Sweet Addiction

By: Maya Banks

CHAPTER 1




Her laughter was the first thing that caught his attention. Vibrant and shining. So effervescent and full of unfettered joy that it arrested him and he couldn’t remember what he’d been thinking just moments earlier.

He turned, seeking the source of the captivating music. And then he thought he’d heard it before. When he was much younger.

A lifetime ago.

Ren.

The memory of her still had the power to make him ache.

So much regret. Guilt. Wishful thinking. If only he had it to do all over again.

He hadn’t thought about her in a while now. Not because she’d slipped from his mind, but because he’d willed himself to stop thinking of the beautiful, shy eighteen-year-old girl who’d meant the world to him when he was in his early twenties.

It still hurt him to bring her to mind years later. She reminded him of mistakes he’d made. How he’d hurt her when it was the very last thing he’d ever wanted or intended.

He scanned the interior of the restaurant, his eyes sharp as he took in each table. But he couldn’t find the source of the burst of laughter, nor did he hear it again.

“Is something the matter?” Damon Roche asked.

Cole turned back to his friend and dinner companion and cast an apologetic glance in Serena Roche’s direction.

“No, nothing. I just thought I heard… I was reminded of someone I once knew.”

Damon slid his hand from Serena’s arm and picked up his glass of wine. His touch never strayed far from his wife. His now pregnant wife. If Damon had been possessive before—and he was forbiddingly possessive of Serena—he was even more so now that she was round with his child.

The two shared a nontraditional relationship. Serena was submissive to Damon’s dominance in and out of the bedroom. It was a relationship that made Cole envious, dangerously so. Spending time with the couple he called friends made him face his past mistakes. Made him realize that if he’d only been more careful and mindful in the past, he could even now be enjoying a relationship like Damon and Serena’s with a woman he’d loved with everything he had.

But he’d hurt her in his impatience and ignorance.

He’d met many women in the years since. Women who were beautiful, submissive, willing to submit to him on a permanent basis, but none had captured his heart like Ren. The one woman he couldn’t have.

Until recently he hadn’t done more than touch or prepare women who frequented The House, the exclusive club devoted to sexual largesse, owned by Damon Roche. Cole was a frequent visitor. Damon trusted him. Only Cole had been trusted with Serena, Damon’s beloved wife, and even then his role was just preparation.

Only with Angelina had he allowed himself to become more intimate, to actually have sex and open himself to the pleasure of having a woman go quiet at his touch and command. But a part of him realized that Angelina had reminded him of Ren. And Angelina belonged to Micah, another of Cole’s friends, one he shared with Damon.

All of the women he’d allowed himself to soften around belonged to other men. Maybe that was why he was willing to indulge with them, because he knew they were no threat to his heart and soul.

“Is the food to your liking, Serena mine?” Damon asked.

Serena smiled. “It’s divine. I only wish I could eat more. I swear this kid is wrapped around my stomach, squeezing for all it’s worth. I can’t eat more than a small amount at a time, but then I get hungry. The result is I eat all day!”

Damon chuckled and lifted a glass of water before pressing it gently to her lips. “You need to eat. You’ve not been sleeping well lately. Our child is wearing you out. The calories will give you more energy.”

“Or just make me fat and lazy,” Serena muttered.

“Are you still set on not knowing the sex?” Cole asked, trying to maintain polite conversation. But he was rattled and the laughter had opened the door to his past that he tried to keep shut at all times.

A wistful light entered Serena’s eyes. She was a beautiful woman. Startling blue eyes and shiny black hair. He’d been drawn to her as well even though there had never been a question of her belonging to Damon. But again, there was something about her that had reminded him of his childhood sweetheart, and he often found himself unable to look away from Serena. And wish that he hadn’t messed up so badly with Ren, that they could have been older. Cole could have been wiser. Could have guided her as Damon had guided Serena. Maybe Ren would still be with him now. His. Beautiful, submissive, his treasure.

“There are days when I really want to know,” she said. She glanced over at Damon and smiled. “I made Damon promise not to let me cave even though he wants to know very badly whether we’re having a son or a daughter. He really wants a girl. I don’t care and maybe that’s why I want to be surprised.”

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