Finally, here’s the excerpt of Lovers’ Claim. It’s rough, still very much a WIP. It’s set in the world of Lover’s Return. I’m not sure about the title. It might change even before send it to my editor or a beta reader.
Sephanie smiled at her date across the table. Joseph Brian had brought her to a restaurant connected to a dance club. The meal was delicious and Joseph seemed nice. Sephanie however felt a little guilty about going out with him, but not only in one way.
It wasn’t the first time she’d dated since she’d become aware of her feelings for Berenger, Kassius and Teague. Even with those dates though she’d felt a little guilty. Not because she’d felt as if she was cheating on the men. She’d never dated the three men. They hadn’t even gotten into deep conversations.
No, she felt guilty because she wasn’t being true to what she knew she wanted. She had always wanted a menage relationship and that hadn’t changed. She was just a little afraid of the risk again and dating one man seemed to be a way to ease back into it.
On the other hand, she did feel a little bad about dating Joseph and the two men before him. She’d told them she wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. They’d all been aware of it. That feeling was why she’d only been on a few dates. She didn’t want to hurt someone, but she did need to get her confidence back.
“Is everything all right?” Joseph asked. He smiled at her. He worked in one of the law offices and dealt with a lot of off world business.
“Of course.” She smiled. There was no way to tell him she felt guilty without it sounding as if she had actually been in a relationship with someone.
“You know you’re not the only one who needs a safety date.” Joseph tilted his head, apparently understanding exactly what was bothering her.
“You?” She looked at him curiously. She hadn’t heard about him dating anyone recently.
He nodded. “Yes, my last relationship was relatively secret because she wanted it that way, but it ended messily. I need a little space before I jump back into serious dating. You’re pretty and nice and I know that neither of us wants more than a few dates and a way to work our way back to the type of people we normally date.”
She sighed with a little relief, but did feel a little offended that she wasn’t his normal “type.” She tried to hold back a smile. Apparently, she could be a contrary witch at times.
“It’s not that you’re not my type.” She shook her head at him. He was nice looking, but the type of relationship she could have with him wasn’t her preferred relationship.
“I’m only one though.” He nodded.
“Well, yes, but since we both need a little relaxation and enjoyment, I say we give it our all.” She felt lighter now that she realized she wasn’t using him as she’d thought.
He nodded and smiled. “We’ll go into the club and dance afterwards.”
She found talking to him interesting. Without the guilt, she was able to focus on the night and simply let it happen. They didn’t have anything obvious in common in work, but he knew a lot about the products exported and imported to Darmain. Outside of that, they seemed to have more in common.
He liked to swim and so did she. They both liked to cook and dance. She looked forward to learning more about him. Maybe they could become friends once they both moved on after this short period of dating.
They headed into the club after they ate. The music filled the club, but not at an ear-ringing level as in the clubs that catered to the younger crowd. The club had the same elegance as the restaurant that connected to it. Cushioned black seats circled gleaming black tables.
They ordered something to drink and talked some more before heading out onto the floor to dance. He had some good moves, both on the slow songs and the more upbeat tunes. She enjoyed being on the dance floor with him.
Joseph’s hand slipped around her waist as he guided her back to the table. She needed a little something to drink before heading back onto the dance floor. Tonight was going to be a great night.
They’d just sat down at the table when she noticed Joseph looking behind her. He frowned. At first, she thought maybe their waitress was close, but had gone on to another table, but when he simply kept looking, she had to turn around to see what he was found so interesting.
Swiveling in her seat, she glanced at the people walking around the club, at first seeing nothing out of the ordinary. Then she saw it. Them. Berenger, Kassius and Teague stalked through the club.
Damn. She hoped they hadn’t brought that little piece of fluff with them. She really didn’t know if she could be polite to any of them. While she had come to terms with the fact that they didn’t want her, she hadn’t thought that they’d choose someone like Lillie. The woman had openly disparaged women who became involved in ménage relationships. She hadn’t thought she’d meet any of them here. She decided to ignore them.
She turned back around to face Joseph. She wouldn’t let the simple fact that they’d come to the same club she was at disrupt her night. She would move on from the feelings she had for them.
“Is there a problem?” Sephanie asked. She knew why she’d have a problem with those three, but she couldn’t figure out why he’d be so locked on their presence. As far she knew he had no dealings with them. Since she hadn’t ever actually dated Teague, Berenger or Kassius, he wouldn’t know who exactly she was trying to get over.
“Do you know those three men?” Joseph glanced past her.
She didn’t glance back to see what had his attention. “Yes, one of them is Planetary Guard like my brother. They helped out when he was trying to keep me safe.”
“Are they the reason you needed a safety date?” He glanced at her.
“I never dated those three men. They spent a little time in my shop watching over me when my brother was in danger.” She shook her head. She knew she was sidestepping his question. How could she explain the fact that she had developed some pretty deep feelings for someone she’d never dated without sounding a little crazy. Sometimes, even she wondered if her feelings had been blown out of proportion because of what they’d said.
“I don’t think that matters to them. The look they gave me when they saw me with you was almost enough to set the table on fire. Even if they never showed it, they have some feelings for you.” Joseph kept looking beyond her.