Dirty Little Secret

By: Ella Sheridan


To Gina L. Maxwell, for telling me how you really felt about the original version of this book. You were correct, as always, girlie. I’m proud of you and all you have accomplished.

And to Dani Wade, for putting up with my constant neuroses, and not just because we’re family and you’ve had to put up with me from the time we were in the womb together. You are my rock: hard, uncomfortable—sorry, wait—solid, supportive. (Seriously, that’s what I meant to write!) Always pushing me to do what needs to be done, what will make me excel, not necessarily what would make things easy. A handhold when I feel like I’m slipping. Thank you for being my sister and my best friend. Words can’t express how much I love you.

Chapter One

What the heck am I doing here?

The warm summer breeze caressed Cailin’s bare—very bare—thighs. Her new black sheath dress, a “knockout” according to the teenage assistant at the mall, lingered just below the crease of her…um…rear, with no intention of going any lower. Revealing cutouts along her back, rib cage, and what little there was of the skirt were lined with silky mesh material that stretched over her curves. At twenty-eight, she wasn’t too old to wear young clothes, but she felt more and more naked with every passing minute.

Atlanta had an active twentysomething party scene, and it seemed as if every participating member had shown up for the grand opening of the latest downtown hot spot, Thrice. Nerves fluttered in her stomach and down her wobbly legs as she waited in the long line to enter the rocking new nightclub. Moving to Atlanta was a huge step for this small-town Alabama girl, but she’d made it. The transfer had been approved the same day her divorce finalized. At the time, Cailin hadn’t been sure whether to celebrate or bawl her eyes out, but she’d done enough bawling in the year it took to divorce Sean to last more than one lifetime. The past twelve months had been hell, and all she’d wanted was a chance to start over. A clean slate.

And look where it had landed her. In line. At a bar.

Here she was, a long way from the provincial town she’d grown up in, alone in a city she’d only rarely visited, surrounded by strangers, and…free. Being on her own was oddly freeing. She was learning things about herself that she’d never realized before. Good things.

And then there were the things she wished would go away, like the idea she’d woken up with this morning.

Anonymity wasn’t always a good thing. It tempted people to act in ways they normally wouldn’t, to indulge in fantasies they’d normally never consider if someone they knew was around to see—and condemn—them. Cailin had lain awake last night, staring at the darkened ceiling, alone and hungry. And not for food. Two years was a long time to go without touch, much less sex—especially when she’d spent half that time married—and she found her craving was getting harder and harder to ignore. Taking care of it herself just didn’t feel the same. She wanted human interaction, a man’s hands on her body. And this morning, she’d awakened with an idea of how to get it.

Thus the trip to Crazyville, um, Thrice.

It was risky, at least for her. Definitely unhinged. She’d been a virgin on her wedding night. She didn’t do casual sex. Or she hadn’t, but what other choice did she have? And it just so happened she had a really long, empty weekend ahead of her and a new nightclub opening not twenty minutes from her home. Best of all, nobody knew her. Nobody would be watching her “moral slipup,” as her mother would’ve called it. And nobody would talk. She could go, have a drink, maybe meet someone. Maybe go home with him. That’s what normal people did, right? At least, people who didn’t marry right out of school and who’d never in their life set foot in a bar.

What a backwoods idiot she was. She just prayed, after the amount of money she’d blown on her outfit, that the backwoods part of her was well hidden—and that this little foray into mental illness was somehow successful.

“You do realize you’re asking God for a hookup, Cailin,” she told herself, ignoring the questioning look of a cute young thing with a ring in his nose passing on his way to the end of the line. “That just proves how crazy you really are.”

The cutie did a quick twist to stare at Cailin as he went by. His gaze zeroed in on what she knew was a mostly bare back and clearly outlined butt. Her garters played peekaboo through the cutouts, extending just below her hemline to catch sheer thigh-high stockings, but the woman at the store had assured her it was utterly sexy. Cailin didn’t know about that—naughty might be a better word, but when had she ever been naughty? It was definitely past time to give herself a break from the good-girl routine. Tonight she could be anyone she wanted to be—and the woman she wanted to be was a sexy siren, ready to entice. Tilting a look over her shoulder, she gave the guy a smile, ignoring the jittery feeling in her stomach. Maybe she’d see him inside.

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