“You want to go where?” Cassie paused with her bite of chocolate chip pancake still on her fork and halfway to her mouth. Her favorite breakfast had been fixed this morning by two men in robes, flirting with each other and grabbing each other's asses. They'd even made washing their hands seem sensual as Aden lathered up Leopold's hands before they'd mixed the batter.
Leopold didn't seem to notice her trepidation. Either that or he was ignoring it. “I have a buddy with a cabin in the mountains. That's where I want to go in two weeks. He said it was fine, and it'd be well stocked.”
“Well stocked?” Cassie put the forkful in her mouth. Leopold did make the best chocolate chip pancakes.
“You know, with firewood and stuff.”
Cassie groaned inwardly. She pictured a shack on the side of a mountain with an ancient fireplace. “How rustic is this cabin?” She'd gone camping once, an experience she didn't want to repeat. She'd known that Leopold wouldn't pick the Bahamas or someplace like that. But she'd been hopeful he'd pick something that she liked.
Leopold frowned. “I dunno. It's got electricity. A fireplace.” He moved his jaw side to side, a habit.
Mentioning electricity couldn't be a good thing. If it had amenities, like say a Jacuzzi, the bud would have mentioned those and not electricity. She shuddered to think what else the cabin didn't have. “Running water?”
“I'm sure there's an outhouse, at least.”
Cassie stopped her fork in midlift. “Outhouse?” Her voice squeaked like a mouse's. She hated that sound.
Leopold started laughing. “I'm kidding. It's got running water. In fact, my bud said it's real nice.”
Aden took a bite from his pancake. “Sounds like fun.”
Cassie looked at him. Had he sprouted another head? Been taken over by pod people? What on earth was he thinking? Was he into camping? Not anything she would have expected from Aden.
What else didn't she know about the two men who shared her bed?
Leopold looked at him with a smile. “There's apparently a creek nearby. With a waterfall. It's a short hike away.”
A hike? In the woods? With ticks and bugs? Snakes? Bears? There were still bears in the mountains of Virginia. Black ones. They came down every so often to Richmond along the James River and scared the hell out of anyone who saw them. Hell, there'd been one at a local warehouse store one day.
Leopold's gaze appraised her. “'Course, if you don't want to go...”
Aden jumped in, swinging his fork around. “It is Leo's choice where we travel.” He cocked his head, watching her.
Leave it to the future lawyer to remind her of all their agreements. He might be a bad-boy stripper, but he liked to live by the law occasionally. Especially when it didn't suit her.
Leopold shrugged. “It doesn't matter. We don't have to go.” He looked down into his orange juice. “It was a stupid bet.”
It had been a stupid game of truth or dare that had gotten them all together in the first place when they'd spent a night stuck in a stairwell. So that didn't fly as an excuse not to abide by the decision Leopold had made.
“No, Leopold, I'll go.” She took another bite of pancake and chewed. “It sounds like it will be interesting.” She couldn't go so far as to call the expected experience fun.
Leopold's face lit up like a Christmas tree. “It will be fun. We'll relax. We'll have to leave our cell phones at home. And computers. No coverage anyway.” He took a long swig of his juice and wiped his mouth.
Aden's face tightened and then relaxed. He'd be over halfway through the semester by then. He had a bunch of papers listed on the calendar already. “I'll have to get work done before we go. Which means you two will need to let me.” He drummed his fingers. “Will also have to make sure I'm off from work.”
Aden and Leopold worked together. Aden was a stripper, and Leopold was a bodyguard who went out with strippers on calls. That was how they'd all met, when her friends had hired Aden for a striptease and Leopold had traveled with him. Trapped in a stairwell for hours, truth or dare had brought them all to the point where they'd come together. Literally. In more ways than one.
Cassie had tried to leave them behind but found she couldn't. Some days, she wondered if her rash decision made one lonely night had been too quick. Too rushed. Like when the two men obviously had so many different issues and lead such different lives than she did. She'd agreed to try this relationship with them. That was all. Try.
Leopold eyed Cassie. “And you too.”
She opened her mouth to say she didn't work weekends, but couldn't get it out. After all, she did have work to do outside of the office. She was an executive of a huge retail business. There was often research or schmoozing to do. After hours. She didn't disconnect from technology often. “Are you sure there's no coverage?”
Leopold's mouth pinched.
“Regardless of whether there is or not, I think we should declare it an out-of-touch weekend. For us all. The only things touching should be us.” Aden waggled his brows with a suggestive glint in his eye.
Now that would be something interesting. Going to a place where there'd be nothing to do but them. Could be fun.
Or it could be a disaster. Unmitigated.
Three different people. Alone. Without technology to distract them from how different they were.
She scraped the last bite off her plate, looked at the clock, and bounced to her feet. “Oh my God, look at the time. I've got to go home and get dressed.” Saved by having to run to work. She quickly applied two kisses to two cheeks. Didn't have time for any more chitchat or an embrace. She'd only just make it to work on time. Couldn't wear these clothes again a second day. That would have everyone talking.
“You know if you left stuff here...” Aden's face had “that look.” With words she'd heard many times before.
She ignored him and raced to Aden's bedroom to finish getting ready.
* * *
At work, she stumbled into her office, and her secretary, Jenna, brought her a cup of coffee as if sensing she needed it. Cassie sipped, pulling the heady aroma into her nostrils.
“You know if you left stuff here
The words had echoed in her head since she'd left Aden's. She couldn't shake them. It was a long-standing argument that she should leave clothes at Aden's, which was where they spent most of their time. They kept insisting, but she wouldn't.
And never would.
She adjusted the new skirt she'd bought recently from a sale at Daisy's, a local plus-size women's shop.
Jenna clambered in to drop off some reports on her desk. “New skirt?”
Cassie took another long sip before nodding.
“Pretty. Did it come from Daisy's?”
Cassie blew out a sigh. “Yes.” Daisy's was one of the best plus-size shops and one of the only ones in town. Made sense Jenna would know the item came from there. Not that Jenna shopped there. But she had a sister who was plus size. Cassie had seen her come to lunch with Jenna a few times. Still, it bit to have people know where she shopped. Why that bothered her, she didn't know. But it always had.
“It's nice. You had a hot date last night.” Jenna beamed, looking at Cassie with a look of happiness.
Cassie's brows came together. It was a statement, not a question. “What do you mean?”
Jenna shrugged. “I've noticed. You leave earlier some days. Dressed up. With a happy look.” Her mouth piled up in a genuine smile. “It's nice to see. You work so hard. You should do what you want with your personal life.” With a spring in her step, Jenna advanced from the room.
Leaving a darkening face on Cassie as her brows knit together.
How many others had noticed her behavior? What did that crack mean about her personal life? How many others had chalked it up to a man?
Not double men.
The guys had one advantage over her. In their line of work, a threesome wasn't the complete oddity it would be for her coworkers. If her status came out, well, the conservative board where she worked would have her job pulled in a nanosecond. Lawsuits schmawsuits. Without her job, where would she be? She'd still have lost every ounce of credibility she'd built up over her career with any hint of impropriety.
Fucking two men -- definite impropriety.
Her pen scratched on the proposals she had to sign. Unlike Aden, she had chicken scratch for a signature. His careful letters always looked precise. Leopold's signature was free-flowing and huge.
Even their penmanship was different.
Why wouldn't she leave anything at Aden's place? Not even a toothbrush, for heaven's sake. Accidentally left-behind clothing had all been retrieved within a couple of days of its going missing. There was no evidence she was more than a passing visitor in Aden's life. Which was probably why he kept encouraging her to leave more at his house. As if proof that was more.
Was that all she was? A passing visitor?
Not exactly. But she was hardly any more than that by her own admission and estimation.
Leopold had left his stuff at Aden's from the start.
Despite her entering into a quasi relationship with them, she hadn't given up her misgivings, which had made her run from them after their night spent together. Only a lonely fit in the dead of night had brought her rushing back to them after a few weeks. Maybe too quickly. Things like a weekend destination so different from what she would have picked drove home how different they all were.
How could three very different people have a life together that melded in any way? She didn't think they could. She'd entered into this because she couldn't get them out of her system.
So far, she hadn't found an exit from the train she was riding with them. But eventually the end would come. She knew it. They had to know it too.
Three people didn't commit to each other for a lifetime.
Her brain reverted back to Aden coming into her mouth. Leopold coming into her pussy with strong, gentle motions.
Her pussy clenched in remembrance.
Why did they have to be so damn good at making her climax? At bringing her satisfaction?
At making her laugh? Keeping her distracted from the evils of the world? Listening to her?
Being her boyfriends?
They should have been terrible at those things. After all, there was double the number of people to leave up the toilet seat. To leave the socks on the floor. To have skid marks in underwear in the laundry, not that she did their laundry yet.
But instead they were good at being with her. They made her live life and not miss out on any of it. They took her places she'd never been before, and not just sexually. But emotionally. Her soul felt full. Of them.
Her eyes closed.
It couldn't last.
How could she be in love with two men at the same time? It was impossible. All the sonnets were about love and duos, not trios.
Yet here they were.
Her show of not leaving anything at Aden's was a symbol of so much, she didn't need a therapist to tell her about the whys.
If she didn't leave anything there, she wasn't committed to them. If she didn't commit to them, she wasn't really in a relationship with two men.
They were on to her game.
They hadn't called her on it fully yet.
But they would. What then?
Her work would never allow her to be involved in a public relationship so far outside the norm. Not to mention, it wasn't like she could marry them both. Or they could all marry each other. Hell, those who were gay were just getting those rights in hotly contested debates. Some still felt that interracial couples shouldn't have the right to marry. That three people should be able to marry wasn't even on the table.
No one had mentioned marriage. Or forever. Or even the future.
Now there was the promise of a weekend away with them.
Somehow that seemed like something that committed lovers did. That boyfriends and girlfriends did.
She tapped her pen on her desk.
Maybe she would have to work that weekend after all.