I love the idea of basing a short story on a favorite song. Since one of my favorites is One by U2, I decided to write a short story about a prevalent romance novel theme (finding "the one"), but with a twist. I hope you enjoy this light treat!
Alicia’s business is coaching women to fulfill their deepest sexual fantasies but in a way that lets them keep their current relationship monogamously intact. When she meets Peter Taylor, will she give him a shot at being her one and only?
Rated - Adult - for 18 years and older only.
Genre - Contemporary
Heat Level - Sweet
The first thing Peter Taylor thought when he saw his opposing counsel was that there’d been some kind of mistake. The woman seated next to Penelope Castro looked more like a stripper than a lawyer. To be fair, however, the stripper association formed as a result of her plump, suckable lips and mesmerizingly lush curves, not because of what she was wearing or not wearing. While far from lawyerly, her clothes were perfectly respectable. She wore a fitted teal blue jacket, dark jeans and sassy little ankle boots. The outfit complimented her wavy red hair, pale skin, and golden brown eyes, giving her a vibrant, confident appearance. But confident or not, she wasn’t a lawyer and, therefore, she had no business being here.
He turned to his client, who was staring at his wife Penelope with a slight frown. Rick Castro had contacted Peter a week ago about wanting a divorce. Whenever he’d asked Rick about his marital problems, all he’d say was that his wife of seven years had turned out to be a fraud. Peter had been hoping today’s conference would clear that vague statement up so they could move forward. But wasn’t this interesting? The way Rick was staring at his wife confirmed the guy really wasn’t as committed to divorce as he’d led him to believe. If he could just get rid of the redhead, maybe Rick and Penelope could work things out. “Let me handle this, Rick.” Striding further into the conference room, he nodded to Penelope. “Good afternoon.” He turned to the redhead. “I’m Peter Taylor, Mr. Castro’s divorce attorney. And you are…?”
The woman rose and shook his hand in a firm grip before releasing him. “I’m Alicia Norton. I represent Penelope’s interests here. Are you ready to get started?”
As she sat back down, crossed her legs, and calmly looked at him, Peter suppressed an instinctive smile at her bravado. Her hand had been soft and cool, but it had also trembled in his grip. She might look calmer than a placid sea, but inside she was all turbulent nerves and emotions. Leaning his hip against the side of the conference table, he crossed his arms over his chest. “That depends. I take it you’re not a lawyer. Given this is a pre-divorce settlement conference, exactly how are you representing Mrs. Castro?”
Her smile was intimate, as if she was about to share a private joke with him. A zing of awareness streaked through him and he visibly jerked. She was obviously a pro when it came to charming men, but he’d be damned if he’d let her get away with it this time. Whoever she was, he was looking forward to bringing her down a peg. Deliberately, he grinned back at her, not missing the way her eyes widened before narrowing.
She licked her lips, then said, “I’m Penelope’s marital satisfaction consultant.”
He barely suppressed his snort of disbelief. “Right. Let me guess. That’s some kind of… counselor?”
“You could say that. I counsel clients on how to fulfill themselves in order to maintain a happy marriage. Since the only reason Rick came to you in the first place was because of me, I’m here to make things right. Penelope loves Rick and the last thing she wants is a divorce.”
“That’s right,” Penelope interjected. “I love my husband.”
“You wanted to screw another man!” Rick blustered from behind him.
Penelope opened her mouth but shut it when Alicia placed a hand on hers. She turned to face Rick. “Penelope told you she’s always fantasized about partaking in a threesome and asked how you felt about that.”
Peter waited, but when she didn’t continue, he prompted, “And? There’s a difference?”
“Quite a difference since what she had in mind wouldn’t have actually involved another man.”
Peter glanced at Rick, whose eyes had rounded so much he looked comical. “A—another woman?”
Penelope rolled her eyes. “No, you big dolt. I wanted the fantasy of a threesome but only with the two of us. Before I could explain that, you jumped to conclusions and tore out of the house. The next thing I knew you’d hired this bozo and wouldn’t even talk to me!”
Peter didn’t take offense at the bozo remark; he’d been called worse. Still, as amused as he was, he had other cases to work on. Rubbing the back of his neck, he looked at Alicia. “Alright, why don’t we all just sit down and talk.” He pointed at her. “Let’s start with you.”
* * *
A lot of people scoffed at her chosen profession, but for some reason Alicia had hoped Peter Taylor wouldn’t be one of them. She’d done considerable research and knew he was a respected legal professional. He was smart, ambitious, and ethical. He was also single. Given the instant attraction she’d felt when he’d walked into the room, that might have meant something in other circumstances. But her sources had also told her that Peter was a dedicated bachelor who liked to play the field. That meant as soon as she explained the misunderstanding between the Castros, she was out of here.
It was really too bad. With honey brown hair and blue eyes, a strong chin, and a lean broad-shouldered body, he radiated a combination of boyish charm and sex appeal. More than that, his steady gaze, combined with his professional reputation, the way he held himself, and the fact that he was giving her and Penelope their “day in court,” so to speak, made her want to get to know him better. But not if he didn’t believe in monogamy.
Her belief in monogamy and soul mates and commitment was the reason why she did what she did in the first place. She took a deep breath and jumped right in. “I believe most marriages break up because people—especially women--are afraid of truly voicing their desires. As such, these desires go unmet and build resentment over time.”
“That still doesn’t explain how Penelope’s request for a threesome didn’t include another man.”
“Sexual fantasies are just that. Fantasies. I teach women who are committed to being faithful that they can still spice up their marriage and fulfill their most secret desires. First, by sharing these fantasies with their partners. Second, by thinking creatively.”
Mouth quirking, he leaned back in chair. “A creative threesome with only two people. I can’t wait to hear how you’d manage that.” His expression made her think he was actually imagining her…well, managing it.
A little imp inside her rose to the challenge he threw down, but she quickly squashed it. She wasn’t here to titillate him or herself, but to make sure Penelope’s husband understood what she’d been asking for. “There are several ways one can—”
“Wait,” Penelope interrupted. “I want to show him. Rick, I mean.” She looked at her husband. “If you still love me and want to be with me, I want to show you what I was asking for.”
Caught off guard herself, Alicia saw the way Peter’s gaze flickered with surprise. Both of them turned to Castro, whose face was suffused with color. But the look in his eyes—
Alicia looked away. Sheesh, it was so obvious the man was in love with his wife. As such, it was no surprise when he stood, scraping back his chair, and held the door open for her. “Let’s go.”
“Rick, are you sure—” Peter began.
Rick smiled at Penelope when she met him at the door. Tenderly, he cupped her face, then stroked her hair. “I was an idiot, Mr. Taylor. Sorry to waste your time. If Penelope says she was just trying to be creative…then I believe her…”
“Oh, Rick. Thank goodness…”
The rest of her sentence was muffled as husband and wife kissed. And kissed. By the time they broke apart, they were breathing hard and Alicia had begun to feel like a voyeur. When she looked away, her gaze clashed with Peter’s. Instantly, heat flooded her body. He wasn’t looking at the couple that was once again making out in front of them—he was looking at her. And the expression on his face was one of intense consideration…and desire.
His gaze held hers as he deliberately cleared his throat. “Weren’t you two going somewhere, Rick?” he asked softly.
Penelope giggled. “Yes, I’ve got something to prove, remember?”
“I can’t wait for you to refresh my memory,” Rick growled.
The two left, shutting the conference room door with an audible click.
Aware that Peter was still looking at her, Alicia shifted, looked around the room, then finally stood. “Well, I guess that’s all taken care of. I’ll just be getting out of your way.”
The man didn’t move. He wasn’t exactly sprawling in his chair, but his body suddenly seemed relaxed and boneless. His posture enticingly seductive. “Aren’t you going to finish what you were saying? About creatively recreating a three-way, I mean. ‘There are several ways,’ you said. I’m dying of curiosity.”
The flesh between her thighs tingled, causing her to stumble. “I’m sure a confirmed bachelor like yourself has no shortage of opportunities to take part in the real thing, so like I said, I won’t waste any more of your time.”
He was looking at her funny as she sidled to the door. “Confirmed bachelor? Who told you that?”
“I like to be prepared for whatever or whoever I’m going up against. I didn’t have to dig very far to know you’re considered a playboy.”
He shrugged. “I’m single. I date. Occasionally, I even have sex. But I’m no playboy.”
She froze and turned to face him. “But you’re not looking for a relationship.”
“Why? Are you?”
Her mouth fell open. “No. But--”
“Then if I’m a confirmed bachelor or playboy, what does that make you?”
He stood. Although he didn’t move closer, the air in the room suddenly grew more scarce. “Scared to answer the question?”
Exasperated, she threw up her hands. “Fine. I’m someone who’s not looking but is open-minded to the possibilities of a relationship, including monogamy.”
“Then that makes two of us.”
She frowned. “Really?” Had her sources really been that wrong about him?
“Yes, really. Why is that so hard to believe?”
“It’s not, I guess. It’s just, well, most of my clients are women. And your—well, your attractive and single and are obviously a successful professional. And your reputation…”
“My reputation is conjecture not fact. Seems like Rick isn’t the only one fond of jumping to conclusions. Now, would you like to explain the concept of a creative threesome to me or not?” His question implied he’d be okay no matter her choice, but his clenched jaw and the way he seemed to hold his breath belied that notion.
She studied him and let her mind open to the possibilities. With a potential client in a professional setting, she had no problem discussing some creative ways to fake a threesome—using a sex phone service while the couple made love, using sex toys to mimic the feeling of being taken by more than one man, or mocking an encounter with a third person by blindfolding a partner and pretending to be two people. But with a man she was personally attracted to, she knew better than to start such a dialogue unless she was willing for the discussion to lead to other things, at least eventually. She struggled with indecision.
A song played through her head. A song about one love going wrong. About someone who said one thing but did something else. Alicia believed in the power of one love to last a lifetime. Was she willing to take a chance on that belief with Peter?
She took a breath and imagined loving someone the way Penelope loved Rick. Imagined loving someone enough to work for her happiness. Imagined loving this man. She nodded and smiled. “Sure. I’d love to.”
Virna DePaul's debut paranormal romantic suspense novel with Berkley, Chosen By Blood (Book 1 in the Para-Ops Novels), launches on May 3, 2011. Virna also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense (Dangerous To Her, September 2011) and HQN. she also has published several e-books, including a sexy contemporary, This Magic Moment. Visit her at www.virnadepaul.com