Authors: Jayne Rylon
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary
With a moan, Cobra reversed a tiny bit. Just enough to angle her face toward Alanso.
His fingers held her in place for his best friend.
.” The engineman’s endearment healed some of the wounds on her heart in an instant. Two weeks away had barely staunched the bleeding, but his hungry lips acted like a balm as they caressed hers. She rose up on her tiptoes to knit them more fully.
Freedom raged through her. To finally be able to show them how she felt unlocked a whole fleet of emotions. Her nails dug into their powerful shoulders, impressing them with her mark. She could have continued their exchange indefinitely if it weren’t for the commotion infringing on her concentration.
“Uh, kids? Remember, I’m still in the room.” Tom cleared his throat.
The three of them jerked apart as if someone had flipped the poles on their magnetic attraction. Eli sucked in a huge breath while Alanso shook his head as if to clear it. She could relate. What they had was potent.
Whistles and catcalls winged through their spacious living-dining-kitchen area with its high, exposed metal-beam ceiling and textured concrete floor. Area rugs and furnishings they’d pretty much let her pick out on her own dampened some of the cacophony of testosterone-induced cheers. The canvases hanging on the wall helped some too.
The portrait of Eli behind the wheel of his Cobra was probably her favorite. Short hair, dark glasses and tattoos highlighting his muscles caught her eye as she averted her face long enough to wipe the tears from her cheek.
“Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mustang Sally blush before.” Bryce seemed impressed. “You know, it’s your party if you want to blow us off.”
“Would you mind if we didn’t?” She could hardly believe she had enough self-control to keep from dragging them to her room and ripping their clothes off so she could prove once and for all who Eli and Alanso belonged too. But she’d missed them all and wanted to ground herself before they did anything that might jeopardize the assurances they’d granted each other with one simple kiss.
Maybe things didn’t have to be complicated after all.
“We’ll do whatever you want.” Alanso lifted her hand to his mouth and dusted his lips over her knuckles.
“No need to rush. We’re not changing our minds,” Eli promised. When King Cobra gave his word, nothing else needed to be said. “We owe you an apology whether now or later. A big one.”
“I wouldn’t pass on a beer or two first.” Alanso shuffled from foot to foot. His thick socks skidded on the smooth floor.
“How’d getting trashed work for you last time, son?” Tom interjected from where he leaned against the bar.
“Right.” Alanso cursed under his breath. “
“Go say hello to the gang. They missed you.” The light pressure of Eli’s hand in the small of her back had her shivering. So she appreciated the heat from each of the Hot Rods that hugged her as she threw herself into their arms.
“Next time you go to play with the crew, take us with you,” Holden murmured against the top of her head.
Carver stole her away from his friend. “You have no idea how glad I am to see you.”
“No kidding,” Roman cut in. “These two are even more of a pain in my ass when they’re grumpy about their fuck-ups. Go easy on them, Mustang Sally.”
“Nice to have you back, squirt.” Bryce patted her back with his big hands.
“It was kind of quiet without your ridiculous music pumping in the garage all day.” Kaige tempered his jab with a chocolate cupcake, which he extended to her. “I needed a vacation from Katy Perry.”
She paid him back by putting her hand up and mushing the treat into his smug face.
The rest of the Hot Rods rioted with laughter.
Kaige swiped the cake and cream filling into his mouth, not too upset by the force-feeding. In five seconds or less, the last crumb had vanished without a trace. “Mmm. Haven’t had one of those in forever. I forgot why you love them so much.”
“If you two are finished with your shenanigans…” Tom interjected. The whole room went quiet when he approached. “Welcome home, Sally. I sure did miss your face. With just these guys to look at it was a hell of a lot less pretty around here.”
She banded her arms around the man who’d acted as her father long enough to claim the title in every way but the genetic one. “You’re okay with this?”
“All I’ve ever wanted is for you kids to be happy.” He kissed her forehead. “Looks like I’m about to get my wish.”
“I’ll do my best to take care of them.” She hugged him.
“Good luck.” He ruffled her hair. About the only person in the universe who could get away with it, he reached around her for a strawberry pie and tore into the package. He raised the treat and toasted her return.
A few hours later, Eli’s dad had gone home and most of the guys had fallen in front of the TV to watch a mixed martial arts tournament. Beer bottles, snack wrappers and pizza boxes littered the coffee table. Sally reclined near the end of the sectional with her head on Eli’s thigh and her feet propped in Alanso’s lap. Nothing too out of the ordinary there. She’d spent plenty of Sunday afternoons exactly like this.
Except now she was ultra-aware of every twitch of Cobra’s fingers on her shoulder and the stiff length of Alanso’s cock against her calf as her toes fidgeted. Despite her original plan, she was glad things had settled down a bit from her emotional high. The familiar routine reminded her that they’d had disagreements in the group before.
A fight didn’t mean the end of the world. Good thing too, because she was still pissed off and hurt by what her guys had done. Only difference was now she believed they could work things out. As long as they all had the same goals.
“I think it’s time.” Eli’s gruff declaration had her springing to her feet. Alanso followed right behind. They marched toward the guys’ adjoining rooms by tacit agreement as Eli peeled himself from the leather.
“Sweet dreams, boys and girl.” Kaige gave them a finger wave and a smirk.
The rest of the Hot Rods pretended not to notice the trio’s exit.
Roman turned the volume way, way up. Carver, Holden and Bryce shouted over the din in support of their favorites. Hopefully the only people coming to blows would be the ones onscreen. Unless it were special blows…
Sally appreciated the sound buffer as she couldn’t promise herself she wouldn’t shriek at the guys trailing her into their lair. Maybe she should have gone to her turf, but their rooms were bigger. And so were their beds. Alanso even had those silky sheets she loved to finger when they came out of the drier—hot and smooth.
She’d rubbed them on her arms before, wondering what they’d feel like to lounge on naked. Hopefully she’d find out soon.
they convinced her to go with the half of her in love with them versus the half that kind of hated them at the moment.
Pausing at the threshold, she waited for Cobra to pass by her with an oddly blank expression. Once he had, she slammed the metal door. Digging deep, she latched on to the outrage and indignation their fling had inspired instead of the pain.
“Why the hell are you two so stupid?” She clenched her hands at her sides.
“Uh, I sort of thought we were all good,
.” Alanso shrugged. “Did I miss something?”
“I should have known that was too easy.” Eli shuffled between them, as if shielding the engine tuner from her wrath. “Gonna deck me again?”
She promised herself she wouldn’t crack a smile. Not until they’d heard everything. Glossing over their issues was no way to apply a basecoat for a relationship. “No. Unlike you two, I would never intentionally hurt you.”
“Totally got it.” Alanso held his hands up as if surrendering to her wrath. “For the record, it was my idea. You know, to fuck Bambi. I didn’t think about how it would make you feel. I gotta get better at that. It’s just—”
He didn’t finish.
“What?” She crossed her arms over her breasts, trying to hold herself together. He hadn’t considered the effect his actions might have on her? That seemed worse than whatever else she might have concocted.
, Salome.” When her real name rolled off his tongue, the thrill it gave her lit up her whole being. He never called her that. This was serious shit. “I don’t want to make excuses. My mom, everything with Cobra, the drinking—none of it matters. I’m ashamed of what I did. What I dragged Cobra into. The real problem was that I was a pussy.”
Eli reached out, wrapping one arm around his best friend’s waist and tugging the guy until they stood shoulder to shoulder, bracing each other.
“Oh yeah, you looked terrified while you plowed that bitch all over the hood of the Fisher job.” She huffed. “Not only were you slumming it with trash who treated you like shit, but you screwed up my paint job too. Asshole.”
“For the record, he fixed the hood himself the next morning.” Eli understood the pride she took in her work. “And he’s not lying. We were both afraid because we’ve never done this before. You know, it’s a lot. Deciding to try being with a guy for the first time. It’s amazing. And fucking terrifying.”
The guys stared into each other’s eyes for a moment, making her a tiny bit jealous of the bond they’d formed. In the short time she’d been gone, their friendship had morphed into so much more. It moved her to see them completely integrated.
“It was fresh. Neither of us has had to find our way in the bedroom in a long time,” Eli continued. “For a guy, that’s…unsettling.”
“Didn’t seem to be having any trouble from my perspective.” She rolled her eyes.
“Really?” He drew up taller. “Because I don’t remember touching Fawn. Not that night. I didn’t have it in me. Not when all I could think of was Alanso. And you.”
Sally couldn’t argue with him there. The memory of him humping Alanso to get off was etched into her brain. She’d woken up sweaty, having come in her sleep, several nights of her stay at Kayla’s cabin. Thankfully her hosts had been too gracious to mention any nocturnal cries. No way would she have been quiet.
“What he’s saying is that I begged him for a practice run with someone who didn’t matter. Didn’t need more than some quick relief from us.” Alanso stared at his socked feet. “I didn’t have the
to make a play for what I really wanted. Not feeling like that.”
“Like what?” Sally couldn’t help herself, she inched closer. The sight of his anguish impacted her, even if she would rather hang on to her self-righteous anger.
“It took all the courage I had to lay things on the line with Eli. I didn’t know if he would accept me. And I didn’t know if it would change how I was with women. With you. I wanted to be sure I could do it. That we could make it work before I messed with our relationship.” He swallowed hard. “I can’t lose you, Salome. Not as a friend. If that means we walk from this right now and forget it all, I will. I need you. I’ll take whatever you can give and do my best to deserve something so fine.”
“But Alanso.” She tried hard to believe. One thing kept tripping her up. “I heard you call her your ‘girl’. You told Eli you wanted to remember to keep the focus on
so she didn’t feel left out.”
“That?” Eli gingerly rubbed his eye. “
what you singled out? He was referring to you, Sally. Or did you wipe out the part where Fawn smacked him for screaming out your name when he finally busted in her?”
“What?” She craned her neck.
“How could you have missed that?” Alanso grimaced. “Gentler breed, my ass. We’ve been taking a beating lately. I’m glad it was Cobra’s turn tonight. I swear my jaw has been clicking every time I chew for the past two weeks. Not that I’ve been able to eat much with you missing.”
Now that he mentioned it, he did look a little gaunt. Slimmer.
Sally bent over, bracing her palms on her knees. A deep breath filled her lungs, then another. Could she have had it all wrong? Well, other than the part about Alanso’s cock in Fawn’s pussy. That hadn’t been a mistake.
“You okay?” Eli knelt at her feet. He held her shoulders, supporting her as she reeled.
“Can’t stay.” She could barely force out the words, remembering the lance that had pierced her heart that night.
Cobra’s ashen face and Alanso’s feral cry made her rewind. “
Couldn’t stay. I ran out of there after you came on his ass. It was fucking hot. I felt so alone. Left out. I didn’t think I ever had a chance at what you were giving that ungrateful slut. She was incredibly selfish, only wanted you for herself. I can’t believe you let her keep you from loving each other.
what hurt the most. That you still weren’t being honest. That you might never be ready to admit the truth.”
Hijo de puta
. You really didn’t hear what happened after that? See it?” Alanso scrubbed his hands over his bald head. “No fucking wonder you’re pissed. I don’t blame you. I made you hate us.”
“You have every right to,” Eli admitted softly. “In my heart I knew it was wrong. I feel like I cheated on you. I know we haven’t exchanged any promises, but when it comes to lovers, there’s only room for Alanso and you in my soul.”
“If that’s true, then why didn’t you text me or anything? Didn’t you want to talk?” A sniffle snuck past her guard.
you left us.” Alanso canted his head as if he simply couldn’t understand her. “And when we Skyped the Hot Rods we’d always catch your sweet ass running from us in the background. You made it clear you wanted nothing to do with us. We were giving you what you asked for. Weren’t we?”
“I don’t know anymore.” Part of her, a weak fragment, had wished they’d chase her down so she’d be confident they cared. At least a little.
“Me either. All I’m sure about is that I didn’t want to jack up our chance with you by being awkward. I mean, Eli hadn’t even fucked
yet. What if it was awful? What if we started something we couldn’t finish?” Alanso turned and kicked the chest at the foot of his bed. “And it looks like I ruined it anyway. I’m sorry, Cobra. I should have listened.”