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Authors: Christie Grey

Safe Word

BOOK: Safe Word
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SAFE WORD

 

Christie Grey

 

Copyright © 2015 Christie Grey

 

This book is a work of fiction.  All characters and events depicted herein are products of the author’s imagination.  The cover, which is for illustrative purposes only, is comprised of licensed stock photography.  Neither the photographer nor the models endorse this publication.

 

This book contains explicit content and situations between consenting adults over the age of majority.  It is intended for mature audiences over the age of 18 only.

 

All rights reserved.  No portion of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher.

FRIENDS MAKE THE BEST LOVERS...OR DO THEY?

 

Ambitious, overachieving Melody had her whole life figured out...until she realized her plan was making her miserable.  She abandoned her chosen career and moved back home feeling like a failure.

 

Then a run-in with someone from her past changed everything...

 

When they were kids, Zane was simply the pesky older brother of one of Melody's school friends.  But now he's all grown up and hot as hell.

 

Melody can't deny her attraction to him.  But it isn't mutual...is it? 

 

Zane and Melody become fast friends, but aside from a stolen kiss, that's all they are.  He keeps sending mixed messages...until one night he drunkenly divulges he's got some kinky interests and Melody boldly makes him an offer he can't refuse.

 

It turns out they're good together...very good.  But ego, old wounds and new insecurities threaten to come between them.  Can Melody seduce Zane by being his perfect, obedient submissive, or will the obstacles in their path tear them apart? 

 

This is a full-length, standalone BDSM romance novel.

Chapter 01

Melody hated weddings. 

It wasn’t that she was jealous of her friends who were getting married.  She wasn’t.  Hell no.

At 28 years old she was one of the few single women remaining among her group of friends, but that was okay.  Until recently, she had been preoccupied with grad school and a string of bad romances that fizzled before they ever really heated up.

In fact, she had been so preoccupied during most of her twenties that she had barely noticed her life wasn’t quite progressing in the same way as her friends’ lives – until recently.  Now it was on her mind a lot.  Actually, it was on her mind pretty much constantly.  She wished she could stop comparing her accomplishments (or lack thereof) to her friends’ accomplishments, but it was easier said than done.

But she totally wasn’t jealous.

No, maybe the reason why Melody hated weddings was because she had been going to so many lately.  It had been a summer full of them, practically every freaking weekend.  Well, maybe not quite
that
often, but it sure felt like it.  She was so,
so
over weddings.  In fact, as far as she was concerned, wedding season could suck it!

At least she didn’t have to be a bridesmaid at this wedding.  Thank God for that!  If she had to prance around in uncomfortable shoes wearing a hideous dress and a big phony smile plastered on her face one more time, she would scream.  Not only that, but she would probably pick the most inappropriate time imaginable to scream...not that there was ever an appropriate time to disrupt a wedding with theatrics.

So yes, it was a very good thing she wasn’t a bridesmaid.

This particular wedding had been one of the more casual ones.  The bride and groom had been married at the groom’s farm.  One might dismiss that, thinking it was a strange location for a wedding.  But it was actually quite lovely.  The three storey farmhouse was quaint and charming, with an immaculately manicured yard. 

It was also the only wedding of the summer that had cows mooing in the background, not to mention the occasional heehaw of a donkey right in the midst of the exchanging of vows. 

It was a good thing the wind was blowing in the right direction, Melody thought to herself with a wry smile.  Otherwise the wedding could have turned out, well,
shitty
!  Chuckling to herself over her own stupid pun, Melody subtly snuck a peek at her watch to see if she could bail on the reception yet.  She couldn’t wait to go home, put on her ugliest pair of pajamas and watch TV.

Dammit!  It was still early.  It was far too early to politely bow out.  That meant she had some time to kill.  Good thing there was an open bar...or rather, a dozen large coolers full of beer at the back of the large barn that was being used for the reception. 

It was a casual wedding indeed!

After grabbing a cold one, Melody took a seat on one of the folding chairs that had been set out and kicked off her strappy black sandals.  Cracking the bottle open, she took a swig – and not a very ladylike one, at that – and watched the people around her dance.

The bride and groom looked very much in love, as they should.  And a few of Melody’s other friends were dancing with their significant others as a romantic slow song played.  It was one of those moments that made her wish she actually had somebody to dance with, or at least someone to ask her if she wanted to dance. 

Oh well. 

“What’s up?” a tipsy young man slurred as he stumbled up to her, spilling a bit of his beer on her in the process.  “Oops.  Sorry.”  Clearly he wasn’t the world champion of flirting.  Poor kid!  Melody almost felt sorry for him when she saw just how little game he actually had.

“It’s okay,” she replied politely, dabbing at the stain on her simple navy sundress.  Then, when he tried to help, she smiled and cheerfully cautioned, “I have a mean left hook, so don’t even think about it.”  That got him to take his hand away in a hurry!

He meant no harm.  She knew that.  He was just a young kid – probably not a day older than twenty-one, if that.  He was drunk, horny and looking to get laid.  He was after the elusive but ever popular wedding sex people always talked about. 

Okay, fine.  But he wasn’t going to get any action from Melody! 

“I think you were headed over there,” she told him helpfully as she polished off her beer and cracked open another one, steering him in the opposite direction.  He looked confused for a moment but then nodded and lurched off. 

Maybe he would successfully woo some young, intoxicated bridesmaid.  Maybe they’d do it out behind the barn.  Hell, maybe their one night stand would even turn into something lasting.  Crazier things had happened, right?

In a way, Melody found herself rooting for the awkward drunk kid.  If there was hope for him then there was hope for pretty much anyone – even her.

“Is it true?” a deep, rumbling voice asked, startling her from her thoughts.

Melody looked up to see another man standing there.  He, too, held a beer in his hand.  But his similarities to the awkwardly flirtatious drunk kid ended there. 

For one thing, he was at least a decade older than the poor intoxicated fool.  For another, he was still coherent and not swaying, belching or retching.  Oh, and he also had the most piercing blue eyes Melody had ever seen, thick dark hair, and stubble that seemed to accentuate his high cheekbones.  He was freaking gorgeous!

“Is what true?” she asked, crossing her legs demurely and taking a sip of beer.  This time she tried to be slightly more ladylike about it because
damn
, a guy who looked like he could be an underwear model was watching her!

“Do you have a mean left hook?” he asked with interest.

“You don’t want to find out,” Melody told him sweetly.

He cracked a smile at that, revealing perfectly straight white teeth and the best dimples she had ever seen.  “Would I be risking my life if I sat down?” he asked, nodding to the empty seat next to her.  “If it makes any difference, I come bearing beer,” he added, holding up the proof.

“I’ll spare you your life this time,” she said graciously, accepting two unopened bottles from him.  “But only because you bribed me with beer.”

“Thank you.”  He sat down next to her and drank some of his beer, staring out at the makeshift dance floor as he did so.  The festivities were still in full swing.  “Why aren’t you out there dancing?” he asked curiously.

“I could ask you the same thing.”

“You’re not one for giving straight answers, are you?” he observed with a twinkle in his eye.

“How do you know?” she shot back.  “You’ve known me for what, all of thirty seconds?”

“Actually no, try twenty-five or so years.”

The unexpected remark caused Melody to swivel around in her seat so she could take another long, hard look at the man sitting next to her.  She raised an eyebrow.  “Do I know you?” she asked him, confused.

“We went to school together,” he told her matter-of-factly.  “But I was a few years ahead of you.  You were friends with my little sister, Tessa, back in the day.  Zane Shepherd,” he introduced himself, extending his hand.

“Tessa Shepherd’s brother!” Melody exclaimed in surprise, shaking his hand.  She never would have recognized him, but she immediately recognized his name.  “I remember you!  Tessa had a slumber party for her ninth birthday and you put a snake in my sleeping bag.”

“Guilty as charged,” Zane admitted.  “What can I say?  I was twelve and thought I was hilarious.  But in my defence, it wasn’t a real snake.  It was a little rubber novelty snake from that place in the mall that sold gag gifts.”

“That’s right,” Melody nodded. 

“Though anyone who heard you scream would have thought it was a live boa constrictor or something,” he chuckled.  “If I recall correctly, you chased me around for ages the next morning trying to kiss me.”

“I was trying to give you cooties,” Melody corrected him.

“You have cooties?” he asked with a smirk.

“No, but I guess you thought I did because you ran away screaming.  Mission accomplished!”

“Well again, I was an incredibly stupid – and immature – twelve year old,” Zane pointed out ruefully.  “In retrospect, I guess I’m pretty lucky I was never on the receiving end of that right hook of yours, huh?  I hear it’s a mean one.”

“Damn right it is,” Melody confirmed, unwilling to give up the tough girl act quite yet.  “So what’s Tessa up to these days?  I haven’t seen her in years.  It’s funny how you lose contact with people, isn’t it?”

He nodded.  “It is.  Tessa went backpacking in Australia after high school and ended up meeting a guy over there.  They got married six or seven years ago and have a couple of kids.  They live in Melbourne now.  She’s a stay-at-home mom.”

“Oh, wow!  Australia?  That’s pretty cool.”

“Yeah, it’s a great country.  What about you?” Zane asked.  “What have you
been up to?”

Melody shrugged.  “Nothing as exciting as falling in love abroad, I’m afraid.  Most of my twenties revolved around school.  I did my undergrad and took a bit of time off to work at a dead end job and figure out what I wanted.  Then I went back to school.”

“What did you study?”

“Psychology,” she replied.  “I had a crazy idea that I wanted to be a psychologist someday.”

“Had?”

“You know, it didn’t once occur to me that I don’t want to spend all day sitting in an office listening to people bitch and moan about their lives,” Melody told him.  Then she winced.  “That didn’t sound quite as harsh in my head.  I don’t mean to be callous about it.”

“There’s nothing wrong with harsh,” Zane told her.  “I like harsh.  It’s honest.  People aren’t honest enough, if you ask me.  And no matter what anyone else tries to tell you, there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, either.  What now?”

“Good question,” she replied, and then gazed off into space contemplatively.

“You went quiet,” Zane observed.

“I did,” she agreed.

“So...?” he prompted, his attention focused solely on her despite all the wedding chaos that was going on around them.  “What are you thinking?  Spill it.”

She downed some more beer or, as one of her married friends used to call it back when they actually had time to hang out, truth-telling serum.  Then she lowered her voice and asked, “Want to know something embarrassing?”

“Of course,” he grinned.

“Earlier this year I moved back in with my parents – at 28 years old!  It’s only temporary,” she assured him quickly.  “It’s only until I can find something in my field that won’t make me want to stab myself in the face with a fork.  I don’t know why I’m even telling you this,” she added.  “Normally I go to great lengths to avoid telling people I live at home.  I blame the beer.”

“How is living at home going for you?”

“Shitty,” she replied.  “I mean, my parents mean well and everything, it’s just...”

“It’s just what?”

“I’ve been away from this town for years,” Melody tried to explain.  “Nothing is the way I remember it, if that makes any sense at all.  I mean yeah, the streets are familiar and the same shops are all still here – even the gag gift shop in the mall – but the people are different.”

“Pretty much everyone left after high school, didn’t they?” Zane observed, nodding as though he understood exactly where she was coming from.  “This is the place everyone wants to escape, not because it’s all that bad but just because it’s, I don’t know...quiet.”

“It’s too quiet,” Melody agreed.  “I mean, I’m
old
now.  It’s not like I need or want to be out partying every night anyway.  But it would be nice to at least have a social life of some sort, you know?  Everyone either got the hell out of dodge or got married young and settled down.”

“I know what you mean,” Zane told her.  “And by the way, you take that back.”

“Take what back?”

“You’re not old.”

Melody grinned.  “Why thank you.”

“I was only stating a fact, and it was mostly to stroke my own ego,” he admitted shamelessly.  “I mean, if you’re old, that makes me ancient.  I’m not ready to be called ancient yet.”

“Fair enough!” she laughed.  “So why are you still living here?” she asked.  “Or are you?”

“I am,” he confirmed.  “I haven’t always been.  I left and then moved back.”

“Where did you go?  And why did you come back?”

“I went all over the place, really.  I guess my sister and I both got bit by the traveling bug.  But unlike her, I didn’t end up putting down roots anywhere.  I backpacked through Thailand, taught English in Japan and spent a ton of time at the beach in Australia.  Then I came home to visit the folks the Christmas before last and got in a bad car wreck.”

“Oh.”  Melody winced.  She hadn’t meant to bring up painful memories.  “I’m so sorry.”

He shrugged.  “I’m alright now.  The doctors were stunned I survived, let alone made a full recovery.  But it was a long recovery.  Having to show up for physical therapy every day meant that my traveling came to a pretty abrupt halt.  I’ve just never gotten back to it.”

“Do you think you ever will?” Melody asked, all the while thinking to herself that Zane was impossibly, unbelievably attractive.  How was it not a crime to have eyes as blue as his?  They put the sky to shame.

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