Laura sipped the rest of her glass and said nothing when Mike, after pouring a glass for Dylan, refilled hers without asking. The three stood and faced the large picture window, eyes unfocused and lost in the splendor of the view as the dusky, pink-streaked sky faded with a sepia tone.
It was the most time she’d spent just being with them since the baby had been born.
The baby. Jillian. Motherhood. For a short half hour she’d somehow pushed all thoughts of the baby aside and taken halting steps toward just being Laura again.
And it had felt good.
Reproach and guilt poured in. She batted it away. Jillian was fine. Fine. Alex and Josie could manage just fine.
And she still felt good. She felt damn good.
Speaking of things that felt good…Dylan’s arm found its way around her waist and he kissed her neck, the scent of wine and citrus mixed with his earthy, spicy aftershave. A deep inhale and another kiss, this one below her ear, and she felt her heart pick up, her body responding with a finely-tuned keening that made her feel empty, wanting him in her. The sudden rush of warmth and eagerness surprised her, making her smile, for it also pleased her.
Maybe more of the old Laura remained than just her wine cluelessness.
Maybe she really could find her way back, for one night, to the way they were.
Dylan turned her toward him, finished his glass of wine in one big swig, and with a tight power in his face that she would have thought was anger if she didn’t know otherwise, reached for her hand. He pulled her toward the bed. He didn’t ask.
This wasn’t up for discussion.
Mike—to Laura’s deep amusement—finished the rest of his wine with an audible gulp and joined them. The air in the room was suddenly cold and hot at once, the candles making the bed seem to float in the middle of the room. Acutely aware of every muscle in Dylan’s hand, the way the hair at the top of his chest peeked out from the V of his shirt, how Mike’s tall, lean body cast a shadow in the ever-darkening room, Laura felt transported. Loved. Wanted.
Four hands made ready work of removing her clothes as Laura closed her eyes, so vulnerable and accustomed to the two men, yet hesitant and a bit shy. Dylan eased her heathered-lilac shirt up over her head, hands sending the shirt to the ground, then cupping her full breasts with a sense of want she could feel in her core, her body tightening and opening at the same time, ready for what he so desperately seemed to want to give. Mike’s fingers pulled at the zipper at her waist, letting her skirt drop to the ground. She slid her shoes off, now in her panties and bra, hating how awkward and self-conscious she felt.
It had been so long. Her fault, entirely—Mike and Dylan had asked plenty of times for more sex, though over the last month they’d backed off, probably tired of her endless rejections.
Mind looping with all these thoughts, she couldn’t just relax.
Even worse, she struggled to hide that fact. Because who gets uptight and awkward around the men you’ve pledged to love forever? Their bond was sacred, the three connected and forged into one soul, it seemed. If Laura had been told two years ago that she would soon meet two protectors who would love her forever and unconditionally, and would give her the greatest gift ever in baby Jillian, she would have scoffed at the sheer impossibility of such a life.
Yet here she was, now, living it. With Mike’s intense eyes raking over her nearly-nude form, Dylan’s hands effortlessly unclasped her bra, sending shivers down her spine as he moved the lingerie across her shoulders and let it slide, useless and unwanted, to the ground.
She froze, and it wasn’t from cold. Looking at Dylan, Mike frowned and reached down, one arm going under her knees, the other under her neck and then—she was in his arms.
“Put me down!” she gasped, impressed by the feel of hard muscle against the back of her knees. You would think she weighed nothing, the way he held her, as if she were a hundred pounds lighter.
“I’m about to,” he murmured in her ear, eyes closed off, making her feel unsettled. What was this? Depositing her on the bed, Mike nodded to Dylan, who appeared at the headboard with a small box, the size of a laptop computer.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
And then silk scarves appeared, the same color as the netting that surrounded her now that she was on top of the down comforter. The feel of the feather bed beneath her nude skin was like being reborn, the comfort and sensuality a balm that cut through her trepidation.
“You tell us,” Mike said, sitting on the bed next to her. A chill poured over her exposed skin, knees bent and thighs pulled up against her waist. One nipple stretched, lazy and languid, toward the bed spread, her body on display for her fully-clothed and—she now saw—very determined men.
“Tell you…what?” she asked, sitting up, pulling her knees to her chest. This felt wrong. Different. Not what she’d expected.
Dylan fingered a silver silk scarf, pulling it between his fingers, the action so powerful and suggestive she found herself licking her lips for no conscious reason. “Shall I be Gideon?” he asked, looking at Mike.
“Sure. And I can be Cooper.”
“Been reading my eReader?” she squeaked, taking a stab in the dark.
Dylan snapped the silk like a cord, making not so much a sound, but a gesture that left her confused. He didn’t answer her question, but instead asked one of his own, dark hair mussed, mahogany eyes bold and in control. “Do you want a contract?”
“Contract?” Laura repeated, brain on fire.
“And a safeword?” Mike crooned.
“Because Laura,” Mike said, interrupting, his own hands now filled with a different silk scarf, this one bright, China red, “we’re the ones who should be your book boyfriends.”
“And only us,” Dylan growled.
Book boyfriend? How did they know that term? How did they know what she’d been reading? Did they read her eReader and find all those erotic romances on it? Gideon? That meant they’d read Sylvia Day’s BDSM books. Cooper? The extraordinary Dom? Oh, God—they’d found Their Virgin Princess—and oh, holy mother of—what was Mike pulling out of that box?
Was that a vibrating butt plug and a bottle of lube?
Uhhhh. Her mind went blank. Completely, hopelessly empty.
Both men now sat on opposite sides of her, twenty throw pillows in various hues of cream piled around them, the netting thrown back so that they lived in a little bubble. A tense, sexually-charged bubble of her own making.