"My bed is already crowded." Meg Keenan gave Josh Hendricks, her longtime friend and sometimes lover, a smile certain to perk his interest. That he'd arrived at the Summer Shakespeare Festival wasn't exactly a surprise--even though he wasn't directing his contemporary comedy, he had written it. But it would've been good of him to let her know he was coming out. Last she'd heard, he was still ensconced in a theater guild in London. If she'd known, she might've planned a surprise or two. Meg always enjoyed surprising Josh. She inhaled sharply. Maybe she did have a surprise for him.
"I wouldn't expect otherwise," Josh said, his mouth widening into a grin. "I can't remember you ever being without at least one partner. How many this time? What gender or genders?"
"I'll always make room for you, Josh." Meg sighed and squeezed Josh's knee. They sat on the grass in the Green Show area where she'd been rehearsing a routine. Spying Josh leaning against a shade tree waiting for her had seemed quite natural. "It feels like you've hardly been away."
"It's been nearly eighteen months," he said, taking her hand in his. "You could do better with e-mail." Josh chuckled. "I was pleased to hear you had the lead here for the summer. Josette and Zach send their love. She tells me she's trying to get you to join her theater workshop as a full partner. That's quite the opportunity."
"I know." Meg winced. "I'm not sure I want to. That much responsibility might tie me down too much."
Josh's eyes sparkled. "When I was your pirate on the cruise ship, you didn't mind being tied down."
She dug her fingernails into his palm. "That was different. I wanted you to ravish me, and you didn't disappoint. God, can you believe it, I'm nearly thirty and I still don't know what I want to do with my life."
Josh arched an eyebrow. "You could marry me and have a bunch of kids."
Meg laughed easily. "I'm not joking. I like my life the way it is. I've been able to work on and off Broadway, Vegas, cruise ships, and summer theater like this. Yet," she drew in a deep breath, "sometimes I feel like I'm just flitting about."
"Spreading your good cheer," Josh quipped. "I suppose you still revel in being matchmaker."
"Of course. That's my calling." Meg flashed an eyebrow. "Maybe it's your turn. You show up out of the blue, and I have just the girl for you."
"No way." Blood drained from Josh's face.
"Why didn't I think of this sooner? Camila was born for you." Meg hurried on, ignoring Josh's protest. "She's a UCLA grad student doing a summer internship here. I rented her a room in the big old house I've leased for the summer. You and she have so much in common. Her goal is directing, but she's a playwright and an actress."
"I'm not interested."
"She's gorgeous. Her roots go back to the Spaniards who settled much of California. Camila is about a half a foot taller than I am with a body made for loving."
"So she shares your bed."
Meg smirked at Josh's suddenly husky tone. He wasn't totally disinterested. "Of course she does. I wouldn't hook you up with someone I haven't tried out. You'll find her to be a lot of fun and very passionate. She often cries out in Spanish when she comes. I've threatened to get a Spanish/English dictionary."
"I'm quite fluent in Spanish," Josh volunteered, raking a hand through his dark brown hair.
"A perfect match," Meg cooed. "You'll love Camila. And if you and she become a couple, I'll still be able to party with the two of you now and then."
"Have you seen April and Brad lately? I've wondered if they stayed together all these years."
Meg nodded. "It's been eight years since that cruise. They're doing fine. I spent a weekend with them last winter on the way to Cat and Kurt's for Christmas. April and Brad's second child is three already. And Cat and Kurt's baby turned one last summer--I could hardly believe it. Amazingly cute."
"And they welcome you with open arms."
"Of course. They're my Midwest family. Neither couple would be together if it weren't for me." Meg giggled. "Do you remember that older couple from the cruise ship who were coming on to April and Brad?"
"They live in Milwaukee. The four of them get together a couple times a year."
"Age doesn't matter." Meg frowned at him. "I've told you that before. If you weren't so hung up on appearances, you could've found out for yourself. Josette never would've thought you were trying to climb the theater ladder by joining us."
"I've been with older women. I don't doubt your premise about age."
"Besides, you're as established now as Josette."
"Hardly," Josh responded. "I'm surprised you have enough time for me."
"Shows you what you know." She elbowed him. "You're the only non-married man I've ever had a continuing relationship with."
He groaned. "That's one way of describing a relationship that's lasted over eight years, I guess. But do you think we've actually spent more than six months together during that time?"
Meg shrugged. What was he complaining about--what did he expect? She'd been clear with him from day one.
"And now you want to marry me off to someone you've bedded for how long--a month?"
"I have a feeling about you two." Meg pursed her lips. "My feelings are seldom wrong."
"Didn't sound like they were on target with that couple in Vegas. Tony still gets a good laugh over your efforts to keep him and his Asian girlfriend together."
Meg sobered. "Who could've guessed Tia would fall for an aging gambler? She and Jack are doing very fine. Tia's pregnant with their second child. This one's a girl. I visited them a couple weeks ago."
"I'm surprised you could leave your Camila alone."
"I didn't. Philip took care of her while I was gone."
"Philip?" Josh folded his arms across his chest. "Of course you never did answer the question about how crowded your bed is."
"Philip's a local. He's a conservation officer. He's a nice fellow to spend some time with and he's a great guide if you're interested in visiting any of the area national or state parks. Southern Utah is an incredible part of the country."
"Is that it?" Josh scowled at her. "Camila and Philip--or are there others crowding your bed too?"
Meg shook her head. "Just them. There's plenty of room for you. You can crash at my place if you want. We have two unused bedrooms. Of course Camila lives there--Philip only visits."
Josh heaved a sigh. "And that's the only way I'm going to be with you?"
"You know I'm not much into exclusivity."
"Guess exclusivity doesn't exactly fit with your matchmaking talents."
"Exactly. I'm not saying there wouldn't be some alone time with me--or with Camila. How long do you plan on staying? It's a little unusual for the playwright to show up for these performances."
"Most playwrights have been dead for centuries. I don't know how long I'll stay. Maybe days. Maybe weeks. Depends how inspired I get. I can write here as well as in New York. I've never been to this part of the country." He squeezed her bare thigh where her short skirt had hiked up. "I've missed you."
A shot of desire coursed through Meg's body. She'd never had a better lover--male or female. Words suddenly stuck in her throat.
"I've only been back from London a couple weeks," Josh continued. "Josette told me you were out here. I thought it was too much of a coincidence that I had a play starting up here not to come out." He ducked away to glance at a nearby building. "I hoped you'd be alone, and that being away from the pace of the city might give us an opportunity to play and maybe get reacquainted."
"I am pleased you came out here." Meg shifted to nibble on his ear. "And I look forward to playing with you. But I can't just sweep aside my other playmates." She pouted at him. "Besides, how are you going to find out if one of the playmates isn't your soul mate unless you play? You may discover Camila is your long-awaited muse."
His shoulders slumped.
"Give her a chance, Josh. Come play with me. Come play with us. You'll love the house. It's a beautiful old building with a lovely flower garden. It reminds me some of how we met at the Brooklyn Gardens--though that was a wintry day, if I remember correctly."
"You remember correctly. I'll never forget you standing there looking as frozen as the landscape. Okay." He gave her a quelling look. "Just know that I may not play the game exactly the way you want. I make my own rules."
Meg giggled. "You never do. That's why you're still in the game. You are always full of surprises. Let me get my things from the green room and I'll show you the way to the house." Meg got to her feet. "I don't know if Camila will be there yet. Our schedules are crazy, as usual."
Watching the auburn-haired sprite of a woman sashay toward the building, Josh wiped his lips with the back of his hand. She thought he was joking. He'd never been more serious in his life. He'd travelled to Utah for one purpose: to finally claim Meghan Keenan as his wife.
Josette had encouraged him. She'd agreed it was time, but she'd also warned him that getting Meg to agree to marriage would not be easy. That wasn't news.
Josh grimaced as Meg disappeared into the building. It wasn't that he expected her to change her ways. He loved her, in part, because she demonstrated so much passion for others. But he'd tired of a transatlantic relationship that most people wouldn't even regard as a relationship. And it was unclear how Meg actually saw it--though apparently he was the only non-married man in her life, other than Philip. He didn't worry about Philip in the least.
He did have some worries about Camila. Would she be susceptible to Meg's wiles? He had no hesitancy about joining his new roommates in a threesome or even a foursome, but he wasn't into leading any woman on. His heart was set on one woman, ever since that first meeting in the Brooklyn Gardens. He and Meg had shared many adventures at sea and on land--now, he was ready to take it to the next level.
He'd witnessed Meg's inability to say goodbye on more than one occasion. More than once she'd left him without a word. She'd gone to great lengths on a cruise to worm a helicopter ride out of the captain so she wouldn't have to say goodbye to Brad and April. They'd been devastated. He hadn't done much better.
But now he had a clue to answer the why that nagged at him for years. Josette had shared a piece of Meg's personal story she'd never bothered to share. He'd thought both her father and mother had died when she was young and that she was raised by an aunt. The latter was true. And her dad had died in a construction accident. But her mother had simply walked away--maybe she'd been unable to handle the death of her husband. Maybe his death had freed her. For whatever reason, she simply walked away without saying goodbye. So had Meg convinced herself that was the only way she could deal with the emotions of parting?
When she finally realized he was extremely serious about his proposal of marriage, she'd try to run as fast as her legs would take her. He had little doubt about that. He grimaced. Knowing her M.O. gave him the edge--and he planned on keeping that edge honed. That meant he'd better play along with her expectations.
That included Camila. Would she be half as good as Meg claimed? If he had to share Camila to get at Meg, he sure hoped she wasn't a dud.
Refreshed, Josh stepped out of the shower and reached for a towel.
"Who the hell are you?"
The high-pitched screech froze him in place. He gawked at a buxom brown-skinned vision. The towel wrapped around her midsection failed to conceal dark areolas. His mouth watered. Towel! "Christ," he groaned, glancing down at his hardening cock and grabbing a nearby towel.
By the time he had the towel secured the intruder had found her bearings. She grinned with a mixture of curiosity and challenge.
"I'm Josh Hendricks," he said evenly. "Sorry about that."
Her sparkling eyes suggested she didn't need an apology.
"I wasn't expecting company," he continued. "I'm Meg's friend from New York."
"The playwright? I'm Camila Vasquez. And I'm pleased to meet you. Meg thought you might be joining us." Camila clasped her hands demurely at her waist. "Your play is a comedic delight. I've been given a small role in it--Isadora."
"I'm glad you like it," Josh replied, grabbing another towel to dry his hair. If she could be cool, he could be cool. "That may be a small role, but Isadora is pivotal to the outcome. I understand you're at UCLA."
"I think it is."
"I'll be out of here in a minute," he said, hoping she'd take the hint to leave.
"Take your time. I'm okay." She chuckled. "Meg is up to her tricks again. She told me to meet her in the shower."
Josh grimaced. "She must be running late."
"Oh, I expect she had perfect timing. This little interlude saved her from awkward introductions. Now if you'll step aside, I really do want to shower."
Frozen in place and time, Josh gaped as the towel fell from Camila Vasquez. He swallowed hard at her full round breasts crowned with dark nipples. She reached back to fluff up her long black hair and her breasts rose accordingly. His gaze lowered to focus on a thin line of hairs leading to a bare cleft. Were her labia always so puffy and parted like that? Or were they responding to him?
"Now that you've had a good look," Camila said, closing the distance between them, "maybe you can move so I can shower. I really have to get back to the theater. You wouldn't want one of your players to miss your premiere, would you?"
"Oh. Sorry. Of course." He stepped aside to give her room.
She eyed him with an indecipherable look. Holding his gaze, she slowly undid his towel. She curled her fingers around his stiff penis and squeezed softly. He nearly jumped out of his skin.
"I like a man with quick reactions." She winked. "I've read much of your stuff. I hope you're as good in bed." Her smile was quick. "When I rented from Meg, she said I would share everything in this place. I assume that includes you."
"That seems to be Meg's plan." If she wanted to be bold and direct, he could do that. He slid a finger across her half open mouth. "If you're half as good as Meg says we should all have lots of fun."
She bit down on his finger. "Meg should know. Maybe we'll inspire another play." She blew him a kiss. "Later."
Camila turned abruptly and stepped into the shower leaving him standing there holding his cock. Josh blinked and shook his head at her fuzzy image through the shower door. Quickly, he finished with his hair and padded toward the bedroom Meg had given him.
So Meg was up to her old tricks. Camila was right--their meeting in the bathroom was hardly an accident. He smiled into a mirror as he combed his hair. That definitely qualified as an icebreaker. Further introductions would not be encumbered with what, if and how.
Camila was a bombshell in her own right. Like Meg, she was bodacious and comfortable with her own sexuality. Did she have any idea Meg was trying to hook her and him up in a lasting relationship?
Lasting didn't appear to be high on Camila's agenda. She was probably only twenty-two or twenty-three. She had plenty of time--more time than Meg. He might share a lot of common interests with Camila but the number one interest they shared was Meg. Camila seemed to have a sense of humor and adapted well to surprise.
He smirked at his image in the mirror. Maybe she could be a helpful ally in his plan for snaring Meg. She did seem to be onto Meg's trickery and if he was right Camila Vasquez might enjoy an opportunity to return the favor to her landlord.
He'd bide his time. Only a few cards had been played. Meg would have many more. His immediate goal was to stay in the game until it was time to play the trump card. That was his. And no one else knew which card he'd decided was the trump card.
Camila peeked out the shower door and grinned broadly. She hadn't expected the playwright to hang around and hold a towel for her. Stepping out of the shower she grabbed a towel and began drying her hair.
Humming to herself, she looked forward to the opening of his play. Opening and closing nights were the best. She hadn't gone out of her way to stroke his ego. She really did like his play and agreed that her small part was crucial to the play's resolution. While she had another small role in Hamlet and several parts in three Green Show acts, Isadora was her favorite. She loved how Josh Hendricks had layered her role so it evolved across the two acts.
She didn't doubt she could learn much about play writing from him. As soon as Meg had told her she knew Hendricks, she'd perked up. His work had gripped her more than most of the works of young playwrights. He had a good sense for tragedy as well as comedy.
Camila toweled her breasts and thought about his look of appreciation when she'd dropped the towel. She'd probably been equally impressed with his cock when he first reacted to her scream. She'd pulled that little deception off quite nicely--but then she was an actress. His presence had not startled her nearly as much as she let on. Meg's gleaming eyes when she'd told her to meet her in the shower betrayed her. While she hadn't expected to find Josh in the bathroom, his presence certainly explained Meg's humor.
She smacked her lips and pouted at her image in the mirror. Her nipples puckered. Yes, she'd like to get to know Josh Hendricks much better. She looked forward to picking his brain and planting wet kisses on his cock. But if Meg had any thoughts of hooking her and Hendricks up permanently, she was going to be very disappointed. She was aware of Meg's penchant for matchmaking. She'd witnessed some of it in Vegas when they first met nearly two years ago. No way. She had a life to live. And that didn't include Josh Hendricks beyond the summer. And it certainly didn't include Philip, either.
She'd already made it clear to Meg that she had no long-run interest in Philip. Camila smirked as she applied lipstick. So was Josh supposed to be a substitute for Philip? Meg hadn't realized Josh would be coming to Utah at all, but now that he was here Camila could hear her mentor's wheels turning. She probably envisioned them writing plays together and making babies.
Camila chuckled and shook her head. This time Meg had met her match. She had no idea what Josh expected or wanted, but she intended on making clear to him soon, very soon, that she'd enjoy kibitzing with him about the arts and fucking him with the zeal she fucked any man or woman, but she was definitely not looking for a husband or even for a live-in partner.
That discussion would have to wait. She wrapped a towel around her torso and stepped out into the hall. First she had to help mount his play for opening night. She shivered. Then she'd contemplate how best to mount Josh Hendricks.