Authors: Emma Nichols
Heaven in Hedonism
The Sinful Series - Book 3
For ten years, Sin and Jolie were inseparable. Now, with Sin happily married and pregnant with twins, Jolie is feeling lost and restless. She knows something is missing, but the closest she comes up with is a desire for her own baby. Maybe, if she could just get past her issue with men, she could find a proper sperm donor.
For the past ten months, she's been working with Mac. Other than being male, he's younger, her complete opposite, and pretty much wrong in every way. Soon, he instructs Jolie to take a vacation and decides to join her. It's only a week, but by now Jolie should know that someone who seems wrong can be oh so right, and a week can change the course of a life.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Copyright 2014 © Emma Nichols
Published by Beau Coup Publishing
Cover by Indie Pixel Designs
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.
This book is dedicated to the three amazing ladies who helped me brainstorm and troubleshoot Jolie’s story, and the one lady who insisted she had a story.
Much love to J.B. McGee, Emily Lawrence, and Lindsay Blalock for giving hours of your time so this project could come to fruition.
Becky Nichols, thank you for convincing me to tell Jolie’s tale.
I am flubber. Not in the actual sense, like a green gooey substance. Instead, I bounce around, completely impossible to contain and control. For years, Sin and I have lived that way together, past tense. She was the rock I built my life on, my partner in crime, my travel buddy, my family in every respect. Then she dumped Kyle, happened upon Ben, and her life has never been the same. It has, in fact, been better in all the best ways. I’ve watched her the last nine months since it all began on that fateful cruise. So, maybe I’m coming off a little bitter. It’s not that. I don’t begrudge her any of her happiness. Sin has had to overcome a lot to have the life she does now.
Even as I thought about all of that, I was pacing in my tiny San Francisco apartment. It was two in the morning. The sun wouldn’t be out for hours. Seriously, I doubted I’d be asleep before then or even at all tonight. As I glanced down at the coffee mug in my hand, I chuckled. Hot cocoa. It was my go-to comfort drink. Only I wasn’t feeling so comforted now. Seriously, I was ready to climb out of my skin. As happy as I was for Sin, I was even unhappier for me. For some reason, I couldn’t settle down.
All those years that had been our motto: never settle and never settle down. Then I told Sin that I wanted to. It was after our drive across the country, after our hectic week of packing and preparing, after Sin met Ben and it was obvious that she needed to. So, I went along. I told her it was time and I was done moving. In the moment, I meant it. In reality, I was being selfless, doing what was right for her. She and Ben were meant to be. Apparently, I was meant to be alone. As of late, I had realized I didn’t want to be alone.
In an effort to stop pacing, I opened the balcony door and sat in one of the patio chairs before setting my mug down on an end table. Maybe I was meant to be a lone wolf. I let out a tentative howl. It felt completely unnatural. Maybe not a lone wolf. I’d have to check out other lone creatures. Pulling my phone from the pocket of my fluffy white bathrobe, I searched lone animals. Would you believe someone on Yahoo! had asked that same question? Someone else had supplied a nice detailed list. Time to pick my animal. Top of the list was spiders. Duh. Nope. I would never be the lone spider. It made me think of daddy longlegs with their round body elevated above long spindly legs. Ew. Next. Green iguanas. Okay, it wasn’t that I was against them, exactly, but I really wanted something cuddlier, an animal that felt more loveable.
As I continued scrolling through the list I found some actual possibilities. From the feline family, we had tigers, leopards, and jaguars. Oh…jaguars. I loved black. Polar bears? Nah. The majestic eagle. Hmm. I loved to fly. The maned sloth. The very word ‘sloth’ rubbed me the wrong way. As one of the seven sins, that was my least favorite. Lust was a sin I could completely embrace.
My eyes continued to scan the list until one lengthy submission caught my eye. Apparently orangutans were solitary creatures, except for mother and child who lived together for seven years. Wonder if the length of time was the equivalent of eighteen in the human world. Males and females only came together for a few days to mate. Interesting. Now, in general, this particular species of monkey struck me as being strangely hairy (crazy pits!) and smelly. Not that I’d sniffed one, but still I could totally understand the rationale. These females knew what was up.
My mom worked outside of the home, took care of everything within the house, especially me. Then my father would show up and completely undermine her, make messes she’d have to clean up and generally upset the balance. As a traveling salesman, he didn’t spend a lot of time at home. When he showed up, it was to have a bunch of laundry washed, folded, and ironed. He’d lord over us for a few days, then it was time to get back on the road. I swear my mother and I both heaved sighs of relief while we waved him off. No wonder I was an only child. Make that, no wonder I was my mother’s only child.
It was on her death seven years ago that I had a call from some girl claiming to be my sister. She lived in one of the cities my father frequented. He had been spending more and more time with her mother. I was sure she would have been lovely, but I’d never know. The hurt and shame overwhelmed me and I hung up on her. She never called again.
Reaching for my mug, I took what happened to be my final sip. The stars had yet to fade, the few that I could see. This was going to be such a long day. Why couldn’t I get sleepy? As soon as The Geek Tank hired me, I had thrown myself into work. It seemed challenging enough. We were in the early stages of creating a new social network because, and let’s face it, Facebook had outlived its usefulness for businesses, charities, pretty much anyone with a fan page. The organic reach that people had come to count on was now all but non-existent. Everyone was looking for the next big thing to come in and change the face of social media. We were building it. If we could just agree on a name.
Maybe I wasn’t super helpful in that respect. I did, after all, suggest the name Look At Me. Mac snickered before he remembered he was in charge of this project and turned all stiff and corporate geek on me. As bosses go, I guess he’s okay. I mean, he’s my first one ever, so what do I know? Oh how I missed working with Sin. Why did I have to sell the company and look for a new challenge? Seriously, I was floating through space like George Clooney.
Sighing, I stood and headed back to the kitchen with my empty mug. Might as well make another hot chocolate. Once by the stove, I grabbed the teakettle and removed the top to add water from the sink. Pausing, I considered a moment that I might need to go straight for the hard stuff. I set the teakettle back on the stove, replaced the lid, and went straight for the fridge. The whole milk needed to be used up anyway. Grabbing it and the Hershey’s, I then yanked a saucepan out from the drawer under the stove.
Just as I was about to pour the milk and turn on the burner, my phone rang. The beautiful face on my screen had my heart pounding. It was Sin. Shit. Caught again. Letting it ring for a moment, I made sure I had my sleepy voice in place before answering. “Sin? S’up?” I asked, convinced I had nailed it.
“I need you!” she yelled into the phone. “Get your ass over here!”
In the background, I could hear Ben. “No, the hospital. Tell her to meet us at the hospital!”
His words changed everything. Suddenly, I reacted, slamming the milk and Hershey back into the fridge. “I don’t understand. The twins aren’t due for another month,” I argued as I moved about the room in a panic.
“Tell them that,” Sin moaned. “I can’t do this without you.”
“Hey, I thought that’s what you said to me.” I heard Ben say.
“I can’t do it without either of you. Happy now?” She whimpered again.
“Sin,” I said gently, “why don’t you relax a minute? Put Ben on the phone. I’ll see you soon.” While I waited, I rushed to my bedroom and pulled out the duffle which had served me well for the last ten years. Before I managed to get more than fresh panties in it, Ben was on the phone.
“Hi, Jolie,” he said in his normal soothing tone. Damn, Sin was lucky to have him in her life. Of course, he was lucky to have her too.
“Hey, Ben, what happened?” I could feel the panic rising in my throat.
“Well, I was making out with my gorgeous, amazing, sexy wife when she had to go and ruin the mood.” He chuckled.
“Did she fart?” I asked. “Because in all our years, I still haven’t heard her fart.”
“No, her water broke. And that’s why we’re headed to the hospital. You know the one. See you there.”
“Oh, Ben,” I said, feeling much better. “Can I bring you anything?”
“Jolie, you know I have everything I need.”
As soon as I ended the call, I worked to get dressed, throwing on a pair of yoga pants and a T-shirt. From there, I loaded my bag with another change of clothes. Weeks ago, I had already packed it as my hospital bag. I had a sock filled with tennis balls for her back massages. There was an iPod loaded with a new Evicting the Twins Playlist and speakers so we could all enjoy it. I had even thrown in a few movies, movies that Sin had always loved, our chick flicks, like
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Joy Luck Club
. There was a bottle of wine for them to enjoy when they made it home, a couple of outfits for the twins, and my camera. Though it was Sin’s specialty, this time I would be the designated photographer for the event.
Locking up my small apartment, I headed to the parking lot to load my vehicle. It was something of a classic. Years ago on our travels, I found it and had it restored, my 1969 Mini Cooper Truck. It was this beautiful cherry red, with whitewall tires, and the wooden railings in the back to make the pick-up walls higher and more stylish. Inside, the cream leather seats with red piping made me happy every time I sat on them. I rarely drove this vehicle any great distance, opting to ship it when Sin and I would move. Seriously, for years, this vehicle had been my baby. Now my best friend was about to have not one, but two real ones. And I couldn’t help but think maybe this was what my life was missing too. Somehow, if I could just get over my issue with men, even if I couldn’t find love, I could find someone to impregnate me. I didn’t want to be alone forever and a baby could fill that void.
Feeling somewhat nostalgic, I drove the hour to the hospital. As I neared it, my phone chimed with a text notification. Ben was letting me know what room they were in. A second text gave more details.
Ben: She’s doing great. Asking about you. ETA?
Me: Almost. Pulling into the parking garage. I need caffeine. See you soon.
Grabbing my bag, I exited the truck after parking it in the enclosure but far from other vehicles. If I could cover it in bubble wrap before heading into the building, I would have. Instead, I accepted the dangers and walked toward the cafeteria. This could take a while and I needed fuel. Sleep was now a concern of the past.
Less than ten minutes later, I was knocking gently on the door while I entered their room. “Jolie?” Sin questioned as she opened her eyes. Throwing her arms wide, she ordered, “Get over here.”
Hugging her wasn’t like it used to be. “Gah, your belly!” I teased. “I liked it better when it was your boobs getting in the way.” I winked.
Laughing softly, she smiled. “Yeah, now they are really in the way.” She rubbed her enormous middle with one hand. “Have a seat. This may take a while.”
“Jolie can have my seat,” he said. “I’m going to run to the cafeteria. She had the right idea.” He pointed to my cup. Before leaving, he gave me a squeeze while he whispered in my ear, “She really needs you right now.”
Clearly, he was giving us a moment. A blush rose in my cheeks because, honestly, I needed some alone time with her too. Everything was about to change. Hell, there had been one change after another ever since she met him. As much as it hurt me, I had to believe life was evolving as it should. For her.
“So, how are you, sexy?” I asked as I sat down beside her in the vinyl rocker. She was quiet a moment, lying there with her eyes closed. For some reason, I felt the need to fill the silence with mindless chatter in an effort to distract her. “This is a nice room. Do you get to give birth in here?” I wondered aloud. Seeing the warming beds to the side, I answered my own question. “Oh, I guess you do.” Standing, I walked over to check the closed door on the other side of the room. Pulling it open, I realized it was a bathroom. “Wow. You have a Jacuzzi tub in here! Awesome.”
“It’s for relaxation,” she murmured. “I’m not sure if they’ll let me use it. I may not even be allowed to get out of bed.”
Finally the old Jolie kicked in. It was time for me to stop being sorry for myself and get Sin through this. “Seriously? What do you have to be upset about?” I watched as her eyes snapped open to see me standing at the end of her bed with my hands on my hips. “You have a husband who adores you. You are about to give birth to his babies. In true Sin form, you are providing a son and a daughter all at once because you wouldn’t want to do this twice. Start acting as happy as you should be. I’d give my left tit to be you right now.”
A smile began to spread across her face. She bit her cheek for a moment to hold back a giggle. “You barely have tits.” She reminded me. “Not like it would be much of a loss.”
“You went there?” I asked, even as I grinned. It worked. My girl was back.
Nodding, she said, “Hell yeah, I went there. Now let’s talk about a true sacrifice. Would you have given your truck to be me?”
Snorting, I said, “I might as well have. I parked it in the hospital parking garage. It’ll probably need an overhaul after this.”
“Now who’s being ridiculous?” she asked, a self-satisfied look on her face.
By the time Ben returned, gradually easing the door open before full committing to entering, we were laughing like the girlfriends we were. “What’s this?” he asked, a fake stern look on his face. “Birthing babies is serious business. None of this.”
“Come kiss me,” Sin commanded. “It’s not going to be just the two of us much longer. We’re going from couple to family of four in a flash.”
Like the dutiful and loving husband he was, Ben crossed the room, leaned over the bed and kissed her in a way that made me look out the window. It had always been that way with them. They could totally forget anyone else was around and be completely engrossed in each other in seconds. A hint of envy crept up and I frowned. Not a good look for me. Another one of my least favorite of the seven deadly sins. She deserved to be happy. It was just that…I wanted to be happy too.