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Winning My Best Friend’s Girl

Imagine lying in a hospital bed and the doctor who pulls the curtain back to treat you is the one who got away. Even if you never really had her in the first place. She’s not only your high school crush, she’s the ex-girlfriend of your ex-best friend. The one girl you’ve always wanted.

Here’s a step-by-step list to finally win her over…

Key to win #1: Try not to take offense that she snuck back into town without telling you—six months ago.

Key to win #2: Rekindle the friendship to ease the awkwardness. But… DO NOT enter the friend zone.

Key to win #3: Ignore the fact that she went speed dating the night before. Take it as good a sign—maybe she’s looking for a relationship.

Key to win #4: Attempt to keep the two of you out of the town gossip blog and away from your large family.

Make sure you don’t let this last one throw you off your mission.

Key to win #5: Don’t get deterred when you find out the past is about to repeat itself. Because the man she met at the speed dating night is your best buddy from work.

Just remember, you sat back and let her slip away once, you won’t do it a second time. Failure is not an option.

 

Winning My Best Friend’s Girl by Piper Rayne is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

SUMMARY

BImagine lying in a hospital bed and the doctor who pulls the curtain back to treat you is the one who got away. Even if you never really had her in the first place. She’s not only your high school crush, she’s the ex-girlfriend of your ex-best friend. The one girl you’ve always wanted.

Here’s a step-by-step list to finally win her over…

Key to win #1: Try not to take offense that she snuck back into town without telling you—six months ago.

Key to win #2: Rekindle the friendship to ease the awkwardness. But… DO NOT enter the friend zone.

Key to win #3: Ignore the fact that she went speed dating the night before. Take it as good a sign—maybe she’s looking for a relationship.

Key to win #4: Attempt to keep the two of you out of the town gossip blog and away from your large family. Make sure you don’t let this last one throw you off your mission.

Key to win #5: Don’t get deterred when you find out the past is about to repeat itself. Because the man she met at the speed dating night is your best buddy from work.

Just remember, you sat back and let her slip away once, you won’t do it a second time. Failure is not an option.

Book 8 in the Baileys Series

Author: Piper Rayne

Kingston

I’m an easygoing guy. Not a lot gets under my skin.

My dad was a man of many quotes. At least when it came to me. Looking back, I think it’s because I was the sensitive one in the family.

He’d say he wasn’t clever enough to come up with them on his own, so he never recited one without giving the author credit.

“Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else,” by Vince Lombardi, was his favorite to use when I was struggling.

Didn’t matter if it was sports or academics, he’d say that quote to me. I didn’t figure out the meaning until years after his death, and even then, my oldest brother, Austin, had to explain it to me.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t fight the battle because I was more afraid of losing something than winning something. I promised myself I’d never make that mistake again.

Which is most likely why the battles I pick now are fires. Whether I’m jumping out of a plane and parachuting into a forest fire, or carrying someone out of a burning house, I always win.

These fights feel safer than the ones that could break my heart.

Lou climbs into the firetruck right after me, sitting across the way. The sirens go off as the truck rolls out of the station.

Lou and I attended the fire academy at the same time—which was right around the time I lost my childhood best friend and the girl I love.

“Romeo, tell your sister thanks for me,” he says, winking.

A woman once referred to me as her knight in shining armor after I used the Jaws of Life to free her from a wrecked car. She’d plowed her car over an embankment because she was intoxicated.

But it was her repeatedly asking me to be her Romeo that earned me a nickname that makes most people—and by people, I mean women—think I’m a player. I’m not, in case you’re wondering.

“Why is that?”

“For the blind speed dating thing she’s doing over at Tipsy Turvy.” His perma-smile says he met someone.

“Oh, yeah, I missed that. I had to work.”

Lou’s eyebrows raise. “Is that what we’re calling it? Work?”

Monk blares the siren because people are shitty and can’t take a second to pull their car to the side of the road for us to get through.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I glance out the window because I’m in a crappy mood. Lou is riding high after his speed dating night and I just don’t feel like hearing about it.

I’m a shitty friend.

“Proby wan Kenobi was at the hospital and overheard Samantha talking about a date you two went on.”

I roll my eyes. Samantha’s a flirt, and yeah, I went out with her because I was horny. I know that’s not a noble thing to say, but my dick is starting to get excited any time it sees my hand.

Doesn’t matter though. Nothing happened.

“We went out,” I admit.

“And?”

Lou’s the kiss-and-tell guy. I’m not. “Nothing. We had some drinks.”

For most of the night, Samantha and I discussed this Adventure Alaska Expedition she’s interested in.

I guess she does Spartan races all the time and the next thing she wants to conquer is some seven-day adventure race where you’re with three other people and have to navigate with only physical maps.

I will say her excitement, and adrenaline, is a high for me. She didn’t wince when we talked about me heli-skiing and speed riding down a mountain.

She said it sounded thrilling and she’d love to go sometime. The fact that she loves crazy shit like I do upped her attractive level by ten.

“Bullshit,” he says. “I’m not asking for specifics, but a ‘I banged her over the kitchen table’ would suffice.”

“Jesus, Lunchbox, one day you’re gonna meet a woman who will make you second-guess sharing all the details,” Greasy says, shaking his head from the seat beside us.

Lunchbox is Lou’s nickname because the man eats all the shit out of the fridge. Lou’s the one always asking if he can have one fry or if you’re going to eat all that.

He’s lucky his side job of carpentry helps him keep the weight off.

Lou flips off Greasy. “We’re not all married with fifty kids.”

“That’s offensive,” I say with a grin.

Greasy only has five kids, though they’re all under six, so when they visit the fire station, it’s like a daycare—but the sappy love look on his face when his exhausted wife walks through the garage doors is pretty awesome.

I guess he won his battle.

Lou waves off my comment.  “Your parents had nine kids, not you.” We sit in silence for maybe a minute because Lou hates quiet. “Aren’t you gonna ask me?”

“Ask you what?”

Now he’s the one sporting the insulted look. “The girl from speed dating. Your sister didn’t tell you?”

“No, she lives with Colton now. She’s moved out.”

He nods as though he didn’t remember.

“So she’s amazing,” he says without me asking for more information or really paying attention.

I love the guy, but this is same old, same old for him. This girl will have morphed into a blood-seeking piranha by next week. As much as I don’t do relationships, Lou thinks he wants one. He doesn’t.

He just wants regular sex.

“Okay, boys, hate to interrupt the locker room talk, but we have a fire to fight,” Captain says from up front as we pull up to a burning apartment building.

The fire isn’t out of control yet by the looks of it, but it will be if we don’t get in there.

“We’re first on the scene. Since you’re so chatty, Lunchbox, you get to go in first with Romeo behind you. Greasy, you get the hose connected…”

The Captain continues to rattle off responsibilities, and we file out of the fire truck.

After getting our gear together and pulling out our axes, Lou and I head in to investigate the fire. My adrenaline kicks into overdrive the closer we get to the building.

Once we’re inside the smoke-filled stairway, Lou talks again. “So this girl, she’s like no other girl I’ve ever met. She’s smart and gorgeous. She thinks I’m funny.”

“Then she must be a keeper,” Captain says over the radio. “Concentrate on the fire.”

Lou kicks in the door of the first apartment, and we walk through, scouring the rooms for people who might be trapped or too afraid to run.

“Tank is coming in now with Greasy,” Captain tells us.

I press the button for my radio. “Apartment one is clear. Filled with smoke, no flame.”

“We went to the bar for drinks afterward. Turns out she was there once before when I was, but we must not have written each other down because we didn’t connect,” Lou says as we walk up the stairs to the second floor.

“Cool.”

“I’m thinking of taking her to your brother’s restaurant,” he says.

“Why would you come to Lake Starlight?” I ask.

“This is the type of woman you wine and dine, not take to Tipsy Turvy to play darts and drink beer.”

“I’m not sure any woman is the kind who’d prefer to be taken to Tipsy Turvy on a first date. That’s more of a ‘we’ve been dating for a while and there’s a big game on, want to go for wings and a beer’ kind of thing.”

I head to the stairs to climb up another floor.

“Are you dissing my game? I’ve got better game than you.”

“Captain, I’m not sure this building is occupied. Every apartment is bare of furniture,” Tank says over the radio.

“Hold on. I’ve got Sergeant Blecker,” Captain says.

I stop on the stairwell in case our instructions change.

“You’re right, the place is empty. Shift our search for the source at this point.”

Tank and Greasy follow us up the stairs. “We’ll go to three,” they say, walking by us as we stop on the second floor to check behind the doors.

“I’m telling you. This girl is a game-changer,” Lou says.

Tank and Greasy laugh.

“You guys wait and see. You’ll be getting wedding invitations in the mail within a year. I promise.”

“You know all this from one night?” I ask.

“When you know, you know.”

I kick open a door and a cloud of smoke billows out into the hallway, making me unable to see an inch in front of me. I can’t deny I too believe you just know when you know.

I felt a pull in my heart the moment Stella Harrison walked into my classroom in the fourth grade—her brown skin, pigtails and big dark eyes drew me in.

My crush continued for years until she and Owen started to date. Then I tried to ignore that pull—which is when everything crumbled around me.

“Nothing on level two, we’re going to four,” I say into the radio.

We bypass Tank and Greasy on the third, where they’re outwardly laughing at Lou.

“I’m going to prove you all wrong,” Lou says, and there’s a conviction in his tone that makes me believe that this mystery girl could very well be a game-changer for him.

I mean, doesn’t that happen to everyone at some point if they’re lucky? A man finds a woman who makes him believe in marriage and makes him ready to push away the possibilities of all other women?

“Does she have a name?” I ask as we finish climbing from the third to the fourth floor.

“Stella.”

I turn back to face him. A two-by-four crashes down between us with flames across the length of it. I step back and my head hits something hard and unforgiving and I crash to the floor.

 

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2

Stella

“Morning, Stella.” Allie’s at the nurses’ station when I arrive at Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room for my shift.

“Afternoon actually,” I say, snapping on my badge.

“I’ve been here too long. Winter is still approaching, right? I didn’t miss it because I’ve been here so long?” She forks her salad while clicking buttons on the computer.

One thing I’ve discovered about Allie in my first week here is that no one multitasks like her.

I chuckle. “You’re good. But thanks for the reminder. I’m worried I’ve lost my ability to drive in the snow.”

I check out the board to see which patients we have in-house and what sort of issues I’ll be dealing with.

Transferring hospitals in the middle of my residency left me feeling uneasy. Someone was looking over me when I sneaked into town without anyone knowing.

I’ve kept up with Kingston Bailey enough to know that he works for the Anchorage Fire Department, so there’s a possibility I might run into him here.

My only saving grace has been that he smoke jumps in the spring and summer, which allowed me to have a false sense of security these past months. But that’s done with now that we’re deep into autumn.

I still sneak in and out of Lake Starlight like a thief in the night.

I’m not scared of Kingston Bailey. Well, okay, I am, but not in terms of my physical safety. Kingston and I shared an attraction that terrifies me, yet we never even explored a relationship.

He’s the one guy who made me forget the consequences of my actions—and I most definitely prefer to stay in control.

I stayed away from Lake Starlight for eight years, and I’m only returning now because of my mom’s lupus diagnosis.

After I talked to her doctor—a phone call she still doesn’t know happened—I decided to move my residency.

Which is how I would up shifting from a crowded New York City hospital, where I’d treat anything from gunshot wounds to pneumonia, to Anchorage, where the cases are usually less life-threatening.

I won’t get the experience here that I would’ve had in New York City, but I never saw myself as a big city lifer anyway.

“It’s like riding a bike. Just make sure you get snow tires.” Allie chomps down on her salad. “How are you adjusting here?”

I shrug. “So far so good.”

No one knows that every time a paramedic brings in a patient, a knot forms in my stomach, worried that the medic on duty might be Kingston.

I never told him I was transferred to the hospital his fire station transports patients to.

I even stood across the street from his apartment like a creeper, but my bravado fizzled when he stepped out of his apartment with Owen.

I watched the two men whose friendship I destroyed once upon a time, and all that turmoil festered back up inside me. They laughed as they slid into a truck, and I didn’t want to ruin that.

Kingston’s new truck suggests he’s no longer a boy who has to drive his brothers’ hand-me-downs.

“We like having you here. The nurses talk about you more than Romeo.” She stabs her fork into the salad. “And believe me, we discuss Romeo all the time.” She rolls her eyes.

“Romeo?” I chuckle.

I’ve met a lot of new people over the past week, and I’ve always thought of myself as good with names.

I never wanted to be the doctor who didn’t refer to her patient by name, so I practice with the association game. There’s no way I would’ve forgotten a Romeo.

“You haven’t met Romeo?” Allie leans back in her chair and fans herself. “He’s one of those men who should be a model in a magazine or a cologne commercial or something.”

Having five more minutes before Ralph runs me through his patient list, I sit down next to her and laugh. “That sounds a little far-fetched.”

She shakes her head, eyes wide. “Just wait. You’ll know him when he comes in.”

“Okay, but feel free to point him out to me in case I miss this amazing guy.”

She waves her finger in front of my face. “You just wait. You’ll be sighing the first time you see him.”

“Okay.” I roll my eyes with a smile.

She laughs and picks up her salad bowl to face me. “Are you married? Engaged?”

I shake my head. “Neither.”

“I figured. Most doctors in their residency haven’t been in the dating circuit for a while.” She piles another forkful of lettuce into her mouth.

“Well, I did meet a promising guy last night.”

“Where at?”

I look at her left hand and see no wedding ring. “My friend is obsessed with this blind speed dating thing and I met him there. We had a drink together after the event and exchanged phone numbers, but…”

“But what?”

I shrug. “It’s not like I have a ton of time.”

She quirks her eyebrow.

Yes, I have a lot more time than if I was in New York, but I’m not up for a serious relationship.

“Tell me about him.”

“He’s tall and good-looking. Bit of a flirt.” I bite my lower lip.

“One of those guys you have a hard time reading. You don’t know if he’s flirtatious with just you or with every girl he comes into contact with.”

“I always go by how they act with the waitresses. If he’s too flirtatious with them, then I’m out.”

I rack my brain for how he acted but remember that he went up to the bar to get our drinks.

“What does he do?” Allie asks.

“He’s a carpenter. He was talking about this house he’s working on, about the woodwork he’s doing with the banister. It sounded amazing.” Which it did.

Made me want to drag him to my mom’s B & B and see what he’d suggest to spruce up the place.

“A man who’s good with his hands.” She winks, and I laugh.

“Dr. Harrison, are you ready for rounds?” Ralph says behind me.

I quickly stand to face him. Allie turns to her computer as if we’re two school-aged kids getting scolded by the principal. But Ralph isn’t my boss.

He’s just another resident who thinks he’s a bigger deal than he is. But I guess when your family donated the pediatric wing to the hospital, you think you stand taller than the rest.

“Ralph,” I say. “Good afternoon. I already looked over the board.”

He takes his own dry erase marker out of his pocket because he only uses his. The shade of blue is a little darker than the community one the rest of us use.

“Dr. Harrison,” he says and waits because he wants me to call him Dr. Teller. Usually I would refer to my fellow residents as doctor, but I kind of like getting under his skin.

When I only smile at him, waiting for him to continue, he huffs and marks up the board. “I’m waiting on labs to confirm, but I think it’s just a gallbladder in room five.

“Room four is a case of the flu, so we’re waiting for the test to come back while we rehydrate him on an IV. When we discharge him, we should discuss the urgent care clinics he could use rather than the emergency room.”

“So it’s slow tonight,” I say.

“You should be happy you weren’t here last month with that pile-up on the interstate.” He’s mentioned that one instance more times than I can count in the week I’ve worked here. It’s like he’s proud.

People died and were injured in that pile-up.

“We got a few of the patients over at County.” I was at County hospital first, cycling through my labor and delivery, surgery, and cardiac residencies before I came to Memorial.

“Well, you didn’t get the triage patients. We got the ones hanging on by a thread.”

I smile, although I’m sure my eyes are rolled so far back in my head, he’s wondering if I need medical attention.

An ambulance calls in on their line, and Allie picks up the phone.

“Have a great night, Ralph.”

“You as well, Dr. Harrison. If you need me, you have my cell.”

I smile at Allie. “Oh, I’m sure we’ll be fine. Plus, you know Dr. Anderson is here.”

He nods and says nothing because Dr. Anderson is our Chief Resident and the person I would call if I needed anything, not Ralph.

I decide to visit the patients and make sure everyone is comfortable and to let them know I’ll be taking over for Dr. Teller. The first room I come to is room five, so I knock and walk in.

A woman lies in the bed with her husband at her side, on his phone.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Harrison. I just wanted to check up on you.”

“Margie,” she says, “and this is my husband Mark.”

I think of M&M’s and repeat their names in my head once more. I smile and nod at them both.

“That other doctor said they were waiting on labs, but it’s been hours,” she complains, which isn’t uncommon when people are in pain.

In high school, my mom had a gallbladder attack that had her keeled over in agony, and that woman can handle pain like a UFC fighter.

“Let me look at your chart. How is the pain level?”

I go through everything with her and see that her labs aren’t back yet, so I send them a quick note to see what the holdup is.

We talk for a little while and I promise her we’ll get some stronger pain meds in right away. Allie’s walking by as I leave the room.

“Can you get the patient in room five—”

“You’re in luck. Romeo just came in,” she says.

“Well, I have patients to see.”

“He’s a patient.” Her eyes widen. “Got injured on the job.”

“Okay, Allie, this isn’t The Bachelor. Can you please put the patient in room five out of her misery and get her some more pain meds? The notes are in her file.”

She nods. “Okay, but I suggest heading to room eight.” She shrugs like I’m stupid if I don’t.

I shake my head and continue on my path to room six.

If I get to eight, then so be it, but I have a feeling whoever this Romeo guy is, he doesn’t hold a candle to some guys I’ve seen walking the streets of New York.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Harrison,” I say, walking into room six.

Twenty minutes later, I’m outside room eight, and for some reason, butterflies hit my stomach.

I don’t even know if this guy is actually good-looking or what he does that they know him so well at the hospital, but he was injured on the job according to all the details Allie gave me.

I really need to get better at asking more detailed questions about people who aren’t my patients. Life in Anchorage is slower than New York. I can take a moment to breathe here.

I knock and walk into the room, my hand reaching for the antiseptic dispenser. It shoots cold liquid onto my hand.

“Hi, I’m the resident overseeing you today.” I scribble my name on the board. “How’s the pain? Anything I can get you?”

I look up to finally get a good look at this Romeo guy, and my heart skips a beat. I should have guessed he’d be their Romeo.

“Stella? Jesus, how hard did I hit my head?” He puts his hand on his head.

I step back. “Kingston.”

But even I hear the lack of surprise in my tone. I feel a sudden wave of relief that the moment I’ve been anticipating and dreading is over. It will come out that I’ve returned.

Now I just have to pull up my big girl panties and be clear about the reasons I returned—and they weren’t for him.

“Stella, dear.” Grandma Dori hugs me, her arms tight and welcoming. She never judged me as the girl who tore two best friends apart.

She’s treated me almost like a grandchild—to the point of sending me birthday cards while I was away.

“Hi, Dori,” I say, my eyes unable to pull away from Kingston’s. I’m not even close to prepared to see him again.

His gaze holds mine, and a soft smile crosses his lips.

“I’ll be right back.” I leave the room and press my back to the wall outside the door, inhaling deep breaths.

Allie whistles as she passes me. “Told you the minute you saw him, you’d be sighing.”

I say nothing but continue to mentally give myself the pep talk I need to go back in there and be a professional.

Get through this, Stella, and it’s smooth sailing from here.

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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