Back For Seconds is an interconnected standalone in the Weddings Ever After series. While it’s not necessary to read Second Time Around beforehand, it could be useful as Brynn and Daniel’s love/hate shenanigans feature in Kacey and Tucker’s road to happily ever after.

BACK FOR SECONDS

Exclusive Sneak Peek


Brynn—Eight Years Ago

A long suffering sigh slipped from between my lips as Daniel stared at them with unabashed hunger. “We can’t keep doing this.” With shaking hands, I hooked my hair behind my ears.

“Why not?” he asked, his gaze slowly rising to meet my eyes.

“Because you’re not my boyfriend.”

He chuckled and shook his head. “Not this again.”

I knew he thought I was being naive, but I was tired of hooking up with a guy who didn’t feel the need to take me out for dinner beforehand or call me the next morning. So what if I had old-fashioned ideas when it came to sex? I wasn’t a prude; I just wanted the person sticking his dick in me to actually love me. Was that so wrong?

And as we’d so painfully established, Daniel might be one of my best friends, but he absolutely did not love me. Then again, I wasn’t sure if he was capable of loving anyone, so I tried not to take it too personally. 

Except I did. Every. Single. Time.

“Yes, this again,” I said, reaching down to pull my cut-off jean shorts up over my thighs and ass. “I told you last time this happened that I’m not your whore.”

His lips parted in surprise and his frost-laden eyes flashed with something that looked like anger. For once, I’d managed to knock him off kilter. 

“Don’t call yourself that,” he said hotly, crossing his arms over his bare chest, his muscles bulging as he pulled in a deep breath.

It was difficult, but I forced my eyes away from that expanse of perfect skin, marred only by the faint trace of teeth marks I’d left several minutes before. Once upon a time, Daniel had been round and soft just like me. That was probably the main reason we’d become friends back in elementary school. Whereas my family was firmly middle class, his parents were among the richest in Rocky Cove. Apart from our fat cheeks, as children we hadn’t had much in common. Regardless, we had become friends, and we’d somehow managed to stay that way all through high school. 

But Daniel had started to change around the time we’d entered culinary school two years ago, and not just physically. For starters, he laughed less often, like the baby fat he’d carried around his whole life was the source of his humor, and now that he’d lost it, his ability to joke around with me had disappeared, too. He’d also become selfish lately. Well, more selfish. He’d always been a bit of a brat—used to getting everything he wanted from parents who’d rather buy him a shiny new toy than actually spend time with him—but these days he wanted more than just toys. Daniel thought the world was his for the taking … and that apparently included me now too.

The first time we’d slept together was the night of our senior prom. We’d both been virgins, and neither of us knew what we were doing, but he’d tried so hard to make it good for me, whispering tender words in my ear, asking me if I was okay, and confessing that he’d wanted to kiss me for as long as he could remember. 

Now, however? Not so much. 

These days when he showed up at my apartment, his eyes were hard and his words were unfeeling. The problem was as much as my heart hated the way things had changed, my body responded on a whole new level. When he slammed my front door shut without so much as a hello and started unbuckling his belt while telling me to get down on my knees and suck his cock, I shivered with lustful anticipation, obliging like the good girl that I was. 

And yet, for all the orgasms he gave me, afterwards I always felt dirty. I missed the boy I’d fallen in love with, and didn’t much like the man I repeatedly had hot, filthy sex with. Each and every time, I vowed it would be the last.

“Then don’t make me feel like one,” I shot back.

He sighed, his breath ruffling his soft, sandy blonde hair up and off his forehead. “We’ve been over this, Brynn. We’re friends. We like sex. Specifically, we like sex with each other. Don’t complicate things.”

“Complicate things?” I repeated, my voice rising an octave or two with indignation. “How is this not complicated?” I flopped my hand back and forth in the space between us. 

He shoved his hands into the pockets of his designer jeans and rocked back on his heels. “It doesn’t have to be is all I’m saying.”

I snorted and gave him my profile, dropping my eyes closed with a defeated sigh. When I felt the pinprick of tears gathering behind my eyelids, I twisted away even further. I didn’t want him to see me cry. Again. But what was it they said about good intentions? Oh right. The road to hell was paved with them.

A few seconds later, I pulled a deep, calming breath into my lungs and let it out on a long, slow gust. As the air left my body, I felt my resolve strengthening. I deserved better than to be someone’s late-night booty call. I deserved a man who wanted to be with me. Someone who didn’t want to use my body for sex, but refused to engage my heart for love.

I swung back around to face the boy who’d been my friend for as long as I could remember. He’d changed, but then again, so had I. Somewhere along the way I’d forgotten who I was and what I was worth. I forgot that my lady parts did not control me, and that I didn’t have to succumb to his charms just because he knew how to make me come. I had a battery operated boyfriend in my bedside drawer who could do that too, though I did miss the kissing part when I entertained myself. 

“I love you, and I want to be with you, Daniel. I know you care about me, but until you can say the same, I don’t think I can see you anymore.”

He flashed me one of his arrogant smirks, but the twitching of his right eyelid gave him away. He didn’t think I’d go through with my threat, but a small part of him was worried I might actually try this time. “Come on, Brynn. You don’t want to do this. Think about all the orgasms you won’t have if we stop.”

My body shuddered involuntarily, as if begging me to reconsider. I didn’t know what porn he’d been watching, or what sex manuals he’d read, but Daniel had learned his way around a clitoris … and then some. He’d routinely surprised me by doing things to me I hadn’t known were even possible, and if I were honest, I was going to miss the way he seemed to know my body better than I knew it myself. 

But this wasn’t about my body.

It was about my heart, and my need to protect it. 

“You’re not the only man on this earth who can give me an orgasm, you know,” I challenged. 

Daniel took a step closer and swept the back of his fingers up my arm until he reached my shoulder. He traced a lazy path to my neck and then back down again, goosebumps blooming on my skin everywhere his body touched mine. When he reached my wrist and dragged his hand away, he licked his lips and smiled knowingly. “No, but I’m the only one who ever has, aren’t I?”

I took a step back, feeling his cocky retort like a slap to the face. “I can’t believe you’d bring that up. You know how Brayden hurt me.”  

He nodded brusquely, his arrogant facade slipping momentarily, but in a flash, it was back. “And I seem to recall I was the one who made you feel better afterward. It’s what I do best, isn’t it?”

Before I could stop it from happening, my mind jerked back to the previous year when a classmate in my French pastry seminar had introduced me to her older brother. I’d been hesitant to go out with him because of how hung up I was on Daniel, but when Daniel had encouraged me to give Brayden a chance, I’d relented. On our first date a few days later, I’d been surprised to find he and I actually had a lot in common. We fell quickly into an easy, fun relationship. 

Several weeks later, Brayden took me to a fancy Italian restaurant in the North End and then back to his apartment afterward. Fifteen minutes after walking nervously through the front door, we were spread out on top of his comforter, his lithe runner’s body pinning me to the mattress as he kissed me deeply. Too deeply, in fact. Like a man who was trying excessively hard to enjoy something he was supposed to and wasn’t. With a gasp, he broke away and rolled off me. “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Stark realization settled over me. I hadn’t seen it before because I’d been too caught up in how good I felt when I was with him, but suddenly I understood the reason our relationship was so uncomplicated was because there’d never been anything sexual between us. Not one single spark to ignite the flame that simmered inside of me, waiting to combust. Without missing a beat, I pushed my dress down and scooted to the edge of the bed, running my palm over his back in what I hoped were calming, soothing circles. “It’s okay, Bray. I understand. Your secret is safe with me.”

He face swiveled back around, his thick, dark brows drawn down in confusion. “My secret?”

That one look should have clued me into the fact that I had it all wrong, but being the sweet, naive nineteen year old girl that I was, the truth still hadn’t registered. “You prefer men,” I clarified, making sure to keep my voice steady. I had a few gay friends who’d recently come out to their friends and families, so I knew how important it was to support him unconditionally. 

He sputtered and choked, and then shot off the bed and across the room. “You think I’m gay?”

“Well, um, I just assumed …”  It was only when he looked down at me with abject pity in his eyes that warning bells started clanging in my ears as I sat there with my hands folded primly in my lap.

Brayden crossed the room and dropped down into a crouch in front of me, setting his palms to my thighs. “You’re an amazing person with a terrific personality. You’re everything I could ever want in a girlfriend … except, the truth is, I’m not attracted to you. At all. And I’m sorry, but I can’t be with someone I don’t want to fuck.” Despite his harsh words, his tone was calm and soothing and face was filled with apology.

“But you brought me back here tonight,” I whimpered, my body heating with mortification, even as I clung to some small bit of hope that I’d heard him incorrectly.

He pushed to his feet and then sat down next to me, our thighs pressed against each other. “I guess a part of me hoped that if I got you back here my dick would finally sit up and take notice. It, um, didn’t.” He nudged me lightly with his shoulder, as if we were just two people sitting here having a friendly chat. “Surely you could tell I wasn’t hard?”

I swallowed and shook my head. I hadn’t noticed, but that was mostly because I was too busy thinking how wrong it felt to kiss him. How I could tell he was forcing something that wasn’t there. How his mouth did absolutely nothing to set my body humming. 

He chuckled breezily. “You really are the sweetest girl I know. And you’d be so gorgeous if you lost like thirty pounds. Who knows? Maybe this will be the wake up call you need to actually start dieting and exercising.”  

I lurched from his bed like a drunken sailor, the shock of his words making my legs tremble so hard I was barely able to stand. “You don’t want to fuck me because I’m too fat?” I screeched through a veil of indignant tears, not even caring that I’d cursed out loud.

“Well, I mean …” He ran his hand through his thick, brown mane. In that moment, he’d never looked more like the politician he was someday hoping to become. 

It was also at that moment that I realized I wasn’t attracted to him either. He was handsome, and could be charming in a bland, vanilla sort of way, but I didn’t want to have sex with him any more than he wanted to have sex with me. 

With a half-choked goodbye, I gathered up my purse and pashmina and stumbled out his front door. But instead of going home, I gave the cab driver Daniel’s address. It didn’t occur to me until I was standing on his front porch in Back Bay ringing his doorbell that he might be out on a date of his own. I probably should have called to double check that he was even home, but with Brayden’s fat-shaming ringing in my ears, I hadn’t been able to think clearly. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be alone, and despite how my friendship with Daniel had changed, with my best friend Kacey off at college in Ohio, he was the person I felt closest to these days.

Much to my surprise, Daniel buzzed me up, and when I climbed the two flights of stairs to his penthouse apartment, he pulled the door open, took one look at my tear-stained cheeks, and wrapped me up in his arms. As he lead me over to his sofa, I recited the whole mortifying story of my night with Brayden. 

Daniel held me while I cried, and when I had no more tears to shed, he took my hand and guided me to his bedroom where he worshipped me with his hands, lips, and mouth, begging me to believe him when he said that I was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. That any man would be a fool not to fall to his knees and thank the good lord for getting the chance to fuck me. By the time he ripped the final orgasm from my body sometime close to dawn, I was a boneless, mindless puddle of flesh. Which was probably why I confessed that I was in love with him.

As I whispered the words to him, he smiled his old, shy smile, the dimple popping in his right cheek, and kissed me reverently. Like a man who’d just been given the greatest gift of his lifetime.

It was only when I woke up in my own bed several hours later that I realized he hadn’t said it back.

Back in the here and now, I stood half-naked in my tiny studio apartment above a Chinese restaurant, my chest sawing in and out with barely-repressed anger, and finally accepted that I’d never hear those words from him—no matter how badly I might want to, or how long I waited. 

With that understanding came a sense of resolve I’d never felt before. I was better than this, and I deserved more. I just had to start acting like it.

Slowly, I lifted my chin, stared him straight in the eyes, and pointed to my front door. “I think you should go now.”