Copyright© 2007 Maya Banks, Gwendolyn Cease, Bianca D’Arc
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Overheard by Maya Banks
Gracie woke to the sun shining in the bedroom window. The space beside her was empty, and she smelled bacon cooking. She smiled. Luke must be in the kitchen cooking breakfast.
She stretched and climbed lazily out of bed. Luke’s flannel shirt lay in a heap on the floor, and she reached for it. She slipped it on, leaving it unbuttoned down the front. His scent surrounded her, and she wrapped the shirt tighter around her.
She padded barefoot out of the bedroom toward the kitchen, a wicked smile on her face. She’d tease him with a few glimpses of those nipple rings he loved so much. By the time breakfast was done, he’d be a walking hard-on.
She rounded the corner, letting her shirt gape a bit wider and let out a squeak of surprise. She yanked her shirt closed and stared at Wes who was standing in the kitchen leaning against the countertop.
Wes stopped in front of her and reached down for her hand. He tugged her forward into the kitchen.
“Come on now, Gracie,” he drawled. “You’ve seen me naked. Time for me to return the favor.”
She shivered slightly under his intense stare. “Is this a practical joke or something?”
Wes ran his hand up the lapel of her shirt, nudging it slightly aside until her breasts peeked around the edge.
“No joke. We’ve been friends a long time, Gracie. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but I don’t think you are. I think you’re as turned on as I am right now.”
She cocked her head in confusion and shot Luke a panicked look.
“Quit dicking with her,” Luke said.
“You want a threesome,” Wes said. “Luke and I want to give you one.”
Her mouth rounded to an O and her eyes widened. Wes’ fingers brushed across her nipples, flicking lightly at the rings.
She looked back over at Luke again to see him staring intently at her.
“If you don’t want this, just say so,” Luke said quietly. “We don’t want to do anything to make you uncomfortable.”
“Wow,” she whispered. “I mean, I don’t know what else to say. You’re okay with this?” she asked Luke.
He smiled. “Who do you think invited Wes?”
“Holy shit.” She shook her head, unsure of whether or not she was dreaming. A threesome. Not with strangers. With two men she trusted implicitly. Two men who cared for her and would make it good. Not much to think about there.
“What do you say, Gracie?” Wes murmured.
She nodded. “Okay.”
Wes nudged her chin up with his knuckle, and she looked into his warm brown eyes.
“I don’t want things to be awkward for us. We’ve been friends too long for that.”
He leaned in and brushed his lips across hers. His goatee rubbed softly on her chin. Bubbles of excitement took flight in her chest. She relaxed against him, and he deepened the kiss.
Her shirt parted as his hands slid underneath the material and cupped her breasts. His thumbs worked over her nipples, and his hands moved down her skin.
Shedding her inhibitions, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back, letting her tongue roam playfully over his.
It was a different experience kissing Wes. He was more gentle than Luke but every bit as sensual. If she gave herself time to analyze the situation, she’d likely retreat in mortification, but it felt right.
Wes wrapped his hands around her waist and hoisted her upward until she sat on the countertop.
“Much better,” he murmured.
Her breasts were now level with his mouth, and he took advantage. His tongue rubbed lightly over one nipple. It puckered and her muscles tightened in response.
He cupped her breasts with both hands and held them up for his mouth to devour.
“I never knew you had such a wild side, Gracie. I like it. The rings are hot.”
She moaned as he sucked her nipple into his mouth, his tongue toying with the ring.
“She needs to eat,” Luke interjected.
Wes slowly pulled away, and it was all Gracie could do not to insist she wasn’t hungry so they’d take her to bed. Her stomach contradicted her by rumbling.
Wes lifted her down as Luke set a plate on the table for her. She walked unsteadily to her chair and sank down into it. She pulled her shirt tight around her, suddenly giving up the idea of making Luke crazy. He’d completely turned the tables on her.
The two men sat down on either side of her and proceeded to polish off their plates of food. She managed to nibble down a small amount, but her stomach was in full somersault mode, and she knew she wouldn’t do much justice to her food.
“If you’re done picking at that, I know something we could be doing that’s a whole lot more fun,” Wes spoke up.
Be Mine by Gwendolyn Cease
“I did have a reason for stopping by without calling.” He turned to look at her. “What are you doing next weekend for Valentine’s Day?”
“Well, Hugh Jackman called me and wants me to fly to New York to be with him,” Jack joked. “I told him I would have to get back with him because I might have something important to do like get my nails done or wash my hair.” At his look, she smiled. “Not a damn thing. I’m off on Friday because it’s a professional development day. Thankfully, since I’ve already been developed professionally this year, I have the day off. I’ll probably spend the weekend getting caught up on grading and complete my lesson plans for the following week. Why? What are you doing?”
“I was hoping you would go with me.”
“Go with you? Where?”
“There’s this bed and breakfast Claire went on and on about. It has this small cottage behind the main house, and she was all excited. I made reservation at the end of the summer, you know, as a surprise. Now, I have the place reserved from Thursday evening to Sunday…” He trailed off.
“And what?” Jacqueline asked, unsure of where the conversation was headed. “I don’t understand.”
“Yeah, I’m not making myself real clear.” He leaned forward to place his hand on her knee. “I want you to go with me.”
“Me?” She was stunned. What the hell? Why would he ask her?
“Yeah, you. Jacqueline, you and I have been friends for going on two years now. Just because Claire and I broke up doesn’t mean we need to do the same. I think this might be a nice way to build our own relationship. We can spend some time together without the day-to-day shit.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a brochure. “Why don’t you look this over and let me know. The town it’s in is small, but the place sits right on a lake. They even serve tea, which I know you’re into. Think about it. If you agree, we can leave as soon as you get out of school on Thursday. It only takes a couple hours so we should be there around six.”
Jacqueline took the brochure from him. The picture on the front showed a beautiful home with the name Willow Creek underneath. She knew this place. She and Claire discovered the website for it and instantly fell in love. Claire must have mentioned the place to Caleb, hoping he would take the hint. Obviously, he had. Only now, Claire wouldn’t be the one going, Jacqueline would. If she agreed.
“I’d like to think about it, okay?” She finally looked up to find him watching her.
“Call me on my cell.” He stood and took his cup into the kitchen. “I’d better go. I told Jason I’d meet him to go over a bid we’re working on for an office building.”
Jack walked him to the door and opened it to the still falling snow. “Be careful. The weather guy says the snow’s going to stop, but he missed the ten inches at Christmas too.”
“I will.” He leaned over to brush his lips against her cheek. “Call me.”
Jacqueline closed and locked the door behind him. She sagged against it in disbelief. Oh my gosh, Caleb had asked her to go away with him for the weekend. Shivers ran up her spine before she could clamp down on her emotions. As friends, she told herself. They were going because he had the reservations and didn’t want to waste them. Why not give them to someone else, a little voice whispered.
“Because everyone probably already had plans,” she spoke aloud. She walked over to the couch and picked up the brochure. Sitting, she began to look through it. The cottage, where he had the reservations, looked to be a house in miniature. It had a living room, bedroom, large bath and tiny kitchen. More than enough room for the two of them to stay there comfortably. The brochure even made mention of the couch rolling out to a bed. Each of them would have someplace to sleep without bothering the other.
Bothering? The tiny voice was back. You’d love if he bothered you. Bothered you right out of your clothes and right into bed. Jacqueline shoved those thoughts aside and began to reason as she always did.
“Caleb is a handsome man, at least I think he is. He’s got an amazing body and even better personality. Of course, you would be attracted to him. You’d have to be dead not to. But he’s a friend.”
But why, the voice asked. He’s not engaged to Claire anymore. Why does he have to be only a friend? Why can’t he be the kind of friend you take your clothes off with? The kind of friend who licks your —
“No!” She stood up and hurried to the kitchen, pretending to clean up. “Besides what would he want with me? I mean, hells bells, I’m not tiny, cute and blonde. That’s what he goes for. If you need any better example look at Claire. Look at the girls he’s dated since breaking up with Claire. All of them have been petite, blond and cute as hell.”
She looked at herself in the mirror to find tall, dark and wouldn’t be petite if you paid someone. She laughed out loud. Now that the Friday night tequila insanity was over, she would sit and grade. It did no good to create fantasies around Caleb Sinclair. He was a friend. Tucking the thoughts away, Jack went back into the living room and pulled out her grade book. Way less fun, but definitely safer.
Caleb sat in his car staring at the dimly lit house. Fuck, his life was a mess. First, his engagement to Claire had been broken, which he didn’t feel as bad about as he felt he should. Now he was inviting a friend to spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast. If he were smart, he would invite Stephie or whatever the hell her name was. But no, he had to go and ask Jacqueline. What the fuck had he been thinking? There was only one answer. He hadn’t been. Or at least not with his mind. His cock twitched in his jeans. He wanted her. The breakup with Claire had only made it more obvious. Did she want him? He shook his head; he knew he was going to try to find out. No matter what he told himself, he would. He wanted Jacqueline spread out before him. Naked and submissive, open to his every whim. He shook the thought away. He had to get a hold of himself. What if she didn’t agree? He clenched his teeth. She would, she had too. If she didn’t, he knew he could convince her. Or die trying. Either way she would be going with him to the fucking bed and breakfast one way or the other.
Forever Valentine by Bianca D’Arc
Ian didn’t know why he was torturing himself this way. He’d watched the woman for months, and she showed no signs of betraying her friends or their secret. Her obvious loyalty counted for much in his mind. From what he had observed, the female doctor had formed deep friendships with Christy, Kelly and Lissa, the three new vampire mates who had been recently claimed and turned. The women had become fast friends in college and those bonds would not be easily broken. Jena seemed okay with the notion that some of her best friends had been converted by their new mates.
She was curious, of course, since she was a highly trained medical professional, but accepting that her friends and their new husbands were immortal. Ian admired the woman. She was strong, like the women of his clan had been back in the days of endless war with the English and then later in his travels through the Holy Land and along the Silk Road. But Jena was also soft and caring, with a gentle heart. He’d observed her at the hospital when she was on the night shift-though he was careful to mask his presence in such a public place-and he’d seen both her skill and her compassion.
He’d also watched the pathetic excuse for a man who now sat across from her ask her out on this ludicrous date. Silently, he’d been hoping she’d tell the weasel to take a hike, but to his consternation, she’d agreed to dinner with the other doctor. It had been all Ian could do not to reveal his presence and pound the smaller man into the floor for even daring to think he had a chance with this special woman.
Coming here tonight was immature, he knew, but Ian couldn’t help himself. He had to watch over her. He told himself he was just doing the duty he’d sworn to perform as an enforcer for his kind, but really, he was here for himself. Jena wasn’t going to tell weasel-boy about vampires, and even if she did, the mental munchkin sitting across from her wouldn’t believe it. He just didn’t have the imagination.
But he did have audacity. In vast quantities. Ian saw him reach across the table to snag her hand at the same time his leg moved and his sock-covered foot brushed over her calf. Jena jumped, moving her chair back so she was mostly out of reach of his marauding footsie, but she couldn’t pull her hand away without causing a scene.
If that little twerp touches her one more time, Ian thought loudly in their direction, it’ll be the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre all over again.
Really, Ian. The feminine flavored thoughts landed gently in his mind, shocking him down to his Italian leather loafers. Please try to behave yourself.
You heard me? It didn’t seem possible the little human doctor could have any psi ability-and certainly not this kind of strong, delicious-tasting telepathy. Ian could count on one hand the number of humans he’d met over the centuries who could communicate with him this way.
Obviously. Her tone was dryly amused.
Fascinating. The observation escaped through his astonishment. Do you make a habit of listening to other people’s thoughts?
Actually, no. I’ve only ever been able to pick up on really strong personalities and practically no one ever hears me when I talk back in their minds.
‘Practically’ no one?
Well, my mother can. And a few others.
More and more intriguing.
Dick Schmidt interrupted their silent conversation by squeezing her hand.
What do you see in a guy like that? He’s on the make, plain and simple. And if you dare take Romeo home with you tonight, I may not be able to control myself.
His name is Dick.
You wouldn’t really hurt him, would you?
Ian paused. I’d try not to, but honestly, Jena? I can’t be certain. I don’t like seeing you with him.
But is it so wrong to want someone in my life, Ian? Compared to you, my life is so short. I want to find love, if I can. Her tone was so wistful, it lit the dark recesses where he’d buried his heart.
You won’t find love with the likes of him. And you still have many years to consider, and find the man who will treat you right.
Not as many as you might think-or that I might wish for.
Ian would have asked what she meant by that cryptic comment, but Dick reclaimed her attention, shoving a small box across the table. Ian’s hackles rose.
“For you, dollface.” Ian’s sharp hearing picked up the other man’s smarmy tone.
Ian’s only consolation was that Jena didn’t seem all that thrilled at the prospect of receiving a gift from the other doctor. She opened the small package as if it were contagious, an expression of guarded curiosity on her beautiful face.
When she lifted the lid and dropped the box back on the table, Ian almost rose and rushed to her side, but she was quick to recover her composure. She pasted a patently false smile on her face and thanked the man for the lovely thought, but demurred from accepting what Ian now saw was a chunky silver bracelet. Even from across the room, he could smell the metallic tang of fine silver, more pure even than sterling.
Pure silver was the fastest, most painful way to kill a vampire. It reacted with the special agent in their blood and tissues, frying them from the inside out. Ian had seen one or two of his kind die that way in his many centuries and the agony of their deaths haunted him sill.
Give it back to him. I don’t want that poison anywhere near you. Ian knew he was being unreasonable. She was human after all, silver wasn’t lethal to her. But all his protective instincts rose when he saw the otherwise pretty ornament.
Believe me, neither do I. Silver and I just don’t mix.
Jena slid the box back over to Dick using just the tip of one finger. She thanked him again for the sentiment, but explained her allergy to silver. She also said-much to Ian’s satisfaction-she couldn’t accept such a costly gift from a man she hardly knew.
You’re allergic to silver? The idea made Ian pause. Few humans were truly allergic to the precious substance.
My skin turns black and a sort of disgusting shade of green. It’s pretty gross, so I steer clear.
Curiouser and curiouser, Ian thought carefully to himself. The fair skin, the allergy to silver, preference for working the night shift…all these things suddenly made him suspicious. They brought to mind legends about how once in a very long while, a child might be born of a vampire and a mortal. It wasn’t common at all, but every few hundred years or so, such things did occur.
The resulting children were often sickly, but usually survived into their thirties, and sometimes had children of their own. Demi-vampir, these oddities lived on the fringes of both worlds, often totally unaware of their connections to the supernatural unless they came into contact with a true vampire who was willing to clue them in.
Perhaps Jena, or one of her ancestors more likely, was the product of such a union? Then her abilities and proclivities would make a lot more sense. Ian wondered if she could be one of these—the rarest of the rare.