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More Than Friends / Friends to Lovers - Age gap - Slow Burn

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A cliché romance with age gap, friends to lovers and slow burn. Eva and Luke have always been good best friends with each other. The fact that he was a little older never prevented him from speaking the same language as Eva, after all, he had been a teenager at one time. Luke had never had eyes for her other than a good, protective friend. But, one night, everything changes when he finally realizes that his best friend is no longer a teenager, but a woman who hides burning feelings for him. Is it possible to live a love without losing friendship? Or still have friendship after losing love? This is a sweet, light and romantic story that will make you sigh in love with spicy scenes and captivating characters.

Prologue

Luke

“Berry ice cream for you and chocolate for me.”

“Why do you always want the chocolate ice cream?” I asked smiling.

“For the same reason that you always get the berry ice cream.” she smiled and handed me the cone with two ice cream scoops. She sat by my side at the bench in the town square. I can’t believe this is our last summer before I go to college.”

“You are going to like it. You are going to have the time of your life, believe me.”

“Hmm... I don’t know. What if I don’t like being far away from home? Especially, far away from you.”

“You are going to like Boston. You are going to make new friends and next summer you will be back home. Let’s not forget about the holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Easter.”

“Are you always going to answer when I call you?”

I looked at her and I saw apprehension in her eyes or was it fear?

“This isn’t going to change, Eva. You and me, we are never going to change.”

Her smile widens. Her eyes, which were like two clear emerald stones, got brighter because of the sunset light that made her blond hair gold.

***

I’ve met Eva when she was eight years old, and I was eighteen. It was the summer before I went to college, after my graduation at school. My father had made me work at his company during the three hottest months of the year. According to him, I had to know where the money that would pay my studies came from, before I thought about partying in New York. He was right and it worked. I studied hard and graduated with honors, but it didn’t stop me to enjoy the college life.

It was the end of a tiring day; it was past seven at night and I was still checking a pile of contracts to make sure that all of them were signed by my father. I leaned on my chair and stretched my arms over my head, trying to stretch my back too, because it hurts.

I took a deep breath and felt tired. I loosened the tie that was now, too tight and then I heard my stomach growl with hunger. I realized it was time for me to stop and find something to eat fast, I would have to be back at work before my father came back screaming and calling me lazy, letting me know once more about all the privileges that I’ve always had.

I stood up from my small cubicle, walked through the dark hallways to the elevators. I pressed the button and got my cellphone from my pocket to check my lost massages from the last few hours, that’s when I heard a song being sang by a child. And that got my attention.

I followed the music that came from the reception, and I found a little girl in her school uniform. She was sitting on the floor, on her heels and she had her books open on the coffee table. She was probably doing her homework.

“Hey.” I got her attention. She stopped singing and looked scared at me. “What are you doing here this late, young lady? Who are your parents?

“I don’t speak with strangers.” she answered harshly.

I laughed and got closer.

“You just did.” I mocked and she glared at me. It was too late; it was past dinner time. Surely, she was hungry. Poor girl.

“You must be hungry. I’m going out to eat a hot dog, do you want to go with me? I must be back in twenty minutes; I bring you back.”

“I’m not going out with you; I don’t know you.”

Of course, she wouldn’t go anywhere with me. I was strange. She didn’t know that I only had good intentions. She was right. You can’t trust strangers, especially a strange man.

“You are right. You are a smart girl. So, that’s what I’m going to do: I will go out, I’ll get our snacks and I’ll come back here to eat with you, is it ok?” she wasn’t sure, and I waited a few seconds before she nodded. “Ok, I’ll be back.”

I got the elevator to the ground floor and ran on the sidewalk as soon as I left the building to find the hot dog cart on the corner.

“Two please.” I asked as I handed him four dollars.

“I’ll do it right away, sr.”

The man who was attending the people gave me the snacks. I hurried back to the mirrored office building. When I left the elevator, I found the girl sitting at the same place.

“I’m back.” I gave her hot dog and sat in front of her at the other side of the table.

“Thank you.” she licked her lips and ate up her hotdog, the tip of her nose got dirty with some mustard.

“What would your mother say about accepting food from a stranger?”

She stopped chewing and stared at me with wide eyes, spitting out the piece of food in her mouth.

“I’m kidding. It’s a joke.” I laughed. “There is only sauce in your hot dog. I swear!” I promised her and looked at her eyes, so she knew I was being honest.

“Eva?” I turned my face and saw Arthur Wangoria coming to us holding his briefcase and jacket in his left hand. “Oh! Luke. How are you? Are you still here, boy?

“Yep, I still have a pile of contracts waiting for me.”

“I see that you’ve met my daughter.”

“She is a polite girl, and she sings very well.” I looked at her and smiled. She thanked the compliment by giving me a shy smile.

“She got it from her grandmother.” he let out a hallow laugh, trying to be nice, something that he wasn’t. “We have to go, sweetie, your mother has been calling, we are late for diner.”

“Alright.” she answered as she stood up and gave me back the snack.

“No, it’s yours. You may eat on your way home.”

She looked at her father to get his approval.

“It’s better not. Your mother won’t be happy about you eat junk food.”

Embarrassed, she hands me the hot dog again, and this time, I take it.

“Thank you.”

“You are welcome, Eva. Maybe someday we eat another hot dog.” I smiled kindly.

“Ok.”

She grabbed her books and pens quickly and followed her father to the elevator. I was sorry for that little girl. We all knew how troubled their parents' marriage was and that Arthur had several affairs with his secretaries.

I wondered how her life at home was. She is just a child. I remembered how sad it was to see my parents arguing only once. I can’t imagine it every day.

I came back to my cubicle and kept working after eating. A few days later, I saw Eva again. Just like the night that we’ve first met, she was sitting at reception doing her homework as she waited for her father. And I always found her like that, forgotten around the office, waiting for Arthur or someone else who could take her home.

“Hey.”

“Hey, Eva! How was summer class today?” I turned on my chair to look at her who was standing on my cubicle.

“It was terrible.” She smiled.

“Do you need help with your homework?”

“No. I will do it at home. My mother said that she will come get me as soon as she leave the court.”

“Nice. Do you want to have lunch?”

“Nope. My father asked me not to leave the building.”

“I know how to fix that. What if we leave a message with your father’ secretary. So, when he is not busy, he will know where you are and with whom.” I held out my hand to her. “Let’s go, Eva. I need to eat, and it is one in the afternoon already.”

She looked around and looked at my outstretched hand, before grabbing it.

“Ok.”

After we let Arthur’ secretary know where we would be, we left the building, going to my car that was parked across the street. We went to a pizza place near there and ordered a big pepperoni pizza. Fat dripped from our hands and our mouths were dirty with oil and sauce. We ate like two desperate hungry people, laughing at our mess.

“Luke?”

I turned to looked and saw Allison, my ex-girlfriend.

“Hey Alisson.”

“Wow, you look different in a suit.”

I forced a smile and looked again at the food in my hands.

“The boys told me that you are going to New York.”

“Yeah, I’m going.”

“Nice.” she said awkwardly. “New friend?” she looked at Eva.

“Yeah, this is Eva.”

“Hi.” Eva greeted.

“You are very cute.” Allison complemented Eva.

“Thank you.”

“Well... I just wanted to say hi and know how you are.”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“Ok, I must go. I see you around then.”

“I’m not sure. I’m going to college in two weeks, and I’ve been working a lot.”

“May we can go out for an ice cream later?”

“It won’t be possible. I’m already taking Eva for an ice cream later.” Allison looked at Eva as if waiting for confirmation.

“It’s true, we are going.” Eva confirmed my lie and smiled at me.

“Okay, I’m going. Have fun with your new friend.” she replied ironically and left us.

“Thanks, Eva.”

“You are welcome.” she laughed. “I think she is upset."

“She will get over it.” I winked at her.

“Were you dating?” she mocked.

I laughed.

“Yeah, but she broke up with me before prom. She said she didn’t want a long-term relationship since we are going to different universities.” I explained even though I though Eva was too young to understand the complicated end of my three years relationship.

I really loved Alisson, but how and the reason of the end of our relationship was not convincing, we’ve talked about going to college, we had it settle. We were going to see each other during the summer and the holidays. But she came over my house and told me that she couldn’t deal with the long distance, telling me that she would be insecure.

‘What the funk! Insecurities? What else should I do so that she could believe that I love her?’

I’ve made plans for the future, and she knew about all of them. However, at the end of the summer she started to send me some messages telling me that she missed me. I also missed her, but I thought it was better if everything stayed as it was now.

“Distance shouldn’t be a problem to be with whoever you love.”

I was surprised, even though Eva was young she was more conscious about love than Allison was.

“You know what, Eva? You and I will be great friends forever.

“My mother says that forever is a long time.”

I smiled.

“Yep, so we will be friends for a long time.

I held out the palm of my greasy hand in her direction to a hi-five, which she accepted causing a loud, cracking noise.

“Finish eating and I will take you to eat the best ice cream in town.”

“Where?”

“At the park.”

“My favorite is chocolate.”

“Mine is berry.”

Chapter 1

Eva

“You naughty girl! Who wears such a dress to go to the park for an ice cream?”

“Stop, Ellen! You know that Luke and I are just friends. And my cleavage is not that low-cut.” I covered the V-neckline of the dress with my hand.

I was sitting at my study table as I talked on skype with my friend who was travelling through Europe with her parents.

“Friend? Yeah... I know... Have you told him about Michael?”

“Nope.”

“I don’t understand, don’t you tell each other ‘Everything’?” she did the quotation mark using her fingers. “You tell each other everything, but you are afraid to tell him about the tattoo and also about losing your virginity on the fourth of July.”

“I think he will be angry about the tattoo, and I don’t want him to get angry.”

“Has he ever gotten angry with you?” she asked dismissively.

“Yep! And it wasn’t cool.” I looked down remembering the fateful day when I saw

Heroes

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