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More Than Friends
A sequel to
A Kiss Among Friends &
Sweet Kiss Of Revenge

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More Than Friends
by
OKDeanna

 
     

CHAPTER EIGHT

Hank finished buttoning the last button on his gray flannel shirt then ran a hand through his hair and let out a sigh of frustration. He knew he did the right thing in leaving Gwen's this morning before things got out of hand again, but damned if his body wasn't still screaming for him to go back. He'd taken another shower when he came in, this time a cold one, but it hadn't done him a damn bit of good. Because as soon as he stepped out of the shower, images of Gwen and him making love last night floated through his brain and he was lost all over again.

The woman had seriously messed with his head at some point over the last few months. She'd done it in such away that he hadn't even seen it coming. One minute they were friends and the next minute they were lovers. Just like that they had made the switch, but now they were dealing with the consequences of that switch. At least, Gwen was. He already knew what he wanted. He wanted Gwen - body, mind, heart, and soul.

But she, unfortunately, wasn't ready to hear that just yet. Thanks to Ethan "bozo" Crane and his abuse of the words I love you, Gwen was running scared from anything and everything that had to do with those three words and damned if he knew what to do about it.

Shaking his head, he flopped down onto his bed, placed his hands underneath his head and stared up at the ceiling. But it wasn't really the ceiling he was seeing. No he was seeing Gwen. Well, Gwen's eyes to be more exact. He could still see the underlying emotions that passed through her eyes as she admitted that she had indeed told him she loved him.

But then he remembered the setback of her asking him to forget what she told him and the smile that had broke out across his face suddenly turned into a frown. How in the hell was a man supposed to forget that a woman told him she loved him? Especially when he was in love with the woman?

He groaned up at the ceiling then closed his eyes and let out a curse as the phone on his bedside table rang. He removed one hand from underneath his head then reached over and grabbed the phone, placing it to his ear, hoping against hope that it was Gwen while knowing deep down inside that it wasn't. "Hello?"

"Hey, little brother." Sam said his voice full of what sounded like laughter." Grace wants you to get your butt over here and have breakfast with the family."

"Grace?" Hank choked out as he bolted up off the bed. "Sam, tell me you really didn't..."

"What do you think?" Sam asked his smile practically bursting through the phone line. "She said to tell you breakfast will be ready in fifteen and if you're a minute late, she's coming to get you herself."

Hank groaned as the dial tone sounded in his ear. He did not want to have dinner with his brother and his family this morning, especially when he knew the subject of where he was last night and who he was with was a given for coming up. Maybe Sam was just yanking his chain, he thought sliding his legs off the bed and getting to his feet, maybe he didn't really tell Grace that he hadn't come home last night.

Yeah right, Hank thought as he began to scan the room with his eyes looking for the spot where he'd thrown his shoes before taking his second shower of the morning, there was no doubt in his mind that Sam told Grace. He knew she would be able to get the information out of him that he himself couldn't and he wasn't above letting him know it either.

Realizing his shoes were nowhere in sight, he frowned. Where the hell did he throw them? He kneeled down to check under the bed then let out a groan when he saw them sticking out from underneath the chair on the other side of the room. He really had to pull himself together. If he went to Sam and Grace's in his current state, she'd have the truth out of him within two seconds of him walking inside the house.

He got back onto his feet then walked over to the chair and sat down, reaching under it to pull out his shoes in the process. He was going to have breakfast with his brother's family, but he was not under any circumstances going to get into a discussion about his love life. He just wasn't going to talk about it.

Satisfied with his decision, he gave a quick nod then pulled on his shoes and grabbed his keys off the table beside him. Maybe she wouldn't even bring it up, he thought opening the door and making his way toward the main house. Maybe he would get lucky and his brother really was just yanking his chain.

Yeah right, Hank scoffed as he stopped in front of the backdoor to his brother's house, and maybe Charity really could see the future. He shook his head then reached down to open the door.

"Hank!" Grace called out from her place at the kitchen stove. "We were just talking about you!"

He groaned then cast a quick glance at his brother, who was sitting at the kitchen table. The look of laughter in Sam's blue eyes clinched what his gut had been telling him all along... he told her.



Gwen laid the contracts down on her desk then raised a hand to her throbbing head. She just couldn't seem to focus this morning. At least she couldn't seem to focus on work anyway. She was too busy focusing on what happened between her and Hank last night. Their 'date' had not turned out the way she had been expecting it too. She had been expecting it to turn out as all their other 'dates' had, but it hadn't. It hadn't because something had changed between them. She knew it stemmed from that kiss she had given him at the book cafe yesterday morning, but she couldn't help thinking that it went back even further than that.

The underlying attraction between them had to have been there before, but neither of them picked up on it. She was getting over a broken heart and Hank... Hank was helping her to mend it. But why? Why had he struck up a friendship with her? Had he always been attracted to her and was waiting for the right time or had he been just as blown away by things as she was? She knew he had been surprised by that slight kiss she had given him at the book cafe, she'd seen it in his eyes, but she couldn't help feeling that he hadn't been as surprised by it as she was.

Releasing a frustrated sigh, she got up from her desk and walked toward the window on the other side of the room, flipping the radio on as she passed it more than ready to get rid of the silence that cloaked her medium sized office. She had to figure out how she felt about the direction her relationship with Hank had taken, but she didn't know how to go about doing it or if she was even ready to do it. She had told Hank she loved him and she knew she meant it, but she also knew she had not be ready to say it. Yet she had said it. Why? Why had she said it aloud when she wasn't even conscious of feeling it?

A song suddenly filled her ears and drew her attention to the radio that sat on the file cabinet to her right. It wasn't a song she particularly needed to hear right now, but she made no move to turn it off. She couldn't have even if she wanted to. It fit with what she was feeling entirely too well.

I think I've already lost you
I think you're already gone.
I think I'm finally scared now
You think I'm weak - But I think you're wrong

I think you're already leaving
Feels like your hand is on the door
I thought this place was an empire
But now I'm relaxed - I can't be sure

Gwen felt the tears start to sting her eyes and reached up to quickly wipe them away. Tears would not help her with her problem. She didn't know what would, but she knew tears would only make her feel ten times worse. She closed her eyes as she listened to the words of the song, feeling like they were trying to tell her something yet not understanding what it was.

I think you're so mean - I think we should try
I think I could need - this in my life
I think I'm just scared - I think too much
I know this is wrong it's a problem I'm dealing

If you're gone - maybe it's time to come home
There's an awful lot of breathing room
But I can hardly move
If you're gone - baby you need to come home
Cuz there's a little bit of something me
In everything in you

Gwen swallowed hard as the song continued to invade her thoughts. Why was it affecting her so much? Why did the words seem to be calling out to her, begging her to understand them? She didn't understand, yet deep down she knew she should. She knew she should understand what the words meant, but somehow her brain wouldn't quite comprehend them.

I bet you're hard to get over
I bet the room just won't shine
I bet my hands I can stay here
I bet you need - more than you mind

I think you're so mean - I think we should try
I think I could need - this in my life
I think I'm just scared - that I know too much
I can't relate and that's a problem
I'm feeling

Scared, she thought the words finally penetrating through her brain. She was scared. She was scared of the feelings wrapping themselves around her heart. She was scared to analyze those feelings almost as scared as she was of feeling them.

If you're gone - maybe it's time to go home
There's an awful lot of breathing room
But I can hardly move
If you're gone - baby you need to come home
cuz there's a little bit of something me
In everything in you

I think you're so mean - I think we should try
I think I could need - this in my life
I think I'm just scared - do I talk too much
I know it's wrong it's a problem I'm dealing

If you're gone - maybe it's time to go home
There's an awful lot of breathing room
But I can hardly move
If you're gone - baby you need to come home
cuz there's a little bit of something me
In everything in you

Ethan and Hank... this song reminded her of both of them. That was the reason for the tears and the feelings coursing through her right now. The song reminded her of the man she'd lost and also the man she'd found. Two men, completely and totally different, yet somehow in her mind, they had become one in the same.

Love, she thought reaching up to wipe away the rest of her tears. The reason they seemed the same was because of that one little word. She had loved Ethan. He had claimed to love her, but then he had broken her heart. It took her months to get over that heartbreak and in some ways she still wasn't over it. And now here she was, six months after her breakup with Ethan and somehow or another she'd fallen in love with Hank, a man who had become her best friend in the weeks following Ethan calling off the wedding and telling her he was in love with another woman.

How did she know it wasn't just a rebound thing? She'd never had her heart broken before so how did she know that what she felt for Hank was real and not something she just felt because he had been there for her through one of the roughest times of her life? It was true that what she felt for Hank was completely different than what she felt for Ethan, but how could she trust it? How could she trust him not to break her heart the way Ethan did?

She trusted Hank with a lot of things, her thoughts, her feelings, her beliefs, but she wasn't at all sure she could trust him with her heart. Then again, it didn't really matter whether or not she could trust him with it, because it was already too late. He'd already managed to steal it and she hadn't even been aware it was missing.



"So Hank," Grace said as she placed his pancakes on the table in front of him. "Sam tells me that you're seeing someone. Is it anyone we know?"

Hank inwardly groaned then sent his obnoxiously grinning older brother a glare. "I think you do, but I don't think I'm ready to discuss it quite yet. It's still a little new and... and I'm just trying to figure things out first."

He watched Sam's eyebrows arch in surprise, but he turned his attention to the pancakes in front of him, not wanting to give Sam an opportunity to ask him what he meant. He knew it would later, but later was much better than now. He just couldn't handle talking about her now. His emotions were still too raw from what happened between them last night and this morning.

He knew what he was feeling was love and he knew that she returned it, but he also knew it scared the hell out of her and kept her from admitting it and letting him admit it too. Hell, maybe neither one of them was ready for what was happening between them. It had snuck up on him just as much as it had snuck up on her.

Sure, he'd gotten the feeling now and again that their relationship went a little beyond the kind that friends have, but before last night it had just been that... a feeling. Now he KNEW it went beyond the friend stage and he was a little out of his element on how to deal with it. If she wasn't so scared about loving someone and being loved back things would be different, easier, but the truth of the matter was, she was scared. She was scared to trust the love he had for her and the love she had for him. Why? Because Ethan Crane was an idiot, he thought feeling the anger at his treatment of Gwen start to rise within him again. The jerk had taken her love for granted and in the end, he'd destroyed her belief in it. How was someone supposed to get over something like that?

He sighed then frowned when he looked up and met his brother's inquisitive blue-eyed stare. Just great, he thought shaking his head, the last thing he needed was for Sam to go into cop mode and start asking him a hundred different questions. He averted his eyes from Sam's then reached down to pick up the glass of milk that Grace had set in front of him. He took a healthy sip then sat it back down onto the table and began to finish off the pancakes that Grace had sat in front of him. He didn't really taste them at all, but he knew he had to eat them because if he didn't then Sam and Grace would both start asking him questions and a double team by well meaning family members was the last thing on earth he needed right now. He was asking himself enough questions already. He certainly didn't need anyone else's to add to his list.

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