Authors: Rhian Cahill
To my partner in crime, Lexxie, party hard!
To Heidi, for being brave and facing down not one but two neurotic Aussies.
To the man who’s partied with me for the last twenty-four years, let the party continue.
To everyone reading the Party Games series, party on!
“Do I have to do this?” Miki cringed at the whiney tone of her own voice.
Frankie stopped on the sidewalk and faced her. “Yes. It’ll be fun, and I know it’s been a while since you let yourself partake in that particular pastime.”
Mikaila didn’t want the talk her best friend was about to give her. Didn’t need someone else telling her she’d been hiding from life. Acknowledging it herself was bad enough, but having Frankie say the words out loud would make it all too real and something she couldn’t ignore any longer. With a sigh, Miki waited for her best friend to speak.
“I can tell by the look on your face you know what I’m going to say.” Frankie reached for her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “You have to let go, Miki. It’s time to start living again.”
Mikaila had let go. She was under no illusions about David. The man was a selfish prick who had died too young and left behind a mess for Miki to clean up. It was the guilt she felt over
mourning him that stopped her from living. But Frankie was right. Enough was enough. It was past time to take the first steps back into the land of the living, and a Friday night was as good as any time to start. She sucked in a deep breath and straightened her shoulders.
“Okay. Let’s do this.”
“Great.” Frankie kept hold of Mikaila’s hand as she pulled her down the path toward the house with the blazing lights and blaring music. “It’ll be a chance to relive our youth.”
Miki snorted. “Yeah, because that’s a farce of an event I want to go through again.”
“Oh, come on. It wasn’t that bad. And besides, we’re only reliving the good parts. The getting plastered, making out with a hot guy…” Frankie looked at Miki over her shoulder with her trademark naughty grin. “…or two.”
Laughter bubbled up Mikaila’s throat. No way in the world had she ever been that wild. And she doubted there was enough liquor on the planet to make her lose her inhibitions sufficiently to participate in anything that outrageous now. “I’ll let you handle the making-out-with-guys part. I’ll stick to having a few drinks.”
“Fine. Just promise me you’ll leave yourself open to anything that feels good. Don’t let your brain think too hard, just feel and enjoy.”
“All right, but I don’t expect anything more than a hangover for me in the morning.”
With a grin, Frankie turned and continued down the path, dragging Miki behind her.
Miki sipped her second drink of the night and tried to appear like she was having a good time. There was nothing wrong with the party really, but she just couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm needed to get involved. Frankie had abruptly taken off the minute their first drinks had been served. Strange even for Frankie, but she didn’t blame her best friend. Frankie had come for a good time and, unlike Mikaila, she remembered how to have one. Then again, Francesca Winchester never stopped having fun. Miki’s chest rose on a deep sigh and she leaned on the wall behind her.
The party was picking up. More people were arriving every minute and soon there wouldn’t be room to breathe never mind roam around and mingle. Miki scanned the room for a familiar face but didn’t see any. Things were heating up on the other side of the room, a lively game of cards had started up about thirty minutes ago, and though she wasn’t sure of the rules, the point appeared to be to lose so you had to scull a drink. A smile tugged at her lips. It had been a long time since she’d played any drinking games, but she remembered them with fondness and a little pang of envy for those carefree times in her life.
She moved her gaze away from the rowdy group to take in the rest of the room. A few women talked animatedly off to the side, all of them drop-dead gorgeous and looking like they’d just stepped off the page of a magazine or runway. In the opposite corner a couple were having an intimate discussion and the rest of the crowd just seemed to be milling around. She took another sip of the refreshing cocktail in her hand. It wasn’t her usual drink, but as a thirst quencher it did the job. The evening was hot, another Sydney summer scorcher, and the plain sundress she wore stuck to her front and back where a fine layer of sweat coated her skin.
Miki’s gaze was drawn back to the man and woman in the opposite corner. Her eyes glued to the way he now took her mouth with a hunger that was palpable. She’d never been on the receiving end of such a kiss and a twinge of jealousy filled her chest. The woman appeared to melt into her partner as he devoured her mouth with his. Their passionate embrace bordered on indecent, but Mikaila couldn’t look away. Warmth pooled in her belly, her undies grew damp and prickly heat raced over her already hot skin. Embarrassed by her reaction to the unexpected show, she felt her cheeks burn with the blush her fair complexion had no hope of hiding.
Miki was so engrossed in the sexy encounter taking place across the room that the noise of the party faded to nothing. Try as she might, she couldn’t pull her gaze from the unintentional tableau. Not until her view was blocked. Two guys stepped in front of her, caging her against the wall.
“If it isn’t little Mikaila Drummond.” The deep voice skittered over her skin and she shivered as goose bumps broke out in its wake.
“Yeah, but she isn’t so little anymore.” The second voice was just as deep but slightly rougher. Both conjured images of late nights, tangled sheets and sweaty bodies.
Jeez, of all the times for her libido to wake up.
Mikaila stared at the chest before her. The tight black shirt clung to the muscles concealed beneath like a second skin. Her hands tingled with the urge to reach up and touch, lay her palms flat against that hard surface. She raised her gaze. Slowly. Each new inch she saw made her mouth drier.
. Smooth tan skin took up were black cloth stopped and broad shoulders stretched past her peripheral vision. Miki swallowed. Blood rushed through her veins as her heart sped up. Heat radiated out from the two bodies now crowded around her, sending her temperature higher.
Arousal burst out and flooded every part of her. Need and desire that had been missing in recent years were set free in an explosion of tingling sensation. Miki took a breath, tried to slow her pulse but only succeeded in filling her nostrils with the scent of hot male flesh. Her body softened, her knees shook and she struggled to form a coherent thought.
“I think seeing us has rendered her speechless. That’s something I never thought would happen.”
A memory niggled at her mind, but Miki couldn’t place the voice and she still hadn’t managed to look at either of their faces. Her gaze had snagged on those amazing shoulders and gone no farther.
Masculine laughter that vibrated along every nerve had Miki’s insides clenching. Jeez, could she be any more affected? A shiver skittered down her spine when Mr. Black-shirt placed two fingers under her chin and tilted her head up. She met a pair of startlingly blue eyes. Filled with mischief and a spark of heat, they reminded her of summer. That illusive niggle of memory flitted across her mind but refused to solidified.
“Are we that forgettable, Miki?” He feigned a hurt look that made Miki want to giggle. “Surely not.”
Both men stepped closer, their warm bodies pressing into her. Mikaila turned her head to look at the second man. Green eyes sparkled, the cool colour calming, but nothing could hush the gasp that left her throat or soothe the shock blooming inside her when she finally placed her companions.
Grant Rogers and Dayne Pearce.
. Her biggest teenage crush came back to slap her in the face. And she did mean crush. Singular. The boys had always made her feel outrageous things when they were in high school, but she’d never acted on any of her feelings because she couldn’t pick one over the other. And then the summer they’d all turned eighteen she’d discovered the one thing to make her keep her distance above all else. They didn’t want her to pick just one of them. As much as the idea of being with both of them thrilled and intrigued, it scared the pants off her more, and she’d walked away. Fast.
Miki closed her eyes and fought to pull herself together. She wouldn’t allow those old emotions to tempt her. Wouldn’t let herself fall for their charms no matter how appealing they were or how much she’d regretted not taking the chance when she’d had no real clue what it was they offered.
“The penny drops.” Warm air filled her ear and brushed her neck as Dayne spoke.
“I think you’re right, Dayne.” The fingers under her chin trailed up to trace her lips, a light brush of flesh that sent sensations flooding through her. “Aren’t you going to say hello, Miki?”
Her tongue snaked out and slid over her bottom lip, the impulse one she couldn’t control. Twin groans echoed and Miki’s eyes popped open to find identical looks of hunger in their gazes. An erotic thrill shook her. Her body was excited by the prospect of turning these two men on. Old desires that should have died years ago sprang to life, swamped her with their power, and moisture flooded her pussy. Mikaila’s glass trembled in her hand as tremors ran the length of her body. Dear God. She hadn’t been this aroused in too long to remember.
Grant stared at her, a small pout turning the corners of his mouth down. “You’re not glad to see us?”
“It’s okay, Miki.” Dayne’s voice drew her gaze. “We were just as shocked to realize it was you standing over here in the corner.”
“Didn’t believe him at first when he said it was you. Had to stand over there and watch you for a while before the reality of seeing you sank in.” Grant’s finger covered her lips. “Don’t say anything yet. Just come and sit with us and talk. We want to know what you’ve done with the last ten years of your life.”
Her gaze darted between them. Could she afford to sit and talk? The reaction she was having to them terrified and excited her, and Miki wasn’t sure what talking would lead to or even if it would go anywhere. Her stomach cramped. God, did she want it to lead somewhere? Her indecision and fear annoyed her. It was just three old friends catching up, nothing more. So why did it feel like her world was opening up on a big black hole? She needed to get hold of herself. This was what getting back into life was all about. Time to pull on her big-girl panties and take the second step. The first had been coming to the party and that hadn’t been so bad. She could do this,
Miki raised her glass and took a sip of liquid courage, nerves making her down the last half of her drink in two gulps. Licking the remnants from her lips, she took a deep breath and looked them both in the eye before she jumped in with both feet. “Okay, let’s catch up.”
The constriction around Dayne’s chest eased with Miki’s words. He hadn’t realised he was holding his breath until it left his chest in a rush. The depth of his fear that she’d say no shocked him, but then Mikaila Drummond had never produced anything but extreme emotions in him. From the corner of his eye he saw Grant release a breath, his stance relaxing, and knew his friend was equally relieved at her answer. There were some subtle differences in her appearance since high school, but he would know her anywhere. His body knew her. He’d taken one look at her profile from across the crowded room and his cock had jumped to attention. Stupid organ had gone from interested to rock hard in seconds once his brain kicked in and acknowledged
he was looking at.
Back in high school her fiery hair and freckles had hidden her true beauty from most, but not him. He’d seen beyond the frumpy clothes, wild hair and polka-dot ghost-white skin. He’d wanted to join those sexy little spots with his fingers or the tip of his tongue. Wanted to wrap his hands in her red locks and pull her close so he could take her mouth with his—still wanted to. They’d never gone beyond a simple kiss, one that had been interrupted when Grant had walked in on them. Miki had jumped away from him like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar, and when their friend had suggested they continue and let him join in she’d run as far and fast as those sexy long legs could take her.
They’d let her go in their youth because neither he nor Grant had fully understood what she did to them other than making them horny. Years of attempting to find the same chemistry with other women had made Dayne realize he’d let the one woman who could possibly complete him—
—get away. He wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Reaching down, he grabbed her hand, entwined his fingers with hers. With a gentle tug, he pulled her forward. Grant slipped the empty glass from her other hand and placed it on a table as they passed.
Dayne had a clear destination in mind and quickly wove his way through the growing crowd. He held tight to Miki’s hand so he didn’t lose her in the crush. Not that Grant would let that happen. He was confident his best mate would be guiding her from behind. They stepped through the glass patio doors, but the timber deck proved just as packed as the house, so he detoured down the stairs and across the lawn. Scanning the area, he picked a sheltered spot near the side fence to lead them to. It wasn’t dark yet but the low light of dusk would give them an intimate setting, and Dayne wanted Miki to forget everyone other than him and Grant.