Release Date: February 24, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Menage Erotic Romance
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Sara Banks is a virgin. Apparently that word can make a grown man run scared—at least that’s what her last boyfriend did. Now she’s on a mission to shed her good girl persona and start living. But the best that Helios, Arizona has to offer pales in comparison to her best friends Rob and Marc. She’d love nothing more than to go home with them—either of them. If only they could see past their childhood friend to the woman she has become.
Rob and Marc can’t believe their eyes when they enter the hottest bar in town and see tomboy Sara dressed to kill, doing the bump and grind on the dance floor. Once they learn she’s finally single, the hunt is on. Each is determined to prove to her that they’re the only man she’ll ever need.
But to get the girl of their dreams, the best plan of attack might just be a joint, friendly seduction.
"A delicious story to put your feet up with."—Sensual Reads
The second Rob Taggart walked through the door of his favorite bar, Cat & Mouse, he knew it was going to be a long night.
“Holy shit! Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” A long wolf whistle accompanied his best friend Marc Sinclair’s question.
Rob winced but he couldn’t really blame the guy. If he hadn’t clamped his jaw, his own tongue would hang out. It wasn’t every day he saw his other best friend do the bump and grind on the dance floor. Never mind the outfit she was wearing.
Make that wasn’t wearing.
Through the sea of sweating, gyrating bodies, tomboy Sara Banks shimmied to the throbbing beat in a skin-hugging halter dress instead of her typical scruffy t-shirt and jeans. Despite the distance and the smoky haze, he could tell the curves on display were mind-bogglingly hot.
Fuck. He couldn’t think about her that way. She’s your best friend. She’s your best friend.
He continued his internal mantra as he elbowed Marc. “Keep it in your pants. It’s Sara, remember? Our friend.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Marc squinted. “How the hell did she get that bastard Greg on the dance floor? Isn’t he allergic to public displays?”
Rob tried to focus on her dance partner but with the crowd and the distance, he couldn’t make out who it was. Rob grunted as he remembered eavesdropping on Sara and Greg’s last fight. He doubted many people would consider pecking a public display. What a douche. Why Sara wasted time with the gutless wonder, he could never figure out.
“Shit, with tits like that she could lead me around by my dick all day long,” a voice behind them interjected.
Rob and Marc turned to confront Sara’s new admirer, a shaggy-haired, baby-faced kid who didn’t look old enough to step foot in the bar let alone be worthy of dating their Sara.
“Hey, watch your mouth,” Rob growled.
“Dude, I don’t know what your problem is but that piece of ass will be waking up in my bed tomorrow,” Baby Face retorted.
The pack of equally young guys behind him snickered.
Rob rubbed his hands together. This looked like the perfect outlet for his sexual frustration. Sometimes a little rough justice was a great cure for blue balls. Just as he moved forward to administer a friendly reminder of manners, something on the other side of the room caught his eye.
“Holy—” Marc breathed.
“Shit.” Rob couldn’t believe what he saw. Who the fuck was that?
“Get lost, punk, before we put a beat-down on you.” Rob roughly bumped into the snot-nosed kid as he turned around. He marched toward Sara, vaguely aware of Marc one step behind him.
Grabbing Sara by the shoulders, Rob tore her away from her little dance partner. “What the fuck are you thinking?”
“Hey! Hands off!” Sara wobbled on her high heels like a newborn colt struggling to walk for the first time as she fought to free herself.
He curled his fingers into her shoulders. She wasn’t getting away that easily.
“Sara!” He shook her slightly. “What’s going on? Who is this jerk-off? Where’s Greg?”
He bit back a curse when she tossed her blonde hair before blinking up at him with her gorgeous brown eyes. God, he could spend all day looking into them.
“Rob? Hey, Rob! Wanna dance?” Sara cuddled up to him, her dance partner and Greg forgotten.
Rob couldn’t contain his groan. He struggled to keep his hands from wandering a little farther south. Maybe he could use them to still her gyrating ass.
Ah, man. Did it make him a bad guy that he was tempted to enjoy it just a little longer?
A quick jab in his side from Marc answered that question.
“Sara! Where’s Greg?” Marc asked.
“Home, probably.” She teetered a little unsteadily on her killer heels.
Rob held her too close to enjoy what those heels did to her legs. Which was fine with him, he wasn’t a leg man. He had the perfect vantage point to enjoy her low-cut dress. If he tilted his head just right—
“Oomph!” Damn, Marc has pointy elbows. The bastard. Rob shook his head and looked into Sara’s face. “If he’s at home, why are you here dry-humping that loser? Do you really think Greg won’t hear about this tomorrow? I’m sure even a jerk like him has a friend here.”
Cat & Mouse was the only decent bar in Helios, Arizona, after all.
“I couldn’t care less. As of eight p.m. last night, I’M A SINGLE LADY!” With that statement, she wiggled out of Rob’s arms and started bopping like a pop star. Before he could blink, she was surrounded by guys, all eager to enjoy the show.
“Mother—” Rob bit out.
“Fucker! She’s finally single. I knew she was never serious about that asshat.” Marc ran a frustrated hand though his hair.
“You’re full of it and you know it. She was damn near picking out china patterns. If you couldn’t see the hurt in her eyes, then you never really were her friend.” Rob curled his lip in disgust.
“Fuck you. Like you even looked above her tits.”
Rob took a step toward Marc before he remembered whose face he was itching to rearrange. He shook his head. God, they hadn’t even made a move on Sara yet and already they were circling each other like cheesy WWE wrestlers.
He sighed. “This isn’t gonna work, is it?”
Marc avoided eye contact. “Yeah, it’ll work. You just need to knock off the caveman bullshit. We agreed we’d give Sara the option and let her decide.”
“And may the best man win?” Rob couldn’t keep the skepticism out of his voice.
“Yup. Don’t sweat it. I’ll ask you to be the best man at Sara’s and my wedding.”
Rob watched Marc turn and swagger into the crowd, his intent clear. He wanted Sara and he was going to get her.
Not if Rob had anything to say about it.
He had waited forever for his chance with Sara. Watched her waste her time and energy with that bastard Greg, but now that the path was clear it would be his wedding in a few months’ time. Not Marc’s.
He had to win. He loved her. Had loved her ever since she’d roped him into playing Link Larkin to her Tracy Turnblad in their high school production of Hairspray. His skin crawled as he remembered being on stage. He hated performing but he’d done it for Sara. Would do it again in a heartbeat for her.
With a little luck, by the end of the night he’d have a better cure for his blue balls than knocking a few heads together.
Sara Banks was feeling no pain as she bounced to the music with Mr. Bushy Brows. Damn it, what was his name? She probably shouldn’t call him that to his face. He was her first choice for a one-night stand. Although given the slim pickings, he was probably her only choice.
At least he had been until Rob and Marc showed up to rain on her little parade. She’d have a hard time sneaking out with Mr. Bushy Brows if those two shadowed her all evening.
But did she really want him? Was he the one for her? She peeked up at his face but just couldn’t get past those eyebrows. They looked like two furry caterpillars. Especially when he wiggled them like that. Did he think that was hot?
“I’m gonna grab another drink,” she shouted above the pounding music as she pulled out of his sweat-dampened arms. Ugh. She swore she could feel a slimy residue on her hips. She darted through the crowd. No need to give him the opportunity to hang around any longer.
When she reached the bar, she collapsed on a stool and lifted a finger at the bartender. No more communication required. He plunked a frosty bottle of hard lemonade in front of her but waved her off when she started to dig into her tiny clutch. He jerked his head, signaling behind her. Sara turned on her barstool and her breath stalled in her chest. Her euphoria disappeared in an instant.
Marc towered over her and he looked pissed.
Sara grabbed her bottle, hopped off her stool and started for the dance floor. Three steps later she froze when Marc’s hand curled around her elbow.
Fuck. A. Duck.
She just couldn’t get a break tonight. Sara blew her bangs out of her eyes and met Marc’s glare with one of her own.
“Thanks for the drink.” She turned to get away from his big-brother stare but couldn’t shake his grasp.
“We need to talk.”
She didn’t try to hold back the eye roll. “Ah, no we don’t. I need to find a dance partner and you need to find some other helpless little woman. Because this damsel doesn’t need saving.” She jerked her arm again but Marc held firm.
“Well, why didn’t you say so, princess? I’d love to dance.” Marc plucked the bottle from her and slammed it on the bar before steering her toward the dance floor.
Crap. Sara tripped over her feet as she struggled to keep up. Her short, little legs were no match for Marc’s long, lean ones. After finding a small clearing a few feet from the DJ, he pivoted and brought her into his arms with a flick of his wrist. She stumbled, crashing into his chest.
Mmmmmmm and what a firm chest it was. Unlike most of the men’s here, Marc’s chest was solid the old-fashioned way, from hard physical labor. His calloused fingertips sent shivers down her spine. What she wouldn’t give to feel those calluses rubbing her in a far more sensitive place than her bare arms. Crap. She couldn’t think like that. Marc was a friend. Her best friend, or one of them anyway. He obviously felt as if he had to play the overprotective older brother tonight.
She fought the urge to whine and stamp her feet. Why tonight of all nights? All her plotting and primping would go to waste. Her plan of a simple one-night stand wilted beneath the glare of Sergeant Sourpuss. But why easygoing Marc? It was usually Rob who played the overprotective, save-the-damsel-in-distress caveman. Marc was the one she could count on to crack a joke and lighten the atmosphere.
She peeked up at his face. Judging by his stony expression, he probably wasn’t in the mood tonight.
“Um, Marc?” she whispered before mentally slapping herself. There was no way he was going to hear her over—
“What, princess?” His growl vibrated the rock-hard chest beneath her ear.
“Where’s Rob?” She cursed under her breath. That wasn’t what she wanted to say.
Why did she go from confident She-Ra warrior to helpless Victorian virgin just because some tall, gorgeous man put his strong, firm arms around her? And his calloused fingers rubbed her exposed back in short, tantalizing circles, making her wonder what they would feel like when he parted her thighs and—
Stop. She shouldn’t think that way about her best friend. Friend. Not the guy she was here to pick tonight to help her—
Wait a minute. Why hadn’t he answered her?
“Marc?” Her head tilted back to meet his gaze and she searched his hazel eyes.
He seemed…conflicted. The muscles in his cheek flexed as he bit down, anger evident in the curl of his lips. But his eyes…they were sad. As if he had just lost his best friend.
“Oh God. Is he okay? What happened? He was just here!” She panicked at the thought of Rob hurt, in pain. The sexually induced haze cleared from her brain as she pulled away and looked around the room for his trademark auburn cropped hair.
“Sara, he’s fine. He’s just—”
“Right here,” a deep voice finished behind her.
She knew that voice. Had heard it mature from a gorgeous alto to its current husky baritone. Sara sagged into Marc’s arms as all the tension left her body. Rob was okay.
But that still didn’t explain Marc’s conflicted emotions. Or the tension the throbbing music couldn’t mask. Something was up with the two most important men in her life. And she was literally caught in the middle.
“Mind if I cut in?” Rob’s husky voice in her ear caused the tiny hairs on the back of her neck to vibrate as a shiver rocked her body.
God, his voice was hot.
“Actually, we’re in the middle of—”
“No, I’d like to dance with you, Rob.” She didn’t know why there was so much tension between them but it was probably better if she separated them quickly. With the looks Marc was tossing over her shoulder, bloodshed was sure to follow.
“Looks like you’re the better man, Rob. Congrats and all that.” Marc pulled away from her before stomping over to the bar, grabbing her drink and taking up residence on the barstool.
“What’s—” she gasped as Rob pulled her into his arms. From one hard chest to another. Wow, these guys smelled good. She cleared her throat. “Uh, what’s up with you and Marc?” Sara tried to look into his blue eyes but couldn’t get past his lips.
“Nothing. We’re good.”
Sara snorted. “Uh, yeah, I don’t think so. Marc’s not good. He just walked away like someone with their panties in a wad. You guys have a fight or something?”
“I didn’t ask you to dance so we could talk about Marc.” With that, Rob pulled her in close until her groin rubbed up against his jean-covered thigh.
Was that… He wasn’t… He couldn’t be! Sara couldn’t believe she felt Rob’s erection rubbing against her belly. It had to be just the fit of his jeans.
Yeah sure, the little voice in her head answered sarcastically. His jeans and the sock he hid in his pants.
But it couldn’t be over her—Rob had never shown even the slightest hint he saw her as anything other than a friend. Crap, she was beginning to hate that word, friend. Lord knew she had a special ability to make any erection disappear. Just ask her ex.
He probably just got an erection from dancing with another girl and wanted some time to cool off before he went home with another woman. Like every other Friday night.
“Sara?” Rob murmured in her ear.
“If you get any stiffer, someone’s gonna call the morgue.”
Sara’s lips curled. Normally Marc was the funny one but she appreciated Rob’s effort to lighten the mood. But he had her beat in the stiffy competition. She gave in to his subtle demand and let her body melt into his. For once in her life she wanted to indulge in the fantasy of being with Rob. If only for one dance.
They moved to the smooth beat of the music. Heaven. Sheer heaven. Sara couldn’t imagine a more perfect place to be than in Rob’s arms. Unless it was in Marc’s. She tensed at the thought. Shit, she couldn’t even let herself pretend for one moment that this would last forever, since apparently she couldn’t even choose between them in her fantasies.
She pulled back to get some distance from him. She needed to think and feeling his body against hers just confused her.
“What’s wrong, darlin’?”
She tried not to whimper as Rob ran his thumb over her trembling lips. She couldn’t help but think if only. If only Rob wanted her like she wanted him. If only he weren’t her best friend. She’d give anything to throw caution to the wind and throw herself at him. If only she weren’t afraid of the damage it would do to their friendship when he politely turned her down.
And that’s what he would do. There was no way a man like Rob would even look twice at her if she hadn’t been his friend since childhood. Short, chunky tomboys like her never drew the attention of guys like Rob. Or Marc.
She forced her lips into a semblance of a smile. “Nothing.”
Rob didn’t look as if he believed her. She buried her head against his chest and wallowed in his scent and the amazingly comfortable feel of his arms around her. At least in this position, Rob wouldn’t be able to see the conflicting feelings on her face.
The song ended and Sara looked up to find they were the only couple still dancing. “Uh, I think I need a—”
The rest of her lame attempt to get some space was cut off by the screech of the next song starting. She pulled away, glad for the excuse. No one slow-danced to metal. She gave Rob an apologetic half-smile and tried to keep from running as she made her way back to the bar.
Copyright © GILLIAN ARCHER, 2012
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.