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The Male Order, Texas Collection

A Bride for Two Mavericks

It’s the height of the Roaring 1920s, and Audrey Rousseau is the queen of the fashionable Paris scene. But when her ghosts begin to haunt her, she flees France for the promise of the whole new world of Texas. Truly free from her past life, she is finally able to pursue her ultimate dream of complete creative freedom.

Audrey approaches the Abrams brothers looking for business partners but is unprepared when she finds much, much more. She’s never been able to handle one man, so how could she possible be a bride for two? Silas, the bold daredevil who flies his own plane and challenges her to car races, seems quite enough. But what about Max, the black clad architect who makes her heart—and body—burn with an unquenchable thirst for more? And what happens when the past she’s running from comes knocking on her doorstep?

Genre: Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Western/Cowboys

Length: 50,793 words

A BRIDE FOR TWO MAVERICKS

The Male Order, Texas Collection

Katrina Finn

MENAGE EVERLASTING

The Male Order, Texas Collection Katrina Finn MENAGE EVERLASTING Siren Publishing, Inc. www.SirenPublishing.com

Siren Publishing, Inc. www.SirenPublishing.com

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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK IMPRINT: Ménage Everlasting

A BRIDE FOR TWO MAVERICKS Copyright © 2010 by Katrina Finn E-book ISBN: 1-61034-048-5

First E-book Publication: October 2010

Cover design by Les Byerley All art and logo copyright © 2010 by Siren Publishing, Inc.

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A BRIDE FOR TWO MAVERICKS

The Male Order, Texas Collection

KATRINA FINN

Copyright © 2010

Chapter One

Dallas, Texas

1925

The brilliant late summer sun beat down upon Audrey Rousseau as she drove down the wide boulevard of Dallas’ main street. She couldn’t believe she was actually in Texas, a fabled land she had dreamed about many a time as a young girl in the orphanage. Yet this place didn’t match up with her picture books at all. The trim, modern roads and tall buildings contrasted dramatically with the images of the Alamo, of Davy Crocket, and the Wild West playing in her head. She

knew Dallas was stylish, a new kind of city different than her Paris or even the wonderfully American chaos of Manhattan, but she couldn’t help but wonder how this could be before she arrived. And now here

it was in all its glory, the new skyscrapers glittering in the hot sun like

a beacon of hope. She had finally arrived. Zipping from block to block in her luxurious Bugatti convertible,

purchased with all those hours of hard work, Audrey already drew looks from passersby. She didn’t care. Despite all the troubles and heartache that had filled her since she departed New York nearly a

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month before, she loved every second of driving her car. Her car. She still loved to say that aloud. Bought and paid for by funds generated by her most recent fashion show in New York, no one could take it away from her or tell her how to use it. If she wanted to drive to Texas by herself, no one could stop her. She couldn’t remember a time when she felt so free. She slowed down on the next block as her destination came into view, Jacqueline’s Department Store. She had memorized the address after reading the feature story in Vogue three months before about the visionaries behind the store, the Abrams brothers. She could still clearly recall the cover image attached. There, on the front, was the most glorious store she had ever seen. The front lobby dripped with an unparalleled stylish sophistication, on a level not even comparable in Paris. Standing beneath the enormous glass chandelier stood the brothers themselves, Max and Silas, the welcoming hosts to their newfound Vogue clientele. Although the two men shared the closest blood relation possible, she couldn’t help but notice the striking difference in their appearances. Max, the older brother by four years, could almost be called a giant, with a size and a shape that spoke of hard manual labor and the hearty stock of a pioneer family. His hair shown jet black and flowed from beneath his wide-brimmed cowboy hat, long and skimming the lapel of his jacket. His dark eyes radiated a burning heat, even in that magazine photo. Silas, the younger of the two, was certainly not a small man, but there was something different about him, almost aristocratic. He would have blended in at the grandest society parties in New York in his dapper suit and linen flat cap. His soulful blue eyes and fair hair gave him an innocence clearly absent in his older brother. No one would ever think these two could be related unless you studied the finest details of their faces, the only place their relationship revealed itself. Only these Abramses shared the same strong brow and jaw, the same curve of a mouth with the slightest hint

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of a smirk, the identical prominent forehead and high cheekbones. These men were undoubtedly brothers if you really took the time to study them. Audrey had cut the photos out of the fashion magazine and pasted them carefully to her vanity mirror. When teased by a friend in New York about the behavior, she was sharp and quick to respond. “This is about business, pure and simple. These men are the future of fashion, and I must know everything there is to know about them.” The statement wasn’t a lie, and she repeated her own words in her head in a hypnotic rhythm. This trip was about research, connections, realizing her dreams for a store all her own. She was overflowing with ideas after the wild journey through the American countryside with nothing more than her clothes, rifle and colored pencils to keep her company. When she got a flat tire or was stuck in a ditch after a late summer rainstorm, she didn’t hesitate for a moment to stop and take the time to explore before she repaired the car herself. It was almost always a sign, leading her to see something amazing. She sketched the rolling peaks of the Smoky Mountains and the endless fields of cotton bursting white with blooms while she drove from town to town. Occasionally she’d stop in one city or another, taking in a civilized meal at one of the many moody jazz or blues clubs that seemed to haunt every corner of the south. The steady stream of imagery from her long journey faded from her mind as she turned off the engine and took a deep breath. She pulled her compact from her glove box, allowing herself just a moment to powder her nose and carefully apply her signature shade of garnet red lipstick before stepping out of the car. Perhaps she didn’t look as put together as when she left New York City the month before, but she still made for quite a sight as she passed through the revolving door onto the main floor of Jacqueline’s. She was thoroughly pleased by how comfortable she remained throughout her trip in the leisurewear she designed specifically for the

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adventure. She’d brought only the bare necessities, primarily consisting of a few skirts, wide legged pants, a smart jacket and pearls. She knew her outfits would cause quite a stir since wherever she traveled she always drew attention for her unique look. Honestly, however, she couldn’t have cared less. No one would ever question her femininity if they took a moment to meet her. The inside of Jacqueline’s was even more elegant than the Vogue photo spread. It felt more like a ballroom than a department store, with pristine marble floors, tall ceilings, modern art on the walls, and a pianist elegantly performing a Mozart sonata Audrey immediately recognized. The air inside the store was almost chilly, far cooler than the hot afternoon outside, yet she saw no fans anywhere. The clothes being sold were carefully organized and displayed behind gleaming glass cases and the smell of rich perfumes sold at a small counter at the front of the store made her feel like she was home. In fact, the scent of the extravagant interior made her laugh, for the whole place smelled like Violette, the fragrance she had created just months before she left France for good. The perfectly balanced combination of rose, jasmine and violet filled her nose, and she couldn’t help but laugh to herself. Might she be recognized five thousand miles from home? Maybe not her face, but she was pleased to know the women of this foreign city seemed to approve of her already. They didn’t know it yet, but they were hers. As she strolled the wide aisles of Jacqueline’s, small groups of women gathered and tried their hardest not to stare at her. Although the ladies she examined were dressed carefully and stylishly, she was glad to note that a lot of work could be done to make comfort and fashion synonymous in this fresh, young city.

* * * *

The buzzer went off in the conference room at possibly the most inopportune moment possible. Silas’ heart pounded as Mr.

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Michaelovitch, Aleksandr as he insisted on being called, drew up contracts for Max and Silas to examine. All that stood between the Abrams brothers and a visible path to massive European success were two signatures accompanied by two firm handshakes. “What is it, Mason?” Max asked, visibly annoyed. “Mr. Abrams, sir, I have an urgent message for you,” the voice replied over the intercom. “Did I or did I not tell you that we were not to be disturbed?” “My sincerest apologies, sir. I wouldn’t have interrupted if it weren’t terribly pressing.” “I’ll handle it,” Silas responded, giving his older brother a knowing look. Calm down, Max. Don’t let your temper flare today, for Christ’s sake. Max leaned back in his chair at the conference table and took a deep breath. Silas eased out of his seat and laid his hand on his brother’s thick shoulder. “I’ll be right back. Look over everything, and I will be glad to sign the moment I’ve had the chance to look things over more carefully.” Silas felt relieved to step into the hallway and escape the tension in the boardroom, a weighty feeling managing to send his stomach into somersaults since the moment he met Michaelovitch. There was something about the Russian he didn’t like, but the man wasn’t a friend. This was all business, business promising to make their store the top international destination for high fashion. The money promised to be huge if the deal went through in a timely fashion, but it wasn’t about that for Silas. Bringing Jacqueline’s to the women of the world was about a new vision for the twentieth century. He knew everything was changing rapidly and couldn’t imagine how different things would be in twenty or thirty years. Hell, he owned his own plane, could travel wherever he pleased in just a few short hours. Would that be true of everyone by the time he was an old man?

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“Silas?” Mason said, snapping him out of his haze. He refocused his eyes on his right-hand man and close personal confidante, a man he and Max had known and trusted throughout their lives. “Sorry, Mason. I have a lot on my mind. So what is so urgent to have pulled me out of the meeting with Michaelovitch? You know how terribly important today is.” “I’ve heard report that Audrey Rousseau is in the store and making quite a buzz among the clients.” “That’s impossible, Mason. She wouldn’t step foot in America, much less Dallas. She’s the queen bee of the Parisian fashion elite these days, you must know that. Last I heard she was opening a store next to the Ritz Hotel.” “Respectfully, sir, it seems you haven’t been paying attention to the news. No one has seen her for a month, not since she disappeared from New York in her car without saying a word to anyone about it.” “She drove here? Alone?” “Yes, yes she did.” “My goodness. Where is she?” Mason quietly pointed towards the giant windows behind Silas looking six floors down to Main Street. Silas immediately spotted a woman getting into a fancy sports car. He rapidly crossed to the glass across the room to take a closer look, and despite his distance from the street, he could clearly make out her attire. Grey wide-legged pants and a black, form-fitting jacket belted at the waist clung gracefully to her delicate frame. Her hair was cut just beneath her chin and she wore a tiny cloche hat upon her head. Her lips blazed with a fiery shade, and she wore huge sunglasses and seemingly endless strands of pearls around her neck. Before he knew what he was doing, he was taking the stairs two at a time, desperate to catch her before she disappeared. No use in waiting for the elevator—this was far too important. He ran through the lobby, barely avoiding running into some of his most regular customers.

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Murmuring half-hearted apologies to everyone he nearly toppled, he bolted through the revolving doors just in time to see the dust Audrey’s convertible left behind as she pulled away down Main Street.

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Chapter Two

“And why am I supposed to care, Silas? You run out of the most important business meeting of our lives and I’m supposed to be impressed by some woman in pants?” Max stared at his younger brother with the dark, rage-filled look Silas should have found intimidating by now. “Audrey Rousseau was here! At the store! She just waltzed right in to take a look like it was nothing. According to Mason, she drove. Alone. From New York.” “I’ve heard no substantial evidence that there’s any truth to this, save that some crazy suffragette got her hands on her husband’s car and came over here.” “Max, stop that. Women got the right to vote five years ago. It’s all been different since the war, and Audrey Rousseau is the epitome of how much things have changed.” “Don’t start, Silas. I don’t want to hear about it. Rousseau’s a talent, there’s no doubt about it. But if you think I’m going to start selling women’s pants in my store, you are sadly mistaken. I don’t care who walks in the lobby wearing what. And I detest wasting our time with this when we have serious business to discuss concerning Michaelovitch.” “I’m going to find her, Max. She’s here because of us, don’t you see? Why else would she drive more than a thousand miles to come to Dallas? Michaelovitch can hold his horses for a day or two.” “Fine, then I will just sign your name to the contract.”

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“Don’t you dare. I just need some time, goddamn it. Why are you so quick to plunge into everything? Can’t world domination wait until tomorrow?” A moment of heavy silence settled over them. “This is a once in a lifetime chance, Silas. Imagine it—five stores, with Jacqueline’s name becoming famous all across the western world. No one’s ever done that before. Each place could be more grand and elegant than the next. And we could both spend more time traveling, maybe even move to Paris.” “You’d miss Male Order, believe me,” Silas retorted. Max was a Texas boy through and through, despite his deep hunger for global business conquest. If Max wasn’t on a horse for even a day he began to get edgy. “Besides, I’m not saying I don’t want this as much as you do. I just have to find Rousseau first. She’s a sign, Max. And it’s gonna pay off to keep Michaelovitch sweatin’ just a bit. It always does.” “You’ve got one week. And then we’re moving forward, or I swear…” “A week. Done.” And with that, Silas slammed the door to the boardroom.

* * * *

Audrey peeled off her clothes and wrapped a robe around herself in the refreshing cool of her new home, the comfortable suite on the tenth floor of the Parkside Hotel. Despite visiting many luxurious hotels before arriving in this strange, brand-new city, she had never seen this kind of beauty before. Climbing upwards to her room just moments before, she marveled at the endlessly swooping upwards staircase wrapping languorously around a sparkling black and white checkered lobby, each floor a perfect swirl ascending higher and higher.

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She was thrilled when the bellhop revealed her room, the perfect space she needed to recover herself, complete with a massive tub and vanity. Silk seemed to drape every surface, and she opened her balcony doors to let in the warm September breeze, still holding more than a hint of the scorching Texas summer she’d read about before making the long journey. As she drew a hot bath for herself, she smiled as she recalled the image of Silas Abrams in her rearview mirror as she sped away from Jacqueline’s several hours before. She couldn’t be sure, but she could have sworn he might have even broken a sweat chasing after her. The image could be described as nothing less than charming. There he stood, out of breath but still as dapper as his image in the magazine, his stunning blond hair shining without a hat atop his head. He smiled and casually gave a half wave to Audrey as she pulled away as if to let her know this wouldn’t be their last encounter. The look on his face told her he enjoyed this little game she had begun, that he would enjoy tracking her down. Letting her robe fall to the floor, she smirked when she considered how this might play out. How could they be mutually beneficial to each others’ budding international careers? What did they have that she wanted, and what could she offer them? She imagined Silas in his perfectly pristine cream suit, the picture of the modern man. But where was Max, the other half of this mysterious, powerful duo? From the Vogue photo spread, she knew Max shied away from the trends Silas would devour with a spoon. His rugged sensibilities screamed Texas, and it seemed entirely fitting the older brother would wear black from head to toe. His attire almost reminded her of someone in mourning. Could he be dressing that way in remembrance for someone? His clothing contained no embellishment except for one concession. He wore his pants tucked into his boots to display elaborate cowboy boots, painstakingly embroidered with an ornate geometric design.

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The contrasting styles echoed in Audrey’s brain as she settled into the tub for her restorative soak after the weeks of travel. As she sunk deeper and deeper into the water, her brain became foggy with slumber as the thoughts continued radiating through her. Images of Max and Silas echoed in her brain, two mysterious and intriguing sides of the same coin. As her body unraveled in complete relaxation, she opened her eyes and smiled. It’s perfect, she thought happily to herself. Time to get to work.

* * * *

“Where is she, Mason? I’ve made a call to every respectable hotel in this godforsaken town and she is nowhere to be found!” Silas threw his chair back from his desk and crossed towards the windows, gazing out onto the growing skyline of Dallas lit up in the night. Hotels, each taller than the last, seemed to be cropping up left and right these days, and Silas simply couldn’t keep track of them any longer. “Sir, you must be patient. I can’t recall the last time I saw you in such a state.” Silas took a breath and turned back to Mason. “This could be very important for our business, that’s all. I’m afraid I will miss my window to meet her, and she’ll never return to Dallas. She must be here for a reason, and I have to find out if it has to do with the store.” “With all due respect, perhaps she doesn’t want to be found right now. She’ll reveal herself when she’s ready. Isn’t she the type of woman who knows what she wants? She certainly seems like the fearless type,” Mason replied with his typical clear-headed calm. “I can say with all my confidence there has never been a woman like Audrey Rousseau.” “Not even Miss Jacqueline, sir?” “That’s not what I’m talking about, Mason. And I resent you bringing her up right now.” Silas fumed at the comparison to the

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woman he and his brother had loved and lost three years prior. He was chasing Miss Rousseau. There was no doubt about it. And although he couldn’t pretend an attraction to her wasn’t out of the question, this was unmistakably business. Besides, save for an article here and there in Vogue, he had barely seen her beyond a glimpse as she made her getaway. This was unmistakably about her talent and her vision. The designer could be the Abramses’ finest ally, possibly helping the store more than even Michaelovitch could. And he liked the thought of shaking off the Russian’s influence on his brother. “My sincerest apologies. I didn’t mean to pry, Silas.” Despite Mason’s technical job description as butler and personal assistant to both brothers, Silas despised the title and any distance between them. Mason had been like a grandfather to both of them, especially after their own parents had been killed in a train accident when Max and Silas were just fifteen. He had worked for the Abrams family his entire life and cared for the boys since they’d been born. “It’s all right, Mason. I know how close you were to Jackie. We all miss her. Do you think that’s why Max was so angry with me when I ran out of the meeting with the Russian?” “I think Max was angry because you acted rather abruptly, sir.” Mason gave Silas a pat on his shoulder and looked him square in the eye. “I’m sure Miss Rousseau will emerge from her hiding place. It has only been two days, after all. Let her adjust to this new place. I am sure it must be quite a lot to take in, wouldn’t you agree? Take care of your business, spend some time at home, and I’m sure you will have your answers within no time.” “Thank you, Mason,” Silas answered half-heartedly, trying his damndest to listen to the good advice. He filled his mind with menial work, digging into a thick stack of untouched mail delivered that morning. Home, he thought to himself as he absent-mindedly tossed letter after letter into the garbage. The concept of home as a place of rest and relaxation didn’t hold exactly the same definition these days, not

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since Jackie died three years ago on the terrible night that changed the Abramses’ lives indelibly. Since then, Max had poured every ounce of his spirit first into rebuilding The Arches from the ground up and then designing project after project in their hometown, Male Order, and Dallas. Silas always admired his brother’s work ethic, but a new house and department store had been just the beginning. Already nearing completion were a movie theater, a marketplace and a ballroom for their beloved hometown. Max planned to finish them all within a month. Silas loved to imagine the future of Male Order, quite an evolution since their grandparents had helped found the community. But at this pace, how long could his brother, the only family he had left, last? Silas mourned in his own way, taking on new and more extravagant hobbies and adventures. The speed of the road and the exhilaration of flight were the best elixirs he could imagine. If work would consume his brother and keep them from healing the past, Silas would be damned if he stuck around to see Max fall apart. He’d rather be in the air. A thick envelope at the bottom of the pile of mail awoke him from his thoughts. How had he missed this earlier? He tore it open and spread the contents out across his desk. Ten perfectly rendered designs looked back at him, and the drawings were almost eerie. The men in each image bore an uncanny resemblance to both Silas and Max, and the fashions meticulously revealed on each page accomplished an unthinkable feat. One by one, the designer had taken pieces from each of the Abramses’ personal styles and blended them into one collection. It was almost shocking to look at the meticulous detail, the gorgeous, contemporary lines perfectly blended with the traditions of western dress. A small handwritten card peaked out from underneath the last drawing.

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What do you think? Meet me at the Parkside Restaurant at eight o’clock sharp. Fondly, Audrey Rousseau Silas looked at his watch. It was nearly nine. He rushed out the door without a second thought.

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Chapter Three

“Miss Rousseau, what a pleasure it is to finally meet you.” The slight drawl of Silas Abrams’ voice roused Audrey from her meditative state, her nose buried in her sketchbook. “Mr. Abrams, I presume? I was beginning to doubt you would show up,” Audrey replied with a furrowed brow. She took a long slow sip of coffee. “If I had known you planned to arrive an hour late, I might have waited to take my dinner.” “My sincerest apologies, Miss Rousseau. May I join you at your table?” Silas did look genuinely sorry, but Audrey hated to be kept waiting, and planned to rub it in a bit. “I’ve finished for the evening, Mr. Abrams, and was frankly planning to retire shortly. I was under the impression you wouldn’t be coming tonight.” Audrey tried to contain her hurt and remain professional, but she could hear the frustration ringing in her own voice. Her excitement about meeting and engaging with the younger Abrams had waned, and only the tension between them remained. Audrey grabbed her handbag and tried to make her way towards the exit, but Silas stepped in front of her, putting a physical barrier between her and the door. As he stood in front of her, her body couldn’t help but react to his form looming above her. There was no denying he was breathtaking to look at. His shining azure eyes were filled with remorse, and he was still a bit out of breath from rushing to get to the hotel. Had he actually run? Despite his gently heaving chest, his suit was impeccably in order, creamy linen cut close to his muscled body from head to toe. He wore a cotton flat cap and a slim leather jacket, clearly his driving costume.

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“Please let me show you around town. I promise I’ll make it up to you.” He grinned and looked Audrey straight in the eye, and her panties immediately soaked when he gently set his hand on her shoulder, the heat of his hand radiating across the partially exposed flesh. “Where are you parked, Mr. Abrams? I’m in the mood for a drive.” Audrey didn’t back down from his gaze, and they held each others’ stares for far longer than necessary. “I’m right behind you. And please, call me Silas.”

* * * *

It was barely nine-thirty, but downtown Dallas on a weeknight wasn’t known for its rowdy crowds. In fact, anyone up to any trouble whatsoever wouldn’t be out of doors, but hidden far from sight. Since the strict law of Prohibition had shut down every saloon in town, the wild underbelly of the town was forced to hide behind secret doors and innocent storefronts. To an outsider, the city looked dead. But if a visitor took a closer look through the eyes of someone in the know, he would see the city brimmed with a secret, unique chaos. Audrey insisted on driving separate cars, despite Silas’ protests. Her argument about learning the city for herself made some sense, but Silas didn’t enjoy the attitude that accompanied it. They had clearly gotten off on the wrong foot, and it was now Silas’ responsibility to right his previous wrong. He planned to show her a piece of Dallas bound to astonish her and undo his first impression within minutes. Silas quickly took a right turn, where a neat row of new automatic traffic lights lined the street. He stopped beneath the light, despite the entirely empty road. Audrey pulled up alongside him and smiled as their engines idled side by side. “What are you waiting for? No one’s out to see us. We won’t get in trouble, will we? I’m curious how fast that thing goes!” With that dare, she revved her engine and gave him a sly grin.

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He never doubted his car’s ability to outrun any in Dallas before that moment, but he recognized her sports car from a few of the races he attended in Europe after the war. Did she really plan to compete against him on one of Dallas’ widest boulevards? Before he could stop her, she hit the gas and took off. His instincts immediately kicked into gear, and he raced to catch up and close the gap between them. He floored the gas pedal and accelerated rapidly, but to no avail. She sped ahead, and when she gained enough of a lead to feel comfortable five long blocks later, she pulled her car into a sharp right turn and stopped right in front of him. He slammed on the brakes and hopped out of the car to meet her, his heart still racing from the surprise showdown. She was out of breath, her short hair blown wild from the evening breeze, and with a self-congratulatory grin spread wide across her face. “I heard the French were making fast cars. I can’t believe I got to see one in action on the streets of Dallas! You’re quite the driver, Miss Rousseau.” Silas laughed, taking it in stride that a woman had beaten him so easily. He’d lost fair and square, more or less, and it didn’t matter anyway. There would most certainly be a rematch in the days to come. “Call me Audrey,” she said, finally returning the familiar gesture he had offered at the hotel. “Now I’m ready for you to show me what you’d planned, Silas.” The sound of his name on her tongue, the fiery flush of competitive adrenaline in her cheeks and the quiet, complimentary purrs of their car engines…it was almost too much. His heart raced as he looked down as this wild vixen, a woman unlike any he had ever known before. He had to have her. The thought shocked him. He couldn’t remember the last time this kind of feral hunger filled his veins. He felt alive in a way he hadn’t in years, that was damn sure.

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“You’ve won this time. I’ll let you get away with that. But don’t think I’ll be letting you leave Texas without a rematch. For your grand prize tonight, let me take you to the best kept secret in Dallas, Audrey.”

* * * *

Audrey was more than a little perturbed when Silas took her hand and pulled her into a phone booth on a seemingly abandoned street. When he’d driven them deep into an industrial neighborhood filled with warehouses, she was confused. And now she was almost afraid. What could he possibly be planning? “Can you trust me, Audrey? I promise I won’t let you down. Just give me a moment,” he assured her as their two bodies acclimated to the enclosed space. She refused to be put in such a comprising position inside a phone booth in the middle of nowhere America, even if he was one of the handsomest, most daring men she had encountered in years. He closed the door to the tiny glass room, leaving the two of them tightly sandwiched together in the miniature space. “One minute and I’m gone,” she responded, trying to contain her body as he pushed against her, reaching for the receiver. Locking eyes, the tension between them was palpable. They were so close, Audrey could swear she felt his hard sexe against her as he brushed her torso. Was that a blush rising to her face? She was appalled. How had she found herself in this place with this man? “Hello, Jeffrey. Are the horses in the corral?” He said the words into the receiver as if recalling a familiar refrain. He chuckled as her brow furrowed deeply. “I like that look of yours, Audrey. It lets me know when I’m in trouble,” he said with a smirk as he leaned down and stole a kiss on her forehead.

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Did he just…what could he possibly… Before she could question or resist for another moment, strange sounds began coming from behind the back wall of the booth. Audrey was shocked at what was before her eyes. The wall had pulled away entirely, revealing a huge space on the other side of the phone booth filled with merry revelers. So this is an American speakeasy. “It’s called ‘The Merry Go ‘Round.’ Can you tell why?” Audrey rolled her eyes and laughed. In the middle of the massive warehouse was a huge children’s merry-go-round, cleverly converted into both a revolving bar and plaything for a wild cast of patrons, each of whom bobbed slowly up and down on the backs of the colorfully painted toy horses. “What would you like to drink, my dear?” Trying to keep up, she smiled. “What do they offer?” “Whiskey, always. Gin, sometimes. They have a hard time keeping the liquor in stock, since it goes so damn fast.” “I’ll have what you’re having. I don’t know your American ways, and I prefer to learn by trying.” “Be back in a jiffy.” Audrey took it all in while she enjoyed a moment to herself, from the illegal rotating bar in the front to the gambling tables in the back. Wonderful music filled the place, fiddles and drums and guitars echoing throughout the open room. A man on stage yodeled along to the unusual instruments. Dancers whirled and swirled everywhere, moving to a rhythm and a series of steps completely unfamiliar to her. “A martini for the lady. Neat,” Silas said from behind her, leaning in to let his breath gently ricochet off her ear. “How civilized! I mean…” Audrey stammered, hating to sound judgmental about a town and a country she’d barely seen. “It’s all right, Audrey. I know what you mean. Prohibition’s made America into a strange place, indeed. It hasn’t worked, in case you were wondering.”

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“I think I figured that one out.” Audrey gave Silas a half grin as she sipped at her first cocktail since departing Europe five months previously. It tasted absurdly strong, and the potion immediately shot to her head. “Let me show you my favorite spot in the place. May I?” Before she could think about it, Silas took Audrey’s hand in his and guided her through the throng of dancers, making sure not to lose her. Emerging in the back of the space, they walked through a dark hallway. Silas placed his hand on a seemingly out of place bookshelf against the farthest wall, and it spontaneously opened into yet another secret room. They stepped inside the space, a cool, comfortably cavernous place filled floor to ceiling with bottles of wine. A plush booth with velvet seats took up the farthest corner of the room, the table set with wine glasses and cutlery for Silas’ guests. “I’m a bit of a collector. French Bordeauxs are my favorite,” Silas said with his now familiar half grin. “An American wine collector? In Texas? I never would have—” “I thought you might appreciate it.” “What self-respecting Parisian wouldn’t?” “I’ll let you evaluate my taste sometime soon. But I didn’t bring you back here just to show this to you. I came here to be alone with you, away from all the chaos out there. Would you care to dance, Miss Rousseau?” The music, a raucous, deafening rhythm on the dance floor, had softened to a pleasant, slow melody wafting down the hallway. It was just audible enough to make it feel like a private concert for two. Before Audrey could respond, Silas was leading her in a slow waltz around the room. Their bodies swayed together in perfect time to the music, and she melted into his commanding lead. She felt tiny in his strong arms, her feet barely touching the ground as the tempo rose and fell. “I thought this was a business meeting, Silas,” she tried to protest.

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“So did I, Audrey. But that look on your face after our little race…I couldn’t stop myself after that. I saw the real you in that moment.” With all of her power, she stopped her body from swaying against his and looked up at him. “I came here to do business with you and your brother. That’s why I came to Dallas. You must realize this, yes?” “Yes, of course. And I’m honored and thrilled by the prospect of collaborating with you. I loved the designs you sent, and I know Max will as well. But tonight isn’t about business. You’ve been alone a long time, Audrey. I can tell.” He was right—it had been years since she allowed herself to be held by a man. Her work consumed every part of her and filled the dark holes left by keeping everyone at bay. She had been hurt and mistreated before, and the days and nights of her tireless labor were the perfect elixir to heal the wounds so deeply left on her heart. But was she that obvious? How could this stranger seem to know and understand so much? “Just give me tonight. Tomorrow we can go back to Miss Rousseau and Mr. Abrams. And no one will know, I can promise you that.” Silas smoothed back her hair and looked down at her with a fire that made her forget everything else. The questions dissolved inside of her, replaced by a hunger she hadn’t felt in years. Audrey’s senses were overwhelmed by him as he consumed her mouth, not waiting or needing to elicit a verbal response from her. She gasped as he led her towards the booth, picked her up and placed her down roughly on the table. He managed to be simultaneously forceful and gentle with her as ran his tongue from the top of her ear to the base of her neck, pausing for a delicious minute to savor the flesh surrounding her collarbone. This close to him, with his arms wrapped tightly around her, she

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could do nothing but surrender to the foreign desire burning ferociously through her veins. His scent seemed to surround her, and her sharp instincts as a parfumeur couldn’t help but analyze all she took in. He was an incredible, wonderfully American mixture of Ivory soap, black cherry, rope and leather, with the slightest hint of gasoline and musk. This man didn’t spend all of his days locked indoors behind a desk. His rough hands betrayed his playboy image, and the taste of salt on his skin told her he wasn’t afraid of breaking a sweat. While she took in the details of this mysterious new person in her life, Silas didn’t hesitate to explore the secrets of her own body. He paused for what seemed like an eternity to trace the lines of her signature, closely-cut linen sports jacket and blouse. He took the time to admire the fine curves and careful tailoring. “I’m going to tear this off of you, Audrey.” “You wouldn’t dare,” she exclaimed, shocked he would mar something so dear to her. “I’m not asking your permission,” he firmly retorted as he held both her small wrists in his rough hand. Audrey struggled against him as he roughly pulled off the jacket and then smoothed his hands down the front of the sacrificial blouse. His grin revealed the purely mischievous spirit springing to the surface as he managed in one swift motion to pop off each and every pearl button running from her décolletage to her waist. Beneath the blouse, she wore nothing but a silk camisole and a locket she never removed. Moments before, Silas looked prepared to do battle, gearing up to fight the layers of undergarments most women wore. Instead, Audrey’s round breasts stood at full attention beneath the thin, cool fabric. He looked overwhelmed for a moment as he took in the sight of her, half disrobed and leaning back against the wide, round table. “My word, Miss Rousseau. Aren’t you just a sight for sore eyes,” he said, the twang in his voice emphasized for effect. She couldn’t

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help but laugh out loud at the wild scenario she had found herself in, all alone with this strange man who somehow managed to make her giggle while simultaneously tearing off her clothes. In contrast to his rough treatment of her beloved jacket and blouse just moments before, he now palmed the fine silk and lace trim of her pale pink camisole with the care of a fine surgeon, slowly lifting it above her head with both hands as his fingertips ran across her bare torso for the first time. Standing above her, he leaned down and gently dragged his tongue between her breasts, taking each nipple in his mouth one at a time. He slowly ran his hands up and down her back from the nape of her neck to the bottom of her spine just above her ass. He let his tongue travel the journey from her taut nipples up her neck and just below her earlobe and then make a return trip once again. Occasionally one hand would grab a fistful of her carefully coifed bobbed hairdo and he would hold her up to his face, devour her lips and tongue with a passion so wild she had no choice but to succumb. This waxing and waning of gentle caressing and fitful devouring left her gasping for air and desperate to touch him in return, but he resisted her advances when she attempted to unbutton his shirt. Despite the impressive bulge growing beneath his slim-cut pale yellow suit pants, he made no move towards revealing what was under the layers of fine cotton. Both of them remained for several minutes panting against each other, each lover’s hot breath in the other’s ear. Silas held her tightly, now only gently caressing her hair and holding her half naked body against his strong chest. Once some time passed and their breaths had slowed to a hushed, simultaneous rise and fall, he leaned into her ear and said, “I won’t take you tonight, because I am a gentleman and I can sense you’re not ready. But I want you, Audrey. And I will have you.” He took her petite hand in his and dragged it down the front of his shirt, over the smooth edges of the belt around his waist and along the

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front seam of his pants, a piece of fabric that looked on the verge of splitting right down the middle with the stress of what lay just beneath the surface. Beneath the cotton, she could feel the heat and throbbing of pure, masculine desire. Her face went red hot, and there was nothing she could do to stifle the blush in her cheeks and the surge of moisture between her legs. Despite her vulnerable, naked state, and the hunger coursing through her veins, she gathered her courage as she pulled her camisole over her shoulders. “I wish to return to my room now, Mr. Abrams. Please bring me to my car. I will be invoicing you tomorrow for the cost of the jacket.” If he wanted to play the game, she would be more than happy to compete.

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Chapter Four

“Didn’t think I’d see you here this morning,” Max said from the kitchen doorway as he took off his wide-brimmed cowboy hat. Silas sat at the table in his smoking jacket, reading the newspaper. “What time did you get home?” “Late,” Silas replied, unwilling to give his older brother the satisfaction of any details. Dawn was just breaking, but Max was already dressed and ready for a day on the range. His brother, on the other hand, had clearly not gone to bed for more than an hour. Max sat down across the table from Silas and looked him square in the eye. “Were you with Rousseau?” “What do you think?” A moment of uncomfortable silence settled over them as Max refused to answer his sarcastic rhetorical question. “All right. That’s enough, Silas. Look, I have every right to be annoyed with you for walking out of the meeting with Michaelovitch and keeping us from sealing the deal. So did you have any revelations with Rousseau?” “She definitely wants to do business with us. She drew up plans for a menswear line. It’s nothing short of impressive.” “Menswear? What man would shop in a department store like ours? I can’t believe you think that’s more promising than Michaelovitch’s plan.” Silas didn’t respond, except with a flash of hostility burning from his cobalt blue eyes. Max couldn’t pretend to be surprised. The

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tension between them came and went since they’d lost Jackie three years ago, but things had never been the same between them. “Come work with me today out on the ranch,” Max said to break the silence, trying his damnedest to find the last bone of patience in his body. “When was the last time you got your hands dirty? We can talk business and check in on how things are going on the property.” Silas paused for a moment before grudgingly admitting to his brother he was right. “It’s been too long. Give me ten minutes.”

* * * *

Audrey woke up to a scuffling outside her door and heard two men arguing in the hallway. It was early, the light barely streaming through her balcony. She dressed in her favorite pair of silk men’s pajamas and opened the curtains to the first bright, golden rays of a Texas morning. “I must leave this for Miss Abrams!” she heard one voice say forcefully beyond the walls of her room. It took her a moment before she realized the man in the hallway was referring to her. She threw on her robe and opened the door to find two men on the verge of coming to blows. Neither looked the type to start a fistfight in a hotel hallway. The bellboy’s hair was mussed, and he had a look of fear in his eyes. An older gentleman in a carefully tailored suit held a large leather case in one hand with a ribbon wrapped around it, now torn and smashed by their altercation. “What seems to be the problem, gentlemen?” Audrey immediately halted the argument by her appearance. They both stared at her, blushes rising on their faces within moments. “Miss Belle Abrams, I presume?” the older gentleman asked politely, in stark contrast to his former tone with the young hotel employee. Beneath the politeness of his voice, there was a note of amusement in his tone.

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She blushed at hearing the fake name she used while checking into the Parkside several days ago. She’d created the alias to elude her past, for security, but she had to admit that it also came in handy while hiding from Silas. She smiled to herself when she thought of him calling every hotel in Dallas and never thinking to look under his own last name. But now, after the awkward ending of last night, she was appalled by her use of the well-known name in Dallas. “Y-yes. That’s me,” Audrey stammered. “Didn’t I make it clear I was not to be disturbed?” she said, finding her footing again by taking out her frustration on the bellboy. She was deeply concerned by how easily she had been found out. She came to Dallas to feel anonymous, but apparently even the safety of a pseudonym didn’t completely hide her.

“My sincerest apologies, Miss Abrams. This man is trespassing. I was just about to call the police.” “Wait just a moment. I’ve simply come to deliver a package from my employer, Silas Abrams,” the older man responded. “Silas Abrams? As in, the owner of Jacqueline’s?” The bellboy blushed, immediately realizing he was challenging a very powerful member of Dallas society. “Yes! Now leave me, or I will report this incident to your supervisor!” Within a moment, the young employee swiftly departed, profusely apologizing as he ran out of sight. “I’m terribly sorry, Miss Rousseau. I tried with all my ability to slip in and out of here unnoticed, but you were difficult to locate. I had to pull quite a few strings to find the guest list with your alias on it. My name is Mason Bryant, by the way. I serve as the personal assistant to both Max and Silas.” “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Bryant. And I’m impressed by your detective work, I must admit. And please forgive my inappropriate attire. I wasn’t exactly expecting guests,” Audrey said as she looked

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down at her nightwear. “I’m usually up by this hour working, but I’m afraid I’ve gotten a bit of a slow start on the morning.” “No need for explanations, Miss Rousseau. I simply came to

deliver this, courtesy of Master Silas. My apologies that the gift didn’t arrive here in its intended state.” The courteous man handed the gift to Audrey and was gone within

a moment. She exhaled deeply as she shut the door, relieved the intruder hadn’t been someone with ill intentions. Her heart still skipped a beat when she thought of being woken suddenly in the night by an unwelcome guest bound and determined to do her harm. But she hated to think of the past, of all that old fear and pain, and immediately pushed it from her mind in favor of examining the box now lying on her vanity. She was safe in Dallas, embarking on a new life thousands of miles from Paris and the past. She carefully opened the strangely shaped leather case, removing the silk ribbon and undoing the clasps holding it shut. Inside sat a grey felt cowboy hat, cut long and petite in what Audrey guessed was

a Texas gesture towards femininity. She lifted the hat out of its

strange box and discovered a large velvet pouch beneath the charming and entertaining welcome gift to this strange new place. She opened the pouch and spilled the contents across the vanity so she could examine them more closely. Across the smooth marble top spread a pile of beautiful pearl buttons, far more than Silas had marred the previous evening on her prized jacket. At the bottom of the pile sat a tiny, handwritten note.

Dear Miss Rousseau, I am thrilled to make your acquaintance and hope you will accept this gesture as an official welcome to Texas. Please forgive my trespasses last night. Will you chalk it up to temporary insanity? Here’s to a thousand pearl buttons and a future of endlessly fruitful collaborations. Yours, Silas R. Abrams

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P.S. Might you be interested in attending a party at our home, The Arches, on Saturday evening? A telegraph will arrive this afternoon with details. She put on the hat and laughed at her reflection in the large vanity mirror. She looked like a different person, someone she didn’t know and never imagined meeting. Did women here really wear these hats? As she stared at this new version of herself, she thought about Silas’ note, such a mixture of the formal and the affectionate. Where did she stand with him? And, more importantly, what did she want? She had no intention of playing games with him and expected the same from him. Last night was a moment, a luscious interlude that meant nothing and ultimately remained quite innocent. Although Silas filled her with desire in a way she hadn’t allowed herself to feel in years, if ever, she knew from experience that business and pleasure couldn’t—and shouldn’t—mix. Drawing a bath in her tub, she enjoyed keeping the cowboy hat on while stripping off her silky layers and submerging her body in the deep, hot water. She added some soap flakes and let the bubbles rise to the top edge of the porcelain. Her whole body relaxed, and she hummed an old tune from her childhood as she scrubbed herself clean. She carefully placed her wonderfully exotic new possession on the table next to her and dipped low in the tub, soaking her hair in the water in preparation for a long wash. She caressed each body part with the luxurious soap the hotel provided her, and she couldn’t help but be consumed by thoughts of the previous night as her hands travelled across the private spaces of her torso. She had to admit that the memory of Silas tearing open her blouse, hungry to explore the contents hiding beneath the thin layers of fabric, were a potent enough memory to make her want to explode. She dipped her fingers deep inside herself, imagining what was hiding beneath the leather belt around his hips. She pictured unfastening his pants and exploring him with her tongue and lips, taking the

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impressive girth of his cock all the way into her mouth. She imagined the pleasure of making him moan, and the glorious feeling of knowing this man had completely succumbed to his desire for her alone. She let her fingers roam across her slick folds, paying special attention to the swollen ridge that made her entire body quake when she ran her fingers over it. She thought of the way Silas looked at her, so unafraid, so free. He was so different than the stuffy, uptight men in Paris who always tried and failed to court her. They were humorless, sexless and selfish, only interested in themselves. But Silas was so different. He seemed so ravenous, so interested and excited to explore her body. Her fingers moved to the rapid rhythm of her beating heart, spreading the heat flowing from inside her. The pulsing inside her grew almost unbearable as she imagined a particular fantasy of hers she had yet to experience in real life. The picture of Silas tasting and exploring her with his mouth, of sucking the juices from inside of her and sampling her taste came rushing at her vividly. She dreamed at looking down at him as he fearlessly consumed her. The mental picture was enough to drive her over the edge almost immediately, and her pussy erupted into a seemingly endless series of deeply pleasurable spasms. She moaned and continued to slowly explore her most intimate parts, the orgasms coming in soft waves as she finally allowed herself to imagine Silas’ cock buried deep inside of her. She lay in the relaxing hot water of the bath panting as she let herself momentarily imagine all the pleasure Silas could bring to her. The attraction between them was more powerful than anything she had ever experienced. Just as her breathing had begun to slow, a loud knock sounded at her door. “Urgent telegram for Miss Belle Abrams!”

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Chapter Five

“And why should I do this favor for you, Silas?” “I made a mistake and double booked myself, Max. Can’t you understand? I simply can’t leave Katherine alone tonight, and you know how damn fragile her ego is. If she saw me with Audrey, she’d explode.” “Why can’t Katherine take care of herself? Why does she need you to hold her hand every god damn minute of the day and night?” The last thing Max was interested in doing that evening was playing the part of charming host. He was too damn tired to even imagine the prospect of putting on a tux, much less smiling and nodding for an entire night. Not to mention the fact that he was buried under deadlines for three separate projects and completely stuck on all of them. Silas pulled him from his thoughts, refuting his protests by trying to elicit his sympathies for their old family friend. “Max, you know how hard she took it after that flop of a show last month. Her styles are just so outdated, and she can’t seem to catch up with the times. And she’s Jackie’s sister, for chrissakes. Have a little compassion.” “I’m sure you’ll figure out how to juggle them both,” Max replied gruffly and left Silas in the kitchen tying his bowtie. He knew he was unbearable to be around these days, but there was nothing he could do about it. He simply couldn’t forgive himself for Jackie’s death—it haunted him day and night, awake or asleep. The idea of spending time with Katie, the spitting image of her big sister, made his stomach ache. And the fact that Silas seemed to be getting over it all and moving on made it even worse. He spent tons of time

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with Katie and never once seemed to be pained by it. The gulf between him and his brother seemed to widen by the day, despite his failed efforts to forgive Silas for making peace with a past he simply couldn’t let go. He was trying his damnedest to be nice to his little brother, but he couldn’t help but feel jealous of him, jealous of his carefree nature, of the way things could just roll off him. Max had always been accused of being too intense, and he was sick of it. He poured himself a drink in his studio, locked the door and turned on his phonograph. He put on a slow jazz record he bought in Chicago several months before and let the soulful voice of the female singer wash over him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, determined to block the party out of his brain and all the chaos Audrey Rousseau seemed to be bringing into his life, even from afar. If she had made it this far, he was confident she could handle a typical party at The Arches on her own.

* * * *

During the drive out of Dallas, Audrey fell into an almost meditative state. Soaking in the dusk, she rapidly made her way down the dusty country road. She passed an occasional farmer on the side of the road, staring as she breezed by in her speedy sports car. A scarf wrapped around her head, her sunglasses shielding her eyes from view, she almost felt anonymous, a secret agent on her own mysterious mission. She missed being on the road like this, and memories from her wild trek kept her brain distracted from the actual task at hand. She may have been going to the party at the invitation of Silas, but she was bound and determined not to let her emotions get away from her. This was just a party, an opportunity to experience a real Texas social gathering.

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If that was the case, then why was her heart beating like a band of African drums? She pulled down the Abramses’ long, tree-lined gravel driveway and felt her pulse exploding in her veins. The private road seemed to weave and wind for miles, purposefully building anticipation for any visitor curious to see the home. Beyond gaining notoriety for Jacqueline’s, Max Abrams had also managed in the past several years to become quite well known in the

architectural world for his cutting edge designs. Audrey gasped as she finally caught a distant glimpse of The Arches, Max’s showpiece, sitting on top of a tall hill and glowing in the light of early evening. The sprawl of the modern, clean lines of the lavish home seemed to rise magically from the landscape as if it were born from the very earth itself. From her vantage point on the road, she could already tell this was going to be a wild party. Despite the early hour, she could hear the buzz of the many, many guests and make out the sounds of a band playing a cheerful dance number. Lights twinkled across the wide expanse of property spreading from the elaborate house, beckoning her closer. As she continued traveling up the hill towards Max and Silas’ home, she spotted rows and rows of fancy cars lining the circle drive around the entranceway. Audrey was forced to park quite a distance from the door. As she walked towards the lavish home, she could smell the lush flower gardens she spotted from the drive. Horses lined

a trim, modern stable, and she lingered alone with the gorgeous

animals as she tried to swallow her unusual and irrational social anxiety. After several minutes of petting a particularly striking black

stallion, she had the eerie, second sense she was not alone. She looked around, unable to shake the feeling of being observed. She glanced towards the house and caught a momentary glimpse of a silhouette in

a window, followed by the swift movement of shutting blinds. The

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moment caused chills to run down your spine. Don’t get paranoid, Audrey. There’s no way he’s found you here. You’re safe. She continued giving herself a rhythmic, silent pep talk as she made her way down the ivy-covered arched walkway. Something inside her had been off for days, thrown by her encounter with Silas. She simply didn’t know what to make of their relationship, but she had to admit she felt excited to see him. As she made her way through the crowds of people standing around the pool, she held her head high as she felt the numerous pairs of eyes gazing at her. Women throughout the courtyard, in their cotton candy party gowns and elaborate hairdos, stood in marked difference to Audrey’s sober, trim little black dress that draped in layers of gauze along the slim curves of her petite frame. Her eyes scanning the dance floor, she looked everywhere for a glimpse of Silas. What was she to do if he couldn’t be found? She didn’t know a soul in the entire state, much less at the party. Could she go up and introduce herself to a group of people? How would someone go about doing that without coming off as strange? After nearly an hour of wandering through the crowds and trying to maintain her cool, she was on the verge of leaving. How could he do this to her? In the midst of the crowds of people, Audrey was more alone than she’d ever been in her entire life. “Miss Rousseau…” sounded a familiar voice behind her. “Oh, Mason! I’m so glad to see you. I’ve been looking for Silas,” she responded to the dapper man, dressed in a tuxedo, tails and a top hat. “But I’m on the verge of giving up and leaving. He knows how I hate to be left waiting, and he’s already made that mistake once.” “My apologies, Miss Rousseau. But Silas asked me to let you know he’s been detained and won’t be able to act as your host this evening.” “Detained? What the hell am I supposed to do? I don’t know a soul here!” She hated to let her frustration bubble so obviously to the

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surface, but she was never particularly talented at hiding her emotions. “Please let me show you into the private living quarters. No one else will disturb you and Silas will surely be back within the hour,” Mason said, his face filled with concern. “One hour, and then I’ll have to depart. You can tell him that, wherever he’s been detained.” Audrey hated the bite in her voice, the obvious sarcasm, but she couldn’t help but feel her jealous streak bubble to the surface. As she followed Silas’ loyal assistant into his home, she momentarily caught a glimpse of his golden hair and white seersucker suit at the opposite edge of the hilltop, hastily leading a tiny blonde woman away from the crowds of merrymakers. It was just a second, possibly even a delusion. Do not assume anything, Audrey. Do not make a scene here among your future friends and clients. Her blood boiled in her veins, but she managed to keep her mouth shut. “Please, Miss Rousseau. Make yourself comfortable here,” Mason said as he opened the wide arching doorway into the immaculate kitchen. Every surface gleamed with black and white tile and revealed something surprising. Everything was customized and built into the room, and a brand new electric stove and refrigerator called to her instinctual love for making elaborate meals and entertaining. She missed being the center of the party and the hostess of evenings like this. “I must leave you,” he said to Audrey apologetically. “But I’m confident Master Abrams will be here momentarily.” “Yes, Mason. I’m sure you have a million things to attend to on a night like this. I’ll be fine. Thank you for your kindness.” With a sigh of relief, he left her in the kitchen to see to his responsibilities. She gave herself a private tour, running her hand over the seemingly endless modern conveniences built into the trim and stylish room. No luxury had been spared here, and the beauty of the

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place overwhelmed her. She couldn’t help but think about how much her life had changed in the past ten years since she had left the orphanage. She imagined herself at sixteen in this room, a skinny, poor girl with no one and nothing to call her own. Her fingers thumbed the locket around her neck, the only photographs of her mother and father concealed inside the necklace. It was the only thing that remained of her childhood. So much hard work, so many risks…it was all worth it in moments like this, just to see a space so perfect. Audrey’s curiosity bubbled to the surface as she let herself wander from the kitchen into the living room, a space that seemed to naturally unfold from the open floor plan. Every piece of furniture, surface and detail echoed the similar careful thought and design of the kitchen, and every corner of the house felt warm and inviting. With each room opening into the next, she lost track of time and her anger at being left alone seemed to fade to the peripheries of her mind. She didn’t care to snoop in the brothers’ personal spaces and steered clear of any room with a closed door, but continued wandering on in curiosity. She crossed a threshold and realized she had passed out of the personal living quarters and into a massive wing of rooms clearly serving as a design studio. Work stations, complete with easels and drawing tools, took up most of the wide open space with two walls made of windows from floor to ceiling. A display case of architectural renderings and photographs of buildings and designs by Max and Silas took up another wall of the huge open space, and Audrey paused to look at the incredible array of things these brothers had accomplished. In the center of the case sat an ornately framed image of the Abrams brothers standing in front of the newly completed department store, smiling in front of a huge crowd of onlookers. In between Silas and Max stood a slender, petite blonde holding an oversized pair of scissors poised just above a ribbon around the entrance.

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“Miss Rousseau, I presume,” a voice echoed across the room from behind Audrey.

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Chapter Six

Practically jumping out of her skin in surprise, Audrey quickly turned to see Max Abrams standing in the arched doorway. “Y-yes,” she responded, desperately trying to regain her composure. “And you must be…Max.” He walked across the room towards her, and she couldn’t help but gasp as she took in his appearance. He was much larger than he seemed in the magazine photo spread, towering above her small frame as he came to stand in front of her. He wore all black from head to toe, just like his picture, and his brown eyes shined with a dark intelligence. She couldn’t tell if Max was amused or annoyed by her appearance. “You distracted me from my work, Miss Rousseau. I see you know your way around horses. I’ve never seen Ace take such an immediate liking to someone before.” “Do you always spy on people at your parties and hide from your guests?” Audrey didn’t mean to sound so harsh, but she was disturbed by Max seeing her in such a private moment. “It’s not my party. Silas doesn’t bother to ask permission from me these days.” An awkward moment of silence passed between them as they looked at one another, unsure what to say. “Why don’t you come into my office?” Max finally said, his request sounding less like a question than a command. “I’ll fix you a drink and help you forget about Silas’ disappearance.”

* * * *

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Without a word, Audrey followed him into his private room. As he silently poured the whiskey into two fresh glasses, he watched her watching him. Despite trying to cover it up in front of him, she had such a look of vulnerability on her face, of sadness. Could she be this affected by his brother’s absence? What had happened between them already? He couldn’t believe he had invited her into his private space on a night when he promised himself he would make progress on his work. But watching her at the stables with the horses, he couldn’t help but feel drawn in by her carefree beauty. He loved watching the way she didn’t hesitate to get close to the animals, unlatching and stepping just inside the doors as she let her hands gently stroke their sleek frames. She was both fearless and gentle, a rare and seductive combination of qualities to find in a woman. The smile he witnessed on her face during her quiet solitude with Ace had regrettably disappeared, replaced with an expression difficult to dissect. One dash anger, with a tincture of anxiety and a generous helping of curiosity? Whatever it was, she looked alive and overflowing with emotions. “Here’s a bit of medicine, Miss…may I call you Audrey?” Max couldn’t believe the tenderness this stranger had awoken inside of him. He handed her his favorite drink, a dry Manhattan, after dropping two maraschino cherries in the concoction with a bit of flair and a smile. “Of course. I’m in far too deep to care for formalities at this point.” She flopped down in Max’s favorite chair, one of his own designs, seemingly exhausted. “I’m sorry for Silas’ inconsiderate behavior. I can’t explain it to you right now, but I promise it was for a good reason.” “He left me there to flounder. I felt like a party crasher without an invitation,” she responded, the anger flashing in her eyes.

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“I suppose you’ve always been the life of the fête. I bet you were

the queen bee of every debutante ball in Paris.” “Oh, how wrong you are, Mr. Abrams. I think the closest I came

to a debutante ball as a girl was sewing their dresses late into the night at my first job. I knew nothing of that life.” Max was taken off guard by the honesty and sincerity in her response and didn’t know what to say. For once, he had no comeback, no sharp reply. “Forgive me, Max. None of this is your fault. Although I’m admittedly still intrigued by your antisocial tendencies.” She took a long gulp of the cocktail and forced a smile onto her lips.

A stirring deep from within made him desperately want to hold

her, to apologize for ignoring his brother’s request for his assistance. Her awful evening could have been avoided if he hadn’t insisted on remaining a recluse in his own damn house.

A long moment of silence passed between them as he sat beside

her and looked into her emerald eyes.

“I should have come to find you, Audrey. Silas asked me to see to

you, but I was too preoccupied with work and was annoyed by the interruption. Then I saw you with the horses and knew I had made a terrible mistake leaving you to the wolves out there. I’m glad I found you in here. I was just coming to look for you.” “Are they that bad?” she responded quietly, her eyes widening as they stared at one another. He wondered if she, too, was struck by the chemistry between them. “Well, they’re very different from you, that’s for sure. I doubt Silas has told you anything about Male Order, or Dallas for that matter. It’s a close-knit community, and everyone—especially the women—is surprised when an outsider arrives. They’ll devour your designs, though, I’m sure of it. I can practically hear them talking about you from here. They’re looking around at one another and realizing that something new and different has arrived.”

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Audrey visibly blushed at his honesty with her. She broke their intense gaze by looking down into her drink, clearly contemplating every word Max shared with her. She cleared her throat and changed the subject. “What did you put in here? Do all Americans make such strong cocktails, or is it a family trait?” “We’re just trying to loosen you up, that’s all.” With that statement, Audrey frowned. Max couldn’t remember the last time he’d put his foot in his mouth like that. “Come on, now! That’s not what I meant.” He took a deep breath and tried to shift the mood. “So, tell me something, will you? It’s quite an adventurous move to come all this way. Was it really us you came to see?” She smiled at the question. “Yes, but not for what you might think, Mr. Abrams. Let’s get that straight. I think you need me,” she replied, the confidence back in her voice. You have no idea. Max cleared his throat and tried to quiet the growing bulge between his legs by readjusting his position in the chair. It didn’t help that she was sitting so close to him he could smell her signature perfume. The scent was so uniquely hers it alone aroused something profound inside him. “Is that so, Miss Rousseau? And why do you think that?” he replied, leaning out of his chair just enough so their knees were an inch from touching. “Hasn’t Silas shown you my drawings? I assumed you two talked about everything.” “Not these days. We’ve been living quite separate lives since…” He trailed off, unable to find a way to neatly explain the rift between them. “I would like to see your designs, of course.” “Well, Silas has the only copy of the drawings. But I made a muslin mockup of a few of the garments from memory yesterday. It’s a men’s line for your store. Would you like to see them?”

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“A men’s line, yes, Silas mentioned it to me. I would love to see them. Of course.” She was gone from the room before he had a chance to ask another question.

* * * *

As she returned from her car with the rough garments, her pulse raced. Why was she on the verge running? She wasn’t sure, but she felt as if her heart was ready to explode. She reentered the room breathless and dizzy and held up her experiment for Max to see. “Go ahead, try it on. I’ll just…turn around,” Audrey said in response to his confused look as she handed him the garments. He smiled and nodded in agreement as she turned to face away from him. “Drop the blinds, will you?” Max requested. She eagerly obliged his request, careful not to inadvertently see anything she wasn’t supposed to. She heard his clothes drop to the floor once he had sufficient privacy from any prying eyes. The sound of the fabric hitting the floor stopped her cold in her tracks. Immediately she felt her pussy soak with the image of Max standing so near to her almost naked. Why had she started this? What was she expecting? And even if she was frustrated with Silas for abandoning her at the party, that certainly wasn’t a reason to mistakenly seduce his brother. There was no doubt in her mind about it—she was equally attracted to both Abramses, despite the vast differences between them. But there was no way she could ever have them both, and the idea of having to choose between them caused a ripple of pain to echo through her body. “Audrey? I…need a little bit of help here, I think,” Max said, awakening her from her thoughts.

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She turned around and smiled to see him in the rough version of her design. Even in the coarse fabric, he managed to look dapper. How did he do that? She crossed to him and began making adjustments, immediately making mental notes about what needed to be changed. She was used to tailoring men’s suits, but never for a man like this before. Her heart raced as she kneeled to adjust the wide leg of the pants she designed specifically for him. Looking up at him, she took out the measuring tape from her sewing kit and examined the changes she would need to make. “I’m afraid I underestimated the necessary size for you…” She knew at that moment her face was turning a deep shade of crimson. Bent up from the floor, it was impossible to miss the unmistakable sight of the erection stretching the inseam of the delicate pants to the hilt. He looked down at her, his nearly obsidian eyes turned black with desire. Before she knew what was happening, he was on the floor with her, his thick, muscular frame draped over her. For a single moment they lay on the cool stone, their eyes locked and both their chests panting an ecstatic rhythm. Before she could protest or even grasp onto logical thought, Max had flipped her on top of him and was kissing every surface of her mouth, neck and cheeks with an almost ferocious hunger. His massive hands explored every surface of her body. Straddled above the thick muscles of his torso, she looked down in amazement as some feral beast seemed to be unleashed from inside him. She had never been wanted like this before. He invaded the inside of her mouth with his tongue and conquered each part of her he explored. His hands firmly smoothed their way down her torso and roughly grabbed hold of her hips, grinding her into his erection with a ferocious rhythm. With a surprisingly smooth action, Max managed to unzip Audrey’s dress in one swift movement, immediately exposing her

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bare torso to him before she could do anything to protest. He suddenly stopped, pausing to look up at her and take in the sight of her exposed flesh. He smiled widely as he ran his hands up the gentle curve of her hips and pressed her down on top of him. “Audrey…you are too damn much…” he growled in her ear. He sat up and wrapped her arms around her neck as he deftly came to standing in one smooth motion. Her legs straddled his torso as he carried her to his desk, swiftly pushing off the stacks of neatly piled papers onto the floor. He spread her body down across the newly bare surface and pulled her half open dress all the way off of her. She was completely nude from the waist up except for her locket necklace, with only stockings and her garter belt covering her lower half. Her nipples pebbled at the sight of him standing over her still fully clothed in her design. Her heart leapt inside her chest as he stared down at her. He looked identical to the American pioneer man she had always imagined finding in Texas, his massive muscles heaving as his breath grew heavy with desire. She couldn’t believe this man was actually related to Silas. The differences between them were stunning. Silas. Dammit. “Max, I can’t…” She tried to find the words, any words for that matter, as he leaned over her and slowly ran his tongue around the edges of her taut nipples. He murmured an unintelligible response as his kisses alternated with light but forceful nips on both of her breasts, tormenting her with a divine mixture of pleasure and pain. Every ounce of her body was telling her this was right, and the flood of moisture flowing from her spread a delicious heat throughout her body. Yet the image of Silas kept haunting her. Audrey struggled against Max, loving the feeling of him pushing back and holding her firmly in place. He let the muscled weight of his body settle on top of her as he continued to plunder her mouth.

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“Max, please…” She couldn’t find the words to stop him, didn’t want to stop him. But Silas’ azure eyes kept haunting her, and the prospect of ruining what they had forever made her ache uncontrollably. She had unleashed something deep inside the older Abrams, a feral hunger she guessed had lain dormant for quite some time. His gaze burned into her as she finally gathered the strength to push him away. “Please, Max,” she said forcefully as he withdrew from her embrace, a distant look filling his eyes. He looked ravenous, a panther ready to attack his prey. “I can’t do this. I may be angry with Silas, but this isn’t fair to do to him.” He took a deep breath, closed his eyes for a moment, and seemed to gather his wits. The primal look on his face faded, and he let out a low chuckle. “Don’t worry about my little brother, Audrey. He’s been begging me to do this for years.” “Begging you to do what?” she inquired as she did her best to cover herself. “Steal the woman he’s courting? I’m sorry, I do not understand at all.” “We may be polar opposites, Miss Rousseau, but in one area of our lives, we’ve never had any trouble sharin’,” Max replied, his mischievous look making his brown eyes glimmer with trouble. With this devilish look on his face, she could suddenly see the resemblance between the two men. It was exactly what she witnessed at the speakeasy just two nights previously. Audrey sat up, shocked but intrigued by his ambiguous statement. “You mean you’ve shared women before?” Suddenly, she realized someone stood behind her. There was Silas, crashing this party of two at just the wrong—or right—moment. “Yes, we prefer it. We’ve always done it,” Silas said with a grin, clearly amused by her confusion. “And I see you’ve met my brother,” he added from the doorway with a chuckle.

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“Silas, I…I don’t know what to say.” Audrey wracked her brain, trying to remember if she’d come across any mention of ménage in the research she’d done about Texas before her journey. No, this is a new one on me. “Is this some Texas thing I am unaware of?” She did her best to make it sound like a joke, but she wasn’t kidding at all. “Well, to be totally honest, it is here in Male Order. We can explain more about that later. But no, I would venture to say this is anything but the norm in most of America.” “I can’t say I completely understand,” Audrey replied, trying to hide the confusion that clouded her vision. She tried desperately to gather her wits and calm the primitive desire that suddenly consumed her body as she imagined being with both of these men at once. “You don’t have to understand right now, although we’d be glad to show you,” Silas said, smiling from the doorway. She was speechless, overwhelmed with emotions. Shouldn’t Silas hate her for finding them in such an intimate entanglement? And why was he grinning, his eyes glowing with mischief and lust?

* * * *

“The suit looks good on you, Max. Let me take a look. I trust you haven’t ruined the prototype with your surprise little romp.” Silas crossed towards his brother and Audrey, shocked but thrilled by the scenario he had stumbled upon in Max’s office. He had come searching for her, terrified she had left before he could escape his woeful responsibility of the evening. Taking care of the fragile ego of Jackie’s sister, Katherine, wasn’t exactly his favorite activity, but it was a necessary evil for keeping the fragile relationship of Male Order’s five founding families in check. Katherine needed Silas right now. There was no denying that she was a pain in his ass, but she was family, nonetheless.

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Silas approached his brother and straightened the disheveled suit draping Max’s body. “The lines are perfect, Audrey. It’s going to be a hit, I just know it. But tonight isn’t about business, and I’m sorry for all the time I’ve lost. There were many people I wanted you to meet, so much I want to show you here at The Arches. What do you think about it?” Audrey was clearly confused by his lack of anger at the scenario he had stumbled upon. If she had been angry at being left alone at the party, as Mason warned him she was, all that seemed to be left was a gorgeous bewilderment at the news of the brothers’ way of life. “From what I’ve seen, it’s beautiful,” Audrey managed to say, still looking from Silas back to Max, obviously trying to understand who they were and how they operated. “A house for the twentieth century, there’s no doubt about it. I wish someone had taken the time to show me around, but I did all right alone.” “I want to make it up to you, Audrey,” Silas responded, taking her hand into his. “Let me give you my special tour, okay? We can forget that the first part of this evening ever happened. The important thing is that you’re here with us now.” She looked him square in the eye and pulled away, putting as much space as possible between them. “It’s not that easy, Silas! The two of you can’t explode into my life and expect me not to question your actions. I know how men are, the way you can just use women up and toss them without a second thought. I won’t be a toy for you two. I came here to meet with you both because I want to change the future of fashion in America, not because I wanted to be some piece of ass for two Texas playboys.” Silas couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous she looked as the anger rose to her cheeks in a deep blush. Her emerald eyes flashed with passion as she stared them down in silence, waiting for their response.

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Before he could swing in to rescue their situation, Max chimed in, firmly holding Audrey by the shoulders and looking her straight in the eye. “Look, I barely know you. I don’t know what words or moments passed between you and my brother. And I know the way we live is a bit…unorthodox. But you have to believe me when I tell you that we don’t play around. We only open the door when we find something truly exceptional.” Silas was amazed to hear his brother speaking this way. Locked behind a cloud of grief and loss for the past three years, Max had barely spoken three sentences in a row to anyone if it wasn’t strictly related to business. What had she unlocked in him? “Just stay the night, Audrey. Tomorrow we’ll have breakfast and talk business. You can go on your merry way back to Dallas and forget all about what’s happened here, if you wish. But we would never use you. You are far too special, you must know that,” Silas added to his brother’s argument. He locked eyes with her, attempting with all of his spirit to melt her inhibitions. What had she been through in the past, to want to guard herself from something so obviously right? “Stay the night here with both of you. Together.” The words slowly leapt from her tongue as she appeared to be processing what could happen between them. She looked from Silas to Max, and then at Silas once again. Her eyes filled silently with a lust she seemed desperate to conceal. Silas watched her as she closed her eyes for a moment and took a long, deep breath. After the brief pause, she seemed sharp once again, ready to play the game he and his brother had laid before her. “Nine AM, sharp. I want you prepared to make a presentation to me about the past, present and future of the company. And I will in turn tell you about my vision and what I might offer you.” “We’ll roll out the red carpet for you. You will learn more than you ever wished to know about our store,” Silas retorted.

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“Facts and figures included. I have quite a head for business, you must realize.” “I realize, Miss Rousseau. I realize,” Silas said as he closed the distance separating their two bodies. He played at examining her head, running his fingers through her soft, brunette cropped locks as he forcefully pulled her into him. He kissed her on the mouth with unspoken authority, making her body immediately soften in his arms. After a long kiss, he stepped back and cupped her face in his hands, silently reassuring her as they stared into each others’ eyes. Their approach clearly succeeded as she seemed to melt when Silas reached again for her hand, this time achieving victory. She returned the warmth of Silas’ charismatic smile as he led her towards the door, with Max just behind them. “You best behave, Mr. Abrams. I’m watching you,” she said playfully as they crossed the threshold of the studio. “I want to show you everything,” Silas added with a whisper in her ear as they made their way towards the living quarters.

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Chapter Seven

“And this is the master bedroom suite,” Max said with an air of mock formality as the three of them reached the end of the long corridor of rooms. He face suddenly became serious as his gaze searched her face. He quietly added, “It currently remains unoccupied.” She wondered at his soft, thoughtful tone as his hand paused for a moment on the handles of a pair of heavy French doors. He finally led them into the most luxurious room Audrey had ever seen, decorated from floor to ceiling in rich shades of gold and mahogany. Thick drapes hung from a wall of windows and an enormous canopy of silk lined a massive bed clearly built for three. The room was incredibly comfortable yet felt more like a hotel than a home. She wondered why and how they could possibly leave such a miraculous room unused. The three of them paused quietly as they took in the empty feeling, immaculate space. She glanced from one brother’s face to the other, mirrored reflections of desire engulfing her before she could pause to think. Silas shut the doors behind them as Max closed the distance between them, his fingers reaching out to gently stroke her hair. The silence of the room was stark, their breaths the only audible sounds in the cavernous space. Her heart leapt wildly in her chest as she looked from one man to the other. She did her best to calm the wild combination of panic and hunger coursing through her veins. How had this happened? She longed to let go completely and surrender to the gorgeous absurdity of the moment.

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Both men closed in on her, no longer hesitating for another second. She felt as if they were there with her in that moment entirely, all other cares in the world temporarily falling by the wayside. As they both peered down at Audrey, a low moan surfaced from somewhere deep inside her, a foreign sound to match the unfamiliar sensations radiating through her as they slowly began to stroke her body. Her backside leaning against Max, she braced herself as Silas explored the depths of her mouth and slowly ran his hands down the length of her torso. He palmed the gentle curve of her hips through the fabric of her dress and firmly held her in place between the two men. Silas fearlessly captured her lips with his, his tongue making lazy spirals, then deeper and deeper circles with hers. Audrey became acutely aware of the levels of sensation happening simultaneously, simply through his soulful kiss. The subtle scratch of his five o’clock shadow combined with the caress of his tongue caused a trickle of moisture to spread down her thighs, and she deliriously surrendered herself to the manic rhythm of his explorations. Her muscles settled into the firm hold of Max’s body against her back and buttocks. His enormous frame enveloped hers as he held her tightly against him, the back of her head pressed against the hard planes of his chest. “Come over here with me, darlin’,” Max whispered in her ear as he took her hand. “Let’s get you comfortable.” He sat down in the wide armchair behind them and gently pulled her backwards onto his lap. She stretched out along the length of his body, and the firm edges of his muscles pressed against her deliciously. Holding her tightly against him, she could feel the hard span of his cock pressing through the layers of cotton and silk that separated their bodies and kept them from acting as one. Audrey nuzzled her head into the strong curve of Max’s neck, taking in the rich, earthy scent of cedar, whiskey and hazelnut. She

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smiled to herself as she memorized his unique smell. She would be taking this one to the lab the moment she had the chance. Silas leaned down over them and knelt on the plush rug in front of the two entwined in the chair. He looked up at Audrey, his eyes glowing with hunger. He ran his hands up her legs, palming the smooth curves of flesh and gathering the fabric in his fists. He revealed her bare thighs beneath the cloth, causing all three new lovers to groan as he smoothed his hands over her bare skin. In the same moment, Max swiftly unzipped the top of her dress, pushing the fabric down her shoulders as he let his lips and tongue wander the delicate trail from her ear to her collarbone. Her pussy soaked the moment he let one side of her dress fall away, revealing her bare breast to the cool air of the huge bedroom. Two sets of expectant eyes widened with anticipation, and Max immediately thumbed the tender edges of her erect nipple made firm with arousal. The simultaneous sensation of Silas’ whiskers against her thighs and Max’s firm grip on her aching breast caused her to buck her hips with need. There was no going back now, that was for sure. They had successfully unlocked the hunger she had so carefully tried to stifle for her entire adult life. “I need to see her, Max. Get that dress out of our way,” Silas said hungrily. “You are so goddamn beautiful, Audrey,” Max whispered, his breath coming in short staccato bursts. “I’m getting this off of you now.” Before she could even form a thought, much less a protest, Max leaned her forward and unzipped her dress all the way. The two brothers masterfully worked together to free her of the fabric. Mere moments later, she was stripped entirely nude. “Not much of a fan of undergarments, I’ve noticed,” Silas added with his infamous grin as he looked up at Audrey, her dress clutched between his fists.

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Despite the blood rushing madly through her veins, she couldn’t help but feel immensely turned on by being naked in front of them. She took a deep breath and replied. “I disdain feeling trapped in an article of clothing. Why should I bother? I love to be free, above everything else,” she responded, playing his game. At her response, she could see the suave man’s jaw go slack. Had she really shocked Silas Abrams, the rising star of American fashion? She laughed out loud at the look on his face but realized immediately they weren’t laughing with her. “What’s so funny, hmm?” Max replied, pulling her hips backwards into the fierce erection pressing against his trousers. “Nothing. I just like being able to shock you both with something so simple,” Audrey retorted, looking Silas deep in the eyes. Silas came to standing and immediately bent down and lifted her from Max’s lap into his arms. “Sorry, sugar, but there is nothing you could do that would shock us. We’re just enjoying your exotic ways,” he whispered into her ear as he carried her across the room to the huge bed. The tips of her fingers dug into his back. Even through the layers of his suit, she could feel the fine, firm muscles of his body hungry to be explored. Max joined his brother at the edge of the bed, looking down at Audrey like a predator before breakfast. The brothers made eye contact with each another and simultaneously began removing their jackets and vests. The depths of her burned with expectation as they slowly unbuttoned their shirts, a silent offering of their bodies as she watched the show unfold in front of her. She stared at their half nude torsos, taking in the sight of each man’s exquisite musculature. She couldn’t help but notice the long, pale scar running the length of Max’s chest, a mark that seemed to rest perfectly between his lungs. What secrets did these men hold? Every part of her longed to discover them.

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“Get over here,” she pleaded, rivulets of her juices baptizing her thighs at the sight of them above her. She felt as if every part of her were melting into the softness of the oversized bed clearly built to accommodate the brothers’ massive sizes. Still clothed from the waist down, the two of them grinned mischievously at one another, obviously enjoying the sight of her, naked and ravenous, in their bed. Max moaned as he kneeled on the bed above Audrey. With one swift movement, he leaned over the edge of the bed and grabbed her firmly around her waist. He lifted her body over his lap, her knees straddling each of his thighs and her ass held high in the air by his careful hold. The pleasure magnified as his hand dipped below to her pussy, already soaking wet by the scene unfolding around her. The sensation rushed through every part of her, her whole body clenching against his touch as he gently ran his hand from her cunt backwards to her buttocks. “She’s dripping, Silas,” Max exclaimed as his fingers lightly wandered over the crevice of her buttocks and gently underneath into the puckered hole of her pussy. The moment his finger entered her, she arched her back and let out a carnal sound she had never imagined could come from inside her. “You best share the moment, big brother,” Silas responded. He took over for his brother, immediately pinning her to the bed. “I’ve been waiting for this since the moment I saw you speeding off from the store. You enjoy making a grand escape, don’t you, Audrey? Always trying to stay one step ahead of us, hmm? Well, not this time.” His mischievous grin shone wider than she’d ever seen it before. Silas sat above her, straddling her nude body. The fine cloth of his seersucker pants brushed against her bare legs, driving her wild with anticipation of what hid beneath them.

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“My god, look at you,” he murmured as he bent down to press his fingers through her hair. Pulling her face towards his, he added, “You’re never going to forget tonight, baby. I promise.” Gathering her strength, she issued a challenge to both brothers, her eyes flashing with defiance as she looked at both the man on top of her and the one attentively watching from the edge of the bed. “What makes you think you’re so damn good at this, huh? You men think you are so much in control, but just you wait until—” Before she could finish her statement, Silas had descended upon her, devouring her from top to bottom. His lips immediately lunged towards the gentle swell of her breasts, devouring each inflamed nipple with a ravenous, ruthless agenda. Her hips bucked as he smoothed his hands down her torso and grabbed the underside of her bare hips, pulling her cunt towards his mouth recklessly. She instinctually ran her nails over his scalp as his mouth hungrily made its way to a breath’s distance from her swollen clit. “I have to taste you, Audrey.” She let out a deep groan as his tongue reached its destination, plunging into her folds without hesitation. He masterfully alternated the sensations raging through her body, feverishly tasting her one moment and then teasing her with light, ticklish kisses the next. His fingers wove in and out of her in a mesmerizing rhythm, already bringing her nearer to the edge of something she had never experienced before. Her thighs clamped against his face as he let his tongue loop circles over her most intimate parts. “Relax, Audrey. We’re not in any rush here,” he said as he paused his explorations momentarily to gaze at her. She nodded silently as she looked down at Silas, and they locked eyes for a long moment, the heat between them coursing through her body like her very own pulse. Max leaned over the bed, his eyes never leaving the sight of her body being pushed to the limits of sheer pleasure.

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She looked at the older Abrams and saw a grimace pass over his face as the pants he still wore stretched to the hilt, containing his massive erection seemingly by magic. Audrey, momentarily battling the sensations coursing through her, smiled at Max. “Get those pants off your body, immediately. I will not have my hard work ruined by your unruly cock!” The three of them laughed at the beauty and absurdity of the moment, Max immediately obliging her with an obedient, “yes, ma’am” like a good Texas boy should.

* * * *

He couldn’t take it anymore. Max wasn’t exactly the voyeuristic type—he was a man of action, above all else. As much as it turned him on to watch Audrey on the verge of her first orgasm with them, he knew his cock wouldn’t sit idly by. Her amazing responsiveness enthralled and overwhelmed him. Before Audrey had even blinked, Max had managed to gracefully strip himself of her carefully designed slacks and his undergarments. He kneeled next to her, his cock throbbing as the realization washed over him that nothing separated their naked bodies any longer. Tonight is not a night for the past. Tonight is for Audrey. The mantra rang in his head, a new sensation of being present in the moment allowing his body to relax fully for the first time in years. She immediately raised herself to face the full evidence of his hunger for her, her eyes intensely locking with his after she took in the sight of him. “Let me have you,” she said as they stared at one another. He gladly complied with her hungry request, moving to straddle her shoulders, his engorged member thick with the most intense arousal he could remember feeling for a terribly long time. He groaned as she leaned forward and kissed the head of his cock. With a quick flick of her tongue to dampen her lips, she carefully took

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him into her mouth, the sensation almost immediately proving to be too much. With one hand around the base of his cock, she controlled the steady rhythm of their simultaneous pleasure as she began to writhe beneath him, the ecstasy of the moment obvious in her eyes. Everything slowed to a halt as the three of them moved in glorious clockwork with one another, the excitement building with each second passing. “I can’t take too much more of this, Audrey,” Max moaned through clenched teeth. Animalistic grunts ricocheted off the walls, but it took him a moment to realize they were coming from deep

inside of him. He could feel the pure pleasure rushing through him as the moment closed in around them all, and he was unable to stop it for even a second longer. The waves of release threatened to wash over him as the orgasm began to overtake every sense in his body. Moments later, she groaned her climax as Silas devoured her madly, no longer allowing her orgasm to wait. The beauty of her face as she crossed the threshold into ecstasy enthralled him, the ultimate joy of watching her experience completely overwhelming him. The sight was enough to send him over the edge once and for all, allowing the release to consume him entirely. He abandoned himself to the surreal turn this night had taken. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined this new and beautiful thing crashing full- force into his life. Gasping for breath, he looked down at her as he continued processing the moment they had just shared. “You are so damn beautiful, Audrey,” he said as he collapsed next

to her. She smiled quietly, a contemplative look spreading across her

face. He looked carefully at her, taking in her unique details. He loved her intelligent jade eyes, her elegant, long neck, the look of her tousled short hair on their pillow. He almost forgot about Silas at the edge of the bed, her presence was so captivating. For the first time in

a long time, he felt awake again, alive with need and desire. His

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whole body radiated with sensation as tried his damndest to keep himself in check. She stroked his hair as they lay face to face, their bodies silently recovering from their first experience together. Audrey leaned into him and tenderly kissed his mouth and the gentle, intimate moment cooled him with its lingering nectar. He pulled her closer into him, and she let her body splay over his, the gentle, petite curves spread in contrast against his muscles. As they kissed, she occasionally turned to look at Silas, seemingly beckoning him with her entrancing stare. “What are you doing all the way down there, hmmm?” she murmured to Silas, who seemed mesmerized at the foot of the bed.

* * * *

“I was just asking myself the very same question. This evening is

far from over, Miss Rousseau. If you think that was the end of it, you are sadly mistaken.” Silas couldn’t help but be a bit of a smartass right now. His engorged cock demanded attention, and it wasn’t going to wait a moment longer. Audrey’s eyes widened as she watched Silas free himself from the strain of his slacks. Now completely nude and kneeling behind her, his raging erection made it clear he would have her. Now. She began to remove herself from Max’s arms, but Silas stopped her. “Don’t move, Audrey, I want you just where you are.”

A low groan escaped her throat as he moved in behind her, his

heart’s quickening pulse making his cock throb visibly with the need

to be inside her. Audrey seemed to regain her strength as she lifted her ass up in the air for him, her body still splayed across Max beneath her. Max again captured her lips with his, and Silas was amazed by how natural this all felt to be together as one. As their nude bodies tangled together on the bed, his overwhelming need to have her flooded through him. He leaned in

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over her protruding backside and licked a line down her spine to the curve of her ass cheeks. She groaned at his action, turning her head to look at him as he cupped the perfect globes in his hands. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Silas asked as she leaned back into Max, the softness of her breasts gently disappearing into the hard muscle of his brother’s chest. “Mmm hmm,” she murmured as she kissed Max hard on the mouth. Silas took his throbbing cock firmly in his left hand as grasped the porcelain skin of her torso. “I have to have you,” Silas groaned, his cock throbbing with need. She looked back at him again, and the sensuous glimmer in her eye told him she was ready. He slowly pressed the length of him all the way inside her tight, still quivering pussy. Audrey pushed her backside into him and groaned, the rhythm of their bodies moving together escalating as Silas forcefully grabbed onto the petite swell of her hips and set an intense pace. The sheer pleasure of their movements consumed both of them, everything else melting away except the sound of the rain falling against the windowpanes and the soft moans of pleasure simultaneously escaping their throats. She gently glided up and down on his cock, her hips bucking in the air as she and Max continued their intimate embrace. Silas nearly exploded as her wet cunt enveloped him to the hilt. He couldn’t help but love this animalistic position and set an increasingly manic rhythm. “Touch your clit, baby. I want you to come again for me,” Silas murmured as the rhythm enveloped him. “I can help with that,” Max said with a grin as he gently reached between her legs. Audrey seemed to lose herself in the pleasure of the moment, relentlessly bouncing her ass back and forth against him. She seemed to melt around his cock, her pussy clenching tighter and tighter as she

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approached her second release. The feeling of her closing in around his stiff shaft drove him towards the edge of climax and he fought to slow time, to save the perfection of the moment. She convulsed around him, a frenzied, divine moment that reverberated through both of them. As the waves of her pleasure radiated through him, he could wait no longer. He exploded deep inside of her, calling her name at his final release. Several long, silent minutes passed after it was all over. The only sounds in the room were the slow gasps of the lovers as they all struggled to catch their breath. She murmured something incoherent as Silas gently pulled himself from inside of her and lay in the middle of the bed. He settled in beside her and traced her silhouette with one hand, his fingers wandering the perfect smoothness of her skin. He let his fingers brush the gentle curve of her bottom as his face rested behind hers. Silas leaned over onto his side and brushed his hands through the thick brunette strands splayed across the pillow, tenderly untangling the locks piece by piece. “You’re amazing, Audrey,” he whispered in her ear. She murmured in response, but her slow, heavy breaths let Silas know she had already slipped into the quietude of sleep. Max assisted Silas in delicately rearranged her heavy limbs towards the center of the bed. “Seems like we did a good job convincing her it was worth it to stay,” Max said as he stared down at their completely unconscious lover. “Isn’t she amazing? I knew you’d feel the same way if you gave her a chance,” Silas responded, thrilled to see a glimmer of the brother he used to know. A long moment of quiet passed between the two of them, Max clearly struggling to distance himself from his emotions.

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Finally, he cleared he throat. “You ready to work tomorrow mornin’, baby brother? Don’t let the love cloud your vision and let you forget how much is at stake right now.” “Who said anything about love, Max? And I haven’t forgotten a thing. I’ve got my priorities in order,” Silas quietly retorted, desperate not to wake Audrey from her angelic slumber. “I can see it in your eyes. You’re an open book, Silas. Always were, always will be.” “She’s special, Max. And you know it. It’s written all over your goddamn face. If you think you can hide that from me, you are dead wrong.” He couldn’t admit it, but Silas saw the vulnerability in his brother’s gaze that told the truth, no matter how stubborn a front he managed to hold. His silence spoke volumes.

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Chapter Eight

The luscious scents of fresh bread and coffee awoke Audrey from her deep sleep. “Miss Rousseau?” Her eyes darted around the room as she heard the familiar voice. She instinctually covered her naked body, confused at the source of the address. “My apologies for the intrusion, but Max and Silas have requested I wake you and direct you to the veranda for breakfast.” “Mason? Where…” “Oh, I’m terribly sorry. It’s the intercom. It’s set to the two-way function so that we could communicate with you. And you with us, of course. The men had to attend to some business but will be back momentarily. Breakfast will be served at the outdoor breakfast nook whenever you are ready. I must leave for Dallas immediately, so just leave everything when you are finished and I will attend to it when I return.” “I’ll be there momentarily.” Audrey arose from the luxurious bed filled with ideas about how best to spend the morning. On the bedside table she found a swimsuit, a slim-cut tank of her own design and a towel. Hanging just beside it was a crisp men’s linen shirt, the perfect cover-up. What could be more decadent than breakfast and a swim, she thought to herself. It was so thoughtful of the men to leave her the lovely things, even taking the time to find items of her own design for her.

She wandered the sprawling house until she came upon the veranda where Mason had instructed her to take her breakfast. A

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small table set with comfortable, cushioned patio chairs awaited her under the wide, roofed porch. Mason had carefully adorned the nook

with an extravagant spread of fresh fruit, coffee and

Texas? With no one in sight, she dove into the offerings, thrilled for a piece of home. Shocked by her ravenous appetite, she ate everything Mason had carefully laid out for her. When she’d finished, she took in the beauty of the environment around her. The veranda opened directly into the lush gardens surrounding a swimming pool more decadent than the ones she’d seen at the best hotels in the Riviera. As she made her way towards the cool water, she examined the wildly extravagant design. Mosaics surrounding the oasis depicted classical scenes of Greek gods in fine aqua tile and were bordered with shining red marble. The fine musculature of Zeus and Hercules depicted in the tile reminded her of the previous evenings’ encounter, and she blushed as the memories instantly washed over her. She surveyed the scene, basking in the privacy the lush peach trees bordering the oasis provided. For the first time in as long as she could remember, she felt truly alone, far away from the chaos and intrusions of the city. Something deep inside of her suddenly relaxed, and she could almost feel the country girl inside of her ready to leap out.

croissants? In

Once she realized how truly, gloriously, alone she was, she stripped off her borrowed shirt and swimsuit and dove head first into the cool, clear water beneath her. She was confident that with Mason gone no one would be able to see her there behind the trees, and she wasn’t going to think twice about taking advantage of the decadent solitude.

* * * *

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The morning sun burned brightly as the Abrams brothers mounted their horses and made their way back to their house from the large barn and work stables almost a mile from the living and design quarters. Although they weren’t as involved in the original family ranching business as their two fathers had been, they still did their best to keep on top of the details, especially about the breeding and sales of their prize polo ponies and cutting horses. As they made their way back to the main house, Silas’ thoughts got the best of him. He had so much to say to his brother, but how? After years of distance between the two of them, he had been on the verge of giving up on Max just days before Audrey came into their lives. He had even been considering leaving Male Order altogether. Hadn’t that been what the move into Europe had been about, really? An escape from their problems and their past? The sound of Max’s voice pulled him from his thoughts. “I…I think you’re right about holding off on Michaelovitch,” his older brother said suddenly. “I think we can stall him. I sent Mason into Dallas for the afternoon to keep him occupied. We need to focus on what’s happening here for now.” “Max, I’m so glad you’ve come around. She’s the one, isn’t she?” “Did I say that?” his older brother retorted gruffly. “Look, I know history isn’t just going to erase itself because we’ve found someone new. But can’t you let yourself just enjoy this for a moment?” “Dammit, Silas, what do you think I’m trying to do? I want time to see about this, real, unhurried time with no distractions. Besides, I’m not sure I trust Michaelovitch. The contract is ambiguously worded at best. At worst, we might be signing our lives away if we agree to his rules.” “He gives me a bad feeling, Max. There’s no doubt about it. And you know me, I like everyone.” “He’s a very powerful man, Silas. Let’s just do our research before we commit to anything. Perhaps Audrey is a sign. Until we

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start to find out more, promise me you won’t say anything to her about it,” Max said with a serious look in his eye. “Why not?” Silas couldn’t see the logic in keeping this important decision from the woman he was entirely confident would be theirs. “She might have important information on him. They must have traveled in the same social circles.” “Just promise me. This is between us for now until I can get some cold, hard facts on him. I want unbiased information, not gossip or hearsay.” As Max and Silas crested the hill at the edge of the house on their horses, they heard the unmistakable sound of someone diving into the pool just beyond the trees. They looked at each other and silently smiled, both galloping to the edge of the trees for a glimpse of their new lover enjoying her first morning at The Arches. As they approached, they took in the remarkable sight of a perfect woman, completely nude, swimming effortless laps in the pool. The conversation about business could wait.

* * * *

The coolness of the aquamarine water enclosed her naked body, a glorious shock to her system as she dove deep into the Abramses’ pristine sanctuary. As she came up for air, she realized quickly that she was no longer alone. Silas and Max sat atop two gorgeous mares at the edge of the pool, both speechless as they watched her float. “Good morning, boys! I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty to take a morning dip. Would you care to join me? You look like you deserve it. I trust you’ve been working hard.” Within moments, and without so much as a word from either man, they had both gracefully dismounted and tied up their horses. Neither Silas nor Max hesitated to strip off their dirty work clothes, completely soiled from a morning of doing whatever chores one does on a ranch. She momentarily paused to consider how two men could

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even get so dirty, but the thoughts about the rough and tumble nature of their work faded as she took in their perfect bodies. Totally stripped nude, they simultaneously hurled their mud- streaked bodies into the nearly crystal clear waters beneath them. They plunged far down into the deep pool and swam at the lowest depths together until they reached her. Audrey watched as they quickly rose to the surface around her. Max emerged first and immediately grabbed her around the waist. He planted a rough kiss on her mouth without saying a word, devouring her lips as she gasped with the surprise of his immediate intimacy with her. “Good morning,” he finally replied, releasing her from him in such a surprise it left her gasping for air. Silas was next, silently surfacing behind her. He roughly turned her body towards his, his palms momentarily feeling for her weightless, submerged hips until they were close to his. He then smoothed one hand through her hair, grasping the wet strands firmly once he’d pulled her into him. As they treaded water in the deep chill of the pool, he came nearly nose to nose with Audrey. “Mornin’, sugar,” he said with a quiet smirk as he deeply studied face. “You look like you’re a good swimmer, is that right?” “I lived on a farm with a pond until I was twelve years old. I swam almost every day as a child, even on some of the coldest days of winter,” she responded mischievously. “How ‘bout a race then? Just you and me, a little rematch from the other night,” he propositioned. “Gladly.” She grinned. Max casually watched as they made their way to the edge of the pool and emerged from the cool waters for a diving start. “You better be careful, Rousseau. I once had to swim ten miles to shore during the war,” Silas warned with a smirk. “Is that so, Mr. Abrams? Well, do your worst, and we’ll see if I can keep up.”

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“Five laps, end to end,” Silas replied, setting the parameters for their morning competition. “This isn’t just about speed. It’s about endurance.” They readied themselves for the race and took their positions. As they simultaneously plunged into the water, Audrey knew she would certainly be bested by this man. He was faster than she could possibly have imagined, effortlessly moving through the water at breakneck speeds. Still, she swam fast and hard. For several laps, she was almost keeping up to his intense pace. It was hopeless, however. She was destined to lose. She finally gave up trying and glided over to Max, who was sitting on the edge of the pool watching with an amused look on his face. Despite the fact that she had stopped competing, Silas continued to race with totally ruthless devotion. “He’s showing off for you, like some damn peacock in heat,” Max said with a quiet laugh as she pulled herself up to sit beside him. She couldn’t help but snicker at his assessment of his brother’s competitive spirit. “I like it,” she replied with a grin. “It’s so fun beating his cocky ass!” They gazed at each other for a quiet moment before Max jumped up and retrieved an enormous, plush towel for her. He wrapped her tightly in it, drying her soaked, naked body with the hot friction of his hands. Silas finally slowed his manic pace and joined them at the edge of the pool, still clearly pleased with his triumph of physical prowess over his lover. “I am very impressed, I must say,” Audrey said as he lifted himself to sit next to her, his skin glistening with fine droplets and his breath heavy with exertion. “I will be asking for a rematch later, that’s for sure.” “I’ll be glad to compete with you any time, Miss Rousseau. Tennis, horses, archery, you name it,” he said with a grin.

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“Gladly, I love it all,” she replied, happy to take any challenge he wanted to offer. “So what do I get as my reward?” Silas asked slyly. “Perhaps we should show her the shower,” Max responded before Audrey could muster a response. “Great idea,” Silas said as he stood and lifted Audrey into his arms in one swift movement. Her towel immediately fell by the wayside, and she was soaked once again by Silas’ dripping body. She almost cringed at her secret enjoyment of this behavior by both brothers. She playfully wriggled in Silas’ arms. “Put me down, for Christ’s sakes! I am perfectly capable of walking on my own two feet. Or did you think you exhausted me so thoroughly that I wouldn’t be able to make it there on my own?” “You know I’ll do no such thing, my dear. But I like the attitude, even if it means you’re overdue for a spanking once we get you cleaned up.” Hidden behind the red marble walls on the far side of the pool stood an elaborate outdoor shower. Walls covered in camouflaging ivy vines made the luxurious space almost impossible to see from the outside. Silas brought her into the private bathing room, and Audrey’s eyes widened as she saw three giant faucets made of pure copper affixed to the walls. A large cutout in the far wall afforded a gorgeous view of the Abramses’ land surrounding The Arches, stretching as far as the eye could see. Max turned on all three faucets, each of them shooting a forceful stream of hot water onto each of their bodies. It felt so good after the cold water of the pool, Audrey heard herself moan before either man had managed to lay a hand on her. “Does that feel nice, baby? You like starting your day with us?” Silas asked as he crossed to her with a bar of soap in his hand. Audrey nodded silently, her eyes widening as she considered what he planned for her. “So, for that reward I was talking about. How about I get the first chance to scrub you down? What do you think? I

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can’t wait to soap up this perfect body.” As he spoke, Silas playfully ran his index finger between her breasts and all the way to her belly button. Taking the bar into his hand, he worked it into a thick lather and stepped in towards her. He gently lifted her arms above her head, letting his hands wander her skin from the tips of her fingers all the way down her shoulders. As Silas moved down to her breasts, Max stepped in behind them underneath the fast spray of water beating down all over Audrey’s body. “Have you reaped your reward fully, Silas? Am I allowed to join the fun yet?” The older Abrams was clearly tortured by having to wait his turn, his cock standing at full attention as he watched the show. “I suppose she needs someone to wash her back,” Silas replied in a teasingly begrudging tone. “I think I can handle that,” Max said as he lathered his hands with a second creamy white bar of his own. He immediately began to massage her neck and back, his fingers wandering down her waist to the smooth curve of her hips, a trail of lather following behind every touch to her body. Sandwiched between the two men carefully cleansing her from head to toe, the pleasure of them simultaneously exploring every part of her was almost too much to take. A deep moan escaped her throat as Silas dipped his hand over her pussy, his thumb exploring her clit as two of his fingers slipped deep inside of her. The rhythm of his movements immediately sent her into a trance, her hips flexing to accommodate the pace he set for her pleasure. As Silas worked her into a frenzy, Max lavished her ass with attention. The suds and hot water poured over her backside as he ran his finger down the private crevice, causing an overwhelming chill to run up her spine. She felt her face flush a deep pink as he leaned in and kissed her neck.

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“Have you have been touched here before?” he whispered in Audrey’s ear as he traced her virgin hole. “Nuh huh,” she murmured as she shook her head no. “I’m going to take you here, darlin’. I promise you, you’re going to love it. Can you trust me?” Her head was swimming with pleasure as she watched him take a bottle from the shelf and pour some liquid into his hand. What was he planning on doing? She couldn’t believe how much his actions were turning her on, her heart already racing as Silas continued exploring her cunt with his intense, unforgiving pace. The pleasure built wildly inside her as Max tenderly pushed her legs farther apart and slowly pressed his dripping index finger inside her. The heat of his finger in her puckered hole burned with an unfamiliar fire, quickly erupting into a kind of pleasure she had never experienced. As the pulse of Max’s fingers slowly gained in momentum in and out of her ass, Silas kneeled on the tile floor of the enormous shower, water rushing over his face and glistening muscles. Without a moment’s hesitation, his tongue delved into her pussy at a maniacal pace. She almost fainted with the waves of pleasure breaking over her, her body seemingly no longer her own. She heard herself scream, but her voice seemed foreign and wild. “Come for us, baby. You are so fucking beautiful, I can’t stand it,” Max whispered in her ear as she leaned against him, writhing in the decadence of the moment. With the simple vibration of his words in her ear, she felt the orgasm rush through every part of her, nearly blinding her with its force. Max held the full force of her weight as her body gave in to the sensations consuming her. As the reverberations echoed through her, everything around her seemed to heighten the intensity of the moment. From the cool mid- morning breeze to the hot droplets playing across her skin, all of it

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seemed to synchronize into an orchestra of marvels. She closed her eyes and took in the exquisite moment, thrilled to share it with her two men. Her two men. The thought excited and terrified her, the sound of the words playing on repeat in her brain.

* * * *

“Audrey, are you all right?” Silas asked as he stood to look her in the eye. She looked on the verge of fainting, completely delirious with the aftershocks of her intense orgasm. “Mmm,” she replied with a smile as she melted into his arms. “Let’s get her inside,” Max insisted. He silently nodded as Max turned off the spray and tossed him a towel. He rubbed Audrey’s soaked body from head to toe, drying every curve with tender attention. After he examined every part of her for remaining droplets, he effortlessly lifted her into his arms, her limp body still nearly weightless despite her fatigue. She nuzzled her head into his neck, murmuring something about how she planned to bottle his unique scent. Of course, Silas thought to himself. Only Audrey would be thinking about business, even in a half delirious state. He laughed aloud at the thought. As he carried her onto the veranda and back inside the house, he and Max exchanged glances and smiles with one another. Despite Max’s initial hesitance, Silas was thrilled to witness the rapturous look on his brother’s face. He knew that look. He’d seen it once before long ago. He never thought he would see it again, but there it was. Max was in love with Audrey, just like he was. Once inside the bedroom, Silas carried her to bed. He gently lay her diagonally across the massive bed and slowly drew her tightly wrapped towel apart with care, as if he were removing a bandage. Her eyes fluttered open as Max entered the room, a plate of fruit in his hand for her.

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“Did I just fall asleep?” she asked as she sat up on one elbow, her voice slightly groggy. “Only for a moment, darlin’,” Max responded as he lay down on the bed, silently offering her a strawberry. “That was really intense out there,” Audrey replied, hungrily sampling the variety on the plate. Inspired by their lover’s newfound energy, Silas stood up and put a soft jazz record on the phonograph. Audrey smiled as the soulful sounds of a quiet ballad filled the room. “I love this American music. It is too beautiful! There is nothing like this in France, or Europe at all for that matter.” “C’mere and dance with me, baby,” Silas said as he beckoned her to him. She immediately obeyed, and they began to dance slowly, both still naked from their previous outdoor escapades. The early afternoon light streamed through the numerous windows in the room, and Silas tipped his head back, enjoying the sensation of their bare feet softly padding together on the rug. She gracefully swayed with him in perfect synchronicity, and the soft feel of her creamy, pristine skin against him immediately stiffened his cock to attention. Audrey’s lips slipped into a subtle smirk as his dick refused to be ignored. “You must enjoy dancing with me, no?” “I’m not sure how long I can take this,” he growled in response, immediately bending down to erase the sly grin on her face with a rough kiss. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she returned his feverish, demanding embrace with equal fervor. Lost in the rhythm of their mouths moving together, Silas let his tongue wander and taste every surface of her elegant neck and shoulders. He was quickly learning the tiny things that made her quietly moan in his ear, the unique sound she made when he gently grasped a handful of her thick hair between his fingers. He let his hands slip down her spine to the perfect curve of her ass. As he cupped both hands beneath the perfectly round cheeks, she jumped up and coiled her legs around his hips. Tightly clinging to

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him, the soft touch of her pussy against his pulsing cock almost made him come right then and there. Max, this whole time silent, watched intently from their bed. “Silas, do you know what I want most?” Audrey asked as she pulled away from his mouth, leaving him gasping for air. “What is it, baby? You know we’ll give you anything.” “I want you both. At once. Is this…possible?” Audrey smiled as she made the request, a daring, bold look spreading slowly across her face. He loved this woman’s sense of humor, playfully innocent yet devilishly brazen. He carried her to the bed, only nodding and laughing mischievously in response to her question. He wasn’t sure if he could muster any words to tell her what he and Max were going to do to her, the amount of pleasure they could simultaneously experience. “Not today, but soon,” he finally responded as he looked from her gaze to the smirk on his brother’s face. “Very soon.”

* * * *

Be bold, Audrey. She was bound and determined to keep up with these men, and their appetites, no matter how much it terrified her. She rolled over on top of Silas as Max moved towards them. He kneeled behind her as she straddled Silas, immediately grabbing her around the hips as Silas lay back and enjoyed the view above him. “Your wish will always be our command, Miss Rousseau,” Max whispered in her ear as he ran his hands down the curve of her spine. “You have no idea what it can be like. I can’t wait to show you.” The sensation of his breath in her ear made her whole body pulse with arousal. She loved how safe she felt, sandwiched between the two men she was beginning to trust in a way she had never previously experienced before. She looked down at Silas beneath her, and the look of hunger in his eyes overwhelmed her.

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She bent over to kiss him, the need to feel his mouth on hers overtaking everything else. As she did, Max slid his fingers down the crevice of her ass and over her moistened clit. After toying with the already swollen bud, he reached for a tin of lubrication next to the bed and let several fingers travel backwards into her puckered rear hole. The simultaneous sensation of Silas’ kiss and Max’s skillful rhythm entranced and relaxed Audrey. Silas pushed himself beneath her, roughly taking her pert nipple into his mouth and rolling the hardened bud around his tongue and the hard edges of his teeth. The nervousness over this new experience was quickly fading into sheer excitement. Silas coyly reached down to her pussy as he continued to torture her breasts with his unremitting licking, sucking and playful nips. His immense erection had turned a deep demanding red, the head glistening with a droplet of his seed. She relished in this moment, the two of them surrounding her with their hunger and longing to be with her and her alone. She laughed out loud at the sheer amazement she felt in that instant. She would have never imagined she’d have an insatiable hunger for these two men so different yet so similar to her. “What are you laughing about, baby?” Silas asked, his face inquisitive. “It’s just all too much, in the best of ways. I feel like a totally different woman than the one that left Dallas yesterday.” Max gently tugged on her shoulders, pulling her up towards him as he turned her face to look deep in his eyes. “You’re incredible,” he said gruffly as his mouth roughly consumed hers. She loved the ruthless passion of this man and felt him opening to her more and more every moment they were together. Whatever had hurt him in the past still weighed on him, but he was with her in that moment entirely. “We have to have you, Audrey,” Silas said, his eyes an icy azure. With his ravenous stare, he inched her hips above his and gently pushed his rock hard cock inside her. The tight fit of him inside her

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felt so right, and she felt herself blush as her pussy literally dripped with pleasure as he began to slowly bounce her up and down on his lap.

“I can’t wait to take you here,” Max growled in her ear as she felt him pull her ass cheeks firmly apart. Silas thumbed her clit as Max carefully pressed one and then two fingers inside her. The moment both sensations washed over Audrey, she closed her eyes and leaned back into Max’s firm chest, letting the rhythm of his fingers slowly take over every thought crowding her mind. The exquisite mixture of pleasure and pain washed over her as the pace of her two lovers increased with every passing moment. Max held her firmly against him, wrapping one hand around her breast and thumbing her stiff, aching nipple in his rough fingers. “I can’t take it, it’s just too much,” she heard herself say as her orgasm threatened to take hold of her. Both men groaned with pleasure as the impending spasms from deep within her caused Audrey to tighten around both Silas’ cock and Max’s exploring digits simultaneously. She leaned against Max’s strong body as the men continued to thrust inside her with a ferocious pace. “Give it to us, darlin’,” Max roughly said in her ear as he held her firmly against him. “Come with me, baby,” Silas added, his features constricting as she felt him approach the edge of his own orgasm. The two of them working in and out of her at a matching, blistering pace was simply too much to take, and the sounds erupting from deep in her chest sounded foreign and primitive. The wild sensation was too much, more than she had ever imagined she could experience. The orgasm fizzled up from the deepest depths of her, higher and higher until she reached an immense plateau, the moment of the purest pleasure she could imagine possible. The sensation raced through her body as both men pushed her towards the wild culmination of this surreal, unmatched experience.

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Silas groaned as his final, powerful thrust brought him over the edge of his own climax. Max untangled his fingers from her backside as she fell forward onto the gasping lover beneath her and kissed him with all the fervor burning inside of her. As they all fell together in a wild mess in the luxurious bed, she felt Max’s burning erection scrape against her tender, quivering ass. “Please,” she heard herself murmur to the hungry man behind her as she took a momentary breath between consuming kisses. Max silently obeyed her delirious request, parting her quivering pussy lips and carefully embedding himself inside her. She was amazed by his ability to intuit her needs so immediately, taking care of her highly sensitized cunt by setting the perfect tender rhythm she so needed in the moment. She continued to weave her tongue around Silas’ as Max leaned against her back and take all that he needed from her body. She smiled as she realized the record on the phonograph had skipped to its end, the slight clicking of the machine matching the rhythm of their quiet moans. The blissful seconds ticked by as Max’s careful thrusts inside her reached their apex. She felt his body erupt in one final wave of pleasure, their now slick and entangled bodies completing this complex dance for three. Max kissed the tender triangle between her shoulder blades and disentangled himself from her depths. He came down onto the bed and pulled her closer to him, her body carefully sandwiched between these two perfect men. Each man cradled her gently as she looked from one to the other in disbelief of the untamed pleasure she had just experienced. She took a deep breath, her body and mind remarkably energized by the incredible delights of the afternoon. “Are you two finally ready to talk business?” she coyly remarked as she sat up and grinned. Both of them laughed simultaneously.

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“Always,” Max replied playfully. “How about we make this a dinner meeting? Mason’s gone for the evening, but I’m sure we could rustle something up for the three of us.” She could watch the wheels turning in Silas’ head as he said this, but she couldn’t believe it to be the truth. “You two? Cooking? I thought the kitchen was merely a showroom,” she replied. Max’s mouth went agape, clearly ready to prove her wrong. “Audrey Rousseau, are you aware that we raise the finest cattle in Texas?” “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Everything you two touch seems to turn to gold,” Audrey said as she stood up. “Does that mean you actually know how to cook one, though?” She couldn’t remember if she’d ever felt so alive, playfully debating with these two gorgeous naked men. Their eyes followed her naked form as she stretched her body against the foot of the bed. “I don’t care if a man is a millionaire with a thousand servants tracking his every move. If he can’t cook a steak, he ain’t worth a damn,” Max said as he rose to tower above her. “Now come on and let us show you how a business meeting is done.”

* * * *

As another night closed in on The Arches, the eerie silence Silas had come to so desperately abhor seemed to miraculously lift for the first time in ages. Audrey’s laughter rang through the kitchen as she sat in his silk smoking jacket and watched him and his brother create a feast for three. They shared anecdotes about their childhoods and both men told romantic stories about the Wild West and their heroic ancestors. She listened, riveted, and followed them into the dining room as they balanced a wild variety of plates in their arms.

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“We grew up on this food, and our family’s been cooking this way since the very beginning of Male Order,” Max explained as they sat around the table. “Our fathers were much more involved in the ranching end of our business, and they worked damn hard every day. Even though we always had Mason looking after the house, Momma cooked like this

all the time. She even raised a garden and canned vegetables, just like our ancestors did,” Silas continued. He couldn’t remember the last time he and his brother had talked about their childhood, but he knew

it felt damn good to open up to someone like this.

“So you really had two fathers? Everyone in Male Order really lives like this?” Audrey asked, taking a big gulp of wine while clearly trying to piece together the unusual ways they had always known. “We really do. And I think you’ll find once you get to know the other families that it works remarkably well. We don’t always get along with everyone here, but the way we live is precious to us. There is so much more love, and our women are taken care of the way they should be,” Max replied, a hint of pride audible in his voice. She paused for a moment and then replied to his explanation with

a grin. “I have to admit,” she said slowly, “I find it all fascinating. I never expected to uncover the heart of American fashion in a place…such as this.” Silas thought about it for a long moment and then found the best explanation he could. “It’s the perfect place for it. Our people came here to find the ultimate freedom. Our grandfathers started this town because they loved being close to the land and they didn’t want anyone telling them how or why to live their lives. Maybe they weren’t striving to live the life of an artist, but isn’t that exactly the same intent?” She nodded, listening attentively. She didn’t say a word, but her eyes told him to continue.

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He cleared his throat and looked at Max, afraid of making a misstep and uncovering something he shouldn’t. “And that’s why we want to bring it to Europe. We are in…discussions…about it, but we have an ambitious plan to open a global network of our stores, starting with Paris by 1929.” Max looked like he wanted to punch him in the face. Yes, he was revealing a lot. But who better to turn to for advice on the matter? “It’s an interesting idea,” she finally said after they sat for several moments in silence. She seemed to turn the thoughts over in her head, taking a moment to savor the clearly unfamiliar southern flavors on her plate. “May I respectfully disagree with your business plan?” she finally concluded. Max looked first to Silas and then to Audrey as she paused, awaiting their instruction. “Why?” his big brother inquired, clearly trying to maintain his temper. If you say anything about women not knowing anything about business, I swear… “I don’t think you want to know my answer,” she retorted, the challenge to Max officially issued. “Of course he does,” Silas butted in, attempting to shift the sudden weight in the room. “Europe is not safe for business, and it is certainly not safe for the likes of me and you. War and fashion do not mix, mes chers amis. It will all fall apart again, this time worse than before. But here, in these wild lands, everything will stay safe. I truly believe that this century will be ruled by the Americans, for precisely the reasons you’ve already so eloquently described, Silas.” The Abramses looked at one another, silent. She was speaking a lot of sense, and Silas couldn’t help but fall immediately into her train of thought.

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“Forget about the old guard, gentlemen. You have an empire to build and it’s right under your noses, waiting for you. Imagine this—a store in every state. In every city. Every American, big and small, coming to you for all their needs. “It begins with menswear, it’s true. The luxurious experience of shopping at Jaqueline’s cannot be for women alone. I am talking about building an empire here, gentlemen, a new store for a new age. And what could be more American than that?”

* * * *

They lingered for hours over the meal, the conversation continuing to flow as Silas poured glass after glass of wine into all of their tumblers. They scribbled down a vast array of ideas and imagined a wild variety of business ventures. Max had never met anyone as brilliant as this, man or woman. He couldn’t believe that the object of his freshly awakened desires could incite such powerful ideas in him as well. He felt confident they could debate anything for an eternity, and the thoughts she unlocked in him thrilled him to the core. “What time is it?” she finally asked as they polished off a third bottle. Her eyes drooped with fatigue. They had clearly exhausted her. “Too late for this nonsense,” Max quickly replied, rapidly standing and moving to where she sat at the table. “We have too much to do tomorrow to be indulging like this,” Silas added as they recalled the plans they had hastily laid for the next day. “You have a plan for me?” she muttered as Max lifted her into his arms. “Sleep well, baby,” he murmured in her ear. “We have wonderful things in store for you in the morning, so get your rest.”

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She was fast asleep before he could even lay her down on the bed, the depths of her secret, unconscious world unwilling to relinquish her for even a moment more of the day.

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Chapter Nine

Audrey slowly awoke as she became aware that she was no longer in the safe comfort of Max and Silas’ bed. She opened her eyes to find herself wrapped in Max’s arms, crossing the threshold into what she could only gather in her half awake state was his dressing room. She fully regained consciousness after he set her down on one of the multiple leather chaise lounges arranged in the center of the room. It was before dawn, and the only light in the room came from a dim table lamp. “Put this on, darling,” he murmured as he pulled a cashmere sweater over her head. The incredibly soft fabric immediately enveloped her, and she could already tell the garment would reach to her knees. “Why am I doing this, again?” Despite her sleepy confusion, she immediately felt turned on by the sensation of his sweater on her naked body. She wanted to spend a lazy morning with Max and Silas, continuing to exist for eternity in this perfect suspended reality. She imagined breakfast in bed and maybe a swim in the afternoon… He interrupted her thoughts. “We’re taking you somewhere, and I want you to be comfortable. I should have brought home more things from the store. Will this do?” “That depends on where you’re taking me, mon cher,” Audrey replied, halfheartedly resisting when he once again lifted her into his arms. As they approached the front door of the living quarters, she knew she was in trouble. Idling by the front door was a pristine gold Mercedes. Silas, decked out in his driving costume, sat in the front

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seat. He jumped out and grinned as he opened the passenger door of his car for them. As the chill of the early morning air hit her abruptly, she suddenly became acutely aware of what was happening. She was being kidnapped. Inside the luxurious convertible, the combination of the plush comfort of the leather and the brothers’ bodies close to hers threatened to lull her into a complacency she refused to accept. She liked the idea of putting up a struggle, especially if they thought they could just throw her in the car without telling her a damn thing about where they were headed. Now fully awake, she looked at the men as Silas pulled down the driveway. “Where are we going?” As The Arches disappeared behind them and they gathered speed, she could see the thrill in Silas’ eyes as they barreled down the road. “I hope you like surprises, Audrey,” ignoring her question as he placed one hand on her bare thigh and traced the edge of the sweater against her skin. Just the mere brush of his fingers against her bare flesh drove her wild, and it took all of her control to sit still. Max joined his brother in this new game, the back of his left hand wandering the length of chest and torso. “You look much better in this than I do,” he murmured as his lips brushed her right earlobe. She was almost ready to give into their mischievous ways, but she attempted once more to play the role of innocent kidnapee with all her might. “Where are you taking me? I have a right to know, don’t I?” she exclaimed with a playful pout. “It’s a secret, sugar,” Silas replied, grinning that naughty grin that drove her insane. “Couldn’t we eat some breakfast first?” Normally an early morning surprise trip would be just her kind of thrill. Today, however,

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she felt both ravenous and exhausted from the previous evening’s wild adventure. “We’re almost there, baby,” Silas assured her with a smirk. As usual, Silas was anything but cautious. They were flying down the never-ending twists and turns of their private road at a speed she could barely comprehend at this hour of the morning. Silas suddenly made a sharp right turn onto a narrow dirt road Audrey somehow hadn’t noticed on her initial ride to the compound. Was that just two days ago? Audrey breathed in the fresh morning air and tried her damndest to let go of every thought and take in the glorious feeling of the unknown, with these two wonderful men leading her deep into the void. The sun was cresting over the horizon, and Max wrapped his leather jacket around her for warmth, silently assuring her with the warmth of his deep, chestnut eyes. Silas slowed at a bend in the road, and as they came around the corner, Audrey looked from one to the other, attempting to figure out what she was seeing. It just looked like a massive shed and a long, well-kept dirt road. “For the final leg of this journey, you will be blindfolded, Miss Rousseau. My sincerest apologies for the inconvenience,” Max said teasingly. Before Audrey knew what was happening, the world had gone black around her, her sight replaced with the sensation of a silk handkerchief being tied firmly over her eyes. Once the car had stopped she heard doors slamming and immediately felt herself being lifted from the car. Taken once again into another set of arms, she quickly recognized Silas’ scent as she struggled against his firm grip around her body. “Is this an American thing? Why won’t you two ever allow a woman to walk on her own two legs?” “Because I want you close to me all the time, Audrey,” Silas whispered into her ear. Her whole body trembled at the sensation of

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his hot breath in her ear combined with being so closely cradled in his arms. She heard the sound of the giant shed doors opening and immediately smelled gasoline. “Did you get a new car? Is this a second garage?” she guessed. “Warm,” Max answered and laughed as Silas passed her to his older brother. She immediately relied on her excellent nose as she took in Max’s signature hazelnut scent and put her head on his shoulder. “This is going to be a bit tricky, darlin’, but I promise it’s worth it. Hang on tight, ok?” As he vaguely warned her of some sort of danger, she felt herself being lifted upwards, her arms quickly grasping onto his shoulders and her legs wrapping around his muscular backside. He seemed to mold her onto the back of his body, and she held on for dear life. She was completely disoriented, desperately trying to maintain her cool despite her complete lack of control. “This would be far less difficult if you two would just let me in on the big secret already.” As she desperately clung to Max, she felt their entangled bodies climbing upwards off the ground. Were they going up a flight of stairs? Was he hanging from a ladder? She couldn’t be sure, but she was confident whatever was happening was probably dangerous. She felt suspended high above the ground and continued clinging to Max to reduce the disorientation flooding her senses. Suddenly they stopped ascending, and he gently placed her down onto some sort of seat. Although it felt better to sit down on something firm, she immediately reached out for Max’s touch, anxious to know he was near her. He quickly responded by placing his hand in hers, and she breathed a sigh of relief with the touch of his reassuring fingers. “Would you like to see it now?” she heard Silas say from below

her.

“What do you think?” she replied sassily.

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Without saying a word, Max removed her blindfold. She looked around and took in the surreal moment. She was sitting in the cockpit of an airplane. And it wasn’t just any plane, but one unlike she’d ever seen before. She took it all in, admiring the incredibly sleek design of the space she was now inhabiting. The interior was all shiny mahogany and creamy leather, the long bench seat in the front more like the Mercedes she had ridden in than any plane she could have possibly imagined. “What do you think?” Max fired back at her. Silas had joined them, grinning like a proud schoolboy about his little surprise. She was speechless. “This…is yours?” “It was my birthday present to myself,” Silas answered. “I missed flying so much since I came back to Male Order from the war, and the technology is growing with leaps and bounds all the time. I met with the best guy in the business and designed this baby just for us. It’s safe now. Well, almost safe,” he added with a grin. “Would you like to fly, Audrey?” She passed her hands over the seemingly endless controls, levers and knobs, the gleaming metal a stark but beautiful contrast against the luxurious interior. She looked up at Silas after taking it all in. “Yes. It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe this is yours.” She looked again at Silas, then Max, fascinated by the secrets and surprises they always had hiding up their sleeves. “I’m planning on breaking the world record for distance, and I’m even thinking about trying to start up a commercial industry,” Silas murmured, almost to himself. He looked at her thoughtfully, the passion for the projects showing on his face. “This is the future, baby. This machine can hold up to five passengers, she has three engines and her fuselage and wings were constructed out of aluminum alloy. They’re even corrugated for added strength. She’s the fastest and safest airplane in the world. I spared no expense to have every luxury, as you might be able to tell.”

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“I don’t doubt it,” Audrey replied. His eyes glowed with happiness, and he reached out to her, one hand running absentmindedly through her hair. “Let’s prepare for takeoff,” Max proclaimed with excitement, jumping down from the body of the plane with incredibly agility. Silas kissed her roughly on the mouth and then began turning dials and flipping switches with the speed and skill of a professional. The plane immediately came to life, each engine humming and churning as Max opened the massive doors of the hangar. “You ready for an adventure?” Silas said, the familiar flash of mischief in his eyes. “Do your worst, Mr. Abrams,” she retorted with a grin. Max swiftly leaped back into the cockpit as they crossed over the threshold of the massive hangar doors. They slowly rolled down the runway, gaining speed as Max checked all the dials and Silas carefully pulled up on the throttle. The sensation caused Audrey’s heart to race as they lifted farther and farther off the ground. Sandwiched between the two men in the long leather front seat, the thrill of the moment caused her head to swim with excitement as they continued to ascend far above the land. Once the plane had steadied, Max and Silas took turns pointing out the landmarks of Male Order to her. They dipped low enough in the sky so she could discern the buildings of the quaint town center. Bending into her so she could hear him over the loud vibrations of the engines, Max described his own designs for the town the Abrams family had called home for three generations. “I want this town to thrive, to stay a close-knit community like we’ve always been. But I also want for us to have all the modern conveniences of the twentieth century. Look there! You can see one of my newest buildings, the Abrams Theater. It can seat five-hundred people and has room for a full orchestra to play beneath the screen. You can have a meal at the restaurant, see a ballet before the show or

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play a round of billiards in the upstairs rooms. It’s opening to the public next month after nearly two years of construction.” She loved to see Max like this, so engaged, so alive and open. “Hold onto the wheel for a bit,” Silas instructed as he sidled through the sliver of space near the window and made his way towards the rear of the plane, leaving Audrey in charge of the enormous vehicle. “Silas! What do I do?” she asked, incredulous he would leave her in charge of this massive machine without even a simple set of instructions. “Just feel the vibration of the engine in your fingertips and keep her steady. She’s yours, now. Take care of her.” She looked at Max with uncertainty as she took control of the plane. “You can do it, Audrey,” he reassured her, his hand resting gently on her thigh. “So where should we go?” she asked Max. Once she’d taken a moment to breathe and steady herself, she began to get the hang of it. “Anywhere you’d like, baby,” he replied quietly. She heard a loud pop in the back of the plane, and her heart almost stopped. “Silas? Are you all right?” “Of course,” he exclaimed as he rejoined them, carefully balancing three glasses of champagne and a plate of oysters in his hand. “Breakfast, my dear?” he asked as he smoothly set the items down on a metal tray he’d miraculously folded up from beneath their seat. “I’ll take the reins for a moment, but from there on out, I expect you to be in charge.” Her stomach growled as she tasted the delicacies Silas had brought for their celebration in the sky.