“For both of us. I had an orgasm within about fifteen seconds and I was so embarrassed about it I didn’t make a sound. Then afterward, I realized I hadn’t touched him at all. I just set my hands on his shoulders and let him fuck me.”

“Sweets, I gotta ask this. Did Gavin notice you didn’t participate very much?”


“That’s what I’m worried about. We haven’t seen each other since. And we live together so I’m pretty sure he’s avoiding me because I proved to be a lousy lay.” She finished her martini and slid the empty to the edge of the table. “Or worse, he immediately figured out how little sexual experience I’ve had.”

Joely held up her hand. “Hold on. Back up. Tell me how it played out from the time Gavin found you in his bedroom.”

As Rielle relayed the events, she remembered how awesome that buzz of sexual anticipation felt. How much she liked having Gavin’s hands on her. His mouth on her. And how wet he’d made her in such a short amount of time. She sent Joely a panicked look.

But Joely was deep in thought. Then she smiled. “Okay. Let me put on my stethoscope for a bit. Hot, spontaneous sex isn’t the norm for you. Let’s talk about your sexual history.”

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God. No. This was exactly what Rielle was trying to avoid.

Wrong. This is exactly what you need.

Joely squeezed her hand. “Hey. It’s me. I’m thankful for our friendship, Ree, and I’d be the last person to pass judgment on you. I want to help, ’cause, sugar, I think you need it.”

She blew out a slow breath. “Sexual history. Right. I got pregnant at sixteen the first time I had sex. The guy…” Rielle closed her eyes. She couldn’t even remember what he looked like. That guilt ate at her, this disconnect with the man who was the father of her child.

Cool fingers wrapped her fingers around the stem of a martini glass. “Drink this. It’ll help.”

Rielle opened her eyes and smiled. “Thanks.”

“Take your time. We can get hammered tonight because I have designated drivers on call.”

Not the first time Joely had mentioned that. After a minute, Rielle said, “You know I was raised by hippie parents with the live-off-the-land, make-our-own-way, screw-the-man attitude.”

“That sounds familiar. Wouldn’t it be hysterical if your hippie parents knew my hippie parents? Or had spent time in the same peace, free-love and no nukes commune?”

“That’d be a total trip, man.”

Joely laughed. “Keep going. We’ll compare notes later.”

“Our doors were open for anyone who would work for food and shelter—very much a commune-like vibe.” She allowed a small smirk. “Rumors flew that my folks grew pot on their funky little piece of land in McKay country. Untrue. They’d grown it in California, and surprisingly, they had a profitable business. My mother, the smarter of my parents because she hadn’t smoked all the profits and the product, sold their operation. We moved here when I was eight. They didn’t believe in formal education so I was home schooled. None of the transients who crashed with us had kids, so I grew up isolated, from kids my own age and society in general.” Feeling like a freak, she looked at Joely. “Was it like that for you?”

“No. I lived in a commune where all kids were raised by the community. We called everyone mother and father. I had thirty siblings. We were dressed the same. We didn’t even sleep in the same bed every night, lest we get attached to material objects. I had nothing of my own; everything was shared. But they did at least educate us, which allowed me to get the hell out.” Sadness passed through her eyes. “But enough about that. This is about you. Keep talking.”

Rielle hoped someday Joely would fill in the blanks of her life before she became Doctor Monroe. “Given that history you can imagine how a sixteen-year-old-girl, starved for attention, and just discovering sexuality, would react when an older guy started paying attention to me. Talking to me. Listening to me. Touching me. I craved that touch because my parents were unaffectionate.”

“With each other too?”

“Yes. They had an open relationship. I remember seeing Mom sleeping on the couch when Dad was in their bedroom with someone else. Same with my dad sleeping on the couch when Mom was having a meeting with some dude in their bedroom.”

“At least it was equal opportunity ‘meetings’ for them.”

“True.” She smiled. “You’d think I’d have picked up the basics on sex, but I was so damn naïve. When ‘John’—” she made air quotes, “—kissed me and touched me and told me it was okay, it was natural, I believed him. But the night he came into my room and took my virginity? There wasn’t sweet words or kisses or anything but the smell of pot smoke clinging to his clothes as he crawled on top of me.” Rielle felt Joely’s piercing stare, but she needed to get through this part to get to the heart of the matter. “I ended up pregnant. I had no idea I was pregnant until about the fifth month and I kept feeling all this stuff going on inside me and I’d put on weight. My mother figured it out. Four months later I gave birth to Rory, at home, with some whacked-out midwife and my mother in attendance.”

“Oh sugar,” Joely said. “You were just a baby yourself.”

“I know. But I loved my baby so much. She was perfect and all mine. I didn’t have sex again until the night of my twenty-first birthday. I ended up doing it with some sweet-talkin’ cowboy in his pickup. I went home with him afterward and we had sex again. I tried oral. Received oral. But it wasn’t great. I thought there was something wrong with me and decided sex wasn’t worth the hassle. Plus I had that whole ‘young, single mother’ stigma and I didn’t want to have a reputation that Rory would have to deal with. The two other times I’ve been attracted to a guy and we ended up having sex, it’s always been a disappointment. So, like I said. I’ve always figured it was me.”

“Was it a disappointment with Gavin?”

“Only in how I reacted. I was shocked because I’ve never had an orgasm with a man during sex. During oral? Yes. I can get off by my own hand, so I know I’m not incapable. I’m just…”

“Inexperienced,” Joely finished.

“At age forty. Gee, wouldn’t you wanna get all up in this?”

“I totally would, if I didn’t have a serious love of cock.”

Rielle choked on her drink.

Joely grinned. “I love shocking you.”

“No shit. So, tell me, Doctor Love, what should I do?”

“First off, do you want a sexual relationship with Gavin?”


“Then I’m writing you a script for birth control pills.” She pulled a pad out of her purse, filled it out and passed it over. “Get that filled tomorrow, you hear me? Use alternative birth control methods for a month.”

“Yes, Doctor Monroe.”

“Do you think your inexperience will scare him off?”

“Maybe it already has. How do I convince him to give me another try?”

“Besides getting on your knees?”


She laughed. “That would work, trust me. But in all seriousness, come on to him. Tell him he made you come so hard that night you were speechless. Tell him you can’t stop thinking about him. Tell him you want him. Then prove it. Seduce the fuck outta him.”

Rielle considered that advice and polished off another martini. She had a decent buzz going. “How many of these have we had?”

“Three. Each. And now that one is empty.” She signaled to the cocktail waitress for another round.

“I’m hardcore tonight.”

“Damn straight. Besides, you wouldn’t have the guts to talk to me without a little liquid courage.”

“True. Now I’m mulling over your advice and it’s your turn to confess how Joely gets her jollies.”

“Hilarious. Like you, I can only admit what I really want when I’ve put away several of these babies.”

“Wanna explain that?”

She ran her hand through her short red hair. “I can’t explain it to myself. It’s so fucked up. Every time I swear I’ll never do it again…I do.” She scowled over her shoulder. “Where the hell is my damn drink?”

“Hey, look at me.” When she had Joely’s attention, she said, “This road runs both ways, girlfriend. I’m as good at keeping confidences as you are. Any time you’re ready to spill, I’m here.”

“I appreciate it, Ree, I really do.”

“But you’d rather help other people than yourself.”


The cocktail waitress dropped off the martinis.

Joely plucked hers up. “Right now, I’m helping myself to another drink. Cheers.”

Rielle knew the subject was closed. So they switched gears, talking about cooking and yarn, since Joely was an avid knitter. Then out of the blue, Joely said, “So what are you going to do about Gavin?”

“Taking your suggestion to seduce the fuck outta him.”

Joely raised an eyebrow and grinned. “Good. ’Cause sugar, he just walked in the door.”

The Golden Boot was packed on a Saturday night. Gavin wasn’t much into the bar scene, but sitting home by himself was borderline pathetic. He’d headed to the closest honky-tonk to soak up some atmosphere after Ben and Tell both had mentioned a good local band played some weekends. But with the dark stage it didn’t appear to be this weekend.

He found a spot at the bar and ordered a whiskey, neat. He felt a little out of place wearing jeans, a wool sweater and loafers amidst all the cowboy hats and boots, but no one glared at him like it was a hanging offense.

After ten minutes or so, the guy on his left struck up a conversation. He’d just settled in when the guy’s eyes locked on someone behind Gavin. He turned and his heart rate spiked at seeing Rielle. For the first time in two goddamned days.

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