Book 1 in the Brava Girlfriends Series
Asia Michaels and her friends find themselves tantalized by a quiet new arrival in their small town–and by its possibilities. One thing leads to another as truth leads to dare, and Asia’s in the arms of a man who gives her answers to all of the questions she could never ask…
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is Book 1 in the Brava Girlfriends Series
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“Do you believe the audacity?” Asia Michaels asked, staring through the dirty window of the company lounge to the newly painted building across the street. Soft pink neon lights flashed Wild Honey with bold provocation, competing with the twinkle of Christmas lights around the door and windows. A porn shop, she thought with awe, right in the middle of their small town. Cuther, Indiana wasn’t known for porn. Nope, it was known for pigs and toiletries, which meant most everyone either farmed or worked in one of the three factories.
Asia worked in a factory, as an executive secretary in the marketing department. She liked it, the routine, the security. She’d found independence in Cuther, and peace of mind. Not in a million years had she thought to see a sex shop called Wild Honey erected among the main businesses. Seated next to Asia at the round table, Becky Harte gaped. She blinked big blue innocent eyes and asked in a scandalized whisper, “You’re sure they sell porn?”
Erica Lee, the third in their long established group and a faithful friend, laughed out loud as she sat her coffee and a candy bar on the table. “Well they’re sure not raising bees.”
Asia shook her head. Erica was probably the most sophisticated of the three, and the least inhibited. Every guy in the factory had asked Erica out at one time or another. Occasionally, Erica said yes. Now Becky, she didn’t even look at men, even when the men were staring as hard as they could. Becky’s fresh-faced appearance and dark blonde curls were beyond cute. Not that Becky seemed to care. If anything, she did her best not to draw male attention. Her best pretty much worked. If Asia had to guess, she’d swear Becky was still a virgin.
Asia took a bite of her donut. “We should go check it out,” she teased, hoping to get a rise out of her friends. “Get out of here,” Becky rasped, horrified by the mere prospect. “I could never go in that place!”
“Why not?” Erica asked. “You refuse to date, so maybe you’d find something that would make your time alone more… interesting.” She bobbed her eyebrows, making Becky turn three shades of red and sputter. Laughing, Asia pointed out, “None of us dates, at least not much.”
“I date.” Erica shook back her shoulder-length black hair. It hung bone-straight and looked like silk and made every woman who saw it envious. Because her own hair was plain brown and too curly, Asia counted herself among the envious group. “I just don’t meet many guys worth dating twice,” Erica explained. “That’s all. And it’s not like Cuther is a hotbed of eligible males, anyway.” Asia accepted that excuse with silence. Her own reasons for not dating weren’t something she cared to discuss. Cuther was a new life, and her old life was well behind her.
Try as they might, none of them could stop looking at the sex shop. “It’s rather tastefully decorated, isn’t it?” Becky and Erica stared at her. “Well it is.” Asia shrugged. “I would have thought the curtains would be red velvet and there’d be lewd signs in the windows. But there isn’t.” The curtains were actually gauzy, sheer and delicate, in a snowy white with beige shutters against the red brick. Other than the bright neon sign with the name of the shop, the place looked as subdued as a nail salon, or a boarding house. And being that it was close to the holidays, there was even a large festive wreath on the door to go with the holiday lights, lending the building a domestic affectation.
Becky leaned forward, motioning for the others to do the same. “When I parked today,” she whispered, “I could see inside and you’ll never guess who was in there!”
Erica and Asia looked at each other. “Who?”
“Ian Conrad.” Erica dropped back in her seat. “The new electrician the company hired?” Becky nodded, making her curls bounce. “He was speaking to the man at the counter.” Erica snorted. “Well I’ll be. And here he acts so quiet.”
“Still waters run deep?” Asia speculated aloud. “I’d like to know what he bought,” Erica admitted in a faraway voice. “Nothing,” Becky told her. “That is, he came out empty handed. Maybe he was just greeting a new proprietor?”
“More like he went window shopping.” Erica made a face, her voice rising. “Men are all alike. One woman isn’t enough for them. They need outside stimulation, like a vitamin supplement or something!”
“We should be more like them,” Asia said, without really thinking.
“Can you imagine how a guy would act if a woman started buying up porn?” Erica looked dumbstruck, then leaned forward in excitement
“Let’s do it!” Becky tried to pull away but Erica caught her arm and held on, keeping her within the conspiratorial circle. “I’m serious! None of us is getting any younger. I’m probably the oldest at twenty-eight, but Becky aren’t you twenty-five now?”
Looking distinctly miserable, Becky nodded. “I’m twenty-six,” Asia volunteered, proud because each year took her one more step away from her past and her insecurities, her lack of confidence in all things.
“You see,” Erica said. “We’re mature women with mature needs, not silly little girls.” She rubbed her hands together and her slanted green eyes lit up with anticipation. “Oh, I’d just love to witness Ian Conrad’s expression if he went out on a date with a woman, and afterward, when they were alone, she pulled out the props. Ha! Let him deal with not being enough on his own.” Asia sat back and blinked at Erica. “Whatever are you talking about?” And then with insight, “You’ve got a thing for Ian, don’t you?”
“Absolutely not!” Erica sniffed. “I’m just talking about guys in general who think they need all that other…” she waved her hand “… stuff to be satisfied. As if a woman and her body and her imagination aren’t enough.” Becky looked embarrassed, but concerned. “Did a guy, you know, pull out the props on you?”
“Nah, at least not in the middle of things. But I came home once to find him rather occupied.” Becky’s eyes widened in titillated fascination. “Ohmigosh.”
“You didn’t,” Asia said, enthralled despite herself. “Yep. I’d been gone all of four hours and we’d had sex that morning.” She muttered under her breath, “The pig.”
Asia frowned. “You know, I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with a mature, consenting couple making use of toys.” Becky looked ready to faint – or die of curiosity – but Erica just shrugged. “Well me either, but he sure wasn’t a couple! He was there all by his lonesome, just him and a video and some strange… hand contraption thing.”
Becky puckered up like she’d swallowed a lemon. “Hand contraption thing?” Asia tried to hold it in, but Erica looked so indignant and Becky looked so dazed, she couldn’t. She burst out laughing to the point half the other people in the lounge were staring. When she could finally catch a breath, she managed to say, “I wish I could have seen his face!”
“His face?” Erica raised one brow mockingly. “It wasn’t his face that drew my attention. No, ladies. It was the place where that contraption connected.” Becky choked – and they all fell into gales of laughter again. “So what,” Asia finally asked, wiping her eyes, “do you think the three of us should do? Buy our own…” She started giggling again and Becky finished for her, “hand contraptions!”
“Honey please.” Erica effected an exaggerated haughtiness. “That gizmo wouldn’t do us any good at all!” Becky had tears rolling down her cheeks, she laughed so hard. “You’re so bad Erica.”
“Which is why you love me.”
“Yep, I guess that’s part of it.”
“Okay, so what do we do?” Asia really wanted to know. Not that she intended to go into that porn shop and buy anything. Just the idea made her hot with embarrassment. Then she realized her own thoughts and frowned. Part of her liberation, her new life, was doing as she pleased, without concern for what others thought. Why should she be embarrassed? The men from the factory had been moseying over there all day! They could appease their curiosity, so why couldn’t she?
“First, we’ll share our fantasies.” Fantasies! Good grief, maybe that was why she couldn’t. Asia wasn’t sure she had any fantasies. Not any more. Erica had leaned forward to whisper her comment, but still Asia looked around nervously. By necessity, the lounge was large, able to accommodate shifts for the two hundred plus people who worked there. Employees tended to sit in clusters. The managers with the managers, maintenance with maintenance, and so forth. Asia and her friends always chose the same table in the corner by the window, separated by a half wall planter, filled with artificial plants. Since Wild Honey had gone in, they often found their favorite table unavailable because everyone wanted to look out that row of windows. Erica had taken to leaving her desk early so she could lay claim to it.
Asia didn’t see anyone paying them any mind, although there was someone on the other side of the planter, alone at a table. He wore jeans and a flannel, so she assumed he was one of the workmen, not part of management. But whoever he was, he wasn’t listening. He sat alone, a newspaper open in front of his face, his booted foot swinging to music that played only in his head. A half empty cup of steaming coffee was at his elbow. Even as Asia watched, he rustled the paper, turned the page, and sipped at his drink. Satisfied, Asia turned back to Erica. “We share fantasies and then what?”
“Then we wait until some guy buys a prop – a movie, a book, a toy, whatever – that relates to our particular fantasy.”
“And?” Becky asked, both breathless and bright red. Erica shrugged.
“We approach him. See if he’s interested.” Snatching up her foam cup, Asia gulped down a fortifying drink. Since her first relationship had turned so sour, so… bad , she’d never gotten to find out what the fireworks were about. She wasn’t stupid; she believed awesome sex existed, it just hadn’t existed for her. Not in her marriage. How would it be to have phenomenal sex with a guy who wanted the same things she did? A man who wanted to please her, not the other way around? She realized both Becky and Erica were staring at her and she asked warily, “What?” Becky cleared her throat. “Erica asked if you’d want to go first?”
“Me! Why me?” Becky lifted one narrow shoulder. “I’m too chicken, though I promise to try to work up my nerve.”
“You will work up the nerve,” Erica promised, and squeezed Becky’s hand. Becky looked skeptical, but nodded. “And Erica says if she goes first, she knows neither of us will.” Asia nearly crumbled her cup, she got so tense. But she wanted to do this. It would be one more step toward total freedom. Not that she believed anything would come of it. And thinking that, she said, “We have to set a time limit. I don’t intend to visit that stupid place more than… say three times.”
“It’s Tuesday,” Erica pointed out. “You can start tomorrow right after work, and stop on Friday. If no one turns up, it’ll be Becky’s turn. But we all have to keep rotating turns until we find someone, agreed?” Asia thought about it, then nodded. “Agreed. But if in those first three times I don’t see a guy buying what he’d need to buy to interest me, then it moves on to Becky’s turn.” Becky closed her eyes. “Oh dear.” “Promise me, Becky.” Becky bit her lip, but finally agreed. “Okay,” she whispered, and then with more force, as if a streak of determination existed beneath her innocence, “Okay.” Erica laughed. “There you go, hon. So Asia, what’s a fella have to buy to get your motor running?” This was the embarrassing part. But she’d explain, and they’d understand her reasoning. Asia looked at each woman in turn, then stiffened her backbone. “Something to do with…” Erica and Becky leaned forward, saying in unison, “Yes?” Asia squeezed her eyes shut, took a deep breath, and blurted, “Spanking.”
Cameron O’Reilly choked, then nearly swallowed his tongue. He sputtered, spewing coffee across the front of the flannel he wore today before finally gasping in enough air. A good portion of his steaming coffee went into his lap, but it wasn’t nearly as hot as he was. Spanking! Asia Michaels was into spanking! As the coffee soaked into his jeans, he leapt from his seat, but at the last second remembered himself and turned his back. He could feel all three of the ladies looking at him, especially her. Luckily, he wasn’t dressed in his usual suit today. The casual clothes, necessary for the job he did that morning, would help disguise him. The voice he recognized as Erica Lee muttered, “Klutz.”
“Who is he?” he heard Asia whisper and there was a lot of nervousness in her tone. “Who cares?” Erica said. “Ignore him.” Becky said, “I hope he didn’t burn himself.” Then they went back to chatting. Cameron didn’t give them a chance to recognize him. He quickly stalked from the lounge. Still pole-axed, he damn near barreled into a wall in his hurry to leave undetected. Asia and spanking! He’d never have guessed it. He groaned, just thinking of Asia with her soft brown curls and big sexy brown eyes. He’d wanted her for two long months. But she’d refused to move beyond the platonic acquaintance stage, no matter how many times he tried. She was friendly to him, and ignored any hints for more. One of the other employees had warned him that Asia was a cold fish, totally uninterested in men. Ha! He ducked into the Men’s room and hurried to the sink. In his mind, he pictured Asia stretched out over his lap, her beautiful naked bottom turned up, his large hand on her… And the image ended there. He just couldn’t see himself striking a woman. Not for any reason. But oh, the other things he’d like to do to that sweet behind. He grabbed several paper towels and mopped at his soaked jeans.
She hadn’t known he was listening, of course, or he still wouldn’t know her secret. The problem now was how to use it. He wasn’t a kinky man. He enjoyed sex just like any other guy, but he’d never been a hound dog, never been a womanizer. He’d never done much experimenting beyond what he and his partner found enjoyable, which had stayed pretty much in the bounds of routine stuff, like different positions, different places, different times of the day. He liked relationships, and he liked Asia. He wanted her. Soon, and for a long while. He did not want to… spank her. Cameron stared down at his jeans, tautly tented by a raging erection, and knew himself for a liar. He snorted. The idea was exciting as hell, no doubt about that. But mostly because it was sexual in nature. If Asia had said she wanted to roll naked in the snow, that would have turned him on too, and he absolutely detested the damn snow. Give him Florida, with hot sandy beaches and bright sunshine over frigid Indiana weather any day. Of course, if he’d stayed in Florida instead of taking the new supervisor’s job, he’d never have met Asia and he most definitely wouldn’t have overheard such an intriguing confession. He shook his head. What to do?
First, he had to change into his regular clothes. At least the dousing had helped to bring him back under control, otherwise he might have blown it by rushing things. He’d been sitting there listening to her, daydreaming, imagining all type of lewd things while staring blankly at the newspaper, and he’d nearly worked himself into a lather. Her confession had all but pushed him over the edge. At thirty-two, he was too damn old for unexpected boners. Yet he’d had one. For Asia. Which meant the next thing he had to do was be in that shop tomorrow when Asia visited. She wouldn’t need three days to find him. Hell, he’d never live that long, not with the way he wanted her. And no way would he let her go off with some other guy. He’d been fantasizing about her since moving to Indiana two months ago, and here was his chance. The spanking part… well, he’d do what he had to do. And if she enjoyed it, great.
End of Excerpt
is available in the following editions:
Out of Print Editions
January 1, 2005