Adam was turning me on in ways I’d never anticipated.

But dirty words weren’t enough. Sharing desires wasn’t sufficient either.

I needed to know we’d be okay. I needed to be certain we’d stay friends. That mattered more than this exquisite ache between my legs.

“But what happens to us?” I asked, while I longed to grab the counter, bend my body into an L, and beg him to yank down my jeans.

“What happens after dark, stays after dark,” he said, a play on the city’s famous motto. “Sex is sex, and friendship is friendship, and we call the shots. We set the ground rules. Here’s mine: Consent comes first. You come second, third, fourth, and many more times. You come hard, you come relentlessly, you come when I say you come, you come again and again on my face, on my cock, on your toys, tied up, pushed down, with my fingers in you, however the hell you want. Then I come. Then we stay friends. How’s that for ground rules?”

I quivered, and the ache between my legs turned into a throb. A demanding, heavy throb that insisted on being answered.

Maybe Adam was in the cards.

Maybe he was all the cards.

“Promise we stay friends?” I asked, my voice featherlight and laced with burgeoning desire—desire I hadn’t seen coming. Desire I’d never expected.

What was happening to me? Had Evangeline and Marco’s passion unleashed a lust monster in me? Had Aphrodite done this? Sent my fantasies into overdrive with my best guy friend?


Charming, clever, thoughtful Adam.

Adam was the guy next door.

But tonight, he was the man gripping my hip, digging his fingers hard into my flesh.

My cells cried out for his touch.

For his command.

And for his rough edge that I hadn’t known existed.

He was showing it to me, just as I was revealing to him my secrets. He hadn’t asked either—hadn’t inquired why I was a virgin. It wasn’t a state secret, but I didn’t want to serve up my choices at this moment. I’d share that story with him another time.

“Damn straight we stay friends,” he growled. “Isn’t that what we were at dinner? Isn’t that what we are all the time?”

“Yes. Yes, we are,” I said with no reservations.

“And do you trust me?”

I blinked. “How can you ask me that? You have a key to my home. I trust you completely.”

His shoulders relaxed. “Good. I always want to be the man you trust. And that’s the kind of man you need for number ten.”

“That is what I need.” I took a beat, considering the enormity of the step we were taking. But then, everything made perfect sense. I didn’t want a stranger. I didn’t want a hookup. I wanted to feel safe as I explored. “So that’s it? Those are the rules of engagement for my sex list?” I asked, because my logical brain liked to raise its hand at the most inopportune moments.

Like when Adam’s thick erection pressed against my ass. The weight of his hard-on even through all these layers of clothing was intense.

“Those are the rules of engagement for your dirty, delicious, enticing, sexy-as-sin list. Unless you have any you want to add,” he said, then rubbed the scruff of his jaw against my cheek.

My body screamed for contact. My mind loved the way he’d elaborated on my list, how he’d referred to it.

But there was one more rule to establish. “Protection,” I whispered.

“I have condoms. We’ll use them every time. No questions asked,” he said, and I smiled privately.

I loved that he assumed I wasn’t on protection already. If I were him, I’d assume that too. “I’m on protection and have been for years.”

“You are?” His tone was laced with question. Understandably. But now was not the time to dive into why.

“Yes. If you’re clean we don’t have to use condoms,” I said. “Are you? Have you been tested?”

His groan lasted for several carnal seconds. “I am. Clean bill of health at my last physical. I haven’t been with anyone since.”

I broke the hold he had on my hip. I spun around and took a few steps backward to the kitchen counter, feeling naughty, daring.

From a few feet away, I stared at my friend with new eyes, drinking in the cut of his jaw, the fire in his eyes, the expanse of his hard chest.

My eyes roamed over him. He was fully dressed, but fully revealed too. The outline of his arousal was visible through his pants. Thick and firm.

My mouth watered as I stared at the shape of it.

But tonight I wanted something else.

Something for me.

I didn’t need to start at the beginning of my list. The first three items set the tone. I’d cross them off as I worked through the others.

I knew where to start.

“Okay, then. Now that we’ve tackled the rules of engagement, I’d like to try number four, please.”

Tags: Lauren Blakely The Gift Erotic