Title: Our Man Friday by Claire Thompson
Publisher: Romance Unbound Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance
Length: 171 pages/Word Count: 60,958
Cassidy fights the lingering feelings for her ex, Ian. Still secretly, desperately in love with him, she settles for sharing a house and a business. Their lives are intertwined in every way–except the way she wants most.
Fear of commitment drove Ian to push their romance into the friendship zone. But things become decidedly uncomfortable when sexy Scotsman Kye McClellan enters the picture. Ian is faced with the sudden prospect of losing the thing most precious to him.
As both Cassidy and Ian succumb to Kyes charms, Cassidy begins to wonder if she can have all she’s ever wanted…plus one. Then, just as things get white-hot, Kyes takes to his feet to avoid the burn. Ian and Cassidy are left with each other…and an even bigger missing piece than before. All they can do is trust that love will somehow bring their gypsy-hearted lover home again.
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She looked down at his large hand covering hers. Her arm tingled as she imagined him sliding those fingers along her skin, moving upward toward her shoulder. Her nipples were erect and probably showing through the thin material of her lacey bra and tank top. She pulled her hand from beneath his and crossed her arms over her chest.
She thought suddenly about the condition of the house, about the disarray in the huge living room they’d commandeered for Ian’s studio and her work area. They were both so focused on getting the business up and running, neither had the time nor the inclination to do much housekeeping. Despite their best intentions, though most of the boxes were unpacked, pictures had yet to be hung and there were no curtains on the windows.
Oh well. There were worse things than a messy house. Somehow she didn’t think Kye would mind too much. The spare bedroom was clean. It just needed sheets on the bed.
Though she hadn’t intended to pry, she found herself saying, “So it was an amiable split? No broken hearts?”
Kye shrugged. “Maybe cracked a bit. In retrospect, I guess it was just one of those flings—you know, you connect with people when you’re traveling in a more immediate way than you would otherwise. Sometimes when people return to their home turf, they realize they were just kidding themselves. They return to ‘the real world’, I guess you’d say. I apparently was not part of that real world.”
He looked so sad she wanted to lean over and hold him. Why were things always such a mess when it came to relationships? Inwardly she sighed, thinking of her own confusion and longing when it came to love. Aloud she said, “Was she American?”
“Actually it wasn’t a she,” Kye answered, his cheeks dimpling. “It was a guy.”
Gay? Had she misread his cues, comments and body language so completely? Cassidy’s stunned reaction must have shown on her face. “Not what you were expecting to hear, I’m guessing?”
“No, it’s not that, I mean, well, yes.” Cassidy struggled to recover. “I usually have a pretty good read on that sort of thing.”
Kye again put his hand over hers, his touch warm and firm. “Your read was quite accurate. It just so happens I’m attracted to men as well. That’s not so unusual, is it? You give me the impression of someone who’s open-minded about such things.”
“Yeah. I’m totally cool with it.” In fact she wasn’t sure what she was with it, at least in regard to him. What was her problem? Had she already planned to seduce the guy, when on the surface they had only bartered business advice for a bed?
Yeah, she admitted, she had. She could almost feel his hard, strong body covering hers, her nipples mashed beneath his chest, her sex soaked with desire as he eased himself into her heat…
Kye shook her out of her mini-fantasy. “Would you like another beer?”
Forcing the fantasy from her mind, Cassidy glanced at her watch. It was already after eight. “I hadn’t realized it was so late. Say, have you had dinner yet?” When he shook his head no, she continued. “I was going to stop and pick up some tamales. Then I could take you home and introduce you to Ian.”
“Sounds like a plan, though I have no idea what tamales are.”
Cassidy grinned. “Then you’re in for a treat. Do you want to follow me?”
“I’d have to run awfully fast, I’m afraid. I have no car.”
“No car in Houston? How do you get around?”
“I’ve only been here a few weeks. Until today I didn’t need one.”
Cassidy sensed the subject was a sore one. “No problem. You can come with me.”
As they left the bar, Cassidy could feel the eyes of some of the regulars on her. She waved toward some gay friends of hers, George and Paul, who waved back. George, who was always telling her what a great catch Ian was and how foolish she was not to ensnare him, lifted a thumb approvingly into the air. She fervently hoped Kye hadn’t seen the gesture.
Kye put his few possessions in the back of Cassidy’s car and climbed into the passenger seat beside her as she started the engine. She pulled out of the parking lot, wondering what the hell had gotten into her. Picking up a stranger, taking him in her car, bringing him home to Ian? Was she certifiably insane? Yet she didn’t feel panicked, nor did she really question the decision, though admittedly it wasn’t like her to bring someone she’d just met home. Instinctively she knew she could trust this man. There was something about him that put her at ease, once she got past his devastatingly good looks.
They picked up tamales, enchiladas and refritos, and a six-pack of beer to go with it, before heading home. Kye insisted on paying.
Cassidy pulled into the driveway of the old house, with its sagging wrap-around porch and small yard, the grass of which was in desperate need of cutting, bright yellow dandelions peeking here and there through the green. She was embarrassed at the place’s bedraggled appearance.
She turned to offer her excuses, but Kye beat her to it. “What a fantastic old house. I love all the turrets and towers. This must be one of the older houses in Houston. This is really yours?”
The admiration was evident in his voice, and Cassidy’s embarrassment was replaced, or at least mitigated, by pride. “Yeah. Well, the mortgage is ours.” She flashed a rueful grin. “It was a foreclosure and we got it for an incredible deal. It’s still a hefty monthly payment though. Sometimes I think we rushed into it.”
“This house will return its investment tenfold, you can count on it. You made the right decision. It’s a sound old place, I’m willing to bet. A few nails and a bit of paint will smarten it up nicely. Have you got a lawn mower?”
“Yes, though I guess you wouldn’t know it from the looks of the lawn. That’s Ian’s job but he’s been so busy…”
“That I can well understand. Perhaps in the morning I can give the yard a quick mow. I wouldn’t mind a bit. I like to be occupied.”
“Oh, I couldn’t ask you—”
“And nor did you. I offered.”
They climbed out of the car and walked to the front door. She opened the door, calling, “Hi, Ian. I’m back. I brought Mexican food and a new friend. Come out and meet him.” She held her breath, waiting for Ian to appear. What was she nervous about? Kye wasn’t her date, and anyway she didn’t need Ian’s permission to bring someone home.
After a moment Ian came into the large front hall, running his hands through his short blond hair so that it stood on end, making him look like he’d just woken up. It was a habit he had when he had been concentrating on something for a long time and was trying to return to the world, as he termed it. She had always found the gesture endearing, and her heart lurched at the sight of him.
“Ian. This is Kye McClellan. He’s visiting from Scotland.”
A flicker of a scowl crossed Ian’s face though it was quickly replaced by a pleasant smile. They moved toward one another and shook hands. She knew Ian was wondering if the term friend was code for lover.
I’ve been writing for nearly two decades, and have published over 60 novels. I write BDSM romance and non-con abduction tales, spanning both m/f and m/m genres. My love affair is with all things D/s (Dominance/submission). My work began as a romantic exploration of the BDSM life style, and then veered somewhat to the darker side of fantasy. I love delving into the dark psyche of a twisted mind, and gaining insight into what might motivate such a person to do what they do. I don’t create all black and white villains and heroes, but rather strive to develop real, complex and flawed human beings. I don’t want to simply provide an erotic thrill or evocative description. I seek not only to tell a story, but to come to grips with, and ultimately exalt in the true beauty and spirituality of a loving exchange of power. My darker works press the envelope of what is erotic and what can be a sometimes dangerous slide into the world of sadomasochism. Ultimately my work deals with the human condition, and our constant search for love and intensity of experience.