Strength of Desire

(Desire, Oklahoma 16)

Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Ménage a Trois, Romantic Suspense, MFM, HEA

Ava Vance moved to Desire, Oklahoma to start working at the new diner. She loved the sense of community and hoped to become a part of it. She’d forgotten what it felt like to belong. Love wasn’t in her future, but she’d made her peace with it.

But she couldn’t deny her attraction to John Dalton and Michael Keegan, the owners of the bar in town. Their need to share was one thing, but expecting her to submit was another.

She couldn’t lose control. Before she could begin an affair with them, the nightmares began, plaguing her sleep and soon she thought she was losing her mind.

Worried about the change in Ava, John and Michael took charge, furious when they learned that someone was stalking her. And when they learned why, and just how much danger it meant for her, they stayed close.

Close enough to know they wanted her forever.


Michael folded one of the paper bags and set it on the counter before reaching for the other. “Would you like to come to the bar tonight and have a drink? Maybe some ribs?”

“No. Thank you. Tonight I plan to take a long shower and curl up with a book. I’m dead on my feet.”

John inclined his head. “Fair enough. How about tomorrow night? There’s a nice Italian restaurant in Tulsa that everyone loves.”

Tempted, Ava finished the last of the lettuce and turned to lean back against the sink. “Don’t you have to work?”
John shrugged. “Just to close. We hired more people so we can take time off when we want to.”

“Like when you go to the men’s club and bid on women?”

Michael met John’s glare with a grin. “That’s in the past.”

John shook his head, his frown deepening. “What the hell do you know about the men’s club?”

Ava went to the refrigerator and retrieved a filtered pitcher of water. “You do know that the women in this town talk, don’t you?”

John gave a disgruntled sigh. “Gossip, you mean. Look, we have no intention of attacking you. Just dinner.”

Michael leaned close, sliding a hand down her back. “I might even try to sneak a kiss. Nothing more.”

After reaching up for glasses, Ava lowered her arms again, the awareness in her beaded nipples sharp. “I don’t know if dating you is a good idea.”

John moved to stand behind her. Closing his hands over her upper arms, he bent to kiss the top of her head. “I hate that we scare you.”

“So do I.” Bowing her head, she poured herself a half-glass of water and gulped it down. She turned and made her way to the other side of the kitchen, both hands closed around the glass. “Being personal goes against the grain, and I’m trusting you to keep this to yourself.”

John took a step closer, stopping abruptly with another frown when she took a step back. “Of course. What happens between us stays between us.”

Lifting her chin, she took a steadying breath. “I’m a virgin. I think it’s only fair for you to know that. I can’t play the kind of games you play. I can’t take sex lightly or do it for fun. I’m just not made that way.”

John slowly closed the distance between them, watching her closely as one might do when approaching an injured animal, and took her hand gently in his. “Thank you for telling us. Your secret is safe with us.”

Lifting his head, he smiled, a tender smile that made her stomach flip. “And now I want you more than before, but I promise you, we won’t take anything that you don’t want to give.”

Looking up into his dark eyes, Ava smiled at the tenderness she found there. “I believe that you mean that.”

John ran the back of a finger down her cheek. “Trust needs to be earned and built up over time. I can’t do that making promises I can’t keep or lying to you.”

Ava bit back a moan at the desire in his eyes and the warm tenderness in his light touch. “Then I’ll be honest with you. I feel things when I’m with you and Michael.”

Michael grinned and moved closer. “Things? What kind of things?”

Ava pushed past them to move back to the counter and refilled her glass from the pitcher. “Telling you that would give you ammunition to use against me. Why would I do that?”

Michael’s smile fell. “Ammunition? This isn’t a war, darlin’.”

Ava shrugged, fearing she’d given away too much. “I’m afraid that you could make me want to do things that I’d regret later.”

Chuckling, John closed the distance between them, a finger beneath her chin lifting it again, allowing him to look into her eyes. “I promise that I’ll bring you home with your virginity intact. No matter how much you beg, neither one of us are gonna take you.”

Giggling at his outlandish promise, Ava set her glass aside. “And none of my clothes come off.”

“No.” John smiled and braced a hand on the countertop on either side of her. “And neither one of us is gonna let you take our clothes off, either. I will, however, let you kiss me.”

Ava glanced at Michael, who watched them steadily, his eyes dark and slightly narrowed. “And you?”

Michael’s lips twitched, but his gaze remained steady. “I’ll agree to whatever it takes to get to know you better. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to touch you.”

He glanced at her breasts, increasing the awareness there and beading her nipples even tighter. “ I might ask to, but you can always say no. Is that negotiable?”

Moving closer, he took her hand in his and lifted it, pressing it against his chest. “And you can touch me all you want to.”

Ava sucked in a breath, the feel of his hard, warm chest beneath her palm and the prospect of him touching her so intimately creating an excitement that made her tremble. “I think I’d like having dinner with you.”