Authors: Kalissa Alexander
Catering to Three
Julie Larson is ready to change her life. Moving to San Francisco to partner with her friend Kelly in her catering business is a huge step toward making that happen. Venturing to expand the business, Julie takes on an event that introduces her to Noah Jamison, Keith Barns, and Mark Romano, three men who take more than a friendly interest in her catering skills.
Encouraged by her giving nature, they introduce her to a lifestyle she had always thought was taboo. To her chagrin, her body craves being taken by three men at the same time. She luxuriates in the kind of happiness she didn’t think existed.
However, a woman hell-bent on tearing Julie from the men she loves threatens all that is dear to her and forces her hand. She runs from her new life, including the three men she didn’t think she could live without. When she realizes everything she thought she knew has changed, she wonders if she can change, too, or is it too late for her?
Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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IMPRINT: Ménage Everlasting
CATERING TO THREE
First E-book Publication: December 2012
Cover design by Harris Channing
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Catering to Three
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CATERING TO THREE
Copyright © 2012
Julie locked the front door behind her and sat down on the porch steps of what used to be her house. It had been sold to a young couple with two children who were moving in tomorrow. She looked down at the manila envelope in her hand that held her copy of the settlement papers. Her life there really was over.
She heard her cell phone ringing and reached into her pocket. She had a feeling who was calling before she saw her friend Kelly’s name across the display.
“I thought you might be calling.”
“What are you doing?” Kelly’s voice had an uplifting lilt to it that was comforting, especially now.
“I’m just sitting here on what used to be my front steps waiting for a taxi and feeling sorry for myself.”
“I knew this would be a difficult day for you. Just wanted to offer my support even if it’s long distance and to say…” she practically shouted, “I can’t wait for you to get here!”
“Chad was there to sign the papers and everything, right? He didn’t send a proxy, did he?”
“No, he didn’t. He was in town and he was there. The sale went smoothly, and the couple buying the house seems real nice. Chad was his charming self. He’s a decent guy. I’m just as much to blame for what happened as he is.”
“I know. You keep saying that, but you have to admit, being an absentee husband is no way to keep a marriage going.”
“It’s over and it was amicable. Chad and I both need to move on.”
“I have a call on another line,” Kelly said. “Hold on. I’ll be right back. Don’t hang up.”
Kelly was right about Chad not being there. But it hadn’t always been like that. He had been so attentive in the beginning, but then he had taken a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative that required he be away more than he was home. Her own job as a manager of a large catering firm demanded long hours, and with Chad being gone so much, it had been easy to increase them. Sadly they both had careers they had devoted more time to than each other. An overwhelming sense of loss brought tears to eyes.
She knew what Kelly had been hinting at. She thought Chad had another woman. Julie had never broached the subject of infidelity with her husband, but she, too, had thought Chad may have been doing more than just working when he was away. Maybe he had been waiting for her to voice her unhappiness that he was hardly ever home and less than attentive when he was finally sleeping in their bed. But she hadn’t, and even when they had talked divorce, she still hadn’t confronted him.
She could see now that her marriage had mirrored her parents’, except they had stayed together. Two people living in the same house because it suited their purposes and not because they were in love. Only with her and Chad, there were no children to use as an excuse to stay together. For that she should be thankful.
The sound of Kelly’s voice on the other end of the line brought her back to the present.
“Well, you’re moving on, and that’s what’s important. I can’t tell you how excited I am that we’re partners. With your exceptional cooking skills and experience working for Maurice, we’re going to have the most successful catering business in San Francisco. And the new store is just what we need to help make it happen. I can’t wait to move the business out of my kitchen.”
“Your kitchen is almost as big as the first floor of my house. But I have to agree, the new store is going to provide the workspace we need once the renovations are complete.”
“Believe me, I’m on the contractor to make sure he keeps to the schedule. He probably hates to see me walk in the door.”
“Good. That’s what you need to do. On another note, I’m beginning to think the taxi driver must have gotten lost. He should have been here already.”
“He’s probably stuck in traffic or something. Oh, and I also wanted to tell you that the storage company called me to say that all your stuff arrived safely. They tried calling you, but your phone was shut off. I told them you were settling on your house.”
“That’s good to hear. I’ll call them tomorrow and set up a time to go over everything.” Julie looked up and smiled. Alison Mason, her next-door neighbor, was walking toward her.
“Kelly, I’m going to have to go. One of my neighbors is coming. I’ll call you when I arrive, okay?”
“Okay. See you soon.”
Julie ended the call just as Alison sat down on the step next to her.
“Julie. I’m so glad I caught you before you left.” She placed her hand softly on Julie’s shoulder. “I thought you had already left when I was looking out my window and saw you.”
“I should have been gone an hour ago, but it’s harder to leave than I thought it would be.”
“I understand. I know things didn’t end well, but there were good times here, too, and I enjoyed having both you and Chad as my neighbors.”
“Thank you, Alison,” Julie said, feeling unwanted tears building once again. “I enjoyed having you next door, too. I’ll miss you.”
“For what it’s worth,” Alison said as she put her arm around Julie, “I think you have a lot of courage to just to pick up and move to San Francisco like you’re doing. I admire you. I’m not sure I would be able to do the same if I were in your shoes. But then, I’m a few years older than you.”
Julie smiled wanly. “I don’t feel very courageous. I just keep praying I’ve made the right decision.”
“Well, from everything you’ve told me, your friend Kelly’s catering business needed a shot of capital and you were looking for a way to make a change in your life. Becoming partners suited you both.”
“I know you’re right. It’s just that this feels like home.”
“It has been, but now you’re moving to a new home. Sort of like when you left your parents’ for the first time. Scary, but exciting.”
Her thoughts returned to her parents. When she finally called to tell them her marriage was over, they had been surprised, but there had been no mention of her moving back home. They simply assumed she had made a life for herself in San Diego and would stay there. It was true, but nevertheless, she had found herself wishing for the invitation.
Laurie, her only sibling, hadn’t even called her. Their once-a-year Christmas card was the extent of their contact. Growing up together in an unhappy house had not brought them closer together. It had only served to act as a wedge between them. For the first time, she thought how nice it would have been to have a sister she could have leaned on for support. Instead, it was Kelly who flew in to hold her hand after Chad moved out and then offered her the opportunity that would help her start over.
The sharp blow of a horn startled Julie.
“Your taxi’s here,” Alison stated. “Looks like I got her here just in time. I’m glad we had a chance to say good-bye, Julie.”