Authors: Lily Harlem
Evernight Publishing ®
Copyright© 2016 Lily Harlem
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Editor: Carlene Flores
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This book is dedicated to the wonderful city of London, one of my favourite places in the world to be. Its majesty, history and rich variety of people never fail to inspire and thrill me.
London Menage, 2
Copyright © 2016
“What?” I stopped in the doorway of Tristan’s office.
He groaned and shoved his hand through his dark hair the way he did when super-stressed. “I’m going to have to do it again.”
“Do what again?”
“Cancel on Beth.”
“That’s not good.” I stepped in and set a pile of paperwork on his desk. This really wasn’t good, he’d had one successful date with Beth, a nurse, the month before and had cancelled on her three times since.
“She won’t believe it’s another have-to-go-to business trip, will she?”
I shrugged. What could I say? If I were Beth, if I’d been cancelled on this many times, I’d presume the other person didn’t like me or didn’t have time for a relationship.
“I just haven’t got time for dating, for getting to know someone. It sucks.” He stood, turned to the floor-to-ceiling window, and stared out at the London skyline. “And I want a special person in my life. I really do. Sleeping alone gets old.”
“I know what you mean.” I sat in the soft leather chair that was usually reserved for clients and crossed my legs. “Believe me I do.”
He pushed his suit jacket out of the way and placed his hands on his hips. “How is Emma?”
“Last I heard she was getting remarried. Some bloke called Joe.” I pulled in a breath. Emma had left me three years previously. She’d said I was a workaholic and despite asking me to slow down during our marriage, I hadn’t listened. I had no argument, her reason for divorcing me was true. Tristan and I had worked hard to build up Wainwright and Bramon. It was our baby, our life’s work, we couldn’t let up. Not now … maybe not ever. Or at least until we retired and handed it over to our children.
Children. Yeah, right. Like that was ever going to happen at this rate. We each needed a woman first.
Tristan turned. “You okay about that? Her getting remarried.”
“No other way to be.” I paused. “We’ve been over a long time. I’m pleased she’s getting on with her life. She deserves happiness, she’s a wonderful woman.”
“And so do you, deserve happiness that is.” He tutted. “So do I.”
“The Opine case can’t wait? You really can’t put off this trip?”
“No, the artwork’s ready for their new campaign and I have to show it to them ASAP so it’s set up for Christmas. They wanted it done last week. I can’t put it off another day.”
“Yeah, they’re worth too much business to us.”
“Exactly and their CEO is in Paris tomorrow, flying in from New York, so I have no choice but to head to the Eurostar in a few hours and get myself there.”
“I wish I could go for you,” I said.
“No, you have Brentwood Sports to deal with tomorrow, that’s going to take up the whole day.”
Tristan glanced at the files on his desk. “What’s this?” He picked up a white envelope and flashed it my way.
It had our names handwritten on the front in block capitals. “I don’t know. Open it.”
He tore at it then pulled out a piece of paper. “Double fuck.”
“It’s from Nina.”
“Really?” I was confused. Nina was our personal assistant. Why would she be sending us a letter rather than speaking to us?
“It’s her resignation.” Tristan groaned.
My heart sank. She was our fourth PA in a year. Where were we going wrong? “Damn.”
“She seemed to be getting on fine?” Tristan shook his head and scowled.
“She had made noises about her workload, and the fact we were hard to contact when out of the office.”
“Yeah.” I rubbed my temples. “I had it down as something to look at, passing on some of her duties to another department, speaking to you about it, but I never got round to it.”
“Really?” Tristan’s scowl deepened.
“Hey, I’m busy too, okay.”
“I know, I know, sorry.” He sat back behind his desk. “We’ll have to get the recruitment agency onto it again.”
“They’ll give up on us soon.”
“Nah, not as long as we pay them.”
“True.” I paused. “We’ll up the salary package, get someone who can handle the heat.”
“Handle the heat. You mean handle us,” Tristan said.
“Exactly. I don’t think we’re going to win any Best Boss Award soon.”
“No, or best boyfriend.” He pulled out his iPhone. “I’ll have to call Beth. I can imagine what the response will be.”
“Good luck with that.” I stood. There was no time to be sitting around chatting.
“And can you, you know, sort out the PA situation while I’m gone, Andre? I think it might just be the last straw if we don’t have someone to organize all the mundane stuff and keep our paperwork in order.”
“Of course. I’ll try and persuade Nina to stay but I think it’s past that now if she’s handed this in.”
“Still, it’s worth a try. And whatever you decide while I’m away is cool with me.”
“With a bit of luck I’ll have a replacement by the time you get back.” I paused. “Should we pay less and get two people in?”
“No, we talked about that before. Best to have one expensive but experienced PA than two half-hearted newbies.”
“True.” I turned. “I’m sure we’ll find the perfect person.”
“We’ll need a whole pile of luck for that to happen.”
I headed back to my own office. Nina wasn’t at her desk and her handbag was gone as was the small potted plant she kept on the filing cabinet. The situation was worse than I’d thought. Had we really behaved so badly? It wasn’t intentional. We’d both liked her. She was an older lady, calm and collected, experienced too. Maybe she was thinking of retirement and that was what had triggered her decision.
Who was I kidding? She’d told me she loved cruises. Her husband was still working as a police officer and they enjoyed having the money to splash out on luxury voyages to see the world.
She’d left because of us. Because of how busy we were and how distracted with work we could be. Just like the last three personal assistants had.
Things needed to change.
I sat at my desk and picked up my phone. I called Nina’s mobile but it went to message. I’d have to try again later. I then sought out the recruitment agency we used and confessed to having lost another secretary.
“No problem, Mr. Bramon. We can have a few candidates lined up for you to interview on Monday if that suits you.”
“Yes, that will be fine.” I’d just have to cope the rest of this week on my own. “And please increase the pay scale by three thousand plus a discretional bonus. It’s probably what we need to do to keep him or her on board.”
“Good idea. I’ll be sure to get applicants with the experience you require.”
I hung up and turned to the computer. Fifteen emails had arrived since I’d stepped out to talk to Tristan. Damn it. Life felt like it was all work and no play right now.
And it had for a while.
Perhaps I should get myself out there, start dating again, the way Tristan was.
What was the point? I’d only end up in the same situation he was in, having to make phone calls to cancel dates when business got in the way of free time. I could do without the hassle or the guilt.
No, for now I’d have to carry on as I was. So what if my bed was cold at night, or that I didn’t have someone whose smile lit up my day. That’s the way it was when running a company that was looking to turn over three million pounds for the first time this year.
But hell, the thought of a hot, sexy woman to enjoy was damn appealing. Someone who knew what she wanted, wasn’t afraid to truly be with a man. Shy had never appealed to me. Confidence was a turn on as were curves.
I tried to remember when I’d last had sex. It took a while to cast my mind back. It was a one-night stand about eight months previously. I hadn’t intended it to be a one-night stand. I’d actually really liked her witty sense of humor, but a trip to Los Angeles for a month had meant my chance was lost when I’d called her upon my return.
I shifted on my seat. It had been a hot and raunchy night, though. The kind of night that was fodder for fantasies when I was alone, which was a lot.
I enjoyed everything about a woman’s body and missed it too. I loved soft silky skin beneath my palm. Sweet flowery scents filling my nostrils. Warm wetness to sink deep into.
“Fuck,” I muttered quietly and again adjusted my position. I was getting hard. Not cool.
I’d have to do something about my non-existent sex life soon. It wasn’t healthy to be celibate when I was in the prime of my life. I was thirty-one years old for crying out loud. I should be swinging from the chandeliers, if not Monday to Friday then definitely at weekends.
Yes. I’d sort it soon. Perhaps join a dating site. Tristan might give it a go too. Safety in numbers.
I huffed and opened the first of the emails that required attention.
What we really needed, Tristan and I, was a woman we could share. We didn’t have the time individually to wine and dine a partner, but together, if the responsibility were halved, then perhaps it would work.
“Yeah, right,” I muttered.
“Yeah right what?”
I looked up, startled.
“What?” Tristan said again, a confused expression creasing his brow.
“I was just thinking about our dire love lives, and what we really need is a woman to share. One between us. That way, say it was your Beth—”
“She’s not my Beth, definitely not after the conversation I’ve just had.” He groaned.
“Ouch, sorry.” I pulled a sympathetic expression. “But for example, I could take her out this evening for you, keep her happy and…” I grinned. “Satisfied.”
Tristan tipped his head as though actually thinking about my idea.
“And then when I’m away you’d be here for her,” I went on. “Two men, one woman, everyone happy. Stranger things happen.”
“Mmm … you might be on to something there.” He set a memory stick on my desk. “I have to go, but here are the files for the Richmond case, copied and saved.”
“And go for it. Get us a new PA and, while you’re recruiting, a woman for us to share, too.”
“I might just do that. My dick is forgetting what it’s for.”
Tristan laughed. A lovely deep bellow that I hadn’t heard for a while. “I hear you on that one.”
He left and I stared at my computer screen, though I didn’t read the words there. I’d said the part about a woman to share as an off the cuff comment, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense.
Neither of us could commit one hundred percent to a relationship but we could both do fifty. Also, we’d been friends and business partners for years. We’d never had a moments’ jealousy between us. Always rooted for the others’ success, right since our university days.
But would that be the same with a woman? If I fell head over heels in love, how would I cope with seeing Tristan’s hands on her, his lips, his…
And could he handle me touching a person he desired and loved…
I bit on my bottom lip.
We’d just have to find out.
But hell, it was worth a go. Anything was worth a go if it took away the emptiness I had at bedtime, this ache, this longing.
Yes. I’d add it to my to-do list. Find a woman who was open-minded about having two guys who wanted to keep her happy, cared for and thoroughly satisfied.