Free Me (Page 50)

Free Me (The Found Duet #1)(50)
Author: Laurelin Paige

“How about start at the beginning? This wasn’t the first time, was it?” There was no way this was the beginning. No one got that naughty on their debut run.

“Not our first time.” She paused while the waitress set down our water glasses and took our drink order. When we were alone again, she said, “First time in the office, though. We’re usually quite good about not doing anything there.”

I couldn’t decide if I believed her or not. Norma was ultra professional, but after what I’d seen, I had my doubts. “Come on, isn’t that the hot factor? Naughty assistant getting reprimanded by the boss?”

She flushed. “It’s not really like that.”

“Actually, I already gathered as much.” It was Boyd doing the spanking after all. And while I’d never have guessed it before today, I was certain now that he’d always be the one doling out the punishments and never the other way around.

“Yeah. Anyway.” She nervously straightened her silverware as she talked. “Like I said. Not usually in the office. But it was my birthday, and I’d wanted to play naughty assistant, as you called it. Only I was pretending to be the assistant.”

“I don’t want to know. I mean, I kind of do, but I really don’t.” I took a swallow of my water while I decided the things I wanted to know for sure. There were four. “How long has it been going on?”

“About nine months.”

Her answer surprised me. Until I really started to think about it. It explained things like the nights her bed seemed to not have been slept in and the distraction that had seemed to occupy her mind for the last while. I’d thought it had all been about Dad. I was strangely relieved to find it wasn’t. It felt like permission. Like if Norma could live her life and not worry then so could I.

But I already had been, hadn’t I? Without her permission, even. Hadn’t I been living and not worrying with JC?

Well. Like sister, like sister, then.

I moved on to my next question. “Is it always like that? Role playing and everything?”

“It’s…” She pressed her lips together as she searched for her answer. “It’s a lot of things. He’s always dominant. But sometimes it’s role playing and sometimes it’s bondage and sometimes it’s just really hot sex.” She put her hand up to halt me from speaking. “And before you ask, no, I’d never done any of that before him. He completely introduced me to the world, and I don’t think I could ever go back.”

That hadn’t been one of my questions, but now that she’d mentioned it, I was glad to know. Otherwise I’d be scrolling back through all her past boyfriends in my mind, imagining them as Doms, and with some of them that was simply not a good idea. It was hard enough to imagine my strong, tough-as-nails sister as submissive.

Yet, seeing her as she talked about it, I could tell it was the real deal. My next question was really unnecessary, but I asked anyway, wanting to hear it from her lips. “Is it just sex?”

“Not in the least.” Again she halted while the waitress delivered our wine and took our order. Lucky for us, we dined at this Italian bistro enough to know what we wanted without looking at a menu, because we hadn’t even taken a peek at one.

After the waitress left, Norma took a swallow of her Chardonnay, her brow creased in thought. “It was just sex in the beginning, maybe. But even then, not really. Not for Boyd anyway. He always treated it as more. I got on board soon enough.”

I’d already realized their relationship was more than casual, but this was when I realized how much more. “You love him.”

She peeked up coyly under her lashes and nodded.

“He loves you too. I saw it on his face.”

She nodded again.

Then it wasn’t just unrequited love. They’d talked about it. Discussed it. Probably made plans and commitments with it.

Which brought me to my final question. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I should have. I’m sorry.” She shook her head as if reprimanding herself internally. “Management isn’t allowed to date their staff. Punishable by termination. I know that you wouldn’t tell on us, but it seemed the best solution to keeping us private was to adopt total secrecy. No one knew. That included you. I’m really sorry.”

“Stop it.” I waved my hand in the air, feeling bad that she held so much guilt about something that obviously gave her a lot of joy. “I get it.” I wouldn’t have told me either, if I were her. Especially back then. I would have given her a hard time about it. Would have told her it wasn’t worth the risk.

Now, I said, “Hudson would never fire you.”

She didn’t need to consider this at all. “No, he wouldn’t. But he’d make me fire Boyd. Or, at the very least, transfer him. I can’t do that right now. He keeps me together. I need him.”

“I’m glad you have him.” I sighed and it turned into a bigger sigh than I’d intended. I meant what I’d said. I was glad she had Boyd. I also knew I probably wouldn’t have been glad if it weren’t for my own feelings about JC. I would have been jealous of the time Boyd had with my sister. I would have wanted to keep her to myself.

And I couldn’t deny that I was envious about something else—that Norma’s relationship with Boyd was out in the open to each other despite not being open to the world. Could JC and I have that? That thing where we both knew how we felt, and we owned it and didn’t doubt it?

I wouldn’t ever know unless I declared the words to JC, and I wasn’t sure I should be thinking about that in the middle of my sister’s birthday dinner.

Norma kicked my shoe under the table, pulling me from my thoughts. “Hey. Why aren’t you making fun and scoffing? Is this some sort of birthday reprieve?” Her eyes widened as if she’d just had a realization. “Oh. You’re in love too.”

“How—? What—? Why would you even…?” I’d lost my ability to form sentences. “Goddammit.” I probably should have appreciated that there was someone who knew me as well as Norma did. Even when JC seemed to read me, it was only guesses. We still had so much to learn about each other.

And I did appreciate it from Norma. It was also frustrating. She’d kept her secret for so long, and I couldn’t manage to keep mine for a day.

Now that the cat was out of the bag, I might as well acknowledge it. “Yes. I’m in love. Is that ridiculous?”