Nina: Ha. I have no plans for a nose ring or ink. But thanks for the specs compliments. BTW, I am shooting a couple today who met when he hit her car! I’m going to do my best to make zero jokes about being rear-ended.

Lily: LOL! Will that be hard for you, Nina?

Nina: Um what do you think? It’s a punny way to meet.

Lily: Especially if he tested out her new engine.

Nina: I bet he got it to rev.

Lily: And he probably took it for a joy ride.

Nina: With his stick shift.

Lily: OK, I must know. Where did you learn all the car innuendos?

Nina: Where did you, lady?

Lily: I pride myself on innuendo.

Nina: Ditto. See you this weekend. Until then, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Funny, I couldn’t toss out a comeback like that doesn’t leave me with much. Nina was innocent, though I suspected not in her head. I definitely wasn’t innocent there either. My thoughts remained a wild swirl, though I tried to focus the rest of the afternoon. That’s what I needed to do. My job.

After all, my focus had to remain on work, my wedding, my marriage.

Right now, I was nose to the grindstone on work, since I loved my job. I set my phone down and dove into my report for Sports Network on the looming major league trade deadline, then did some prep work for an upcoming conference I was leading in our hometown. I reached out to the sports agent I’d secured for the panel I was moderating this weekend.

I checked in with Ford Grayson in New York, making sure he was good to go.

But he picked up the phone, calling me back instead. That could only mean he was going to say no.

“Ford, don’t give me bad news,” I said.

“Me? Deliver bad news? Never. Never ever. I only come bearing excellent news.”

“Lay it on me.”

“I cannot grace you with my presence on the account of a prior commitment,” he said in his big, booming voice.

I laughed, shaking my head. “You’re just now remembering a prior commitment?”

“To my wife,” he said, sounding a little sheepish.

Well, that I understood. “Ford,” I teased. “Did someone forget an anniversary?”

“Not exactly. But I need to be in town for her,” he said, his voice a little vulnerable and instantly I understood. He’d made an offhand remark last time I saw him about him and his wife being ready for babies. I had a hunch they were going to be trying for one this weekend.

“Say no more. I forgive you. But who’s your substitute?”

“I have a fantastic replacement. None other than Josh Summers.”

I whistled my approval. Josh Summers was quite a win. He was one of the top agents in the country and having him on my panel along with Haven Delilah, a former Olympic gold medalist and also a rock star agent, was quite a feather in my cap. I planned to move her onto that panel now since she’d pair well with Summers.

“Then I fully accept you kicking yourself off the panel. Also,” I said, in a conspiratorial whisper, “Good luck this weekend.”

“Thanks, Lil,” he said, sweetly then we hung up.

I connected with Josh on the details, then I tapped out an email to Haven and hit send.

Dear Ms. Delilah,

I hope this note finds you well. We are so excited about your attendance at the upcoming sports marketing conference. We’ve had a few last-minute schedule changes, and I wanted to give you a heads-up that we will be moving you onto the Negotiation Skills panel. We have several other esteemed agents on it, including Josh Summers. Can you attend a prep session in advance? How about Friday evening? We could meet at the Lily Bar and Lounge. (No relation!)

All the best,

Lily Whiting

There.

I reflected on my day, seeing myself clearly.

Seeing who I was in this phase of my life.

Lily Whiting, a friend who gave fashion advice. Lily Whiting, a sports reporter who was professional and direct, outgoing and businesslike.

And Lily Whiting, who got along well with her business colleagues.

That was what the world saw. That’s who I was.

My truth.

And as I stared at the e-mail I’d just sent, it put my dirty thoughts into sharp relief.

How could I be the woman who interviewed athletes and general managers, invited top agents to intensive conferences, discussed the dynamics of the business of sports, but behind closed doors I was this . . . wild thing?

A wild thing who fantasized about trysts on balconies as strangers watched.

A voracious creature who loved to pretend she’d been bad, so bad, and needed to be punished with bites and swats and hair pulls so hard she screamed.

A woman who daydreamed about the sheer overwhelming intensity of two men taking her at the same time.

I had to reconcile these two sides of myself and the way to do it would have to be denying the after dark side.


Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic
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