Toy Story--Out now from Ellora's Cave Romantica™ Publishing
Grace reviews sex toys for a living — arguably the best job in town. Ben is her college sweetheart, all grown up and fine enough to convince any girl to leave the vibrator in the drawer. Ten years after their passionate relationship ended, they're finally back to being friends. But the spark is still there, and they both wonder — what if? So when Grace gets a new assignment — turn her column for single gals into a column for couples — Ben oh-so generously offers to give her a hand with the research.
And the hottest job ever just got a lot hotter.
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I was talking to some girlfriends about sex toys one day, and one of the crazy girls I hang out with said that her dream job would that of Sex Toy Reviewer (I think we might have been drinking at the time). That sounded like a fine idea to the rest of us, but it was mentioned that unless one got to test the toys with someone, it would get sort of lonely. And A Toy Story was born.
I set this one in Chicago, my third story set in the Windy City. I really love that city, but the funny thing is I only know how to get where I’m going if I’m walking. I used to vacation there in the summer with some friends who owned a sailboat – we’d sail down from Michigan – so we never had a car. And since we were always vacationing on a budget, we always walked. I can’t tell you what highways run through Chicago or how to get anywhere by car, but from North Beach or the marina I can make my way just about anywhere.
It was the sensation of her toes being licked that shook Grace out of postcoital lethargy. She opened her eyes slowly, blinking for a moment in confusion until she realized she was looking at Ben’s left nipple. She frowned—if she was lying on his chest, he couldn’t be licking her toes, so who…?
“Agh!” She was up like a shot, scrambling as far up the bed as she could until she was practically molded to the headboard.
“What, what’s wrong?” Ben had sat straight up when she moved and was looking at her as if she’d lost her mind. She pointed at the foot of the bed where Lou was resting his face against the mattress, looking pitiful and unloved. “He was licking my toes!”
Ben grinned at her. “He likes you.”
“I don’t care, he can’t lick my toes!”
He was laughing now as he grabbed hold of her ankle and dragged her back down into his arms. “Why not? It’s not like you’re going to eat with your feet.”
She frowned as she snuggled back into his chest, keeping a wary eye on Lou and her feet tucked close to Ben’s legs. “It’s creepy, is all.”
She shrugged then said sheepishly, “Because I kind of liked it.”
Ben roared with laughter, dodging her as she poked and pinched him in retaliation.
“Not funny,” she said, digging into his ribs.
“Really, really funny,” he disagreed, and in self-defense pinned her to the mattress.
“So?” She yanked at her arms but he held her fast. “So what?” “So, how about it?” He looked at her expectantly. “Are you going to take me up on my offer?”
“Oh.” She frowned. She hadn’t been thinking about that at all, which was a little worrisome. “Are you sure you want to do this, Ben?”
“Absolutely,” he assured her.
She searched his eyes, looking for any hint of insecurity or hesitation, but they stayed clear and unblinking. “If you’re sure…”
He rolled his eyes. “What, do you want me to sing it? You’re making this too complicated. Which doesn’t surprise me, that’s what you do. But, yes, I’m sure. It was my idea, wasn’t it?”
“Okay. Then we’ll do it.”
He grinned. “Great. You won’t regret it.”
“Well, I don’t think we should jump off that bridge yet, but you got yourself a deal at least. Wanna shake on it?”
The grin widened and he shook his head. She raised an eyebrow. “Kiss on it?”
“For a start.”
She grinned back. “Get rid of the dog first.”