Authors: Julia Kent
Tags: #Contemporary Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction
by Julia Kent
A Her Billionaires novella #3
Copyright © 2014 by Julia Kent
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
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This novella is not a standalone book, but rather is a continuation of the series I started with the
Her Billionaires: Boxed Set
book, and continued in
Random Acts of Crazy
. While new readers are absolutely welcomed into the world of Laura, Mike and Dylan and Laura’s best friend Josie and her boyfriend, Alex, PLUS Darla, Trevor and Joe from
Random Acts of Crazy
will make more sense if you’ve already read the
It’s Complicated, Complete Abandon
The phone rang. Darla let it go for two rings as she cleared her throat, let the flush of surprise die down a bit, and picked up the receiver. “Good Things Come in Threes,” she said, smiling, hoping to inject that perfect balance between friendliness and discretion into her not-quite-smooth voice. “How may I help you?”
A nervous, twitchy silence almost always greeted her. Of course it would. Who picks up the phone, calls a number they read on the internet, and says, “I'm looking for a threesome and I heard you do that for people”?
person already had, and now Darla had to engage her. But that was a rarity. Generally the potential clients were nervous as all get out and stumbled over their words, and about half the time the call dropped off midway, whatever ovarian fortitude the caller had assembled splintering into thousands of tiny pieces.
And yes, they were
women. The men seemed more comfortable, by far, with reaching out and asking for what they wanted.
Wasn't that how it all too often worked?
But Darla, Josie, and Laura had agreed that this service needed to be different.
And if Darla could do anything right, it was
. Different was her middle name. (Not really.
was, but you get the drift.)
“Um, I, uh…is this the dating service?” A young woman with a high, scared voice was on the line. “The one I heard about on Mike Mayhearn's podcast?”
God bless Mike Mayhearn, whoever he was. This was the third call in so many days that referred to him by name. Darla jotted the name on her
list. The ways word had spread online had been so intriguing. Podcasts seemed to be the crazy new thing that brought people to Good Things Come in Threes.
“Yes, ma'am,” Darla said as brightly as possible.
The woman laughed. “I'm not a ma'am! I'm only twenty-five years old.”
“Well, I'm twenty-three, so sorry about that.” Darla chuckled, trying to make a connection. “It's just a formality.”
“I don't think we need formalities for, um, something like this,” the caller answered.
Darla’s smile widened and she gripped her pen. So far, so good. “I assume you're calling to get more information about our dating service?” she replied, keeping her voice neutral.
“What do you know about us?” Asking that question was dicey. Over the past few weeks a slew of hate calls had come in, which prompted Darla to record them all. Turned out to be from one guy who had been rejected as a client by Josie after he said he wanted sex only, and not a long-term emotional relationship. A hate campaign followed on social media and via phone. A public relations firm had been brought in. Damage control hadn't been easy.
Hell, it was
. No one wanted to see this place tank before it ever got off the ground, least of all Darla. She knew how fucking awesome being with two men could be. Parts of her soul had been out there, and instead of killing one with her car on that turnpike road one night in Ohio, she’d picked it up by the side of the road, naked and high as a kite. Trevor’s sudden appearance in her life had preceded Joe’s, but having them both was like learning she’d been missing something she didn’t ache for until she had it.
Other women must feel the same way. Men, too. Helping them made sense to her.
Plus, this was the best damn paycheck she’d ever had in her life. Long live threesome dating services, even if Good Things Come in Threes was the only one…
“I've heard you were founded by that woman who is with the firefighter billionaire. And the other one. The ones in the news.”
Darla’s eyebrows shot up. Very few people knew anything about Laura, Mike, and Dylan's ties to the agency. She needed to tread super-carefully now, because Josie was ultra-protective of her best friend, and by extension, so was Darla. You didn’t fuck with her peeps. Loyalty was her middle name.
was. Apparently, she had a lot of middle names.
“Can I ask how you learned that?”
“Is there a problem?” The caller’s voice shook.
. This was the part where people drifted off. Or hung up.
“No, it's just that I'm in a permanent threesome and I'm surprised to hear what you said.” Deflect. If Darla could get her off topic, she could keep her on the line.
?” the woman squeaked. “Are you a client?”
“Not quite,” Darla replied. “But I was hired because of my background.”
“What's it like?” the caller asked, breathless. This time her voice shook from excitement.
Hold on there, sister. Before I tell you about getting licked and dicked at the same time, I'd like to know your name
“Before I tell you all about my love life, we might want to be on a first-name basis,” Darla said cheerfully. See? She was learning tact. “I'm Darla. What's your name, hon?”
“Callie,” the woman said quietly.
“Callie, it's nice to meet you.” Tact. Darla was practically Miss Menage Manners.
“I didn't mean to offend you!” Callie said, clearly horrified.
Way to scare off the potential clients with her smart mouth
, Darla thought. Such job security. At this rate Darla’d be back home living with her mama and clicking on pictures of donkeys at a hotel website trying to win a free $5 Subway card.
And that would be on date night.
“No offense taken. I understand your curiosity. It's not like you can just go on the internet and find articles about women who are in loving relationships with two men,” Darla replied in the most soothing voice she could muster. No one taught you these kinds of customer service skills in…um…
A long sigh poured out of the phone. “Don't I wish! It's all about swingers and one-time hookups and…you know.” The conspirator's tone Callie used set Darla’s teeth a bit on edge. Actually, Darla
know. It was not as if she went out searching for a permanent threesome. It fell into her lap. And that was the major difference between her and their female clients: Darla never sought out what she had.
It occurred to her, suddenly, that the same was true for her boss, Laura. Hmmm.
Her cell phone buzzed. A text. Ignoring it, Darla kept Callie on the line. While Laura and Josie had told her the business could lose money in the first year—it wasn’t like Dylan and Mike didn’t have enough cash to buy her hometown ten times over—it was a matter of principle for Darla. She wanted to succeed. Clients meant success.
And Callie wanted what Good Things Come in Threes sought to succeed in: nonjudgmental love that happened to use a relationship math that society didn’t necessarily understand. Like being metric in an imperial world. Or being Darla at a Pilates instructor convention.
You didn’t really fit in.
But that didn’t mean you couldn’t exist. And thrive.
“I understand,” was the best Darla could say and remain honest. In some tangential way she did understand. If she had been searching for what Darla had with Trevor and Joe, she’d have thought it impossible to find. And would never even try. Because why torture yourself with dreams of something that was so inconceivable that all you did was abuse your heart with so much wishing?
A smile played on Darla’s lips as she explained how the company worked to Callie.
Making dreams work was her job.
It sure beat working at the gas station back home in Ohio.
After a few minutes of explaining how the registration process worked to Callie, Darla got off the phone and sighed, taking a handful of moments to process what she had just done.
Talk to a woman about her desire to find two men as life partners for a permanent threesome?
Gently persuade the woman to sign up for a trial of their service?
Explain that the company was so new they didn’t have many matches and it could take months (ahem…a year at the current trajectory) to begin to make matches?
Yep. Unfortunately. And so Darla felt like a big old fraud.
Then again, lately she felt that way all the time.
The phone rang again. Pushing her own emotions aside, she geared up for another call. Josie and Laura never saddled her with quotas, but she knew they weren’t twiddling their thumbs running this bizarre business either. She had to earn her keep, and it was a good enough keep that it helped pay for a lot of her mama’s issues back home.
Picking up the phone, she realized caller ID labeled this call from:
“Laura! How are you?” An instant sheen of sweat broke out all over Darla’s body like liquid heat, except this wasn’t that nice, blazing feeling you get when you catch an unexpected picture of Joe Manganiello appearing on Facebook.
This was pure nerves. When the owner of your company calls out of the blue, you freak out, right? Because they only call like this for one reason.
Because you did something wrong.
“Hi, Darla. How’s business?” Laura had a breathy voice that was pleasant to listen to but had an undercurrent of iron to it. Darla admired the flat accent, which was like a linear line without a single deviation. Darla’s own voice sounded like Silly String coming out of a can.
“I signed up a new client!” Darla crowed, thrilled that fate threw Callie her way today. That was the first client in four days, and of all the days and moments to report back a success, well…
“You did! Male or female?” They needed more men. Lots more men. Well, double more men than women, at least. And a few extras, because sometimes women asked for three men, which made Darla feel exhausted. Two were enough for her.
“A woman. Very nice. Nervous,” Darla said with a giggle.
“Aren’t they all?”
She could feel Laura’s kind, calm smile through the phone. But there was something more in her voice. A hesitation. The kind of sound you definitely don’t want to hear in your boss’s voice.
The sound of trouble. Darla’s mind raced through the past three weeks, since her last sit-down with Laura. She hadn’t done anything wrong, had she? A mental inventory of all of Darla’s responsibility left her with nothing. Nada. Zippo. Running the register at the convenience store and gas station back home had been a job that she’d mastered and could do in her sleep, but being the operations assistant with Good Things Come in Threes required skills. Attention to detail.
A major bullshit detector.
And, ideally, someone in a permanent threesome.
Which meant Darla was perfect for the job.
, she told herself.
You’re not getting fired. You’re not.
“Darla, I’m wondering if we could get together for lunch some time.”
Darla’s heart leapt into her throat and began drowning in the puddle of tears that filled her larynx.
“Talk?” she choked out. Talk? Laura wanted to talk? Talking meant concerned looks and deep discussions about failed metrics and unfilled goals and a bunch of corporate-speak that was so full of fail it made Darla cringe. Joe talked that way when he discussed business law, and it always made her laugh.