“What are you reading?”
The sexy male voice sent ripples of pleasure across her skin. Cheri hadn’t noticed the movement on either side of her. While she’d been lost in the story of a small Texas town with a provocative name, the two men Mr. Ridgeway had speculated upon—the two men she’d recognized as her mates and were the most attractive men she’d laid eyes on—had settled themselves down on either side of her.
Cheri looked up at the man who’d spoken. He’s got the most mesmerizing blue eyes I’ve ever seen.
She turned her attention inward, her mind seeking to know what he’d asked, as well as the one her own inner voice had posed—when had they shown up? As if watching an instant replay on a sportscast, she saw how the men had come out onto this pool deck and scanned the area. There’d been several chaises available—and, in fact, there was one free on the other side of each of these men.
But then the man who’d just spoken to her nudged his friend and pointed at her.
They watched me as I left the fantail, and they got a good look at me here before they settled down beside me.
Cheri filed the thought away for later and offered him a smile. “I’m reading an erotic romance novel.”
“It must be a good book. You looked completely absorbed.” The man on her left spoke, and she turned her attention on him. His eyes were soft brown, with a slight tint of wariness. Yes, his face seemed kind, but there was a sense of…Cheri immediately closed that part of her magic that would have easily allowed her to know his thoughts.
That was a power she rarely used. People were entitled to the privacy of their own minds. Since leaving home, she’d reached into a mind only once, and that had been during her second year. One of her pupils had been traumatized, and she’d needed to know what had happened so she could help the boy.
She brought herself back to the moment. “It is, and I was.” She reached out her hand to the first man who’d spoken. “Hi, I’m Cheri Ambrose.”
He took her hand, and she needed all her self-control not to betray the arousal that shot through her with his touch. As it was, her eyes went wide, and she knew he’d seen that.
His smile turned a bit smug. “I’m Max Tanner, and this is my best friend, Anthony Delvecchio.”
Cheri turned and offered her hand to Anthony, not at all surprised when that same river of sensuality doused her for a second time. “How do you do?” She had no idea where that expression came from in human history, but the words slipped out easily enough.
“I’m well, thanks. I prefer Tony to Anthony.” His fledgling smile tugged at her heart.
“I’ll remember that.”
“Romance, is it? Should we read some deeper meaning into your reading choice here on this cruise?”
Tony Delvecchio’s question managed to land on the polite side of the rudeness border, but only just.
She took on a serious expression. “Yes, indeed you should.” She looked around as if checking to ensure that no one could overhear her. Then she leaned toward him, lowered her voice, and said, “The deeper meaning is I like to read erotic romance.”
On her right, Max Tanner snickered. “You’ll have to forgive my friend. He’s a mite suspicious by nature.”
Cheri sat back, closed her e-reader, and set it on her lap. She turned her attention back to Tony. She didn’t think the color on his face could be the effect of the sun so soon into the cruise. “I’m sorry. That must be a tough way to live.”
He raised one eyebrow. “Not at all. I sleep very well at night.”
“I imagine you do. Subjecting yourself to all that tension and using all that extra energy through the day to be suspicious of everyone and everything must leave you exhausted by bedtime.”
“Yes, but think of all the messy emotional situations I save myself from experiencing.”
Cheri didn’t need her powers to feel the basic sadness wrapped in hostility that surrounded Tony Delvecchio like a fleece cloak. That certain knowledge tempered her response.
“Give over to us, Cheri.” Max kissed those words against her lips, and then his mouth and tongue traveled down her body.
Tony slid his hands down her arms until he’d linked his fingers with hers. He nuzzled her neck, kissing and licking her just under her ear, and Cheri felt the strength leave her legs.
“I have you.”
Tony used the power of his grip on her hands to keep her upright. Max knelt before her and looked up. Once she met his gaze, he reached up and opened the button and zipper of her pants. He hooked his fingers into the elastic top of her panties and brought both garments down her legs to rest on top of her feet. It took him only a moment to slip those sandals off and remove her pants completely.
She stood naked before them. Uncertainty rose up, but they knew it. They felt it. Tony squeezed her hands, and Max shook his head.
“You’re perfect for us,” Max said.
Cheri inhaled deeply and made a decision, one that she promised herself she would never recant.
She chose right then and there to believe them. “Show me.”
Max rose to his feet and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Tony stepped back, and Max scooped her into his arms.
She’d barely noticed the room but understood it was large when he carried her into a separate bedroom and laid her on the bed. Then, being a man of his word, he began to show her how perfect she was for him by practically tearing his clothes off. Beside him, Tony did the same. Finally they came down on the bed, one on either side of her.
“We never thought to ask you, sweetheart, and it doesn’t matter to us. We just need to know if we have to be very—”
Cheri placed her hand over his mouth. “No, I’m not a virgin.” There were so many differences between this world and the one in which she’d been raised. There was a difference between mating and making love. Mating happened when a woman met the two men destined to be hers. It didn’t happen for every woman. Some had no desire to belong to a permanent family or to even have children. In the meantime, when women and men became adults, they sought pleasure in the physical, in whichever way they defined that.
People learned what they liked so that when—if—they did find lifelong mates, they could please and be pleased.
“Good. We don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t hurt me.”
There was joy and excitement and comfort in making love. And because Cheri knew what that felt like, she immediately sensed the difference in making love with these two men. They touched and kissed, stroked and licked and caressed, and everywhere their flesh met hers she felt their heat and their power. Tiny little sparkles of electricity awakened her arousal, setting her ablaze wherever they touched her.
She felt cherished and worshipped, but she needed more. She needed to touch and kiss and lick and show them how much she wanted them, too.
Max’s mouth covered hers, his tongue bold, insistent, and Cheri sucked on it, stroked it, as if this was all there would ever be. The fingers of her right hand combed through his hair, and she held him close, drinking him down in big, greedy gulps. He lifted his head, his glittering gaze saying so much more than words ever could. He moved down the bed slightly, circled her left areola with his tongue, then closed his lips over her nipple and began to suckle.
Tony reached for her, his fingers on her chin turning her head toward him. She didn’t wait but opened to him, sucking his tongue into her mouth, using hers to taste him, to drink him as eagerly as she had Max.
Their hands caressed her, learning her dips and her curves, seeking, saluting, seducing. Fingers found the flesh of her wet, swollen folds. They stroked in the dampness, and then slid into her pussy, pushing deep. In and out, one and then the other, both men finger fucked her. Tony’s mouth on hers, Max’s lips sucking in her nipple, surrounded her in an erotic heat and heart that captivated her. Cheri shivered as, for the first time in her life, her true passion awakened within her. Desire soared to desperation, and she couldn’t help the sounds that emerged, as if finally freed from their prison within her soul.
Wrenching her mouth from Tony’s, she mewed and panted, her hips thrusting to capture the fingers that teased her.
“So wet.” Max’s words caressed her breast. “There’s so much more I want to do, but I have to…”
Tony left her for a moment and then a packet landed on her stomach. Max reached for it, but she stayed his hand.
“It’s safe. We’re safe. The magic…” She thought she might have to explain when finding even those few words had been so difficult. But then she saw the light of understanding in his eyes.
He swept the condom off her and then covered her with his body.
The need clawed inside her, talons of desire that ate at her patience. She wrapped herself around him, even as she felt his cock brush against her pussy. He waited only a moment, gathering a tiny bit of her body’s nectar on his cockhead.
And then he plunged balls deep inside her.