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by Tori Carrington
Description: An indecent proposal. A friendship betrayed. One-night-only anonymous sex with a stranger? Seems too wanton even for Nina Leonard. Until it's insinuated that the mystery man might be one of her business partners--two guys she adores who also happen to be complete hotties. Out comes the blindfold, and Nina has the steamiest night of her life. Now she's got to have more--only, no one's fessing up. One of her two best friends rocked her world that night. But which one was it? If she guesses wrong, she could lose them both....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Blaze,
eBookwise Release Date: February 2008
32 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [307 KB]
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"IN THIS DAY and age, is it bad for a woman to yearn for some good, hot, anonymous sex?"
Nina Leonard sat back and took a sip from her extra-large white ceramic cup of latte, waiting for Kevin Weber and Patrick Gauge's responses. She'd intended her words to be shocking. Had wanted them to reflect the chaos she'd been feeling lately after a long period of unwelcome celibacy.
The three of them were seated around the mammoth fireplace that dominated the middle of BMC, the bookstore/music center/café they jointly owned in Fantasy, Michigan, southwest of Ann Arbor. It was just after ten and although the three partners had officially closed the front doors, three customers still roamed around the cozy depths of the store. One of them, an elderly woman with a cane, peeked at the three around a stand of marked-down holiday cookbooks and Christmas CDs that would finally be packed away tomorrow when the calendar changed from January to February. The customer reminded Nina of her grandmother, bless her heart, who would have done exactly the same thing. But Gladys Leonard wouldn't have stopped at eavesdropping; she would have contributed something to the conversation. Perhaps she would even have sat down next to her to share her own erotic adventures, played out during the early Motown days of Detroit, a city that lay forty-five miles to the east of the small university town.
Nina was sprawled on the flowery, overstuffed sofa, her feet crossed on the coffee table in front of her, her large cup taking two hands to handle.
Lately, she'd been craving a man who would take two hands to handle.
"Uh-oh," Gauge said from the ottoman nearer the fire, where he sat tuning his acoustic guitar. "Have we hit the six-month mark already?"
Kevin put his own coffee mug down on the table next to the thriller he'd been reading. "Has it been that long already? Feels like just yesterday that we finally got rid of Mr. Jenkins."
Gauge chuckled. "That's because it was yesterday. That's when I spotted the sorry son-of-a-bitch browsing through the makeover section, you know, the one nearer the café."
"All the better to stalk Nina."
Nina gave an eye roll and rested her cup in her lap, her apron with the store's logo on the front still snowy white and feeling freshly starched. "You two think you know me so well." She tucked her short blond hair behind her ear. "I believe you know me not at all."
Gauge strummed a few chords of B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" and looked at Kevin. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't she say during lunch that we knew her better than anyone out there?"
"Mmm, yes. Just after we called her on her desire to go to Florida for Valentine's Day." Kevin glanced at her. "You love the snow and you know it."
"Are you calling me contrary?" Nina asked.
"Not at all."
"Wouldn't dream of it."
Nina took another long sip of her latte. This was usually one of her favorite times of the day, when the three of them drifted together, either at one of the café tables where they'd pick at what remained in the bakery display Nina had so carefully stocked, or in the music center where Gauge would pop in whatever blues or rock CD he'd received in that day's shipment, or here in Kevin's domain where original, leather-bound classics were stocked alongside the latest bestselling thrillers and romances.
But tonight…tonight Nina felt a restless something that wouldn't be calmed by the blazing fire in the stone hearth to her left, or by the thick, white snowflakes swirling golden under the old copper streetlamps she could see through the front window.
"I caught her browsing through the erotica titles in the romance section earlier," Kevin said.
Nina nearly choked on her latte.
"Ah, then that would explain it, wouldn't it?" Gauge asked, giving her a long, knowing look. "She's in need of a good orgasm."
"And in search of one, she'll wind up getting involved with the wrong man because she'll mistake the fundamental desire to mate for a relationship."
"What? Kevin Weber, you just did not use the word mate," Nina said.
"Better than screw, I think," Gauge said, putting his guitar aside and resting his well-developed forearms on his jeans-clad legs. He shrugged. "No matter the word choice, Kevin's right. How long has it been since we decided to combine our stores? Two years?"
"Three," Nina and Kevin said in unison.
"Yes, three. And in those three years, Kev here and I have watched you repeat the same cycle. First, there's all that wistful sighing and fidgeting—"
"I do not fidget." Nina caught herself scratching her shoulder and stopped.
Kevin sat forward. "Then there's the flirting with every half-decent-looking guy that comes through the front doors."
"I do not flirt with customers."
The two men shared a glance.
Gauge chuckled and shook his head. "Then she makes her choice, she goes out on one date, then two…."
Kevin took over. "She sleeps with him, thinks that now she's been intimate with the idiot, well, that constitutes a relationship…."
"And she spends the next six months trying to make something work that never stood a chance from the beginning."
"All because she wanted sex."
"And then it takes six months of her swearing off men before the cycle starts back up all over again."
Nina gaped at them both. "That is so not the way it happens."
"Yes it is," Gauge told her.
Copyright © 2008 by Lori and Tony Karayianni.