Copyright 2007 Lora Leigh
St. Martins Griffin Release
June 6, 2007
Sinclair’s Gentleman’s Club
“I resigned” John “Mac” McCoy picked up his drink, sipped, and let the calming heat of the whiskey seep into his system.
“So I heard.” His best friend and now former partner, Jethro Riggs, took the seat across from him, set the whiskey bottle and glass carefully on the table, and leaned back to stare at his friend as he poured his own drink. “Honeymoon isn’t even over yet and your resignation landed on the desk. Wish you had told me. I could have won the office bet on how long you’d make it.”
Jethro’s rakish smile went well with his overly long black hair and wicked blue eyes. The short, scruffy black beard and mustache drew feminine eyes, but the cold, bleak shadows in his gaze held them back.
Mac worried about Jethro. When he left, he knew the other man would go from case to case without stopping to enjoy life. And life was there to be enjoyed.
“I could have used the cash, man.” Jethro’s smile was laced with regret.
Mac snorted at the thought. “Cheaters never win, Jethro.”
“Yeah, yeah. So I hear. So, what are you going to do? Security?”
Mac grinned. There weren’t a lot of jobs out there that appealed to an former undercover F.B.I. agent, but Mac had always made certain he had a fallback position.
“Farming?” Jethro’s eyes narrowed. “Hell, no.”
“I still have that farm in North Carolina. I’ve saved enough to try to make a go at it. With Keiley’s computer work and a little side work myself working internet investigations, we should do well. It beats getting shot at on a regular basis.”
Jethro only shook his head, a knowing light filling his shadowed blue eyes.
“And your membership here?”
That part sucked. Mac stared around the dark wood walls, the open space, the bar at one end of what had once been a grand ballroom, the fireplace crackling at the other end.
In between were two pool tables,and several seating arrangements with large comfortable chairs, televisions, newspapers, and tables a man could put his feet on. But it wasn’t the ambience that drew the members to the club. It was the chance to socialize with men who understood their ways, accepted them, understood them.
“I gave Ian notice earlier,” he said quietly.
He was aware of the bomb he had just dropped, aware that Jethro had been waiting, even more than the others in the club, for the day Mac would choose a third.
The club catered to men with a particular sexual taste. Men who had seen the darkness in the world for whatever reason, and searched for peace in the extremity of sharing their lovers with other men.
Men who worshipped the female body. Who believed sex was an adventure and adventures were always more exciting when shared with someone who understood the particular pleasures to be found in pushing a woman to her sexual limits. In giving her more pleasure than she could have conceived possible.
Mac loved it. He thrived on it. He came here to unwind, to drink, to discuss world affairs, and to either choose a third for his latest lover or to become a third to another man’s lover.
At least, he used to come here for that.
Six months of marriage, and the pressure was beginning to tell on him. The knowledge that the club members were just waiting to see who he would choose to break his wife into the ménage lifestyle he practiced was beginning to fray at his control. Knowing Jethro was growing more distant, more certain that the woman he had given to Mac would never know his touch, was starting to eat at him.
He knew Jethro’s feelings for Keiley. Just as he knew that the other man would have never given into them.
“You haven’t told her yet, have you?” Jethro said then. “I thought you were going to.”
He had met Jethro during his first year in Quantico where they had been paired together for a training exercise. Mac’s easier, more relaxed demeanor had slowly rubbed off on the too rigid, too somber Jethro Riggs. And once they learned that ménage were the other’s preferred sexual activity, they had become fast friends.
Not that the friendship hadn’t been without its problems. They were both dominant men, both tended to want to control the sexual situations that involved their women. Until they learned they each had their own distinctive areas that interlaced perfectly in those relationships.
Mac tended to indulged them his lovers emotionally, while Jethro indulged them in more physical areas.
For years he and Jethro had trained together, worked together, and shared their women together.
Until Mac met Keiley.
“She’s heard the rumors.” Mac sipped at his drink, wishing he could just toss it back and let the fiery burn blaze through the regret in his gut.
“And I told her it was in the past.” He looked around the room again before meeting Jethro’s gaze. “It’s going to stay in the past. For now”
Keiley had come to his bed a virgin. Trusting. Innocent. She would never understand her husband’s need to see another man cover her, pumping inside her, nor, he believed, would she be able to handle a ménage that would include a man she didn’t love.
Keiley would have to love any man she took into her bed, even as a third. But he knew the curiosity was there. He had seen it in the flash of heat in her eyes as she questioned him. But Mac knew that right now, introducing her into the idea of a ménage relationship he envisioned wasn’t something Keiley could accept.
Perhaps later. He was counting on later. His new wife was adventurous, fiery, and curious as hell. But her youth held her back whereas with other women, it lent freedom. Keiley’s past experience with gossip and the destruction that came with it, would never allow for the sexual games and the eventual bond Mac intended to see her forge with himself and Jethro.
Until his wife was more settled, until maturity lent her the edge she would need to overcome her fears, that wasn’t going to happen. It didn’t mean Mac was going to forget about it. It just meant that for the time being, his plans would have to wait.
Moving her back to his hometown, would help. Small towns and gossip and the ways of navigating was something Keiley needed to understand. A ménage wasn’t tantamount to the hell she had endured as a child. And maturity would give her the insight she needed on how to handle it. Until she gained that, his own sexual hungers, and Jethro’s would have to wait.
“Doesn’t work that way, Mac,” Jethro sighed then.
“I can make it work.” He was confident of that. “I made this damned job work, I can make anything work.”
Jethro’s jaw clenched, and for a moment, bleak, furious pain and impatience sparkled in the blue depths before it was gone, iced over and the agent he had become returned.
“Speaking of the job, were you any closer to tracking down that internet stalker’s whereabouts? The director was going nuts over that when I left the office.”
Mac shook his head allowing the change of subjet. “I turned the case over to Dell Robert’s he knows the computers better than I do, and he’s just finished up a major case. He has the time to deal with it. I’ll help him online if he needs it.”
The case was drawing a lot of fire. The stalker found his victims online, researched them, acquired their personal information and spent months terrorizing them. In the latest case, he had finally attacked and nearly killed his victim. He was escalating dangerously.
“I’m going to miss you, my friend.” Jethro lifted his drink in a toast. “To the good ol’ days.”
“To the future,” Mac amended, tipping his glass to Jethro’s, then bringing it to his lips before staring around the room once again.
He had drunk here, laughed here, found friends here. Hell, he had even fucked on most of the tables in the room here. Occasionally a married member had petitioned to allow his wife in long enough to get to know the members he had shortlisted to act as a third. Many of those instances had ended up with the ménage playing out before the couple left the club.
There had been two female members at one time. One had married and dropped out of membership, though her husband still occasionally brought home a friend.
That relationship was working out much better than Mac had ever thought it would. Most of the married men in the club had found a way to balance those dark hungers with the women they loved.
Just as most of them had learned their hungers through the darkness of pasts they rarely spoke of, or lives lived within the shadowed corners of deceit and lies.
They all had their reasons for the hungers that tormented the just as Mac did. But for him, the thought of his wife’s happiness meant more to him than satisfying the shadowed specter that lurked beneath his surface.
“Keep in touch, buddy,” Jethro said as he rose to his feet. “It won’t be the same around here without you.”
“I’m just a phone call away.” Mac grinned. “Call anytime.”
But don’t visit. Not for a while. Not until his wife could handle thought of another man in her life as well as Mac.
Jethro nodded, but his gaze was knowing, haunted. He knew what Mac meant.
As his friend walked away Mac sat back in his chair, gazed around again, and tried to let the atmosphere seep inside him.
A frown tugged at his brow, though. He’d have to remember to remind Dell to requestion the latest victim and her husband. There was something that kept nagging at him about her statement. Something she had left out. Something he knew he should have asked her, but he couldn’t think of what.
He would call Dell from the house tonight, and then put it behind him.
Within the next four weeks he would be out of Virginia and backing Scotland Neck. North Carolina was far enough away from his old friends and his hungers to allow him to contain them for a while.
Keiley was worth the sacrifice. There had never been another woman who could make him feel as she did. But from the moment he met her, he had realized there was something about her that warmed the cold reaches of his soul and eased the dark loneliness that had always been so much a part of him.
A man didn’t walk away from that. No matter the obstacles. Once he saw his future in a feminine gaze, he found a way to make all parts of that relationship work. And that what he was doing. Finding a way to make it work for all of them.
Especially Keiley. Her natural desires and adventurous personality had been restrained. The gossip concerning he father’s embezzling from the company he worked had destroyed her. At seventeen she had lost her home,, her father had been imprisoned and her mother had omitted suicide.
There had been no one left for their community to punish except Keiley. They had watched her, gossiped about her, predicted her downfall and her lack of morals. If he dared let her know how desperately he needed to see her beneath Jethro now, it would terrify her. The rejection of it would be instant, and it would never falter.
He would have to steer her gently toward it. And once she grew to accept a need for those darker hungers that he saw in her eyes, then he would have steer the relationship gently as well.
Jethro craved Keiley. He had seen her first and pushed her at Mac, despite his hunger for her. Mac knew the way to a woman’s heart, but he also knew his friend. Keiley had
already stolen Jethro’s heart.
Not that Jethro would ever admit it or do anything about it. Mac knew that. A committed relationship was something that Jethro shied from as fiercely as Keiley from gossip.
His lips quirked at the thought. The woman he loved and the friend that was more than a brother to him. The three of them together would make a hell of a relationship. Once Mac managed to get the three of them together.
Getting there would be the hard part. Waiting would strain his patience to its limits he feared. And if it never happened?
He would live with it. Ultimately it came down to Keiley. If she could accept it. If she could love Jethro with the same intensity that she loved Mac, then it would work.
If it didn’t? If he lost them both, it would destroy him. Obstacles stood in his path. It wouldn’t be easy. But if his hunch was right, then the future that could stretch out before all three of them was one worth fighting for. It was worth risking for.
Sharing his wife was considered a forbidden pleasure. It wasn’t called that without reason. It was breaking rules, stepping past boundaries, and facing his own fears. His fear of losing. His fear of becoming to controlling.
In the end, either they would all win, or they would all lose. Mac was betting, he was praying, on the win.