“Yeah, it worked,” Kylie said in a faraway tone that told both the other women she was taking an X-rated trip down memory lane.

Then she shook her head as if coming down from the clouds, her expression growing somber once more.

“We discussed my childhood and my inability—or rather my inability until I met Jensen—to form relationships with men. And the fact that in particular I feared dominant, strong men. She made me feel … normal.”

The last was said in a bewildered tone as if Kylie had never until now considered herself remotely normal.

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“Sweetie, of course you’re normal,” Chessy defended. “After what you endured at your father’s hands I’d say you wouldn’t be normal if that didn’t affect you well into your adult life. Think about it. The one man in a little girl’s life she’s supposed to be able to trust above all others, the one who is supposed to protect her at all costs, betrayed you horribly. He abused you horribly. No woman—I don’t care if she’s Super Woman—could escape that kind of horror unscathed.”

“Besides, you’ve merely been discerning when it comes to men,” Joss said with conviction. “That doesn’t make you abnormal. That makes you picky, and all women should be picky when it comes to choosing the man they’ll trust and give their hearts to. Can you imagine your life without Jensen now? What if you’d hooked up with some other guy? You wouldn’t have what you have now, so f**k normal.”

Chessy’s and Kylie’s mouths both dropped open in unison. Then Chessy burst into laughter until tears streaked down her cheeks. She coughed and wheezed into her napkin while Joss gave them both looks of bewilderment.

“Well, that’s one way to put it,” Kylie said ruefully. “And it mirrors what Jensen himself has said. I believe his exact words were ‘fuck normal.’”

“I always knew he was a smart man,” Joss said in a smug tone that matched her expression.

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“It’s just so funny to hear you dropping F-bombs,” Chessy said, still laughing. “Not that you haven’t before. It’s just not your normal MO.”

Joss rolled her eyes. “I swear you two seem to think I’m some Miss Goody Two Shoes.”

“Oh no, we became well aware that you’re the closet bad girl of this group,” Kylie said dryly. “I might have considered you Little Miss Sunshine at one time, but that was before you told us at lunch that you were going to The House and wanted to hook up with a dominant man. I think it’s safe to say that we certainly reevaluated any assumptions we’d made about you in the past.”

Joss’s cheeks turned a delightful shade of pink and Kylie and Chessy both burst into laughter.

“Busted!” Chessy crowed.

Kylie turned her gaze in Chessy’s direction in a swift change in topic, once more putting the focus on Chessy, and likely relieved to have it off herself. But that was just Kylie. She’d certainly come a long way but it didn’t mean she liked being thrust into the spotlight. Even by her best friends.

“So, uhm, you’ve sort of said in the past what it is you and Tate do at The House, but I’ll be honest, I mostly tuned you out. I know that sounds horrible, but my virgin ears could only take so much!”

“Oh for the love of God,” Joss muttered. “So says a woman who tied her boyfriend to her bed. The only difference here is that our husbands tie us to the bed.”

Chessy smothered her laughter with her hand. “Busted again, sweetie. No response to that one, huh.”

“So are you going to spill or not?” Kylie persisted, purposely ignoring their needling. “I guess today is a day for morbid curiosity because I confess, I can’t wrap my brain around Tate actually sharing you with another man. No matter what your past difficulties may have been, he is and always has been forbiddingly possessive of you.”

Chessy was determined not to show any self-consciousness in this discussion. No, it wasn’t a conversation she’d have with just anyone, but Kylie and Joss weren’t just anyone. They were her best friends. Her sisters, as Joss had so eloquently put it. And she wasn’t in the least ashamed of her and Tate’s sexual preferences.

“It sounds more complicated than it is,” Chessy said ruefully. “Basically Tate chooses a man to dominate me but who is dominated by Tate.”

Even Joss blinked over that explanation and then Chessy realized how it had come across. She groaned. “Okay, that is not what I meant.”

“This I gotta hear,” Kylie said in a dry tone.

“Tate chooses a man who would ordinarily act as a Dominant and not take instruction, especially from another Dominant. The man’s task is to … please … me. Tate tells him what to do and how to do it. Tate watches from the sidelines. That’s a figurative expression, by the way. Tate is always right there overseeing every aspect of what goes on. But he directs the action.”

Kylie’s expression grew thoughtful but she didn’t interrupt Chessy’s explanation.

“The other man takes me through the paces.”

Chessy glanced around uneasily to ensure no one was sitting close enough to their booth to potentially overhear and lowered her voice for the remainder of her explanation.

“The man undresses me, slowly, at Tate’s command. From there, it’s whatever Tate wishes to see or experience.”

Kylie frowned. “And not about what you want?”

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