Three dominant men will rock her world…
Surrender might be a wanton Malibu club, but it’s hardly fun and games for Jacquie. As the owner’s assistant, she’s all work and no play. That changes when three bad boy rockers scout the lifestyle club as a provocative idea for their new album.
As the frontman for Dominant Men, Max is lusciously male and unqualified alpha, eagerly playing Dom to a willing sub. Backup singer and lyricist Andy is more laid back. However, his wild, reddish locks hint at the fire within, which he proves in bed. Entertainment reporters have dubbed composer Devlin ‘the blond devil’. To him, vanilla is for when you’re too old to make the effort. The more daring the play, the faster he’s on board.
Ready to live, Jacquie offers to be their carnal guide through Surrender, willingly delivering herself to these handsome beasts for an adventure like no other.
This is book two in the Surrender series but can be enjoyed as a standalone
Publisher’s Note: This steamy contemporary reverse harem romance contains elements of power exchange.
Spotlights bathed the stage in Surrender, illuminating the pedestal where mock slave auctions took place and women’s fantasies unwound, fantasies of alpha males taking, using, and pleasuring them.
Jacquie Reynolds faced the display, uncertain why she was in the ballroom rather than at her admin desk or how she’d arrived. The last she recalled…
Memories scattered and faded like smoke.
Frowning, she struggled to bring them back.
Faint music played from somewhere and everywhere, the enticing and seductive bass growing louder on each beat. Shackles dangled above the pedestal, irons meant to imprison a woman’s wrists to exhibit her. The metal glinted wantonly in the light.
Mesmerized, she drew closer.
Cool air drifted down, tightening her naked nipples and skimming her bare ass.
Her heart leapt at her unexpected nudity. When did that happen? How?
Max Nolte strode from the shadows, his long, dark locks grazing his shoulders. A bold tat graced his muscular pecs, the black swirls hypnotic, the solid ridge behind his fly legendary. Perfect for a rocker, his band—Dominant Men— were wildly popular. Now he was here. So was she.
Her skin burned and her knees sagged.
He grinned. Male power and lust radiated from it.
This can’t be happening. It had to be a dream.
She never wanted to wake up.
He stopped close enough for her to breathe in his musk.
Her pulse beat triple time. Unable to resist, she leaned in, desperate to feel his heat.
An arm snaked around her waist, easing her back. A hand cupped her face, turning it.
Andy Chance, the band’s lyricist and backup singer, gazed at her, his eyes so blue they didn’t look real. His wild auburn mane curled around his ears and neck, begging a woman to run her fingers through those unruly tresses.
He gathered her into him, his movement tender rather than insistent, his rigid cock pure business as it nestled between her butt cheeks.
Her breath spilled out.
Max was naked too, his dick hard and proud, rising to point at her, a flush tinting his olive complexion.
She tried to take in more air, but couldn’t.
Devlin Howe, the group’s backup singer and composer, had joined them. Living up to his nickname ‘the blond devil’, he pulled her smack against his solid chest, sin flaming in his hazel eyes. His bronzed skin made his irises seem lighter and complemented his long, thick hair. Handsome beyond words, he could have been the archetype for a fallen angel.
Sagging against him, she drowned in his strength and warmth.
As one, the guys lifted her above them, as audiences do to fans at rock concerts, and carried her onto the stage. Spectators whistled and shouted.
Positioned on the pedestal, arms manacled above her head, she faced the darkened room, everyone able to witness her nakedness. And what would happen next.
Her heart skipped several beats then pounded crazily. Her pussy creamed.
Max separated her legs and slipped two fingers into her willing cunt. Her inner muscles tightened to his invasion and pulled him deeper inside.
Andy licked her right nipple and her left, his mouth deliciously hot.
Her ears buzzed.
Devlin teased her rigid nub.
Pleasure shot to every point she owned, thrilling and weakening her in equal measure. Her head fell back.
Max claimed her mouth, thrusting his tongue inside. Andy suckled her boobs. Devlin squeezed her ass then smacked it repeatedly and hard, subduing and taming her for his use.
The sting aroused. The resulting heat soothed. She pulled her mouth free and shouted for more.
Jerked awake, she fought for a breath, darkness surrounding her.
The low-pitched bass came from her freaking phone, the ringtone a song from Dominant Men, the caller Bree, her boss.
Jacquie fought to sound awake, aroused, and not pissed at having Bree interrupt her X-rated dream. “Hey.” She tried to slow her heart. “Why are you calling at this hour?”
“Did I wake you? It’s nearly eleven.”
That still gave her time before she had to be at her desk. Watery light bled around the bedroom blinds, a typical late summer morning in Malibu. “I usually sleep in.”
“Not today. Get over here as fast as you can.”
Jacquie sat up. “What happened?” She gripped the phone so hard, her hand hurt. “Did the Feds or the state raid you? Are cops swarming over the place now?”
“What? No.” Bree blew out a breath. “We’re not doing anything illegal here. You do know that, don’t you?”
She did now. “Sure. Why do you want me to come in early?”
That couldn’t be good. Jacquie swung her legs over the side of the bed. “Has something happened?”
What was that supposed to mean? Oh hell. “You’re not firing me, are you? If I did something wrong, tell me, I’ll make it right. If it cost you money, take it from my pay. I need this job. You can’t—”
“I’m not terminating you, okay? There’s… uh… something I want to talk to you about and we need to do so here.”
Relieved, Jacquie sagged back to the mattress and draped her arm over her face. “Is this about your guys? How many times do I have to repeat myself? Lucius, Cody and Tav adore you. Good God, if I had three gorgeous men after me, I’d—”
“You’ll never live the dream if you don’t get your butt here ASAP. I’ll expect you in an hour.”
She hung up.
Fifty-four minutes later, Jacquie rushed into the club’s executive offices. Clueless as to what might happen, she bypassed her desk and made a beeline for Bree’s office. Inside stood several racks that hadn’t been there yesterday. Each held women’s evening gowns in more colors than a rainbow. High heels in every shade and style covered the chairs and other furniture.
Arms crossed, Bree leaned against her desk, her blonde hair pinned up, her black suit sexy yet professional. “Lose the purse and close the door.”
Jacquie did neither. “Why?”
Bree arched one pale eyebrow. “Because I asked you to?”
Ordinarily her answer would be good enough, though not now. “Okay, but why?”
“Fine, I’ll do it.” She tossed Jacquie’s purse on the sofa and closed the door. “I have news.”
The clothes and shoes in here could only mean one thing. “You and the guys are getting married at the club tonight? You want me, and several of the female staff, to wear these gowns as your bridesmaids?”
Bree made a face. “Three men marrying one woman wouldn’t be legal, not even in this state or city.”
“I meant symbolically. To prove your love and theirs.”
“Uh-huh.” Bree leaned against her desk. “Are you writing a story like that?”
Jacquie planned to pen erotic romances someday, her time at Surrender was excellent research for her salacious plots. “No. What are the gowns and shoes for?”
“You, no one else. Choose the ones you want. The hairdresser, makeup artist, and manicurist will be here at six tonight. You’ll stop doing your usual admin stuff then. After they work their magic, you’ll need to get dressed.”
Try as she might, Jacquie wasn’t connecting the dots on this. “Are you high?”
Bree’s laughter tore across the room. “Never been more lucid.” She sobered. “Special guests will be here this evening and you need to be ready for them.”
“You expect me to work at my desk in a gown and stilettos?”
“Technically, you won’t be working or at your desk.” Bree flicked her hand. “You’ll be enjoying yourself once your guys get here.”
Excitement flared in Bree’s green eyes. “Guys. Specifically, Max, Andy and Devlin.”
Jacquie froze. “Huh?”
Bree’s smile turned smug. “They’re coming by to research the place for their next album, which they want to make sexy and romantic. When they asked me if they could use Surrender as a prototype for their theme, I not only agreed, I told them you’d be more than happy to show them around. Give them a tour, so to speak. What happens during it is up to you.” She winked.
Jacquie clutched her throat. The room swam around her, refusing to stop.
Bree frowned. “I thought you’d be thrilled. Don’t you like them any longer? You’ve found a new group you enjoy more? You…” Her gaze turned inward. She paled. “Shit.” She pushed away from the desk and paced. “I never thought… I didn’t consider.” She stopped and stared. “Are you still a virgin?”
“What? Of course not.” She wrinkled her nose. “I’m twenty-six. Why would you even think such a thing?”
Bree rolled her eyes. “Well, hon, you are from Utah, and your parents are ultra-conservative, and you were raised—”
“I got over that stuff a long time ago. I’m here, aren’t I?” She gestured to the room and club in general. “I’m plotting my first erotic romance. I can’t do this.”
“You mean tonight? With the guys? Why not?”
Stating the obvious seemed the only way to go. “They’re rockers. They’re freaking gods. While I’m… Even you must see the problem here.”
“Stop that crap right now.” Bree pointed. “They’re guys, period. They belch, make bad decisions and are probably boring as hell at times, like every male. No one’s perfect, though you come close. Have you looked in a mirror lately?” She planted her hands on her hips. “Your hair’s so black there’s a blue sheen, and your complexion couldn’t be more flawless. Alabaster would have trouble competing with you. Your features are delicate; you’re tall and built. Everything a guy could want.” She gestured to the cheval mirror that hadn’t been in here yesterday. “Go on. Look.”
Jacquie couldn’t. She wrung her hands. “What about the others here? When they see the guys, I won’t have a chance to get close to them.”
“Nonsense.” Bree tapped her foot. “Our patrons are rich and successful. They don’t fawn over rockers. They’re too into themselves.”
True. “What about the staff?”
“They know better than to be intrusive with guests.”
“Okay. But do Devlin, Max and Andy know they’re not supposed to look at any woman except me? God, please say you didn’t tell them that.” She covered her face. “I’ll never live it down.”
Bree eased Jacquie’s hands away and held them. “Of course, I didn’t. I merely suggested you’d show them what we offer here. I didn’t say you’d be their sexual plaything. If you don’t want to do this or eventually play sub to their Doms, tell me. I’ll call it off. No prob.”
Too many emotions warred within her: dread at ditching this chance and delight at taking it. She gripped Bree’s fingers. “I can’t.”
“Say no to this. Am I nuts?”
Bree grinned. “No more than I was when I had a first night with my guys.”
A promise she’d agreed to when they’d offered to finance the club. In return, they asked for only one thing and it wasn’t a return on their investment. Once Surrender opened for business, they demanded she spend the night here with them, subservient to their male appetites, as she hadn’t been when they worked together at Mortganson Capital in San Francisco. They all lived in Malibu now, playing and loving on a regular basis, their happy ever after epic.
Jacquie hungered for the same, though she wasn’t foolish enough to hope for a long-term relationship with Andy, Max and Devlin. Having a good time with them would have to be enough. Far more than she’d hoped for before this moment. “Let’s do this.”
“That’s the spirit.” Bree hugged her. “Which gown?”
They rifled through the selections, both deciding the black ones enhanced Jacquie’s fair complexion and dark hair. She liked the sweetheart necklines best and those dresses boasting a snug fit. After trying on most, she selected a strapless one, a long slit on the left, ending at her upper thigh. “Will I be wearing underwear?”
“What do you think?”
A definite no. “Let’s look at the heels.”
A satin pair caught her attention. The peep toes were cute, the diamond-encrusted heels beyond cool and matching the stud in her nose. “These.”
“Good choice. Now for your jewelry.” Bree pulled out dangly diamond earrings from her top desk drawer.
Jacquie guessed the stones weighed in at three carats for each earring, six carats total. “Are those real?”
“Yep.” She handed them over. “I will need them back. They’re on loan.”
Trembling, Jacquie had trouble taking the gems. “You are the best boss, ever.”
“I’m your friend too, don’t forget. You were there for me when I troubled over my guys.”
More like had a major meltdown. “I didn’t mind. You deserve the best.”
“Right back atcha.” She tapped her chin. “I’ll need to know where you intend to enjoy the guys tonight.”
Jacquie folded her fingers over the earrings. “Why?”
“So I can reserve those spots for you, making certain no one else comes near. Do you have any ideas what you’d like to do?”
She wasn’t an aspiring romance author for nothing. “Uh-huh.”
“Tell me.” Bree grabbed her smartphone. “I’ll make a note. While you’re getting your hair, face, and nails done, I’ll alert the staff.”
Jacquie gripped Bree’s wrist. “You won’t tell them I’m going to be using those rooms— areas—whatever, will you?”
“If you draw blood, I might.” She patted Jacquie’s hand. “Relax. I have your back. Now where?”
Getting bolder by the second, Jacquie told her.
“Excellent.” Bree’s thumbs flew over the keyboard. “Before the crew gets here, you’ll need to prep. Once you’re done, you guys can use my private bath for the rest.”
The room sported gold fixtures, lavender marble, a tub and shower, a chair-hairdryer combo like those in salons, every toiletry and grooming tool imaginable, and more square footage than Jacquie’s one-bedroom apartment. Surrender wasn’t anything if not well equipped, even in here.
After her and Bree’s discussion, working a usual shift proved difficult for Jacquie, the hours dragging by.
The get-her-ready-for-sin team arrived shortly after she’d groomed and showered, the trio including a twentyish male hairstylist, a young female makeup artist and a matronly manicurist. They chattered, fussed, primped and worked their magic while she struggled to breathe.
Bree popped in several times to witness the transformation. In each instance, she gave two thumbs up but warned, “Don’t let her look.”
Jacquie would have asked why but her mouth was too cottony to form words.
When everyone finished, they stepped back, nodded, gathered their things and split.
Her fingernails and toenails looked great, the crimson shade dazzling. Afraid to glance in the bathroom mirror that covered one wall, she joined Bree in the office, the shoes and gowns gone, except for what she’d chosen. Those items rested on the sofa.
Bree closed the door. “Ditch the robe.”
“What time is it?” She got hot, then cold. “What if the guys cancel?”
“They won’t. You don’t want to keep them waiting, do you?”
Atomizer in hand, Bree spritzed perfume on Jacquie’s throat, boobs, bush and thighs. “Lift your arms.”
Once she had, Bree perfumed the pits.
Jacquie sniffed, the fragrance astonishing: delicate roses, something akin to spring air, and musk blended into one. “I’ve never smelled anything so good. What is it?”
Bree told her.
Jacquie held back a gasp. “That’s several thousand dollars an ounce.”
“You’re worth it. I’ll help you with your dress and heels.”
The gown fit like a second skin, the silky fabric downright decadent. The stilettos added four inches to her height. Luckily, each band member was well over six feet and would soon arrive.
Jacquie’s palms got damp. “Is the room whirling for you too?”
“Nope. Don’t worry, you’ll do better than fine.” She tossed the robe in the bathroom then clasped Jacquie’s wrist. “Time to see how you look.”
“Can I have a cigarette and blindfold first?”
Laughing, Bree tugged her to the cheval mirror.
The world stopped. The woman staring back at her was nowhere close to the Jacquie Reynolds she once knew. Her hair, cut Cleopatra style, shone like nobody’s business, the color darker than she recalled. Smoky makeup ringed her eyes, lightening her gray irises. Scarlet lipstick made her mouth look wet, pouty and positively kissable. Blusher added faint color to her cheeks, hinting at the inner heat within. “Wow.”
Bree gripped her shoulders and shook her gently. “Amazing, huh?”
She nodded. “Dang, I look good.”
“Hell yeah.” She turned Jacquie to face her. “By the way, you might want to talk dirty tonight. Turns guys on during sex. No gosh, darn, dang, or other stuff that says good girl.”
Which would be a total turnoff. “Fucking A.”
Bree’s office phone rang. She picked up. “Yeah.” After listening a moment, she nodded. “You know what to do.” She lowered the receiver. “Your guys arrived. They’re on the way here.”
Jacquie grabbed Bree’s arm. “Don’t leave.”
“I wasn’t planning to. Chill. You’re bright, talented, exquisite, and most importantly, horny as hell. Right?”
Her pussy couldn’t get any wetter, her nipples any harder. “Uh-huh.”
“Be yourself. Any man would be insane not to want you as you are.”
Too bad Bree hadn’t been her mom. Jacquie figured she’d have tons more confidence than she did. Thankfully, her longing for tonight and the guys crowded out any reservations she might have had.
Heavy footfalls sounded outside the room. Males approaching. The moment identical to Bree’s guys arriving that first night to collect on her promise.
Please let my evening turn out as good.
Hard raps sounded on the door.
Bree shot her a frown and grabbed papers from her desk. “Pretend you’re looking at this with me.”
She kept her voice as low as Bree had kept hers. “Why?”
“So you don’t appear intimidated but ready for anything.”
If that were the case, she should be panting, and was. “Oh my god, we forgot the mirror. It’s still in here. What if they see it?”
“With this other stuff for them to look at?” She swung her arm in a wide arc taking in the Victorian artwork, all smut, and photos depicting nude women enjoying themselves.
“You have a point.”
Bree lifted her face. “Come in.”
The crystal knob turned bit-by-bit, excruciatingly slow, yet also too fast.
“Easy.” Bree bumped Jacquie’s arm.
She managed to pull in a puny breath.
The door swung inward.
My freaking god. This is actually happening.
Max entered first, pure alpha, his features rough, grin mischievous, his freshly washed hair dancing over his shoulders, his stubble tempting as fuck. Tonight, he wore a dark blue suit, a sapphire shirt, and matching tie. Hip as hell. At twenty-nine, he was male to the extreme.
Bree rattled the papers to catch Jacquie’s attention for the performance she suggested.
No good. Jacquie couldn’t look anywhere except at him. To keep from throwing herself into his arms and ruining her badass-chick act, she dug her nails into her palms.
His gaze zipped down her, crawled back up, settled on her cleavage for a long, long while then inched up to her mouth, where he also lingered, then met her eyes.
Male interest sparked in his, his grin widening, the bulge between his legs thickening.
Warmth poured through her, followed by certainty she’d rarely known. Bolstered, she returned his smile. Not as a fan, but as a woman needing a man’s firm touch, followed by his regard, respect, and tenderness.
Something crossed his face.
Pleasure? Passion? Both? Neither? She couldn’t read the emotion. Crap.
Tempering his earlier joy, he stepped deeper inside, homing in on her, Bree forgotten, no one else existing for him.
Worked for her.
Andy entered the office, his auburn hair striking, his baby blues soulful yet also eager. The perfect combination in any man and ideal for a lyricist who wrote songs that made her wet and brought her to tears. She liked his burgundy suit, gold tie and shirt, the colors outstanding on him. Unable to wait any longer for his smile, she grinned hard enough to make her cheeks hurt.
His preppy features lit up. He blushed then beamed, more beta than alpha.
Fine with her. He was a year younger than Max and Devlin, his response to her the greatest gift she’d known.
Devlin elbowed past both men, his dark blond hair swinging, his leather suit outrageous and totally him. Like Max, he was alpha to the core, at least during their performances and in entertainment articles she’d read. His tuxedo shirt and bowtie tamed him—somewhat. His beard-shadowed cheeks, upper lip, and chin showed what a bad boy he was. He winked.
Her smile approved of it and everything he was.
Bree cleared her throat and tossed the papers on the desk. “We’ll go over those details tomorrow. For now… Gentlemen, welcome. Max, Andy, Devlin, this is Jacquie Reynolds, my assistant. Jacquie, Dominant Men.”
They stepped forward as one, delivering their heat.
Max offered his hand first.
She slipped hers inside his and almost died. His palm was calloused and hot, one thousand percent masculine, his touch firm yet tempered in strength. At six-three, he looked down at her, the stilettos not making a dent in their differing heights.
“Nice to meet you, Jacquie.”
His smooth, deep voice caressed her name. She’d never forget the sound. “The pleasure is mine.”
No lie, given how she melted inside. However, her tone remained even, not betraying her arousal or anxiety.
He offered another killer smile and leaned closer, his brown eyes so dark they looked black.
His scent washed over her, something fresh and aquatic, similar to the sea. Fitting for a man who resembled a pirate. Wild. Unrestrained. Commanding. He was definitely starring in her first romance. She shook inwardly.
Devlin offered his hand next, crowding out Andy who either didn’t mind being one-upped or wouldn’t show it.
Not liking Devlin’s behavior, she gave him a cool look.
He smiled sheepishly and bobbed his hand up and down, reminding her what to do next. “It’s great to meet you, Jacquie. I hear you have no equal in your work. I don’t doubt it for a second.”
At his praise and silky baritone, her disapproval crumbled faster than a sandcastle during a hurricane. His solid grasp said he wouldn’t let go anytime soon. Exactly what she needed from him in bed. “I do my best. I’m delighted to meet you, too.”
He stroked her thumb.
Pleasure blossomed within her pussy. She reeled.
“I’d say we’ve waited far too long to meet.” He brushed his lips over her knuckles, his stubble rough, mouth ungodly soft.
Another second of him being his devilish self and she’d beg him to do her then ask the others for the same. His sensual, bold fragrance enthralled, a spicy-musky scent bringing to mind torrid summer nights, satin sheets, and naked flesh.
Before she lost what scant control she had, she eased her hand from his, ready to meet Andy.
He regarded her boobs, plumped by the dress, then met her gaze, with naked craving in his eyes.
His brief intensity surprised her, his grip as impressive as the others, but also friendly and caring. His scent proved minty, pleasant and masculine.
It should have calmed her. Instead, her desire shot into the stratosphere. “Hey.”
His grin stretched ear to ear. “Hi. Great to meet you, Jacquie. Thanks for showing us around tonight. I’m sure you have other work you could be doing.”
Loving his rich voice, she shook her head hard enough to make the earrings tap her jaw. “Not in the least. That stuff can wait until tomorrow.” She looked at Bree. “Right?”
Bree struggled not to smile. “It’ll be waiting for you at your desk when you come in. Until then…” She regarded the guys. “Have fun. Enjoy Surrender. Let your imaginations run wild.” After giving Jacquie a knowing look, she ushered them from her office.
The door clicked shut.
Jacquie’s pulse jumped. On her own with them, she struggled for composure and said the only thing she could. “Let’s discuss your ideas for the album while we have a drink at the bar.” At this point, booze couldn’t hurt. Her passion was one thing, her doubt about whether they’d want her intimately another.
You could take the girl out of Utah and put her into a righteous dress and makeup, but you couldn’t erase every cruel comment she’d heard from guys. Like she was too tall, not busty enough, the stud she wore in her nose was weird, and she was paler than a vampire. Yada, yada, yada. Given those lousy appraisals, there hadn’t been many men in her life. She’d only dated two, neither relationship lasting more than a year.
Eight months had passed since she’d last had sex.
Her needy cunt kicked into high gear, wanting a cock to fill, use and pleasure it. Definitely showtime.
Giving the guys her best smile, she strove for a sexy tone. “Follow me.”
Their footfalls slapped the hardwood floor behind her.
Ahead, the hall opened up into the get-acquainted area, decorated to resemble a Victorian palace. Numerous chandeliers rained muted light on period furniture upholstered in lilac or rose velvet. Dark cherry wood paneled the walls, each polished to a high sheen. A French instrumental played, the music soft and sensuous. Nothing like what transpired on the upper floors where BDSM, fetishes, voyeurism, gang bangs, threesomes and ménages ruled.
Jacquie’s stomach fluttered, anticipation rising, but she kept a steady pace, not racing across the area nor lingering too long.
As Bree predicted, the patrons paid scant attention to Max, Devlin and Andy. Those men who did, raised their drinks. She supposed in a salute to the band’s music. The women offered welcoming smiles, long on good manners, short on carnal need.
The staff kept glimpsing at the guys, though not for long. To the woman—and man—they focused on the patrons they served drinks to.
Of course, that didn’t tell her what the guys were doing or where they looked.
She glanced over her shoulder at them.
They studied her various parts, met her eyes and smiled.
Happy, she picked up speed.
Someone grabbed her wrist.
Max. He stroked her hand and smiled. “Where’s the noise coming from?”
Whistles, applause, and male shouts sounded close by. The slave auction had begun. She bet it wasn’t as great as her dream about them this morning. “The ballroom.”
He nodded then lifted his eyebrows. “And…?”
She explained how male patrons bid on a female patron to become their slave, and to do everything they wanted, no matter how kinky. Those were the rules.
Max traded a look with the other guys. “Why didn’t we see that the last time we were here?”
She spoke before anyone could. “You arrived too late.”
His eyebrows inched up again. His face questioning how she’d know.
She’d been a bad girl during their visit, haunting their moves on the security monitors. To her delight and amazement, they hadn’t hooked up with anyone. They simply had a few drinks, dinner, and looked around then left, leaving her wanting and restless. Time to lie. She truly had fallen far from her family tree. “When VIPs arrive, I get an alert in case they require anything special.”
The guys took in the others, all Very Important People and millionaires, some even billionaires.
Perspiration broke out on Jacquie’s neck despite the mild temperature. Committed to a farce she started, she said the only thing she could. “When you visited, you didn’t have any requests I needed to address, so we didn’t meet.”
Devlin rocked on his heels.
Andy regarded her, his mood sympathetic. The way a guy looks when he senses a woman is in distress.
She needed to work on her poker face. Too bad Bree hadn’t thought of that during the preparations for this evening. “Shall we?”
Jacquie led them to the spacious bar decorated in black granite and gold, a man cave where sexual negotiations took place over drinks and smooth jazz played low. The hostess zipped to them. She wore a snug tuxedo, the jacket cut low on top to flaunt her assets. “Good evening, Ms. Reynolds, gentlemen. Your table is ready.”
Bree had made good on her promise to secure whatever Jacquie had asked for this evening.
Besides an open communal area where couples and groups sat at tables, there were secluded locations separated from the rest by what looked like beaded curtains. In actuality, they were plastic cords with lights inside. Those golden globes blinked off and on to simulate streaming water. The subdued glow allowed enough light for patrons to see but was romantic rather than invasive.
Inside, a circular seat upholstered in gold velvet circled a round table. The overhead chandelier held numerous black candles, each electric, but breathtakingly real in appearance. Flames danced, adding to the titillating atmosphere.
Once she sat, the guys piled in on the other side, facing her.
Devlin’s foot grazed her stiletto. He didn’t budge. Neither did she.
The same for when Max’s calf touched hers.
Andy didn’t participate. He kept regarding her, a question in his eyes she couldn’t fathom, since he didn’t look concerned for her any longer. She wanted to squeeze his hand, but didn’t have the nerve. Yet.
Their server entered, a pretty girl dressed in a tux, her wavy hair strawberry blonde. “Good evening, I’m Heather.” She recited the wine list. “If you’d prefer something harder, we have every mixed drink known to mankind. Beer too.” She named the brands.
Jacquie ordered white wine. The guys chose designer brews. Not once did they leer at Heather’s outfit, spectacular form, or face. They were perfect gentlemen.
With any luck, they wouldn’t be for long when it came to her. As soon as Heather left, Jacquie got down to business. Sort of. “I’m dying to hear what you have in mind for your new album. By the way, your last one—wow.” She pressed her palm to her chest. It didn’t keep her heart from slamming into it. “Breathe Me In was beyond anything I’ve heard.” The single had gone multi-platinum. She smiled at Andy. “Your lyrics…” She turned to Devlin. “Your music…” She faced Max. “Your singing… My god, how do you guys do it? I cried, laughed, held my breath, every-freaking-thing.”
They looked uncharacteristically shy, their cheeks darkening.
Andy scooted up and folded his arms on the table. “You honestly like it? You’re not just saying you did?”
Stunned, she pushed back in her seat. “You think I’d actually lie about something important to you or anything else, even insignificant stuff?”
Devlin wiggled his eyebrows, unusually dark given his light hair. “You’d be surprised what people say to get on our good side.”
She leaned against the table. “You have a bad one?”
Max scratched his cheek. “Tell us why you liked it. What emotions it brought out.”
She should have been grateful to bond with them over their music, but didn’t want to leave herself too defenseless. If this worked out as she hoped, it’d only be about fun. They’d enjoy each other—as she never had with any other men—and go their separate ways. No harm, no foul. “What do you mean?”
He tapped his thumb against the table, his manner unimpressed by her stall. Devlin crossed his arms, making his leather suit crinkle. She would have smiled at the sound if not for Andy’s probing look.
Crud. “The song reminded me of when I started a new middle school and didn’t know anyone. I got teased for being too tall. If I’d worn a stud in my nose then, as I do now, I’m sure my fashion choice would have come up for ridicule.”
Andy sniffed. “Screw those kids. I like the stud.”
Max and Devlin nodded.
Tension drained from her. “Thanks. It took months before I made friends. When I finally did, my BFF and I hung out everywhere, until the cool kids invited her into their crowd. I was history, just like that.” She snapped her fingers and slumped. “It was awful.”
Max’s mouth turned down. “I’ll bet. Our piece brought back those bad memories?”
“Sure. The lyrics reminded me what it’s like to lose someone, like the girl losing her man in the song and being alone.”
They exchanged glances.
She could guess why and cursed herself for having shared that particular history with them. “I’m not gay, all right? The lyrics didn’t remind me of the guys I’ve dated because I wasn’t that into any of them.”
Their smiles returned.
So did hers.
For some reason, no one spoke. Conversation didn’t seem necessary. Something indescribable and electric passed between them, filling her soul and tugging at her heart.
Heather breezed inside, breaking the magic. “Your wine and beers.” Once she’d placed them on the table, she held the tray to her side. “Would you like anything else? Appetizers, maybe?”
Everyone shook their heads.
“As you wish. I’ll be back in a bit to refresh your drinks.”
Jacquie hoped not. Rather than guzzling her wine, as she wanted, she sipped it. “Are you going to include BDSM in your next album like what we have here? Is that allowed?”
Devlin shrugged. “Within reason. We have to be artistic about it.”
“And not celebrate pain.” Andy tasted his beer. “I’m going for romantic lyrics. Bondage and punishment are only to ratchet up the emotion.”
Max pointed his bottle at her. “And make the passionate parts more powerful.”
Devlin talked to the guys. “I’m thinking of strings and piano to start, giving a false sense of security, drums when the BDSM stuff comes in, then back to tenderness and a softer sound to show everything worked out all right.”
“God yeah.” Jacquie pressed her hand to her throat. “That’s awesome. Exactly what a woman wants.”
Devlin gave her a crooked grin. “You should know.”
She did, pleased he’d given her an opening for what she needed to say. “Actually, I think I can be a big help with your ideas while you’re here.”
Max chuckled. “That’s the plan.”
But not what she was getting at. Her bravery collapsed.
Andy leaned closer and squinted. “Something wrong?”
Yeah. If she didn’t make a move, they might not. She gripped her wineglass, needing something to hold onto. “I had a thought about tonight.”
They nodded and waited.
It wasn’t easy to say the words, but she had to. This was her one and only chance. “In order to fully appreciate what a woman experiences in a club like this, which you’re using as your prototype, you need to witness the woman’s reactions firsthand and ask her about them later. That isn’t possible in a typical setting, like if you’re on a date or hooking up with a stranger here.”
Andy spoke first. “A stranger?”
“Yeah, someone other than me.”
They looked clueless.
She inhaled as deeply as she could and soldiered on. “To help you guys out, and because I enjoy what goes on here… I want you to play Dom to my sub.”