“What are you smiling about?” Billy questioned. “More to the point, who are you texting with?”
I put my phone down and glanced at my brother. “I’m texting my friend, Neil. He’s in New York at the moment for work.”
Billy tilted his head. “Neil? Neil? I don’t recall you mentioning a Neil before.”
“He’s a new friend,” I said as I plucked up a sushi roll before dipping it in some soy sauce.
Billy waggled his eyebrows. “A special friend?”
I smirked. “No, he’s just a regular friend. But I love talking to him. He’s so prim and proper, so easy to rile. I have great fun teasing him.”
“Interesting,” Billy said with a knowing little smile.
“You fancy him.”
“No, I don’t,” I said, then paused to think about it. “Well, I do think he’s cute and handsome, but not in a way that makes me want to jump into bed with him. Besides, he’s besotted with this bitch called Annabelle, so—”
“A bitch called Annabelle,” Billy mused. “It gets better. You definitely fancy him.”
“I haven’t finished talking, have I? I called her a bitch because she works in a gym and makes fun of overweight people when they’re working out. I went to her gym on one of those free day passes and saw her doing it with my own two eyes.”
Billy laughed loudly. “My god, you have it bad. What were you playing at going to her place of work? Were you spying?”
“Well, yes, but it’s not what you think. You know my friend Michaela who works for the Running on Air TV show?”
Billy nodded, still with that annoying smile on his face.
“Neil and Michaela work together. That’s how I met him. At first, he found me annoying and I found him dull, but when we got to know each other better, we both changed our minds. Well, I changed my mind. Neil might still find me annoying, but he suffers it because I’m helping him out.”
“How are you helping him?”
“I’m helping him to become more confident, and that has a lot to do with Annabelle. I can’t tell you all the details because it’s Neil’s business, but Annabelle doesn’t actually know Neil’s true identity. He’s been catfishing her. I promised him I’d help him come clean to Annabelle, but the more I learn about her, the more I don’t think she’s right for him.”
“Are you sure this Neil fella’s a good bloke? Catfishing is a bit shady, especially in this day and age.”
“Like I said, I can’t tell you all the details, but if you knew how it all came about, you’d actually feel sorry for him. He didn’t intentionally set out to catfish her. It’s complicated. And I think he was a little lonely at the time. But the person he’s pretending to be is the exact opposite of Neil, which makes things even worse. If Annabelle is the vain, narcissistic type I suspect she is, then she could break Neil’s heart when she sees the real him.”
Billy took a sip of his drink. “Poor bloke.”
“I have a plan, though. I’m going to try and set him up with someone else before he ever gets the chance to meet Annabelle.”
Billy’s smirk re-emerged. “And would this someone else happen to be you?”
I rolled my eyes. “No, I’m not setting him up with me. I already told you I don’t fancy him. I’m going to find him a nice, kind, pretty lady. Someone who will appreciate what a gem he is.”
“Sure, sure,” Billy said, clearly not believing me for a second.
I frowned as I focused on my food. Did I fancy Neil? Was that why I felt so passionate about keeping him away from Annabelle? I mean, I did think he was handsome, and as had already been established, he had a fantastic backside that I enjoyed ogling. But it wasn’t just how he looked. I liked Neil’s personality on a fundamental level. I looked forward to talking to him at the end of each day, hearing his opinions and takes on things, and arguing with him when I disagreed.
Even sitting here now, it was hours until our video call, and I was already wishing those hours away. Had chatting and watching period dramas with Neil somehow become the highlight of my day?
Ah, hell, maybe Billy was onto something after all.
A soft, delicate hand ran down my bare stomach, and my gut swam with desire. She laughed softly, and it vibrated through me, lighting me up from the inside out. Her hand went lower, taking me fully into her grasp. I turned over, and a flash of blue hair filled my vision. I threw my head back as she fisted me, pumping once, twice …
When I glanced at her again, her hair was no longer blue, but blonde, and now she was lowering herself down my body, tugging at the waistband of my jeans …