“I was on the patio with Alexandra.”

Kate twists a second towel around her head in that high-crown style that only women are capable of. Then she frowns worriedly. “She really hasn’t been herself lately. I hope she’ll talk to me tonight about whatever’s going on between her and Steven.”


“Way ahead of you. It’s all taken care of.”

“What’s happened?”

I reach into the shower and turn the water back on full blast. Then I slip off my boxers. Despite the seriousness of the conversation, Kate does a little eyefucking of her own.


“Her baby-making factory got an early foreclosure notice.”

“What does that mean?”

“Doctor told her she’s menopausal.”

Kate’s hand goes to her chest with a sympathetic sigh. “But she’s so young!”

I nod. “Yeah. She’s a hot mess about it. She’s been afraid to tell Steven, but I convinced her to talk to him later. They’ll get back on track.”

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Kate’s eyes widen. “You convinced her to talk to Steven?”


“How did you manage that?”

“She talked, bawled her eyes out, and I . . . comforted . . . her.”

Now Kate looks confused. “You comforted her?”

“What are you, a f**king parrot? Yes, I comforted her—why are you shocked?”

Kate folds her arms across her chest. “Well, let’s see. Could it be because your idea of comforting Mackenzie when her cat died was to tell her not to be sad because now Snowball was with all his other feline friends in hell?”

I possibly could have worded that better.

“Or maybe it’s because when my mother missed James’s christening because of that blizzard, you comforted her by saying that when he grows up, he’ll barely know who she is anyway?”

Some people just can’t handle the truth.

“Then there was the time—”

I put my hand over her smart-ass mouth. Her dark, deep eyes stare up at me with warmth and teasing affection.

“I admit, not everyone is able to absorb my particular brand of comfort. But in this case, Alexandra did. Because of me, she and Steven are on their way back to marital bliss. For that, I deserve a pat on the back. A hand job would also do nicely.”

Kate busts out laughing. She wraps her arms around my neck, pressing her terry-cloth-covered stomach against my dick. She tilts her head up. “It’s nice to be the stable couple in the group for once. Go, us.” She holds up one palm. “High five.”

I glance at her hand, then shake my head dismissively. “I don’t do high fives.” I wiggle my digits. “But if you’re interested in some fingering, I’m happy to oblige.”

Kate giggles. “Such a pervert.”

I give her lips a peck. “For you? Always. Now stop trying to seduce me, and let me take a shower.”

As she turns away, I swat her ass for good measure. Then I step into the shower and close the glass door behind me. I stick my head under the searing water and let the heat relax the muscles in my neck and back.

Through the glass a blurry Kate moves around, beginning the long getting-ready ritual. “I called your parents to see how the baby was doing.”

“What’d they say?”

“Your mother sounded half-dead, but all of the kids are great.”

Just as I expected.

Five minutes later, I’m out of the shower. I towel off and slip on a fresh pair of boxers. Then I step up to the sink and lather shaving cream on my face. Kate reenters the bathroom and stands beside me, putting makeup on. Her hair is damp but the robe is gone. In its place is a mouthwatering matching bra-and-panty set.

They’re pink silk with a black lace overlay. The panties are high cut—bikini style—and the bra pushes her tits up and together, creating a sexy-as-all-hell deep cle**age line. She dusts powder onto her face while I check her out.

“New underwear?” I keep a mental catalog of all of Kate’s undergarments, organized by color and style. I’ve never seen these before. I definitely would’ve remembered them.

She turns her hips, showing me the goods. “Yeah, aren’t they cute?”

Cute? No. Boner inducing? Definitely.

“There’s a La Perla boutique downstairs. I bought them before our spa treatments.”

I can’t help but contemplate what she was thinking when she bought them. I mean, a steamy night at home after James is asleep is one thing—a new outfit always makes that more interesting. But tonight we won’t even be hanging out together. Depending on what condition we’re in when we make it back to the room, we’ll be lucky if we even pass out next to each other.


That one syllable gives her pause. The hand that was applying eyeliner stops and she looks at me. “What?”

I keep shaving. “You don’t have any . . . other . . . underwear with you?”

Her brow wrinkles. “Sure I do. You don’t like these?”

I rinse my razor in the sink. “No . . . they’re fine. I just thought maybe you could wear something different. Something whiter, cotton, more full coverage.”

A triple-locked chastity belt would also suffice.

Her head tilts, trying to figure out where I’m going with this. “No, Drew, I didn’t bring any granny panties with me.”

You think I’m crazy, I know. But I’m not. I told you a long time ago—I play chess. I don’t just think about the next move; I think about the move five moves from now. So I can’t help but question why the hell would Kate buy new panties that would make any man with half a pulse want to sink to his knees in front of her and shred them with his teeth? It’s like . . . when a woman shaves her legs before a first date, even if she’s wearing pants. Maybe she doesn’t realize it, maybe she doesn’t want to admit it—but the only reason she’s doing it is because some part of her brain is hoping she’ll get laid.


Kate just looks sideways at me. I pat my chin with a hand towel while she finishes her makeup. As she smooths gloss over her succulent lips, I can’t help but speak up.

“Flavored lip gloss, huh?”

“Okay, that’s it.” She puts the cap on the gloss with a snap and drops it in her bag. Then she turns toward me quickly. “You need to stop. Right now.”

“Stop what? I didn’t say anything.”

“You didn’t have to. I know what’s going on in that deviant head of yours.”

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