A Little Harmless Sex
Book 1 in the Original Harmless Five
Part of the Harmless World
This is the 20th Anniversary Edition. It includes new scenes, a new epilogue, and surprises for every Harmless Addict!
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He’s always been her knight in armor.
Anna DeWinter hasn’t always had the best of luck with men. From early on, she learned hard lessons to never trust them, and it’s why she keeps her relationships purely superficial. The only man she trusts–other than her father–is Max. He’s always been the guy she could count on to support her dreams, even if she knows she isn’t the woman for him.
She’s always been his complete opposite.
Max Chandler has always admired Anna’s free spirit. Whenever he gets too stuck in his own thoughts, he knows he can count on her to loosen him up. He’s always kept her at arm’s length because he knows he needs a certain amount of control and Anna isn’t the type of woman to give him that. But all that changes after his broken engagement and too much tequila.
There’s no going back to just being friends.
One night will never be enough for either of them, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Anna doesn’t believe in happily ever after, but there is one thing she’s about to learn that when it comes to love, Max always plays to win.
»WARNING: The following book contains super sexy times, graphic terms for body parts, torture via silk stockings, a little spanking, and shower and office sex.
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“You have to understand, Max, this has nothing to do with you.” Cynthia tucked a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear, then blinked several times. The sweet smell of jasmine filled the humid, Georgia air along with the clink of glasses and silverware against fine china.
Maxwell Chandler stared at his fiancée—strike that—his soon-to-be ex-fiancée. It said a lot about their relationship that she said her decision had nothing to do with him. Who says shit like that?
Cynthia Myers, that’s who. The same woman who dragged him out to lunch just to dump him. It would have been so much easier and cheaper if she had just called or sent a note. Hell, Max would have been happy with an email or text telling him to fuck off. But then, that wasn’t Cynthia’s style.
She probably worried he’d cause a scene. Max never made a scene. It would be bad for business, and it would also get back to his mama. One thing a southern man knew was not to upset his mama. Which meant that Cynthia didn’t know him all that well. And as his best friend Anna had pointed out, that wasn’t any way to start a marriage.
He shifted his weight in the chair as Anna came to mind. Just thinking about his best friend left him antsy. She was always there, in his thoughts, and that said even more. He couldn’t remember that ever happened with Cynthia. Anna had claimed that if you’re going to marry someone, you should know every single bad habit the person had. In her humble opinion, it was the only way to tell if you truly loved the person. He probably didn’t know much more past Cynthia’s surface than she knew past his. Maybe that’s why all he felt was…relief.
“You’re calling off our engagement, so I think it has a little to do with me,” Max said in an agreeable tone. “Have you met someone else?”
Her blue eyes widened. A look of complete horror passed over her face. She probably practiced that in the mirror. “No. It’s not that.”
“So, you’re just dumping me because you don’t like me?” Max tried to sound a little hurt. Truthfully though, the tension eased out of his shoulders and the constant throbbing in his head lessened. He’d gotten so used to the pain; Max hadn’t realized how intense it had become. Showing his true feelings would be in bad form. Sort of like making your fiancé pay for lunch when you planned to dump him.
Cynthia reached across the table and grabbed his hand. A look of acute distress marred her perfect face. Her eyes filled with tears. She spent most of her days with that look on her face. Any tiny thing set the woman off, and not in a pleasant way. Not that she would ever cause a scene. Cynthia Myers never lost her temper, never showed an ounce of passion.
What had he been thinking when he’d proposed to her? It couldn’t have been because the sex was great. It was good, but someone who stressed out when she had to pick the color of her car couldn’t relax enough to have fun in bed. He came, but there was no real satisfaction in fucking the woman. She didn’t like wet, hot, messy sex. He’d had to invest in lubricant for the first time in his life. Why marry a woman who couldn’t get wet? He didn’t think it had much to do with him, but Cynthia’s hang ups about sex.
“No, I like you a lot. It’s just that…well, I think we aren’t suited.” She picked at the linen tablecloth nervously. Her attention was apparently captured by the complexities of the ivory color and the wrinkle she eased away with her index finger. Without looking at him she said, her voice filled with anxious worry, “I hope there will be no hard feelings.”
In Max’s opinion, what Cynthia hoped was that he wouldn’t take this out on her father. Their families had been doing business for years. It was one of the reasons he’d proposed. And probably one of the reasons—if not the main reason—that she’d agreed to begin with. That and her father had wanted the match. Cynthia usually did anything her father wanted her to do. Well, until today. And the fact that Max had been ready to marry her based on a business relationship didn’t say much for him. From the very beginning of their “courtship”, Cynthia had seemed like a nervous rabbit. Not once had he ever seen her relax, which explained why she didn’t like sex and probably never would.
Max smiled and did his best not to look too relieved. “No. You should know me better than that.”
Cynthia looked up, worry puckering her brow, but then she returned his smile, albeit warily. “That’s nice to know. I think it best if we tell our parents right away. Daddy is going to be furious.”
“Tell him it’s my fault.”
She sniffled a bit, wiped her nose and then the tears disappeared. “You are a true gentleman.”
No, he was a true putz, but he knew Cynthia’s father. Max felt like a shit because, for the first time, he realized his heart hadn’t been with her or the engagement. “Just tell him I had second thoughts. We’re months away from even picking out the invitations. No harm done.”
The smile that brightened her face did nothing more than exasperate him. “I truly appreciate it. You know how Daddy is, and he so wanted this”—she gestured back and forth between them with her hand—“marriage to take place.”
She licked her lips and reached for her iced tea. It was then that Max noticed her hand shook as her fingers wrapped around her glass. Being nervous was one thing. Being frightened was a whole other ball game.
When he spoke, he reminded himself to keep his voice calm. One word the wrong way and she might bolt. Or, God forbid, change her mind back. “Your father will get over it, Cynthia. It isn’t like I won’t do business with him.”
Again, she offered him a guarded look, but said nothing more as she took another sip. He understood her wariness because he knew her father. As he watched her drain her drink, his mind moved onto other things. Business mainly. His thoughts kept wandering to calling one of his distributors, meetings, his parents who were on vacation in Greece, and…Anna.
Her irritated voice pulled him out of his thoughts to focus on the matter at hand. Which was dissolving their engagement…and gaining freedom.
“Sorry, Cynthia. My mind sort of wandered.”
Her eyes narrowed as she studied his face, a frown tugging down the corners of her mouth. “You do that a lot, Max.” The sharp rebuke he heard in her voice was the first show of gumption he’d seen from Cynthia. The moment she said it, her face flushed before she looked down at the table. Knowing her father, who was a bastard in the first order, especially when it came to Cynthia, she’d been trained never to say a word in defense of herself to a man.
“You’re right, so you’re probably damn lucky to escape my evil clutches.”
She snorted, then covered her mouth, looking around to see if anyone noticed. It took her a moment to compose herself again.
“I’m sorry, Max. I didn’t mean—”
“No,” he said with a laugh and a wave of his hand, “don’t let it bother you. I would rather we parted as friends, wouldn’t you?”
This time, the smile she gave him reached her eyes and her dimples appeared. For a moment, her expression lightened, and he felt a completely unexpected jolt of arousal. He’d forgotten just how attractive she was. He remembered when she looked like this…and his mind filtered back over the last few months. Slowly, she had wilted, her unhappiness easy for him to discern now. Which was sad, considering ten minutes ago he’d been engaged to her. Cynthia deserved better than that. Hell, they both did.
“I’d like that, Max. I’d like that a lot.”
“I think the best thing to do is show a united front. If your father gives us any problems, I’ll handle it. I promise.”
Surviving the gossip would probably kill Cynthia, and the only way to avoid that was sticking together in the ending of their engagement. Truthfully, he couldn’t care less about it, but she would be mortified by the whispers. And, in the world of dating, it would make him more of a catch if a woman could gain his attention. In their small Georgia town, dating and marriage was a debutante’s favorite blood sport. He would be a trophy to fling in Cynthia’s face.
After many reassurances that he would handle everything, and that he harbored no ill will, she left. The moment she was gone, he motioned for the waiter and ordered two fingers of whiskey. Max never drank in the middle of the day, but he felt the need to celebrate. Cold, yes, but theirs had been more a wedding of two companies than of two people.
He took a sip of whiskey, enjoying the burn as it slid down his throat. It’d been a while since he’d enjoyed a drink without the irritation of other people.
As he downed the last drops, he motioned to the waiter for another one and knew Anna would approve.
Anna Dewinter stared at her almost ex-boyfriend and wondered why she’d started sleeping with him. Most women would jump at the chance, and into his bed. That wavy black hair and his brooding blue eyes had many women comparing him to Heathcliff more than once in her presence. He did act the part of a tortured hero—when it suited his purposes. Like now as he stared at her as if his life depended on her attention. Lord knows it probably worked on the college girls he usually dated. Those little girls didn’t understand it was his ego—not his life—that depended on the attention.
She’d been attracted to him in the beginning. The sex had been…pretty good. His hands were quick and eager, and he had the most amazing mouth, which had worked wonders on her pussy. But, as an artist, Brad tended toward the dramatic. Everything was either a high or a low, nothing in between. Nothing just level. It got old—fast.
Anna sipped her latte, trying to ignore her frustration, and glanced around her restaurant and coffee house, The Last Drop. The lunch crowd had dwindled, but several customers lingered.
Another good month or two…
If she kept it going, she’d be able to open that second location in Valdosta she was planning. With the college there, a storefront somewhere near the campus would clean up. She could even plan some weekend events, like maybe a few local performers or a poetry slam. The college groupies would pay a fortune for designer coffee and snacks, along with a few extras. With delivery apps so popular today, she could definitely take her business to the next level. She would make a killing.
“Anna, are you paying attention to what I’m saying?”
Brad’s voice interrupted the thoughts of expanding her business. Guilt sent a wave of heat to her face and Anna turned her attention back to him. His bottom lip drooped into a pout. Anna sighed. She really liked him, but Brad tended to take things a little too seriously. He was too young to be so serious. Besides, they’d had some fun and now he wanted to complicate things. His eyes spoke of the pain he thought he felt. Which she knew he didn’t. Men his age—or about any age—didn’t get their feelings involved in a three-week affair.
Anna sighed again. He was not going to make this easy on her.
“Listen, Brad, we had a good time, but I thought we weren’t going to take each other seriously.”
“I took our relationship seriously, Anna. I can’t believe you’re dumping me.” His voice rose and several of the customers sitting close to her table looked in their direction.
“You said you didn’t want to get serious. Your art was the only thing that mattered now.”
“Until I met you.” His voice spoke of his anguish. Again, she had to fight the urge to roll her eyes. God save her from little boys pretending to feel.
She tried not to notice that more people were paying attention to them. An older couple kept glancing their way, the woman looking a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t like Anna had the best reputation in town because of her personal life, but it had never boiled over into her business. She’d be damned if it would now.
“You said that last week.”
He paused, then leaned forward and pronounced—with much conviction, “I’ve changed.”
No, what Brad meant was he thought he’d be the one to dump her. She had stolen his thunder and if there was one thing Anna understood, it was men’s egos and how they could ruin a woman’s life. She’d been down that road before and she wasn’t ready to take the trip again.
“It’s been fun, and we had a good time, but really, Brad, we’ve run our course.”
“Do you care so little for my feelings?” His voice cracked on the last word.
Oh, God. He sounded like he was going to cry. Never again. Never again would she tumble into bed with an artist. No matter how talented his hands were, how enthusiastic he was or how much she needed a good fuck, they weren’t worth the trouble. A value pack of batteries was a better deal—and a lot less trouble.
“I care, Brad.”
And she did. She’d been drawn by his talent and his sense of humor, as well as his looks. And he was a wonderful man. But he didn’t want a long-term relationship any more than she did. He was young and scared to move on. It was her job to give him a little push.
Anna cleared her throat and tried her best to sound soothing and not irritated. “But you said yourself you were thinking of moving up to Athens at the end of the month. I think that will be good for you.”
He stood, his frown still deep, unshed tears in his eyes, and spoke rather loudly. “I thought you cared about me, about my art.” Then he stormed out of her restaurant and, Anna hoped, out of her life.
“That was intense.” Myra sighed dreamily as she refilled Anna’s coffee. At eighteen, Myra still thought dramatic scenes were romantic. At twenty-seven, Anna just found them exasperating and time-consuming.
She rose to her feet and allowed the tension to drain out of her as she glanced over at Myra. Short and small-boned, with fair skin, light blue eyes and pale blonde hair, Myra always reminded Anna of a fairy or water sprite.
“Not really,” Anna said, reminding herself that she had been a wide-eyed innocent at one time.
“Hey, did you hear about that Jensen Wulf?”
Anna blinked trying to think if she knew of anyone by that name. She couldn’t think of any Wulfs in their town. “Do I know him?”
Myra laughed, her blue eyes dancing with humor. “No. He’s some rich guy from England. Cousin or something to the royal family.”
“Oh, well, then no, I guess I haven’t heard about him since I don’t even know who he is.”
Myra pulled out her phone and found a picture of him. He was gorgeous, as in movie star pretty, with a bit of an edge. “He’s Jakob Wulf’s brother. You know, the actor who does all the action movies.”
“And why are we talking about him?”
Myra rolled her eyes. “TMZ was reporting he was arrested, but there’s no official report.”
The excitement in the younger woman’s voice almost made Anna laugh. “Then maybe it’s not true. I mean, it is TMZ.”
“But he showed up in some fancy rehab place in New York. I think you have to prove you’re at least a millionaire to get in.”
Anna bit back a sigh. Celebrity gossip was never her thing. Any kind of gossip was never her thing. Myra seemed to obsess about it constantly.
“Why don’t you take your break, Myra? I can handle this crowd for thirty minutes.”
Myra looked ready to agree, then something over Anna’s shoulder caught her attention.
Anna turned, annoyance boiling in her belly, sure it was Brad returning to give it one last try. When she saw Max striding toward her, all that irritation melted into warmth. Because he was her friend, her best friend, and she loved him. Like a friend.
Friends had really hot oral-sex dreams about each other—didn’t they?
She smiled. He responded with a grin that sent a wave of heat tingling along her skin. Every hormone in her body did a little jump to stand at attention. She hoped he attributed her hard nipples to the AC as she forced herself not to rub them.
“Max, what are you doing here in the middle of the day?” Anna hugged him. The familiar scent of his aftershave, mixed with whiskey, surrounded her. Something was up because Max never drank before five.
“Took a long lunch.” His absent tone told Anna his mind wasn’t really on her or their conversation. “You busy?”
“I was going to let Myra—”
“Don’t worry, Anna. I can wait a little bit.” Myra eyed Max with her usual guarded admiration.
Myra was wary of Max. Most people were. Over six feet tall and big-boned, Max hardly ever smiled, giving the impression that he was always serious. Which was true in a lot of ways. But he did have a wicked sense of humor, drier than the Arizona desert. With his chocolate-brown eyes and wavy blond hair, Max should have looked like a big teddy bear. Dressed in a slate gray suit, a black shirt and red tie, he appeared lethal. And dangerously sexy. Oh God, was he sexy.
Anna cleared her throat. “Want something to drink?” He shook his head. “Okay. Why don’t we head on back to my office?” She grabbed her coffee and led Max to the small room behind the service counter.
Entering first, she headed for her comfy desk chair. Max closed the door behind him. When she’d taken over the restaurant a couple years ago, the tiny room had been painted gray, with much of it peeling off. She’d painted the room lavender, giving it a softer appearance, and hung a large mirror behind her desk. It helped give the illusion that the room was bigger. If she was going to be stuck handling paperwork, she wanted to make sure she didn’t feel trapped in a square box. She didn’t do well in any kind of box, square or otherwise.
Anna slid her sandals off and propped her feet on the desk, showing off her blue nail polish and the new toe ring she’d picked up in Gainesville. She took a sip of her coffee and set the mug down. “What’s up, Maxwell? You don’t take off in the middle of the day. Ever.”
“Cynthia called off our engagement.”
Of all the things he could say, that was the last thing she expected. For a few seconds, her mind froze trying to compute what he had just told her. Then, her feet landed with a thud on the floor.
“She broke it off?” The woman obviously needed some professional help. Cynthia Myers had been lucky to get a man like Max.
Max shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. One side of his full, sensuous mouth quirked, and a zing of heat blazed through her. Her nipples tightened further, and it took every bit of her control to keep from moaning. Wet heat flooded her sex. Anna crossed her arms over her breasts. This was starting to get embarrassing.
“Yes. She said we didn’t suit.”
Anna snorted. “I told you that five months ago.”
“No, what you said is two people as uptight as we were would drive each other crazy in a month.”
“I also said the sex would suck. And not in a good way.”
Max chuckled and she shivered as the sound sank into her, heating her blood. The man was entirely too sexy for her well-being. He was uptight, as she had said, but something lurked beneath the surface that hinted at a darker, more sensual side. A little part of her wanted to tap into that, unleash it, and see just how wicked he could be.
Not good, Anna.
She needed to stay away from all thoughts of sex and Max. Especially since so many of those thoughts ended up with just how wonderful he would look naked and just how amazing it would be to be naked at the same time. She decided to change the subject.
“Well, I guess it was the day for breakups.”
His smile faded and his eyes narrowed. Even looking annoyed he sent her hormones bouncing. It was something very odd for her. So many times when a man became difficult—which was a given with any man—she’d cut him loose. Anna didn’t have time or energy to deal with it. But with Max, it seemed to set off another whole level of excitement in her body. Definitely weird.
“You and Brett broke up?”
“No, Brad and I broke up. I wish one of these days you would remember my boyfriends’ names.” She tried to inject reproof in her voice, but it was hard when a touch of breathless arousal threaded it.
“Keep them longer than four weeks, and I might.” Humor lightened his eyes and eased his scowl. Knowing he would brood if she didn’t get his mind off his broken engagement, she played along.
“I dated Vic for two months.”
“Anna, the man was in a coma for three of those weeks. I don’t think you can count that.”
She frowned and leaned back in her chair again. “Anyway, Brad just left right before you came in.”
“What’s the black look for?”
“Brad made a bit of a scene before he left.”
“Ah, young Brad was upset you dumped him.” He settled in the chair she had situated in front of her desk.
Because she was truly miffed, when she spoke her voice was a bit sharper than usual as she asked, “What do you mean young?”
“He’s two years younger than you.” Even though he said it jokingly there was something behind it that bothered her.
“Cynthia is the same age as I am, and that makes her four years younger than you.”
He shifted in his chair and stretched out his legs. Max grunted and then changed the subject, which meant he knew she was right, and he had no argument. “Anyway, Mom and Dad took it pretty well. I don’t think Mom liked her very much. Of course, I’m just assuming everything from the tone of her voice.”
“How do they like Greece?”
“I guess okay. No complaints. Mom’s just glad Dad isn’t messing with Chandler Industries.”
“Hmmm. Well, I think this calls for a celebration.”
“Celebration?” His bewildered tone made her smile.
“Yes. For the first time in a long time, we’re both without significant others at the same time.”
His eyes widened, and an emotion Anna couldn’t define came and went in them. Which was decidedly odd because after so many years of friendship, she could usually tell what Max was thinking.
“I hadn’t thought of that.” His voice was void of any emotion.
“I say strawberry margaritas and enchiladas at my place tonight.” She paused and he grunted. Knowing him the way she did, she took that as his usual “yes” grunt. “I’ll be out of here by four, and then stop off at the store. I have to pick up a couple of things. How about six?”
He rose to his feet slowly. “I guess I need to get back to work.”
“See ya later, Maxwell.”
He nodded and left, shutting the door quietly behind him. The room seemed a bit cooler and lifeless after he left. Anna’s mind drifted into forbidden terrain, which was anything that involved Max and her feelings for him. From the moment he kissed her years ago, she hadn’t been able to forget it. If she were truthful with herself, she’d always had a crush on him. After that one little kiss, the crush had turned into full-blown lust, but years of friendship had turned those feelings into something deeper, something much scarier than passion or lust.
Shaking free of those thoughts, she hurried out to relieve Myra and send her home for the day. It was approaching three, and there wasn’t much to do other than close up. Anna could handle the books. And John, her cook, could handle the kitchen. She’d have enough time to get home and clean before Max arrived.
And, if she kept herself busy, Anna wouldn’t have to think about the fact that she had probably just lost her mind. She’d wanted Max for so long, the temptation with both of them free would probably overwhelm her good judgment. What little of it she had.
Tequila and Max. She licked her lips. A delightfully dangerous mix
End of Excerpt
A Little Harmless Sex
by Melissa Schroeder
is available for pre-order in the following formats:
This is the 20th Anniversary Edition. It includes new scenes, a new epilogue, and surprises for every Harmless Addict!
A Little Harmless Sex
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