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Authors: Shiloh Walker

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Lacey’s Game

Shiloh
Walker

 

Lacey Morgan is fed up and heartbroken. Her boyfriend Brogan
is all about control and she’s all about breaking through his barriers. Except
she can’t seem to do it. Unwilling to settle for only part of him, she takes
off, figuring it’s better that way. After all, half of a relationship is worse
than none. She settles in with her best friend, hot and sexy photographer Lou,
figuring she’ll lick her wounds and give her heart time to heal.

Finding Lacey gone is a punch to the gut. Finding her with
another guy is even worse. She isn’t interested in listening to what he has to
say, though. Not unless he’s willing to strip himself bare and give up pieces
of himself that died long ago.

Brogan can’t do that. Or so he thinks. Lacey and Lou have
other plans, a hot, torrid night, some hot, sexy pictures… Lacey is determined
to show Brogan a new way of seeing things.

 

An
Exotika®
BDSM menage erotica
story from Ellora’s Cave

 

Lacey’s Game
Shiloh Walker

 

Chapter One

 

“I know you love him.”

Seated in a little hole-in-the-wall diner known for its
messy, amazing burgers and cold, cheap beer, Lacey Morgan propped her head
against her upraised palm. She wasn’t in the mood for this.

She recognized the tone in Rocki’s voice. She already knew
where the conversation was headed and she really didn’t want to go down this road
again.

“Rocki. Don’t. Okay? Just don’t. I don’t want to do this
right now. Or…you know…
ever
.”

Her best friend just stared at her. Without saying a word.

Rocki wouldn’t let it go, not as easy as that. She was a
bulldog when it came to her friends.

Lacey sighed and leaned back in her seat. Could she get away
with ordering a drink at eleven in the morning? Lips pursed, she debated it,
but only for a minute. It was her day off. Why the hell not.

After she’d ordered a rum and Coke, she looked back at Rocki,
who continued to sit there, watching her with a patient look on her face. She’d
wait forever too, if she had to. Rocki was good about that sort of thing.

“Can’t you just let it go?” Lacey stared out the window, but
she wasn’t seeing the bright autumn sunshine filtering down through the trees,
she didn’t see the shoppers coming and going. No, she was remembering last
night. The entire scene was like a fist in her heart—no, a knife, straight
through the ribs and twisting around inside her, a perfect strike. It was a
wonder she was still breathing.

Why did she do this to herself?

Why did she let
him
do it?

“You know I can’t,” Rocki said, leaning forward and catching
Lacey’s hand. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody look more heartbroken than
you did last night. And that bastard doesn’t even see it. He won’t even look.”

“Brogan doesn’t want to see it.” She fell silent as the
waitress appeared with her drink and waited until the woman disappeared before
she closed her hands around it. The food she’d ordered sat untouched in front
of her. She knew she should eat, but she couldn’t.

“I can tell that.” Rocki leaned back, the cheap vinyl seats
squeaking beneath her. “Baby, why do you let him do this?”

Good question
.

Staring into her drink, she wished she had some sort of
answer to give her best friend. But she couldn’t even explain it to herself.

In her mind’s eye, she saw him again. They’d been dancing,
although she had known something was already bothering him. She’d left to go to
the bathroom and when she came back, she’d seen him talking to Grace.

Five minutes later, he
left
with Grace and it had hit
her like a backhanded slap, that careless, thoughtless cruelty.

They weren’t exclusive although she’d damn well never tell
him she hadn’t been with anybody but him in well over a year. Still, they’d
made plans to meet there—he’d never once made plans with
her
and then
gone off with another woman.

The hurt and the humiliation had twisted inside her, dark
and awful and angry.

She didn’t know
why
he’d done it, but the
why
didn’t matter. He’d done it and she couldn’t get past it.

Shifting her gaze up, she stared at Rocki. Cole, Rocki’s
fiancé, wouldn’t ever do that to her… He’d never hurt his woman that way. But
Brogan hadn’t had any problems doing it.

And if it struck him to do it again, he would. Once Brogan
got an idea in his head, then he wasn’t going to deviate from it. She knew it
as well as she knew her own name. Brogan did pretty much whatever in the hell
Brogan wanted, and screw whomever it hurt. He’d even told her that…before.

He’s never done it to me, though. Not to me. Not like
this.
Not like this. There had been little things, how he never let her
sleep at his place, how he kept her at a distance, but he’d never been…such an
ass before.

A soft sigh hitched in her throat and she groaned.
I can’t
cry here. Not here.

“You can’t help that you love him,” Rocki said, gripping
Lacey’s hand in her own. “And I
know
that you do. But sooner or later,
you have to stop waiting for him. You have to stop thinking about how much you
love him and look at how much he hurts you.”

Rocki shifted her eyes down at the lingering bruises on
Lacey’s wrists and murmured, “And I’m not talking about the kinky shit you all
play in your bedroom, either. If you want to get your freak on, I don’t care.
But what he did last night, you know it’s wrong. If Cole did that to me, what
would you be saying?”

A faint grin curved Lacey’s mouth. “Not a damn thing. I’d be
too busy clawing my boots out of his throat.”

“Well, then.” Rocki twined their fingers together and
squeezed. “You know this isn’t good for you.”

Lacey looked away. Swallowing the knot in her throat, she
tried not to show the misery she felt inside. Wished she didn’t feel it at all.
But she needed to let herself feel, and more, she had to let herself think—now,
right now, while the hurt was still fresh.

He’d been in one of his moods, and she’d known it. Part of
her had even been a little excited because Brogan in one of his moods was a
heady, sexy thing. But he hadn’t taken her home. He’d left with Grace, as he
always did when he swung into one of those darker mindsets.

Lacey was his fun-time, feel-good girl.

She wasn’t his always girl.

She wasn’t his,
period
.

It was past time she accept that and move on.

She had to stop this. It was over and done.

Brogan would only give her so much. Shifting her gaze to
Rocki, she said softly, “You’re right. It hurt like hell. But it is what it is.
He is who he is.”

“And he won’t change.” Rocki squeezed her hand once more.
“How much longer will you let him hurt you?”

Swallowing, she rubbed her hands over her face and then
lowered them, looking at the table.

“I think I need to end things,” she said quietly, not
looking at Rocki. She kept her gaze focused on the table. She didn’t dare move,
didn’t even want to take a deep breath for fear she might shatter.

All night
, she thought, staring at the vivid blue on
her fingernails. She’d cried over him
all night
.

And it wasn’t the first time.

Swallowing, she finally let herself look up at Rocki.

“Over?” Rocki still watched her, her gaze worried and sad.

“Yeah.” Closing her eyes, she slumped back against the
padded booth. “You’re right. This is so fucked up and I can’t keep doing this,
but if I let him do it this time, he’ll just do it again and again, whenever
the mood strikes him. I can’t go through that again.”

Her voice hitched in her throat and she stopped. Damn it. No
more crying about this.

* * * * *

Brogan Grainger had fallen asleep in a bad mood. He woke up
in an even worse mood. The sight of the tangled blonde hair spread out on the
pillow next to his didn’t do a damn thing to help things, either.

He blinked and rubbed his eyes, halfheartedly hoping that
would make the hair turn into those crazy, strawberry-blonde curls, but it didn’t
work. The mussed blonde coif remained and he had no choice but to think about
what he’d done last night.

The look he’d seen on Lacey’s face just before the door
closed behind him.

Better off
,he’d insisted. It was better off.
I don’t get tangled up in her. She doesn’t get her hopes up. It’s all better
this way
.

He hadn’t believed it then, and he hadn’t been able to fuck
the idea out of his system either.

Now, lying there, the more he thought about it, the madder
he got.

Especially when he let himself acknowledge the fact that all
he had to do was just reach out to her last night and he could have had that
red-gold hair tangled around him all night. All morning. For as long as he
wanted. She was
his
…and once more, he’d walked away.

What was he doing?

A hand touched his cheek. Irritated, he shifted away. Grace
sighed. “You know, running from her won’t change how you feel.”

Kicking his legs over the side of his bed, he shot her a
narrow look. “Want some breakfast before I take you home?”

“No. I don’t think you should waste time on breakfast
either.”

He saw her slim reflection in the mirror over his dresser,
watched as she gathered her clothes. “And that means…?”

“Men. You are so clueless at times.” She pulled her black
dress on before she turned to meet his gaze in the reflection. “Last night wasn’t
about me. You didn’t even
want
me.”

He opened his mouth but she shook her head, holding up her
hand. “You called me by her name in the middle of the night. While you slept.
Now, I don’t need to hear your excuses and shit. I
know
how you feel
about her—I’ve known for a while, and I still keep chasing after you. Screw me.
I’m selfish.” She shrugged but there was an odd glint in her eyes as she
continued to watch him. “Normally I wouldn’t give a damn, but I like you. We’ve
been friends a good, long while and as your friend…”

“We’re not friends,” he growled.

She cocked a brow at him and continued as if he hadn’t
spoken. “As your friend, I have to tell you this. You’re losing her. I know
that look in her eye—I’ve seen it. It was the look in my eye for years before I
finally gave up on my husband and divorced him. You’re losing her. Is that what
you
want
?”

Brogan swore. Skimming his hand back over his naked scalp,
he shook his head. “I can’t lose what isn’t mine. She’s not mine. Lacey and I
don’t have anything…”

“Isn’t she?” She lifted a brow. “If that’s your story, fine.”
She paused and then said softly, “But I saw her face last night. If you hadn’t
called me by her name, I wouldn’t worry about it. But you did. You care for
her—and you’re losing her.”

Those words were like a punch to his heart. Was she…

No. Shit. “Grace, this doesn’t concern you.” Lacey and he
had an arrangement, just as he and Grace did. They fit each other sexually. Sometimes.
But that was it.

“You’ve hidden from life long enough, don’t you think?” For
the longest time, she stared at him. “Not everybody is out to screw you over.”

Chapter Two

 

“You’re really moving?”

Lacey bit back a smile. It was only the tenth time Rocki had
asked. “It’s the right thing to do.”

She gathered up the neat rolls of corsets that lined one
shelf of her closet. She’d be helping a friend with his bar in Lexington,
mixing drinks at her new job, and although she wasn’t about to wear her really
nice corsets, she had plenty of casual ones that would do the trick just fine.
Cotton and canvas would hold up to spilled alcohol a lot better than silk and
lace would.

“Not permanently, right?”

“Baby, she isn’t doing this just to torment you, ya know.” Rocki’s
fiancé, Cole Stanton, hugged her, rubbing his cheek against her hair.

“Of course not. I’ve got better ways of doing that.” Lacey
forced a smile. It faded fast, though, leaving her staring at Rocki with solemn
eyes. “I’ve gotta get away for a while, sweetie. I have to.”

Brogan had called three times. She had ignored the first
two. The third one, he’d invited her to the cabin.

The cabin—a month ago, that would have delighted her. He
went to his little place in the mountains every other weekend, and he rarely
wanted company.

But it was too late. Finally, the anger had worked its way
through the pain, through the humiliation, and it was going to take a hell of a
lot more than a trip to his cabin to get through to her. She already knew that
wasn’t going to happen, either. If he wanted her back, he’d actually have to
give
her something and she wasn’t talking gifts. She wanted
him
.

Brogan didn’t believe in sharing pieces of himself.

Instead of telling him off as she wanted, though, she’d
lied.

Taking the coward’s way burned a little, but if she’d given
him any indication she was leaving, he’d have come over there and she felt too
raw to face him yet.

So she’d lied, keeping her voice cool. By the time he called
again, she’d be gone.

It was just a little white lie—claiming to watch the store
for Rocki over the weekend. It wasn’t as if he was ever going to know the
difference. Once he was back in town, she’d already be in Lexington, settling
into her new life, finding some much-needed distance.

In a few weeks, he’d move on and she wouldn’t have to worry
about facing him.

Yeah, she was a chickenshit.

So what, though?

Rocki continued to watch her. “I just don’t feel like this
is the best time for you to be alone.”

“I’m not going to be.” Forcing herself to smile, she wagged
her eyebrows. “I’m going to be working with Lou.”

Rocki’s opened in surprise. “Lou…as in the sexy,
oh man can
I please jump him
photographer who does our shoots sometimes?”

Cole scowled. “Who?”

“Oh, I mean that in the purely theoretical sense, baby, I
promise.” Rocki patted his arm. “You’re going to be working with Lou?”

Lacey nodded. They’d been on-and-off again lovers for years,
but for the past two years, it had been all off. Because of Brogan. They were
still friends, though, always would be. When Lou had emailed her, mentioning
yet again that’d he love to have her on hand at the bar, she’d recognized the
lifesaver.

What drowning woman wouldn’t?

A jack-of-all-trades, Lou had left working at a garage to
run his own bar a year earlier. Photography was his real love but it didn’t
always pay the way he’d like, considering he’d only do the shoots he liked, and
that wasn’t many, so for money, he worked at other things—and those things were
many.

He’d driven a cab, managed a garage, and now he owned—yes,
owned—a bar. He’d inherited it, if she remembered right.

She’d mixed drinks for the last few years of college. She
could do it again.

And she could hide from Brogan, heal…and spend some time
with a guy who made her feel wanted. Appreciated.

What could go wrong?

Rocki smiled at her.

Lacey grimaced. That cat-and-cream smile on her friend’s
face shouldn’t make her so nervous.

But it did.

 

Standing on the deck, Brogan stared out over the vibrant
green of the mountains and tried to find the peace he had always found. But it
wasn’t there.

Closing his eyes, he found himself thinking of Lacey. He had
wanted her here with him.

He had
missed
her, damn it. He hadn’t thought it was
possible to miss anybody like this, especially since he’d worked damn hard to
keep from letting anybody get close enough to matter. But this was an ache
inside him, one that just wouldn’t let go.

It had been three weeks since he had seen her. She hadn’t
called, hadn’t emailed. There were no silly little texts on his phone in the
middle of the night and no sexy little pics of her modeling a new corset from
the shop where she worked.

The one time he finally had her on the phone, she’d been on
the line all of ninety seconds and her voice had been cool to the point of icy.

Okay. So he had hurt her. He had to fix that. Apparently,
Grace was a little more in tune with things than he’d realized. Figured. That
woman was right about most things.

Hooking a hand over the back of his neck, he stared at the
mellow gold of the deck. He would go see her tomorrow when he got back into
town. He’d buy her something. Lacey was easy to shop for—something to be
grateful for. She loved anything shiny, anything silly and anything she could
read.

Grace’s words came back to him. “
I don’t think you should
waste time…”

He started to brush it off. But he’d been ignoring that
gut-deep need to see Lacey, to call her. Then when he had, she’d acted as if he
didn’t really exist—he was just some stranger on the phone and she needed to
deal with him so she could get back to whatever she was doing.

Wasting time—he was wasting time.

And he’d already wasted too much of it.

 

It wasn’t a long drive back to Asheville. Maybe an hour. But
it seemed to take the entire day. He’d spent that interminably long drive
practicing what he’d say. He’d been an ass. He was sorry. He knew they weren’t
exclusive, after all, they’d talked about that a lot, but he had no right to
treat her that way and he was sorry.

And maybe—

His gut knotted up just thinking about it.

But he needed to do something.

Besides, sometimes, when he’d see Lacey at the club, when
she was talking to some of the guys she knew, even though it was just casual,
he had these moments where his brain just wanted to explode. Where he wanted to
grab anybody who was even near her and just pummel them bloody.

Was it a bad thing, really, to have a real relationship with
her?

It would make her happy. It would maybe fix the awful, ugly
rift he’d put between them. And he wouldn’t have to worry about that cold,
nasty dread that was spreading through him…that feeling that he was losing her.

The lights of Asheville gleamed ahead and it wasn’t too long
before he was able to turn onto the street of Lush and Lace, the little shop
her friend Rocki owned. Lacey modeled some of the corsets, did all the
photography and maintained the website, plus worked at the store three days a
week. Brogan hadn’t been here more than two or three times, but he knew all
about it. Maybe he could pick a few things out for her. He loved the lingerie
they sold, loved seeing it on her, loved taking it off her.

Checking the time, he saw it was close to five. The store
closed early on Sundays. That was good. He could ask her on a date. They could
go out and he would make it up to her—hurting her the way he had.

They would talk and…he would fumble his way through the
apology. He sucked at apologies because he so rarely offered them. Unless the
person mattered, he didn’t bother with them.

And Lacey was the first person to really matter in a long
time.

Not everybody is out to screw you over…

He just hoped Lacey had missed him half as much as he’d
missed her. It would make it easier to smooth things over.

He was nervous. It pissed him off, but there wasn’t much to
be done for it. It wasn’t an unusual thing with Lacey, though. He’d never been
on entirely level footing with Lacey. He’d always felt a little less in
control, a little less sure.

It was the main reason he’d kept her at a distance. Seeing
her, though, the thought of it had always left him excited, hot…more. She did
things to him, made him wish for things.

But it wasn’t ever like this. He hadn’t ever really worried
that he might lose her.

Losing Lacey… That was just unthinkable.

“Like hell.” He wasn’t going to lose her. With that in mind,
he stormed into the store. They’d have it out, and they’d do it now.

Shoving open the door, he had his mouth open to say…something.
But it wasn’t Lacey behind the counter. It was Rocki and she didn’t look at all
sick. For a second, he just stared at her, his mind spinning. And although he
already knew, he found himself asking, “What are you doing here? I thought you
were sick.”

“Sick?” Rocki lifted a brow at him. Her mouth curled in an
amused little smirk. “Well, I was feeling fine, right up until I saw your face,
asshole.”

Sighing, he skimmed a hand back over his naked scalp. “Okay,
I deserve that.” Taking a deep breath, he said, “Lacey told me she was covering
for you because you were sick. I’d asked her to come to the cabin with me. I
guess it was too much to ask for her to just be honest and say she didn’t want
to come.”

“You think you deserve that? You treat her like shit but you
deserve honesty from her? Respect?” Rocki sauntered out from behind the
counter. She wore boots, the heels tall enough to put her eye to eye with him. Her
dark-brown eyes glinted with heat and disgust as she stared at him. “You know,
I really don’t get what she sees in you, you stupid ass.”

“Rocki—”

She shook her head. “Shut up. I don’t want to hear it. She’s
into you—I know that. But I don’t know why. All you do is hurt her. You’ve done
it for the past two years and if she stays around, you’ll keep on doing it.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. “I don’t hurt her. And what we
do is none of your damn business—”

“I said shut up,” she snarled, leaning in until she was no
more than an inch from his face. “You think I give a damn what the two of you
do behind closed doors? She likes her sex rough. Fine. Yippee. As long as she’s
into it and you don’t do anything she doesn’t want? Have fun.”

She spun away and stalked toward the counter.
There, she turned around and leaned back, crossing her arms
over her chest, eyeing him as though he were something she would scrape off the
bottom of her boot.

“You hurt her,” she said again, her voice low, all but
vibrating. “All the damn time. Every time I think the two of you might actually
be making a go of it, you do something stupid and I want to shake
her
because
she just puts up with it. You were at the club with her the other night—she
looked as happy as I’d ever seen her, and then she goes to the bathroom and
within thirty seconds, that bitch Grace is hanging all over you.”

“Now wait a minute.”

Rocki shoved off the counter. “You shut the fuck up,” she
said. “Or I will smash that ugly face of yours in. You come into my store after
breaking my friend’s heart, you will hear what I have to say.”

Brogan blinked, caught off guard. Rocki had claws—he’d
always known that. It was part of why she and Lacey got along so well. Both of
them had a streak of mean a mile wide. But he hadn’t had too many women
threaten to…how did she put it? Yeah, threaten to smash his face in. Running
his tongue across his teeth, he rocked back on his heels and waited.

“I don’t care if you two have an open relationship and I
don’t care if you and Grace go way back,” Rocki said, her eyes glinting. “
I
go way back with Lacey. And you treated her like shit. I was the one watching
her try not to cry after you humiliated her. So if I want to call you an ass
and that woman a bitch, I damn well will. You don’t deserve Lacey.”

Brogan set his jaw and shifted his attention past her to
stare at the wall. There was an unframed print mounted there, the woman in a
shimmering bronze corset, vivid, red-gold curls spiraling down her back, her
hands gracefully tying the laces. The viewer couldn’t see the model’s face, but
he knew who it was. Lacey. He stared at the print for a long, long moment
before he finally shifted his attention to Rocki and said gruffly, “I know.”

“You know.” Rocki arched a brow. She paced forward, that
look of acute dislike still on her face. “I hear you wanted to take her to the
cabin. You broke her heart. You humiliated her, and then you called and offered
to take her to the cabin. Let me guess, you thought taking her away for a
romantic getaway, fucking her brains out for a few days would make it all
better?”

There really wasn’t any way to respond to that, Brogan
decided. So he stayed silent.

“Nothing to say now?” Rocki asked mockingly.

“You seem to be dead set on saying it all.” He rubbed his
hands over his face and turned away. He had to fix this. “Look, I’ve screwed
up, a hundred times, a thousand times. But I do care about her, and I’m going
to fix this.”

“Yeah.” She snorted. “Good luck with that.”

He shot her a dirty look. “I’m not giving her up.”

“Too late. She’s given up on you.” A cat’s smile curled her
lips.

He opened his mouth and then just snapped it shut, shaking
his head as he headed for the door. He didn’t have time to play Rocki’s games.
He had to find Lacey and start fixing this. As he hit the door, he paused and
looked back.

Rocki stood there, still watching him with a smirk.

Something about the look in her eyes should have warned him.
But he was so determined to get to Lacey, he just wasn’t thinking clearly. All
he could think about was the fact that he had to fix this. Had to make Lacey
understand that he hadn’t done anything to hurt her, not intentionally, at
least—that he was just screwed up and he needed time to level out.

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