“You're a lot younger.”
My eyes bug out of my head. “So? That's it? Just so?”
Josh shrugs and offers another grin. “I don't think it matters. I have friends of all ages.”
There it is. I should feel relief, but instead, that sinking feeling hits me right in the gut. Josh is smooth, sliding in that friend comment to offer reassurance while simultaneously putting me in my place. Hell, at least now I know how he felt about the kiss. And why he stopped it.
“Right,” I manage to eke out. “You're absolutely right.”
I spring to my feet, feeling oddly at peace. Josh's reaction isn't a surprise. On some level, I expected it. He's too young, and we both know it. He likely looks at me like a mother figure. Ugh, that puts a whole new spin on the kiss. “I think I'm going to skip the hike, Josh. I'm really beat, and I don't bounce back the way I used to. You'll know when you're my age.”
Many, many moons from now.
Josh remains silent, so I blunder forward. “I want to thank you for everything. You have gone above and beyond in the kindness department.” Scampering to the table, I grab my purse, fishing into my wallet to pull out a fifty. “Here. It's the least I can do.”
Josh stares at me and then the money but makes no move to take it. “Put your sneakers on, Addy.”
“You're not missing this hike.”
“Josh, I'm tired.”
“No, you're embarrassed because you suddenly think what happened last night shouldn't have happened because you're a few years older.”
“A few? More than a few.” I choke on a mixture of laughter and nausea. “Besides, it isn't like you actually enjoyed the kiss. You stopped it. That much, I remember clearly.”
Instead of appearing sheepish, Josh surprises me by pulling me against him and wrapping his arms around my waist. “I don't think you remember much clearly from last night, and I don't give a shit if you're fifty years older.”
“My point,” he interrupts, his lips hovering at my ear, “is that I like you way too much to let something as insignificant as age come between us.”
I pull back, confusion creasing my brow. “You like me as a friend?”
His thumb reaches out and traces my bottom lip, a smile pulling up the corners of his mouth. “Can you finish getting ready?”
My jaw slackens as I gape at him and his blatant disregard of my question. I open my mouth but bite back any additional questioning. Josh mentioned not five minutes ago that he has friends of all ages. Friends.
End. Of. Story.
“Do I have to?” Wonderful. Now I'm whining like a seven-year-old girl.
Josh shrugs, grabbing his keys from the table. “You can go willingly, or I can turn you over my knee. Your choice.”
I'm obviously still drunk. And hearing things. “Are you threatening to spank me?”
Josh leans in, his lips centimeters from mine. “Not at all, Addy. It isn't a threat. It's a promise.”
My new friend just threatened to spank me, and I hate how tempting that idea sounds. I shake my head, hoping to clear the cobwebs from too much alcohol and lack of sleep. You would think that in thirty-nine years, I'd have a firm grasp on human behavior, but if the last month is anything to go on, I'm a greenhorn.
With a grumble, I plop into the chair, throwing on my sneakers. “I don't really think I'm up for a spanking right now.” If he's going to force me to trek with him up a mountain, I don't want him to think I'm drooling over him. No matter how little he believes me.
As per usual, the man—boy—is one step ahead of me in our verbal spar. “Too bad. Maybe later, you'll be in the mood.”
He walks out the front door with a wink and shake of his keys, leaving me gaping after him.
What a friendship this is turning out to be.
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