But Chessy and Tate were picking up the pieces and both were deeply committed to repairing their fragile relationship. It was all she could ask for. Just for Tate to reevaluate and recommit himself to her. Even her own commitment was being renewed. Stronger. More everlasting this time so that nothing would ever come between them again.

The women were enjoying a later than usual lunch the day before Chessy and Tate’s upcoming evening at The House and Chessy was brimming with hope and optimism. Not that she’d ever look to another man to somehow fill a gap in her marriage to Tate. Just the opposite. The nights at The House had occurred frequently in the first few years of their marriage. It was something they embraced—enjoyed—and it brought them even closer. For some couples such a thing would certainly drive a wedge between them. Jealousy always had the potential to overshadow all else when another person was introduced into a relationship. But she, or rather Tate, had never exhibited any signs of jealousy—but then Chessy had never had to contend with another woman in the picture. She was honest enough with herself to acknowledge she would likely be insanely jealous were another woman to touch Tate, but then Tate had never even entertained the idea, to Chessy’s knowledge. He seemed content with their current arrangement. In fact, he seemed to derive as much pleasure from the act as Chessy did herself. It was no coincidence in her mind that when they stopped exploring the darker side of their desires, the rift had begun.

Any time a marriage lost both an emotional and a physical connection it was no longer about a kink they both enjoyed. It had become a matter of survival. The survival of their love and their marriage.

As soon as the waiter delivered their entrees and they were afforded complete privacy, Chessy asked the question she was sure was also burning a hole in Joss’s brain. Chessy reached for Kylie’s hand and squeezed.

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“How did your first counseling session with Jensen go?”

Kylie’s expression became shuttered and she briefly glanced away. Then, as if realizing that Joss and Chessy were her best friends and confidantes, she looked back up, vulnerability shining in her eyes.

Chessy tightened her hold on Kylie’s hand while Joss reached for Kylie’s other.

“You don’t have to tell us,” Joss said in a low voice. “The last thing we want is for you to be uncomfortable. We were both worried and we knew since it was only the first time that things may not have gone as well as you’d like. So say as much or as little as you’re okay with. Chessy and I love you. You’re our sister in our hearts. We just want you to know that you can always talk to us about anything and we’d never betray your confidence. Even to Dash or Tate.”

As Joss spoke, she glanced Chessy’s way as if gauging whether she was speaking for the both of them and if Chessy was in agreement with all Joss had to say.

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Chessy nodded immediately. “Absolutely. We just want you to know we love you and we worry about you. You and Joss are my best friends in the world, and God knows you’ve both nursed me through my frequent misery and bouts of self-pity.”

Kylie gave them a watery smile, which prompted Joss to shove a table napkin into the hand Joss had only just let go. It was a well-known fact in the group that Kylie hated crying. Especially in public. It would mortify her if she knew someone saw her losing control in a room full of people.

Kylie accepted the napkin and wiped hastily at her face. “At least I didn’t wear makeup today,” she said ruefully.

“You’re too beautiful to need makeup,” Joss said firmly.

Chessy smiled her agreement.

Kylie laughed, her tears replaced by mirth. “You’re both so full of shit but I love you for it.” Then her expression sobered once more and she breathed out a sigh. “The therapy session went okay. I mean I guess as well as it could go considering that for me it was akin to bloodletting. The therapist wants to see us individually first before she sees us together. Monday is Jensen’s turn and then I suppose the therapist will compare notes on our insanity and try to put the puzzle pieces together or try to figure out how two equally f**ked-up people ever belong in a relationship together.”

Chessy scowled. “That better be sarcasm or your twisted sense of humor coming out because you and Jensen are perfect for one another.”

Kylie smiled. “I may have inserted a little sarcasm.”

Joss snorted. “Ya think? Come on. Give us the real scoop. Unless of course it’s too personal and you’d rather not get into it.”

Kylie rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I think we’ve established that I seem to have no personal boundaries when it comes to the two of you. Just recently, as I recall, we were shitfaced drunk in Joss’s living room and I was blurting out what a stupid-head Jensen was and then I revealed my grand seduction plan of making love to him and then tying him to the bed. If I survived telling you guys all of that I think a visit to my therapist pales in comparison.”

Chessy and Joss both dissolved into laughter.

“She does have a point,” Chessy admitted. “Even Dash was privy to that particular outburst. But it was a brilliant plan. I have to give you that.”

Kylie groaned and briefly covered her face with her hands. “Did you have to remind me that Dash was there to witness my drunken humiliation?”

“Hey, it worked, did it not?” Joss demanded. “I’d say you pulled that plan off spectacularly.”

A satisfied smile curved Kylie’s lips upward, effectively erasing all the earlier conflicting emotions that had shone in her eyes.

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