Secrets and Leather Chapter 1

Secrets & Leather by Jamie Merrick - MMF Romance Polyamorous LGBTQIA Ebook Cover
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When your best friends are famous, life can sometimes suck.

Joel’s always done his best to keep his life, and his needs, under the radar. Unfortunately, when the people he’s closest to are famous—maybe slightly infamous is a better description—maintaining his privacy is just a little difficult. Joel loves them like family, but his worst nightmare is everyone on the planet finding out he’s a pup.

When your new friends are famous, sometimes life gets interesting.

Travis and Caitlin have been searching for their third since their first date. Unfortunately, living in rural Montana has made that more difficult than they’d expected. Just when they thought the occasional bad date was all they were going to find, life takes an interesting turn and a sweet man with secrets takes refuge at their ranch.
Maybe things are finally looking up?

From the Author: This loving MMF romance has mild BDSM, a pup with a thing for leather, a curious woman, and an openminded rancher. This is designed to be read after book one in the series.


Chapter 1

“You made us wait for hours, asshole. Way to make an entrance.” Rory’s excited voice boomed over the yard. He flew out of the big farmhouse where it seemed like I would be staying while his love life was the talk of the entertainment news.

For someone who’d been recently shot at, had his house nearly burned down, and had photographers break into the house in Hawaii where he’d been trying to quietly hide out, he looked remarkably chipper.

Clearly the memes were right… being in Hollywood melted people’s brains.

But since Rory’s good mood seemed to be because he and his wife Abby had fallen in love with their bodyguard, I wasn’t going to bring up the negative aspects of his Hollywood life. Well, not until he started driving me crazy. Then all bets were off.

Especially since the press had decided that as their best friend, I must be their secret love slave.

The rumors were getting to be ridiculous.

Rory was going so fast he nearly landed on his ass as he sailed off the porch, but he caught himself and kept going before I’d even managed to get one foot out of the truck.

Logan, the gruff man who’d picked me up from the airport, seemed to be trying not to laugh as questions burst out of Rory. “How was your flight? Were you followed? How many reporters were there this morning? What do you think they’re going to do when they realize it’s Braxton?”

Hopefully they’d finally leave me alone, but he kept going before I could get the words out.

“Did you bring your stuff? What about your work?” He would’ve kept going, but Abby and a man I could only assume was Braxton came down off the porch and slowed his rush of questions.

“Isn’t he so commanding? He’s so sweet too.” Rory beamed as they got closer. “He’s sexy and he likes my stuff.”

I nearly swallowed my tongue as he tugged me out of the truck. “He’ll like yours too, but I won’t pester you to talk about it yet.”


Good grief, why would I have to talk about it at all?

Just because everything the loving attention-whore was thinking jumped out of his mouth didn’t mean I had to share.

Before I could figure out a way to ask what he was thinking that wouldn’t have my driver giggling even louder than he already was, the man I was assuming was their new third held out his hand. “Hi, I’m Braxton.”

I had managed to look almost functional when I caught sight of a couple that had walked out onto the porch. Braxton might have been conventionally attractive, but they were something else entirely. There was just something almost magnetizing about her teasing smile and the man’s gruff smirk that had me wondering what they were thinking.

He looked like a sexy cowboy in a romance that had jumped off the page and come wandering out of the house just for me.

Cowboys weren’t supposed to look this hot in person, only in porn and dirty books.

But clearly no one had told him that.

Braxton’s grin pulled me back into the moment, and I managed to respond. “Joel. Thanks for helping me figure things out. The last time their press went sideways, I ended up stuck in my apartment for a week.”

Every time those two made news, the press ended up coming after me.

Abby said it was because I looked cute on television, but I thought the press were just desperate because those two didn’t have nearly enough friends. Since I was the only one they could find, I got blamed for everything from trying to break up their marriage on down.

Rory shrugged. “That was not my fault. I’m just a good headline.”

And I hated dealing with the vultures, which only made the situation worse.

Of course, Rory timed his response perfectly so that he had everyone’s attention and even the woman from the porch laughed happily. He knew how to play to an audience. It was one of the things that made him a natural actor.

Braxton quickly introduced the couple from the porch as Caitlin and Travis. I managed to look reasonable as I shook Caitlin’s hand, but there was definitely a spark of something as Travis wrapped his hand around mine.

As the introductions wound down, Braxton took control of the conversation before Rory could say something ridiculous. He had an absurd notion that with enough teasing I’d finally “come out of my shell,” as he always put it. Thankfully, Braxton seemed to have a knack for naturally managing him.

It was nice to see that Abby wasn’t the only person who could wrangle Rory.

Braxton smiled like he was trying to put me at ease, which made me wonder how nervous I looked. “It’ll be quiet out here. The running joke is that the ranch doesn’t show up on GPS, so you’ll be fine.”

Rory seemed to think that wasn’t an exciting enough description. He grabbed my hand and started to tug. “But it’s so cool. Come on. You’ve got to see their animals.”
He seemed to genuinely enjoy them. That childlike glee couldn’t be easily faked, but as soon as we were out of earshot, he dropped his voice low. “Isn’t he so sexy and sweet? And god, all his friends are so fucking hot.”

Then the attention-whore giggled. “I saw the way you looked at them.”

Before I could even begin to tell him to stop teasing me, he gave me a conspiratorial grin. “The best part is that they’re looking for a third and Travis is bi. So, like a real third.”
That made me chuckle. “I’m pretty sure even if he didn’t want to do stuff with their third, it would still be real.”

Rory scoffed. “No. Just no. That’s just wrong.”

He shook his head like the idea was incomprehensible. Then he squeezed my hand, giving me what seemed to be an encouraging smile. “But we don’t have to worry about that because he’s not straight. Now we have to figure out how to get them to notice you.”

Nearly going headfirst into the fence as I tripped over at his words, I glared at the grinning lunatic. Before everyone else could catch up, I did my best to look stern. “Absolutely not. Don’t even think about it. I’m only here because somehow the idiots think I’m your third. This is not some kind of hookup vacation.”

The last time he’d tried that, I’d almost ended up at a kink resort without realizing it. Thankfully Abby had talked him out of that idea, but I wasn’t sure this would work out any better.

Rory just gave me a smile that said he wasn’t listening at all and reached up to pat my head. “That’s why I have to make it up to you. This is kind of my fault, so I’m going to make sure you have fun.”

Tugging me farther down the fence so we could pretend to be looking at the animals, he whispered one last time. “Now try to smile and look cute. I think they’d like that.”

If I killed him, would someone help me hide his body?

Before I could figure that out, he turned a beaming, oh-so-innocent smile toward Abby, Caitlin, and Travis. “Come help me show Joel your big fluffy cows.”

Good grief, he was laying it on thick.

He was lucky he was so cute.


“Are you sure you’re okay with staying here?” Abby looped her arm through mine as we slowly headed back toward the house.

The lecture on the animals had been interesting, but I was beyond exhausted and she seemed to understand that. “We can find a resort or someplace quiet for you to vacation for a few days until we steer this insanity back toward us. I’m sorry about all this.”

I appreciated the way she approached her apology more than Rory’s I’ll make this fun tactic, but neither were necessary. “I kind of volunteered for this, so stop apologizing.”

From the first moment when Rory started to get famous, they’d been honest about the drawbacks. But we’d been friends forever, and I wasn’t going to let nosy reporters chase me away from the only real friends I had.

“No. As long as I’m not in the way, I’d rather stay here. This is much more relaxing than staying at a resort.” Being surrounded by strangers while I tried to keep myself entertained would be painful. “The scenery is pretty and I can work from anywhere.”

Chuckling, Abby nudged me. “Which scenery?”

She grinned and nodded toward my hosts, who were thankfully a bit ahead of us.

I groaned. “You’re just as bad as your attention-whore.”

Rory grinned and nodded, which had Abby laughing. He was trying to behave himself, probably because he was anticipating the dirty parts of the rest of his evening and he didn’t want to lose the chance of an orgasm.

Abby hugged me against her again. “I want you to be happy, and if part of that is pushing you to meet people, I won’t apologize.”

She also wouldn’t apologize because she always thought she was right.

It was one of the struggles of having a Dominant as a best friend… not that the attention-whore’s meddling was any better. “Wanting me happy implies I’m unhappy. I’m fine.”

Just because my dating adventures hadn’t gone as planned and my apartment was under siege didn’t make me unhappy.

Abby snorted, a completely unladylike sound that had Rory nearly doubled over with laughter. Somebody clearly needed more sleep, so I just rolled my eyes. “I don’t need fixing. I just need you two to stop making international news because of your sex life.”

That did not help Rory’s ability to behave, but as we got back over to the house, he’d mostly gotten a hold of himself. Braxton seemed to be searching our faces to make sure we were okay, but he quickly relaxed and smiled.

I liked being included, but his behavior said I’d gotten another Dom to worry over me.

“You guys ready to head back to the cabin? I know Joel just got here, but it’s late.” Braxton’s gaze shifted to me, giving me another searching look. “You’re more than welcome with us, but honestly there’s no privacy and this will be much more comfortable.”

Caitlin and Travis nodded, grinning as Rory giggled. “He’s not kidding about the privacy part, and I have dirty plans you don’t need to witness.”

That made me want to laugh and call the exhibitionist’s bluff, but I behaved myself as I turned back to Braxton and his friends. “No, this is wonderful. I really appreciate it.”

Looking around, I soaked up the quiet darkness. “This is peaceful.”

Caitlin chuckled, giving me a grin. “And no photographers.”

Returning her smile and trying not to gawk at how pretty she was, I nodded. “The best part. Thank you.”

But there were other things I appreciated too.

No cars honking.

No neighbors screaming.

This place had a quiet I hadn’t felt in years.

But Rory was more interested in appreciating their privacy because he grinned and clasped his hands together. “Well, it’s probably time to get you settled in. I know you have to be tired, so we’ll let you get some sleep.”

He was so horny he’d lost all acting ability.

If over the years I hadn’t seen how good of an actor he could be, I never would’ve believed the goofy flirt in front of me could be an up-and-coming leading man in Hollywood.

Bouncing close again, he wrapped his arms around me and gave me a tight hug. Whispering low, he was nearly giggling. “Check out the family photos inside and don’t be afraid to loosen up a bit. I think they’d understand more than you’re imagining.”

With those teasing, slightly cryptic words, which were designed to drive me nuts, Rory pulled away. “Have a good night.”

I got a wink from him before he turned and bounced toward Braxton. Thankfully Abby was the only one who saw it, but she just grinned, obviously on his side.

When they were finally heading back to their cabin after another round of hugs and promises to see me in the morning, I turned back to my new hosts, who were still just as sexy as they had been the first time I’d seen them.

Weren’t people supposed to look more average once you got to know them?

Pushing the random sleep-deprived musings out of my head, I smiled and tried to look professional. “I appreciate your hospitality. I’m going to do my best to get out of your hair as quickly as possible.”

I just needed a bit of time to make a good game plan.

One that included a new apartment where it wouldn’t be so easy to find me.

I’d stayed where I was because I thought it would be easier, but I needed to find someplace to sublet where my name wouldn’t be on the lease.

Especially once their threesome made the news.

I could just see the headline… Jilted Lover in Depression as Hollywood Couple Moves On.

I was being polite and honest, but Caitlin scoffed. “Nonsense. This is the most company we’ve had in ages. Don’t worry at all.”

Her determined grin made me smile.

Rory got one very similar when he decided I needed to be taken care of, and her tone definitely matched. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you want.”

She’d made up her mind, which wasn’t surprising based on how nice Rory had said she was. But I wasn’t sure how Travis felt. He was wearing a relaxed, pleasant expression, but it didn’t tell me much.

When he saw my focus shift to him, he gestured toward the house. “Come on. Let’s get you settled. You look exhausted.”

His honesty made me chuckle. “It’s been a long day. My phone started ringing at an ungodly hour.”

Needing to have a listed phone number was one of the worst things about being self-employed. But the freedom it gave me made it all worth it most of the time.

They both winced as they headed toward the house, making sure I followed. As I walked inside with them, Caitlin stopped in the kitchen and squeezed my shoulder. It was an innocent touch, and I knew she didn’t mean anything by it, but the firm grip had me wanting to curl up and be petted.

It was all the stress finally catching up with me, but I could feel my sub side rising to the surface as she tried to comfort me. “You’re going to feel much better after a good night’s sleep.”
Hoping she was right, I nodded. “It’s just been a bit stressful.”

They both gave dry chuckles like they knew what an understatement that must be but didn’t press for details.

“I know you said you ate earlier, but how about we get you a snack before you head to bed?” Before I could find a way to politely decline so she didn’t have to go out of her way, she was steering me over to the table.

“Why don’t you sit down. Rory said you liked cheesecake, but after I made it earlier, I realized he might have been… encouraging me to make something he wanted instead.” She looked a bit sheepish, making me chuckle.

“He just gives you that smile and you end up doing whatever he wants. But this time he was telling the truth. Thank you.” It really was my favorite dessert.

She looked relieved that I understood, but Travis just laughed. “You two have to stop giving that little flirt everything he wants.”

I felt my cheeks heating up, but Caitlin scoffed and rolled her eyes. “So says the man who took him out twice to pet the horses this afternoon just because Rory’s cute when he flirts and talks about ‘petting the ponies.’”

Travis gave us both a wicked grin and winked at me. As butterflies scattered in me, starting to whirl, he shrugged. “What can I say. I’m a sucker for a cute sub.”

Walking over, he gave Caitlin a quick kiss. “Which you should be grateful for, cheeky girl.”

She giggled as he stepped back, not seeming to mind their audience. I could almost feel Rory’s hand in it.

As Travis walked down the hall, he called back. “I’m going to make sure the bathroom down here has clean towels while you guys get a snack.”

Caitlin was still grinning as he walked out of sight. “Doesn’t he want some?”

It was a weak change of topic, but I wasn’t sure what to say. It felt like being left on our own had been a very deliberate decision on Travis’s part.

She shook her head, not finding his decision to leave odd. “Rory already talked him into two slices at dinner so that it would be harder for Abby to say no.”

She giggled as she walked over to the fridge and pulled out the dessert. “That is one sub who has his Doms wrapped around his little finger.”

Well, that answered a few questions. “Rory seems to have opened up to you guys.”

Caitlin shrugged as she moved around the kitchen, getting the beautiful homemade cheesecake ready for us. “A bit here and there.”

She glanced over at me and gave me an understanding smile. “Nothing he shouldn’t have and nothing about your personal life, but earlier he hinted that Travis and I didn’t need to be too careful around you.’’

The slightly vague remark had me glancing around the room as she cut two generous slices, but I was too far away from the photos on the far wall to guess at what Rory had been hinting about. Wanting to settle any worries, I nodded as she brought our dessert to the table. “I’m open-minded and I can mind my own business, unlike one famous attention-whore we both know.”

That had her laughing again as she brought forks and two glasses of water to the table. “We don’t mind well-meaning questions. We’ve gotten used to it.” She seemed to think I knew what she was talking about, but it wasn’t the right moment to explain how in the dark I was. “Eat up. A giggling little birdie said I should wait to eat with you.’’

Rolling my eyes, I huffed as she grinned wider. “He’s a menace.”

What had he told them about me?

“But he has good intentions and wonderful ideas.” Refusing to admit that she might have a point, I took a bite and moaned as the rich flavors hit my tongue. Giggling, Caitlin took a bite too, clearly pleased with the food and my reaction.

Her smile and the twinkle in her eyes said she was going to be just as much trouble as Rory… but not nearly as easy to ignore.

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