Back in 2008, I wrote a short story, FIRST NIGHT, as part of Samhain’s newsletter The Samhellion’s Holiday celebration. Since my first book, PRIVATE PROPERTY–a story about a couple who had previously been in a no-strings-attached affair had just gotten amped to relationship status–was due to be released the following month, I thought I’d give readers a teaser about how my hero and heroine had first entered into their friends-with-benefits arrangement. I love the title because it fits in both with the theme of the New Year’s Eve party which is often referred to as First Night, and how it is the first night Jodi and Mark hook up.
Up until now, First Night has been available as a free read on my website, and as a PDF on Goodreads and Manic Readers. But with some prompting from a few people, I’ve decided to pull it down from my website and the other two sites, and revamp it. It is now twice as long as it was before, and I think gives an even better peek into Jodi and Mark’s mutual attraction.
While the original story was edited by Angela James, who edited the first two books of my Hauberk series, and the majority of my stories with Carina Press, the additions meant I wanted to ensure the new matter was properly edited too. So the new version is currently out with Anya Richards of Grammar Goggles. Once she gets it back to me, and the edits are finished, I’ll be putting it up on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and other vendors, so more people can find it.
Copyright © 2008, 2014 Leah Braemel
It might have been the two glasses of champagne that drove Jodi Tyler to consider Terri’s dare. Or maybe, she told herself for the fifth time, she really was concerned her boss was working himself too hard.
Though her mouth was moving, Jodi could barely hear a word Terri said over Hector’s attempts at singing and the amps blasting full-power. The music itself wasn’t bad—Juan and Tyrell both played a mean guitar but Hector needed to be muzzled.
Champagne sloshing over the side of her wine glass, Terri gestured toward their boss who stood in the farthest corner, his cell phone covering one ear, and a hand covering the other. The suit jacket Mark Rodriguez had worn earlier was nowhere in sight. His tie had disappeared too, leaving the top two buttons of his shirt splayed open. What was it about that peek-a-boo V that she found so attractive? He twisted to allow a waiter to pass which caused his shirt sleeve to pull taut. Damn, the man must work out five hours a day to maintain those shoulder muscles.
Though he had an excellent body, his recently-earned MBA spoke to his intelligence, a trait Jodi found just as sexy as his kick-ass body.
From the deep furrow in his forehead, whoever he was talking to was pissing him off. Bingo, there was his tell of running his hand over his dark hair, something he only did when he was trying to keep cool. Normally he kept it in a Marine’s high and tight, but he’d been so harried lately, he’d let the top part grow longer. Long enough that every time she’d seen him, she’d been tempted to run her fingers through it.
Poor guy. Celada Security had the best rep in the Metroplex, yet their damned competition kept swiping their clients by undercutting their rates in an effort to get Mark to sell out to him. It wasn’t that Mark was doing anything wrong—the man had a flair for keeping both his clients and his employees happy—but he didn’t have the type of money their competition had at his disposal. Which meant this might be the last party they’d celebrate together. Unless he pulled off whatever Hail Mary pass he’d hinted at during today’s staff meeting.
Terri put her mouth to Jodi’s ear and repeated, “Come on, Jodi. Mark brought his laptop to the party, and when he’s not working on it, he’s been on that damned phone. You need to get him to loosen up.”
Jodi rolled her eyes. “And just how do you propose I do that?”
Terri flattened her free hand over her stomach and wiggled her hips. “There’s no better way to start a New Year than with some hot monkey sex.”
“Terri!” Laughing at her friend’s antics, Jodi shoved Terri’s shoulder.
“Jodi,” Terri mimicked Jodi’s exasperation. “He’s not seeing anyone, and neither are you since you finally saw the light about Jace and kicked him to the curb. Sex is the perfect way to relax, and honey, you both need to relax. Besides, I’ve seen the way you eye Mark when you think no one’s looking. You’re dying to get him naked. Don’t deny it.”
“I am not!” Yes, I am. I want to pull his shirt off and run my fingers—hell my tongue—down his pecs, over his abs. To trace that line of dark hair from his navel to where it hid beneath his fly.
“It’s time you get back up on the horse and Mark’s the perfect stallion to ride.” Terri grabbed a champagne flute from a passing waiter and pressed it into Jodi’s hand. “Here. Give him this. Tell him there’s a private party and he’s invited. I bet he’ll have you seeing fireworks before the ball drops in Times Square.”
As Jodi argued internally about whether it was a good idea to have sex with the boss—which she knew wasn’t smart at the best times, Terri fumbled in her purse, withdrew a package and shoved it in Jodi’s bag. Jodi peered inside to see what her friend had given her. “Holy crap, you brought a box of condoms to the party? What the fuck were you expecting? An orgy?”
“No. But it never hurts for a girl to be prepared.”
With an entire box? Terri obviously had far more to her than she let on beneath that standard Celada uniform.
“You know you’ve been fantasizing about him for months. It’s time you go hook up with him and ride that man into the sunset.” Terri shoved her in Mark’s direction. “Or let him ride you.”
What the heck am I doing? Jodi asked herself as she maneuvered her way through the crowded room.
Taking responsibility for your own happiness, that’s what.
Keep an eye out here for when First Night is available for download from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other vendors — I’ll be making it available for a short time only, then it will be priced at 99 cents.