Read Unbidden Love (Book Five of the Bidden Series) Online
Authors: Crystal Cierlak
It has been weeks since the bombshell revelation that Natalie Harlow carried on a relationship with Audra Robertson behind James Fitzgerald’s back. Neither James nor Audra have seen Natalie since, but their shared love of the woman once known as Candidate Four threatens to dismantle the partnership they have spent a decade building, and potentially every relationship in its wake.
While James chooses to move on with his family - ex-wife included - Audra decides that loving Natalie is worth risking everything, and returns to Los Angeles to be with the woman she loves. James’ anger makes him act out against both women in ways he never would have before, but by the time he realizes the damage that has been done, it may already be too late.
Can Natalie resolve the conflict in her heart over whom she truly loves, or will a gesture made in haste make the choice for her? How will James and Audra cope when their rift leaves the very thing they have built together vulnerable to outside forces?
From author Crystal Cierlak comes “Unbidden Love”, the fifth and latest entry to The Bidden Series. Want to read from the beginning? Start with “Candidate Four” to find out how Natalie Harlow met Gentleman Twelve, and entered the world that would forever change her life!
Book Five of the Bidden Series
UNBIDDEN LOVE is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2015 Crystal Cierlak
Cover design by Crystal Cierlak
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any format, digital or otherwise, without the expressed permission of the author.
As always, for Jeffrey P.
(who never reads these things but tells me he appreciates the sentiment nonetheless)
Natalie examined the document she held in her hand, feeling awash in a sense of disappointment that a piece of paper that held such power was so very
“What is it?” Audra asked beside her.
“Nothing. I guess I just expected a bit more pomp and circumstance.”
“Pomp and circumstance? It’s a marriage license.”
“That is exactly what I mean. We are in Las Vegas and this piece of paper granting two people the right to join in legal matrimony looks so
“We can order two copies of the certificate. One to keep locked in my safe at Fitson, and another to decoupage in glitter.”
Natalie burst with laughter at the mental image of Audra decoupaging anything at all. At least it helped with the nervous pit digging a hole through her stomach. She looked up at their surroundings, lamenting the generic hallway outside what was probably an equally generic courtroom. She knew from her brief internet search that there was a white picket archway with fake ivy wrapped around it inside, something to add a sense of occasion to any photos taken of the couples getting married beneath it. It was all so wrong.
“Are you having second thoughts?” Audra asked from beside her.
“No,” Natalie answered, though she did not sound convincing even to her own ears.
“And it is happening. But can we not find a better place to do it in? Do you really want your wedding portrait to be underneath some cheap archway with fake ivy?”
,” Audra whispered as she pulled Natalie out of the queue of couples waiting their turn to be married. They stood by a window with a sad view overlooking a parking lot. “What would you have us do instead?”
“Get married at Eden?”
Audra shook her head. “We have been over this. We cannot get married in front of our employees, Natalie.”
“Okay, then how about literally any other place in Vegas? You have connections. Why not call up Caesar’s for a quickie wedding there? At least they have a proper gazebo and a lovely garden. And this dress-”
“What would you have me wear instead?” Audra asked, gesturing to the very same white pant suit she had been wearing the day they arrived in Vegas. “A ball gown?”
“No!,” Natalie protested. Though the thought was not unappealing. “But this
a wedding even if it is a
wedding. Let’s do something right. Please?”
It only took one look at Audra’s chestnut eyes to tell she was seconds away from acquiescing to Natalie’s request. “What do you have in mind?”
The first rays of morning sun sliced through the Los Angeles haze high above the city as it woke from its slumber. The usual suspects were traversing Runyon Canyon at the fairly early morning hour, including more than a few celebrities in their expensive Lululemon and Nike Frees. Natalie loved Los Angeles in the morning. The early risers getting more done before 7AM than most did before noon were inspiring, though she had other things in mind.
"Want to get a pressed juice when we are done?" Natalie asked as she huffed up along the trail, Audra at her side.
"I think that is the most LA thing you have ever said to me," Audra laughed. She took a long draw from the bottle of water she carried before offering it to Natalie. "Honestly, I would rather have coffee. Why do we spend so much money at the Farmer's Market and
use the juicer at home?"
"Probably for the same reason you go to Starbucks when we have a perfectly good - and might I add
- coffee maker a home?"
"It never tastes the same when I make it!" Audra defended.
"Right. It is so much better when the hot blonde who works the morning shift makes your macchiato." Natalie bumped her shoulder playfully into Audra's.
Audra scoffed. “I am not the one who said she is hot!"
"You did not have to."
“She is not
hot," Audra conceded as they made their way back to their car parked along a busy residential street. "You know I prefer redheads."
Natalie glanced over her shoulder at Audra. "I know exactly what you prefer," she said just loud enough to be heard over the growing sound of traffic and birds in the trees. She slid into the driver's seat of the sleek silver Tesla and stabbed the start engine button with her finger as Audra climbed in beside her.
“Let’s compromise,” Natalie offered as she buckled her seatbelt. “I will make your coffee and you can press my juice.”
Audra leaned back into the passenger seat, a smile pursing at her lips. “Or we could forgo both and just take a really long shower together,” she purred as she gently brushed her fingers across the back of Natalie’s hand from where it rested atop the center console. By the time they reached home Audra’s fingers had brushed their way from Natalie’s hand to her inner thigh, grazing suggestively across the fabric of her workout pants.
“Come on,” Natalie breathed as she clutched at Audra’s hand before climbing out of the car. She was sweaty and warm, both from the morning’s workout and Audra’s touch. She needed a shower, and desperately wanted to get her hands on Audra’s skin. They were laughing as they ran-walked to the master bathroom suite, hands grasping at bits of expensive workout clothes, abandoning shoes, socks and any other piece of clothing that could come off easily.
They undressed each other hastily, Natalie tugging at Audra's tee shirt while Audra slid Natalie's pants down her hips and thighs. Natalie discarded her own top as Audra turned on the waterfall shower-head above them, hot water steaming instantly the moment it touched their skin.
"Come here," Natalie breathed, reaching for Audra's hands. She pulled them and stepped back simultaneously until her exposed backside met with the slick cold surface of the tiled wall. "I want to feel you inside me." She moaned with relief when Audra’s tongue slipped between her parted lips, the taste of mint from earlier that morning still lingering.
"Let's see if you taste as good as you look," Audra said in a low voice. Her lips drifted across Natalie's chin, down the column of her neck and dipped between her breasts, palms cupping the copious mounds of flesh. She suckled at one nipple then the other, lavishing her tongue across the piqued pink tips as sheets of water cascaded down the sloped edge. Natalie's fingers splayed across Audra's neck and shoulders, the tips kneading into soft skin and blonde hair as Audra continued her exploration of Natalie's body.
"Tell me how much you want me."
Natalie's eyes fluttered open as her head craned forward to see Audra on her knees. Her fingertips grazed up and down the smooth skin of Natalie's thighs as she waited.
"You know I do," Natalie whispered.
"Tell me you love me.” The last word was but a murmur between Natalie's thighs as Audra nestled against her sex. Natalie parted her legs as Audra's lips kissed ever so gently at the delicate folds at the apex of her thighs.
"I do. I love you,” Natalie cried out as Audra's velvet tongue swept inside her warmth with expert delicacy. Muscles constricted and released as Audra worked within Natalie, every stroke igniting her from within. Natalie held her breasts in her palms, squeezing the flesh through the spaces between her fingers in search of ever more sensation. Her calves threatened to burst with angry heat as the tension at her center climbed closer to release.
"I love you," she whispered again, her voice hoarse with need. Her hands moved from her own breasts to the head between her legs, grabbing short tufts of soft hair. The tongue that brought her pleasure was now flatter and longer, licking her from just within the guarded depths of her sex to the crackling bud of fire nestled beneath her mound. Strong hands cupped Natalie's rear as she slid against the wet tile wall behind her, catching her before she lost her balance. When her eyes opened again the head between her legs was not blonde, but honey colored, and the face that appeared from within the warm embrace of her womanhood belonged to James, not Audra.
"I love you, too," he reciprocated, blue-green eyes glinting through the steam and heat of the shower. "I always will love you." James crouched back on his feet and stood, his hands picking up Natalie's rear until their hips were nearly level. She took in the sight of him, water droplets falling like rain from his tan face and intense stare, down to the toned musculature of his body. His lips were parted, silently breathing in the anticipation of the moment.
"I never stopped loving you," she said before meeting his parted lips with her own. She wrapped her legs around James' hips and locked her ankles in place. In the next breath he was inside her, stretching the walls of her until she was filled with him.
Natalie cried out with each thrust of James' hips as he moved inside of her, imminent release rising to a pulsating frenzy. They kissed frantically as he held her bottom with one hand, using the weight of his body to pin her against the shower wall as he plunged into her. His other hand roamed across her wet skin, indiscriminately fondling her breasts and stomach.
"How many times can I make you scream my name, Candidate Four?"
Natalie woke with a start, the pounding of her heart reverberating against the walls of her thighs. Unlike the all-too-realistic dream, she was bereft of any
between her legs save for her own cramped hand. She was coiled and ready for a release that failed to give her reprieve.
"Fuck!" she whispered, wishing she could scream her frustration instead. Her legs were throbbing with the diluted sensation of having been on the cusp of carnal release only moments prior.
, she thought to herself. “FUCK!” she screamed, willing every fiber of pent up frustration to surge from her very bones and dissipate into the air. Only the frustration didn’t dissipate, it lingered; same as it had for weeks.
Pushing the bed covers off her body with violet force, Natalie trudged to the bathroom and splashed cold water from the faucet across her tired face. She sighed as she twisted the cold tap handle and examined her reflection in the mirror.
It was just a dream, Natalie. They are gone. Get over it
When she awoke from the same dream three days later, sweat dripping from her brow and the twinge of unmet release spasming between her legs, Natalie headed straight for the shower and attempted to finish what her dream had started, but to little avail.
"You look like you need a spa day," Quinn ribbed her from her makeshift desk at the dining room table later that morning.
"What I would like is to get laid," Natalie sneered, her voice low as she looked around their growing home office space. It was Friday, and if not for the fact that employees were on leave for the upcoming three-day weekend, they would have been working on top of each other, trying to run the ever-growing business from the confines of the house Natalie shared with Quinn and her business partner, Joe Gallo. “Where is Joe?” she asked when she noticed his absence. She turned and found Quinn staring at her, a knowing look on her face. Natalie resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “It is not what you are thinking,” she scowled.
"Uh huh," Quinn said, eyebrow cocked suspiciously. Her mouth flirted with a smile before the quizzical brow relaxed. "He flew out to New York this morning to visit Frankie."
"Oh, right. Of course," Natalie mumbled. Frankie had not returned to Los Angeles since... She sighed and tried focusing her attention on her inbox, which was still overflown with emails from earlier that week.
‘Let’s see if you taste as good as you look.’
Natalie shook her head as the dream came back into the forefront of her mind. Even in the waking hours she couldn’t escape her subconscious.
Focus, Natalie, focus,
she chanted to herself, pushing thoughts of Audra Robertson and James Fitzgerald from her mind.
“Maybe you should see a therapist?” Quinn suggested over a glass of wine the next day, an entire afternoon’s worth of shopping sitting in pretty bags at their feet.
“As my best friend I thought
were my therapist?” Natalie scoffed before taking a long sip of her Moscato.
“Hence the shopping,” Quinn pointed out, glancing around at their newly purchased belongings. “But from everything you have told me about this dream, it sounds like you need the kind of help not even shopping can cure.”
Natalie shook her head, dismissing the suggestion entirely. She was not the type of person who went to therapy. That was for people with real problems; recurring sex dreams were hardly a problem for most people.
“Listen, I will ask my friend Layla for the name of the therapist she went to when she was having problems with her husband,” Quinn offered. “Just in case you change your mind.”
Natalie felt certain she would not change her mind. The only thing the dream was trying to tell her was that she was horny, plain and simple. She did not need to pay someone to tell her how to fix
problem. In fact, shortly after leaving for New York Audra had recruited Natalie to manage The Golden Palm - Audra and James’ notorious, private members-only sex club - in their absence. The casual irony of her situation was not lost on her.
“By the way, one of our bidders was asking for you last night.”
“Really?” Quinn asked, her face lighting up like Christmas. “Which one?”
“Twinkle Toes,” Natalie said, trying not to laugh at the silly nickname. The man behind the moniker was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, a titan of his industry. He just so happened to have a deep appreciation for immaculate feet, especially when it came to sniffing lines of cocaine off of them.
“It has been a while since I had a whale. I don’t suppose you could use your position there to pass along a message that I will be available next Friday?”
Natalie nodded. “Consider it done!”
“Maybe you don’t need a therapist,” Quinn mused before sipping from her glass of wine. “Maybe you just need to be Candidate Four again.”
“Come on, I cannot both run The Golden Palm and participate in it.” It was the same justification she attempted to convince herself of before inevitably resuming her role as Candidate Four. Quinn, however, was not aware that Natalie was doing anything more than just managing the club.
Quinn shrugged. “Why not? James did.”
Nope, do not let your mind go there, Natalie
. She had made a promise to herself to not even
of James Fitzgerald if she could help it. Why think about him today when she could put him off until tomorrow? Or preferably forever?
“Technically Audra is in charge. Or at least she is when she is in town.”
“Be that as it may, she left you in charge in her absence. Unless she asked you not to participate?”
In fact, she had not. When it came to separating business from the personal, Audra was a master. Unfortunately that meant conveying as much as possible in as few words as possible, and all business communication from Audra came to Natalie via email or personal assistant.
The only person who ever asked her
to be Candidate Four again was James. But, with the exception of Natalie’s nightly dream, James was gone.
“Did the therapist help your friend and her husband?” Natalie asked thoughtfully.
Quinn moved her head from side to side, contemplating her answer. “Somewhat, though it took a long time. If difficult relationships was an Olympic sport, they would be gold medalists.”
“Pretty sure I could be a contender,” Natalie laughed.
Quinn cocked an eyebrow. “Try being secretly married to a world famous pop star who cheated on you left and right, publicly embarrassing you while gossip blogs spilled the details of your private life all over the Internet. Add to that the loss of a child many years later and you would have a fraction of an idea of what Nick and Layla went through.”
“I sold my body for sex to a married man, kept the subsequent relationship hidden, got pregnant, found out he had knocked up his soon-to-be-ex-wife, broke up with him the day after miscarrying, and then proceeded to have an affair with my business partner,
with my ex-boyfriend’s business partner. Did I leave anything out?”
“Do not forget that time you kissed me,” Quinn said, a cheeky smile playing on her lips.
Natalie sighed, feeling the weight of realization settling into her muscles. “You are right. I need therapy.”
“You just need someone objective to talk to. Layla was younger than you when she fell in love with Nick, and by the time she sought help she was in way too deep.”