Home > Best Laid Plans(17)

Best Laid Plans(17)
Author: Lauren Blakely

“Maybe,” he says quietly.

“It’s not a maybe, Gabe. You knew exactly what to do with this owl. Did you always want to be a fireman? Well, besides being a pitcher?”

“What kid doesn’t?”

“But what made it serious for you?”

His expression turns somber. “My nana had a heart condition. She didn’t realize it till one night when I was staying with them when I was younger. My pops called 911, and the firefighters were the first ones there. I still remember how unruffled and helpful they were.”

“Were you scared?”

“I honestly wasn’t, because of those guys. I watched them closely, and paid attention to what they did. They were calm and reassuring, and any time she had any trouble, that’s exactly how I tried to be with her—calm and reassuring.”

My throat tightens. “Like how you were with Hedwig,” I say, glancing at the owl. "Even though Hedwig is a girl in Harry Potter, and I think this owl is a boy. But I’m honestly not sure, since I’m not an owl vet either."

“Arden,” he chides, “we are not keeping him.”

“I know. But he needed a name.” I clear the emotions from my voice as best I can. “Did you know you’d be good at it?”

“I think so, but I also think it felt natural. Like something I could do. Well, if baseball didn’t work out. And that’s precisely what happened.”

“Do you ever regret that baseball didn’t work out?”

“Nah. How many guys get to have the two careers they want? I’m lucky—I got to play ball, and now I can do this. I can help people.” He squeezes my leg with his free hand. It’s not sexual. It’s friendly and comforting, like maybe he knows I’m a little nervous, a little jumpy in the role of his owl paramedic assistant. “And today we’re going to help this little guy.”

A few minutes later, we take Hedwig into Wild Care and Gabe hands off the owl. After that mission, we head over to The Garden of Eden.

As we walk inside, nerves flutter inside me once more, but I’ve found talking helps eradicate them. “There’s no one I’d rather go sex toy shopping with than the guy who rescued Hedwig the owl.”

And it’s strange but completely true.

21

Arden

There are no windows. The brick exterior boasts a sign for adult pleasures. Inside, the shelves are teeming with battery-operated boyfriends, replicas of penises, vibrating rings, jellies, lubes, and every flavor of edible massage oil under the sun.

There’s something for everyone here, including an aisle with a buzzing corn-on-the-cob vibrator, half a woman’s torso made of silicone, and . . . feet. Feet of all sizes and colors.

Gabe brandishes a pale plastic one. He mimes running the fake foot in front of his crotch. A blush creeps across my cheeks as he pretends to grind against it, then deepens as he fakes his orgasmic pleasure.

I grab the toy. “Stop. You are not getting it on with a plastic foot.”

“I wasn’t trying to get it on. I was trying to get off.”

I laugh as I set down the toy I’ll never buy.

Gabe scans the shelves, and his eyes light up. He points. “We have to go see that.” He grabs my hand and guides me to a bright rainbow braid.

I squint, studying the swath of colors. “Should I put that in my hair?”

He laughs, then speaks dryly. “Sure. Or someplace where the sun doesn’t shine.” He turns it around revealing a silver plug on the other end.

My blush shoots up fifty shades. “And this is why I need help. Because I actually thought—erroneously—that I could buy a rainbow braid for my hair here.”

“Look at it this way. You could start a line of butt plug hair extensions.”

“Yeah, that’s a hard no.” But I am curious about something, and since I have a living, breathing man in front of me, one who’s pretty damn open, I decide to ask him. I tug his shirt, pulling him closer as I drop my voice. “Would you ever want to use one?”

He straightens. “On myself? No fucking way. Now, if you wanted to use one . . . would it be my first choice? Not necessarily. But if you wanted to try butt stuff, I’d experiment with you.”

I don’t want to try butt stuff, yet something about his willingness intrigues me. “You would? Even if it’s not your thing?”

He shrugs happily. “Of course.”

“Why?”

He steps closer. “Because if we were together, my number one goal would be to make sure you were . . . satisfied.” That last word lingers on his tongue, almost like a reassurance. With him, I can’t imagine I’d be anything but immensely pleased.

I blink away the thought. I should not be thinking about how good sex with him might be. That’s not what this sex-ucation is about. I take a breath, survey the shelves, and spot a curve of raspberry silicone, like a stretched C. I raise a hand. “Okay, maybe this makes me a clueless idiot, but what is that?”

We walk over to what’s billed as a couple’s vibrator and study it closely. I can’t for the life of me figure out where each end of this double-ended device goes, or on whom. “How do you wear this? Who wears it?”

Gabe turns it on its side, showing me the instructions on the tag. My mouth parts in an O as I read. “The front of the sex toy hangs on the clitoris, and the rest of it goes inside the woman. Supposedly, it gives great G-spot orgasms while engaged in intercourse with a partner. But I don’t understand how I’m supposed to have this chunk of plastic in me while I’m having sex.”

“Double the pleasure, double the fun?”

“I think it’s daunting.” But then I remind myself of my mission—to speak up with men. “Do you think it’s too daunting?”

He regards the device. “I honestly have no idea, but I’d be game to try it.”

That’s what I’m learning about Gabe—he’s up for anything. That easy way he has seems to extend all the way to the bedroom. He appears to have no hang-ups, just a healthy appetite for experimentation if his partner wants to go into the lab and mix up new formulas for nookie. I’m sure he’d don his white coat and get it on right there beside the test tubes and beakers.

“Would you try it?” His gaze meets mine, and our eyes lock. A rush of sensation spreads down my chest, like fluttering tingles.

“I would try it. I don’t know if I’d like it, but I’d try it.” My breath comes a little faster.

“What kind of vibrator do you have?”

I smile. “Why do you assume I have one at all?”

He sets his hand on his belly and laughs in an over-the-top fashion. “That’s a good one.”

“I mean it. How did you know?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“No. I really want to know how you assumed I had one.”

He arches a brow. “Arden East, I bet you have more than one.”

I smile in a silent admission. I’m liking Naughty Town a lot.

“Exactly.” He steps closer. “And to answer how I knew—I knew because you like pleasure. Because you’re not getting what you want from your relationships. Because you asked me to help you learn more about men and sex. Ergo, you know how to take care of yourself, but you want to know what to do with all that desire when you’re with someone.”

His eyes sweep up and down my body, making my stomach flip unexpectedly, quickening my pulse. Maybe it’s the way he says desire. Maybe it’s how he looks at me with darkened eyes, or the close quarters we’ve found ourselves in. Whatever it is, all I want to do is give him the honest truth. My skin is buzzing, and it feels good to talk about sex.

“I have three. A bullet, a lipstick vibrator, and a dolphin.”

He swallows, taking his time speaking again. “Lucky dolphin.”

I laugh at the obvious joke. “Or maybe I’m the lucky girl.”

“Do you carry the lipstick one with you?”

“So I can diddle myself in my car?”

“Or behind the counter at the bookstore?”

“I am most decidedly not taking solo flights at work.”

“When do you break them out?”

“At home.”

“And which one do you use the most?”

“I like the dolphin best of all. He has most favored nation status.” Holy smokes. I’m serving it all up. I’m telling him everything. And it feels fantastic. It’s freeing. He seems to be enjoying this conversation too, judging from the hint of a smile tugging at his lips.

“Like I said, lucky dolphin,” he murmurs as he guides me to the next aisle, and we’re in a wonderland of animals: butterflies, dolphins, rabbits. “All right, this isn’t your first turn at the menagerie, then. But you did say you wanted to try mutual masturbation.”

A rush of heat zips through me, shooting my temperature higher. What is he going to suggest? Does he want us to do that even though I’d instigated a clothes-on rule? Nerves mix with a strange new excitement. “We don’t have to,” I quickly say, because I can’t bear the thought of crossing a line, even as it entices me.

He cuts me off, looking me straight in the eyes. “I know. Believe me, I know. But this is what I’m thinking. You’re trying to move beyond your comfort zone. Learn new things, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then I want you to do something for me.”

I’ve no idea what he wants me to do, but a delicious heaviness throbs between my legs, and I think I’ll like whatever he says. “Okay.”

“Tell me what you like about the one you’re using.”

“Tell you?”

“Yes.”

“Right now?”

“Yes.”

I look around. A skinny woman in black with earplugs works the counter, and a redhead in a plaid skirt is hanging up a sexy nurse costume. Nearby, a couple covered in ink checks out strap-ons.

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