“The usual,” Des said before Cole could reply.
Cole rolled his eyes. “Yeah, if the usual includes going to the children’s ward at Brookers.”
Wendy gripped the back of the chair in front of her. “You’re serious?”
Des leaned forward and picked up half the sandwich sitting untouched next to Cole’s elbow. ”It’s ham and Swiss. Want some?” he asked Wendy, clearly not interested in discussing his holiday activities any further.
“No, thanks. I already ate.” She hadn’t, but it was a small lie. “Listen, I need to ask you both something.”
Cole gave her a disarming grin as he relaxed in his chair. He was dressed in his professional best as usual today, not counting his bl
indingly red sweater. “Only if you convince Des to come with me.”
“Go with him,” she said to Des before crossing her arms. Best to just get it out quick before her nerve deserted her. “Am I the first woman you’ve slept with?”
The men looked at each other, twin expressions of amusement tilting their mouths. “Why, yes, Ms. Stanton.” Des toyed with her jingle bell bracelet, one of the relics from her past she hadn’t been able to part with. The tinkling bells tended to annoy people, but the sound made her happy. “We were both virgins until you came along.”
“You’d still be one then,” Cole pointed out. “Since you’ve yet to partake of the lovely Wendy's luscious pussy.”
Just like that, the scarlet elephant was out in the room. And she wasn’t ready to deal with it. Not with Cole there. “That’s not what I meant,” she said hurriedly. “I mean, have you shared another woman that worked for you?”
Her bosses exchanged a long glance that set off a round of nervous spasms in her belly. “No,” Des said. “We’ve never been about that. This isn’t that kind of office.”
“So what’s so special about me that Van doesn’t have? For example,” she added at Cole’s piercing glance.
His lips twitched. “Do you want to invite her to play with us, Wen?”
“No,” she and Des answered simultaneously.
She looked at him, relief saturating her limbs. “Really?”
“Really.” He reached over and laced his fingers with hers. Then he frowned, staring down at her hand. “Why do you ask? Does Vanessa suspect something?”
She wanted to say no, that nothing was amiss, but lying about lunch was about as much as she could stand. Other than lying about being in lo—lust—with Des, that is. That secret would remain hers.
“She’s asking questions.”
Cole shrugged and pulled the crust off the half of the sandwich on his plate. Des still held the other in his free hand though he’d made no move to eat it. “So put her off. It’s not a big deal.”
“I don’t want her to find out.” She tried to hide her disappointment as Des released her hand. “She’s my friend, and if she starts thinking I’m getting unfair benefits because I’m with y’all—I mean, fucking you both—”
“The only benefit you’re getting is the use of our extraordinary dicks.” Cole tossed aside his crust like a ten-year-old. “With Des, you’re barely even getting that.”
Des’s brows dipped low over his churning eyes. “No, she’s right. Cole, we can’t risk Van's suspicions. This is a business, not a damn brothel.” At Wendy’s flinch, Des stroked her arm. “You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I do. You think I’m bought and paid for.”
“Well, aren’t you?” Cole bit into his sandwich. “Not the sex part obviously, but we pay you for a service which you perform very well.” He chewed and swallowed before giving her one of those grins that could infuriate her or turn her on depending on the day. This was definitely falling into the infuriating category. “You’re amazingly skilled. Believe us, we appreciate it.”
“Shut up, dickhead.” Des dumped his uneaten sandwich on the plate and gripped her forearms. “Forgive my hasty choice of words. I just meant I don’t want us—any of us,” he said with a stern glance at his partner, “to lose sight of what we’re about here. Van shouldn’t have to worry that she works in that kind of office.”
“An office where people have healthy sex lives? Oh, no, anything but that.”
Ignoring Cole, Des traced his thumb over the inside of her wrist. She hoped like hell he couldn’t feel her trembling. Even though she knew what she had to do, her body was already registering its objections. “We’ve loved getting to know you better, but that’s not a requirement of your working here. Anytime you say the word, we’ll go back to the way things were. No questions asked.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she glimpsed Cole’s smirk. “She can’t give us up. Who needs eggnog when we’re around?”
“I think maybe we should. Stop this, I mean.” Great, now her voice was shaking too. She made herself look into Des’s eyes and spoke again, more evenly. “It’s been fun, but it’s almost Christmas and—”