INVITATION TO PLAY - EXCERPT
copyright 2017 - Zoë Mullins
“You have to come,” Sherri cajoled, sitting on Kai’s desk at the studio. She stared up at him, her blue eyes wide and lashes fluttering like some southern belle. “Please, Kai.”
Deacon was turning forty on Saturday. Sherri had invited a select group of friends and family to his surprise birthday celebration. She’d spent the last month on the plans. Kai had even helped, wanting his best friend to have a great night.
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea.” He shook his head. Deacon had called to confirm he’d be there, and when Kai had hedged and said he may have a client that night, he’d sent Sherri to convince him to attend. Deacon knew he wasn’t any good at saying no to her. “What if someone asks how we know each other?”
“You can tell him that you’re our friend. That you are our tattoo artist.” She shrugged as if she didn’t think it would happen or matter. “I don’t care. Tell them you’re our lover. It’s none of their business.”
“I could just come over later, when it’s time to give him his present,” he suggested, waggling his brows at Sherri. The present was for Deacon but he was pretty sure they’d all have a good time with it.
“No.” She shook her head, and he could see by the flare of her nostrils she was really upset. “That’s not how this works. You come to the party or you can sit alone at your apartment and think about it how you could have been a part of it.”
“Are you giving me an ultimatum?”
She drew her eyebrows together as she looked up at him, and he thought he saw her lip quiver when she spoke. “Yes.”
He turned away and ran his hands through his hair. This is where she drew the line. At some stupid birthday party. If it’s such a stupid party, then why not just go?
Because I don’t think I can hide my feelings for the two of them from their friends and families.
“Sherri, please don’t do this.” He looked back at her.
“Don’t you think I see you pull away whenever things get personal?” she asked.
“I don’t.” He shook his head. “That’s not the issue. Deacon is my best friend.”
He had Deacon to thank for his life here. Deacon had put the word out promoting his shop. Deacon had invited him to Nirvana, introduced him to like-minded kinksters whom he could be himself around. They rode their motorbikes or went climbing together a few hours every Saturday morning while Sherri went to yoga and met her friends for brunch.
His relationship with Sherri was more affectionate. She dragged him along shopping, out to lunch, or walking Harry. She even suckered him into volunteering with a literacy project she was involved in because he couldn’t say no to her.
“I know I’m more than just entertainment.”
“Do you?” She jumped off his desk and stalked over to him. If she hadn’t been a full head shorter, it may have been intimidating. “You think I haven’t noticed, but you are great when it’s me and you, or Deke and you, but as soon as it’s the three of us, you shut down. You leave.” She tapped him on the forehead. “Even if you are still in bed with us.”
“And you have some theory as to why that is?” He slapped her hand away gently, but stepped toward her, forcing her to step back. “You and Deke been discussing this when it’s just the two of you?”
“No. We haven’t been discussing it. He doesn’t want to see it. He’ll give you your space. But I can’t.” She brushed at her eyes with the back of her hand. “If you don’t really want this, that’s fine. Don’t pretend that you do. If we are asking too much of you… If you don’t want to be our third, then don’t. Don’t come to the party and don’t think about joining us afterward.”