Always Cambridge

Always Cambridge
Follow the saga from the beginning... Always Cambridge

Thursday, 11 September 2014

#FreeRead Chapters 1 and 2 of SWAP #erotic #contemporary #romance

 As I reported last week, I've asked my publisher for the rights to Swap back and soon it will no longer be available for purchase. (If you'd like to read that post find it HERE and that is also where you'll find Chapter One in its entirety)  Check it out before you move on to Chapter Two of  Swap.

You've heard that saying, You can't help who you fall in love with? That's what this story is about. Sometimes you just fall for the right person at the wrong time. And often it will haunt you and make every day life extremely difficult especially when that person is a part of your extended family. 
                               

Hailey loves Mike. Simple.
Except both Hailey and Mike are married to other people. And one more annoying factor to make this situation just a little more complicated, 
Hailey's husband Brent and Mike—     
are brothers. 

Hailey's crush on Mike might be manageable, if it were only one sided. But is it?
   
Enjoy!

Swap Chapter ONE (find it here)

Chapter TWO

On Saturdays, as a foursome, we normally went to the car races at our local track just outside the city limits. I gathered up my jacket and our blanket in case the bugs were out or the weather turned chilly. Brent was revving up the engine of the car in the garage.
 
I opened the door. “Brent, you almost ready? Mike and Cheryl will be here any second.”
 
“Yeah, babe. Five more minutes and I’ll have her purring.”
 
I rolled my eyes as he shut the engine off just as Mike’s truck pulled up outside. Mike walked into the garage and my stomach flipped. He and I had been very intimate lately, at least in my mind. My face grew hot at the thought. If he only knew, he’d be blushing too.
 
“Hey, Hails.” He always called me that. He draped an arm around my shoulder, giving it a quick squeeze before he released me.
 
“Hey, Mikey.” I smiled.
 
He looked down at me and grinned. He touched the end of my nose with his finger, calling out my blush. “Nice.” He moved away to look over Brent’s shoulder.
 
“What are you doing to this freakin’ thing now?” he asked.

“Oh, hey, Mikey, check this out,” Brent got behind the wheel and cranked up the car again, revving. “Sweet, eh?” he asked, looking for his brother’s approval.
 
“Yeah, sweet,” Mike agreed. Brent grinned proudly, revving it up even more.
 
Mike looked over at me. “What am I supposed to be listening to? It sounds the same as it did the other night when he dropped Cheryl off.”
 
I shrugged and shouted over the noise. “He put some thing on it that’s supposed to give it more horsepower or some such thing.”
 
“Ahh, of course—now I hear it.”
 
“You are a liar,” I accused.
 
“Yes. I. Am.” He chuckled. “You guys ready to go?”
 
“I am,” I answered.
 
“Brent,” Mike yelled over the racket. “Let’s go.”

His shoulders sagged and I knew what was coming. “Hey, why don’t you go on ahead without me, Hail? You know I won’t pay attention when my mind is back here trying to figure this out. Go have a good time with Mike and Cher and I’ll see you when you get back. ‘Kay?” He was asking gently for my permission for him to stay.
 
“’Kay.” I didn’t bother kissing his proffered cheek, but followed Mike out to the truck. I was feeling like a third wheel when I realised Mike was holding open the truck door for me, and Cheryl wasn’t in the passenger’s seat.
 
“Where’s Cheryl?”
 
“She dumped me tonight too.”
 
I got in. He closed the door and ran around to vault into the driver’s seat. He started the engine, then slid his arm across the back of the seat so he could back out. His fingers grazed the back of my neck.
 
“I guess you’re stuck with me.” He grinned cockily, as if he knew that didn’t bother me in the least.
 
“I could think of worse people to be stuck with.”
 
“Yeah, like who?” he asked as we drove down my street.
 
“Jack the Ripper. Hitler,” I teased.
 
“Both dead. They don’t count.”
 
“Charlie Sheen.”
 
“Yeah, I’m better.”
 
“Indeed,” I agreed.
 
“Winning.” He chuckled.
 
We drove in silence for a while before I asked idly, “Something wrong with Cheryl lately?”
 
He shrugged. “Why?”
 
“She was pretty, um…” I wondered how to put it kindly that she’d been a bitch the other night. “Uh, pretty much a party pooper the other night. She mad at me or something?”
 
“Do you care?” Was that a yes?
 
“No. I guess not. She’s never kept her feelings about me or Brent a big secret.”

“She’s always hated Brent. From the first time they met, and it was mutual. They hated each other on sight. I’m sorry—I guess it just spills over to you, by association.” He tried to apologise, but it wouldn’t change the facts. There was no sugar-coating it.
 
“But it’s starting to make things uncomfortable. For you and me.” And there was no way I was willing to give up my time with him.
 
He looked at me sideways, then back at the road.
 
“I mean,” I rushed to explain, “I love our time together. Whether it’s all four of us or just you and me. I can talk to you about everything. My work, the races, your photography, the news—the goddamn weather, for that matter—and I know that you hear me. If she’s going to be so prickly it makes things difficult for you to spend time with Brent and me. And I’m sure she holds it against you when you get home.”
 
“Don’t worry about her. I’m not sure she likes anybody these days. Including me. Hey…” He rushed to change the topic. If there was one thing I didn’t like about the Hollinger brothers, this was it. When they didn’t want to talk about something, they changed the subject. Feelings were not to be discussed. “I can get tickets to Bristol next year. Interested?”
 
My heart leapt. “Are you serious?” He and I shared a love of all kinds of sports, including NASCAR. “The night race?”
 
“Mm-hmm.” He wiggled his eyebrows and I could see his excitement.
 
“I’m so there.”
 
“Do you think our other halves will join us for that trip, or will we just be the dynamic duo?”
 
That also opened up a whole new series of fantasies for me. Just him and me alone for an entire weekend? “Well, let them stay home. They’ll miss out on all the good stuff.”
 
“Yeah, let ‘em. I can think of worse people to spend a weekend with,” he joked.
 
“Oh, yeah, like who?”
 
“Jennifer Anniston. Christina Applegate. Heather Locklear.”
 
I laughed. “Your age is showing, Mikey. And none of those women sound like such a hardship.”
 
“That was my point,” he said, as he wheeled into the speedway to park. “Spending the weekend with you wouldn’t be.”

I was still blushing when he came around to open my door. He chuckled. “That’s cute.”
 
“What’s cute?”
 
“The permanent blush you got goin’ on tonight.” He took my heavy blanket.
 
“Oh, fuck off,” I said without heat, heading for the line at the ticket booth.
He laughed again as he caught up. “That reminds me, what were you blushing about when I showed up tonight?”
 
“You don’t wanna know,” I told him.
 
“Oh! Now I really wanna know. Having fantasies about me again?” he teased.
 
He had no idea. Men could be so dumb. So I went along with the truth and made him squirm for a change. “Yes, that’s it exactly. Want me to tell you all about them in great and colourful detail? I’m a writer. I could make it really good for you.”
 
He cleared his throat as we stepped into line to wait for admission.
 
“Now who’s red-faced, Mikey?” I laughed.
 
“Just for that, you’re buyin’.”
 
“Just for what? Because I use your body in my dreams?” We moved up. 

“Maybe you should owe me. Maybe you’re gettin’ a whole lot more in my dreams than in reality,” I continued teasing.
 
“Cut it out,” he said, and the deepness in his voice made me look up at him. He avoided my gaze. Had I hit a nerve? I was beginning to get the impression that things were really not good for him and Cheryl, either.
 
We stopped at the concession stand and I ordered us a large box of fries, pop for Mike and coffee for me. I sprinkled vinegar on one end and ketchup and salt on the other. We’d been spending so much time together lately that we were becoming very familiar with one another’s likes and dislikes. We ordered for each other in restaurants and were even beginning to finish each other’s sentences, like a real couple. I found it hard to believe after all these years of knowing him that there were still things I didn’t know about him.
 
He took the box from me and I carried the drinks. He took my arm and helped me up the rickety wooden steps leading to our seats on the bleachers. Kate and her date were already there. I was actually surprised to see them, and maybe even a little disappointed. I wanted Mike all to myself.

“Oh, fuck,” I heard him mutter when he realised Kate was there. There was no love lost between my best friend and—let’s face it—my other best friend.
 
“Hey, guys,” I said, smiling. Mike spread my blanket out for the two of us and we sat down.
 
“Hey, where’s everyone else?”
 
“Just me and my best guy tonight,” I said, not really thinking. His thigh was right up next to mine. He placed our box of fries, balancing it between our two knees.
 
“Oh, and do you have your wife’s permission to be out tonight, Mike?” Kate asked nastily.
 
“Hey, Kate—did you get a day pass?” he sneered back.
 
“Hi, I’m Hailey and this is Mike,” I introduced us to her date. He was cute. 

Dark hair, scruffy growth of beard, like he hadn’t shaved today.
 
“Derek,” he said. He shook hands with Mike and me, then offered Mike a beer from inside his jacket. Mike hesitated.
 
“Go ahead,” I said. “I’ll drive.” Mike took the beer. Strange as it was, Mike was not a big drinker. Not in public or private. Even when we all went out, he was always the DD. He wasn’t the kind of guy who let go of his control easily.
 
“I thought it was Brent and Hailey?” Derek asked, trying to clarify who Katie’s friends were.
 
“Yeah, it is, but Mike and Brent are brothers and Hailey just picks which one she wants to take out at any given time.”
 
“Katie,” I said scathingly.
 
“Ya know, brothers, they’re like boots. Sometimes you want leather, sometimes you want suede,” Kate explained, laughing.
 
Derek looked at me and grinned crookedly. I could see amusement and interest in his dark eyes. I smiled.
 
“And which of us is leather and which is suede, Kate?” Mike asked menacingly. “As if I didn’t already know your opinion.”
 
“It doesn’t matter. She can interchange for whatever occasion or whatever mood she’s in.”

“Mmm,” Derek commented. “How can a guy get in on a gig like that?” He grinned, then reached into his jean jacket pocket and pulled out another beer.
 
“Do you have a brother?” I asked jokingly.
 
“I do, if that’s what you’re into.”
 
“Derek!” Katie laughed and I could tell from the sound that she wasn’t sure about him.
 
“What a dick,” Mike muttered, for my ears alone. “Where does she find these guys?”
 
“So, Katie, where’d you and Derek meet?” I asked, smirking at Mike before I turned back to face them.
 
“We met at the bar,” Derek answered.
 
“That explains it,” Mike muttered. I took a French fry slathered in ketchup and shoved it into his mouth, trying to keep him quiet. He bit at my fingers as I tried to remove them quickly. I started to laugh when a big blob of ketchup dripped onto his chin. I took a napkin and wiped it away, smiling into his handsome face as I did so.
 
“Are you trying to shut me up, Hails?” He laughed.
 
“No, whatever gave you that idea?”
 
He picked up a fry and touched it to the end of my nose, leaving a dot of ketchup there.
 
I narrowed my eyes, feigning anger. He grinned back at me unapologetically as he put the fry into his mouth.
 
“Ya want me to light your sleigh tonight?” I asked, unable to keep an eruption of laughter from bursting from my lips.
 
Mike threw his head back and laughed. He put his arm around me, and before I could guess what he planned to do he kissed the end of my nose, removing the ketchup with his lips. My stomach flipped at the action, and my gaze met his. How could he not know how he made me feel?
 
I could feel the rumbling of laughter in his chest as he continued to hold me. I reached out and touched his cheek, smoothing my thumb over his chin where the ketchup had been. His smile slipped a little as his gaze darted to my lips . That beer was sure loosening him up.
 
The engines started and the cars came out to begin hot laps. I removed my hand from his face, grasping his thigh unthinkingly as I straightened up to watch for my favourites coming out onto the track. I moved around, trying to get a better look, and felt the muscles in his leg tighten right before he took my hand in his. I wondered fleetingly why he would remove my hand, hoping it was because I was affecting him like he did me. He kept my hand in his, holding it, and I wondered if it was because he wanted to hold my hand or to keep me from squeezing his thigh.
 

“Hey, Hail.” Kate caught my attention. “Isn’t that that girl from school? Oh, what’s her name? Dawn, Donna, something like that?” She pointed ahead of us, at a blonde sitting just down from us.
 
“Deana, wasn’t it?” I responded.
 
“Yeah, that’s it. Did she finish?”
 
“I don’t know.” I didn’t care. I wanted to watch the cars.
 
“You two know each other from school?” Derek yelled over the noise.
 
“Yeah, we met in college.”
 
“Is Hailey an intern too?” he asked.
 
“No, she’s a writer.”
 
“Oh, really?” He seemed even more interested, leaning in to look at me. I ignored him.
 
“We were assigned to the same dorm. I thought, Oh, God, why did they team me up with this studious, uptight brainiac? I went to college to party and I wanted a roommate who could keep up with me.” Kate laughed.
 

I remembered thinking something similar—Why would they pair me up with this party girl who brings home a new guy every night? “It all worked out for the best, though. You still partied and I made sure you got home okay.” The cars quieted as the drivers readied for the prelims.
 
“Hey, there was some mutual getting home in one piece going on. Some nights you needed my help, too.”
 
I laughed.
 
Mike looked down at me. “And Brent thought you were studying hard.”
 
“She was. She was studying other guys, wondering if she should settle for Brent or find herself another brainiac like her.”
 
Mike’s fair brows shot up in surprise. “And what tipped the scales in Brent’s favour?” he asked.
 
“The car!” Kate blurted out, laughing her fool head off.

Mike snorted beside me. “Yeah, that must be it.” I knew he didn’t buy that one for a second. He knew the car was a point of contention in our marriage. I’d complained to him enough about it.
 
We watched the races, and Kate’s date continued to guzzle beer after beer. I leaned over. “Where does he keep getting those from?” I asked Kate. He seemed to have an endless supply of beer cans in his jacket. Occasionally he’d hand one to Mike.
 
Kate gave me a helpless look and shook her head, shrugging. He finally got up and stumbled down the bleachers. Probably needed a pit stop after the last half dozen.
 
When he came back he deposited himself between me and Kate. I grabbed Mike’s thigh to steady myself as he shuffled his hip to make room for me. His hand covered mine as his other arm came up to encircle my shoulder. He gave Derek a push, indicating he should give us some room.
 
“Hey,” Derek said. Quite inebriated now, he slapped at Mike’s hand.
 
“Derek,” Kate growled.
 
“Oh, shut it, Karen. I’m just trying to get to know your friend here.”
 
“It’s Kate!” I defended her.
 
He swung around to look at me, and grinned sloppily. “Where have you been all my life, gorgeous?”
 
Mike’s hand still rested on my shoulder, even after he’d taken a poke at Derek. “What? Am I not here, fucktard?”
 
“What? Hey, bud, I was just admirin’. You should be proud.”
 
“And you should be payin’ attention to your own date, instead of hittin’ on mine.” Mike leaned towards him threateningly.
 
“But that’s just it. She’s not yours.”
 
I felt Mike stiffen. I tightened my hand on his thigh and felt his muscles contract. “It’s okay, Mikey,” I whispered. “No harm. I can handle him.”
 
Thankfully, the green flag dropped, making conversation impossible.
We watched the races, and as usual I cheered for my faves and jeered the more aggressive drivers when they sent ‘my’ drivers into spins. As one of the cars hit the wall, the crowd came to its feet and I couldn’t see. Mike gestured for me to stand on my seat so I’d
have better luck. He took my hand and helped me up. I placed my hand on his shoulder for support, but more selfishly just so that I could touch him.
 
The driver who had spun got out of his car, took off his helmet and threw it at the windshield of the driver who’d spun him out on the next circuit. That driver came to a screeching halt and came out of the car window like a shot. Taking off his own helmet, he raised it as if he was going to throw it too, but then thought better of it. Instead, he made a beeline for the original helmet-thrower.
 
They started trading punches, to the delight of the crowd. I was so absorbed that I didn’t even realise what I was doing until I felt the telltale tingling in my left breast. I had pressed it into Mike’s shoulder as I trailed my fingers in little circles just under his ear. But even after I consciously realised what I was doing, and that I was turned on by it, I didn’t move away from him. And he wasn’t moving away, either. I could almost laugh at the cheap thrills I gave myself where Mike was concerned.
 
The fight ended and people started to sit back down. Mike’s gaze met mine levelly as he helped me down. If I wasn’t mistaken, his complexion looked a little ruddy—as if he, too, might have been affected by my boob pressing into his shoulder. I almost believed he knew exactly what I’d been doing, and that he had allowed it.
 
“Did you see that?” I asked him. “That fucker just turned him around!”
 

Derek laughed. “Oh, you got a mouth on you. What else does it do?”
 
“Okay!” Mike stood up. “That’s enough.” He pulled his arm back as if he were going to deck this idiot.
 
I wrapped my hand around Mike’s fist and pulled it behind my back, holding it there.
 
“Katie, don’t you think Derek needs to go home?”
 
“Yeah,” she said, but I could see in her panicked eyes that she didn’t want to be the one to take him there.
 
Mike was still vibrating at my side. I needed to calm him down. I didn’t want him getting into it with this asshole.
 
I took his fist and flattened his palm out over my backside. Purely selfish on my part, but it worked. His fingers were stiff for a moment, and I thought he was going to pull his hand away, but then he slid it slowly down, curving it around my ass. My eyes almost crossed at the sensation.

He was being protective of me, too. I knew he was only doing it on Brent’s behalf, but I liked it. And I liked him touching me.
 
I turned to Mike. “Sit.” His turbulent gaze met mine. He slid his hand to the small of my back and we sat down together.
 
“So where are Brent and Cheryl?” Kate asked, trying to ignore her date and make meaningless conversation.
 
“Brent stayed with the car.”
 
“I thought this was Brent.” Derek turned to Kate.
 
“No, I told you. This is Mike, Brent’s brother.”
 
“So explain it to me again.”
 
“I’m her brother-in-law, dick. What don’t you get?”
 
“I don’t get why you’re kissin’ and gropin’ each other. I mean, I’m as open as the next guy. I just don’t get it. Do you guys, like, swap? I want in.”
 
“Oh, my God!” Kate exclaimed. “You’re such a bastard. How was it you were such a nice guy the other night? Add a few beers and you’re a complete asshole.”
 
“Look, Karen. You were an all right lay, but I’m not sure I want a repeat…”
 
I didn’t let him finish. I saw red. I stomped on his booted foot and hauled back to slap his face. Mike grabbed me and quickly moved me to his other side, putting himself between the irate drunk and me.
 
“You fuckin’ little bitch…” he swore as Mike captured his arm, twisting it behind his back.
 
“Hey, Mike? Everything all right there?” One of the regulars, just guys we knew from the racetrack, came to our defence.
 
“No. I think this guy just decided it was time he went home.”
 
As if on cue, track security started up the steps towards us. Mike gave over custody to them, and they escorted Derek from the premises. He cursed at us as he went.
 
I gave Kate a sympathetic look. She waited until Derek was long gone, then leaned over. “Well, can I pick ‘em or what?”
 
“Maybe you should quit picking ‘em up at the bar,” Mike said sarcastically. “You deserve what you get.”
 
I gave him a little elbow.

Kate glared at Mike. “I’m gonna go,” she said to me, ignoring him.
 
“’Kay. I’ll call you in the morning.”
 
She nodded and headed down the bleachers.
 
“She didn’t need to hear that,” I told him.
 
“Yes, she did. Somebody’s gotta point it out to her. She’s never going to meet a decent guy the way she goes about it.”
 
“Well, maybe that’s true, but she didn’t need to hear it right now.”
 
“All right, tiger, you’ve stood up for your friend enough tonight. Sit down and watch your races.”
 
I sat down, still a little miffed. He tried to fit the blanket around us. “Well, he was a complete and total asshole. You can’t blame that on her. I mean, whether she met him in a bar or at the freakin’ grocery store, that guy was still a…”
 
As I was ranting I spoke with my hands, as I tended to do when I was riled up. He took my hand and placed it casually low on his back.
I stopped speaking and froze. What the hell was he doing? I was almost touching his ass.
 
“What are you doing?” I asked, shocked.
 
“Isn’t that what you did to me earlier, to keep me from taking a poke at the jerk? Distracted me?”
 
“Distracted you?”
 
“Yes, by sliding my hand over your sweet little backside?” He looked down at me, grinning. He’d never spoken to me like this before. Must be the beers talking.
 
“My… Well… I didn’t want you to get into it with him.” I looked away. “And it worked, didn’t it?”
 
“Yep,” he agreed. I could still hear the smile in his voice. I decided to do some distracting of my own. I curled my hand around what I could of his butt-cheek, the part that wasn’t touching the hard bench.
 
“You got a pretty nice ass yourself, there, Mikey!”
 
He stiffened. I didn’t look up at him, but I was almost positive he’d lost his cocky grin.
 
The cars continued to circle. I loosened my grip on his well-developed glutes and just slung my arm around his back, holding on to his opposite hip.
 
We covered back up, and I had to fight the urge to snuggle deeper against him inside the blanket. I wanted to run my other hand over his chest and up his neck, and coax his head down so I could kiss him. I would dig my fingers into his thigh and run them upward, touching him, feeling him grow hard as I stroked him, leaving him with no doubt as to what I wanted. I wanted to drive him crazy, the way he did me. I wanted to race back to the truck with him and fuck him, right there in the parking lot.
 
The race ended and I didn’t even know who’d won. Mike carried my blanket and held my hand as he helped me down the steep stairs, but even when we’d reached level ground he didn’t release it.
 
I was making too much out of everything. I was still too caught up in my latest fantasy. That was my problem. Always had been. I lived in the stories in my head. That was why I’d decided to go into writing as a career. Mike and I were buddies—that was all. I had a girlish crush on my husband’s older brother. It didn’t mean anything. So, then, why was I throbbing like I was gonna get some?
 
He handed me his truck keys and we drove towards town. Mike, as usual, was hungry. “Wanna stop and get something to eat? I’m starving.”
 
“Sure. I’m hungry too.” I leaned over and turned on the radio, and started to sing along.
 
“You have a nice voice,” he said.
 
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to sing out loud.”
 
“No, I like it. With that face and that voice, you should have gone into television. Been a broadcaster or reporter. You could have written your own copy.”
 
I laughed. “No. I trip over my tongue when I get nervous.”
 
“I know. I remember. When Brent first started bringing you around, you were so quiet.”
 
“Ah, back in the good old days when I was quiet…”
 
“Naw, I like it better now. You can actually have a conversation now without biting through your own lip.”
 
“Wow, you give a girl a compliment and you take it away.”
 
“Yeah, but ya love me anyway.” He grinned.
 
I nodded, sighing. “Yeah, there is that,” I said softly, and he must have caught something in my voice. His eyes met mine, and he looked the same way he had after I’d had my boob pressed against his shoulder.

“So,” I broke in, trying to cover up. “What’ll it be? Burgers or pizza?”

“How ‘bout we go to Jim’s? I feel like lasagne.”
 
“Big appetite tonight?”
 
“Yeah.”

If you've enjoyed Chapters one and two of SWAP, buy it now while you still can!

Tune in Next Week for Chapter Three when things really heat up between our forbidden lovers.

Cheers All, until next time,
H K

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