As Neighborly Affection: Finding Their Balance opens, Henry is preparing Alice and Jay for a new torment…
Alice abandoned work at noon Wednesday for tea at a fetish club. Her coworkers wished her luck at the dentist’s office.
When she arrived home, Henry stood surveying a freshly showered Jay seated on the end of the bed. Dark hair damp, body nude, he enticed more than the promise of a dainty meal.
Hip hugging the doorframe, she fiddled with her blouse’s top button. “Are we stripping down and skipping tea?”
Henry beckoned. Obedience earned her a commanding kiss and flushed her with heat.
Jay’s eager whimper swirled around them.
“Don’t tempt me.” Caressing her throat, Henry slipped her first button free. “But do remove your clothes. The lovely summer dress is yours.”
The dress hung over the closet door. Deep cream with green spiraling up the left side. Ivy? Knee-length, sleeveless, a slight A-line drape with a high neckline. Modest. Dark brown pants and a cream-colored shirt bracketed Jay on the bed. If his outfit included a tie, five bucks said he’d match her green ivy.
“Hey, stud.” Working her blouse open, she bent and kissed Jay’s cheek. “You leaving room in the waistline for all the tea-party snacks we’ll be eating?”
“Fancy little cakes?” With a sly grin, Jay coaxed out her giggle.
“Absolutely.” She shrugged off her top. “Do little cakes come in other kinds?”
Loosing a mocking growl, Henry tossed boxers into Jay’s lap. “Behave, my dears, or you’ll not eat any treats at tea.”
Sock-footed, Jay stood and flowed into the shorts. Pants next, open and clinging to his hips while he swung the shirt around and slipped his arms in. God, fucking with that hasty, half-dressed thrill—
“Distracted?” Clasping her waist, Henry jolted her from open appreciation. “You’ve forgotten to undress.” Fingers dangerous and nimble, he unhooked the hidden fastener and lowered the zipper. “Or perhaps you wanted me to take charge of you?” Pushed past her hips, her pants slumped to the floor.
Jay fumbled with his shirt buttons.
Henry traced the top of her panties. “Alas, you’ve worn underthings light enough for your dress, and we haven’t time to indulge without reason.”
Reason enough to never again wear a pale peach bra and panty set. If she’d worn the black ones, he’d be stripping them off her now.
Henry brought her the dress, unzipped the back, and helped her step in. As he lifted her hair from her shoulders, a few wheat-blond strands escaped.
Jay waited, tie in hand. Matching green. Called it.
“I’ve sandals for you beside the bed, Alice.” Henry kissed her neck and patted her back before turning to Jay. “Formal for afternoon tea, I know, my boy.”
He flipped up Jay’s collar and looped the tie, fingers deft and sure as he formed the knot. Whatever Jay knew, she lacked a framework for what constituted formal enough—or too formal—for afternoon tea.
“Better overdressed than underdressed.” Henry straightened the tie. Kissing Jay, he displayed more than a little possessiveness. Not for her benefit, but for Jay’s. He deserved a calming reminder that every inch of him belonged to Henry. Tension melted from his lanky frame as he allowed Henry control. “And seeing you so attired pleases me.”
Their desire tugged as a steady warmth in her chest rather than a thumping beat between her thighs. She ducked, hiding her smile as she closed the clasps on her sandals.
Henry herded them to the car. Ordering Jay to the front, he handed her into the back. The positioning suggested a deliberate attempt to prevent Jay from dwelling on the night they’d come home in tears. Being at the club without Henry, even not for play, would give him fidgets. Henry trusted her to take good care of Jay. Fuck up, and she’d burn in the self-ignited fires of coulda-shoulda hell.
After pulling the car into traffic, Henry settled his free hand on Jay’s knee and stayed. “I’d like this afternoon to be an enjoyable experience for you both.” The rearview mirror granted him authority over her, too, with his flickering gaze. “Mingling with other submissives outside of a dominant’s influence will be an excellent opportunity to bond over shared hopes and attain deeper understanding.”
She signaled her attention with a sharp nod. As if she’d ever ignored his advice or instructions. She’d listened Friday night, despite how he’d halted her lesson in anal play short of penetration and refused to blame her for her inability to relax. Failure stung hotter in the bright light of his generosity.
“Not all of them will be like you, nor will all of their relationships be like yours with me.” Henry kneaded Jay’s thigh and patted his knee. The constant comfort might seep inside and bolster his courage. “But you are likely to find commonalities, and those will be lovely places to start. So long as you make an effort to be social, I will be very proud.” Pausing in stopped traffic to allow a car to pull out from a side street, he captured her gaze. “If you have difficulty, look to Emma for guidance.”
Troublesome enough to reconcile Emma as Henry’s friend—one who held uncountable secrets she’d never learn. No fucking way would she be bound to obey someone else outside Henry’s presence. “Is she in charge of us?”