Henry’s friend Isabel had an art opening that night. That was as safe as it could get, so East went out with both Jax and Henry. They dressed her up, argued about her underwear, and took her to the gallery, where they ran into all of Henry’s friends, other than Audie. East suspected they’d told him she would be there, especially since his boyfriend Calhoun had turned up. He carefully told her that Audie said hello, and she asked him to convey the same to him. She wanted to see him. But they’d both break down. How do you see someone you shared such a hellish childhood with?
But all Henry’s friends knew about the three of them. They didn’t have to fake it. So while Henry wandered around and said hello, Jax kept his arm around her waist and showed her the pictures. They didn’t look at the pictures. They delighted in touching each other in public: in East stroking the slight stubble on his cheek, in their hands locked together where he held her. His lips brushed her ear.
“I want to whisper things that’ll make you soak that black lace I picked out, but I’m so grateful I can whisper in your ear in public I don’t want you to run away, East.”
She laughed and dared to kiss him on the cheek. “That might be the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me, Littleton.”
He gave her that heart-meltingly crooked grin and fucked up his already fucked-up spiky blond hair. “Don’t get used to it, Bennett.”
When they wandered near Henry again, he threw Jax a look as he untangled them. “You’re monopolizing Easter.” But he kissed Jax — on the mouth — in front of God and everyone.
Henry’s twin Wills, the same linebacker build, dark hair, and dark eyes, the same pouty mouth, rolled his eyes.
“Oh, like you and Crispin don’t make out like, constantly.” Henry gestured at the curly haired guy with his arm around his twin’s waist.
“Shut the fuck up, brother.”
“Shut the fuck up, brother,” Henry mimicked. East turned away and laughed.
They went out to the bar afterwards, Hullpeter’s, dark but raucous and lit with multicolored Christmas lights. This time Easter sat on Jax’s lap. He fed her shots and kissed her on the mouth afterwards. Henry’s twink friend, Barbie-blond Quinn, and Quinn’s cousin Delia shot her looks.
East finally cornered them. “Hey, Quinn, you have two boyfriends, right?”
“Imagine that everywhere you go, you have to pretend one of them is your other boyfriend’s best friend. You can’t touch him, you can’t look at him, you can’t do anything. And all of a sudden you can act like he’s your boyfriend. You’re safe. You get one night. So give it to us, okay?”
They were both quiet. Delia finally spoke. “I didn’t think of it that way.”
“Just let us have it.”
They both nodded.
“God, you two are such idiots.” Their other cousin Baylor appeared, almost identical to Delia: the same long blond hair, the same snub nose and sharp chin. Baylor kissed East on the cheek. “Y’all just don’t get it. Jax, kiss her like you fucking mean it, son.”
Jax grinned and bent East backwards. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he kissed her like the end of the goddamn world: mouth hard on hers, tongue skimming over her lip. She grabbed the back of his neck and tried to meet his tongue, but he nipped her lip, then sucked the bitten place — exactly how she liked best. When he finally let her up, he held her close. Probably to hide his hard-on.
“Was that good enough?” He threw her that same goddamn grin.
“I aim to please.”
East spent the rest of the night pressed against his leanly muscled frame, his blue eyes piercing even in the dark bar.
He’d been well-behaved all night and finally his self-control must have broken. He leaned down, brushed her curl out of the way, and kissed her ear. “I want you now.”
“Then go tell Henry we’re leaving.”
He grabbed her hand and dragged her over to their boyfriend, who was talking to his twin’s boyfriend Crispin. “We’re leaving. With or without you, honey.”
Henry smirked at Crispin. “That’s my cue.”
Crispin rolled his eyes. “Later.”
Jax unlocked the door to the apartment. Henry picked East up, and despite her squeals, and carried her up the metal stairs to the bedroom, where he dropped her on the California king and started on her boots. “You,” he said, “are getting naked for us. Then we’re gonna absolutely ravage you. Don’t say a word. Do not contradict me, sweet girl.”
“Nah.” Jax shoved Henry down on the bed. Henry wasn’t braced for it and tumbled down next to East. “Maybe we’ll do you tonight. Maybe I’ll fuck you while you lick baby girl and she and I make out. That sounds good to me. If you’re a good boy she’ll jack you off.”
“You know, that was counterproductive. I was getting East naked.”
“Maybe I wanna do that.” Jax hung up his jacket. Henry had already tossed his on the chair. Jax made a face and hung it up, too. “Stand up, pretty girl.”
“No. Henry was doing fine.”
Jax dropped his voice. “I said stand up, pretty girl.”
East got up off the bed and stood in front of Jax. He tugged one of her curls. “Love this red hair,” he murmured, almost to himself. “Strip for me, pretty.”
East dropped her dress and undid her boots. “Yeah, that’s it, honey. You know what I want. No, leave those stockings on, please, and the bra. You think I pick out that shit for functionality?”
“You gonna get your ass over here, or enjoy the free show?”
“I’m getting there.” Henry was down to his boxers.
East yanked Jax over by his waistband and started on his shirt. “You behave.” His breath was hot in her ear. “Or I’ll make you wish you did.”
She gave him her sweetest smile. “And Henry will make sure it doesn’t matter.” She deftly worked his belt. “Do your own goddamn Doc Martens.”
“No, brat, you get down —”
East sprang onto the bed and hid behind Henry, who laughed, a deep rumble, and kissed her head.
“Well, that’s just not fucking fair.”
“Come get me.” East flopped bac k on the bed. “Okay. I got pretty for you. Do what you want.”
Henry snuggled up to her. His mouth found hers, and they kissed gently, his arms around her, her arms twined around him. Jax snuggled up behind her. He had picked her underwear, and he’d chosen a pair with long criss-crossing ribbon across the middle of the back. Probably so he could do what he did then: slip the ribbon up and slide his cock inside it, resting it flat against her ass. One of his arms slid under her head, next to Henry’s, the other reached down between them. He stroked her for a moment; he turned his wrist and gripped Henry. As Jax played up and down him, his knuckles dragged against East; she whimpered into Henry’s mouth and rocked her hips between them and Jax’s thrusting cock.
“Suck Henry for me, sweetheart.” Jax’s breath was hot in her ear. “And move.”
East slid out from between him and Henry; Henry turned to her. He gasped; Jax must’ve started getting him ready. “Do you want me to suck you or kiss you?” East pressed against him. “I can do either one.”
“Kiss me while I touch you. I won’t last if you suck me through this.”
His hand dipped down between her legs. “Oh, you got these panties wet, honey.” One finger pushed the fabric inside her a little, and she sucked in a breath. “That’s it, baby. I want your thighs soaked.” He kissed East harder, his tongue playing with hers, as he slid her underwear to the side and began stroking her. He gasped and moved on Jax, whatever he was doing, probably stretching Henry out and hitting exactly the right spot inside him. East tried to touch Henry’s cock, but he swatted her hands away. “I told you, I won’t last.”
Jax moved. “Get on your back. East, I’d recommend kneeling on top of Henry so he can lick you, because I wanna kiss you while we do this. If you’re sweet I’ll play with your tits.”
Oh God. Jax almost never took charge like this. Henry flipped over; Jax slid slowly into him, asking if he was okay, was this all right. Henry breathed through it then gasped: a good gasp. East straddled Henry’s chest so he could finger her; his thumb rested on her ass and his fingers stroked her open.
“Can I?” Jax didn’t move inside Henry. East wrapped an arm around his neck and leaned forward. Jax handed her the lube; she dribbled some on her hand, then spread it over Henry’s big, thick cock.
“Please?” Henry gasped again as East began playing with him. Oh God she was swollen and open; his finger slipped inside her. Jax rocked inside Henry; he grabbed the back of East’s neck and kissed her hard. She met the intensity of his kiss as Henry found the right spot in her pussy and circled it gently.
Henry petted her while she stroked his cock, and she arched her back in his direction as his other thumb touched her clit so, so softly. Jax held East’s back as he thrust in Henry; with his other hand, he pinched her nipple, then pulled it into a stiff peak. All while Henry stroked her, and he kissed her, sucking her bottom lip and nipping.
“Easter, if you keep that up, I’m gonna come.” Henry’s breath came ragged.
Jax broke their kiss. “That’s the point.” He hips moved faster, in shorter, more precise strokes that must be hitting the right spot inside Henry, who groaned and rolled his thumb over her clit while one finger pressed inside her and the other thumb rubbed her ass. East was going to lose it, oh God, and she kissed Jax as he thrust deep, froze, shuddered, and came hard inside Henry. He kept thrusting as he rode his climax down, and Henry went right after him, come spurting from his cock, which East carefully aimed up his chest. He yanked her back and wrapped his lips around her clit. She came almost immediately as he sucked, wave after wave of pleasure only intensified by the finger pressing inside her. She kept going, dizzy with it, an electric thing that went on and on as Henry held her there, until she cried out and he sucked more gently. East floated down, then climbed off Henry and flopped down on the bed. Jax pulled out of Henry carefully.
She pulled her soaked underwear off. “I’ll throw them in the hamper later because I can’t reach now and you’ll bitch if I drop them on the floor.” It came out all in one long, exhausted murmur. Jax laughed. Henry hadn’t moved.
“You gonna get up and clean up?” Jax threw that grin again.
“I can’t move yet.”
Jax huffed and wiped his chest down. “Don’t say I never did anything for you, Culliver.”
“Oh you did something for him, all right.” East giggled.
“Shut up, you.”
“You shut up.”
“Your pretty face with all those freckles and the pouty lips and those gorgeous blue eyes.” Jax reddened. It was so much fun to tease him about how cute he was. He always blushed.
“Cuddle with me.” Henry still sprawled on his back. “And middle.”
East pouted. “I wanted middle.”
“Too bad, sweetheart, I called it.”
East curled on Henry’s side. Jax yanked the covers up over them and laid his head on Henry’s chest. “D’you remember when we used to do this in undergrad? You were so comfortable. It was the only thing that made me feel safe, for so long.”
Henry’s chest rumbled. “I remember, Freckles.”
“I love when you call me that. The first time you did —”
“You were eighteen and all teary in my car, which was parked in the apartment lot, and I said, ‘Don’t cry on me, Freckles.’ I remember.”
East listened quietly. These little details always seem like gifts, glimpses into their life before her, when they dated in college. Then broke up. Then got back together, her in tow as Henry’s girlfriend, when Jax moved back to Savannah. “Why were you crying?” She couldn’t help it.
“Freckles was a crier back then.”
“I wasn’t really stable, Henry. Give me that at least.”
“I know. But you pulled out of it. Thank God and therapy and modern pharmaceuticals, you did the hard work of pulling out of it.” Henry’s voice got thick. “I’ll always be so proud of you for that.”
“Don’t cry.” East snuggled closer. “We’re here now, aren’t we?”
“We’re all three here.” Jax’s voice was soft. “We made it to the other side, Henry. And we got a beautiful woman in the bargain. But I still maintain you’re nicer to her than you are to me.”
“She doesn’t yell and stomp and act like a drama queen.”
“Shuttup.” Jax was quiet for bit, and East drifting off when he spoke again. “Hey. Tonight meant a lot.”
“I know.” Henry shifted.”It was good to just … be out. With each other. And everyone knew.”
“Quinn and Delia got all bitchy I was hanging on Jax but Baylor saved me.” East laughed. “I love Baylor.”
“I loved you hanging on me.” Jax’s voice was low, sad. “I want that more. I wanna hang on Henry.”
“I know, Jax.” East hated this for him.
“It hurts, y’know? Always the best friend.”
“You’re so much more.” East reached over Henry and touched him. “Who are you in bed with? Who did you come home with?”
“I love you.” Henry said it simply.
East rolled her eyes. “You’re so Han Solo. Is this the part where you get frozen in carbonite?”
“Hush, you.” Jax stroked her hand. “Go to sleep, pretty girl.”
Henry smelled like Old Spice, that good dark masculine scent. East cuddled into it. She didn’t let go of Jax. The longer they were all together, all three of them, the more she needed him. We’re supposed to fall in love with each other, she had said to him in the barn that first day.
She was already there.