When a man has a reputation to uphold, failure is not an option.
I inherited a life I never intended to live.
I’ve upheld my responsibilities admirably.
And I’ve taken care of my own needs privately…
I’m biding my time until I can get the hell out of here.
But I didn’t count on having unfinished business
With one of my very best friends…
When a man has a certain “reputation” to uphold,
There can be no unhappy customers left behind.
Lauren is a loose end that won’t be tied up no matter how hard I try.
And I try hard. Really, really… hard.
Sex God, a stand-alone contemporary romance, is the much-anticipated follow-up to Sex Machine.
SIGNED PRINT EDITION
By Marie Force
“I married the first man who made me come,” Lauren says matter-of-factly, “and we all know how that turned out.”
The chicken wing I’m about to stuff in my face is now suspended in midair as her words sink into my sex-starved brain. “Wayne Peterson was the first guy to make you come?”
“Don’t judge me.” She licks the barbecue sauce from her wing before she takes a dainty bite. I’m fascinated by the way she eats a wing without getting even a smudge of sauce on her lips, whereas I feel like I’ve taken a bath in the stuff. “I didn’t even know what an orgasm was until Wayne gave me one.”
Fascinated, I lean in closer. “How’d he do it?”
“Tongue,” she says, also leaning in so she can’t be overheard. In Marfa, Texas, someone is always listening. “I also didn’t know people did…that…until Wayne did it to me.”
This makes me laugh because she’s so damned cute as she says it. “I was fourteen when I caught Tommy going down on Debbie in the basement family room. I had no idea what they were doing until I saw his tongue out and his face all slimy. She was squealing like a pig and pulling his hair. I thought it was the grossest thing I’d ever seen.”
She sputters with laughter. “Oh my God! Did he know you saw them?”
“Nope.” My brother, three years older than me, surely would’ve killed me, if for no other reason than I’d gotten an eyeful of his precious Debbie’s bush and tits. They’ve been married close to ten years now and live in California, which means all the responsibility for my dad’s business, our mother and younger siblings falls to me while my older brother lives large on the West Coast. That’s a sore subject I try not to think too much about.
“Well, you were way ahead of me in figuring that one out.”
Since she never, ever talks about the ex-husband who knocked her around on his way out of town to parts unknown, I take this opportunity to dig a little deeper. “So before it went bad with him, it was good?”
“Nah, it was never good. I think he made me come three times in total. He was always an asshole, but he didn’t become a violent asshole until six months after I made the huge mistake of marrying him.”
The thought of gigantic Wayne Peterson getting rough with tiny Lauren makes me fucking furious. “I hope you know there’re a lot of guys in this town who’d love five minutes alone in a room with that son of a bitch.”
She takes a drink from her bottle of Bud, her eyes shining warmly at me. “You’re very sweet to say so.”
“I mean it. If I ever lay eyes on that asshole again, I’ll show him what it feels like to get the shit kicked out of him.” And I could do it, too. I might push paper for a living, but I work out like a fiend. That’s one of several ways I deal with the stress of being stuck in a life I never signed on for.
“How’d we get on this subject anyway?” she asks after a long silence.
With Lauren, silence is always comfortable. Neither of us feels the need to fill the void with pointless chatter. Our friendship is like a well-oiled machine, except in the bedroom, where it all fell apart the one time we tried to take this flirtation-slash-slow-burn-slash-unfulfilled-desire-that-is-ever-present between us to the next level.
How do you spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r?
Until that night six months ago, I hadn’t known it was possible to do sex wrong. I don’t like to brag, but the word “god” has often been used regarding my abilities between the sheets. Until I took Lauren to bed, I’d been the recipient of an endless streak of five-star reviews on my performance. But lo and behold, it’s actually possible to get it so wrong you aren’t sure if you’ll ever again be able to look at the woman you’ve lusted after for years—while telling yourself you’re “just” friends—in the aftermath of such calamity.
“I have no idea how we got on this subject,” I reply as I shake off the disturbing memories.
“We were talking about orgasms,” she reminds me.
The word “orgasms” reminds me of the dreadful encounter that threw a bucket of ice on our longtime slow burn for each other. There were no orgasms that night. “You’re talking orgasms. I’m trying to eat my wings.” Thank God we were able to salvage the friendship that means so much to both of us, not to mention our group of mutual friends.
Her best friend, Honey, got together with my close friend Blake last year, and they’d love to see us together, too. That isn’t going to happen, but beer and wings on Mondays? That happens every week without fail. If I find myself living for Monday, well…
She laughs at my comment about trying to eat my wings. I love the sound of her laugh. There’s something earthy and sexy and dirty about it. In truth, I love everything about her. I love the curly blonde hair that would look messy on another woman but suits her to perfection. I love her big brown eyes and how she’s so honest that when she tries to lie about anything, she cries. I love that she spends as much time at the gym as I do and has the biceps to prove it. I adore the piercings that line her left ear and the butterfly tattoos that covers scars we never talk about on her inner wrists.
She loves butterflies. They’re all over her house and the flower shop that she owns in town. They’re sort of her trademark, along with the bright colors that decorate her and her surroundings. Tonight she’s wearing a frilly orange top with white short-shorts. Not that I noticed her awesome legs and ass on the way in or anything…
The other thing I absolutely love about her is the way she looks at me as if I’m the guy she’d want if she could have her pick of all the men in the world. If I were looking for a forever kind of woman, Lauren would be at the top of my list of candidates. In fact, she’d be the only candidate. But the last thing I want, after years of endless responsibility, is a serious relationship or anything that would permanently tie me to Marfa. She owns a home and a business here. Getting involved with Lauren on a more serious level than as best friends would definitely tie me to Marfa, and that’s my biggest hesitation where she’s concerned.
“Sometimes, I think it’s me,” she says softly. “Like there’s something wrong with me.”
This stuns me even more than hearing Wayne fucking Peterson was the first guy to make her come. “What do you mean?”
She looks so defeated that I want to reach across the table to offer comfort, but I can’t seem to move my arms or anything else for that matter. “When a girl starts to string together enough disastrous sexual encounters, she begins to wonder if she’s the problem.”
“That’s ridiculous. It’s not you. You’re just picking the wrong guys.”
She gives me a look filled with skepticism. “Including you?”
I’m riveted by the first mention either of us has made of that awful night when everything that could go wrong did. “That was an off night, and it was more my fault than yours.”
She sweeps away my comment with her hand. “You’re just saying that because you’re a good friend, and you’re trying to make me feel better.”
“That is not why I said it, and it was my fault.”
“Why do you think that?” she asks, looking adorably perplexed.
I’ve given this a lot of thought in the months that have passed since that night, and I’ve come to some conclusions. “First of all, I was freaked out about ruining our friendship, which messed with my head. Both of them, actually. Second, we did it all wrong.”
“There’s a wrong way?” she asks, her brows rising in amazement.
“Hell yes, there’s a wrong way. We rushed over the preliminaries. I didn’t take my time. I got naked with you five minutes after the first time I kissed you. That’s not how it should be done when two people have as much history between them as we do.”
The truth of the matter is I’d wanted her naked and horizontal in a bed with me for so long that when opportunity knocked the first time, I pounced like a hormonal teenage boy rather than the experienced man that I am. I’ve sorely regretted that ever since—even more so now that I know she’s been blaming herself. “It shouldn’t have happened that way. You deserve so much better than what you got from me. I think you are…”
“What?” she asks again in that sweet, sexy tone. “What am I?”
“You’re everything,” I whisper gruffly.
“Except compatible with you in bed,” she reminds me with the kind of bluntness I expect from her. We talk about everything. See Exhibit A above—orgasms.
I clear my throat and decide to take a dive that’s been six long, torturous months in the making, since the ill-fated night with her put a serious hit on my sexual GPA. “I really think we ought to try again.” I actually hadn’t had that thought until I heard that she thinks she’s the problem. I absolutely can’t have her thinking that when it’s not true. Before I pick up stakes and head out of this godforsaken town, I need to prove otherwise to her, if it’s the last thing I do.
Before the words are even all the way out of my mouth, her head is shaking—and not in a good way. “I can’t bear to be humiliated like that again.”
“I like to think we were equally humiliated, and at the end of the day, it’s just me and you here, Lauren.”
“And maybe we’re better as best friends.”
“I’m not ready to accept that after one failed attempt.”
“Garrett…” The pleading edge to her voice makes me feel like an ass for forcing her to talk about it. “We were so lucky to get past that and to put this back on track.” She gestures to the plate of wings and the bottles of beer on the table.
Forgetting where we are and that half the town is probably watching, I reach across the table for her hand. I need to touch her. For the longest time, she’s been the brightest light in my life. Why? I can’t say exactly. Except for the one night we tried to have more, we’ve only ever been the best of friends. All I know is that I can’t leave her with any thoughts of her own inadequacy—especially if I’ve contributed to them in any way. “Give me one week to prove it’s not you. That’s all I’m asking.”
“But what if we really are better off as friends than…”
She cringes and wrinkles her cute little nose. “That’s such a gross word.”
Laughing, I say, “What would you call it?”
“Friends with benefits?”
“I can live with that description. I want another chance, Lauren. Let me show you what can happen when we savor rather than devour.”
She draws in a shaky-sounding deep breath, and her face flushes with a rosy glow that has my cock stirring.
“What do you say?”
She takes a drink from her beer bottle. Even that seems insanely sexy in light of our conversation. “How would it work, this so-called week where you prove it’s not me?” Is her voice huskier than usual, or is that wishful thinking on my part?
I’ve thought about what went wrong that night from every possible angle, and I’ve realized that a longer, more drawn-out seduction is what we should’ve done then—and it’s what we’ll do this time, if she gives me another chance. “You’d have to trust me with the details. I wouldn’t want you to worry about anything. Leave it all to me.”
“Under one condition.”
“No matter what happens, you promise me we’ll still have this after.” Again, she gestures to the wings and beers, acting as a metaphor for our friendship.
“You have my word. Do I have yours?” I want her to know the friendship is as important to me as it is to her. “No matter what happens, we still have this?”
“Is that a yes, then?”
She nods. “I’m willing to try again if you’re so sure it won’t be another disaster.”
I’m not sure of anything other than I want another chance. “Tomorrow night, I’ll pick you up at seven. I want you to wear the sexiest dress you own with nothing under it. Oh, and heels. I want some sky-high heels, too. Can you do that?”
Her mouth drops open in shock. I can’t wait to see those plump lips wrapped around my cock. We didn’t get to that the first time around. We’ll definitely get there next time. “Lauren?”
“Um, yes, okay. I can do that.”
I signal for our check, throw a fifty on it and stand to leave. We came separately, but next time, we’ll come together. I almost laugh at my own joke. Bending, I brush a kiss over her rosy cheek. “See you tomorrow.”
After I leave her, I wonder how long she sat there with her mouth hanging open over my audacious instructions. I can’t wait for tomorrow night.
I have a confession to make. I fucking hate Marfa. Sure, it was an okay place to grow up, but it was never my plan to be stuck in the middle of buttfuck nowhere West Texas as an adult. We’re three hours to El Paso to the west, five, six and eight hours respectively to San Antonio, Austin and Houston to the east, and seven and a half hours to Dallas to the north. In short, Marfa is next to nothing but wide-open desert.
I went to college at Texas A&M, eight hours from Marfa in College Station, between Austin and Houston, and spent many a wild weekend in both cities. At the end of my senior year, I was entertaining job offers in several big Texas cities when the unthinkable happened. My dad dropped dead at work.
He was so proud of me for following him into accounting and boasted of my three-point-nine GPA to all his colleagues. We were consulting daily about the job offers I’d received and had narrowed it down to an oil company and a Fortune 500 corporation with offices all over the world. The plan was to start “local,” meaning anywhere in Texas, and end up somewhere awesome. Dad was pushing me in the corporate direction over the always-volatile oil industry.
Until one night he didn’t come home from work on time, and my mom went looking for him. She found him hunched over his desk, his body already cold and rigid. An autopsy determined he’d been dead about three hours by the time she found him.
Just that quickly, my plans changed, and all my choices were taken from me along with the father I worshipped. I did what was expected—and desperately needed—by coming home to run my father’s local accounting business, the same business that supported my mom and the three younger siblings who were heading to college in the next few years.
This is one of many reasons I resent my older brother, who has been more than happy to leave all the responsibility for our family to good old Garrett while he and his wife, Debbie, have the time of their lives in California, or so it seems to me from the pictures they post constantly on Facebook. Every one of those pictures made me want to rip his face off for the first couple of years after my dad died, until I decided to let go of the bitterness that was eating me up inside. It wasn’t Tommy’s fault that our father died, or that I was the most qualified to take over the family business. At least, that’s what I tell myself so I won’t actually murder him on one of his infrequent visits.
Six years later, I’ve gotten an MBA through an online program and tripled the annual gross revenue of my father’s small-town practice. I act as chief financial officer and/or controller for most of the major businesses in town. Ever since my father died, I’ve had the same plan—get my younger siblings through college, set my mom up for retirement, sell the business to some enterprising CPA looking to step into a successful practice, and then finally go see to the plans that were put on hold for six long years.
Last year, my staff of seven and I cleared a million dollars in net revenue. For the non-accountants out there, that’s after expenses. That cool million means I have the tuition I need for my sisters and can set my mom up royally. This week I got a phone call from a headhunter I’ve been working with for a year as I test the waters to see what else might be out there for me now that I’ve fulfilled my obligations to my family. He’s set up an interview with a huge tech company in Austin for this weekend, and he said they want me bad. It sure does feel good to be wanted.
I’d be on my way out of Marfa forever if it wasn’t for one small, niggling detail named Lauren Davies, who also happens to own one of the few businesses in Marfa that doesn’t use the services of Garrett McKinley, CPA.
I’ve had my theories as to why, theories that were confirmed on that one ill-fated night we spent in her bed in which everything that could go wrong did. She confessed that the chemistry that’s always simmered on a low boil between us stopped her from hiring me to handle her accounting. Turns out, that was probably a savvy move on her part, because the first time we decided to test that chemistry in the lab, so to speak, we created a disaster of epic proportions. I shudder thinking about my first-ever case of performance anxiety that led to one fumbling attempt after another to successfully close the deal.
Ugh. I can’t bear to remember it. Except… One shining memory stands out in a sea of things I’d rather forget—the visual of Lauren’s spectacular naked body that is so seared into my brain it’ll never be forgotten.
As I sit in the office in the much larger building I moved the business to three years after dad died, visions of naked Lauren dance like sugarplums through my addled brain, especially after last night’s conversation about orgasms. Thinking about giving her an orgasm has me hard as concrete in my office, in the middle of the freaking workday.
If I made a spreadsheet of Lauren’s attributes, it would look something like this:
- Smooth, lightly tanned skin.
- Big, full breasts with light brown nipples made for sucking.
- A flat, toned belly.
- Endless, sexy legs.
- A completely bare pussy (or as I like to think of it—the frosting on a delicious piece of cake).
- A perfect ass that makes me want to grab on and do dirty, dirty things.
- Gorgeous brown eyes.
- Curly blonde hair that I want to wrap around my hands when I fuck her from behind.
- A mouth made for sin, and I have a few specific sins in mind when it comes to her luscious mouth.
Total = Perfection.
I lick my lips as I catalog every spectacular detail of her stunning body. Of course, I’ve always known she’s hot as fuck. We grew up together. I’ve seen her in everything from a bikini to a prom gown to the shortest of skirts and the highest of heels. But seeing her in absolutely nothing was a revelation. Literally. And figuratively. I’m never sure of the proper use of those two words, so let me sum it up—Lauren Davies is a literal and figurative smoking-hot babe.
Tonight I’m going to prove to her that her challenges with guys have nothing at all to do with her and everything to do with them. Once I get her feeling better about herself, I’m so outta here.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
~ Calvin Coolidge