Friday, May 4, 2018

#FirstChapterFriday: DARE TO SURRENDER (The Dare #Menage Series, bk 5) by USAT Bestselling #Author Jeanne St. James #MMF #EroticRomance

Dare to Surrender
The Dare Ménage Series, Book 5

By Jeanne St. James

Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance, MMF Ménage, LGBTQ

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One woman, two men, a fierce attraction and a danger that could destroy them all...

Olivia Holloway’s life has never been easy. On her own at sixteen, she’s fought to survive ever since. When she finds herself in a dangerous situation that even she can’t handle, she has to break down and ask for help. She reluctantly seeks it by showing up at her estranged brother’s law firm. However, it’s not her brother, Trey, who steps in, it’s the firm’s private investigator, Elliot Stone and his husband, Grant Lane. They agree to hide her at their home to keep her safe after she witnesses a powerful Senator commit murder.
Together for a decade, Eli and Grant’s marriage is solid and they’re still deeply in love. But when Olivia shows up at the firm they both work at, Eli feels a pull toward the woman he can’t deny. Only now he needs to convince his husband that bringing her into their relationship will not destroy what they have but only enhance it. However, will Grant agree?
And will the trouble that’s following Olivia put them all at risk?

Note: This book in the series can be read as stand-alone. It includes an HEA ending. It is intended for audiences over 18 years of age since it includes MMF scenes between all three characters.

Chapter One

Olivia could hear nothing but the pounding of her heart in her ears. She stared at the large gold letters on the wall above the reception desk... Ward, Jordan, & Holloway.
The receptionist’s lips were moving but Liv had no idea what the woman said.
She needed to turn and hightail it out of there before she got caught. This was a bad idea. One of way too many she’d made in her life.
Her stomach churned, and her mouth felt like it was packed full of cotton.
She closed her eyes for a moment, as a wave of panic washed up and over her. She could fix this herself. She’d been surviving on her own most of her life.
She never needed anyone to save her, and she didn’t now.
She stiffened when she felt something, or someone, large and very warm at her back. She shook her head in an attempt to clear it and finally heard, “Are you okay?”
So, unless the receptionist had a deep, masculine voice, it wasn’t a woman. A shiver ran down her spine.
When a large dark hand landed on her arm, she could only stare at it. She blinked. Why was this person touching her?
Then fingers wrapped around her chin, lifting her face and her gaze. She stared into very, very dark eyes. Eyes full of concern and... something else.
She wasn’t used to the concern. That look seemed foreign to her. And the other? She had no clue why he would look at her like that.
“What?” she whispered, almost as if trapped in a fog.
“Are you okay?” The man snapped into motion, leading her over to a nearby chair and pushing her gently into it. “Cassie, grab a bottle of water.”
From the corner of her eye, she saw the receptionist move at a hurried pace.
“Are you okay?”
Why did he keep asking her that?
“Yes,” she murmured, her tongue thick.
“Are you here to see someone in particular?”
Liv watched his dark lips move. They were full and looked nice. And his teeth were really white. Nice people had nice lips, nice voices, and nice teeth.
Why did she care if he was nice?
“Who? Who do you have an appointment with?”
Liv shook her head slowly. “I don’t.”
“Then who are you here to see?”
She sucked in a shaky breath. “Trey.”
“Trey,” he echoed softly.
“Yes, Trey Holloway.”
He tilted his head, his gaze searching her face. “Does he know you?”
What a weird question. “I hope so. He’s my brother.”
His dark eyes narrowed, and he only left her long enough to grab the bottle of water from Cassie, the receptionist. He cracked the seal on the lid and opened it, handing the bottle to her. “Drink.”
“I’m not thirsty,” she said, her tone flat, even though she felt parched.
“Drink anyway.”
Liv lifted the bottle to her lips and sipped at the cool water. She blinked again and glanced up at the man towering over her. “Who are you?”
“Eli,” Liv repeated, frowning, still feeling as if in a daze.
“Elliott Stone.”
That was a nice name for someone with nice features. Some men didn’t look right being bald. He did. His head was perfectly smooth and nicely shaped. Bald fit him. “Elliott,” she repeated.
“Yes. Let me get Trey for you.” He stepped back and turned to leave.
He stopped, his back straightening. He was tall. Dark. And oh-so handsome. But, right now, none of that mattered.
Nothing mattered but why she was here.
Though, she should really leave before her brother was dragged into her mess. Especially since she hadn’t seen him in sixteen years.
Because of that, he might not be happy with her. She had disappeared without a trace. No calls, no letters, no emails. She had gotten lost. Completely disappeared. And left him behind to deal with what was their nightmare of a childhood.
So, it was a bad idea for her to show up here in her moment of weakness.
“No. I’m just going to leave. I’ll catch up with him another time. I thank you for your kindness.” She pushed to her feet and beelined toward the lobby elevator.
He snagged her elbow as she passed and swung her around until they came face to face, his eyes dark and searching. “Whoa. No. You’re not going anywhere.”
She jerked her elbow, but his grip was tight enough that she couldn’t pull free. “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“The hell I can’t,” he mumbled close to her ear. “You know why? Because I’ve worked here for a while now and never knew Trey had a sister. And now I’m wondering why I never knew that. So, to satisfy my curiosity, I’ll escort you back to his office.”
“Get your hand off me,” she snapped, still tugging her arm.
“You didn’t say please.”
Right now, she didn’t think he was so nice. “Please,” she said with a forced nicety.
“That’s better. But no.”
She looked in panic toward the receptionist who just gave her a blank stare in return, like the woman was used to seeing large men dragging women through the lobby. Liv couldn’t imagine it happened on a regular basis. But she’d seen a lot of crazy shit in her life, so nothing would surprise her.
“Let’s go,” he said, a determined look on his face.
Liv tried to dig her heels into the nice carpeting, but he was too big and too strong to resist. She hardly got a glimpse of the various offices they passed until he abruptly stopped in front of another woman. A secretary maybe.
“Trey in?”
The woman’s eyes bounced to Liv before landing on this bossy Elliott, giving him a big, flirty smile.
“He’s not in his office. He’s in a meeting.”
“A real meeting or a meeting.”
Liv had no idea what he was getting at, but it made her glance up at him. He ignored her.
“Uh. I would hope just a regular meeting since Grant’s in with them. Because if it’s not a regular meeting, you may have to step in.” Then the secretary giggled.
Which was strange. Liv had no idea why what she said was funny.
Elliott frowned, and his already dark face got darker. “Then it’s a regular meeting.”
“If you say so,” she murmured, then gave him another bright smile. “Large conference room.”
Elliott, Eli, or whatever, gave the woman a sharp nod and dragged Liv down another hallway to a long room made up by a wall of windows. Several people sat around a long oval conference table and as he approached with his hand firmly on her elbow, all heads swung toward them.
He must have communicated something silently through the glass because a large black man got up and opened the door just as they hit the threshold.
“What’s going on?” the large man asked, frowning.
Ignoring him, Elliott dragged her into the room, asking Liv’s brother, “This belong to you?”
With wide eyes they stared at each other.
“I think so,” Trey murmured, studying her hard.
“You think, or you know?”
Trey Holloway stood and looked at her from head to toe. “Yeah. She’s my sister. Damn.”
“I found her skulking around the lobby in a state of panic,” her captor announced to the room of strangers.
Her gaze shot up to him. “What? I wasn’t skulk—”
“Quiet,” this Elliott said sharply, cutting her off.
“Eli, you want to let her go?” the fourth man at the end of the table asked, slowly rising to his feet.
“She might run.”
“What?” Trey asked, his eyebrows shooting to his hairline.
“She tried to take off.”
Eli shrugged his broad shoulders and glanced down at her for a moment before saying, “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask her.”
Liv frowned. “I’m right here. I can hear you and I’m quite capable of answering.”
Eli shrugged again and finally released her elbow. As she rubbed it, her gaze drifted over everyone in the room.
Her brother looked good. Mature. Important. But then, he’d been a star quarterback for the Boston Bulldogs and helped them win the Super Bowl Championship a couple of seasons ago.
A woman with long strawberry blonde hair watched her with curious eyes. When she stood, Liv couldn’t help but notice the sexy way she was dressed. Pencil skirt, stockings, and heels that were high, not as high as stripper heels, but they made her legs look endless. Liv’s gaze landed on her chest. She certainly had plenty there. The woman moved next to Trey and placed a hand on her brother’s back.
Liv found that curious.
And when the woman said something softly to her brother, he seemed to snap to attention like he’d just woken up. As he moved forward, Liv thought he was going to grab her into a bear hug, but then he froze and looked at her cautiously.
“Olivia, what are you doing here?”
Coming here was not a good idea. “What? I can’t stop in and say hello to my brother?” Her teasing fell flat.
“It’s been sixteen years.”
And there it was. The one sentence that brought all the guilt she’d been carrying around with her to the forefront. Heat rushed into her cheeks as all eyes pinned on her. “I… uh…”
“Baby, maybe we should clear out and let them have a moment.”
Liv spun to the man at her right. He was also tall, but not as tall as Eli. He had a nice tan, and very kind, warm hazel eyes behind glasses that made him look highly intelligent. But she wondered who he called baby, since the only other woman in the room had now clung to the only other black man in the room. The one who seemed to be in charge. Liv found it strange that the woman took liberties like that with both men.
“Grant, they may need me,” Eli answered him.
This Grant called Eli “baby?” Elliott Stone did not look like someone who would let another man call him that endearment, especially in a professional setting. Weird.
“I’m sure if they need you, they’ll let you know.” Grant looked at Trey, who only nodded in answer. “See? We can wait in my office until they’re done.”
“Yes, but—”
“Eli,” the man said firmly to her former captor with an undertone that clearly meant not to question him.
Eli nodded and then sighed. He leaned toward Liv. “We’re not done.”
Liv pulled all the bravado she could gather and said, “Oh, we’re done,” matter-of-factly.
His wide lips flattened, and he reluctantly followed the other man, who Liv assumed was another attorney since he wore a suit, out the door. They shut it behind him.
Then there were only four. Her, her brother, and the other two.
“Why now?” Trey asked.
She wondered why the other two didn’t excuse themselves. She purposely avoided looking at them when she asked, “Can we speak privately?”
His eyes flicked to the large black man, then the blonde woman before saying, “No. Anything you have to say can be said in front of Rayne and Gryff.”
Rayne and Gryff.
“They’re my partners,” he clarified, then added, “in all things.”
In all things? What did that mean?
The man who had to be Gryff said, “We can give you two a few moments alone, T.”
“No, stay. I want you to stay,” Trey answered. Without turning around, he reached his arm back and they touched hands briefly, then dropped them.
“So again, why and why now?” Trey asked.
“No hug for your baby sister?” Liv asked, which even sounded lame to her ears. She was stalling.
Something flashed behind his eyes. “Really? You disappear at sixteen, show up sixteen years later and I’m supposed to act like it was just yesterday that I saw you? You left me behind.”
Liv closed her eyes and inhaled a shaky breath. “I know.”
“Not even a peep. Not once. Not when I graduated high school. Not when I went off to college. Not when our lovely mother died. Not when I was drafted into the NFL. Not when I won the fucking Super Bowl.”
The last part sounded bitter and raw. Liv watched various emotions cross his features. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I was just trying to survive. I did what I had to do.”
“Yeah, so did I.”
Liv looked at him in surprise at his tone, wondering what he had to do to survive. Whatever he had to do, it seemed he had come out on the winning end.
Gryff moved forward, laying a hand on Trey’s shoulder. “Look, you both did what you had to do. It was your mother who was to blame. T, don’t lay that on your sister’s shoulders. She was an innocent like you in the whole thing.”
Maybe the man was an ally.
“Which one of you is Jordan and which one is Ward?”
The stunning woman came forward with a smile and held out her hand. “I’m Rayne Jordan. And that’s Gryffin Ward.”
Liv took her hand tentatively, but Rayne shook it firmly and with respect. She raised her gaze from their clasped hands to her face, blinked at how green the other woman’s eyes were and then gave her a small smile. “I’m Olivia Holloway.”
“I gathered that. Why don’t you have a seat?” Rayne swept a hand toward one of the many empty chairs that looked expensive but comfortable.
“I… uh...”
Gryff pulled out a nearby chair and also indicated that she should sit. She sat. Then her brother and his partners moved to the other side of the table and settled across from her.
Liv cleared her throat since she suddenly felt as though she was on trial. “I’m sorry for coming here unexpectedly.”
“You’re family. No need to apologize,” Gryff said, his expression blank.
Family? Yes, to Trey. But…
She slid her gaze to her brother. “Trey.”
“I… uh. I need help.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think you showed up because you missed me.”
Once again, heat crawled up Liv’s throat to flood her cheeks. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have bothered you.”
She rolled back her chair and before she could stand, a loud, deep voice commanded, “Stay.”
“Boss,” Rayne murmured.
Gryff didn’t take his eyes off Liv. “No, she came here for a reason. We need to hear why.”
Boss? She thought they were partners.
“Olivia,” Gryff started.
“Liv. Please, call me Liv.”
“Fine. Liv, no matter what, we’re family.”
Her eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t understand how we’re family.”
The three across from her looked at each other and then back to her. Trey finally said, “These are my partners, Liv.”
“Okay, I get that. I saw your last names in big gold letters over the receptionist’s desk.”
Trey took a deep breath. “We’re committed life partners, too.”
Liv blinked, then stared at her brother. Committed life partners. What did that mean?
Oh shit.
“All three of you?”
He nodded.
“So, as much as I’m enjoying this little family reunion, can you tell me why you’re coming to me now after all these years?”
“I… uh.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” the large man across from her muttered, his hands flexing on the table.
“Gryff,” Rayne said softly. “Give her a chance.”
Liv’s eyes slid to Rayne, to Gryff, then back to her brother. “I... I shouldn’t be here.”
Her brother was happy, settled, successful. She didn’t need to be dragging him into her mess.
She could do this on her own. She could.
Fuck. She couldn’t.
She had no one who she could trust. She had nowhere to go. This was it. She had no choice.
“I need help.”
“You said that,” Trey said, his eyebrows pulled low. “Legal help?”
“Yes... No...” She shook her head. It was all so freaking confusing. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Gryff asked, frowning.
“I’m in trouble.”
Gryff leaned back in his chair, his arms stretched out, his palms flat on the table in front of him. “No shit.”
It was not a good idea to come here. It wasn’t. She needed to leave. She had no right to ask her brother for help. She had no right to intrude in his life. He owed her nothing.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, meeting her brother’s eyes. He had the exact same eyes as her. The same color hair. They looked so much alike but were complete strangers.
“Don’t be sorry,” Rayne said softly. “Talk to us. We can help.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
“Then why did you come here?” Trey asked.
“Because I have nowhere else to go.” The words spilled out of her in a rush. They were true, but she hated to admit it.
“You found a place to go sixteen years ago,” her brother said softly, the hurt evident in his voice.
Liv closed her eyes and sucked in a breath. “I had nowhere to go then, either.”
“Are you going to get to the point or are you going to continue to jerk our chains?” Gryff finally said.
“Boss,” Rayne murmured softly. Her hand slid over to cover one of his.
His eyes dropped to study them then lifted back to Liv. “We can’t help you if you don’t tell us what the problem is.”
She opened her mouth, closed it, then opened it again. Even if they couldn’t help, she needed to get this off her chest. She sucked in another breath. “I witnessed a murder.”
Deafening silence greeted her from around the table. She stared at her own clasped hands, afraid to see their expressions.
“Just go to the police and tell them what you witnessed,” Trey said like he heard that confession every day.
If it was only that simple. “I can’t do that.”
“Why?” Gryff asked, his deep voice now tinged with suspicion.
“Because of who was involved,” she told the table.
“Fuck,” Gryff grumbled.
“Who was involved?” Rayne asked softly.
She was afraid to even say his name. “Randall Dean,” she whispered, fear shooting through her. If anyone overheard her, found out what she knew, what she saw...
Rayne sucked in a sharp breath, and Gryff made a noise. Liv glanced up at Trey, who was shaking his head, looking confused. “Who?”
Gryff shot Trey a look. “Randall Dean,” he repeated, as if that would clear up her brother’s confusion.
“I have no fucking clue who that is,” Trey answered.
“He was involved?” Gryff asked, leaning forward, his body tense.
“Yes,” Liv answered.
“He killed her.” God, he killed Peggy.
A woman who was making changes to her life, a life she was trying to improve. Liv knew exactly what that was like. She had been in her shoes once. “A woman I knew.”
“How do you know it was him?”
He freaking wrapped his hands around her throat until all the life was squeezed out of her. “I saw him do it.”
“Fuck!” Gryff barked to the ceiling. He grabbed the phone on the center of the conference table and jerked it toward him. He picked up the handset, jabbed some numbers and then growled, “Eli, in here, now,” then slammed down the phone.
“Holy shit,” Rayne murmured. She sent worried eyes Liv’s direction. “Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Hell yes, she was sure. She’d never forget what she saw. Not ever. That was burned into her brain and would be for the rest of her life.
“So why can’t she go to the police?” Trey asked, still confused.
The conference room door was yanked open and her former captor stepped in, closing the door, eyes locked on her. Suddenly the room had so much less oxygen. She was finding it hard to breathe.
“Are you okay?” Rayne asked, concern lacing her voice.
No, no she wasn’t.
She had pushed what she saw from her mind, trying only to think about how she could escape, how she could save herself. Once again, how she could survive.
Suddenly, everything was coming crashing down on her all over again.
And having this big man standing next to her, dark, intense eyes pinning her in her chair didn’t help.
“Boss,” Eli grumbled.
“Sit down,” Gryff said.
“I’m fine...”
He needed to sit down. To give her space. “Please,” Liv croaked. “Please.”
Eli looked at her, his dark eyebrows furrowed. But he finally moved to the chair down from her, leaving an empty seat between them. For that, she was thankful.
Something about his presence overwhelmed her, and she wouldn’t be able to talk, to answer questions, with him looming over her.
“What’s going on?” Eli asked, his eyes flicking from her to Gryff back to her.
“She saw a Randall Dean kill someone,” Trey said from the other end of the table.
Eli’s gaze swung his direction. “What?”
“Do you know who he is?” her brother asked.
“Holy fuck,” Eli breathed.
“Right,” Gryff grunted.
“This is a mess,” Rayne added.
Eli held up a hand. “Hold up. We need to rewind, and I need to hear this from the beginning.”
“I think we all do,” Gryff agreed.

Then all eyes landed on her. Shit.

About the Author:

JEANNE ST. JAMES is a USA Today bestselling erotic romance author who loves an alpha male (or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing. Her first paid published piece was an erotic story in Playgirl magazine. Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages. Want to read a sample of her work? Download a sampler book here:

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