Nikki squealed and grabbed Melanie in another crushing bear hug, but this time she jumped up and down as if they were on some Let’s Get Laid game show and Melanie had won the grand prize. She couldn’t deny that Gabe was a fabulous showcase.
“I knew he liked you.” Nikki squealed. “I just knew it. I’ll go get my bag.”
Nikki released her and was dashing off into the small, windowless office she was using to store her personal belongings while she stayed on Melanie’s couch. Temporarily.
What? Wait. Oh no. No no no.
Melanie dropped her armload of clothes into her suitcase and hurried to stop her friend from packing.
“Nikki, you can’t come with me.”
The delighted smile slid from Nikki’s face. Her bottom lip quivered, and Mel’s damnable soft heart twisted in her chest. “I’m sorry, hon. We’ll do something fun together next week. I promise.”
“But… Just before you came home, Shade called and said I should come with you to the concert. He wants to see me again.”
Melanie was floored. Despite his torrid one-night fling with Nikki, Shade—the lead singer of Gabe’s band—hadn’t called her roommate all week. That had resulted in Nikki’s need to consume copious amounts of chocolate ice cream and cry herself to sleep in Melanie’s bed for three nights. She had just progressed to sleeping on the sofa a few nights ago when she’d finally accepted the inevitable. At least Melanie had thought Nikki was over the guy.
So why would Shade call out of the blue and get Nikki’s hopes up again?
“Nikki, stop making shit up. The thing with Shade isn’t going to happen.”
“If he sees me again, then he’ll have to admit there was something special between us.”
She’d started saying things like that as soon as she’d moved into Melanie’s apartment. Initially, Nikki had been fine with the casual sex with Shade thing—even bragged about it—until Gabe had proven so attentive to Melanie, and then suddenly Nikki had decided she was actually in love with Shade and that he’d used her for sex. Nikki was positively heartbroken over the entire ordeal and needed constant coddling and a perpetual sympathetic ear. The way Nikki’s emotions did 180 degree reversals in a matter of minutes always sent Melanie’s head spinning. But she’d known Nikki for a long time, and she was used to her friend making up problems when life took a break from kicking her for real.
“Please take me with you, Mel. Please. Please!” She clasped her hands in front of her chest and shook them for emphasis. “I promise I’ll never ask you for anything ever again.”
Melanie had heard that before. “I’m sorry, hon. Maybe next time. I only have one ticket.” She checked the time on her cellphone and cringed. “And I need to hurry or it’s not going to matter, because I’m going to miss my flight.” And if she missed her first flight, that would set off a chain reaction of fail. She had to switch planes in Houston. Ironic because Gabe had been in Houston only two nights ago. She’d have loved to have seen him then as well. That night and every night. But it just wasn’t possible. Curse her responsibilities for destroying her opportunity at perpetual bliss.
“I can’t believe you don’t care about my happiness,” Nikki said.
Oh for fuck’s sake, Nikki. “But I do care. That’s why you’re never seeing Shade Silverton again.”
“Then why do you get to see Force?” Nikki crossed her arms over her chest and scowled.
“Because he asked me to come and I like him, so I’m going. You can sleep in my bed while I’m gone. I know my sofa is hard on your back.” An excuse she’d given Melanie when she’d crawled into bed with her the night before. The woman was a complete bed hog. Melanie had given up fighting for covers sometime around three a.m.
“You’re sure I can’t come?”
If Nikki’s lip pouted any further from her face, it was liable to fall off.
“Fine then. I’ll just go get wasted and pick up some weekend company at a bar.”
Melanie rubbed her forehead. Why did everything have to be drama with Nikki? Why couldn’t she for once give Melanie a break?
“Just stay home this weekend, Nik. You know I’ll worry about you if you go out by yourself.”
“Why should you get to have all the fun?”
“Because I’ve earned it!” Melanie snapped and marched back to her bedroom to finish packing. Nikki was a grown woman—though sometimes it was hard to tell based on her behavior—and Melanie couldn’t spend all her time worrying over Nikki’s poor decisions. She had better things to do. Namely, Gabriel “Force” Banner.