The English countryside
“You’re going to freeze your ass off out here, literally. At least cover your dick, you’re making mine cold just looking at you.”
Cedric Davenport turned to his friend and costar Toffer Shelley, aka Drake Dawson, who held out a thick robe. Then he looked down at his cock, which lay flaccid against his thigh. He took the robe and shrugged into it. “He’s fine. Worn out, but fine.”
Toffer laughed. “It was a rousing scene, wasn’t it? Thanks for helping me live out a fantasy and pull Grace a little more out of her shell. She’s always worried about her weight.”
“She’s gorgeous.” Cedric’s words were soft, his gaze now fastened on the English countryside before them.
“Thank you. Just don’t forget she’s my wife.”
“No, I didn’t mean it that way.” He turned to see Toffer studying him.
“What’s eating you?”
“You are,” Cedric replied, a frown marring his handsome features.
“You two, your relationship.”
“Now I’m a little concerned. Was this a bad idea, our ménage? You have designs on my wife?” Cedric almost laughed at the barely controlled anger in Toffer’s voice.
“No, that’s not what I meant. The way she looks at you, and you look at her. The love there. I’ve never had that. Not once. Women flock to me because I’m Cedric Davenport, the big star. They want what they can get out of me, a little fame, some hot sex, expensive toys, and gifts. I want a woman to love me the way Grace loves you. How did you do it?”
“You can’t engineer love, Ced. Grace and I met over the internet, setting up a party for a mutual friend. I didn’t tell her who I was at first, and when she found out, she wasn’t too happy with me. However, by that time a bond had formed, and we built on it. I couldn’t live without her. She’s not just my wife and my sub, she’s my life.”
“It’s why you defend her when the media attacks her size.”
“If I could get away with it, I’d deck a few of them.” They both chuckled at the idea before Toffer continued, “You’re a good Dom; I can tell from what happened tonight. Find yourself a good subbie.”
“I’ve had a few, except the bond’s never really formed. One of them was only too happy to sell her story to the press: Cedric Davenport flogged me, film at eleven.”
“Makes you leery.”
“Humph, yeah.” Cedric sighed heavily, then turned to Toffer. “You guys know anyone? Someone who would submit to me, and then not run to make a buck from it?”
“Sorry.” Toffer shook his head. “At least you don’t have to hide your dominant side.”
“Oh yeah, my former publicist loved that, let me tell you. Freaked her out. She screamed about how the general public would look at me now, told me I had to change, that it would scare off moviegoers. I dumped her, quick, because she just wouldn’t let it go. I don’t care who knows I’m a Dom. I’m not changing who I am for anyone.”
“Well, you are an action hero, and I’m sure it just built you up in some people’s eyes and made you a freak in others.”
“Yeah, it hasn’t hurt profits from my movies. Still going strong.” Cedric gathered his dark, shoulder-length hair into a ponytail, then let it fall again. “I’m forty-three years old. I make millions, the public can’t get enough of me, and I can’t find a woman who loves me just for me. Life sucks.”
Toffer stood and clapped a hand on Cedric’s shoulder. “Take heart, my friend. Someone’s out there for you and you’ll find her. If Grace and I can help, we will. I guarantee it.”
Hollywood Hills, California
Kennedy Tyson pushed the button on the intercom system outside Grace Shelley’s house and waited. Warm August air filled the car as she waited for a response. She couldn’t believe she was here, about to have dinner with Grace Shelley. The Grace Shelley. The author whose books she’d come to love. She rubbed her sweaty palms together as Grace’s disembodied voice drifted from the speaker.
“Hi, Kennedy. Just follow the path to the house.” The gate rolled open and she drove through, looking in her rearview mirror as it shut behind her. This place was a huge step away from her apartment in Bakersfield. It had taken forever for her to get here, and cost more than a small fortune in gas. It was worth it, though, to have dinner with a writer she admired so much.
The idea still boggled her mind. When she’d attended the book signing last month, she’d never expected to get more than Grace Shelley’s autograph. When the two women had talked about writing, and the process, Grace had asked her to stick around until after the event was over. Then they’d sat in the coffee shop and talked for an hour.
When she’d noticed it was past time to go, Grace handed her a card, with a phone number and email address written on it, asking Kennedy to keep in touch. Not having her own card, Kennedy had written her email address on a piece of paper and given it to her new friend. Then she’d debated on how long she should wait to get into contact. A day would seem too eager. Two days maybe, or three? On the second day, Grace had emailed her, asking to meet for coffee at the bookstore.
Even though it was more than a little bit out of her way, Kennedy had agreed. They’d spent the afternoon discussing writing. After that it became a regular thing. They met once a week, on a Thursday, when Kennedy was off from both of her jobs. Kennedy never told Grace where she lived, or how long it took her to get to the Hollywood Hills area. She was just thrilled to discuss writing with someone who had been there.
At first, Kennedy had been surprised at the way the relationship developed. After all, she and Grace only had a few things in common: writing and the fact they were both larger women. Where Kennedy still struggled with her writing, Grace had hit it big. Where Kennedy, at age thirty-nine, didn’t have a man in her life, Grace, who was in her mid-thirties, was married to one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Where Kennedy held down two jobs to make ends meet, Grace had received a hundred thousand dollar advance on her last book.
Two weeks ago, Grace had taken Kennedy’s manuscript, promising to critique it. At their weekly meeting just a few days ago, she’d asked Kennedy to come to the house for dinner. Kennedy had been floored, but she’d managed to accept without making a total fool of herself, or at least she hoped she hadn’t. Grace had smiled sweetly and given her the address.
“Just punch the button on the system when you get to the gate and we’ll buzz you in.” Now, as she piloted her old clunker toward the house, Kennedy’s nerves were once again on edge.
She topped a hill and looked down at the four-story gleaming white-and-glass house in front of her, and her stomach dropped. This was so far out of her league. A bright red sports car sat in front of the home, and off to the side she could see a garage with four doors. They had four cars, and she had one that she worried would make it to the Hills and back to Bakersfield every week.
Her heart went into overdrive, but she knew she couldn’t back out now. Grace was sweet, and would never mention that the twenty-five- dollar bottle of wine Kennedy had brought as a hostess gift was probably not even close to the vintage they were used to drinking. Before she could chicken out and make a U-turn back toward the gate, Drake Dawson and another man appeared on the balcony and waved. Drake, who Grace said liked to be called Toffer, motioned for her to park next to the sports car. She nodded, then turned her attention to the man standing next to him, her eyes widening even more.
Oh. My. God. Cedric Davenport. Her mouth went dry and she tightened her hands on the wheel, wondering how fast she could turn around and speed home. They started down the outside stairs and she eased off the brake and popped the clutch, the car stalling. Embarrassment flooded her as she started it back up, then coasted down the hill.
She came to a stop just as Toffer reached for the door handle. “Welcome.” He held out a hand to help her from the car and she took it with one hand, reaching for the wine with her other one. She hoped her hand didn’t shake too much. When he’d closed the door behind her, he smiled.
“My mother always said when making introductions you had to make sure to repeat names so people wouldn’t forget, and make sure to introduce each person to the other, so no one feels left out.” He pulled her into his side in a friendly hug. “So with that in mind, Kennedy, I’m Toffer. Kennedy, this is Cedric, and Cedric, this is Kennedy.”
Like I’m going to forget your names. Right. “Hi. Mr. Dawson, um, Shelley. Mr. Davenport.” Her voice was barely above a whisper and her mouth felt as dry as a desert. Did she just screw things up? She was pretty sure she had.
“Mr. Shelley? Mr. Davenport? Are our fathers here?” Cedric looked around, then gave her a sheepish grin. “It’s Toffer and Cedric.”
“Cedric.” She laughed nervously, then handed the bottle to Toffer. “Toffer, just a small gift to say thanks.”
“Great. We have a bottle of this very same wine in the fridge right now. Maybe we can open them both and get sloshed tonight.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Cedric said. He motioned to Toffer, then leaned toward her as if imparting a secret. “You have to watch this guy, though. He’ll try to keep all the booze for himself.”
“I’ll share with Kennedy and Grace. You’re on your own, though, smart-ass. There’s a liquor store down the road. If you hurry, you might make it back before dinner comes out of the oven. If not, hit the burger joint next to the liquor store.”
“Screw you. Remember, I’m the one who brought the bottle of wine in the refrigerator.” Surprise registered in Kennedy. They’d brought the same bottle of wine? That was weird.
“I love this vineyard,” Cedric said. “I shot a movie up there. They sent a bottle to my room one night and I was hooked. Now I buy it by the case at the first of the season. Delicious.”
Kennedy silently thanked the liquor store clerk who’d recommended the wine when she’d asked for something good, but not too expensive.
“Cheapskate,” Toffer said. “You brought a bottle of wine from your own cellar?”
“It’s the best,” Cedric replied. “And I brought flowers for your beautiful wife, didn’t I? You don’t deserve flowers.”
“Hey, respect your betters, buddy.” Toffer pushed on Cedric’s shoulder. Kennedy tried to hide a grin when Cedric pushed back.
“Betters? You? When pigs fly.”
Their banter eased Kennedy’s nerves. She wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting: maybe that they would demand she fawn all over them, the big movie stars. Instead, they were just like two regular guys, ready to enjoy a Saturday night with friends.
“Kennedy!” Grace’s voice drifted down from the balcony and Kennedy smiled up at her friend, who waved down. “Ignore them and get up here. Dinner’s almost done. We’ll eat, and then I’ll give you a tour of the house.”
Both men stepped back and waved her toward the stairs. “After you.”
She led them up the stairs, grateful she’d worn a skirt and not jeans that would hug her hips. At the top, Grace hugged her and they stepped into the house. Kennedy tried not to stop and stare. The house was stunning, a dazzling showplace that still seemed lived in.
“I made vegetable lasagna and some three-cheese ravioli,” Grace said, moving off to the left. “I love pasta. We do vegetarian every other night, so I hope that’s okay with you. We still do dairy, though. Come on into the kitchen and you can help me with the salad. I thought we’d eat outside and enjoy the summer air.”
The men followed them into the huge kitchen. “Kennedy, would you like to cut some tomatoes? Toffer, please open the wine. Cedric, will you get the glasses?”
The three of them went about doing as she’d asked, and when Cedric came back from another set of stairs, he set four wineglasses on the table. Toffer filled them as Grace pulled dishes from the oven. The heavenly smell of garlic, cheese, and tomato sauce filled the air.
“Yum,” Cedric said. “Grace, if you weren’t married to this lump, I’d snatch you up in a heartbeat.”
“Sweet talker.” Grace took the glass that Toffer offered her. Toffer playfully sneered at Cedric, who handed a glass to Kennedy. His fingers brushed hers, his warmth making her skin tingle. He winked at her, and the tingle spread through her body. Her nipples, unused for many years, tightened and Kennedy swallowed hard.
The look he gave her showed he knew what she was feeling. Of course he does, you idiot. He’s adored by women young and old; he knows the effect he has on the fairer sex. You’re just one more horny woman to him. And, of course, the best thing about him was he was dominant. Very dominant from the stories she’d read in the tabloids. Of course, they could be just that—stories. He’d never denied them, and when a respectable interviewer had asked about it he’d just shrugged and changed the subject. That could mean the stories were true. Too bad my submissive side’s been on the shelf so long it’s growing dust. Maybe he could help me take it down.
Kennedy imagined herself on her knees, naked, her hands clasped behind her back. Soft tendrils of a flogger trailed over her shoulders and breasts, which tightened almost painfully.
“Do you deserve a whipping from me?”
“Yes, Master Cedric. Please whip me; please, Master, I’m begging you.”
“Who do you belong to?”
“You, Master Cedric, only yo–”
“Kennedy?” She blinked rapidly, dragging herself back into reality as Cedric clinked his glass against hers, then took a sip, his eyes sparkling as he gazed down at her. “It’s wonderful to meet you.”
“You too, Cedric.” She took her own sip, then held her glass up in salute toward her hosts. Toffer took a hearty sip and Grace gave her a sly smile over the rim of her glass. Oh good Lord, she meant this as a setup, as if a man like Cedric Davenport could ever be interested in someone like me.
“Am I bad?” Grace put her hand on Kennedy’s arm. The men had gone upstairs after dinner to let the women ‘talk writing’. They’d consumed the first bottle of wine and were well into the second one. Kennedy knew she had to slow down so she would be able to drive home.
“No, just off the mark,” Kennedy replied, pushing her glass away. “I appreciate the thought; however, he’s way out of my league.”
“No, he’s not. He’s really a nice guy, and he just wants someone to like him for himself. I think he likes you.”
“Right. I saw his last date, twenty-something bimbo with fake boobs and platinum hair.” Kennedy reached for her glass and took a huge sip; then, remembering she had to drive, she set it down and pushed it away again.
“He dated Missy Tompkins, and she’s not pencil thin,” Grace replied. “She’s at least a size fourteen. He does have dates to premieres and such, but he doesn’t really date those women.”
“Right. Tell me another whopper.” She reached for her glass, then caught herself and clasped her hands together.
“Drink up,” Grace said, taking a sip from her own glass. “You’re staying here tonight. I wouldn’t let you drive after we’ve had so much alcohol. And Toffer won’t let Ced drive, either. The four of us will have breakfast together, trust me.”
“We have lots of room. Really, we do.”
“Did you read my manuscript?” Kennedy hoped Grace didn’t take offense at her avoidance of the subject. She picked up her glass just to give her hand something to do.
“Yes, I did. And I loved it. I have some suggestions and then, when my agent is here in November, I’m going to introduce the two of you.”
“What?” Kennedy’s hand stopped in midair, the wine in her glass sloshing almost to the rim.
“It’s really good. I’m serious. You don’t think so?”
“Well yeah, I do. But I don’t expect you to introduce me to your agent.”
“Why not? I say, ‘If you have connections, use them’.”
Kennedy’s smile faltered. “I don’t want you to think that’s the only reason I want to be friends with you.”
“I don’t think that at all.” Grace sighed heavily. “Listen, Toffer and I have been married for four years now, and I love him so much; he’s my world. And those same Hollywood bimbos you talk about, well, they accept me because they have to. Behind my back, I know they talk about my fat ass and how bad they think my dress looks because I have curves. Toffer and Cedric are my only true friends here. My best friend from back home, Lindsey, used to live here, then moved to New York with her husband, Peter. And then I met you and I felt an instant connection. I’ve missed my friends back home so much, and you remind me of them.”
“Did you feel a connection because we’re both large?”
“Partly, and also because you’re smart, and you’re nice, and you can be yourself. That’s why I wanted us to be friends.”
“I like that,” Kennedy said. “Thanks.”
“Let’s go upstairs and get your manuscript. I’ll tell you what I think. You can look at the whole thing later, at your leisure, and ask me questions about what I marked. I know Toffer’s going to be up for a swim later.”
“I don’t have a suit.”
“We’re about the same size,” Grace said with a wink. “Although I think you might be a little smaller.”
“Well, either way, we’ll have fun. Have another glass of wine, then we’ll eat the torte I made for dessert, take a swim, or watch a movie. And you can crash in one of the guest rooms. I’ll be sick with grief if you say no.”
Kennedy laughed. “Sick with grief? Only a writer would say something like that.”
“Yeah, well you know what they say, ‘When you work with words, words are your work’.”
They both laughed as they carried dishes toward the house.
“Yummy,” Cedric said as he watched the ladies move toward the stairs.
“Grace is sure she’s submissive.”
“I think Grace is right. Her nipples are pierced.” Cedric gave Toffer an exaggerated leer. “I noticed it right away. They got hard when I touched her.”
“Well, that doesn’t mean she’s submissive. I’m not surprised you noticed that, huh?”
“Among other things.” Oh yeah, he’d noticed. He’d loved her short-cropped dark hair, and her big hazel eyes, which at times seemed frightened of him and at other times perfectly relaxed. It was an interesting mixture. She had a luscious hourglass figure, with large breasts and full hips. All through dinner he’d imagined her as his table, lying still while he ate off her stomach, his hands tweaking those pierced nipples from time to time.
“I bet her clit’s pierced, too.”
“Probably,” Toffer replied. “One way to find out.”
“Right, like I’m going to jump into bed with her and get burned again. I’ll feel her out, but I’m not going to fuck her tonight.”
Toffer laughed evilly. “Right. Tell yourself that again. You might actually believe it.”