“Hells yeah!” I exclaim from the passenger seat. Legs bent under me, facing him. “This is the best time I’ve had in...” My eyes search around the truck, trying to come up with the word I want. Attempting to articulate how free and fucking wonderful that made me feel.
I could immediately see it come to life. I mean, obviously on my computer, but I’m talking minus that heavy price tag software. The open area transformed. I saw it become so much more than drywall and concrete.
When I did mock-ups or had projects in grad school, that always made me excited. Looking at a space as if it were a blank canvas. Envisioning every little detail, down to the accents or even throw pillows. The way a simple light, a pop of color here and there can completely change the feel of a place. You name it. I missed it. Haven’t felt this level of exhilaration in a while.
It’s a problem though. If you’re around people who don’t have the same understanding of your craft, or what you deep down wish your craft to be. With all the previous men I dated, no, let’s call them boys. Anyway, with those douche lords, if I would ever go on about a place—because let’s be real, my mind continuously wants to rearrange, to create—they’d tune me out.
Even with my mother. On the very limited amount of showings I’ve accompanied her to, if I uttered an opinion about rearranging furniture, changing some small accents, a paint job, she shut me down.
So, I didn’t talk about it. I kept the desire to make something new and different tucked away. Letting it stay in my mind, amongst all the other crazy thoughts.
But I don’t have to with Trey. He’s been encouraging me to go on. And on. And on. Hard to imagine, right? Looking sweetly at me with that calming smile, humoring me when I asked if we could stop at the local DIY store, where my software had located some fixtures for the club’s restrooms.
Bathrooms are important.
The home improvement store is, to me, what a casino is to a gambling addict. A mall to a shopaholic. A penis to—okay, I’ll stop. Get real, I could keep going but it would probs get inappropriate.
He followed me through the place, quietly watching and listening as I fluttered around the building. Agreeing to everything with a simple nod and grin. Not saying much—not like I gave him much of a chance.
Anyway, the rush that’s bursting through my body, the feel-good shit—endorphins, I think—giving me almost a high. No, definitely a high. Also, I realize I haven’t shut the fuck up since I opened my laptop and started clicking away on the keyboard. Thank fuck for that software, too. It’s ridiculously expensive. Worked my dick off, saving any of the tips I’d made to pony up for it. Yup, I own that shit, one of the few investments I’ve made in myself. Honestly, it’s up for renewal and I know I won’t be able to choke out the several grand. At least I got to use it, for real, this once.
“I’m sorry.” My eyes drift back to his. Trey’s head tilts to the side with a questioning look.
“What for?” he asks, briefly unraveling his fingers from mine, shifting the truck into park, outside of the townhouse, or our love shack. Honestly, the place is gonna need a heavy disinfect. Side note—Dude is all about the hand holding. It’s actually so cute and I don’t know... it’s just... ugh!
“Because I keep going on and on and it’s not my place. It’s your place. I don’t know, I’m just excited. And I realize I’ve been rambling, well, pretty much since the second I met you, and—”
He grasps the back of my neck with a rough palm. Trey leans over the console, pulling me to him in a fast jerk, lips crushing mine. His tongue swirls in my mouth, exploring every corner, massaging, circling, which immediately gets all kinds of things going.
His knuckles trace over my throat before he slips them under my chin, drawing back just enough so our lips part, but his long lashes flutter against mine. Eyes lit up as he smiles.
“Okay. So we’re doing that,” I say with a giggle. God, I could stare at his face, into his eyes, forever. I don’t mean forever, ever... I mean. Nah, screw it! “Wait.” I narrow my gaze, lips scrunching. “Is that your way of telling me to shut the fuck up?”
Trey leans back, shrugging as he tilts his head, offering a playful, lip licking smile with a silent agreement.
“I like your version better. I think you should probably tell me to shut the fuck up again.”
And holy hell, he does.
We only had a few minutes to go into his sister’s place, get changed, all that good stuff. A communal shower, because, ya know... water conservation and all that shit. Okay, no.
Seems neither of us can get enough of the other, but in all reality, I’m not sure how much more I can take. Like this vag has most def been taking a pounding. Never have I ever felt so worn out, in such a good way.
But... now that I’m thinking about it—clearly we have straight bypassed the whole take it slow thing—there’s something I gotta know. I mean, I think we’ve both learned more about each other and have discovered a lot of things in the few times we’ve hung out. Definitely over the last day. Also, can I somehow develop a superpower to make time slow down? Because I’m really not feeling the whole flight back home tomorrow night.
“Can I ask you a question?” I walk out from the spare bedroom, having tossed on his light blue Columbia hoodie. I have another one I stole from Chaz and as you know how things work in the hoodie department—once that shit is on my body, I claim it. Plus, it smells like Trey. This one’s never hitting the spin cycle.
“You just did,” he responds, standing from the couch, dressed in a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt, of course, sleeves rolled to the elbows. My mouth already salivating. Why must he look like this? Just kidding, I love it.
“Ha ha.” I roll my eyes. But seriously, I’m enjoying him being this light-hearted type of way. That enormous grin forming on his face, dimples on full show. “You are funny.”
“You thieving my sweatshirt?” Trey tugs at the bottom, dragging me close to him.
“What do you want to ask me?” His arms wrap around my neck, my chin resting on his chest, staring up at him, mulling over exactly how to spit this out.
“How many... um... how many people have you been with?” I can’t help but ask. I’ve been thinking about it. “I was just wondering because you’re so good at... so good at everything. And it seems like you’re fairly well-practiced and—”
Well practiced, Briar!? You donkey.
“We already talking numbers?” He smooths a rogue strand that slipped from my pulled back hair. Not having time to go for the full blow out, Trey had told me the place we’re going, just five minutes up the road, is extremely low key.
“Sorry, I know it’s always a tricky question in a, um...” I bite my bottom lip. I can’t seem to squeak out the word relationship. “But we seem to go fast with the succession of things. And it’s been on my mind because you’ve got talent.” His chest vibrates against mine. “Chaz said you hadn’t been with... you had only been with—”
“Why were you guys talking about that?”
“Oh.” Heat creeps up my neck. Totes forgot I never filled him in on that entire... misunderstanding. “Because it shocked him you had a threesome,” I say plainly, watching as Trey’s brows climb up his forehead, eyes wider than fuck, mouth hanging open.
“I had a threesome?”
“Yeah, well, we did. Of course, you know we didn’t, and it’s not like I said we did. I tried to clarify. But, you know, Chaz is Chaz. His mind ultimately travels to filth. I was explaining the thing with that chick, the one from my birthday, remember her?”
Trey nods slowly, amusement twitching at the corners of his mouth.
“Well, I had to improvise a smidge.” My eyes flicker to the ceiling before back to his. “Anyway, she ended up kissing me, and yup, that happened. So, Chaz saw that mess, and I told him you and I slept together and he just thought... yeah.”
“Was I at least good?” he asks with a chuckle. A slight flinch when I provided the detail of the mouth to mouth, but transparency is happening-ish.
“Naturally.” I shrug, his arm still draped around me. “I feel like I was the best. But ya never can tell. Anyway, that’s why he was all like yay you." I shake my head.
“I’ve been with two women,” he admits, quietly. I gotta say I’m a bit shocked. I cock my head back, fingers hooked in his belt loops.
“Did not expect that. Well, while we’re in a tell-all, I guess I’ll get out with mine. I’ve had a threesome once, too. Guy and a girl. Early on in college, you know when the shit is all kinds of experimental. Obviously, neither one could get me off.” My eyes study his expressionless face. “It was messy. I don’t think it’s something I really wanna do again. Sorta a one and done type of—”
“No, Briar. I mean in my entire life.”
“Oh.” I blink a few times, suddenly feeling apprehensive about where my number stands. Not ashamed of it, hells no. Okay, maybe a few. But damn. “How’d you... how’d you get so... so... good?”
“Dunno,” he replies with a shrug. “Guess I’m just observant.”
“I pay attention to the details.”
“You most definitely do.” My arms wrap around his back. I like how this shit is so easy. How a typically uneasy conversation flows with him.
“Sex means something to me, it just does. I don’t care about the number, I’m not that kind of guy.”
I draw in a long breath, always afraid to admit these fucking feelings, but here goes. “It means something to me too, at least, it does now.”
He hugs me into him, the soft material of his shirt brushing my cheek. My smile grows larger, feeling his heart thump against my ear. I swear I never believed men like this existed. One that has me falling so hard and outrageously fast. His hands drift down my back. A quick smack of his palm against my ass has me all hot and bothered. Okay, his presence, his being, gets me hot and bothered. The way he is soft and gentle, yet sexy and rough. He’s superb at reading situations. I don’t know, he’s Trey. He’s perfect. He makes me wanna give him everything. And I’m not talking just my body.
“All those things, and I watch a lot of porn.”
“Okay...” Tara peers up from the phone in her hand. I’d given Briar the green light to share some of the ideas with her, she’d known about the original plans Kyra had chosen, this is a stark change of direction. “You realize you’re insanely talented, right?” She stares wide-eyed at Briar, my sister’s mouth hanging open.
“No, no.” Briar flaps a hand in front of her, sitting next to me in a booth at Macky’s, the local watering hole just a five-minute walk from Tara’s house. “It’s mostly the software, it’s not a big—”
“Bullshit!” Tara clips with a tsk. “Give yourself some credit, woman. This is so impressive, such a different feel than the original plans, so...” She looks at me, beaming. Briar’s cheeks flush, nose crinkles. “It’s so you.” She nods her head towards me.
She’d messaged several times, asking if we’d meet her for a low key dinner, her treat. That she still felt like an ass for yesterday. I’m sure she did, but I also know Tara, of course, wanted more of Briar. She’s gone easy on her. The two of them chatting it up like long lost best friends, reunited. It’s been kinda fun to listen.
I also know that Tara chose this place to come because she didn’t want to risk any other run-ins, and I’m cool with that. Because that day, especially with Briar’s name now attached to the designs—I promise she’ll get credit where it’s due—it’s inevitable. I don’t wanna think about the past right now.
“It really is, and you’re right.” Dropping my arm behind her back, squeezing Briar’s waist, who picks a fry off my plate, looking down. I hate that she doubts herself. “She is amazing.”
“It’s your place.” Her voice, barely a whisper, looking up next to me through long lashes. “Your ideas, I only plugged a few things into a program, that’s all.”
“It’s so different. Like it belongs in a big city, straight out of a magazine.” Tara’s eyes meet mine. She flinched slightly with her last word. “I wonder what...”
I already know where this is going, but she stops herself, waving dismissively. Briar glancing between the two of us as I let out a sigh. Might as well get it all out in the open.
“Yeah... I’m sure she’ll have an opinion,” I begin, eyes flashing across the table then back over to Briar, sort of nestled up against the side of me. Ugh, this isn’t even a subject I wanna address, not really.
“Your ex?” Briar asks with a half-frown. “She chose the original designs, right?”
“Yeah,” I reply, blowing out a long breath.
“You don’t have to... you can go with them, mine are just ideas.”
“Nope.” Grabbing her hand, I lace my fingers between hers. “I love everything you... we picked. It really is my style, you nailed it.” Tara’s expression remains mostly neutral, lips pressed to a straight line.
“She just, she’s the type that thinks she knows all the shit,” my sister interjects. “But Trey is right, this is him, the designs before resembled—”
“A mid-nineties underground sex club type of vibe,” Briar offers with an unapologetic raise of her shoulder and a quiet laugh, which Tara echoes.
I shake my head, thinking about the primarily black and grey shades she chose, flooring, wood stain, decor. Heavy lighting, bold red accents. Not me at all, not even close.
“Well, good thing you don’t have to deal with her anymore.” Briar’s lips curve to a hasty grin, the slight dimple creasing her left cheek, squeezing my hand still interlocked with hers.
Tara rolls her eyes to the ceiling and the server stops by our table. I offer a twirl of my finger. May as well keep the drinks going for Briar and me because this next shit’s gonna be a little uncomfortable.
“So two things,” I say, scrunching my lips to the side. “First, Kyra works for a pretty popular style magazine. She writes up the reviews and articles on new venues in the area, make or break kind of stuff.”
We aren’t together. I haven’t spoken to her in months, only corresponding via a few emails that she’d sent from her work account, trying to get a timeline for the opening. That’s how it goes. First night, there will be a fair amount of people in, wanting to dish out the latest scoop on fresh nightlife.
It’s bullshit that people can think a certain way about you based on the opinion of one person.
But whatever, I don’t think she’d be unfair about it. Though, I’m not sure she’ll agree on the unfamiliar look. She doesn’t have to. Kyra is the one that walked away. Damn, I’d never be sitting right here if she hadn’t rejected me. I’m so fucking glad she said no.
“Oh.” Briar takes an extended swig of the beer in front of her, looking at Tara before giving me a sideways glance. “Well, one and done. You’ll rock the opening and that’ll be that.” Her pink lips turn to a smile. I can tell it’s forced.
Truth is, I think that’s why I kept dragging my feet with the opening and moving forward. Well, one, because I wasn’t entirely happy with the plans for it, but that’s not my wheelhouse. Two, because I know I’ll have to see her, and I don’t feel like playing a bullshit game. Though all of that is only a matter of time. I don’t even wanna think ahead to the wedding, kids, get-togethers... it’s not ideal.
I throw a frown across the table, Tara mirroring my expression. “Yeah, the thing about that weirdness.” She strums her fingers on the wooden surface, raising her eyes to meet Briar’s. “I’m marrying her brother.”
“Alright,” Ty, an old buddy who manages Macky’s, says. Wiping the bar in front of us, staring directly at Briar, much like everyone else in the place. “How’d this guy”—he juts a thumb towards me with a look of disbelief. He scowls with one of those shitty types of smirks—“land someone like you?”
“Hah.” Briar lets out a single, and not very humorous, laugh. Or maybe it is? She shoots a quick look at me with a wink. Her lips tugging up on one side with that feisty type of gleam in her eyes. Also, there’s been a few drinks happening. She didn’t say a word after my sister told her about the wackass ties I’ll always have to Kyra.
Well... she said that’s fucking awkward under her breath, but other than that, she was like no biggie. Maybe they won’t have to cross paths? Yeah, fuck that. If we try this shit out, it’s absolutely gonna happen. Tara left us at the bar, ordering us to enjoy the last night of whatever we got going on at her place, and telling Briar she can’t wait for the next time she comes to visit. Because she’ll have to keep tabs on the progress and ensure the decorating and installations are up to snuff.
I’m now even more so silently praying that this place takes off, and not even for me. I want her name to get out there; I want people to see what she’s capable of; to see what I see.
Briar’s been bantering back and forth with a few of the local guys. They, like everyone else, are drawn to her. And I don’t mind, not really. Because she can’t help how attractive she is. Even in an oversized hoodie, no makeup, and a pair of jeans, she’s hot. While she’s been playful with them, definitely not accepting any of their flirty advances, making it abundantly clear she’s with me.
Though there are open barstools on either side of me, she opted to sit on my lap or stand directly in front of me, between my legs. Playing quarters off and on with anyone who challenged her. Ty groaning each time she wins, prompting him to drink.
“You mean how’d I land him?” She settles herself on the chair between my legs, a slight wiggle of her ass, threatens to have me sprouting wood right here and now. Briar hooks her arm around the back of my neck, nails scratching into my hair as I sweep my lips over her cheek.
“Sure,” Ty answers her. Resting his forearms on the varnished surface after he lined up three empty glasses. Apparently they’re going triple or nothin’. “Speed quarters,” he says with a nod to the cups. “You sink all three in a row and you win the money. Each time you miss, I get a chance.”
“Hm.” Briar motions with her hand for him to move closer, rotating her hips back in such a way as she leans in. She knows what she’s doing. I have to bite my lip to catch the light groan my dick is telling me to let out.
Her eyes shift to the mirror behind the bar, lined with various bottles of liquor. Her sights set on one, then travel to mine in the reflection. She flutters her thick lashes and puts on that smile. The one I like, the one where her confidence kicks in and she shows she’s more than willing to play.
She whispers something next to him, not too close, but low enough that I can’t hear her request.
“Seriously, all that?” he replies, pushing his palms off the bar, standing straight, quirking a brow.
“Those are my conditions. Take ’em or leave ’em.”
“Fine,” Ty states with a grunt, grabbing an unopened bottle—her drink of choice. “How ’bout a shot first, doll? Then three in a row, you’ve only gotten one on the first try, I like my odds.”
“Perfect.” Unraveling her arm from my shoulder, she stands, grabbing my hand, placing it firmly on her waist, turning back to me quickly. “For good luck,” she says with a sly smirk, shaking her hips.
Ty places a filled shot glass, salt, and lime in front of her.
“So this is how I landed him.”
Grabbing my left hand, pulling it to the front of her, my right still on her hip, she licks the side up to the tip... of my thumb... holy fuck. Sprinkling a dash of salt along the wet trail, holding my fixated stare in the mirror.
“He walked into a bar.” She bounces a quarter against the wood, pinging it into the glass on her first try.
Lifting my hand, Briar slowly drags her tongue over my skin, taking my finger into her mouth and sucking every grain that she’d just scattered on me.
Ty, along with everyone else in the place, doing a jaw drop, my pulse ramping up.
“I was like holy shit, I want him, so bad.” Her eyes, not deviating from mine in the reflection, flash a little darker. She licks her lips, and I can see the muscles of her thighs clench.
With her right hand, she smacks another quarter against the bar. It instantly clinks into the cup.
“I licked the salt from his skin, and the second I tasted him, I knew I needed more. When Trey touched me...” She sighs, letting out a quiet moan, biting her bottom lip. “I knew that no man could ever make me feel as good as him. I had to have him.” She downs the shot.
Without a second’s hesitation, she banks the third and final quarter, sinking it. Every set of eyes in the place focused on her.
“We went into the bathroom,” she continues in a low, sultry type of voice. “And he gave me the bang of my life.”
Spinning to face me, I gulp, pretty loud, a few coughs and chokes sound out around us. This is so... I don’t know what this is. I swear my ego just sky-rocketed, not to mention something else. Before I can chime in with a word, a stutter, anything, she sticks the lime in my mouth.
“And then he gave it to me again.” Briar’s tongue slides over the citrus chaser. “And again.” She sinks her teeth into it. “And again.” Her palm cruises up my neck, other hand discarding the rind from my mouth. Pressing herself to my heaving chest, finishing with a slow kiss, catching my bottom lip between hers, eyes locked on mine.
I exhale several shaky breaths, mouth gaping as she pulls back, waggling her brows.
“So, that’s how I landed him.” She faces Ty, who’s speechless. “And while I, for one, enjoy a hot bathroom session, with the things I have in mind, I think we’re gonna need to level up.”
Tugging on my wrist, I stand from the chair behind her. And I mean directly behind because after that there is something else standing up.
“Pleasure doing business with you. Can you be a doll and put my winnings in a bag?” Tilting her chin to the shot glasses, salt shaker, the bottle of tequila Ty just opened, and a lime.
He absently nods.
“Because I’m all about returning favors. And I’m about to give Trey the bang of his life.”
A/N: 💅💅😈😈😈 you didn’t think the ex was gonna just disappear did you!? 😹 Sorry it’s been a bit, this chapters double the length of my norms, so hopefully you can take that as an apology from me.
Thoughts? Comments? If this isn’t your first rodeo with my you know I’ve got a thing for weaving a twisted little web.
As always, thanks for reading. Also, I wanna share with you all a book club on Instagram. They do a different book each week and are looking for readers to join in and chat about the book etc. Hit ’em up