Her Two Billionaires and a Baby (BBW Menage)
By: Julia Kent | Other books by Julia Kent
Published By: Excessica Publishing
Published: Jan 31, 2013
ISBN # 9781301280582
Published By: Excessica Publishing
Published: Jan 31, 2013
ISBN # 9781301280582
Word Count: 67,000
Available in: Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat
DescriptionThe 67,000-word ending!
...picking up where Her Two Billionaires left off...
WHEN IS A LIE REALLY A LIE?
Laura flees after an amazing encounter with Dylan and Mike, a threesome lovemaking experience that sets her senses on fire and her heart ablaze. But hopes are quickly extinguished when reality settles in and she feels duped. Had they set her up just to get her in bed? Was she the butt of some elaborate sexual joke? Running for the safety of her best friend, Josie, she pours her heart out and learns that Josie has a few secrets of her own involving threesomes...
COMING CLEAN IS HARDER THAN IT SEEMS
After Laura leaves in a panic, Mike and Dylan must wrestle with their past, to come to terms with how it may jeopardize their future with her. A chance run-in with Laura and her friend Josie at a legendary Boston diner gives them renewed hope that they have a shot with Laura. When she accepts their offer for dinner - and only dinner - the guys see that being normal and comfortable and fun is the best remedy for their past transgressions, and they're determined to win her back, one Italian meatball and homemade tiramisu bite at a time.
BUT FEAR MAKES EVERYONE KEEP SECRETS
Laura lays it on the line: tell her any more secrets they might have. They just can't, though - hiding their billionaire status, they decide it's too much, too soon, with Dylan taking the lead as Mike feels they should tell the truth sooner than later. Deferring to Dylan, he keeps his mouth shut. The trio move on, and a night at Laura's house gives her the closure she needs to trust them again, a no-holds-barred lovemaking session that seals the deal and heals her wounds.
Until a morning news show reveals that Dylan, Boston's hottest eligible bachelor, is actually a billionaire. And so is Mike. Standing in the office lobby, gawking at the television as it spewed unbearable secrets, Laura is agog and sprints to the safety of Josie. Shutting Mike and Dylan out for good, she licks her newly-opened wounds and prepares for a life without them.
Until a positive pregnancy test changes everything.
And this time, Laura's the one keeping secrets...until a dangerous fire in her apartment leads to her rescue by Dylan, who learns the truth in a life-or-death blaze that makes everything more complicated, because...
It's always complicated.
Her Two Billionaires and a Baby is the 67,000-word final episode in a four-novella arc (though this one's novel length!) that brings closure to the very unconventional, loving relationship between curvy Laura, hot firefighter Dylan, and calm, mellow Mike.
Reader Rating: (4 Ratings)
Excerpt:The waitress's giant set of balls always threw her off.
Jeddy's was one of those neighborhood holes in the wall that had probably been a breakfast joint since Laura's grandma was a kid. During the height of factory shift work it had been open twenty-four hours and, as a relic to the Industrial Age, had never stopped. Even as the fluorescent lights buzzed and blinked and the streets were empty in that surreal hour between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. when everyone in the world is asleep and you're not, Jeddy's still had the cheap red vinyl bench seats, gummed-shut sugar containers and a few ancient men scratching their balls and chewing on a piece of something from 1983.
And then there were the waitress's balls. Someone, years ago (since Laura and Josie were in college) had taken a cut-out cardboard life-size person, put a Jeddy's uniform on her, and attached a pair of those truck hitch plastic balls to it.
It had, uh...stuck. So the waitress with balls greeted every customer with a smile, except that the cardboard cutout was actually Julian Sands from the old '80s movie, “The Warlock.”
The stuff of nightmares and cheap Netflix thrills. Everything about Jeddy's screamed old, forgotten, ratty and dated.
Except the food.
One of the owners had passed the restaurant on to a family member who had earned a degree at Le Cordon Bleu in Boston, and this had created as schizophrenic a restaurant as ever there was, for as Josie and Laura greeted the ball-bearing waitress, which involved giving her nuts a squeeze and saying “How you doin'?” in the best Joey Tribiani imitation, the aroma of the restaurant was strictly gourmet. Better than gourmet. Cheesy roadhouse Top Chef Gordon Ramsey Fucking Awesome gourmet.
Chipotle maple sausage. Cinnamon caramel ricotta crepes. Peanut Butter Hulk Smash cake. You name it, Jeddy's had it, including honest-to-God real fried green tomatoes, but with a dill agave tarragon cream sauce for dipping instead of ketchup.
All served on chipped, ancient industrial-grade restaurant wear by an old woman named Madge who'd been working the booths since 1948. And could still walk and talk faster than Josie on three espresso shots.
“Whatcha want, Sweets?” Madge asked Laura, her breath the graveyard where old cigarettes and Chanel go to die. The woman had to be at least eighty but looked fifty – except for her mouth, where smoking lines were grooved so deeply her lips looked more like an elephant's puckered asshole than anything resembling human flesh.
“Oh, let me see,” Laura said, amazed at how quickly she downshifted into comfort here. The glare of the overhead strip lights and the cracked vinyl held together with duct tape didn't faze her. Madge's bags under her eyes, though, were mesmerizing, with caked-up foundation in the creases. Who knew undereye circles could have wrinkles in them that would hold enough makeup to cover a small community theater's needs?
China blue eyes reminded her of Mike, and when Madge started tapping her stylus on her ordering tablet, the incongruity hit her.
“You guys use a wireless ordering system?” She pointed to the smartphone-like device in Madge's hand.
“No. This is a chisel and a chunk of marble. Grog back there deciphers it all with hand puppets and grunts. Now what are you two eating? I've got work to do.”
Josie craned her neck around, surveying the nearly-empty joint. “It sure is hopping.”
Madge smirked. “The silverware don't roll itself.” Those eyes. Mike.
A pang of despair hit her – hard. His hands on her. Dylan's tongue on her.
Josie shot Laura a skeptical look and turned to Madge. “What are your specials?”
“At 4 a.m. you get the fryer and the desserts. And maybe a limp salad. Jeff ain't here now to cook the good stuff.”
“Do you have coconut shrimp with that aioli?” Laura perked up. Despair faded a notch.
“Two of those, an order of chipotle maple saus – you got that tonight?” Madge nodded, not looking at them, hand flying with the stylus. “With cheesy potato pancakes. One piece of Peanut Butter Hulk Smash cake and a giant peppermint hot fudge sundae,” Josie declared.
“Just water,” Laura replied.
“Watching yer weight, huh?” Madge snickered, walking away. Fortunately for Laura, she'd looked at Josie when she said it. The last thing she needed right now was a comment on her weight. Eating comfort food – even at 4 a.m. – no, especially at 4 a.m. – was exactly what she needed.
“What about coffee?” Josie asked.
“I'm not making you any.”
“Hah. I'll order some after we pig out.” Each booth had an old-fashioned jukebox attached to it. “You have a quarter?” Josie begged.
Laura fished one out of a pocket. Josie slipped it in as Laura wondered how they got away with still just charging a quarter. She remembered long car trips to visit her relatives in Ohio and stopping at the L&K Diners, the jukeboxes identical, a burgundy red she only saw in ancient Italian restaurants and rest stops in the Midwest.
Back then a quarter got two songs. Now, one. Josie punched some buttons, fingers more accustomed to glass phone screens than analog squares, and soon Gloria Gaynor crooned.
“First I was afraid! I was petrified,” Josie sang, using her rolled silverware as a microphone. Seriously? The song was bad enough. Josie's tone-deaf performance would be worse.
“Kept thinking I could never live without them by my side...”
“Stop it,” she hissed, whacking Josie's forearm. The fork slid out and shot across the room, hitting a table leg. Madge strode by without missing a beat, picked it up, and threw a clean one on the table in front of Josie, her stride completely fluid.
“And then Thor and Superman, they came to me in the same bed, and now I'm half dead, ooooooh now I am half dead!” Josie wriggled and thrust her neck out as if singing, her voice a cross between an eight-year-old's earnest choir attempts and something out of Killer Karaoke.
“You have the music ability of William Hung.” And the stage presence.
“I will menage! I will menage!” As Josie parodied the familiar chorus, Laura lunged across the table and clamped her hand over Josie's mouth. That was quite enough.
“No brawling,” Madge chided as she used a bissel to sweep the tattered carpet a few tables away. “Don't make me call the bouncer.” She hooked her thumb over at the old homeless man sucking on a cup of coffee. He looked up and grinned, two teeth total in his mouth, eyebrows shooting up to a bald pate and creased, greasy hand waving.
The girls laughed and Laura settled back down in place.
“You are such an asshole.”
“But you love me.”
“Well, now you're buying.”
“No way.” Laura reached for the triangle game with pegs. All the writing had worn off long ago, and the wood was a solid block – this was an old stand-by that had probably been original to the place when it opened. The pegs were worn down and the colors faded, but the premise was the same: get down to one peg.
Laura played. Three pegs.
Josie played. Three pegs. “Doo doo doo doo,” she teased, like music from a creepy movie. “The universe it telling you something.” Laura snatched the damn game out of Josie's hands as Gloria Gaynor went into her second verse.
Just then, Madge appeared with the potato pancakes and a huge, steaming pile of coconut shrimp. Three cruets of aioli and she and Josie dug in before Madge could croak out with “Anything else?”
“Mmmmmmmm,” Josie groaned, her mouth nibbling on the end of a fried shrimp the size of her hand. “Uh, yeah.” Brow furrowed, she caught Laura's eye. “Did we forget the fried green tomatoes?”
Before Laura could reply, Madge said, “Got it,” striding off.
“We are going to be so full,” Laura said, using the side of her fork to cut a pancake.
“Is that a complaint?” Josie opened her mouth and panted, trying not to burn her tongue.
“Nope. Can't you wait until it cools down?” She pointed at Josie's mouth.
“Nope.” The two sat in silence, the only sound now their masticating, jaws working furiously on dissembling the amazing tastes before them. It was a relief for Laura; too many hands, too many mouths on her, too many feelings that didn't have a home. Eating was easy. Order delicious food. Have it delivered. Open mouth. Enjoy. Repeat ad nauseum.
Food was always there for her. It never changed. Hot fudge was hot fudge. Butter crunch ice cream just was. Coconut shrimp were steadfast and tasty, filling time, her belly, and whatever aching hole was in her that needed to be sated.
Cheesy potato pancakes didn't send out confusing signals. Cookies didn't judge her. Peanut Butter Hulk Smash cake would serve her, would be at her disposal, would meet her needs.
With no expectations.
Screw Dylan and Mike. Fuck them.
Fuck them in the eye.
At the thought, she punctuated the air with her fork, imagining poking them with it. Josie looked up from her plate, mouth stuffed now with the cooled-down shrimp.
“You conducting a symphony?”
“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” wafted through the restaurant, a group of college kids snarking on the old tune and torturing poor Madge with half-drunk requests. She'd probably served their parents. Maybe even their grandparents. Laura rolled her eyes and dug in, her turn at coconut shrimp heaven.
“Ahhhh,” she moaned. Josie's impatience made more sense now. Each bite was like something out of a food porn movie, like Coconutty Clit Lovers with Clam Sauce or – no, scratch that. She had just grossed herself out. Did she make that joke aloud? If not, why was Josie staring at her like that?
“Coconutty what?” Josie gagged, her face in a confused snarl. Laura could feel her cheeks turn a hot red as she felt the room spin a bit, overwhelmed by what she now realized was nearly twenty-four hours of being awake, the most intense sexual experience of her life just a few hours behind her, and Madge's lined face twisted into a pantomime of smoking, her fingers against those leathered lips and sucking away at an imaginary cigarette.
Her thousand-mile stare bore through Laura, who pulled her eyes away to look down and see the last coconut shrimp on the plate. Grabbing it, she shoved the entire thing greedily into her mouth, only to hear Josie's confusion shift to a self-righteous howl.
“Hhhheeeeyyyy! No fair! What the hell is wrong with you?” Josie's sulking face was an after-thought for Laura, who right now felt like an animal in the woods, all instinct and no thought.
“Nothing,” Laura muttered. What the hell was wrong with her? “It's just – this is soooooo good.” She ate the tail and all, the breading and the crunchy outer shell making her gag.
“Coconutty...Laura, you need some sleep.”
Madge turned and nearly ran into the kitchen, then emerged with a still-sizzling plate of friend green tomatoes and more cruets filled with sauce from heaven.
Palm outstretched, Laura flicked her wrist toward Josie, the gesture meant to allow her friend first dibs on the tomatoes. Appeased, Josie dug in, playing hot potato with the breaded delight. “Hot! Hot! Hot!”
Chipotle maple sausage appeared out of nowhere, followed by an enormous piece of green cake smothered in hot fudge and peanut butter sauce, sprinkled with pistachios and surrounded by two huge scoops of vanilla ice cream coated with a crunchy brown sugar sauce.
“It's as big as your head, Laura,” Josie gaped.
“It's bigger. It's the size of my ass.”
Madge pointedly peered behind Laura, pulled back, and pursed her lips, contemplating. “Nah. Not quite, honey.” Laura gave her a grateful smile. Madge was Laura's new best friend. “You girls need anything else?”
“No – thanks!” Josie had a sausage on one fork, was spearing part of a potato pancake, and had a spoon attacking the ice cream. Laura dipped a piece of pancake in the aioli and stabbed her fork into the luscious pistachio cake, made green by the nuts.
“Who needs sex when you have Jeddy's?” she muttered, filling her mouth with the cake.
“Hello! Me?” Josie waved her hands like an air traffic controller on an airport runway. “Right here. I'd give all this up for what you just had tonight. Wouldn't you?”
Laura stared plaintively at the spread before her. “Uh...”
Josie stabbed the dark chocolate and mint rose off the top of the cake and ate it. “You don't have to choose. Lucky you.”
Lucky. Lucky? Here she sat, drowning her sorrows in fudge-covered cake the color of infected snot while her body still hummed from being double stuffed (note to self: get Oreos on the way home) and as the sun began to make its first entrance on this glorious day, Laura had to go to work in a few hours. Then there was at pesky issue of needing to deal with the fallout from storming out of Mike's cabin, leaving the two people in the world she most wanted to forget wondering what the hell was wrong with her.
“Madge!” Laura shouted. A quick glance down showed her cleavage covered with green crumbs and an embarrassing number of hot fudge drips. It was a meal unto itself. For Dylan...or Mike...
Madge didn't even blink, just tilted her head up, painted-on eyebrows lifting up. If she'd been bald she could have given Tim Curry a run for the role of Pennywise. “Whatcha want?”
“Got any caramel sauce?” That shit cures everything, like Windex or Robitussin.
“Nope. How about peanut toffee swirl?”
“You're a good woman, Madge. My new BFF.”
“Hey!” Josie mumbled, her face stuffed with ice cream. “Wha' 'bout me?”
“You're my old BFF.” Laura heard the door behind her creak and the sound of loud voices. More college guys. Swiveling around, she took a look. Fresh, unlined faces. Wet t-shirt contest-looking tops and running shorts. Sneakers. Backwards baseball caps. Why did they all look twelve?
“Henderson Cross Country” read all the wet shirts. Ah. High school. That's why they looked twelve.
The sound Josie made caused Laura to pivot back, whiplash a distinct possibility. “You pig! At least try not to burp,” she hissed.
“In some cultures it's a compliment, you know.”
“In some cultures, a woman who did that would be stoned to death.”
Josie stuck out her tongue and stifled another belch. “How can I be your old BFF when that woman is like a thousand years old.”
“She's young on the inside.”
“She could be the cryptkeeper's mother. Grandmother. Uh – ”
The door behind her creaked open again and she heard footsteps. Then a low whistle from Josie, who peered around Laura. “Hot damn!”
Madge slid a cruet of peanut butter joy at Laura, who speared a chunk of green cake and dipped it in the creamy mixture. “Whuh?” she asked, tipping her face up to watch her friend.
Josie pitter-pattered her fingertips over her heart. “Some day my Thor will come. And this one is mine, Laura. All – ” She halted, eyes growing alarmingly huge, her words ending abruptly in a strangle. Mouth dropped, Laura could see parts of Josie's meal in her tongue.
“Jesus, Josie, shut your trap.”
“Hey – I didn't say anything bad.” Squinting, Josie cocked her head and flinched, suddenly nervous.
“No, I mean literally. Your jaw is almost on the table. Shut your mouth. I can see what you just ate. We're not in third grade.”
“Right,” Josie answered absentmindedly. What the hell was wrong with her? Laura's feeling of comfort, of relaxation was dissipating fast as Josie's distracted body language just added to Laura's feeling of exhaustion and confusion. As she shifted to look behind her to see what on earth Josie was staring at, her friend shouted, “No!”
Huh? “What the hell is wrong with you?”
When she turned around, though, she understood exactly what was wrong with Josie. There stood Thor, cupping the waitress's balls, with a more muscled version of Joey Tribiani grinning madly at him and saying “How you doin'?”
* * *
Dylan hadn't been back at Jeddy's in, what, two years? Last time he was here was with a group of guys from work, after a fire, when in the bowels of the night they'd found themselves embraced by soot, dead tired, and starving. No ramen noodles or scrambled eggs back at the station would do, so they'd come here.
His balls greeted him nicely. OK – their balls. Because it had been the trio who had invented the famous cardboard, be-balled icon at Jeddy's, a combination of some wicked bad peyote and Mike's college job working at Newbury Comics. Old Madge had helped, offering up an ancient server's uniform, and the balls had been Jill's idea. Dylan's Joey Tribiani imitation stuck – a little too well, because he was known as Joey until they'd finished college.
“You two,” Madge greeted them, shaking her head, lips pursed in an expression that was either pleasure or disgust. Dylan didn't think the difference mattered much at her age. Or with her temperament. How the hell do you serve drunk frat boys, homeless glue sniffers and post-coital munchie seekers for six decades and not become –
Was that? Mike elbowed him. No way.
From behind, he couldn't quite tell whether it was Laura, but he had to be dreaming. She sat at a booth, hunched over a plate, blond hair in need of a combing, the woman across from her looking like a greasy chihuahua posing as a human dancer. Teeny tiny and hyped up, eager and craning to look at something.
“Is that Laura?” Mike whispered furiously as they followed Madge, who threw two menus down on the scarred formica table and walked off unceremoniously. Dylan slid in on his side, ass catching something, impeding his fluid movement. Duct tape. He wiggled his ass to settle down the torn edge, then froze.
“What? You're crazy, man. What are the chances she'd be – ”
“Come to claim your third?” Madge's gravelly voice nearly made Dylan laugh. She sounded like a caricature of an old South Boston woman combined with Harvey Fierstein.
Mike's eyes bugged out of his head, shifting between the blond in the booth and Madge. “Our third?” His voice sounded like Peter Brady going through puberty.
“Someone grab your balls too tight tonight?” Madge rasped, clenching the plastic balls in her hand. She nodded toward the warlock waitress. “You ever gonna cart this monstrosity away?”
“Oh!” Mike groaned. “You mean him?” He pointed at the cardboard cut out.
“What other third would I be talking about?” she asked, incredulous, her hand batting the testicles and shooting Dylan a dirty look. “You two are too old to come in here drunk,” she chided.
Mike sighed, his lips buzzing as the air left him and he and Dylan buried themselves in the menu. “God damn, Dylan. We need to figure all this out.”
The last notes of some Meatloaf song faded out and then the all-too-familiar first chords of AC/DC's “You Shook Me All Night Long” filled the air. The blond's head began tapping out the beat and the ratty little brunette with her looked like Will Ferrell playing a cowbell. Could that really be Laura?
Why did the brunette keep staring at him? She huddled with the blonde, who fake-scratched her head and tried to do that sly thing where you look behind yourself without making it obvious.
“Chipotle maple sausage and a five-scoop sundae for me,” Mike announced. “Fried green tomatoes, too. Double order.”
“Swear to God, Mike. Look at her. It's Laura.” Just then, Madge appeared, dragging the warlock waitress with her. Julian Sands seemed to be judging their meal choices.
“The third in your threesome,” Madge announced grandly. The frat boys at the other table all did a spit-take in unison, bursting into good-natured laughter.
And then the brunette froze. The blonde turned slowly, the folds of her neck reluctant to complete the motion, her arm reaching back as if through water, her body needing to know but so –
Yes. It was Laura.
And boy was she pissed.
* * *
“Motherfucker!” she hissed. “They're following me?”
“So that is them? Holy shit, Laura, they're more scrumptious in person than online.” Josie actually licked her lips and said, “I wish they were on the menu.”
Threesome? Had Madge actually said something about a threesome with them? Were they that open with everyone but her? Why on earth would a dried-up old octogenarian speak openly about their sex life like this?
“Warlock Waitress here wants you to take her home. Have your way with her. Give her the complete sex change she's entitled to,” she heard Madge joke, a raspy smoker's laugh rumbling after.
“You mean make Julian into Julia?” Dylan dished back. All three laughed.
They had no right to laugh! Not when everything in Laura's mouth turned to sawdust and Josie stared at her like something in an insane asylum under twenty-four hour watch.
“I'll make a scene and you can crawl out through the kitchen,” Josie suggested.
“And then I'll go over there and hang with them and we can be besties and I'll,” she licked her lips again, “get my own taste of Superhero Sandwich. I can be the meat.”
“You are a sick woman.”
“I got the fever and they got the cure.”
“I know you're joking, but this isn't funny anymore.”
Josie dropped the act instantly. “Sorry. You're right. What can we do?”
Crawling on hands and knees was starting to look like a great option, except she would have to abandon the rest of her cake. Was saving face worth leaving this luscious, green-tinted pistachio chocolate mound of salvation?
With ice cream? And the untouched homemade mint whipped cream?
No. She would stand her ground.
For the sake of gastronomical integrity.
Someone had to. And she would make that sacrifice. Determined, Laura took another enormous bite of cake, ice cream, whipped cream and all dipped in peanut butter sauce.
The moan that escaped her body rivaled anything she'd made in bed with those two.
Which is why they both turned in unison, she imagined, staring as she devoured her true love. Thor could have his hammer. Dylan looked enough like a short Christian Bale to be Batman. Right now, though, she was going green, getting her most important hole stuffed by the Hulk.
Peanut Butter Hulk Smash cake allowed her to be the avenger now.
Could those two be any weirder? Following her here to Jeddy's, where she still had their funk on her. In her. In places no man had ever been before on her body. Places she suspected no one except maybe, once, the gynecologist had touched during a routine “Hi! Welcome to 25!” exam.
Was it getting warm suddenly? “Are you hot, Josie?” she asked through a mouthful of cake.
“No. But they are – hey! One of them is coming over. Thor,” she drooled.
“It is when I'm not you, hon.” She nodded behind Laura. Shit. Mike really was walking over here. Covered in food splotches from haphazardly digging into the delights, she wondered if the rest of her was as disheveled. Barely able to look, she forced herself to anyhow. The ratty old sweats that seemed like a good comfort choice at home made her look like Tori Spelling after giving birth. Her hair was shoved into a knotted mess and makeup – what makeup? It had been smeared off long ago. Hell, some of it was probably still on Mike's torso.
Her mouth watered. And not from the food.
“Hey.” Why did his voice have to have this reaction on her, like a warm breeze on wet skin, her every pore attending to his presence before she even looked back? Why did his tone make her body inhale sharply, every part of her lungs ready to sigh with pleasure at the very thought of his presence?
And why, for the love of all that is holy, was Josie goggling at them both like this was some sort of side show at a carnival?
Oh. Because it was.
“Grab his balls!” Josie's words made Laura glare, wide-eyed and wild.
“What?” she hissed.
Jumping up, Josie skittered around Mike as if he were a pillar holding up the restaurant. “Hey! Grab his balls!” She ran over to the cardboard cutout and began chatting up Dylan. All Laura heard was a handful of words from Dylan's sweet mouth:
“...I know, I...”
“...no, the balls weren't my...”
“...four? No, we never considered...”
and Josie's rat-a-tat-tat machine-gun fire conversation. Don't look at him, she told herself, though she could feel him, inches away, the hair on her skin like hundreds of thousands of little clitoral hoods, all aching for him, for release, for this yearning to go away, no matter what.
But especially via his touch. As if on command, his hand touched her shoulder. Involuntarily, she flinched. He pulled back. This dance? Really?
“Hi, Mike,” she said reluctantly. Couldn't ignore him.
Fluid grace poured into his limbs as he deftly slid into Josie's space, his movements belying his size. How could he – oh, she knew. Hands eager for connection, she pulled them into her lap, then sat on them, her ass pinning errant fingers in place, knowing damn well what she'd do if she didn't.
Wait. No. She was supposed to be angry with him. Them.
“Hi.” The shy act wasn't going to cut it tonight. She went for the throat.
“Stalking me? Isn't that Dylan's specialty?” He flinched and winced, then arched one eyebrow and took a deep breath. Target hit. So why didn't she feel victorious? Instead, her stomach roiled and nausea crept in. Why did he and Dylan have to ruin this? Her one refuge – food and Josie, together – and now what had been the beginning of sorting through threads entangled between the three of them had turned into even more enmeshment, confusion, and hurt.
“No – we – uh – ” He gave up, not making eye contact. Eyelids fluttered shut and he splayed his palms on the grooved table top, his right index finger worrying someone's carved name. Jane. Who had Jane been? Could have been Madge's mother, for all they knew.
Or one of Mike and Dylan's lovers.
Using his arms as leverage, he slowly stood, back curling and shoulders flaring, leaning in toward her. When his face tipped up his eyes locked with hers.
“Whatever you think right now, you're wrong. And when you're ready to talk, we'll be there.” One hand reached for her, steady and firm, the touch like tissue paper against a rose petal. An apologetic smile twitched in his lips and the skin beneath his eyes softened.
“We won't come after you, Laura.” He glanced over at Dylan, who was laughing at Josie, who had removed the warlock waitress's balls and was teabagging in front of an audience of golfers and hungover college boys. Mike rolled his eyes. “OK, I won't. Can't guarantee what Dylan will do.”
“He and Josie seem to have hit it off.”
“Is she twelve inside?”
That made Laura laugh. Bingo. His thumb stroked the underside of her cheekbone and she went liquid, all muscles melting and everything warm became wet. Mike leaned in and softly kissed her temple.
“When you're ready.”
* * *
Was Mike seriously kissing Laura right now? Right now, as Dylan was stuck with her friend, who was mouthing the very balls thousands of people had manhandled for the past decade? The very balls Jill had grabbed and stuck on the warlock in what now felt like another life?
Whatever it took to thaw everything, to get Laura to believe that they wanted her, that they wanted a we that no one else really understood. Hell, they didn't even understand it. Who could blame Laura for feeling conflicted and fearful and –
Oof. This Josie chick just whomped him in his very real balls with those very fake balls.
“Hey! You paying attention there, Thor's sidekick?”
Thor's what? “My name is Dylan. Who is Thor?”
She laughed, rubbing the plastic testicles against her cheek, like stroking a kitten. “Like I don't know your name. You and Mike are all Laura talks about.”
“Really?” So they call Mike 'Thor'?
She shot him a look. “Really? Like you don't know. You aren't exactly conventional. I haven't seen Laura eat that much food in one sitting since Ryan left her. Some wicked show you two got going on.”
Show? “We didn't mean to – ”
Placing one long finger with an even longer fingernail against his lips she shook her head slowly. The rest of her fingernails looked like peacock tails. “You don't get to speak right now. In fact, I hope Mike there doesn't try to talk too much.”
Dylan snorted. “No worries,” he said. Except it sounded like “mo uhwees” with her finger pressing against his mouth. “He's a quiet giant.”
She made a face like she was impressed. “Then you might have a shot. Too bad you guys set her up. The last thing Laura needs is to feel manipulated.” She glowered. “Why am I telling you this?”
Whack. She smacked him with the rubber balls. “Ow!”
“You deserved it.” She was right; he did. They did. His stomach rumbled and he checked the wall clock. Pushing 5 a.m. Shit – he started a new shift in two hours. Whatever they needed to do to get Laura to believe that they wanted her – wanted more – and that this wasn't some pervy plot, they needed to do it fast.
Turning on the charm, he shot Josie a warm grin, his arm going up around the back edge of the booth, the gesture intimate and inviting. “You're her best friend. What would you tell some amazing guy – ”
“Guys.” She turned it into two syllables. Geye – ZUH. Which made it all sound rather pervy.
He kept going. “Guys. OK. What would you tell us to do to get her to explore this with us?”
“Explore? That sounds so...eww. Would you say that to someone if you were just in a one-on-one relationship? 'I want to explore this. Explore you. Explore your hoo-haw' – ”
Just then, Mike approached. Thank God, Dylan thought. He was starting to feel a little too...something. Flinching, he pulled back from Josie and shot Mike a pleading look. Rescue me?