I had sex on the brain.
It just wasn’t Bryant I wanted to have it with.
We’d had two drinks. I told him all about my new job, and he actually listened. Now we were sitting at the bar, and he put his hand on my knee.
“I was thinking…how about we go down to the Jersey Shore this weekend? A weekend on the beach, dinner at a shack that sells cold beer and clams by the bucket? My friend has a place down in Long Beach Island, and he isn’t using it this weekend.”
I loved the beach, and a clam bar and beer was totally my thing. Yet…I was hesitant to commit on the spot for some reason. I needed time to think about it a little more. “Can I get back to you in a day or two? We just started this big project I’m working on, and they may expect me to come in over the weekend. I’m not really sure yet.”
As usual, Bryant was a good sport. “Sure. Of course.”
We called it an early night after that since both of us were early risers. Back at my apartment, Tallulah, that damn ugly cat, scared the crap out of me when I walked in. The sound of my collection of deadbolts unlocking had become her personal Pavlovian call to action. The living room was dark except for two bright green globes staring directly at me. She was perched on the top of the back of the couch waiting for me when I flicked on the lights.
“God, you really are ugly as sin.”
“I know, I know, you can’t help it.” I scratched my fingernails on her back. It felt so odd without any fur. “How about if I get you one of those little cat sweaters? Maybe something sleek-looking and black? Or maybe something with faux fur on it, huh? Would you like that, ugly girl? You need some fur for this Butterball-looking body.”
I carried her with me as I did my daily entry ritual—opening all the closets and doors, checking behind the curtains and under the bed. Finding all clear, I took a quick shower, moisturized my body, and climbed into bed. Tallulah hopped up and planted herself on the pillow next to me.
After a fourteen-hour day at a new job, followed by two martinis, I should have been tired. But I wasn’t. I was…horny. My problem could have been easily remedied. I was certain all I had to do was invite Bryant back to my place, and he would have gladly taken care of my needs. Yet I chose to be alone.
Tallulah purred next to me, then hit me in the face with her paw. When I ignored her, she did it again. The second time, I took a paw to the nose. Giving in, I reached over and scratched her fleshy pink belly again. She rolled on her back to give me full access. With her paws drawn and bent at her sides, her arms and legs looked like wings. She really did look like an uncooked turkey. Reaching over to my nightstand, I grabbed my phone and snapped a couple of pictures I intended to email to my mother in the morning, but then I remembered the message Chase had sent me the other night about Tallulah.
I typed out a text, attaching the photo of Tallulah on her back.
Reese: Pretty sure her twin is a Butterball in a grocery freezer somewhere.
It had been less than a minute when my phone buzzed with an incoming text.
Chase: I flipped my phone around a few times before I realized what I was looking at. That is seriously one ugly pussy.
Reese: LOL. Who has taken over half my bed. She’s also very demanding and keeps pawing me in the face if I stop scratching her.
Chase: Just you two sharing that big bed tonight?
He knew I’d been meeting Bryant after I left the office.
Reese: Yup. Just me and my ugly kitty.
Chase: Good to know.
Reese: Well, sweet dreams.
Chase: You can count on it now. Night, Buttercup.
My best friend Jules and I met for coffee the next morning before work. It had been the longest I’d gone without seeing her since we both started at Fresh Look on the same day seven years ago.
“The place sucks without you,” she pouted as we sat near the window with our coffees.
“Of course it does. You have no one to gossip with.”
“I had lunch with Ena from media relations the other day and told her about a new vibrator I bought. I’m pretty sure I scared her away for life.”
“Some people are uptight about sharing that type of information.”
Jules was the most open and non-uptight person I’d ever met. Her parents were actual hippies, and she grew up with the share the love vibe in her house. Once she told me her parents had separate bedrooms for when the other had company. Sharing highlights about your new vibrator purchase seems tame when you grew up with your parents sharing partners.
“Well…not that you need it since you have Bryant now, but Lovehoney just came out with a new triple-whammy Jessica Rabbit, and it’s seriously better than my last two partners. It actually finds your clit.”
“I’ll have to check it out.”
“Don’t tell me Bryant’s a dud?”
I sipped my coffee. “Wouldn’t know. Haven’t slept with him yet. But he’s pretty attentive in general. So that’s a good sign, I suppose.”
“Just not feeling it with him, or is something else going on?”
The fact that my mind immediately went to Chase made it clear it was more about something else than it was about Bryant. Someone else, actually. “He’s great. He really is.”
“I don’t know. Something has been holding me back from taking our relationship to the next level.”
“Something or someone?”
Jules knew me too well.
“Remember that guy I told you about who I met at the restaurant on my date with Martin?”
“The hot one who made up all the stories?”
“That’s the one.”
“I sort of ran into him again.”
“Well…I’ve run into him a few times.”
I hesitated and then responded with a question, as if I were trying out the response. “In the office?”
Jules put her coffee down on the table between us. “He works at the new office? You’ve got to be kidding me. You know what happened last time you had sex with a co-worker.”
“Chase isn’t exactly a co-worker.” Just as I said the words, my boss walked into the coffee shop. Well, technically he wasn’t my boss. He was my boss’s boss. I wasn’t sure if that made it better or worse. Worse, I’m sure.
Jules and I were in the corner, so I hoped maybe Chase wouldn’t see us. Not that I didn’t enjoy looking at the man every time an opportunity came my way, but I knew Jules wouldn’t be discreet. He walked in, stood in line, and within seconds turned and scanned the room. I briefly wondered if he was looking for me, although I didn’t have time to deliberate long because suddenly he was heading right toward us.
Unlike my first day when I’d run into him here, this morning he was already dressed in a suit. And, shit—he looked even hotter than usual. His hair was still wet and mussed in that way that said he didn’t give a shit, and it worked for him by setting him apart from the other suit-wearing, slicked-back-haired men. He had on a French blue dress shirt and a tie of the same color, only darker. It hung untied around his neck like he’d thrown it on and run out the door in a rush. There was zero doubt in my mind that his shirt was custom made, the way it stretched across his wide chest—fitted, yet not too tight. It hinted at the carved lines I knew were below, but didn’t flaunt them on full display.
While I was discreet in checking him out as he walked over, Jules’ eyes lit up, and she openly ogled.
“Morning.” He smiled at me and nodded to Jules. “How’d you and Ugly Kitty make out last night? She let you get some sleep?”
“She did. Might have to keep her as a bedmate.”
Jules quirked an eyebrow. “Ugly Kitty? And who is this handsome man speaking to us?” Like I said, Jules came from a very open house. She had no filter. If she thought it, it slid right down a steep slide from her brain and popped out her pink-painted lips.
Chase blessed us with his full, mega-watt dimpled smile and extended his hand down to Jules. “Chase Parker. Reese and I work together.”
Jules turned to me, bug-eyed. “Chase as in Chase, who we were just talking about?”
Chase raised an eyebrow. “All good, I hope?”
“Look at you! What could possibly be bad?” she said.
Chase chuckled and shook his head. “You ladies want a refill? I have an early meeting I need to run to after I get my caffeine fix.”
“I think we’re good. But thanks.”
“See you in the office later, then.”
“Highlight of my day,” I teased.
Chase was barely out of earshot when Jules started in.
She held up her hand, showing me her palm. “No need to explain why you’ve lost interest in Bryant. That man is delicious. You know my theory that handsome men aren’t as good in bed as the non-handsome crowd because they’ve never had to work for it hard enough?”
“Yes. What about it?”
“One look at that man and I can tell you, he’s the exception.”
“You know he’s good in bed just by looking at him and that short conversation?”
She put on a serious face. “Without a shadow of a doubt, I do.”
Jules was nutty, but I tended to agree with her. I knew from Chase’s personality that he would perfect anything he focused on. He was also naturally aggressive, which I was certain would translate into dominant in bed.
I sighed. “He’s really smart, too.”
“Poor guy. Gorgeous, smart, and good in bed. What does he do at the new job? Let me guess—sales. Whatever he’s selling, I’m buying.”
“I guess you could say he does a little of everything.”
Jules thought she understood. She shook her head. “Admin assistant? That’s okay. You have a good job. You can be his sugar momma.”
“He’s actually the CEO. Chase Parker owns Parker Industries. And not in the same way that sleazy Derek Eikman will someday own Fresh Look. Chase is self-made. He invented most of the products the company sells, and he runs the company himself.”
“Oh, Jesus. All right, all right. Let me think.” She tapped her pointer finger to her chin a few times. “So you obviously shouldn’t sleep with him, because we know how that can turn out from your little moment of temporary insanity with Derek. But there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that I shouldn’t hop in the sack with that pimped ride.” Jules wiggled her eyebrows.
“I’m trying a new phrase on for size. How’s it working?”
“Well, this could work out for both of us. Actually, it works for four of us. Think about it. If I sleep with him, you’ll think it’s too weird to sleep with him, too. You’re not the kind of person who can explore where your friends have already planted their flags. So he’ll mentally become off limits to you. Eventually you’ll look at him like art you admire instead of a steak you want to eat, and that will free up your appetite for other food—like Bryant. That will make both you and Bryant happy. And, of course, Chase and I are going to be extremely happy…because we will both have had the best sex of our lives.” She shrugged. “Problem solved. You’re welcome.”
I laughed. “I really do miss having you around all the time.”
“Me too. It really sucks without you. Someday we need to start our own advertising firm. We’ll hire only powerful women as management and hot men as assistants.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.”
“So what are you going to do with Bryant and Bossman?”
“I need to give things a real try with Bryant. My dating life hasn’t exactly been full of eligible bachelors. I’ve had one relationship that lasted more than two months in the last five years. And you know how that ended. Alec was a nice guy, but he was still so hung up on his ex that he called me Allison every time we were in bed—usually during his grand finale.”
I sighed. “Bryant really seems to be a great guy without baggage. I should just sleep with him and get it over with.”
“Now that sounds like how I’d want the person I was dating to think of having sex with me for the first time. Get it over with.”