“Prick.” Smith slammed the pool cue down on the table, cursing the game that had cost him a thousand dollars. The muscles in his neck ached, as did the throb in his head from concentrating on winning for the last twenty minutes.
His business partner, Brock, laughed. The black ball spun in the corner pocket, and the white ball swept up the table to hit one of Smith’s two remaining striped balls. “Pay up,” Brock stated.
Smith scowled at the glow in Brock’s blue-gray eyes. He mentally flipped Brock off for his satisfied smirk. With a snort, Smith grabbed his wallet from his back pocket, then tossed the money onto the pool table. “You got lucky.”
“Lucky!” Brock gave a booming laugh. “It’s all skill, buddy.”
He cursed again under his breath, dropping down into the leather seat in the corner of his office. Perhaps he shouldn’t have purchased the new pool table. Then he wouldn’t have had his ass handed to him.
His secretary had thought he’d lost his mind when he asked her to place the order. Smith figured it made total sense. A game in between the long hours he worked kept him sane, which made a thought rise. “Did you go through the last stack of résumés?”
Brock nodded. “Sure did, but no one stood out.”
Smith pointed. “You’re too damn picky.” He’d seen at least four résumés that fit exactly what they were looking for to hire new employees to ease up their workload.
Brock grinned. “Perhaps.” He hesitated, then gave a halfhearted shrug. “Why change something that works.”
Even if the month-long search grated on Smith’s last nerve, he also couldn’t deny the truth behind Brock’s statement.
MDR Software had been built upon years of hard work and sweat, not only from Smith, but from Brock too. When the company had celebrated its five-year anniversary, it had grown into a million-dollar venture in Chicago. After the takeover a year later of fellow software company HighDot, located in the heart of Baltimore, MDR’s worth tripled.
Brock leaned against the pool table, his gaze glowing. “New bet?”
“You emptied my wallet, who says I want another bet?”
While Smith did have money in the bank, he didn't have any other cash on him. It had taken a good year to stop the memories of living paycheck to paycheck and pinching every penny. Though he’d grown more comfortable with money, he’d never forget when they first opened the company, he ate hotdogs for an entire month.
“Not interested in winning your cash back?” Brock asked, stretching his arms.
The sardonic look Brock delivered usually raised the stakes in their bets. A competitive streak had remained healthy between them, and not only in business. For the most part, Smith enjoyed betting on things
, except when he lost. “Possibly.”
Smith laced his fingers behind his head, catching a glimpse of the Baltimore skyline out the large panoramic window. The dark night was typical. There wasn’t a day he, or Brock, didn’t put in a ten-hour shift.
Hard work made for a solid company. Yet the long hours had also been the reason why Smith had been pushing for new employees. He wanted a life, not more time in his damned office.
The telephone next to Smith rang once, and Brock’s grin became sinful. Smith’s irritation at the loss of the game morphed into a new type of heat, pooling low in his groin. He reached for the phone on the side table, then held it to his ear. “Smith.”
“Kyra Garner is here to see you,” the security man, Antonio, said. “I realize it’s late, but she said you were expecting her.”
“Send her up.” Smith placed the phone back on the base, spotting Brock’s expression shift in intensity. Smith also sensed the growing impulse to control and conquer. It’d been a long day waiting for Kyra to arrive, and now Brock’s question held a stronger appeal. “I take it she’s the bet?” At Brock’s nod, he added, “What’s the wager?”
Brock smirked. “Ecstasy.”
Smith had always understood why women flocked to Brock; his charisma, handsome features, matched with a lighthearted personality impressed the ladies. Smith witnessed the toughest businesswomen crack under the assault of that smile. “Bet on ecstasy, hmm?” He rubbed his jaw, considering the proposition. “I’m intrigued, but why that one?”
Brock lifted a lazy shoulder. “Any other bet would make us assholes.”
Smith nearly offered a bet on who Kyra would take an interest in, perhaps who she might want to date when the night concluded. It had happened before. Smith had attempted to date two of the women he’d met through ménage adventures with Brock. The last woman had become near obsessive, causing Smith to shut her down when she showed up at his office. The only thing that resulted from any relationship lately was money-hungry women who wanted a certain lifestyle he wouldn’t give them.
Even the women he dated who weren’t into ménage relationships ended up more interested in where he took them for dinner. The social circuit in Baltimore had been disappointing and hadn’t given him anything other than one-night stands.
After consideration, he dismissed the thought of his idea for the bet. Anything too emotional crossed a line neither him, nor Brock, would cross. He preferred no-strings-attached sex, but he wasn’t a coldhearted bastard. “Interesting bet. Indeed.”
Brock ran a hand through his sandy-colored messily styled hair, which amused Smith. No matter if they were surrounded by millionaires, at work, or watching Sunday-night football, his hair always remained disheveled. “Christ, she’ll reap the rewards anyway.”
From what Smith heard out in the hallway, Kyra was nearly at his office, her high heels clicking along the marble floor. “No one loses,” Smith agreed. “Well, except one of us, which will be you.”
“Dream on.” Brock jumped off the pool table as the sound of her heels against the floor drew closer. “You in?”
Smith nodded. “Double it up.”
The clicks of Kyra’s heels sounded right outside the door. One second passed of silence—far longer than he expected. He wondered if she searched for bravery. When she finally entered through the opened door, the sight of her stunned him, and his entire body came to life.
His cock hardened to steel, causing him to groan as raw primal need tensed his muscles. He experienced a pull to her that shocked the wind right out of his lungs—it was more than lust; it was raw chemistry. Kyra was beautiful.
Standing at the doorway, she offered a sweet smile that held a mysterious edge. Her green eyes were a stunning light color he’d never seen before. Her long black hair would drape beautifully over his thighs when her puffy lips pleasured him.
“Hello, Kyra,” he murmured.
She strode into the office with a confidence he favored in women, chin high, gaze fixated directly on him. Once in the center of the office, she licked those lovely glossy pink lips. “Smith.” Her gaze cut to the right. “Brock.”
“Pleasure to meet you.” Brock winked, a playful smile teasing the corners of his mouth. “I mean to say, in person, and not through e-mails and texts.”
Her laughter was as lovely as the women who owned it. “Yes, exactly.”
Smith stood from the chair in the corner, gesturing to the leather couch. “Please take a seat.”
Kyra approached the couch, and her scent carried to him. Smith inhaled the mix of flowers and spice that suited her. Sweet with a slice of fire. He reveled in that combination. “Would you like a glass of wine?”
Her smile was polite. “Yes, thank you.”
Smith chuckled under his breath, unable to stop himself. An outsider would think she arrived tonight for business. Kyra looked all too proper in her rose-colored blouse and black pencil skirt, but her killer legs were anything but appropriate.
The meeting tonight had nothing to do with discussing software.
Brock closed the office door and locked it before he dropped down into the couch across from her, while Smith retrieved her wine from the small bar in the corner.
“Do tell us, Kyra, about this pact of seduction you made with your friends,” Brock said. “I must admit, I found your ad at the Castle Dolce Vita…appealing.”
A personal ad Smith and Brock had stumbled upon late one night on the Web site’s forum. Castle Dolce Vita was located out of Bowleys Quarters, a half-hour drive from Baltimore. The castle catered to everything from ménage encounters to BDSM to just about anything the mind could conjure.
Smith poured her wine and corked the bottle. He turned to hear her reply in a strong voice, “It’s a silly pact between friends to live out our ultimate fantasies. Call it boredom, or maybe insanity, but that’s the gist of it. Two of my friends have already completed the pact, and so, here I am.”
Smith enjoyed the strength Kyra portrayed. Most women wouldn’t voice such thoughts so freely without a stumble in speech or mere hesitation. Impressed by her, he approached, eyeing her silky calf crossed over her knee, envisioning exactly where and how he planned to touch her.
Smith reached her, raised his attention to her face, and she bewitched him with her elegance. He offered her the wineglass. “You all joined the Castle Dolce Vita to fulfill this pact?”
She accepted the glass and as she did, he brushed his fingers over hers. Kyra’s eyes widened, breath hitched. “Yes, we all joined. It seemed like the best place to find others looking for similar ventures.”
The perfect place, Smith thought.
Though that interested him, he couldn’t take his eyes off her, more than pleased he wasn’t the only one affected by the clear heat between them. Tonight would be enjoyable for all, if her reactions were anything like she’d shown from the simple touch.
He and Brock had both been members of Castle Dolce Vita since they relocated to Baltimore. Of course, they also had visited many sex clubs around the country who catered to sexual exploration. He’d reveled in the freedom. No emotions. No needy women. He could have fun, then walk away.
While both of them had numerous relationships throughout the years, some lasting longer than others, all failed miserably. Their tastes included an active sexual appetite. Smith had never met a woman who fulfilled him enough, and none of their ménage relationships had ever worked out. The women they’d been with had thought they could handle two men, but it always turned out two was just a little too much.
“Why are you members?” Kyra asked.
Simple question. Simple answer.
Together, they weren’t only solid partners in business and excelled at their work, but with a woman between them, they shone. They’d shared their fortune, success, and enjoyed sharing their women.
Smith watched as Kyra took a sip of her wine and her eyes fluttered closed, indicating she enjoyed the taste of the wine. At six hundred dollars a bottle, Smith wasn’t surprised. He sat down in the leather chair to her left, gazing over the long lines of her shapely, silky legs.
Images of them wrapped around his waist while he drove into her could be his undoing. He forced his gaze onto her face again, which was currently turning a lovely rose color under his examination.
Smith liked the effect he had on her.
He fought to remember her question and cleared his throat. “Our business is our top priority. This tends to mean our time is limited. The castle has provided a means for us to enjoy sex without involving relationships. Also, it has the highest form of privacy.” Even he heard the cold distance in his voice and saw her eyebrows rise.
Every person who joined the castle signed a waiver swearing to keep things private and not share identities to nonmembers, and everyone went through STD and AIDS testing. Smith preferred knowing his sexual partners were clean rather than having casual sex with strangers from a nightclub, and the privacy of the castle offered a sense of freedom.
Kyra took another mouthful of her wine, then with a twinkle in her eyes, tipped the glass at him. “Understandable. Privacy is something I can appreciate too.”
Woman, you are to be appreciated, and then some.