Jeretta Ardoin knew all too well how false accusations can hurt, having seen her beloved partner slip away because of it. So when the Free Spirit Connection approached her to become an arbiter – trained to look into complaints of misconduct and determine the best response – she jumped at the chance. And while she attended this workshop, she might as well meet her long-neglected erotic needs with other Free Spirits there: Millie and David, Justin, Miguel, and Cole. She’ll come away prepared to serve a vital role in the Connection. And, perhaps, the possibility of a more intimate bond in the future.

EXCERPT

The elevator doors were starting to close, and Cole rushed to catch it. “Hold on!” he cried out, and the doors stopped and opened up soon after he did. Jeretta stood smiling, thumb still on the Door Open button, as he entered the car, softly thanking her. She now hit the Door Close button, and they rode up to their floor.

“Glad you’re here,” she said to him.

He cast a glance at her. “Oh?”

“Yeah,” she murmured, stepping a little closer to him, eyes locking onto his.

“And, uh, why is that?”

“Well,” she began, then hesitated for a few seconds. “Why don’t I just ask you first, whether you’re in any kind of exclusive relationship.”

He felt his pulse skip, and his mouth hung open for a second, as the elevator stopped on their floor. With a jittery laugh, he held out one hand for her to step out first, and then followed, walking by her side through the halls.

“I’m not in any kind of relationship right now. Did you ask because you’re, ah – ”
“Not anything long-term,” she explained. By now, they had reached the door of her room, and stopped in front of it. “Just for tonight. Just … enjoying being close, physically, you and me.”

He came out and said it: “Sex.”

She grinned, and reached over to caress his arm. “Uh huh.”

Cole shivered slightly. “Listen,” he whispered, “why don’t we go inside to talk first, okay?”

A firm nod of her head, and she pulled out her keycard to open the door, leading the way as he followed. As they went inside, he noticed the crutch leaning close to her bed. Whatever the reason for it, he figured she would tell him. He liked that about Jeretta – her frankness, her confidence, her clarity of expression. He also like her smile, her laugh, and the way she’d look over at him, a sly and flirtatious look, while they walked together.

“So,” she began, as they sat on the bed closest to the door, “I’m not looking for a romance, or any kind of long-term thing. I’m looking more for just pleasure, mutual pleasure, with men I find attractive, and who feel the same about me.” Her eyes then went to the crutch. “Full disclosure, I’m an amputee and have a prosthetic leg. Don’t know if that’s an issue for you – ” Cole shook his head right away. “Okay, then. So, aside from insisting on condoms – ” With that, she produced one from her purse. ” – that is pretty much where I stand.” She extended both her hands towards him, inviting him to share.

“Well, uh, I do appreciate your being this forthright about all of this, and in terms of attraction, the feeling is certainly mutual – ” That made her smile, and she reached over to stroke his arm and hand ever so gently. ” – and I would like to be with you tonight, but I should be equally honest about my own limits. I’m open to being sexual up to a point, but intercourse is something I’m only really comfortable with when I’ve known someone for quite a while.”

“But everything up to that, you’re okay with?”

“Mm hm.”
Still smiling, still gazing at his face, she tilted her head a bit. “I understand, and thank you for telling me. So … ”

That pause afterwards. Was she hesitating? Was she waiting for him to respond? It seemed such a departure from the candidness of their conversation. He moved closer to her. “So,” he whispered …

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