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Katheryn Wallis at Ellora's Cave
Sizzling hot contemporary m/f/m erotic romance
Edmonton cop Jack has one rule for dating - don't get emotionally involved. A string of short-term flings leaves him dissatisfied, though, and he starts to envy his partner, Jeremy, who's been dating curvy red-haired Caitlin for a year.
Then Jack glimpses something forbidden - and realizes a glimpse is not enough.
For Caitlin and Jeremy, letting Jack watch began as an accident and became a game. But they soon realize the game has high stakes - and threatens to tear them apart forever.
Jeremy doesn't want to lose his best friend, but what will he have to sacrifice to keep Jack around? Caitlin knows what she wants, but getting it might destroy everything. And Jack may have come second, but he won't settle for second best. He started out just watching. Now he wants it all.
They didn’t talk sports all night, but the subject had come up often enough that Travis’ girlfriend Cindy probably would have been bored if she’d been there, Jack reflected as the party wound down several hours later. So would Leanne, and Rachel and all the other girls Jack had dated over the past year, he mused. Well, that was one nice thing about being single again—he had more time to spend with his friends, doing things they enjoyed.
On the other hand, though, Jack couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to still be dating the same girl after such a long time. Jeremy and Caitlin had recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, while Jack’s longest relationship had lasted just over eight months. It had ended when his girlfriend had dumped him for some financial executive with a two-hundred-dollar haircut, a Cadillac Escalade and a timeshare in Florida.
Jack tried not to think about that day, but the memory always seemed to be there, waiting just under the surface, ready to remind him that people were not what they seemed and he couldn’t trust anyone who seemed to care about him.
He had listened in stunned disbelief as Angela, his tall, willowy, raven-haired girlfriend, explained she was leaving him for someone else, unable to reconcile the cold, distant stranger telling him goodbye with the woman he’d loved. The woman he’d thought had loved him back. Apparently, as it turned out, he hadn’t even known her.
Since that day, almost a year ago now, Jack had had a string of brief hookups, none lasting longer than two or three weeks. His friends had started teasing him about his conquests-of-the-week, and Jack played along, professing to enjoy his carefree, playboy lifestyle. But in truth, Jack admitted to himself, it was getting old. Having no strings was great, and it made sense—as he told himself repeatedly—since the easiest way to avoid getting burned was to avoid any emotional attachment. But sense or not, it was also getting pretty damn lonely. Lately, he often caught himself watching Jeremy and Caitlin together, and wistfully wondering what it would be like to have a girl like her.
Speaking of his friends, Jack realized, no one else was in the living room. Travis was in the kitchen, crumpling empty pizza boxes by the sound of it. Mike and Kristy had left right after supper, Mike heading home to get ready for his night shift. They’d offered to drive Jack home then, but Jack had declined, not wanting to leave yet. Probably should’ve taken a ride while I had the chance, Jack thought now. He’d had at least two beers too many to drive himself home.
He rose to his feet, grabbing a couple of empty bottles and some dirty dishes to take to the kitchen. “Whoa, make that three too many,” Jack mumbled to himself, as he bumped into the couch on his way.
“Jack! I thought you were asleep.” Jeremy laughed, appearing from the hallway with a plastic bag half full of bottles and other returnable containers.
“Not yet,” Jack said, handing the bottles to Jeremy and the dishes to Travis, who was now loading the dishwasher. “But I would like to crash on the couch, if you guys don’t mind.”
“’Course not,” Jeremy said. “I’ll get you some blankets.”
“Oh hey, Jack.” That was Caitlin’s voice, and Jack turned—a bit unsteadily—to see Caitlin in the kitchen doorway. She’d changed into one of Jeremy’s t-shirts. It came down to her knees, hanging baggy and shapeless, but the sight of her smooth calves and bare feet, and the hint of nipples through the thin fabric suggesting that she wore no bra, made it a sexy outfit nonetheless. “Are you sleeping over?”
“Yep,” Jack said. He watched as Jeremy brushed past Caitlin, with a smile and a brief squeeze, on his way to the linen closet.
Caitlin gave Jeremy a saucy wink, then turned back to Jack, smiling. “Any chance you could make pancakes in the morning, then? Your pancakes are awesome.”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Jack said, surprised and pleased. Jeremy and Caitlin had crashed at his and Mike’s place one night, after a similar party, and he’d made brunch for everyone the next day. That had been about six months ago. Caitlin had complimented his cooking at the time, but he hadn’t expected her to remember it all this time later.
“If he’s not too hung over to cook,” Travis amended, closing the dishwasher and turning it on.
“And if we’re not too hung over to eat,” Jeremy added, returning with an armful of bedding.
“Well, you won’t be,” Jack teased, following Jeremy into the living room. “You’re so huge, you never get that drunk.”
His hulking partner laughed easily. “Hey, I resemble that remark.”
Jeremy helped Jack make up the couch, and then he and Caitlin said good night, heading around the corner and down the hall to Jeremy’s bedroom. Travis went to his own room as well, leaving Jack alone in the dim living room.
Jack looked at the couch, but hesitated. He felt wide awake for the moment, and a bit too warm. The living room was stuffy. He slid open the glass door to the balcony, and then, as the cool night breeze rushed in, he decided to spend some time in the fresh air.
First, though, he visited the washroom, changing into an old pair of sweats Jeremy had offered him for pajamas, and then got himself a glass of water, icy cold from the filtered pitcher in the fridge.
Jack slipped quietly out onto the balcony, sipping his water. It had been a warm day for mid-October in Edmonton, over twenty-five degrees Celsius, but with the setting of the sun the temperature had dropped rapidly into the single digits and the night air was brisk and refreshing. In the orange streetlights the tree branches, some already bare of leaves, looked lacy and delicate.
The apartment complex was mostly dark, only a handful of windows lit. Jack wondered idly who else was awake at this hour—now almost 2 a.m.—and what they were doing. The flickering blue light coming from one window across the courtyard and down two floors suggested that someone was watching TV. Also across the way, three units to Jack’s right and one floor up, a woman stood silently smoking on her balcony. She wore a tank top and pajama bottoms, and her hair hung long over her shoulders. It was probably brown, but in the glare from the streetlights it had an auburn tint, reminding him of Caitlin’s glossy red waves.
The woman took a final drag and pitched the butt over the railing into the parking lot below, then went back into her apartment. Jack wondered if she knew that she lived across from a couple of cops. She could be ticketed for littering—or even damage to property if her lit cigarette butts damaged any cars below. At least there was no grass in the courtyard lot to catch fire.
The lights in the woman’s apartment went out, and Jack, now starting to shiver in the cold air, turned to go back inside himself. But he noticed a slight movement out of the corner of his eye and paused. Not sure what had caught his attention, Jack took a few steps to his right, his bare feet making no sound on the rough concrete. There was a faint shadow on the wall at the far end of the balcony. It was moving slightly, up and down, and it was this almost rhythmic motion that had caught his eye.
He turned to look for the object casting the shadow and stopped, stunned. He was now standing in front of Jeremy’s bedroom window, and through a small gap in the curtains he could see Caitlin and Jeremy on the king-size bed. Jeremy, bare-chested, sat propped against the wall at the head of the bed, and Caitlin lay on her stomach between his outflung legs.