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Monday Puzzler > November 25: Friend with Benefits v. Lover Who Is a Friend

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message 1: by Janga (new)

Janga | 1070 comments Mod
This is a favorite passage because it’s a perfect antidote to those romance novels I read that leave me wondering what’s going to happen to the HEA once the H/H realize that not all their time together can be spent in sexual gymnastics. Also, even though I’m not a fan of love triangles and generally find cheating hero/heroine a contradiction, this one works for me because the heroine and her first lover really are friends with benefits.

I sat next to him and let out a wobbly sigh. “I wish you were a mind-reader. I want you to know everything but I don’t want to have to tell you. Because there are some things I don’t want to say out loud.”

“There’s nothing you can’t tell me. You know that.”

“Yes, but I’ve never had to explain about an involvement with another guy. I feel so guilty, I can hardly stand it.”

“Your guilt threshold’s always been pretty low,” he said kindly.

“It’s wrong to want Hero, and it’s stupid, but I can’t make myself stop. I’m so sorry, Friend. I’m sorrier than I could ever imagine being—”

“Wait. Before you go on . . . no apologies. Especially no apologies for your feelings. Feelings are never wrong, they’re just feelings. Now tell me.”

I didn’t tell Friend everything, of course. But I said enough for him to understand that my carefully considered approach to life was unraveling, and I was obsessively attracted to a man I should never have been attracted to, and I was at a complete loss to know why.

“Hero’s smart,” I said, “but he can be crude. And he’s macho and traditional. He’s like the football jock in high school that all the girls lined up for, and I always hated that kind of guy.”

“Me too.”

“But Hero surprises me sometimes with a comment or insight that’s just dead-on. And he’s honest, and talkative, and curious, and possibly the least self-conscious person I’ve ever met. He makes me laugh. He says I need to be more spontaneous.”

“He’s right.”

“Well, there’s a time and a place for spontaneity. And this is not a phase of my life when I need to think about fun. I have a lot of responsibility.”

“What does he think about the baby?”

“Hero likes him. He likes kids.”

“Being a traditional guy, he probably wants a family of his own,” Friend commented, watching me closely.

“I’ve already told Hero how I feel about marriage and family. So he knows that would never happen with me. I think the attraction is that I’m a novelty. I’m a turn-on mainly because I’m not chasing after him.”

“You’d be a turn-on for anyone, Heroine. You’re a beautiful woman.”

“Really?” I looked at him with a shy grin. “You’ve never told me that.”

“I’m not good about that stuff,” Friend admitted. “But you are. In a hot librarian kind of way.”

My smile turned wry. “Thanks. I guess it works for Hero.”

“How much do you have in common with this guy?”

“Not much. Basically we’re polar opposites. But do you want to know the main attraction, the weird part? . . . It’s the talking.”

“Talking about what?”

“About anything,” I said earnestly. “We get started and it’s like sex, this back-and-forth, and we’re both so there, do you know what I mean? We rattle each other. And some conversations seem to be happening on a few different levels at once. But even when we’re disagreeing on something, there’s a weird kind of harmony in it. A connection.”

Friend stared at me thoughtfully. “So if the talking’s like sex, what is the sex like?”

“I—” My mouth opened and closed. Chagrined, I contemplated various ways to explain that so far we’d had what could only have been described as one hell of a good-night kiss, and also a parking-garage quickie. And both times had been spectacular. No, there were no words.

“Classified information,” I said sheepishly.

For a moment we sat silently, both of us a little taken aback that I was withholding something, when I had always told Friend everything without reserve. Our relationship had always been completely transparent. This was new, this concept that there was some part of my life Friend couldn’t casually riffle through.

“You’re not angry?” I asked. “Not jealous?”

“Jealous, maybe,” Friend admitted slowly, as if it surprised him. “But not angry. And not possessive. Because it comes down to this: I don’t want a traditional relationship and I never will. But if you want to explore that with Hero, you should. You don’t need permission, and it’s not mine to give. And you’re going to do it anyway.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friend touched my chin and lifted my face upward, and kissed me gently. Only then did I understand that Friend had always been a friend I had slept with, and how entirely different that was from having a lover who could be a friend.

message 2: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1922 comments Mod
Took me a while to clue-in but once it hit me I was grinning ear to ear. Great pick, Janga!

message 3: by Okie (new)

Okie (okieb) | 2104 comments Mod
Oh wow! I don't know this one. Can't wait to find out.

message 4: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2101 comments Mod
I think this is the best of the series. And of her work actually

message 5: by Charlene (new)

Charlene (charlenethestickler) | 320 comments I admit I'm stumped!

message 6: by Diana (new)

Diana (dianagreenroad) | 15 comments One of my favorites!

message 7: by Janga (new)

Janga | 1070 comments Mod
The puzzler is from Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas.

I was tempted to reread it when I chose this passage, but I didn't because I want to reread Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil, and Smooth-Talking Stranger consecutively in August of next year just before the final Travis book, Brown-eyed Girl releases on September 4.

message 8: by Okie (new)

Okie (okieb) | 2104 comments Mod
oh, gosh! yes, of course! i loved this one.

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