At the age of thirty-eight, Inga Olafson thought she’d never find happiness again. Her wealthy and powerful ex-husband had traded her in for two girls half her age, and she thought that all was lost. But then the wealthy and powerful Caleb Essex entered her life and reintroduced her into the world of limitless sensuality. And when the young, inexperience, and wickedly curious corporate assistant, Maggie, enters into their life, passion explodes like never before. Meanwhile, their coworker, Kimberly, discovers a whole new world of passion with the other executives in the office, Bryce and Adam, and discovers that men in pairs can be something more than just twice as fun. But in a world like Golden Valley, Montana during the gold rush, keeping secrets—like a menage romance—is both critical and nearly impossible. Kimberly risks everything for the love that she has always ached for.
Golden Valley, Montana
Inga Olafson looked at the clock on the office wall—the big one that chimed on the hour and had Roman numerals—and felt a certain sense of dread go through her. It was almost ten minutes past eight, and Kimberly Case still wasn’t at her desk. And Inga knew that Kimberly had been warned that there would be consequences—whatever that meant--if she was late for work again. In a goldrush city like Golden Valley, premiere jobs for women were coveted—and Kimberly had one of them.
Inga didn’t really know Kimberly that well. Kimberly had started with the Cattleman’s Emporium Saloon and Casino, one of the largest corporations in the territory two months earlier, and Inga had been there only three months herself. But during the times that they could converse privately and personally, she had gotten to know Kimberly, and liked her.
So why, when she seemed like such a sensible woman, was Kimberly consistently showing up late for work?
She’s got a good job with bosses who pay her well and treat her with dignity, she thought. She’s sabotaging herself. Why in hell would she do that?
She glanced over at Margaret Maggie Williams, the newest of the three secretaries working for the top executives of Golden Valley’s most prestigious company, Cattleman’s Emporium Corporation. The girl—and at eighteen Maggie was really just a girl—was studiously reading the reports that had come to the telegraph office during the previous evening hours.
I wish Kimberly took her duties as seriously as Maggie does, Inga thought, then shook her head a little, and tried to put her concerns away where they wouldn’t plague her thoughts. She had enough concerns on her plate just seeing to it that Caleb Essex was pleased with the work that she did for him. She had her own life and her own boss to concern herself with. Caleb was more than enough man to keep a secretary busy.
As though he could read her mind, his office door, directly behind Inga, opened and Caleb stuck his head into the outer office.
“Miss Inga, could I please have my morning coffee now?”
When she looked at him, her heart skipped a beat. It always did that whenever she looked at him, particularly when it was first thing in the morning. He was, without question, the most handsome man she had ever seen. And since she was thirty-eight and a divorcee, it wasn’t as though she was a blushing ingénue new to the game of amour.
But, as she reminded herself, she might not be thinking entirely rational, entirely reasonably. When a passionate woman—and she most certainly was that—went two full years without making love, her thoughts and emotions were not necessarily at their most lucid.
Has it really been over two years? she asked herself. Yes, of course it has, she almost immediately answered her own question. You were thirty-six when your husband traded you in for two girls half your age. He hadn’t touched you long before he left you, and yet he got both of those girls pregnant at the same time. It hasn’t been two years—it’s been closer to three pushing on four.
Closing her eyes, she felt impotent rage begin rising within her. Yes, her husband had traded in a thirty-six-year-old wife for two eighteen-year-old pregnant mistresses. But he had power in St. Louis, and he could destroy her—so he did. Because he could. And bastards like that did things like that.
“Inga,” Maggie said softly, breaking into her troubled thoughts, “Mr. Caleb asked you for his coffee.”
Inga gave the girl a grateful look and said, “Thank you. Sometimes I can be so addle-brained, and he does so hate it when it takes me too much time to do what he asks of me.”
“You’ll have to teach me what he likes,” the girl said quietly. “Promise me you will? That way I can help you to make him happy.”
Inga nodded as she got out of her chair and hurried to the door. The main floor of the building was divided into sections, each catering to a customer’s specific wishes—provided they had the money to afford the high quality but high-priced goods that the Cattleman’s Emporium Saloon and Casino was selling. The main section was a casino and saloon, which was clearly what attracted most of the clientele. A second, though certainly smaller section, was a quiet restaurant. The third section, dimly lighted at all times, was an intimate tavern where words between men and women were always softly spoken.
This last section was the only place where women who didn’t work for the establishment were allowed.
She got the daily pot of coffee for Caleb from the kitchen on the main floor, then hurried back up to the second-floor executive offices.
She picked up the coffee pot from the table, then poured a cup. Then, with her back to Maggie, she unbuttoned the top button of her blouse. She still wasn’t showing much of her extravagant bosom, but she was showing more of her cleavage than she was when he had first started working for Caleb.
On more than just a few occasions, she had caught him looking at her breasts. This pleased her on several levels. The first was that she liked it when he looked at her and was clearly taking masculine pleasure in her feminine charms. The second was that he looked at her without ogling her. To be looked at was to be appreciated; to be stared at was to be crudely lusted after.
The difference between the two was as different as day is from night.
She knocked on the door lightly three times, just like she did every morning at this time. After a moment she heard Caleb say, “Come in, Inga.”