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Authors: Zoe Mullins

A Risk Worth Taking

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A Risk Worth Taking

Zoë Mullins

 

For the last year, Fiona and Matt have been
inseparable. He is the calm to her storm and she is head-over-heels in love
with him. The only downside? Rumors that Matt and his best friend, Travis, used
to share everything, including their dates. This wasn’t an issue when Travis lived
two thousand miles away, but now Travis is back in town.

Travis knows coming home and seeing Matt in
a new relationship won’t be easy. Fiona is witty and sassy, and good god but
she has the most amazing body. Seriously, how is Travis supposed to resist when
Matt keeps suggesting having both of them in his bed? He isn’t thinking
straight when he finally agrees—of course he wants to share Fiona with Matt. Travis
expects her to say hell no, but then he sees the spark of interest in her eye.

Reader Advisory: This story has graphic sexual language and
scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!

 

An
adult contemporary romance
from Ellora’s Cave

 

A Risk Worth Taking
Zoë Mullins
Chapter One

 

Fiona stirred on the lounger, still half asleep from the
short nap she’d been able to steal in the sun this afternoon. She had heard the
guys arrive home about a half hour ago, but it wasn’t until they had moved into
the kitchen that she could caught the faintest whisper of their conversation. And
what they discussed caused her heart to skip a beat.

They were standing by the kitchen window, which opened onto
the balcony. Matt’s excited voice carried a little more than Travis’. “I knew
you couldn’t shake your head and ignore the offer forever.”

“Not when you made the same damn offer every single day,”
Travis drawled. His voice was deeper than Matt’s and he had a way of dragging
out the syllables that bespoke of the last two years he’d spent living out
west.

“Persistence pays off.” Fiona heard what sounded like two
beer bottles cracking together. They were toasting something.

“The one thing I don’t know is what your Fi will think of
all this.” Travis turned and looked out at her through the window. She could
see him clearly through the curtain of her hair but he didn’t know that.

“In all the times I offered, did she once protest?” Matt
asked. “No. She squirmed on my lap and her pussy got wet.”

“There’s a difference between fantasy and reality,” Travis
reminded him. “When you tell her that I’m taking you up on your offer to fuck
her, she may not be as welcoming as you expect.”

Hell no,
Fiona thought, even as a flush stole over
her body. She’d put up with Matt’s jokes and tried hard to ignore them, mostly
because they left her hot and flustered. Damn it. Matt was right. The idea made
her wet. She sighed.

At just over six foot, Travis was a little taller than Matt,
and more gym-rat fit where Matt was runner-lean. Travis was naturally fairer
skinned, though he tanned well from all the time he had spent outdoors. As if
part of his outdoor persona, he had a light scruffy beard, just a little too long
to be a five-o’clock shadow. His sandy-brown hair was shaved short whereas Matt
left his dark curls long, shaggy.

Fiona smiled as she thought of the hundred or more times a
day Matt would run his hand back through his hair to get it out of his eyes. His
dark eyes were always alight with laughter. She bit her lip. That was the most striking
dissimilarity between the two men. Their eyes. Travis’ eyes were a startling
cerulean blue. They didn’t laugh though, not often. They reviewed and
evaluated, and kept a constant watch on every situation.

She supposed that was part of his job. Two years ago, Travis
had taken a transfer out west with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. When they
said you had to move, you moved, and there was very little room for
negotiation. As much as Travis had always wanted to be a cop, Fiona knew it
hadn’t occurred to him he’d have to leave the area. When an opening came up on
the regional force, he’d applied, and it had brought him back home.

It wasn’t as prestigious. They managed a large territory
along the coast, but in matters of forensics and capital crime, they had to
partner with the RCMP and they tended to look down on “the locals” as if they
hadn’t quite made the cut. Despite the fact most of them were ex-RCMP.

It hadn’t been an easy transition and Fiona was glad Matt
had opened their home to him for the first few weeks of Travis’ return as he
waited for his condo purchase to close. His unit was two floors below their
own, and despite having moved in a month ago, she knew he had barely unpacked.
He still spent most of his free time here, with them. Whether that was showing
up for breakfast, or showing up to help her paint the living room, he had
become a fixture in their lives, and she liked it.

She had come to know that she’d need to put enough pasta on
for three, or buy three steaks at the butcher shop instead of two. They did
almost everything together, except when it was time to go to bed. She bit her
lip to stifle a groan.

Behind Matt’s laughing eyes, he could be a devious bastard.
The first time Matt had made the offer was two weeks before Travis had moved
into his own place. They had been up late watching movies and had had a couple
of beers.

Fiona had been curled up in Matt’s arms, his hands stroking
her hair and shoulders. He was forever touching her. She had burrowed her head
against the crook of his shoulder and had been lulled by the sound of his voice
as it reverberated through his chest while he and Travis had talked. She hadn’t
been asleep, but she hadn’t been awake either.

“She is as lovely as you said she was,” Travis had told him.

“I told you she was.” Matt’s hand had drifted down the curve
of her neck, sliding along the V-neck T-shirt.

“I’m glad you found her.” Travis had almost sounded sad.

“I literally tripped over her at the clinic.” She had heard
the laugh in Matt’s voice. He was always on the move, like a border collie, and
had run into her and then fallen over her as she was waiting with one of her
players at his physiotherapy office. “She’s very protective of her players and
wanted to make sure she knew what the care requirements were.”

“She’s a dynamo out on the court,” Travis had agreed, having
come to one of her team’s volleyball games the week before.

“I think I’m in love with her.” That was the first time she
had heard Matt admit it and her stomach had done a happy flip.

“That’s a shame.”

“Why?” Matt’s hand had slipped beneath the neck of her
shirt, cupping her breast, his calloused thumb grazing over her nipple.
“Because you think that will keep you out of our bed?”

“Won’t it?”

She had waited for Matt to respond, hopeful that he hadn’t
realized she had forgotten to breathe. “You think I won’t want to share? I
won’t loan her to you?”

“She’s not for sale, but you’ll consider renting?”

I’ll consider renting. That had become the joke. Matt would
wink at Travis and say, “I’ll consider renting.”

And now Travis was ready to take him up on his offer. What
did that mean?

Fuck, fuck, fuck!
she cursed silently. She had heard
the rumors even before she had started dating Matt. That they were best friends
who had shared everything. She knew that when Travis had taken the posting out
west, Matt had offered to go with him, despite being in the middle of opening
his physiotherapy practice. After seeing them together, she believed Matt would
have packed up, left everything if only Travis had asked.

But he hadn’t asked and she had met Matt ten months later.
It had taken more than a year of coaxing to get him to trust her with his
heart. It had been worth it, because when Matt loved, he loved with his whole
soul. She was just as sure of his friendship and loyalty as she was of his
desire for her. He wouldn’t risk that for anyone, except Travis.

It was a hard truth to swallow. Sure the rumors had
intrigued her, and part of her wanted to see where this insanity could lead,
because she thought it could be delicious. But she was also scared of losing
what she’d built with Matt if, or more likely when, it all went wrong.

Insanity,
she thought as she sat up on the lounger,
pretending she had just woken up and hadn’t heard the conversation. She slipped
her sundress back on over her swimsuit and headed toward the patio doors.

“Hey guys,” she said brightly. “So what’s on for dinner
tonight?”

 

Travis nearly choked on his beer. She thought she was going
to get away with that? He was so attuned to her body that she hadn’t a hope of
hiding the fact she had heard them.

He had seen the way her shoulders had tensed when she had
realized what they were talking about. He had met her gaze through the window.
Did she hope he hadn’t seen her watching them through that cascade of chestnut
curls? Hardly. He knew the cause of that flush across her neck and chest.

One look at Matt said that he had seen it too. Matt, whose
body was always in motion, was calm. His goofy grin said he was sure he was
finally going to get what he wanted, even if Travis had made him wait.

“I thought we could go down to Pisces.” Matt told her,
putting down his beer, and wrapping her in his arms. She smiled up into his
face, clearly eager for his kiss. As Matt’s lips settled over hers, her eyes
darted toward Travis. She looked at him warily for a moment before melting into
Matt’s arms.

Yeah, right, he had made Matt wait. Travis was about fucking
ready to beg to be a part of that. They were so beautiful together.

Fiona was small but not delicate. She was strong and had the
kind of fuck-me curves he had beat off to since he was a teenager. Round hips,
slim waist, and breasts that would fill his palms. He loved that she wore her hair
long. When she tilted her head back to look up at Matt, it nearly reached her
ass.

Matt was no slouch either when it came to looks. He was nearly
six-feet tall and in peak condition. He ran and he biked, two things Travis had
to be dragged kicking and screaming to do. Matt’s dark hair had taken on a
sheen of red highlights from the time they’d spent together outside this
summer. And of course, one thing he could not forget about Matt, was that he knew
how to kiss.

Fiona licked her lips. “Excellent idea. I’ll go change.”

She darted from the kitchen, probably excited for anything
that got them out of the condo and into a public space.

“This isn’t going to work.” He looked at Matt seriously.
“She’s too into you.”

Matt hung his head back, looking up at the ceiling as if he
were asking the heavens to give him answers. Or strength. Travis had seen him
do the same thing often. Finally, after seemingly receiving the answers he
sought, Matt looked at him.

“Yes she is, and I’m into her.” He crossed the kitchen and
wrapped one hand around Travis’ neck. It was one of the first times since he
had come back that Matt had dared to touch him in something more than a
platonic, one-of-the-boys kind of way.

“And I have never wanted to share someone with you more than
I want to share her with you.”

He wanted to believe Matt. But he had been seriously thrown
to see Matt look at Fiona the way he used to only look at him.

“So what if this time she’s my girl not yours.” Matt
whispered, close enough to him now that Travis could feel his breath light
against his cheek. “She can be ours.” Matt’s eyes gleamed mischievously.

Travis couldn’t resist. He cupped his friend behind the neck
and pulled him the few inches closer he needed to be. He took his mouth in a
savage kiss, which Matt fought for all of five seconds before sinking into it,
opening his mouth and letting Travis plunder. Travis needed this, to take back
the control and to feel Matt give in. Matt always gave in.

It had been a hard two years, being nearly two thousand
miles apart. There had been no promises between them. No declarations of
undying love. They were best friends, sometimes lovers, usually with a woman
between them. And Matt was right, it was most often Travis’ woman, as though he
lured Matt to his bed through the woman, not because they both wanted to be
there.

“Do you know how long I’ve waited for you to kiss me?” Matt
asked him, pulling away, wiping his lips. “You’ve been home nearly three
months.”

“Eight-eight days,” Travis grumbled as he scrubbed a hand
over his face. “We said this would end if we ever fell in love with someone.”

“I was always in love with someone,” Matt said, his eyes
narrowing on Travis. “Now I’m in love with her too.”

Travis looked away, staring at the floor for a minute. He
had to pull himself together if this was going to work. He was actually happy
when his cell phone rang. He answered it, walking away from Matt to the living
room. The precinct wanted him in tonight. Awesome. Just what he needed, another
shift.

He walked back into the kitchen where Fi had joined Matt.
Their heads were bent close together as they looked at the newspaper on the
island.

“I’ve got to head in to work,” he told them. “Rain check?”
He barely waited for them to answer before ducking out the front door. His
condo was two floors down, but it seemed like another lifetime away.

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