Read Surrounded by Pleasure Online
Authors: Mandy Harbin
© October 2011, Mandy
art by For the Muse Designs © October 2011
part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared by any electronic or mechanical
means, including but not limited to printing, file sharing, and e-mail, without
prior written permission from Amira Press.
To my husband
for not only all your invaluable advice on my books but for picking up the
slack with the laundry so I can write. Thanks for all the clean panties. I’ll
mate the socks later.
Josh panted as he and Mikaela lay sprawled across their
bed, their naked bodies tied together in a sweaty heap of arms and legs. God,
he’d never get used to making love to his wife.
“Damn, kitten.” He nuzzled her hair as she was draped
across his chest, eliciting a purr out of her. She’d taken to this new life
better than he could’ve hoped for. She’d not only embraced him as her mate,
with so much love and trust it humbled him, but she’d also connected to his
family as if she’d always been a part of their lives. Josh was grateful every day
for the love they’d found, and he knew how rare it was for someone like him.
How dangerous—considering he came from a family of mountain lion shifters whose
instinct to mate with any available woman had deadly fucking consequences. Yeah,
he was the luckiest man alive for many reasons, not to mention his little
kitten was a hellcat in the sack. “Next time, I get to tie
“Mmm, I think that can be arranged.”
He chuckled when she used her teeth to tug the bindings
loose at his wrists. Once he was freed, he pulled her to him, kissed her neck, and
caressed her arms.
“I’ve been thinking,” she said.
He loved her dearly, but that
didn’t sound good. “Yes?” he prompted, giving her one last kiss before pulling
away to stare into her beautiful blue eyes.
“You know how we’ve talked about finding a way to help
your brothers with the whole mating issue?” She waved her hand like she was
downplaying the “issue,” as she’d called it, and Josh knew instantly his little
kitten was exercising her legal muscle to craft her words accordingly. He hid
his smile. She should really know better than to try to draw him in like that.
But he guessed it was too ingrained in her to shut that off.
“Of course. I take it you have an idea.”
Her face lit up like the brightest star in the sky on the
clearest of nights. So, why did he get a sinking feeling?
“Yes. Now I don’t think you’ll like this, but I think
it’s worth a shot. I mean, we have to do
I think we have a duty to help your brothers find potential mates. We’re mated,
so we know it’s possible. But we can’t just decide their fates, you know? It’s
not like we can bring a bunch of unmated women out here and let them have it.
It’d be mass hysteria with a little too much killing and not enough loving. We
need to be practical about it. We need to make sure—”
“Mikaela, kitten, spit it out.”
So she did.
And she was right. . . . . He didn’t like it.
Two weeks later
“Shit!” Krista Owens spilled her coffee on the transcript
started wiping off the documentation. She so didn’t need this.
Even though she’d been working at this firm for almost a
year, she was still the newbie around here. The only reason she’d gotten this
job fresh out of law school was because she’d interned here during the summer
before starting her third year of schooling and had made an impression on the
now junior partner—and newly married—Mikaela Woods.
As Krista wiped frantically at the paperwork and made a
mental note to have her assistant make another copy before anyone found out,
the sound of a throat clearing jolted her out of her musing. She popped her
head up and locked her eyes on the very person she’d just been thinking about.
No covering up this little mess. She leaned back into her chair and guiltily
held up the ruined document. For being a decent lawyer, Krista was such a
“That’s coffee abuse, you know,” Mikaela said with a
smile as she entered the office and moved to sit down in front of Krista’s
Krista chuckled nervously. She liked Mikaela, but she was
kind of like one of the bosses around here, and Krista felt as if she still had
a lot to prove. The long hours and no days off? Yeah, they were getting to her.
But she knew the score. She had to prove herself if she expected to make it.
“I’m really sorry. I’ll have Renee run off another copy.”
“No reason to apologize to me. Now if you’d spilled
coffee, well, that’d be a different
Krista smiled and quickly tossed the file behind her onto
her computer desk so that it was out of sight. And right atop a mountain of other
work she’d yet to finish.
“How are things working out around here for you?”
Krista’s hands started shaking.
Please don’t fire me. Please don’t fire me.
Please don’t fire me
. “W-Why do you ask?”
“Well, I’ve been watching you, and you’ve been working on
a lot of cases. How do you have any time for yourself?”
Krista laughed manically and then quickly stifled it.
“Oh, I, um, I just take on what’s assigned to me.”
“So, Bill gave you all this work?” Mikaela shook her
head. “I should’ve known,” she mumbled, looking away. “That man is a tyrant.”
Then she took a deep breath and looked into Krista’s eyes. “You need to learn
to say no. It won’t kill you.” And then she laughed, which caused Krista to frown
in a vain attempt to follow Mikaela’s sudden mood changes. “And here I was
going to ask if you wanted to help me out. Now I feel bad for not checking with
you before talking to Bill.”
“I’ll help.” She said it out of reflex, and Mikaela’s
eyes narrowed. Krista straightened in her seat. “I mean, what do you need help
Mikaela sighed. “You know I’ve been working a lot from my
husband’s estate, right? I’ve got several cases I need finalized over the next
month, but I also need to be in Texas to oversee the purchase of the adjacent
acreage his family is buying from a competitor that’s going out of business.
The economy has been rough, but thankfully the Woods have invested well and are
able to use this opportunity to expand their portfolio. I was going to see if
you’d be interested in coming with me to help with my caseload while I
orchestrate this deal.”
It was hard not to smile. Mikaela trusted her enough to
ask her to help with her clients. This was an honor.
“You’re the only one here that isn’t married and could
get away from home for a while without some spouse bitching,” Mikaela
Or maybe it wasn’t an honor. She was just a pathetic
loner. She never knew there’d be an award for being such a hermit. “I see.”
“Oh, that came out wrong. Of course I want your help,
need your help. That’s just what I told Bill to get him to agree to let you
loose for about a month.”
“Ah.” She was so lame. Maybe if she got out more, she’d
actually learn to have a life and not take things so seriously. But it was
hard. Her parents had sheltered her to the point that her naïveté was sometimes
painful. Sure, she was book-smart, but put her in a casual environment with
strangers and she clammed up. It was no wonder she’d never had a boyfriend.
Well, one that hadn’t required batteries. Maybe if she was as pretty as Mikaela
or as thin as her sister, Ariel, things would be different for her. But neither
was the case. “Um, I’d love to help you, but I need to finish this before I can
leave. When do you need me?”
“Krista.” Mikaela’s tone was reproachful, and Krista
tried hard to keep the heat of embarrassment from creeping up her neck and into
her face. “I’m going to have a little word with Bill about your caseload. And I
think you should plan on coming with me to the Woods estate. Think of it as a
vacation. You’ll still have to work, but knowing how hard you’ve been working
your ass off here, it’d be like a month at a resort.” She chuckled. “Only
you’ll be in the middle of the woods.”
Woods she could do. And an almost vacation she could
definitely do. This may be the only one she’d get for years because, regardless
of what Mikaela thought about Krista’s workload, she knew she still had to pay
her dues and work the insane hours when she came back. “Sure. I’d love to
Mikaela stood, then smiled. “Good.” She turned to leave
but hesitated at the door, then looked over her shoulder. “One more thing. When
you get down there, tell everyone you’re in an open relationship.”
Krista frowned. Open relationship? She’d have to be in
one first. “Why?”
Mikaela’s eyes got big, and she turned to face her fully,
hand resting on the doorjamb. “Are you involved with someone?” Krista shook her
head, and Mikaela looked as if she’d relaxed a little. Weird. “Let’s just say
my brothers-in-law are all very hot, but none of them will give you the time of
day if you’re single and clingy. Commitment issues.” She shrugged. “If they
think you’re involved and happily in love but know your relationship is open
sexually, you just might get lucky.”
Why was her face suddenly blazing hot? Oh right,
immediate humiliation would do that, wouldn’t it? God, Krista had had no idea
she looked that desperate. “I, um.”
“Sweetie, I didn’t mean . . . .” Mikaela stepped closer
to her, seemingly reading Krista’s mortification. “I’m messing this up. I know
we’re not best friends, but we both practically live up here. Well, I do when
I’m in town because I miss Josh, and you’re always here. So I feel like we are
friends, and I didn’t mean to imply that you weren’t capable of getting a man
or to suggest that you even want one. I just think that since you’ll be staying
in the same house with three available men who happen to be smokin’ hot it’s my
duty as a fellow woman to give you the lowdown on the situation. I know if I
were in your shoes, I’d want a heads-up on something like that. It’s easier to
get lucky if you’re prepared.” Mikaela chuckled, then smiled softly. “Just give
it some thought, okay? You only live once.”
When she turned to leave, Krista stood and looked out the
small office window and at the cloudy sky, not sure if it was clouds or smog
she was trying to see through as she thought over Mikaela’s parting words. Only
living once? Yeah. Getting lucky? If only it were that easy.
* * * *
Toby Woods hauled scrap wood out of the thicket where the
machinery wouldn’t reach. Damn, but he was exhausted. They’d been clearing this
section of their property where it bordered the Caldwell Tree Farm since their
offer to purchase that land had been accepted. The guys were excited about
expanding, even more so about the possibility of hiring permanent help. Right
now, they hired seasonal help as needed, but with the addition of that land,
they’d have to expand their operation. Plus, his dad was looking into retiring.
Toby knew Josh was looking forward to working more in the office and less in
the field, but Toby figured if they hired enough people, all the brothers could
take office duties and decrease the manual labor part for all of them.
Because this shit was getting old.
Not that Toby had much of a choice. It wasn’t like he
could just waltz into town and fill out a job application at any ol’ place. He
envied those snotty-ass kids he’d come across online who bitched about their
fast-food jobs. At least they got to meet new people.