was sure he thought of Shayla as something like a sister. But now . . .

Trey turned and watched as she made her way back to their table. She was a little tipsy now, her eyes not quite as focused as they should be though she was steady on her feet. He took in her toned arms, and the gentle curve of her hips. She had a quirky little smile on her face, like she’d figured something out while in the ladies’ room. Something that she announced as soon as she sat down.

“I think Darren should drive me home,” she said. “I feel like we’re ruining your night, Trey. So why don’t we leave you so Darren can drop me off.”

Darren looked amused, but said nothing, looking to Trey to take the lead. But his eyes held a look of triumph.

For some reason—a reason that Trey could not begin to guess at—Shayla had chosen Darren. Not that that had never happened before. D definitely got his share of the ladies, maybe even drawing a tie with his score, but Shayla knew him. It was kind of insulting really, that she would choose Darren when she’d spent so much time with him. Maybe she’d decided it would be too awkward, them living together and all . . . But whatever the reason, he wasn’t having it.

“Darren’s got someplace to be,” Trey said. “So I’ll have to take you home.”

Shayla wrinkled her brow in confusion, looking at Darren for an explanation, but he shrugged.

“You don’t want to take me home?” she asked with a pout.

From the slur of her words, Trey could tell that all the beer she drank had just fully kicked in and Shayla was officially drunk now.

“I’d love to,” Darren said. “But like Trey said, unfortunately, I . . .”

Shayla sighed theatrically and with resignation. “Okay. So I guess I’ll go with Trey.”

Darren tried unsuccessfully to stifle a smile. Trey stood and held out a hand to Shayla.

“C’mon, let’s roll.”

She shot one last longing look at Darren but got up from her stool and Trey held her arm, giving Darren a nod before leading her out of the pub and to his SUV. When he helped her in, she stumbled a little and he had to make sure he shut the door himself since she was presently without full command of her motor functions. As he drove, Shayla’s head rested against the window and Trey thought for awhile that she may have fallen asleep until suddenly her voice broke the silence inside the car.

“Can I tell you a secret?” she said in a stage-whisper.

“Sure,” he said struggling to keep the smile out of his voice.

“I was going to have sex with Darren,” she said.

Trey looked at her. Damn. She was drunker than he thought.

“Really?” he said, forcing himself to sound casual.

“Yes. I mean, I was a sure thing. Men like a sure thing, right? A sure thing?”

“Sometimes we do, yeah.”

“So maybe he didn’t think I was attractive,” she said sounding comically mournful.

Trey glanced at her again and she had that cute, sad little pout on her face. “No, he definitely found you attractive,” he said.

“Did he?” her voice was animated again.

“Yeah, he did.”

“Then why am I not with him right now, being pounded into the mattress, screaming my brains out?” she said.

Trey’s eyes opened wide. He wasn’t sure he could handle this side of Shayla, talking about being ‘pounded’ into some dude’s mattress. And not just some dude, but his boy Darren. After this, he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to let D back into the house if Shayla was around.

“Because you’re drunk,” Trey said. “You’re drunk and you don’t know Darren like that. He’s not the kind of guy you need.”

“Oh please,” she groaned. “How would you know what kind of guy I need?”

“I think I know a little about you,” Trey said.

“Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong,” Shayla said, her voice a whisper again. “I’m not who you think I am, Trey. I’m somebody very, very different . . .”

He squinted in confusion but said nothing, wanting her to go on. He did know very little about her, that much was true. And if she was in the loose-lipped frame of mind, he wasn’t about to stop her.

“I was that girl you would have chased after,” she said. “Even you would have chased me, Trey. I used to be . . . pretty.”

“You are pretty, Shay,” he said.

And he meant it. Over the last few weeks, when he’d run into her in the kitchen with those braids of hers pulled back so he could see her face, he noticed the clearness of her skin, the fullness of her lips and those incredibly expressive eyes . . . And when they came back from the gym and her dark toffee-colored complexion was high and vibrant from all the exertion, he noticed that too. And just last week, when Trey spotted her as she used her hip to shut her car door, balancing two armloads of grocery bags, he caught himself wondering how those hips looked unclothed.

“Not like I used to be,” she said, her voice sad for a moment. “Nothing like I used to be.”

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