Chad Wilson entered Mickie’s Bar & Grille from Main Street. His stomach growled the second he caught a whiff of chargrilled burgers lingering in the air. Where was Jake? Damn, he was starving. He scoured the dark wood tables for his best friend. The place was hopping. Weaving his way through the crowded foyer, he found Jake sitting in his wheelchair at a table for two, already nursing his first bottle of beer.
“Punctual as always,” Chad said, slapping him on the shoulder before scraping back his chair to sit down. “It’s the lawyer in you, huh? Why didn’t you grab a booth? I hate sitting at these tables.”
“You know why, asshole.” Jake flipped him the bird and grinned as he loosened the tie around his neck.
“Whatever, dude.” Chad opened a menu and ground his teeth, biting back his instinctive response. In the old days, he would’ve called Jake a fucking whiner. But everything had changed since Jake’s accident, and Chad was trying to be sensitive to his feelings. After six months, however, enough was enough. “Aren’t you tired of sitting in that wheelchair? It’s not a big deal to fold it and set it to the side.”
“Maybe next time,” Jake said, flicking his finger against Chad’s menu. “What’s with the long hair and the clothes?”
“Jealous?” Chad gazed down at his black T-shirt, jeans, and riding boots. A broad smile split his lips. “Helluva lot better than that monkey suit you’re wearing. How can you stand it? Day in and day out.”
Jake shrugged and tipped his beer bottle for a swig. “Being a lawyer has its perks. We can’t all be badass FBI agents, Chad. Now answer my question. The hair?”
Running his fingers through the thick mass of black hair flowing to his shoulders, Chad narrowed his eyes on Jake. How much should he share about the Tringali case? His work was confidential. But this was Jake, his best friend of twenty years.
Chad leaned in and spoke in a hushed tone while holding his finger and thumb an inch apart. “I’m this close to blowing the lid off a notorious drug ring. People don’t talk to suits. A couple weeks, and I’ll have the ringleader’s son by the balls.”
“Sounds dangerous.” Jake lifted one brow. “Are you ever going to stop courting death?”
“Nope,” Chad said, leaning back and folding his arms. “The leader is next. They’re selling to high school kids. Downtown. Suburbs. Wherever they can make a buck. You’ve read about the recent drug-related deaths? If I link Tringali directly to those cases, he’s going away for a long time.”
“Tringali?” Jake’s eyes widened and his nostrils flared. “You’re insane.” He leaned closer and hissed, “Mafia? They’ll blow your fucking head off.”
Chad shook his head and would’ve given Jake an earful for nagging him if a long-legged blonde with a sinfully hot rack hadn’t walked up, grabbing his undivided attention.
She leaned against their table with a gleam in her eyes. “What can I get you?”
He ran his gaze along the length of her body, reading her like a book. Long blonde hair, pursed pink lips, and skinny as a rail. She lifted one elegant brow and leaned in, practically begging him to make a move. Who was he to disappoint her?
“Whatever you’ve got on tap, honey,” he said with a saucy wink for good measure. “And your phone number on the bill.”
She giggled and leaned farther over, letting the soft swell of her breasts hang over the edge of the white shirt clinging to her chest. “You got it.”
She sauntered away, and his gaze never strayed from her swinging hips. Not half bad. A smile tugged at his lips. He was getting laid tonight.
“Has anyone ever told you to fuck off?” Jake asked, drumming his fingers on the top of the table. “’Cause I’d pay good money to see that just once.”
Chad roared with laughter and leaned back in his chair, balancing on two wooden legs. “Yeah, I bet you would.” He turned his head in thought. “It’s happened once or twice. Ease up, man. I don’t have a knockout like Jessie waiting for me at home. You’re a lucky guy.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Jake said, smiling as he leaned into the table and lowered his voice. “Because I want you to do me a huge favor.”
Chad’s breath hitched in his lungs, and his chair legs thudded against the hard wood floor. Had he heard him right? After six months of shutting him out, Jake was looking for a favor? “Sure, anything.”
“My shrink suggested I try new things.” Jake chewed on his bottom lip a moment and then looked him square in the eyes. “You know, think of ways to reengage in life.”
“I’m listening.” Chad nodded.
“I’ve been thinking maybe…” Jake glanced down and fiddled with his utensils. “The thing is…”
Chad prayed Jake would find the courage to spit it out. Whatever it was. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that Jake was finally asking for help.
He glanced up and gazed at Chad. “Sex with Jessie hasn’t been the same since…” He cleared his throat and averted his eyes. “What I’m saying is, our sex life isn’t spontaneous. In fact, it’s boring. I can’t make love to her like she deserves, not like I used to. And it’s ripping me to pieces. What do you think about a ménage?”
Chad’s gut tightened, and he braced his hands against his legs, suddenly wary of the direction their conversation was headed. He clamped his mouth shut, afraid of what might come out if he tried to speak. He was saved for a few precious seconds when the waitress delivered his beer and took their dinner order.
“Well?” Jake asked the second she walked away.
Wide, expectant eyes stared at Chad, and he felt trapped. Jake’s hesitant smile gnawed at his heart. Shit. What did Jake want from him? Advice? Or something more? Much, much more.
“Well, what?” Chad blew out a deep breath and ran both hands through his hair, slouching in his chair. “I don’t know, man. It works best with three singles. Things get complicated in a ménage. Especially with a married couple. Believe me, I tried it once. Never again. When a couple has been together as long as you and Jessie have, it’s tough to let someone else in that you can trust.”
“My thoughts exactly.” Jake folded his forearms against the table. “I want to see Jessie screaming in pleasure again, but it has to be someone I can trust to be respectful. Which brings me back to the favor I mentioned.”
“Are you asking for a referral, or something?” Chad asked, taking a gulp of beer while hoping Jake wouldn’t—
“No, don’t play dumb,” Jake said, shaking his head slowly. “I’m asking if you’ll be Jessie’s surrogate lover.”
Chad choked down his gulp of beer and wiped his mouth against his shoulder. His eyes darted around the crowded restaurant. At least Jake had picked one of the busiest nights of the week to spring this on him. Nobody would overhear their frightening conversation in this madhouse. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”
Jake’s jaw clenched, and his nostrils flared before he choked out his response. “That’s just great,” he said, glaring from across the table. “You’ve hounded me for months about leaning on you. I finally ask for help, and this is what I get? What a load of bullshit. Don’t you dare judge me.” A deep frown creased his cheeks. “A part of me is
going out of my fucking mind. You have no idea what kind of hell I’m living in. Do you think I want to feel like a worthless piece of shit? Or that I enjoy dragging everyone down? We both know it would’ve been better if I had died that day.” He averted his eyes and sighed.
Jake’s shoulders deflated, and his words became soft. Uncertain.
“But I didn’t die, and I don’t know what else to do, dammit. Maybe I’m grasping at straws. Maybe I need to feel like I’m in control of something.
Maybe I want to give Jessica an important part of her life back—a part that meant everything to us—that we loved. Please don’t make me beg. Help me get my life back. You’re the only one I trust.”
A knot formed in the pit of Chad’s stomach. Every fiber of his being screamed out in protest. Fucking Jake’s wife was a bad idea. One day his best friend would look back and regret his request. And yet, how could he refuse his best friend?
passed since Jake had opened up and asked for help. Instead of wallowing in his pain, he was seeking a path to happiness. Damn it all to hell—Jake had grinned all evening. Why was he shredding him to pieces, when he should be ordering a keg to celebrate Jake’s newfound enthusiasm? A long breath seeped through Chad’s pursed lips as he gathered his scattered thoughts.
“Bite your tongue, Jake. You’re not a worthless piece of shit. Don’t ever spout that crap again.”
Jake lifted a questioning brow. “Does that mean you’ll do it? Three-month trial period. That’s all I’m asking.”
Chad groaned inside and knew without a doubt that he was the worst kind of fool. But over twenty years of friendship had to count for something. They had survived other disasters together. Somehow they’d pull through this too.
Folding his arms over his chest slowly, Chad stared him down. “Let me first go on record. This is a terrible idea.”
“Duly noted,” Jake replied with a nod.
“And you’ll regret it one day.”
“I doubt it.”
Chad snorted and chugged more beer, wetting his parched throat. “When that day comes, I get to say ‘I told you so,’ and you’ll grant me a full pardon.” He wiped the smirk from his face, and his eyes bored into Jake’s. “You don’t get to hate me when this is all over. Do you hear me?”
“Loud and clear.”
Chad leaned in. “You’re sure Jessie is on board with this?”
“I haven’t asked her yet,” Jake said, rubbing the back of his neck. “But I will tonight.” A single dark blond brow arched up. “What? I didn’t want to go there unless you agreed.”
“Listen to me.” Chad pointed a finger at Jake and narrowed his eyes. “Jessie has to be one hundred percent on board with this idea. If she’s not cool with it, then it’s not happening. Sex is for consenting adults only.”
“Agreed.” A smile crept over Jake’s face, forming creases around his eyes. “Cheer up, old man. You’ll enjoy sex with my wife.”
“I have no doubt,” Chad said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Maybe if he told Jake he’d fantasized about plowing his cock between her thighs more than once, he’d give up this crazy idea. “Jessie is a beautiful woman. I’m sure she’s as generous in the bedroom as she is in everything else.”
“Then it’s settled.” Jake raised his bottle of beer in salute before taking a swig. “I’ll talk to my wife, and you go get tested. If your test results are clear, we’ll forgo the condoms.”
“We don’t have to do that, really.” Chad clamped his mouth shut when the waitress arrived with their meals. His gaze roamed across her body as she placed their plates on the table. She didn’t have a fraction of Jessie’s beauty and class.
“We’re asking a lot of you,” Jake said when the waitress left. He reached for his burger, and grease dripped onto the plate with his first bite. “The least we can do is let you enjoy the sex to the fullest,” he said through a mouthful.
Chad’s mouth watered, but he couldn’t say for sure if it was from the delicious-smelling burgers or the prospect of fucking without a condom. He licked his lips and blew out a slow breath. It had been years since he’d felt a wet pussy sheathed around his cock, and Lord help him, but a small part of him prayed Jessie would agree to the ménage.