He realized he was staring and that Lucas was watching him. To head off any questions, he motioned to Candy. “Remind me again how you got a classy lady like that to marry the likes of you.”

A slow smile crossed Lucas’ face. T.S. had never seen his friend as happy as he’d been these past few months. “I got lucky. She does look good, doesn’t she?” The way Lucas was watching his wife, T.S. knew he was already anticipating his wedding night.

T.S. studied Candy with a dispassionate eye. Yeah, she was good-looking if you liked curvy women with spicy brown hair. Her unruly hair was currently bundled up on top of her head in some updo that seemed to defy gravity. The off-white, calf-length dress emphasized her curves, yet managed to look demure at the same time. Quite an accomplishment.

But it was the woman standing next to Candy with her head thrown back, and a husky laugh coming from her parted lips that made his cock come to attention. Made him imagine those lips around that part of his anatomy. “Yeah, she does.” And he wasn’t talking about the bride.

He was happy for his friend. Truly he was. Lucas had been scarred by his past and Candy had been able to heal him, to make him smile again. For that reason alone, he’d always be grateful to her. That also put her on the short list of friends he’d do anything for. The list was now expanded from one person to two.

Not wanting to get too deep on such a day, he changed the subject. “Ready to start the new project tomorrow?”

Lucas laughed. “Maybe the day after. I think I’ll be busy tomorrow.” The hot glance he sent his new wife left no doubt in T.S.’ mind what his friend planned to be doing tomorrow.

“Okay, the day after then.”

Lucas owned the building he lived in. His store—Coffee Breaks—was housed on the bottom floor and his home was on the top one. The original plan had been to put offices in on the second, but that plan had changed once Candy had come onto the scene.

Part of the second floor had already been converted into a weight room and guest suite. The other half was going to be made into a small apartment for Candy’s long lost brother Justin Logan. Now there was a man with secrets. But as T.S. didn’t want anyone asking questions about his past, he kept his thoughts and questions to himself. Justin did the same and they got along rather well. Justin would be helping with the renovations.

T.S.’ contracting company had handled all the renovations on the building to date. But the apartment was a small, personal project. He was working on it himself with Justin, but he’d moved his crews to another major job. He’d supervise them in between working on the apartment. He preferred to be onsite with his crews but he was making an exception in this case. Plus he had his foreman Max handling the new job. And Max had been with him since the beginning. He trusted him to take care of business.

Candy hurried over to her husband’s side and Lucas’ arm went around her waist, pulling her closer to his side. It was a natural gesture, one he knew his friend didn’t even think about. For a brief moment, he was jealous. What would it be like to love someone that much? His momentary envy was quickly followed by shame. Lucas deserved to be happy.

And you don’t? a small voice questioned in his head. He ignored that voice, as he always did. He was happy just as he was, thank you very much. He didn’t need a woman. Not permanently. But he sure as hell wouldn’t mind a few hot nights messing up the sheets with Candy’s best friend.

Might not be the smartest move in the world, but he wouldn’t turn it down if the opportunity arose. Maybe then the dark-skinned, sloe-eyed beauty would stop haunting his waking and sleeping dreams.

He tracked Missy around the room as she stopped to chat with Katie and Cain Benjamin. Now there was an unlikely pair. Katie, an artist and former employee of Lucas, was friendly and approachable. Her husband was a huge guy, topping about six-eight. Scars on one side of his face gave him a menacing appearance. He was generally reclusive, not at all like his outgoing wife, but T.S. liked them both.

Missy laughed at something Katie said, the sultry sound snaking over his skin. Even Cain smiled at her. Missy was like a peacock surrounded by a bunch of doves, a flash of color in an otherwise bland landscape.

“T.S.?” He glanced down and found Candy’s hand on his arm and a frown on her face.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

She laughed. “I thanked you for coming, for standing up for Lucas.”

He patted her hand. “As I told him, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.” He raised his bottle in salute. “May you always be as happy as you are at this moment.”

Candy beamed at him and her smile widened when she gazed up at her husband. That was one man who was going to get lucky tonight.

The collar of his dress shirt was suddenly choking T.S. He reached up and loosened his tie. Pulling the thin material away, he tucked it in his pocket and opened the top button of his shirt. He hated wearing the damn things and had only done so for Candy’s sake. For some unknown reason women seemed to prefer a man in a tie. The tuxedo pants, jacket and shoes were uncomfortable as all get out. Give him a good pair of faded jeans, a T-shirt and work boots any day of the week. He didn’t know how men worked day after day in these monkey suits.

“You should mingle,” Candy told him. “Have something to eat.”

His eyes automatically sought out the loaded buffet table. And what do you know? Missy was headed that way. “I think I will.” He leaned down and kissed the bride’s cheek. “Take care of him,” T.S. whispered in Candy’s ear.

“I will,” she promised.

And he believed her. Candy had gone through a lot to get Lucas. She’d done what few women would have been brave enough to do. She’d gotten past the thick barriers his friend had constructed around his heart. No mean feat.

Giving Lucas a mock salute, he wandered toward the buffet. He stopped and spoke with Denise, a very happily married woman who worked for Lucas at the coffee shop, and her husband Don. Denise had supplied him with many a cups of coffee while he’d been working on the upstairs sections of the building these past few months.

He nodded to Katie and Cain as they headed toward the bride and groom.

All the while he chatted, he kept one eye on Missy, moving ever closer to his target. He was hungry, but what he wanted wasn’t on the menu. T.S.’ mouth watered at the thought of finding out what was beneath that snug dress Missy was wearing. He wanted to lick her dark skin as he peeled away her clothing, piece by piece. Discover all her secrets.

Was she wearing thigh-high stockings or pantyhose? Did she favor bikini panties or thongs? She could be wearing granny panties but he didn’t think so. Not that it mattered. It was a fallacy that men really cared about such things. All that really mattered to a guy was that his woman would let him take the damn things off. Men were simple and basic when it came to things like sex. But there was something about Missy that screamed fancy lingerie.

What color would her nipples be? Rosy beige or light brown? Would they be small or large?

The pants he was wearing went to a whole other level of uncomfortable as his cock stood at attention. He was glad the damn jacket helped cover the telltale bulge.

“Hell of a party.” He picked up an empty plate and began to fill it from the various offerings.

“It was a wonderful ceremony.” The low, sultry sound of Missy’s voice wrapped around him, making him fantasize about long summer nights and hot sex. Heck, he’d take a cool fall night, a cold winter one or a wet spring evening. He wasn’t picky.

This close, they were at eye-level. Missy might have been a smidge taller than he was in those killer shoes of hers. He didn’t mind at all. She’d be a perfect fit for him in the bedroom. Their bodies would align perfectly when they hit the mattress.

He’d always felt awkward and clumsy around smaller women, afraid he’d hurt them with his passion. That wouldn’t be a problem with Missy. She’d be able to handle him. Easily.

And it was time to change his train of thought before he really embarrassed himself.

“They look good together.” He motioned with his head toward Lucas and Candy who were currently dancing to the soulful music seeping from the stereo speakers.

“They really do,” she agreed. She broke off a piece of brownie and popped it into her mouth. “I knew he was something special the first time he brought Candy brownies at work. These things are incredible.”

T.S. watched, totally enthralled as Missy chewed slowly, her eyes taking on a dreamy appearance before she finally swallowed. A low moan came from deep in her throat. “Oh yeah, these are deadly.”

His muscles tightened and he had the urge to punch his best friend for making the damn brownies. He wanted to draw such a sound from Missy’s lips. Not that he wanted anything permanent. But he sure as hell wouldn’t mind getting Missy out of his system. She’d haunted his nights and fantasies long enough.

He frowned, not liking where his thoughts were heading. No one had control over him. Ever. Not since he was eighteen. It had been a woman then who’d helped orchestrate his downfall.

No, he reminded himself. He’d done it by being stupid enough to believe she wanted him. Lorna was the sister of his brother’s girlfriend and he’d lusted for her as only a teenage boy could. That was the reason he’d been in the car that fateful night. He’d been thrilled that his brother had let him drive the beat-up, shit box of a car he’d owned. Stupid.

He shoved aside the memories. God, they were so long ago but they still haunted him. He put down the plate, his hunger suddenly gone.