Hello, !

My Two Husbands is in full swing! Every week I look forward to checking your votes. So THANK YOU!! In between working on this, I've been finishing the edits on the third Londonaire Brothers Series, Bedside Manor. It will be out this fall!

Yesterday, I had a blast celebrating my birthday. I LOVE birthdays and always have really high expectations for them. I'm still waiting on my surprise party (hint, hint, Husband--if you're reading this). Anyway, because of this birthday can always be a little . . . disappointing. So this year I took matters into my own hands and celebrated by doing and eating whatever I wanted. I slept in, didn't work, had an egg an cheese croissant for breakfast, got a beautiful haircut, lunch at my favorite south Indian street food place, baked an upside down pineapple rum cake with my BFF, followed by the best veggie burger I've ever had and a fun walk on the beach with my family.  Ahh, it was the best birthday I've had in a long time.

What about you?

How are you spending your birthday these days? 

I know it's been about a week since most of you read episode three. So here's a quick recap (WARNING! Spoilers from Ep. 3!!):

Natalie got drunk at Jake's celebration dinner and made  a few inappropriate comments about how the boys are in the sack. Kyle was not going to be shown up by the ex, so he took Natalie home to prove just how great he is . . . in bed. Everything was good (I mean REAL GOOD) until Natalie, in the heat of the moment, called Jake's name instead of Kyle's--Dun, dun, DUN!

Is she in the doghouse or is Kyle the bigger man who shakes it off? 

Back in the past . . .

Natalie can't seem to escape Jake and finds him cooling himself in the pool at her new construction listing. He pulls her into the deep end but not even cold water can stop the heat between them. They finally, FINALLY kiss!

Is this the moment that kicks off their long love affair or will Natalie live to tease another day? Find out now on My Two Husbands- Episode Four!

Episode Four

NOW

“Kyle, it was an accident!” I yell, covering myself haphazardly with my dress.

My husband won’t look at me. He’s just pacing the room in nothing but his boxer briefs. “So I guess you’re still in love with him.”

Oh, geez. If I had actually slept with Jake he’d only be slightly madder. “Kyle, what are you talking about? You’re my husband. I love you!”

He stops and his eyes lift almost to mine before falling again. I watch his chest heave in and out as I approach him. With mindful caution, I reach my arm around his bare body. His heart races beneath my ear but the moment only lasts a second before he peels me off of him. “I can’t do this right now. I think you should sleep in the guest room.”

I flinch. “Seriously? Kyle, what I said doesn’t mean anything. You know that, right?”

Kyle shakes his head and turns toward the bathroom. “I dunno.” The door slams behind him, jolting me out of my drunk haze even more. I’m not used to being in the doghouse. It’s never come up between Kyle and me. Jake on the other hand practically lived in the doghouse toward the end. How did this happen? Everything was going great until I said one stupid, unintentional thing. Kyle’s never been this upset with me. Come to think of it, I don’t think he’s ever been upset with me.

For a second, I try to put myself in his shoes. But the roles could never be reversed because there’s no way in hell I’d let Kyle’s ex-wife live in the loft. It’s complicated, I know. So I take my punishment, grab my pillow, my pajamas, and drag my feet down the hall to the guest room.

I flip on the bedside light and take off my earrings, bracelet, and wedding ring, setting them on the dresser. I’ve never felt this distant from Kyle. A sinking feeling of insecurity weighs on my gut and I’m tempted to put the ring back on just to feel some connection. But Kyle loves me and I love him, and we are so much stronger than what happened in the bedroom. This will all blow over by morning.

I climb into the sheets and switch off the light. Now there’s nothing but me and my thoughts. Why did I say Jake’s name? It doesn’t make any sense. I wasn’t even thinking about him. Sure, I was with the guy forever and I screamed his name a lot. But he’s been out of my system for years. Maybe the problem isn’t that he’s not out of my system, maybe it’s that he needs to get out of my house

***

When I open my eyes in the morning, I flip the sheets off my body and rush out of the room as if waking to a fire alarm. I hope Kyle was able to sleep because I hardly did. When I get to our bedroom, Kyle isn’t in bed. Not in the bathroom either.

I jet downstairs calling, “Kyle! Kyle!”

The kitchen’s empty except for Lily who’s standing by the back door waiting to be let out. Lily and I step out to the backyard and I walk around the side of the house to the driveway. Oh no. His car’s gone.

I should be worried, right?

As soon as Lily’s finished with her business, I hurry over inside for my phone. There’s nothing from Kyle—not a call, text, or email. So I message him.

NATALIE: Hey, where are you?

Messaging bubbles begin dancing at the bottom of the screen and my heart thuds against my chest.

KYLE: Got an early start at work. We can talk later.

I breathe the tiniest sigh of relief. At least he’s responding, and he wants to talk later. What is he thinking right now? How mad is he still? I can’t take the questions. A second opinion is desperately needed so I call my best friend, Sloan.

“Hey Nat! What’s up?” Sloan answers with the static of busy noises in the background.

“Oh, my God.” I sink my face into my hands sitting at the kitchen table. “Can you talk?”

“Sure can. I just picked up my first iced latte of the day. What’s happening? You don’t sound good.”

I let out a groan. “I did something bad . . . like really bad.”

“You didn’t buy a timeshare, did you?” For some reason she’s deemed timeshares at the top of the list of the biggest mistakes anyone can make. That and agreeing to let your ex-husband live at your house.

“It’s worse,” I say.

“Do you need bail money?” Her tone turns serious, which is good. This is serious.

“I wish that were the issue.” I take in a deep breath. This is the first time I’ll have to admit this to anyone else. “Last night when Kyle and I were having sex, I accidentally said Jake’s name.”

Sloan let’s out a long, exaggerated gasp. “No. Oh, that is bad.”

“Needless to say Kyle’s pissed. I had to sleep in the guest room, and he’s at work already. It’s only seven-thirty.”

“Eek,” she utters as if I just squished a giant roach with my heel. “I gotta be honest, Nat. I’m surprised this hasn’t happened already.”

“What do you mean?”

“When you fuck someone as long as you were fucking Jake, it’s safe to assume there’s gonna be a slip up here or there.”

“Exactly, it didn’t mean anything. It was like a verbal malfunction or something. But Kyle doesn’t see it that way. He actually accused me of still being in love with Jake.”

Sloan goes quiet. And the pause grows from one second to two, then three.

Does she think I’m still in love with Jake? Why would anyone think that after what happened?

“Sloan!” I say.

“Sorry, I was drinking my coffee.” Thank God. “So, are you still in love with him?” she asks me like it’s nothing, like she’s asking if I’m going to the Keys this weekend.

“Why would you ask me that? Why would he ask me that?”

“You didn’t answer the question,” Sloan points out.

I grit my teeth. “Yes, I did.”

“Actually, you didn’t. And I think any therapist would tell you that there’s something to that.” Sloan didn’t use to believe in therapy. But ever since Jake moved in, she finds ways to casually bring it up. Kyle and I met a couple on our honeymoon cruise last year. The wife was a couples therapist. When we told her how we met she smiled, but I could see the concern-slash-judgment in her eyes. I don’t need to deal with that shit every week.

“Sloan, I called for your help. This is not helpful.”

“Look, you know I love you and Kyle, but this situation you’re in marrying your ex-husband’s best friend and having him live on your property is bananas. You’re bound to have some baggage.”

My friends were super happy for me when I got together with Kyle but they did caution me about getting married so quickly. I didn’t care because it felt right and I stand by that choice. Kyle is my person and I’m not going to let the person who brought us together, tear us apart. I’m gonna go to his office and make things right.

I let Sloan off the phone and hop in the shower. As I scrub my scalp, the question rings in my mind. Am I still in love with Jake? I don’t think so. For a long time I hated him. Not like, I-hate-peas kind of hate but that deep, disgusted—wish-he’d-never-been-born hate. But as he got clean and did his best to make amends, I hated him less. And less. And less. Then I knew that I still loved him as an important person in my life. But I’m not in love with him.

I grab my towel off the rack and dry all the droplets on my body. Brushing my teeth, I remember that my wedding ring is in the guest room. My soaked hair drips onto the ceramic tile and I pull off my towel to dry my hair as I walk down the hall. The hall bathroom door creaks open and a man walks out.

I gasp, jumping back before realizing who it is. “Jake!” And this time, it really is him.

His eyes widen, then fall down, tracing the curves of my body. “Uhh.”

I quickly cover myself with the towel. “What the hell are you doing in here?”

 

 

THEN

 

Jake’s tongue swirls around mine as we float in the cool, chlorinated water. I wrap my legs around his waist, gripping onto his bare back. He pushes off the floor of the pool and swims me over to the edge, holding me firmly against the tiled wall. Squeezing my thighs in his hands, he slides my skirt up. I reach down between us, feeling his buoy rise to the surface. So far, this is the most fun I’ve ever had in a pool.

“What on earth?” A woman’s voice cries above us.

My eyes shoot open and I whip my head around. From the way she’s dress and the fact that there’s a couple standing behind her tells me she’s an agent. And the fact that she’s got a scowl on her face screams that she’s not amused.

“Cover your eyes, honey,” the wife says and I glance around, finding a little boy standing waist high. As if this couldn’t get any worse.

The boy smacks his hands over his eyes. “Why are they kissing in the pool? That’s disgusting?”

The agent digs inside her large burgundy tote purse. “I’m calling the police. You two are trespassing.”

“No, wait!” I push Jake off of me and swim to the closest set of stairs. Thank God I still have my clothes on. “I’m the agent on this property.”

The sour-faced woman walks over, narrowing her eyes. “You’re Natalie Quinn?”

“Yes.” I stand up straight, wiping my hair away from my face.

“Forgive me for not recognizing you.” She purses her lips again. Even with the chlorine in my eyes, I can see the fine lines around her mouth.  

“That’s okay,” Jake says, jumping out of the pool. His jeans are weighted with so much water that they fall very, very low on his hips.

The agent shoots him an applaud stare. The wife is also staring, or should I say gawking.

“What are you doing?” Her husband whispers through grit teeth and covers her eyes. The little boy splits his fingers and bulges his eyes. When did a shirtless man and a woman in soaked clothes become such a taboo spectacle?

The agent gets in my face, waving her finger around like a crabby schoolteacher. “Your broker will hear from me about this, Miss Quinn.”

“But—”

“And my clients are no longer interested in this house!”

“What?” the wife says, pulling her husband’s hand away from her eyes.

“We’re going.” The agent herds the family into the house, leaving the door wide open behind them.

Oh, shit.

My broker is not gonna like that phone call.

I whip around to Jake, my nose flared, balling my fists. He’s still shirtless and dripping from our dirty dip in the pool. Not the least bit disturbed by what’s happened, he gives me the same sultry stare he gave me across the restaurant that night.

Daaaaaamn, Jake.

I mean, dammit, Jake!

“Did you know you had people coming to look at the house today?” he asks.

“No.” I snatch my shoes off the pavement. “And now they’re not going to make an offer.”

“Fuck ‘em!” Jake waves his hand. Easy for him to say. He gets paid whether this house sells or not. “Besides, it’s pretty rude to just walk in here without telling you first.”

“I doubt my boss will see it that way. You need to leave,” I say with a stern tone.

“Why?” He smirks. “We were just getting started.” Jake rests his hand on his crotch and gives himself a little squeeze.

“And now we’re done. Thanks for nothing, Jake.” I grab my bag and head for the door. He can let himself out.

***

The next day, I get called into the principal’s, I mean, broker’s office.

“Take a seat,” Bill says, dressed in his typical Friday Hawaiian shirt.

I do as he says but I will not take this laying down. “Look, I know what you want to talk to me about. And I just want to say that I’m sorry. It was poor judgment on my part. I had no idea that the property was being shown, the agent failed to contact me. But in any case, it will not happen again.”

He shushes me with a gesture. “Natalie, relax, okay? I get it. Plenty of agents use their vacant properties for sex, especially the ones that are having affairs.”

“What? No, I wasn’t—”

“I don’t need to know what you were doing, just remember not to leave the key in the lockbox, or else anyone could come in. And maybe try to keep it to after-hours only.”

What the eff is happening? I came in here to fight for my job and now it’s like he’s handing me the keys to any vacant property and saying good luck. This is by far the weirdest conversation I’ve ever had with a boss. “I don’t understand. You’re condoning this type of behavior?”

He shakes his head. “Absolutely not. But being a broker is kinda like having a crap load of children. You know they’re gonna do dumb shit. My job is to babysit the agents, make sure they don’t end up in jail, and most importantly, that they don’t lose any business. But also that they don’t bring their kids to showings. I swear, women agents are like those proverbial women in the field. They pop out the baby and immediately go to work with it on their back. But you get the point. Capisce?”

What can you say after that? “I got it.”

“Okay, good. I heard you just got an offer on that property so maybe your little stunt worked out for you after all.”

I arch my brow. “Really? I haven’t seen an offer.”

He nods. “Yep, fresh off the fax.”

I leave my broker and head to the main desk.

“Hey, Amy, did I get an offer in for Armistead Lane?”  

Amy, our office admin, smiles. “Yep, I got it right here.” She hands me the legal sized stack and a grin graces my face. First offers are always amazing. Even if they don’t get ratified, they break the seal and offers start coming in. It works every time. I take the paperwork back to my desk, which is nothing more than a three by three cubical space. I brace myself looking for the asking price as I always do. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s a joke. This time it’s . . . zero?

Huh? This has to be a joke. That agent better not have done this to get back at me.

I glance below where the price is supposed to be written out, it says, “A date with Natalie Quinn.”

What the . . . ?

I flip to the signature page at the back. It’s signed Jake Bruno with his phone number. Un-freaking believable. What’s my broker gonna say when he finds out that this is a fake offer? I guess as long as I don’t bring a baby to an open house then he’ll be fine with it.

“Oh, I forgot, this came for you too,” Amy’s voice rings behind me. She sets a clear cellophane wrapped basket on my desk. It’s filled with snickers. My favorite.

“Who sent this?” I ask.

“One of your clients, I think. There’s a card.”

I grab the little note with a scribbled message that looks like a fifth grader wrote it.

I’ll keep making offers until you say yes.

It’s not signed by my little buddy, but I know it’s him. I lift the desk phone receiver and call the number on the contract.

“Hello?” Jake answers in his typical baritone.

“Why do I have a basket of snickers on my desk?” I ask, waving for Amy to step away from my private call.

“Oh, hey, Quinn. I knew you’d call.”

I roll my eyes. “I’m serious. How did you get a sales contract?”

“I have a guy. Why? Thought you’d be impressed by my creativity.”

“Well, I’m not and—”

“Not even by the snickers?” he jokes.

“I don’t even want to know how you knew about the candy bars.” Stalk much?

“The receptionist said you always have one on your desk, so I took a shot.”

“You talked to the receptionist about me? Are you crazy?”

“No, I’m relentless, which is worse.” He pauses and I’m tempted to slam down the receiver. “I’m sorry about what happened yesterday and I want to make it up to you.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Let me cut my losses and move on.”

“C’mon, I’ll make you dinner. I’m pretty great in the kitchen.” The subtext of his last statement is the invitation my body desperately wants—especially after yesterday. But with Jake Bruno, there’s always trouble. And I don’t want any trouble.

“Look, I really appreciate the offer but every time I’m around you, crazy stuff happens.”

He laughs. “I get that but trust me. It’s just gonna be you and me in my apartment. And I promise, no funny business.”

I glance at the basket of chocolate bars and the phony contract, then recall the delicious taste of his mouth. Maybe I should let him . . . make it up to me. Besides, how much trouble could we really get into? “Fine, I’ll come for dinner. That’s it.”

“I’ll see you tonight. Ciao, baby.”

***

When I pull up to Jake’s apartment complex, I can’t help but be totally underwhelmed. Not that I was expecting much. I walk up to the second floor and knock at his apartment. A few moments later, he opens the door, wearing a dark t-shirt, jeans, and a white waist apron with green splotchy stains on it.

“Hey, Quinn, come on in,” he offers.

I step inside, the smell of fresh tomato and basil wafts through the air. I half expected hamburgers and hotdogs, but I might actually have a good dinner tonight. His place is modest but surprisingly tidy.

“Can I get you a glass of wine?” he asks, getting back over to his small kitchen, which is two steps from the living room.

“Sure.”

Jake pulls out a bottle of red wine and fills each glass halfway. I take one and sit at the breakfast bar peeking at the stove. “What are you making?”

He winks. “You’ll see.”

“Got any roommates I should be aware of?” I ask, glancing around the one bedroom apartment, from the bistro table, to the saggy couch, to the flat screen above the gas fireplace. Why anyone in West Palm would need a fireplace, I’ll never know.

“Why, are you worried about being too loud later?” The audacity of this dude.

I give him a square look. “I’m not sleeping with you, Jake Bruno.”

He leans back on the counter and folds his arms, biceps bulging in his sleeves. “Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Then answer me this . . . did you shave your legs today?”

Oh, my God. He did not just ask me that. I narrow my eyes. “What—why does that matter?”

“You did, didn’t you?” His mouth creeps up in a grin.

You’re damn right I did.

“I shave my legs every day. It has nothing to do with you.” I take a sip of the wine. This is the only glass I’ll have tonight. I wouldn’t want him taking advantage of Drunk Natalie.

Jake pops a black olive into his mouth. “Okay, we’ll see about that.”

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Amanda Aksel

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