Copyright Brandy L Rivers 2014
Pounding music flowed over Isadora Starling as she walked into her bar, Shenanigans. Only one thing was on her mind, finding someone who would take her home and rock her world. She was smoking hot and she knew it.
Taking note of every man whose head turned in her direction, she emphasized the seductive sway of her hips as she sashayed to the bar with purpose. As usual, her eyes kept drifting back to the only man in the place who made her mouth water. Unfortunately, her best friend was not on the menu.
She slid onto a stool and turned toward her friend and business partner, Lana, one of the few women she truly trusted.
Lana’s molten silver eyes landed on her. A smirk twisted her lips. “Back so soon?”
Isa lifted a shoulder in a shrug before stating, “I’m on a mission.”
Perusing the sultry make-up and her come-ravish-me outfit, Lana snorted. “I can see that. What are you drinking?”
“Double Grey Goose, straight up.”
“One of those nights?” There was a grimace on her face.
Isa responded with a one-fingered salute before turning back to the crowd with the intention of finding a man.
Lana cut in with, “I still think you should drag him home and get each other out of your systems.”
By him, she meant Isa’s best friend, Toryn Flame. More than gorgeous, he was fucking beautiful, masculine perfection. His dazzling blue topaz eyes were lined in guyliner, not that his eyes needed any help attracting attention with his ten-mile long lashes. Silky black hair was teased up in a sexy tousle calling to her fingers. The man was a sex god, in snug leather pants and a half-buttoned black silk shirt open far enough to display his sculpted chest and the beginning of washboard abs.
Forbidden, though she had a never-ending supply of fantasies starring Toryn. The current was her craving to lick every ridge of muscle on her way down to the golden zipper straining over an impressive bulge she wished she could ignore.
They were firmly stuck in the friend zone. He didn’t see her that way, and despite the fact he was sensuality walking, she wasn’t supposed to want him.
Frustrated, she turned back to Lana with a cold stare. “Have you forgotten he prefers men? Last time I checked,” she looked down and shook her tits for emphasis, “I have all the wrong parts. Besides, he’s my friend, my best friend and he,” she glanced back to watch Toryn tongue-fuck his boytoy, “is all over his man, Leon.”
One scarlet brow rose in challenge. “Bullshit. I’ve seen him take women home.”
“Please, when was the last time? Tiffany? And that rare occurrence was over a year ago.”
Lana’s mouth dropped open, “Oh my god, you are fucking blind, Isadora. He’s only with Leon to distract himself from you.” With a glare, Lana slid the vodka to her.
Isa would give anything for that to be the truth. Forcing the desperate sentiment from her mind, she took the shot in a single gulp, causing Lana to grimace.
Driving her point home, Isa nodded back to the two hottest men in the place. “Toryn is with Leon. Has been for nearly two months, which is some kind of record for him.”
Actually, they had been dating exactly seven weeks, which was damn near a miracle. Aside from Leon, he hadn’t been with a single person more than twice since she’d met him nearly ten years ago. Somehow his lack of commitment made her want him all the more. She always loved a challenge, and secretly wished she could be the one to snare him permanently.
Of course, if she told Lana she was counting the days Toryn stayed with Leon, it would prove her point. A point Isa was going to deny until her desire finally died.
With a devilish smirk, Lana shrugged. “He’d dump him for you in a heartbeat.”
A glance back at Toryn easily reminded her how wrong Lana was. Toryn was grinding his hips into Leon who was hungrily kissing down Toryn’s throat. They were too hot and heavy for their public display of sexual chemistry to merely be a distraction.
“Then why is he taking Leon home tonight? And don’t tell me he’s not. Do you see them?” Isadora pointed back at the pair with a wicked grin. It was a gorgeous sight.
Licking her lips and watching like every other woman, and most of the men, in the nearly anything goes bar, she nodded. “Oh, I do, but you don’t see the way he looks at you. Like he’s making love to you with his eyes. When you aren’t watching Toryn, he always stares at you.”
Lana filled the shot glass.
In all the years they’d been friends, Toryn had never made a move, so Lana was wrong, very depressingly wrong. Isa slammed back the second dose and glared at Lana. “You’re full of shit. Pour me another.”
“I’m not. I still say you’re fucking blind,” Lana taunted as she refilled the glass. “If he wasn’t so hung up on you, I would make a move on him.”
Wait… what? Hung up on me? Yeah, might need to have her committed.
Isa took another glance at Toryn and Leon, then grinned at Lana. “If you can pry him from Leon, he’s all yours.”
Thankfully, Lana changed the subject. “Where’s Mike?”
Well-intentioned, maybe, but her new topic wasn’t much better. Isa downed the third shot before answering, “Don’t know. Don’t care. Of course it would be a hell of a lot easier to get laid if he were around.” He was her favorite fallback romp in the sack.
“You torture that poor man. If you’d let him, he’d fall in love with you.”
Which was exactly the reason she hadn’t called and was attempting to avoid him… though in desperate times…
Mentally shaking herself, she quipped, “We don’t work as a couple. Sure, explosive in bed, awesome on the dance floor, but that is where our good chemistry ends. We would drive each other batshit crazy—and I’m not talking about a scorch-the-sheets-way—in a matter of days. Not to mention the fact Roxy hates my fucking guts.”
“Only because you’re stringing her brother along. Plus, she has a valid point. I’m still convinced you fell for Toryn years ago. Like two seconds after you met him.”
She was right, but Isa wasn’t going there. “Go to hell.”
“Only when you join me.”
Isa slid the empty glass at Lana and batted her lashes. “Anyone I should consider?”
With an accusatory glare, she answered, “Plenty of them. Except, don’t take the hot blond home.” She glanced down at the end of the bar for about the hundredth time since Isa sat down.
All Isa saw was the healthy fall of shiny blond hair, way too long and perfect to be on any man’s head.
“I don’t go for blonds.” Isa smirked before turning toward the crowd. Of its own accord, her gaze landed on Toryn, who winked at her.
Lana pulled her back to reality with bite in her tone. “Knowing you, you’ll take him home to spite me.”
Isa spun around, her hands landing on the counter as she lasered in on Lana. “I would not. When was the last time?”
Her eyes narrowed to slits. “Last week, when you took Reese home.”
“Oh,” she shrugged sheepishly, “that hardly counts. You didn’t warn me beforehand. If you had simply told me, I would have found someone else.” It was the truth, Isa never meant to hurt anyone, and especially not her friends. There had been plenty of other options. She honestly hadn’t realized Lana was interested.
“Why don’t I believe you?” she muttered. The question stung. Of course, payback sucked. Lana turned around and hired the guy the very next day, even after Isa begged her not to.
“I’m not selfish, Lana. I wouldn’t do that to you,” she whined.
“Hmph.” Lana didn’t look convinced, but a smirk formed as she glanced over Isa’s shoulder.
Isa fought back a smile as she felt Toryn’s approach. He had a presence she could feel and as much as she hated her weakness, it felt good to have him close. Toryn leaned his long hard body against hers.
Lana grinned as if her point was made.
One corner of Isa’s mouth lifted. “I would be more worried about Toryn taking Blondy home.”
“Bitch,” she gasped.
“Grey Goose?” Toryn licked his full lips as his brow cocked. “One of those nights, Isa?”
Her eyes nearly rolled out of her head, “Okay, everyone stop! I had a long day, and I’m horny as hell. It’s not like I’m driving home. No more judging. Just let me find a man for the night.”
The guy sitting next to her turned with a smile that chilled her blood. His deep blue eyes seemed wrong, his skin too pale, almost blue. She’d seen him before, but couldn’t place where.
Isa glared back. “Not you.”
Amusement danced through his eyes as they dropped to his drink with a chuckle.
Toryn grinned at Lana. “Two Loves and one is for my sweet Isadora.” His eyes held a mischievous sparkle.
Isa snorted. “Is that so?”
“Don’t argue,” he purred in a way that made her want to scratch her nails down his back while riding him into the night.
With a groan, she smiled back at Lana and tossed down enough cash to cover her vodka and the Loves, plus a generous tip. “Where’s Leon?”
Avoiding answering, Toryn quickly finished the drink and placed his empty glass with a purposeful thunk on the counter. “Let’s dance.”
She let the question slide and followed his lead after finishing her cocktail.
Maybe she had a bit too much, too fast, because the world tilted. Still, she managed to walk straight.
“Leon won’t be jealous?”
“Nope, he plans to join us soon.” She could feel his eyes caress down her body and back up. “He told me to tell you that you’re on fire tonight.”
“He always says that.”
Toryn pulled her close and his lips grazed over her ear. “Only because it’s true.”
The warmth of his breath and rumble of his voice only heightened the ache between her legs. Such a damned tease. And if he didn’t do it with everyone, she might think he really felt something for her.
* * * *
Isa smiled up at him, one-hundred-percent unaffected. She was completely immune to his charm, which was likely a good thing. Even if she wanted him, he couldn’t have her. Too many things would be revealed, things she wasn’t supposed to know. Not to mention it would go directly against his orders.
Toryn hated keeping secrets from her. When she finally did learn the truth, he’d be lucky if she still spoke to him. Regardless of orders, no matter what she did, he would always keep her safe.
Playing her friend was torture. He knew all of her secrets, her quirks, everything. Her flaws only made him love her more.
No creature was more perfect than Isa. Her long black hair fell to her ass in soft waves when it was loose. Tonight it was twisted into an intricate braid draping over her shoulder. Sparkling emerald eyes drew him in. And her pale skin shimmered as if a trillion tiny diamonds lay under the surface. A normal mortal would never notice. Isa, however, was the same as he, though she didn’t know. Yet.
Her come-ravish-me clothes would turn a saint. The shimmering black dress scooped to tastefully display her cleavage, and dipped much further down her back to tempt a man’s hands into caressing the soft skin. Completing the ensemble, fuck-me-standing boots covered her shapely legs to above the knee, and made his cock throb behind his fly.
Damn Leon for encouraging him to drag her out to the dance floor. Torture, having her in his arms, against his body, moving with the music. The last thing Leon uttered before traipsing off was, “You need to come clean. Tell her everything. ‘Cause I can’t keep playing this game.”
Toryn couldn’t either.
He pulled Isa close. With a content sigh, she melded into his body. Biting back his groan, he closed his eyes. His dream filled the dark canvas, the vision that made pretending damn near impossible.
The two of them together, in Faerie. Their child in his arms as he sang an ancient lullaby. Her smile was full of radiance and love, a look she had never given him.
Toryn’s accuracy with visions was reliable, but he couldn’t imagine how this premonition might come to pass. With who she was, it would never be allowed. Which led him to believe his mind’s image was only a dream.
Once again, he had to ignore his splintering heart to help her find a man. The task could wait until Leon showed up, hopefully in time to stop him from taking things past the point of no return.
Unless Leon made good on his threats to let him lose control. It didn’t help Leon kept taunting him with an offer for a threesome, something he had enjoyed in the past. However, Isa was not a woman he wanted to share.
The music slowed down, and her hips moved into his body, his hard length trapped between them. Her breath hitched as her arms wound around his neck, and she pressed closer with a needy sound that stopped his heart.
Can she feel it too? Does she finally see me?
Toryn’s final threads of control disappeared in a rush, the temptation too great. His hands curved over her ass, hauling her closer. His lips grazed over the spot behind her ear.
* * * *
Startled, Isa pulled back and their gazes locked. They were doing their normal dirty dancing, but this time it was supercharged, feeling more sexual than playful. Then he moved his hips against her, proving how hard he was. He licked his lips and her body responded with carnal hunger.
Toryn leaned in as if he was thinking the same exact thing.
Her breath stalled in her lungs. She didn’t have the strength to set her cravings aside and stop him.
Leon’s body pressed against hers, bringing her crashing back down. Her heart slowed to a more normal rhythm. Crisis averted, Toryn’s friendship was safe for another night.
Reality was, ever-horny Toryn only missed Leon, who unfortunately, had perfect timing.
Leon molded himself against her back, his hands trailing around her waist to splay over her abdomen. And there she was, desperately close to another huge fantasy. If she couldn’t have Toryn, she’d take them both.
Leon’s deep voice rumbled in her ear, “Sorry it took so long. You two looked like you were having such a good time I almost didn’t join.”
The tempo picked up and the three of them moved with the music. The little trio had become a ritual.
Toryn had perfect pale luminescent skin and shimmery raven hair. In contrast, Leon’s skin was dark ebony, but his head was smooth, and bald. His eyes were black as night and he had full thick lips. Leon’s build reflected his love of fitness. Despite his ripped body, he still managed to move with feline grace. He wore tight black pants and a mesh shirt which left nothing to the imagination. If Leon wasn’t clearly so hot for Toryn, Isa would have made a move.
Toryn kissed Leon over her shoulder, as if to say, Oops, got carried away. It didn’t help when the two of them pressed into her. She had the nearly overwhelming desire to join the kissing.
When they finally broke apart, Isa had only marginally more breathing room. Leon put his chin on her shoulder, running his hands down her abdomen until she leaned back into his chest.
“Lana tells me you’re on the hunt for a man tonight.” He purred suggestively. “I think you could handle two.”
The fantasy played through her head for the millionth time. “I wouldn’t want to be in the way.” She winked, hoping neither of them caught the lie.
“Oh no, you wouldn’t, honey. You would fit right in.” He pressed his hips into her to prove his point, and what a point it was.
One of her dark eyebrows rose.
He licked his lips and pressed in tight. “Right in, Isa.”
“Stop it already,” Toryn growled and pulled her closer. It felt possessive. “Let’s not scare Isa away.”
Stupid Isa, she scolded herself. Didn’t stop her from smirking back at Toryn. “Oh, I’m not scared, sweetheart. But I’m not sure Leon could handle me.”
Toryn’s eyes darkened to midnight blue as he stared back.
Before either one of them could reply, Blondy stepped up with a heated smile focused on her, his dark chocolate eyes devouring her as if she was his favorite desert.
“Care to dance?” His accent was foreign, exotic, but she couldn’t begin to place it.
Something about his angelic expression was all wrong. Mr. Long-Blond-n-Pretty wore black jeans and matching tank top molded over his lean muscles and golden tan. Even if his hair was too perfect, and blonds weren’t normally on her menu, an appetizer couldn’t hurt. She could always ditch him after Toryn and Leon were busy with each other. Besides, she desperately needed a distraction from the two gorgeous men who would ravish her in her fantasies later.
Isadora glanced over at Lana who rolled her eyes but gave a thumbs-up. Her business partner correctly assumed Isa was asking for permission, and the guy did come to her. Besides she was desperate for some action that didn’t involve Toryn.
“Sure.” Isa grinned at him. “I should let these boys get back to their fun.”
Leon kissed the outermost corner of her mouth, tempting her to turn her head for the real thing, but she resisted.
Toryn embraced her tightly and whispered in her ear, “Be careful. He’ll wind up hurting you.”
Before she could ask what he meant, he danced off with Leon.
She felt abandoned. Faking her best smile, she turned to face Blondy.
Needing no other encouragement, he pulled her close and moved to the music. Surprisingly well in fact, though nowhere near as talented as Toryn, or even Leon.
Something was off about him. She couldn’t put a finger on it. Isa looked into his captivating eyes and fought off a shiver of fear.
His smile was slow and seductive, his hands gliding down her back possessively. “You are so beautiful, princess.”
Her brow scrunched and she cocked her head. Beautiful? Princess? Hot, sexy, stunning maybe, but not beautiful. And seriously, what was with him calling her princess? Only Toryn got away with that. Her outfit was anything but classically beautiful. She wore a shimmery black mini-dress, thigh high boots, and more glitter than a Ke$ha video.
“Right, well, you’re quite attractive yourself,” she ventured.
His smile widened. The hair on the back of her neck stood up, and her skin tried to crawl away. Isa shoved aside the dread settling into the pit of her stomach. Toryn’s warning merely had her spooked.
There was one glaring problem. Toryn had the annoying habit of always being right. Always. If Blondy didn’t move so well, she would have walked away, or maybe ran, but a part of her was curious if he could kiss half as well as he could dance.
Yay for desperation, or maybe it was the thrill of danger. Perhaps she was simply a glutton for punishment. Then again, she was too damned desperate for a decent lay. Either way, she needed another drink and slipped out of his arms.
With a confident strut, she headed back to the bar, hoping to draw another man’s attention. Sliding into a stool, she asked for another double shot of Grey Goose.
Lana grinned wickedly, releasing her earlier claim, “I want to hear every detail tomorrow.”
Isa tossed back the booze, set down money and nodded before going back to the dance floor with the intention of finding any other man. She didn’t see Toryn or Leon anywhere, and before she could find a new potential partner, Blondy re-appeared.
* * * *
Toryn stood in the shadowy alley across the street from Shenanigans. He watched as the bastard groped and kissed on Isadora. “Do I stop it now? Or before closing?”
“She’s not going home with him.” Leon leaned against the opposite wall. “She wanted you to kiss her when I stepped up. I don’t know why you both keep fighting the attraction.”
“Yes you do. I can’t tell her the truth yet. How in the abyss do I tell her everything she knows about me is a lie?”
Leon laughed. “Not a lie. Omissions. You left out the past and a few details. Can’t tell me you don’t care about her, or you don’t need her, as much as you obviously love her.”
“Damn it, Leon. You don’t understand. How could you? If I go there, I will shatter every ounce of faith she’s ever invested in me. She’ll know everything. Everything. How is she supposed to forgive me?”
“She won’t have to because there is nothing to forgive. How many times have you swooped in and saved her? How many times did you keep her out of danger? She will understand. She isn’t like most of your kind. I still think you’re really afraid her family will keep you two apart.”
“Of course they will. And she hates who she’s promised to. How do I put a stop to their union? You know what he’s capable of.”
“She won’t marry him. She can’t stand the asshole.” Leon sighed. “She wants you, only you. You’ll find a way to keep her safe, and you will have her.” So much conviction in Leon’s tone, but Toryn didn’t agree.
“I don’t see how,” Toryn growled as he watched the blond piece of shit slide his palms inside the low back of her dress. She moved his hands away as he kissed down her throat. “I want to kill him.”
Leon chuckled. “You see the way she keeps looking around for an escape. She’ll wait until last call and then slip out. Hell, that’s what she’s been doing every night since Reese. She hasn’t had anyone since then, and the last man was a month before that. Isa wants you.”
“I don’t trust this fae. There is no reason for him to show up like this. No way it’s random, something else is going on,” Toryn muttered as he pulled his phone out and called Lonny, one of his trusted friends, and business partners.
It only rang once. “Hey man, what’s up?”
“I’m sending a picture. I’m hoping you know who this pig is. Something is going on, and I want to get to the bottom of it. I have a real bad feeling.”
“Let me guess, some fae asshole is on your girl?” Lonny chuckled but it ended on a breathless curse. “Shit, that’s Evanastie.”
“The Seducer?” Toryn clarified through gritted teeth. “The scum sucking piece of trash they send to awaken changelings?” He felt gut-punched as he kicked the wall. “I want to know who sent him, and I want his head. I don’t care who the fuck set this up, I’m taking him down, because no one is going to hurt Isadora on my watch.”
“We’re on it, we’ll find out what we can. Keep her safe, man.” Lonny hung up.
One of Leon’s brows rose. “You sure Henroyld isn’t responsible? Maybe he’s moving things forward.”
“Aeryana would have warned me. She wouldn’t want it done like this. Henroyld may be a world class piece of shit, but Aeryana would never allow this.”
“Would she necessarily know?”
Good question. Either way, while Isa was in the bar, she would be safe. Getting back before closing time was key, but he couldn’t stand there and watch this clusterfuck without going in and ripping Evan’s head off. Literally.
“Want company?” Leon asked casually.
“No. Not in the mood.”
“You could go get her now.”
“No. I don’t want to scare her. And you’re right. She’s been bailing on the men who pick her up before leaving for the night. I’ll let her handle this. She’s getting irritated and it would serve the prick right if she blasted his ass. I want to stay and watch, but that would lead to bloodshed before I have cause.”
Leon laughed out loud. “You take care.”
“Safe trip.” Toryn nodded, not taking his eyes off Isa as Leon headed for his car.