Evan—A Dom in love with his vanilla best friend and enamored with a quirky older woman who enjoys submitting to him.
Alaina—Burned by love and tired of masking her true nature, she doesn’t want to risk her heart with two, passionate younger men.
Daniel—Torn between two lovers, he doesn’t see why he can’t have them both.
Daniel and Evan have been together—without being together—for nine years. The best friends share everything—except their lovers. When Alaina Miles walks into their lives, all of that changes.
Alaina isn’t on the same page. Over a decade older, she has things they don’t—a cheating ex, a child, and autism. A second chance at love isn’t part of her life plan.
Queen of BDSM Michele Zurlo brings you a scintillating tale of compromise, self-acceptance, and taking a chance on love even when it could cost everything.
I realized part of my skirt was still stuck around my hips. Thankfully it was long enough to still cover me to mid-thigh. I smoothed my skirt back into place and disguised how I used that move to wipe off my palms.
They were sweaty because I was nervous.
Daniel DiMarco wanted to have sex with me.
Handsome didn’t begin to describe him. Tall, built, sexy—these words were too plain to capture the charm and charisma oozing from him. Dark needed to be in there, too. From his dark brown hair to his deep brown eyes and his dark olive skin, everything about him dripped sex and sin.
Most of the women I counseled there spent part of every session swooning over him. Add to all those physical attributes the fact that he genuinely cared about the women and men who’d been victims of domestic violence, and you had a man who had his pick of sex partners.
He could be a cover model, and yet he didn’t seem at all vain about his looks. He took time with his appearance, sure, but it wasn’t excessive. He lacked artifice. Tonight, he’d taken down a man who was on the verge of threatening me so he could find and terrorize another woman. Then he’d fed me wine and the best chocolate mousse cake I’d ever eaten. Right now, he had a smudge of chocolate near the corner of his mouth.
And he wanted to role play that I was a sexy librarian who was going to seduce him. I convinced myself not to squeal like someone half my age and jump on him.
Well, I’d already jumped on him. Thinking back, I realized I’d made a fool of myself. Rather than judge me, he’d turned it into a fun experience.
And then he’d propositioned me.
I shut off the lights downstairs as we headed toward the stairs that led to my loft. I gave my best effort to avoid looking at the sexy ass sashaying from side to side right in front of my face as she went up the stairs ahead of me.
But I’m only human.
Just a man.
A man who was immensely glad to get to the landing before he said or did anything stupid or inappropriate.
My urges illustrated exactly why Alaina would never be interested in me. On my best day, I was immature and constantly horny.
I’d left the door to my loft open, and I gestured for her to enter. “Welcome to my humble abode.”
I was a fucking dork.
She went inside and set her purse on the island counter. Then she looked around, sweeping her gaze from left to right. She noted my kitchen, the cutout where the bathroom was located, the corner that was my bedroom, the living room area with the resistance trainer off to one side, and the elegant dining table to her immediate right. While my furniture was nice, it was modern. The table stuck out like a sore thumb.
Alaina made a thoughtful noise.
“I know. The table doesn’t quite fit the décor of the rest of the loft. It belonged to my grandparents, and I love it.”
She peered closer at the table. “It’s a beautiful piece and a great way to remember them.”
“They’re not dead.” I went to the cabinet and selected a bottle of red, which was the only bottle of wine I had. “They downsized when they retired to Florida.”
“Oh.” A light blush traveled up her neck and stained her cheeks. She clasped her hands together. “I misunderstood.”
“I worded it badly.” I flashed a grin to put her at ease. “How about you grab the mousse from the fridge?”
While she did that, I got glasses and forks. There was only a third of the cake left, so we could eat straight from the tin. Then I looked at Alaina again. Beautiful face. Minimal makeup. Hair in a bun. Long, A-line skirt. Long-sleeved blouse with a bow at the neck. Smoking hot body clad in silky librarian clothes. She wasn’t the kind of person who ate cake from the pan.
I grabbed a couple plates from the cupboard, and in the spirit of maturity, I got out the wedge-shaped cake cutter. I measured out a good-sized slice and rested the cutter where I intended to cut. “Is this good, or do you want a bigger piece?”
She looked from the pie to me, a short laugh tinkling from her. “Daniel, that’s much too big.”
“It’s my mother’s chocolate mousse. Trust me—you’re going to want a big slice. I’ve been known to sit down and eat the whole thing by myself.”
She laughed again. Sliding between my body and the counter, she set her fingertips lightly on my wrist. While the heat of her touch made me want to lean in and put my lips on her exposed neck, she guided the cutter to a different spot. “This is plenty.”
Then she returned to where she’d been standing, well out of my personal space. I was reeling from the lingering scent of her perfume, and she didn’t seem affected. She was not at all interested in me.
I used to be suave with my flirting. Yesterday, I’d charmed a barista into throwing in a free banana nut muffin with my coffee. She’d smiled and twirled her hair.
The moment Daniel had come into the bar with the short brunette, I’d known she was different. First, there was the way Daniel treated her. She wasn’t arm candy or a temporary amusement. From the way he talked about her and the way he paid attention to her, I knew he liked and respected her.
She wasn’t his usual type. He liked tall, blonde women who commanded attention and adoration. Alaina was the exact opposite. The top of her head didn’t reach his shoulder. She exuded confidence even though she was visibly nervous. One look at her, and you could tell she was intelligent, the kind of person who was going to make a real difference in the world and probably already had to a lot of people.
Even her appearance was a study in contradiction. Her curly hair went in all directions. Wild and out of control, it was a marked contrast to her outfit. Daniel had been right—she was the perfect fantasy woman to play the hot librarian.
But the thing that had irritated me most was that Daniel hadn’t mentioned me to her. She knew almost nothing about me.
It wasn’t new that Daniel didn’t talk me up to a woman he’d fucked. They weren’t usually around long enough to become part of his life. But he’d known Alaina for a year. A year. In a whole twelve months, my name hadn’t come up once.
By contrast, he talked about her to me all the time. He was always saying how great she was, how wonderful and thoughtful and generous. Two weeks ago, he’d been almost enamored of her when he’d described the way she’d fulfilled his hot librarian fantasy.
Meeting her, I’d wanted to find her flaws. I wanted to unmask her as shallow and catty. But I’d been the asshole, and she’d responded by very nicely putting me in my place. In minutes, she’d settled into the group as if she’d always been there. Sophia and Bryn seemed to really like her.
“What’s wrong?” Daniel sipped his flavored water and kept his voice so that only I heard it. “Why were you rude to Lainie?”
“Lainie? Now you’ve got a cute nickname for her?”
He frowned. “Evan, I know when you’re not happy about something. What is it? What happened?”
Daniel and I had started our casual affair when I was sixteen and he was seventeen. We’d been together—without being together—for nine years. We were best friends. We talked several times every day, and we shared everything, big or small.
And he hadn’t mentioned me to Alaina.