Authors: Em Petrova
And she hadn’t even heard his voice.
“Can I help you?” His deep baritone was quiet. Thoughtful. And sexy as hell.
When he looked at her in confusion, she drew a deep breath and plunged into the uncharted waters.
Shock rippled across his chiseled features. His gaze slowly dipped from her face to her painted toenails in her strappy sandals. Then back up. Just as slowly.
Finally, he stepped aside, giving her a view of the interior of his home. “Come in.”
As she brushed past him, the hair on her body lifted in awareness.
His scent permeated her head and other parts of her body stirred. But knowing Margot had been in his arms was the biggest aphrodisiac.
Knowing he’d been between her luscious thighs, had driven inside her...Jane shuddered.
Danny closed the door behind them and she turned to face him.
His eyes were wide and his lips parted with surprise. “Did she send you?” His rough tone told Jane he almost hoped she’d been sent by Margot.
She shook her head. Her hair swished around her shoulders and drew his gaze. “She doesn’t know I’m here. In fact, I haven’t talked to her in a long time. She’s broken everything off with us.” Swallowing hard, he ran his hand through his hair. “Come into the kitchen. There’s coffee. We can talk.” With a nod, she followed him through the cozy rooms to the light, airy kitchen. His limping step was only slightly noticeable. Considering what Margot had told her about his nearly catastrophic injury, he got along easily.
An oak table for two stood in the center of the room, and she sank to one of the chairs while he reached into a cupboard and drew out two mugs. As he poured the dark brew, he remained in profile. But she saw the edge of tension in him.
“I haven’t heard from her either.”
A vein of annoyance ruptured inside her. “Of course she wouldn’t call you, Danny. She’s devastated by what happened.” He pierced her in his gaze. The intensity of it—his unchecked passion and fury and sadness—took her breath away. “I don’t know why I’m admitting this to you, but I’m pretty shattered too.” A puff of air left Jane. Perhaps he could open up to her and listen to her reasons for coming here. For a heavy heartbeat, their gazes 46
held. A heated blush began to climb over her throat and spread to her cheeks. Damn, she hadn’t blushed like this since...she’d met Ethan.
The realization struck her, and she began to mentally flounder, wondering what she was doing here alone with this man when she was obviously attracted to him. He was stunning in his own rights, from his overwhelmingly male body to the fact that he loved Margot too.With his slightly limping step, he crossed to the table carrying the mugs. He set hers before her and asked if she took cream or sugar.
She covered the top with her palm. “Black is fine, thank you.” His lips twitched. “So you and Margot...are lovers.” The sound of the words created a warm pool in her belly. Lovers.
A beautiful word. And one she might never again associate with another woman. After giving her heart to Margot, she couldn’t imagine entrusting it to any other. Besides, Margot was perfect for her.
To cover her emotion, she took a sip of the scalding coffee. “We started something up a few months ago, and I instantly fell in love with her.”
He flinched at her admission, but she plowed on.
“I don’t have to tell you she’s a wonderful woman. Warm and giving. The most caring. When we first got together, she was suffering from a lack of self-esteem after her divorce, and I’ve seen a blossom-ing in her since.”
Something cold moved behind his eyes. “So where did your husband come into the picture?”
She drew up a little at his tone, guarding her heart and on the defensive for Ethan’s sake. “It was the natural course of events, considering Ethan is my husband, my soul mate. We are very open with one another about our wants, and when he realized I needed Margot in my life, he didn’t hesitate to include her. At first, she was a little worried, but soon realized it was a perfect fit.”
“And there are emotions involved? Between those two?” Reluctantly, Jane nodded. Though she rejoiced at the idea that he didn’t mind her feeling love for Margot, she felt he wouldn’t exactly approve of a heart connection between Margot and Ethan.
Danny set his cup down with force, sending the table wobbling.
“Damn, I don’t like to hear that. So she used me, for what? What did she get out of a relationship with me when she already had two people to love—a man and a woman?”
“Margot longs for the happily ever after. She wants that with you.
The husband to come home to when she’s had a rough day at work, who will draw her into his arms and unconditionally love her. Of course she can have that with me and Ethan any day, but it’s trickier with us, because we all have children to protect from rumor. Margot goes home to a lonely house and an empty bed.”
“So she does want a man. Besides Ethan, that is.”
“Absolutely. If you can give that to her, be there for her and love her, Ethan and I can back off. We can give her up.” Her voice broke.
Tears burned her eyelids, and she simply couldn’t hold them in any longer. They dropped, one by one, falling faster as the pain swallowed her.For a long moment, silence reigned. She wrapped her fingers around her mug and let the warmth seep into her, wishing Ethan was here to lean on.
After a minute, Danny’s big hand covered hers. Curled around her fingers and threaded his way past the walls she’d just thrown up.
“I’m sorry that you’re hurting. It’s obvious how much you love her. If it’s any consolation, I feel the same way. Heartbroken. Lost.
Adrift on a sea. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done, next to fighting for my life and seeing my friends die.” His voice cracked too.
She looked up into his face to see the tears standing in his eyes.
A soft sob burst from her. “I’m sorry for the things you’ve endured.
You’re a strong man.”
He squeezed her hand, and then released it. “Not strong enough to stay away from Margot, though.”
She straightened in surprise. “You mean you’ll go to her? Patch things up and make her happy again?” The corner of his lips twitched up in a smile, and it was like the sun breaking through the clouds. “I can’t hold back the feelings I have for her. She’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. When I was in Iraq, fighting that goddamned war, seeing my men die and picking up their remains, one thought kept me going. Kept me fighting. It was the idea of coming home whole and finding a good woman to love.” He shifted his leg beneath the table. “I didn’t get the ‘whole’ part, but I found the woman.”
Jane understood how much he did love Margot. It was spelled all over his handsome features.
“Besides, I understand better. I get that she loves more than one person. And how can I fault her for loving you and...even loving Ethan, when I’m guilty of the same?” With a start, she stared at him. Confusion battled with her senses.
What did he mean?
He took a gulp of his coffee and set the mug down again. Leaning back in his chair, he gazed at her solemnly. “I haven’t told anyone this, and can’t figure out why I’m spilling my guts to you—a complete stranger—”
“I’m not a stranger. We love the same woman. Surely that binds us in some way, Danny.” Her words, once spoken, sounded breathless and full of emotion. Emotion that he picked up on too, if the bright light in his eyes was any indication.
He leaned across the table and stroked the back of her hand. “That we do. Now let me make my confession before I turn tail and run.” She shook her head, biting off a smile. “I can’t believe you’ve ever run from anything in your life.”
“Oh, I have. Many times. Margot is only one of the instances, but dammit, I’m going to remedy that as soon as this conversation is done.” He folded his arms across his chest and looked at her for a long minute. “No one knows this...has ever even suspected...but in my troop, there was a man. Samuel. Samuel from Ohio. Fresh out of the playpen and ready to storm the world. We were at basic together, and he became sort of my understudy—I covered him with my wing, if you know what I mean.”
“We ended up together on the first tour. Same platoon. Same friends. Soon we were sharing more.” A curl of sensation unraveled in her core. Was he talking about lovemaking?
His eyes darkened as he spoke. “Stolen moments. Looks. Touches. Before long, we were kissing, then more and damn— you know what I’m trying to say here.”
She nodded slowly, her pulse leaping. Images of him with Margot morphed into visions of him with her husband. Big bodies wrapped in one another’s embraces. The rough meeting of mouths.
A shiver ran through her. “I do.”
“Then you’ll understand when I say he meant a lot to me. More than anyone did at that time, or had before. Until Margot, I didn’t believe I could have that again. I’ve never been the kind of man who 49
hides behind what he believes others want to see. If Sam had come home, I’d be with him now, here in this house, sharing a bed and making our lives together. But he died back there.” He looked toward the window and the golden square of sunlight seeping into the kitchen and breaking up the shadows of his story. “I couldn’t bring him home safe, but I made it. It took me a lot of years to overcome that guilt. I’ll always bear it right here.” He thumped his chest with a massive fist.
“So you’re saying you love two people too. Though Samuel isn’t available to you anymore, you’ll always love him. And Margot is the other person.”
He nodded, tears sparking in his bright eyes.
Jane reached across the table and rested a hand along his forearm. His muscles tensed, and then eased the longer they stared at each other. “I love two people too, Danny. Ethan means the world to me, and Margot the sun. But you know, I think there’s room for the moon.
If you’ll join us.”
His breath hitched. His jaw worked, and his Adam’s apple bobbed as her words sank in. Then very carefully, he placed his fingers directly atop hers. “The moon. That’s a big role to play.”
“One you’re suited for. Don’t you see how perfect it all is? My husband wants to explore with a man. What better person than the man who already loves one of his women?”
“And you, Jane? What do you want out of this? Just a moon who hangs in the sky? Orbits?”
She shook her head, white heat breaking over her. Her pussy clenched and released some cream. “I want it all. The entire universe, Danny. With Ethan, Margot, and you.” 50
Four weeks, two days, and seven hours since Jane had proposed her plan to Danny. And finally tonight they’d all come together.
Thanks to Margot’s connections at the hospital, they’d all tested clean and were ready for a night of passion and trust. Margot’s veins coursed with excitement as she led Danny up the walk to the Millers’
The street was silent at this time of night, the neighborhood children all tucked into their beds. The Miller’s kids and her twins were all with their respective grandparents, leaving the four adults to play.
If they could.
The idea that something would go wrong—that a spark of jeal-ousy would ignite a feud or someone would be hurt had plagued her for hours. Since the time when Danny had pulled her tight against him and rumbled into her ear, “It’s time. I’m ready,” her emotions had been in turmoil. Fear and anticipation mingled in her chest.
The interior lights of the Millers’ home had been dimmed.
Through the glass on the front door, she spotted the flicker of candles spattered throughout the entryway.
Glancing over her shoulder at Danny with a grin, she opened the door and led him inside. At the sound of their entrance, Ethan appeared. Tall and strikingly handsome in low-riding jeans and nothing else—no shirt, no shoes, or socks—he looked like he was ready for a night of passion.
Margot released Danny’s hand and stepped into Ethan’s arms, aware of Ethan like never before. She hadn’t been with him in too long, and she needed him. On the flip side, the four of them had met for drinks a few times since Jane had talked to Danny, and there was a definite attraction brewing between the men.
Ethan’s arms circled her waist, squeezing her perfectly tight. She cupped his face and drew him down for a kiss. The rough touch of his mouth was familiar, and yet altogether different from Danny’s kisses.
She felt soft hands on her hair, and realized Jane was pulling her away from Ethan. The flash of her eyes sent a spike of need into Margot’s belly just as Jane’s lips descended. The tender brushing of her lips and the ticklish glide of her tongue gave her chills.
From behind, she caught Danny’s quiet groan. Jane broke away in time for Margot to see Danny adjusting his cock in his jeans.
She turned to Ethan and Jane with radiant smiles.
First battle won.
Danny hadn’t driven his fist through Ethan’s face or yanked Jane away. The knot in Margot’s chest loosened a bit.
She caught Danny’s hand and led him through the entryway into the main living space. With a gasp, she drew up. The Millers had lit a path of candles all the way back the hall to their bedroom door. From tapers to tea lights, the rooms glowed. Setting the mood for the night to come was a fabulous idea, and one Margot would reward Jane for later, as she knew it was her doing.
Jane stopped at the kitchen island, where a silver tray with four champagne flutes stood. A bucket of champagne chilled beside it.
“Shall I open it?” Ethan asked.
Margot watched the strong flex of his forearms as he worked out the cork. Her insides felt suddenly tight again, but this time they tightened with need. Danny stepped up behind her and wrapped her in his arms. He pulled her against his erection. She met Jane’s steady gaze, and they shared a smile.