Home > The Farthest Edge (Honey #2)(5)

The Farthest Edge (Honey #2)(5)
Author: Kristen Ashley

They weren’t Kevin. They weren’t the life. They had no involvement in what had happened to her, the mistakes she’d made. They’d had nothing to do with it.

And each and every one, especially Aryas, Leigh and Felicia, had tried to stay close. Take care of her. Heck, Leigh and Felicia had both texted in the last couple of days to remind her the next book club meeting was coming up, and even though she’d missed nearly a dozen of them, they wanted her there.

But she’d pulled back. Stayed distant.

She wasn’t mean about it. She returned texts. She made excuses. She didn’t cut anyone out.

She also didn’t let anyone in.

Now it was high time she let it go, and Aryas calling, telling her he had something important to discuss, was a reminder she had to pull herself together and reenter her life.

Not as it had been.

But these people weren’t just Doms and subs she saw occasionally at her sex club.

They were her friends.

She knew what Aryas wanted to discuss. He owned the Bee’s Honey not simply as a lucrative business venture but because he was the life. A super-snuggly, could-be-stern Dominant who wasn’t defined by the fact he liked to spank his babies’ asses while he had a vibrator working inside them. He was also a man who was committed to the mission of giving those like him and the people who liked to be played with somewhere not only safe but luxurious to go where they could be who they were at the same time be with others who understood them.

He would try to convince her to come back to the club.

That, she wasn’t going to do.

He would also try to convince her to come back to her circle of friends.

That, she was going to do.

The one good thing—when your boyfriend and sex slave loses his mind during a scene, beats the utter snot out of you and you check out of life—was that you had to check into something else.

And Evangeline had checked into work.

She’d always worked hard. You couldn’t mess around when you were a real estate agent. A sale never just fell into your lap. You had to make it happen.

But she’d had a decent work/life balance.

Not for the last year.

The last year she’d worked her behind off.

And so doing, she wasn’t set up. She was set up. Credit cards paid off. Vacation fund (since she hadn’t taken one in over a year) out the roof. Savings more than healthy. Max contribution to her IRA. And brokerage accounts going strong. New roof and everything in her house that needed fixing had been fixed. And she’d recruited so many clients, and kicked so much butt selling houses, they referred her to all of their friends in a way that she knew they’d refer her to their grandchildren.

All this so in thirty-five years she was going to retire, totally alone (and she was fine with that) but high on the hog. Cruises. A pimped-out pad. Cooking gourmet meals with every ingredient bought from AJ’s Fine Foods. And not even a blink at dropping a load at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

That was her plan and she was going to keep working at it.

She just had to add her friends back into that mix.

The only things the last year she’d taken time out of work to do for herself were getting biweekly mani/pedis and massages, monthly facials, and carving out time to go to the gym. She’d dropped a ton of weight (especially for her on her small frame) when Kevin lost it on her. But she’d sorted that out since any free time she had that she wasn’t working, getting a mani/pedi, massage, facial, or going to the gym, she was cooking.

So she’d gained it back.

C’est la vie.

She had no one to impress.

And she never again would.

Of course, none of these things offered her what she got from working a sub in a playroom at the Honey, or the one she’d been meticulously setting up in the studio at her house until it all went down with Kevin, or, if she’d let that sub into her life (and heart), in her bed in her home. But she’d have to make do.

She had been that girl who liked the feel of a crop in her hand and the results she got when she used it. She’d been that girl since those kinds of thoughts could enter her mind in a way she could try to process them. She’d never had an issue with being that girl. It was just who she was.

But that wasn’t the girl she was going to be anymore.

Not after Kevin.

She opened the door to the Honey, and in her current frame of mind, the hit of walking into the luxe foyer that was no less attractive lit brightly with daylight wasn’t as big of a hit as she’d prepared for it to be.

It helped that Aryas was walking down the back hall behind the reception area toward her.

She smiled.

He was a big, beautiful black man. Huge. He towered over almost everyone.

As she moved to him and he continued to move to her, neither stopping, he did what he always did even if she was in four-inch, black suede Alexander Wang pumps.

When he pulled her into his arms, her cheek hit his pectorals and he dwarfed her.

Considering her height, it was not surprising her father and two brothers weren’t much taller than her (and her mother was an inch shorter).

So she’d always loved getting a hug from Aryas, being engulfed in his strong arms, pulled to his big, warm, hard body, not feeling tiny and vulnerable, feeling safe and loved.

Kevin had not been a big guy. She wasn’t into big guys. But considering what happened, it was good Kevin had been even smaller, leaner, only five foot seven, a great body he maintained, but he wasn’t a powerhouse.

Aryas was a powerhouse in all its forms.

But right then, getting her first hug from him since the one he gave her two days after it happened, assuring her all had been “taken care of,” she was all about the physicality of his powerhouse.

And as she used to do, she let herself drink it in.

He pulled back slightly, not letting her go, and dug his chin in his neck to look down at her.

“Got a nonfat iced mocha waiting for you in the office, my sweet,” he shared.

He so knew her and not just the way she played.

In life.

Her smile got bigger and she hid the hurt inside it caused when she watched him take in her smile and then watched relief flood his face.

She’d done that to him.

She’d made him feel to blame when he wasn’t.

She’d taken too long to show him she was all right.

“You know all my vices,” she teased.

He finally gave her a big grin. “That I do.” He let her go only to take her hand. “Come on. Let’s sit. Those pretty shoes aren’t for standing.”

She could run a marathon in these shoes and he likely knew it.

He was just a gentleman.

That was part of what Aryas was too.

He had her in his office, had gone to the gleaming wood console at the back wall to open a hidden refrigerator to get her mocha, getting his own slim can of lime Perrier, and he sat in the expensive black suede chair beside her, not opposite her behind his desk.

He popped the cap of his drink as she took a sip from the straw of hers and he gave her a top-to-toe in her chair.

“Lookin’ good,” he stated.

“Feeling good,” she told him, her lips still curved up.

His face got serious.

She didn’t like the look of it and immediately leaned toward him, reaching out a hand to curl her fingers around his knee.

“Don’t,” she whispered.

“Baby—” he began.

She shook her head and squeezed his knee. “I’m all right. I threw myself into work, which is good, I needed it and you know me.” She wiggled a foot, sending him another smile. “I like my shoes. And handbags. And the entirety of the Nordstrom accessories department. More money never hurt anyone.”

“Evange—”

She gave his knee another squeeze as her smile faded. “I left it too long. I got involved in work, in life, and I just left it too long. And the longer I left it, the deeper I got into what my life had become, it became harder to find ways to reconnect and that’s on me. It isn’t on you. Everyone tried to pull me back in and it just became habit, being out. I did that. I didn’t even want to but I did it. And I’m so glad you called, Ary, because it’s time I put a stop to that and you gave me an excuse.” She offered him another smile, this one smaller, taking her hand from his knee and sitting back. “And I’m starting with you.”

   
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