It’s a good thing their room has two double beds, because if there’s one thing a guy will never do, it’s share a bed with another dude. Sleeping na**d on sharp gravel? Totally acceptable, when faced with the risk of waking up to a loaded rifle in your back.

After the butler—we’ll call him Mr. Belvedere—gives us the grand tour and the maids take our luggage to unpack, the nine of us relax in the living room, talking about the agenda for the day.


Sitting on the dark brown love seat, with Delores on his lap, Matthew goes first. “There’s a water-volleyball tournament down at the pool in twenty minutes. I figured we’d start there—get our burn on. And they’re having a pig-roast barbecue—you know how I love a good swine.”

All the guys nod their consent.

Dee-Dee begins, “Our goddess party starts at five. . . .”

Goddess parties . . . for guys they’re a dream—mythical. Like the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or the topless pillow fight at a sleepover. It’s pretty much a female-only sex party, minus the actual sex. Legend has it there’s a wide array of toys for sale—dildos, vibrators, bondage gear, and lingerie. And there are lessons—women are instructed on all kinds of acquired skills, such as deep throat, mast***ation, pole dancing.

“. . . but before that, we ladies have appointments at the spa, to get beautified for tonight.”

I run my hand through Kate’s dark hair as she sits beside me on the couch. “That’s a waste of time,” I tell her. “You can’t improve perfection.”

She blushes slightly. Still so f**king adorable.

Dee-Dee counters, “You say that now—but wait until you see us after. We’re gonna get wrapped, waxed, plucked, and massaged. I swear, Kate—after Ricardo works you over? You’ll never be the same. It’s like being touched by an orgasm.”

My curiosity gets the best of me. “Who’s Ricardo?”

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“Kate’s massage therapist.”

Huh. “Ricardo’s a weird name for a woman.”

Delores rolls her eyes. “Well, yeah, it would be—but Ricardo’s all man. He’s got the body of a Greek god, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his steroid days. And he knows how to use it—especially his hands.”

Some guys would be okay with this situation. Men who are laid-back like Matthew or understanding like Steven. They’d kiss their lady on the cheek and say, “Have a good time, honey.” But—despite my emotional growth these last years—that’s just not how I roll.

So what I say is “Yeah, that’s not f**king happening.”

Kate puts her hand on my leg. “Drew, it’s just a massage.”

“I’m aware of that. Two words—happy ending. Two more words—no way.”

Alexandra tries to be helpful. “Relax, little brother. There’s no reason to be jealous.”

I open my arms wide. “Who’s jealous? I’m not jealous—’cause it’s not f**king happening.” I turn to Kate and explain calmly, “You really think I’m gonna be able to just sit here knowing you’re out there—with your goodies covered only by a thin cotton towel—while Ricardo-frigging-Montalbán has his hands all over you? Making you moan? Screw that. All your moans belong to me—they’re paid in full with that rock on your finger.”

Dee-Dee holds her hand out to Matthew. “I knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it. Pay up.”

He pulls his wallet out and slaps a twenty in her palm. I shake my head in disappointment at him. “You thought I’d be okay with this?”

He shrugs.

My eyes narrow. “I don’t even know you anymore.”

“Ricardo’s awesome, man. His hands are magic. If I was g*y, I would totally enter into a civil union with him.”

From the recliner, Steven joins the discussion. “You let a dude give you a rubdown? Have you considered the possibility that you’re already g*y?”

“Blow me.”

Steven laughs. “See, that’s what I mean. These subliminal messages are tickling my g*ydar.” He holds his finger out, pointing to each guy in the room. “Beep. Beep. Beep . . .” Then he points at Matthew. “Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.”

Billy and Jack crack up, and Steven gives them a high five. Matthew makes the jerk-off sign with his hand. Which doesn’t help his case much.

Kate brings us back on topic. “This is really a problem for you?”

I nod. “Absolutely. It’ll taint my memory of the entire weekend.”

She sighs. And turns toward Delores. “Switch my appointment.”

Dee-Dee looks appalled. “You’re not serious?” She throws her hands up in the air. “And so it begins. You’re not even married yet, and he’s already controlling you—dictating what you can and can’t do.”

I jump to Kate’s defense. “She’s respecting my goddamn feelings. That’s how a mature, healthy relationship works. You should try it sometime.”

“I’m extremely considerate of Matthew’s feelings!”

Kate jumps in. “Dee, we’re here to have fun, not torture my fiancé.”

Dee-Dee pouts. “But torturing him is my idea of fun. Party pooper.” Still, she grabs the phone and calls the spa.

Kate nestles into my side, resting her head on my shoulder. I pull her closer and kiss the top her head. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

I grin. “When you get back from your primping, I want some of that Kate time you owe me.”

She lifts her head and whispers, “Does this, by chance, involve finishing what we started on the plane?”

I nod slowly. “It does—and I guarantee it will be a spectacular finish.”

“It always is.” She leans forward, kissing me playfully, her tongue grazing and teasing.

When she pulls back, I lick my bottom lip, savoring the taste of her. “Bet your ass it is.”

Warren interrupts our flirtatious moment. “So, before we split up, does anybody wanna like . . . get high?”

I’m not a big fan of drugs, even the recreational kind. With alcohol, you can pace yourself—have a drink or two, then slow down and enjoy the buzz. Or you can go full throttle and down five quick shots. In either case, there’s control over how shitfaced you want to be.

But drugs are like a train without a conductor. Once you’re on, you’re going for a ride—no slowing down, no getting off if you change your mind. Dee-Dee doesn’t share my sentiments. No surprise there.

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