4-EVER THEIRS

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“Stop. Stop. I’m going to pee my pants.” Andi Miller gasped between bouts of hysterical laughter. She swiped tears from her cheeks as her three obnoxiously adorable roommates demonstrated their best attempts at twerking from various places around their kitchen.

Sadly, Simon could definitely shake his ass better than she could. He put on quite a show
from his perch atop their rickety table, threatening to turn it into kindling with sharp
swings of his hips. The guy could easily have paid his portion of the rent and then some if
he’d gotten a job as a go-go dancer.

“We’re only trying to help.” Cooper punched Simon in the leg then grappled him to the
floor. If she didn’t act fast, this could deteriorate into another of their infamous wrestling
matches. The last one of those had resulted in the annihilation of a beanbag chair. She was
still discovering tiny foam beads scattered throughout their apartment months later.

“I mean, it’s not like you’ve come out of your room long enough to pick up any of our
moves in the past four years, with all that studying you insisted on doing. You don’t want
to get embarrassed on the floor tonight, do you?” Reed asked as he simulated humping a
cabinet.

Well, that wouldn’t be a problem, seeing as she hadn’t quite told them the truth about
her destination for the evening. Dance club, hook-up spot—same difference, right?

Their over-protectiveness made her white lie necessary.

Besides, she owed them the same courtesy they showed her when it came to keeping
their sex lives separate from their home lives.

The guys never brought women to the apartment. Or at least they hadn’t in ages. Not
since early in the first semester of their freshman year when one of their one-night stands—
to this day, they wouldn’t tell her which of them had slept with the poor girl—had tried
to make herself some morning-after breakfast and ended up with a black eye courtesy of
Andi’s fist.

Hey, how was she supposed to have known it wasn’t an intruder out there whipping up a
frittata before absconding into the night with their meager college-grade possessions? Milk
crate furniture might be hot on the black market for all Andi knew. If some of the oomph
propelling her swing had actually been fueled by jealousy instead of fear, she’d hidden that
pathetic fact as best she could from both herself and her roommates.

Ruining their friendships wasn’t on her agenda. She wasn’t the sort of girl who knew
how to screw around then act like sex had been no big deal. Though she had chemistry with
each of her roommates, how awkward would it have been to have followed through on it
and slept with one of them?

Takeout and movie nights with the others would never have been the same.

Andi admitted it. She was sheltered as fuck. Though her vocabulary had gotten a hell of
a lot more colorful as a result of her co-habbing with this trio of idiots for the past four years,
she hadn’t done a lot of exploring relationship-wise. After all, she spent most of her free
time with Cooper, Reed and Simon. Who would approach her with those three hovering
over her, snarling and baring their teeth at any guy who got too close?

God, she was going to miss them.

The thought of giving up their second-to-last Saturday night together had her rethinking
her plans. Except this might be her last chance to eliminate her regrets about not having a
single fling during her college experience. It would help round out her academic studies and
the rewarding social experiment living with three dudes had turned out to be.

This was supposed to be her training ground for the real world.

Now that she’d accomplished the majority of her goals—by graduating at the top of
her class and scoring a prime position in her field—maybe she could make some time to
fill the emptiness growing inside her as she accepted that she’d be forging out on her own
soon. The lack of a relationship hadn’t bothered her so much when she’d had school and her
roommates’ friendship to occupy her.

All of that was changing.

So was she.

Andi wanted to be ready for what came next.

“Was it that good for you?” Simon flashed a wicked smile as he teased her.

“Huh?” She snapped herself out of her daze.

“Our dancing.”

“Oh, yeah. Definitely. It was so hot I need to go take a shower.” She rolled her eyes and
giggled some more as she abandoned the kitchen for their shared bathroom. If she was
sweating a little, it was surely from nerves over what she was about to do, not because they’d
affected her.

Sure.

She scrubbed herself then spent a while drying and curling her hair before applying
what dashes of makeup she owned—a bit of mascara and some nude lip gloss. The whole time, she kept wondering what tonight might be like if she could spend it with someone she
knew and trusted instead of gambling on a blind date set up by her well-meaning chemistry
lab partner.

Andi bit her lip then harrumphed and fixed the damage, at least mentally reminding
herself not to rub her eyes before she could wreck them too. She sighed then rested her
forehead on the door, praying for some direction. Was she making a mistake? Or would it
be an even bigger one to pursue the foolish ideas tempting her to feel out her roommates
about her proposition?

Before she could make up her mind, a rap on the door rattled her brains.

“Ouch. Fuck.” She stumbled back.

“Yo, Andi. Quit hogging. I drank three beers with dinner, and I gotta piss,” Reed
groaned. “I forgot what it’s like to wait on someone trying to be girly.”

Aaaaaaaaand… That sealed the deal.

They were too much like brothers to ever see her as a woman. Which was exactly how
she’d wanted things while they lived together. She grinned as she opened the door.

Reed squashed past her in the doorway, wedging them together when he froze. “Damn.
Uh, you look…great.”

“The magic of wearing something other than sweats and one of your roommates’ old
shirts sans a bra.” She shrugged.

“I kind of prefer the no-bra part.” Simon waggled his brows from where he scarfed
another helping of now-cold pizza for second dinner.

When she turned to him with a smile, he paused mid-bite.

“What?” Andi finger-combed her hair as she stepped from the bathroom so Reed could
relieve himself in peace. Not that the guys didn’t invade her privacy often when she was
in the shower, or vice versa. The trials of a single bathroom for four people had absolutely
played a part in her collegiate years.

“I told you,” Reed shouted through the door.

“They’re right. You’re hot.” Cooper took her hand and spun her around. “I’m not sure
we should let you go out like this, young lady.”

“Whatever, Dad.” She chuckled until he finished twirling her, though it hadn’t entirely
been a joke. With her parents both gone, these guys had stepped up and filled a huge, painful
void as best they could. They were, and always would be, her family.

In the heels Andi had borrowed, she was closer to Cooper’s height. Meeting his warm
stare, she caught the spark of something serious there.

Could he actually be attracted to her?

She knew each of them appealed to her in various ways—Cooper’s gentlemanliness and tact, Simon’s playfulness and daring, Reed’s sense of responsibility and control.

As if a sliver of possibility was the only prompt her subconscious required, she blurted
the thoughts that had been haunting her for the past hour. Okay, longer than that. At least
since she’d agreed to this outing. Probably since the day she co-signed their lease.

“Maybe you guys should come out too?” She prided herself on the fact that she only
stammered a little when she said, “Or I could stay home and we could have a private party
instead.”

Simon blinked at her, the pizza still lodged half-inside his mouth.
Cooper’s fingers tightened around hers. His other hand landed at her waist to steady
her. But he didn’t say anything.

The door opening behind her broke the moment, forcing them apart.

Reed emerged as the toilet finished flushing in the background. It was as if her silly
dreams circled the bowl then vanished down their clanky pipes when he grimaced. “What’s
that? Don’t back out now. You’ve been looking forward to tonight all week. It’s about time
you cut loose. On your own. You’ve earned this.”

“Oh. Okay.” If they noticed the tremble in her faux smile, they didn’t call her on it.

Andi decided to quit fucking around. Playing a game where she didn’t know the rules
was a sure way to lose. Reed was right. She had to learn to stand on her own, without
leaning on them. Because in a matter of days, they wouldn’t be part of her everyday existence
anymore.

Graduation was a week away.

Her new life, the one where she’d be a lab tech in a prestigious pharmaceutical research
firm—one that didn’t include her roommates—was calling.

“Go ahead. Have fun,” Simon said around a mouthful of pepperoni. “Besides, we’ve
already—”

Cooper cleared his throat, but it was too late. She realized they must have dates. Of
course they did.

“Hey, you’ll be fine,” he promised. He looked away before adding, “You don’t need us.”

Andi swallowed around the lump in her throat. She took a step forward and then
another before grabbing her wristlet and keys out of the bowl at the end of the countertop.
If she was going to do this, she couldn’t linger. Otherwise, she’d never convince herself to
leave.

“Be safe!” Reed shouted as she closed the door softly behind her, determined not to let
the stinging of her eyes turn into real tears and screw up her mascara.

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