Chapter 1 – Lassoed
© 2018 Vanessa Vale
“This isn’t a date.”
“The client isn’t here any longer, which means it’s no longer a drinks meeting. We’re two adults at a restaurant. Alone.” My boss, Alan Perkins, leaned across the table and gave me a sly grin to accompany those words.
I did everything in my power not to roll my eyes. It wouldn’t have gone over well. He’d been asking me out since my first day on the job eighteen months ago, but I’d put him off. Over and over again. Until now.
Not that this was a date.
I watched as the rep from the local chain of retail stores I’d wooed since January walked away—home to his wife and three kids—leaving me alone with Alan.
I exhaled slowly, folded my hands in my lap and squeezed them together. I could be doing so many things at this moment instead of this. Laundry. A cross-training class. Getting a root canal. The meeting with the client had been important, but now? Sitting here in the fancy restaurant with Alan? Misery.
“I don’t think HR would consider a client meeting a date,” I countered.
Alan was in his early forties. Attractive in that…old boys’ club sort of way. He worked out, had all his hair, didn’t have bad breath and dressed nicely. He turned heads wherever he went, but not mine. I wasn’t blinded by the polish, the money or even the slick smile. I’d heard through the office grapevine he’d been handsy with one of the office cleaning staff, but had kept it under wraps so his wife wouldn’t find out. He didn’t want to be cut off from her piles of cash, the country club lifestyle or from his job since his father-in-law was the owner of the company.
Being handsy was a nice way of saying he was a cheater. And a sneaky one at that. Or, he wanted to cheat, or thought about cheating. I had to wonder if the employee had enjoyed his advances or repeatedly shut him down as I had. I had to hope she was a smart woman and had asked to be reassigned.
To me, even mentally straying called for divorce. Who wanted to be with a man who even spent time thinking about being with someone else? Fantasy was something else entirely. I thought of Tom Hardy frequently when I pulled out my vibrator, but that wasn’t the same as feeling up the people who worked for you.
“…as I said, it’s after hours. No work talk.”
I blinked, focused on Alan again. I’d been straying this time, glancing over his shoulder and catching a glimpse once again of the two men sitting at the bar. Tom Hardy was now bumped down my fantasy list because tall, dark and handsome times two moved to the top. They were sitting down so I couldn’t really confirm they were actually tall, but they seemed to be. Dressed casually in jeans and button-down shirts, one had his sleeves rolled up, and I couldn’t help but notice his corded forearms and big hands.
I loved looking at a guy’s hands, wondered all the things he could do with them. Perhaps cupping my breasts, slipping a finger into my mouth so I could suck on it, make it wet so he could brush it over my back entrance, tease me.
Whoa, that was a big, and very naughty, jump.
I squirmed in the booth seat and stilled when Mr. Big Hands’ eyes met mine. Dark, intense and full of heat, as if he’d been able to read my dirty thoughts. My heart skipped a beat and I licked my lips, suddenly dry mouthed. His focus caught the attention of his friend and he looked at me, too.
Where the first was broody, the second was casual, at ease with the quick smile he tossed my way. Full lips twisted into a wicked grin, his eyes raking over me, settling briefly on my breasts. My nipples pebbled at the thought of that mouth on them, sucking, licking, even giving a slight tug.
I wasn’t a virgin. That first time in college had been long ago. I’d learned a lot since then, especially about myself. I was adventurous, confident in my own sexuality, but I’d never considered two men at once before.
Until now. Until these two.
“What do you say, Nat?”
I startled when I felt a meaty paw on my knee beneath the table.
Startled, I moved it away, but the action only parted my legs, which had Alan sliding his own bent leg in between.
My gaze flicked to his and the blue eyes had darkened and the mild CEO was long gone. Instead there was a man who had interest. Desire. Both of which were completely unreciprocated. And he’d called me Nat. No one called me Nat at work. Ever. I doubted he wanted to be called Al.
“Can I get you both some appetizers to start?” the waitress asked as she approached the table, blocking my retreat.
While his knee was just between mine and not any higher, it was enough to give me the creeps. Trying to get my legs back together was an impossible task; it only made his eyes flare and the waitress think I had ants in my pants.
“Let’s get the spinach dip and another round of drinks.” Alan lifted up his whiskey on the rocks.
“Oh, no. I don’t want anything.” I lifted my hand, palm out. “In fact—”
“In fact, bring the spicy wings. I like doing things with my hands.” Giving the waitress a broad grin, she nodded, her smile plastered on, then glanced at me. The look she offered screamed Is this guy for real? Perhaps she could tell I wasn’t interested, and not just in the dip. Or what Alan could do with his hands. As if the idea of him eating wings was remotely attractive.
I sighed again, flicked a gaze at the two at the bar. They were talking to each other—not close as if they were there together—but glanced my way once again.
Alan leaned in, which pulled his knee back. Quickly, I shut my legs and slid closer to the edge of the booth.
“We’ll talk merchandise,” he said, surprising me.
I frowned. “What? You want to talk about the new line?”
Reed and Rose was a small boutique lingerie company. It had been started by Alan’s in-laws in the sixties. They’d begun with one shop downtown but had since grown to include three stores locally. I’d been hired as a sales rep to get the items—high-end bras, panties, negligees and other feminine underthings—into chain stores with the business plan to spread regionally and potentially nationally.
I’d had suggestions for a new direction in design, shifting from the staid, trousseau-style items and into a sexier and more sophisticated line, but had been shut down by Alan. Until now. I reached for my briefcase on the seat beside me.
“You want to see the drawings from the art department?” I’d worked for months with them and the other design teams to come up with this new direction. It was a team effort we were all excited about, but hadn’t been able to get traction with the higher-ups to make it happen.
His hand landed on mine, stilling my motion. I lifted my eyes to his as I pulled mine out from beneath his, saw over his shoulder that Mr. Big Hands’ eyes narrowed at the action.
“This isn’t the place to pull those kinds of drawings out. Right?”
I glanced about. The restaurant was high-end, but not ritzy. It was on the first floor of a downtown hotel, convenient for our drinks with the client since it was near his office. The renderings were hand drawn and tasteful, but they were of lingerie.
“Tell me about them instead.”
I took a sip of my water, considered his earnest expression. He seemed to really want to hear about what I’d been working on, pushing for, all these months.
“Okay, well…” I went into detail about the line, the bras, the matching panties, the colors and fabrics. When I started on the demographics and marketing research, he cut me off.
“Is this something you would wear?”
I flushed hotly. I loved lingerie. It was my weakness and the reason why I’d taken the job at Reed and Rose in the first place. While I had the degrees and work experience for the position, having a career in an industry I loved was a definite perk. I’d always liked to have pretty, sexy things under my work clothes, but they were for my satisfaction—and possibly the pleasure of a man I allowed to see them—but not for discussion.
Alan’s attention shifted to my chest and I knew then he’d only listened to my pseudo-presentation so he could segue to me and what was beneath my professional veneer. I’d dealt with sexism before. Sexual harassment like Alan’s that never quite crossed the line. While I’d had conversations with HR about him, his words hadn’t been enough to do much to shut him down, especially since the company was owned by his wife’s family.
I never wore revealing clothes. I was cautious about it, especially in the industry. Especially with Alan as a boss. My dress was fitted—I was tall and lean with only small curves—but not clingy. While it was sleeveless, it was high necked and fell to my knees.
“Any professional woman would find the line appealing,” I countered neutrally.
Alan leaned in further, the scent of his cologne and the whiskey from his breath had me pressing back into the cushioned booth.
“Are you wearing the black mesh number you described?”
I pushed out of the booth, stood, grabbed my clutch. We were so not talking about my panties. “Excuse me, I need the ladies’ room.”
I fled across the restaurant without looking back, leaning against the bathroom sink, staring at myself in the mirror.
Did I want this? A gross boss who was going to constantly chip away at my resolve? Not that I would ever sleep with him, but a formal complaint to HR wasn’t going to do much. He wasn’t going to leave the company. No way. It was his word against mine, every time.
I had to either deal, or quit.
The harsh lighting over the mirror had me wondering why Alan was so interested in me. My hair was a light brown. Mousy. It curled and in the humid air went every which way. I tamed it, pulling it back in a clip, but it always looked as if I’d crawled out of bed. My lipstick was long gone, but I wasn’t going to primp for Alan. He’d notice and get the wrong idea.
My makeup was mild, not much could help my eyes which were wide-set and too large for the rest of my face. My mouth too full. Or so I thought. And my figure. I was a small B-cup; not enough cleavage, not even a handful. Wouldn’t Alan be more interested in harassing Mary from accounting with her full Ds?
I smoothed down my dress, took a few deep breaths to fortify myself.
Leaving the bathroom, I stopped. Froze, actually.
There, leaning against the wall, were the two hotties from the bar.
“Are you all right?” Mr. Big Hands asked. He eyed me, but not like a lech, but with concern.
“Oh, um. Sure,” I replied, giving him a small smile.
“I’m Sam.” He angled his head toward his friend. “He’s Ashe.”
“Hi,” Ashe replied.
I nodded, not sharing my name. Just because they were making my nipples hard and my panties damp, didn’t mean I wasn’t careful. Although nothing about them was sending up red flags on my creep-meter. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“We couldn’t help but notice your date and his roving—”
“He’s not my date,” I countered quickly, cutting him off. “God, no. He’s my boss.”
Both frowned, narrowed their eyes. Sam was about six foot, dark hair, strong brow, clean-shaven square jaw. His white dress shirt showed off his broad shoulders and well-muscled physique. Ashe was a few inches taller, leaner. A Matthew McConaughey lookalike with lighter brown hair, cut longer with a wave to it. Defined cheekbones and close-cropped beard. The two of them ticked off every one of my ‘what made me hot’ boxes. It was instant, intense and made my mind wander to dark and slightly naughty places.
While we weren’t the only people in the hallway—a few other patrons moved past us to the restrooms and the din from the main seating area was a reminder we weren’t far from others—I felt as if we were all alone. Their focus was on me, only me.
“Boss? And he touches you like that?” Ashe asked. “Unless you want it, but based on your reactions, it doesn’t seem like you do.”
“Him?” I laughed. “No, I don’t want him.”
I want you. Both of you with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Maybe just the whipped cream.
“Then leave,” Ashe added.
“I’d love to duck out, but he is my boss and I’ll have to see him at the office tomorrow. And, my briefcase is back at the table,” I added the last, suddenly remembering. Crap.
“Sounds like it’s time to buy a new briefcase,” Sam said.
I smiled, then laughed. They smiled, too, as if we’d shared a small secret. “Maybe. I’ll make my excuses, although I would like him to consider my product line we’d talked about.”
When they both watched me with interested expressions, I waved my hand through the air, shrugging off my comments. These two didn’t need to hear about my work. “I’m used to it. To him. It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing. You’re not nothing.”
My mouth fell open at the vehemence in Ashe’s tone, the way Sam shook his head in agreement. “Oh, um, well, that’s sweet.”
It really was.
“We’re not always sweet.” Sam’s words were like a promise, a dark one, and I shifted on my heels, rubbing my thighs together. I could only imagine how not-sweet he could be. Whispering dirty words in my ear as he held my hips and fucked me from behind? Tangling his fingers in my hair as he held my face still so he could fuck my mouth? Grip my ankles as he held them at his shoulders as he slid in and out of my pussy with his big cock?
Oh yeah, I had no doubt they could be not-sweet.
“We can beat him up for you.”
Now I did laugh at the thought of the two of them dragging Alan out behind the restaurant’s dumpster, although they weren’t smiling. I stifled the sound. “You’re serious.”
Chivalrous and sexy.
Ashe put his hands on his hips, angled his head out toward the main part of the restaurant. “I assume you’re used to Mr. Grabby Hands. That this isn’t your first rodeo.”
I rolled my eyes. “No, not my first rodeo and I’m used to him. HR can’t do much and now that the client’s left, this is now a dinner to him. A date.” My fingers made the little quote motion.
“You just let us know, sweetheart, and we can take care of him.”
They didn’t know me but were willing to beat up my lecherous boss. Sweet.
“That’s the um, well, nicest thing I’ve heard in a while.”
It was. I’d been on a dateless streak for so long that I’d forgotten what a nice guy was like. A nice guy or two. They were open and honest, sincere and prepared to drag Alan and his chicken wings outside and teach him a thing or two. I hadn’t had anyone stand up for me in a long time.
And I hadn’t been so attracted, so turned on by a man—two men—in…ever. Instant heat, attraction. God, the chemistry was off the charts and we’d barely exchanged names. And I’d rather have them take care of me instead of Alan.
“We can rescue you, if you want,” Ashe said. I noticed his eyes weren’t that dark after all, more of a bottle green.
“Sure. Just give us a sign and we’ll get you out of there,” he added, tugging on his ear like a third base coach in baseball.
I smiled at the motion and copied it, careful so I didn’t yank off my earring. “Do this and you’ll save me?”
“That douche canoe can paddle his own fucking boat.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at Ashe’s words. Again. I loved the way he was mad for me, that he wasn’t remotely like Alan. “It’s his wife’s job to take care of that boat, not me.”
“Married? God, he’s even worse than I thought,” Sam grumbled. “Sweetheart, you don’t seem like the kind of woman who really needs saving. I bet you can take care of yourself, but why should you have to? Why should you be stuck with that asshole just because he’s your boss? It’s after hours. Your time. You’ve got two big guys to help you out.”
Help you out. Yeah, I could think of several ways they could help me out. Their hands on my body, discovering I was wet for both of them. I had no doubt they could make me forget all about Alan with some incredible orgasms. Crazy thoughts. I’d just met these two and I was thinking about sex with them. But the connection, I couldn’t understand it, but I was drawn to them like a magnet.
I looked down at the wood floor, ran my hands over my thighs. When had my palms gotten so damp? And speaking of damp…my panties were dainty silk and couldn’t handle these two. I took a deep breath. God, they even smelled good. Soap or woods or something manly. Or, perhaps, just man.
“Thanks. I’d, um…better get out there.” I thumbed over my shoulder. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stand here and bask under their honest perusal, open interest and well, kindness. Oh, and just keep taking in their gorgeousness. I wanted to see what else they had to say, to learn more about them than just their names. I wanted to run my hands over their hard bodies, learn what made their breaths catch, what made the bulges in their jeans even more impressive.
Ashe tugged on his ear again, as if to remind me of the signal. As if I’d forget it, or the way his wavy hair brushed his fingers. I wondered if it was as silky soft as it looked. And then there was the smile, the slight turn of his lips, the playfulness. But seriousness as well. One ear tug and I knew he’d—they’d—be there to help me out.
“Nice to meet you…”
“Natalie,” I finished Ashe’s sentence, remembering I hadn’t shared my name, smiled. “Nice to meet both of you, too.”
“Natalie,” Sam repeated, as if testing my name on his tongue. I loved the deep timbre of his voice, and wondered if it would sound the same when he called it while filling me with his cock.
I swallowed, then smiled. Hopefully, the hallway was dark enough to hide the way I flushed at just his tone.
I gave them both one last glance, checking out every nuance. Not only were they so darn hot, but they were nice, too. Sweet, even, but I didn’t dare call them that. And then their scent followed me. Spicy, woodsy. Male. Breathing them in made me hot and dizzy and aroused. It was as if pheromones just poured off them and I sucked them up as if I’d been in a drought. Which I had, a sex drought.
There wasn’t any more reason to linger, and Alan would certainly start to wonder if I’d fallen in or something, so I made my way back to the table. I took in the new glass of whiskey and appetizers in front of him. He was shoveling some dip onto a wedge of pita bread as I sat back down.
“I ordered for you.”
I watched him take a big bite, chewed. A bit of spinach clung to his lip. He grabbed his whiskey, washed it down.
“I’m not staying.” I hooked my hand into the strap of my briefcase.
“The night’s young. So are you.”
I crinkled up my nose in disgust. Looking over his shoulder, I saw Ashe and Sam back at the bar. They’d lost their stools when we were in the hallway, but they leaned against the wood surface where I could still see them. Ashe was talking with the bartender as Sam glanced my way. Why was I still sitting with this loser when I could be with them?
“I have an early morning workout class.” I stood once again, sliding my briefcase across the booth. His hand settled on my thigh as I faced him.
“Just as I thought. Nice and toned.”
Aaaaannnnnnd we were done.
I was perfectly safe in the restaurant. I could whack Alan in the head with my briefcase. While the laptop might not survive, it would be worth the sacrifice to ring his dumb-ass bell. I could scream and it wasn’t like I was in a dark alley. A restaurant full of people was safe. I could even just walk away. But I didn’t want to do any of that. I wanted Ashe and Sam, so I lifted my right hand to my ear, gave it a little tug.
While I’d just met the men, and in the restroom hallway of a restaurant nonetheless, I knew they’d come to me. They’d rescue me. They’d take care of me.
I knew. How? I had no idea. I just knew they would. And it felt really damn good.