Sated in Ink
Book 2 in the Montgomery Ink: Boulder Series
The Montgomery Ink saga continues in a seductive romance where a runaway bride and two best friends might just take the chance of a lifetime.
Ethan Montgomery thought he had his life figured out until the moment he and his best friend met a woman in a wedding dress drinking wine out of a paper bag. He might work too many hours and always seems to put his family and friends first. Still, when he finally opens up to Holland and Lincoln, he may just get everything he’s ever wanted.
Holland Yeaton made a horrible mistake, and running out on her wedding seemed like the only thing to do at the time. Taking the next step of her life on her own won’t be easy, but now she has two sexy and bearded strangers to help her figure out exactly what she desires.
Lincoln McClard has loved his best friend for as long as he can remember. Only he’s never dared to do anything about it. Instead, he puts all of his sexual frustration into his art. As soon as he meets Holland, he realizes exactly why he waited for Ethan and what has been missing all along.
However, it’s not only the three of them in this tangled and steamy relationship. And if they aren’t careful, it won’t only be their feelings that get hurt…and broken.
**There is a bonus epilogue exclusively in the audio and ebook editions!**
Sated in Ink
“I’m not that bad at Mario Kart.” Ethan Montgomery panted as they turned the corner on their jog.
Lincoln shook his head. “You’re pretty bad. I mean, it’s a family joke for a reason.”
Ethan just sighed at his friend’s words, kind of hurt. And…mostly not. After all, he was really bad at Mario Kart. He had no idea why. It should be easy.
“And there you are, telling yourself in your head that it should be easy because you have degrees and you work with computers for a living. That you program things. You could literally save the world with your research. Yet you can’t figure out how to hit a single little Miss Peach with a green shell.”
Lincoln didn’t sound out of breath at all, and Ethan wanted to shake his best friend. Just a little. How was it that even though he and Lincoln jogged together three times a week on this path, Lincoln was always in better shape?
Okay, it was probably because while Lincoln’s job could be sedentary, he did his best to work out and stand while he did it, as well. Ethan, not so much. After all, being a computational chemist meant you had to be at a computer. And he didn’t really like using a standing desk. It hurt his feet. He sat. A lot. He wasn’t out of shape, not really, but it sure as hell sounded like it when he was standing next to his best friend.
His very hot best friend.
Yes, he had noticed. He had noticed a lot. Ever since that first time he had seen him without a shirt, when they had been fourteen or so, Ethan Montgomery had had a crush on his best friend Lincoln. But there was no way he was ever going to tell him that. There were rules about that sort of thing. You never fell for the best friend, especially when Lincoln was practically a Montgomery. He was family. And messing that up with crushes and hormones and hard dicks really wasn’t worth the pain. He would rather have Lincoln as his best friend than know what Lincoln’s dick felt like in his hands.
He held back a groan as his own cock started to harden behind the fabric of his jogging shorts, and he kind of wished he had worn tighter underwear. Now, the rest of his jog would hurt even more than it already did.
“Are you even listening to me?” Lincoln asked seriously, still not out of breath. How did he do that?
“I’m listening to you. And I’ll have you know, I hit Peach last time with a green shell.”
“You were playing as Princess Peach, Ethan. It doesn’t count if you hit a wall and then hit yourself with your own goddamn shell.” He looked over at Lincoln, trying to act affronted. Instead, he burst out laughing right along with his best friend.
Of course, then he tripped over his own two feet and had to pause on the side of the walkway to rest his palms on his knees, trying to catch his breath.
“You are not this out of shape,” Lincoln said, shaking his head at Ethan. “What’s wrong?”
“I think I am. Must have been all those nachos I ate the night before last.” He rubbed his belly, and Lincoln’s eyes drifted there, narrowing.
“I’ve seen you without a shirt. You are just as ripped as the rest of the Montgomerys. I don’t understand how all of you guys can be so pretty. Even the cousins. It’s a little disconcerting.”
Ethan fluttered his eyelashes at him, and Lincoln pushed at his shoulder. “Aw, you think we’re pretty? You’re so sweet.”
“And you’re an asshole.”
“I am not. You’re the asshole.”
Ethan shoved at him, and then they both laughed again before heading off to finish their jog.
“How many more miles do we have?” Ethan asked. He wasn’t panting as badly as he had been before, but it still wasn’t great.
“We have a little bit to go. Don’t be a baby. You get like this at mile two every single time. Then, as soon as we get to mile three, you’re just fine.”
“You know me so well,” Ethan said, glancing over at Lincoln.
Lincoln just shrugged and continued on his jog. And he did know Ethan well. After all, they had been best friends since elementary school. They met in class and had been forced to sit together thanks to their last names. McClard and Montgomery in all its alphabetical glory meant the two of them had been paired early and often.
It was dumb luck that they had actually gotten along, considering all the forced proximity. But then they had shared their pudding cups and they’d been best friends ever since.
The fact that Ethan had had a crush on Lincoln since middle school was something that went unsaid. Lincoln didn’t have a clue about Ethan’s feelings. And for that, Ethan was grateful. It was just a little crush, probably because Ethan knew Lincoln so well. And the fact that the man was hot. Ethan couldn’t help it. He had always been attracted to any gender. Of course, it hadn’t been until he saw Lincoln shirtless that he really wondered why he’d stared at boys just as much as he had at girls.
Maybe Lincoln had been the catalyst for that, but he hadn’t really been the first man Ethan had noticed or found attractive.
Come on, Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall with that glorious mane of hair did wonders for many coming-outs.
And it wasn’t like Ethan had time to date anyway. He was working on two projects right now, both of which were stalled, meaning he was working so many hours, he had a feeling if he set up a cot in his office, no one would mind. It would simply mean more output.
And while he would have loved to be able to do all his work from home since he worked from the computer, one of the projects was for the Department of Defense, and that meant he had to be connected to a certain server. The other he could set up his run times at home, but having to log in from a proxy server wasn’t easy from his home all the time. It was just easier to go in, get his work done, and be able to talk out some of his frustrations and mathematical equations with his coworkers.
That meant that, sometimes, he didn’t see his family and Lincoln as much as he wanted to. But that was fine, they understood. They had to. Right?
“How much longer?” Ethan panted.
“We’re almost done. And then you can get your crawler like you want to and pretend that you’re not eating sugar and greasy carbs.”
“You always eat the other half, and then we go and get a sugary coffee. I don’t know why you’re judging me.”
“I would have better self-control if you weren’t involved,” Lincoln snapped and then blushed.
Ethan’s brows rose. Lincoln rarely blushed. He rarely showed any emotion. The man was an artist, but he went against the grain with what a stereotypical painter was thought to be like. Lincoln wasn’t flamboyant or broody or even moody. He got shit done. That blush was weird, and Ethan had no idea why it had even happened.
Lincoln was a talented painter, one who was already making waves in his circles, and people had started to recognize him at art shows.
People knew his name, his talents, and Ethan was just glad to be there. Because his best friend was one talented motherfucker, and he loved it.
He had Lincoln’s first-ever painting in his living room, after all. Lincoln constantly tried to steal it back—not because he wanted to sell it, but because he said it wasn’t good enough. That there were errors and flaws.
But Ethan didn’t see any of those. He just saw a gift from a friend, one that spoke of so much raw talent and potential that it sometimes brought Ethan to his knees.
He didn’t really get art, or what made things pretty or beautiful. He just knew what he liked, and he liked Lincoln’s work.
He just liked Lincoln.
And that was enough of that.
He needed to get his mind off Lincoln and away from that train of thought. Maybe he should get laid, actually go on a date with someone, and/or maybe even find a new vocation where he didn’t work so many hours—even if he loved his job.
Spending all of his free time with Lincoln probably wouldn’t help this whole getting-over-his-crush thing.
They ran for another mile, Ethan almost out of breath, and Lincoln finally panting by the end of it.
“We can cool down and head over to the donut place,” Lincoln finally said, and Ethan cursed out loud.
“Did you not want to stop?” Lincoln asked, his hands on his hips as he cooled down.
“Oh, I was just cursing out of gratitude.”
“I didn’t sleep well enough last night, I don’t think,” Ethan said, running his hand over his face and looking down at it. “Seriously. It’s Boulder, it’s not supposed to be humid. Why am I sweating this much?”
“Well, we did take a week off from running, and you hate cardio. You’re much better at swimming and lifting.” Lincoln handed over the water bottle that he had strapped to his wrist and Ethan took it greedily. He hadn’t been lying when he said that he hadn’t slept well the night before. He had forgotten his water bottle today, and the little strap that went to his wrist that Lincoln had bought him the Christmas before so they would have water on their runs.
“Why don’t we swim?”
“Because the two public swimming pools that we could use in the mornings are now overrun with children. It’s that time of year. There’s a private one up in Westminster that I’ve been looking at. But the dues are astronomical.”
Ethan grinned, touched and not surprised at the fact that Lincoln had been looking into it for them. Ethan had put it on his list but had forgotten because he’d gotten so busy. And he hated that forgetting both small and important things because he was focused on his work had become the norm. But Lincoln always tried to make sure that he came first. So that meant Ethan was going to keep trying to do the same for him.
“You’re a famous artist and making bank right now on your art. You don’t have to worry about things like that. And I do okay myself. I mean, those two PhDs of mine had better be useful for something.”
A strange look crossed Lincoln’s face, and Ethan frowned.
“What? What did I say?”
“Nothing. Just weird to think that I make money off something that I usually like to do.”
Lincoln shook his head, grabbing the water bottle back and taking a big swig. “No worries. Just temperamental artist stuff and all that. I’m figuring it out.”
“Okay. If you’re sure. But if you ever want to talk it out. I’m here.”
Lincoln gave him a small smile, and Ethan swallowed hard. He loved it when Lincoln smiled. He really needed to go on a date. Because this was getting ridiculous.
“You hate art.”
Ethan’s eyes widened, a little hurt—and worried—that Lincoln thought that. “I do not. I love your art. I might not understand everyone else’s, but I get yours. At least, as much as I can.”
“I will always be grateful that you try. Speaking of, there’s that show that Damien wants me to go to. You’re going to be my date, right?”
Ethan winced. “I hate Damien.” He hadn’t meant to say that aloud, but it wasn’t like he kept that particular feeling to himself.
“I know. You tell me often. But he’s my agent, and he’s really damn good at what he does.”
“No, you’re really damn good. Damien just uses you to get what he wants.”
“We’re not having this fight again.”
Ethan held up his hands and shook his head. “You’re right. Sorry. I’ll be your date. Unless work runs late.”
Lincoln narrowed his eyes.
“Okay, okay, work won’t run late.” Probably. He would get out of it, and he’d write the show on every single calendar he had, both electronic and paper, so he remembered.
“I’ll see if Bristol or Madison wants to go as backup in case you forget,” Lincoln said, but Ethan could hear the curtness to his words.
“No, I’ll be there. It’s already on the main calendar, and I’ll put it everywhere else. I’ve got you. Trust me.”
“I do, I promise.”
“Okay, then. Now, what about that crawler?”
“You can have the crawler.”
“Let me guess, you’re going to have yogurt, something healthy.”
“No, I was thinking of a Boston cream-filled. With the chocolate on top. Sounds amazing.”
Ethan closed his eyes and did his best not to groan. And no, it wasn’t because he was currently being a pervert and thinking of his best friend licking cream off his lips as he bit down. No, that was not what was going through his mind. However, he did want sugar now. And calories. And, when he had time, a date. Because he really needed to stop thinking about Lincoln that way. It hadn’t been this bad before, but as soon as his brother Liam had started dating Arden and then got engaged? Things had gotten a little weird. Everybody was talking about marriage and babies and settling down. And Ethan wanted that. He really did. Didn’t matter that he felt as if he didn’t have time for it these days. He wanted that.
But he didn’t know who he wanted it with. Because it couldn’t be with Lincoln. That wasn’t what Lincoln wanted. Meaning, Ethan needed to figure out what he wanted for himself.
And he just wasn’t good at that.
But he wanted happiness, desired that happily ever after. And maybe, just maybe, he wanted to get married.
They turned the corner, and once again, Ethan tripped over his feet.
“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Lincoln asked.
“You mean the fact that I see a woman in a very gorgeous wedding dress currently sitting on a bench in the middle of a park, drinking from what looks to possibly be a bottle of wine out of a paper bag?”
“Oh. Good. Because I’m seeing that, too.”
And the fact that Ethan had seen it right after thinking about marriage and babies? No, he wasn’t going to overthink that. But, hell. This would be interesting.
“And either nobody has noticed that she’s here, or they’re all doing their best to not pay too much attention and give her space.” Ethan looked over at Lincoln as he spoke, nodding.
“We should make sure she’s okay,” Lincoln said, even as Ethan kept nodding.
“I mean…it looks like we have a runaway bride on our hands.”
“I can’t believe how much you love that movie.”
“Julia Roberts and Richard Gere coming together again? It was perfection.”
“No, it really wasn’t. But at least she wasn’t a hooker this time.”
“I don’t understand what your beef is with Julia Roberts’ movies,” Ethan said as they walked towards the bride on the bench.
“I love most of her movies. But I’m just not a fan of her as a hooker or a bride on the run.”
“Maybe not say that so loudly as we’re about to go talk with a bride,” Ethan mumbled out of the side of his mouth.
“You’re right. This is a completely different situation. And there’s no Richard Gere here to save her.”
“No, just us. Right?” Ethan asked, winking.
“You really need to get away from your desk more.” Lincoln mumbled the words, but Ethan smiled even as they walked up to the woman.
And, dear God, she was breathtaking. Sharp cheekbones and lush lips. Shoulder-length, auburn hair that had been pulled back on one side in curls, and she wore a crown—tiara?—rather than a veil. She had on a strapless dress that tucked in at the waist and had a billowing skirt that looked way out of place in the park. However, they were on the least used side of the park because there weren’t as many good running trails, and the children’s playground equipment was on the other side, so, not many people walked past her.
“Hey, you doing okay?” Ethan asked, trying to sound casual, as if they weren’t just walking up to a bride drinking wine out of a paper bag.
The woman looked up at them, and Ethan sucked in a breath. Ethan noticed that Lincoln stiffened right beside him.
Jesus Christ, her eyes. They were this deep blue that looked as if they could be contacts, but Ethan knew they weren’t. He could tell they went with her perfectly proportioned face and bitable lips.
She looked stunning, even with the mascara trails down her cheeks.
His dick went hard at her voice, and he cursed under his breath.
Down, boy. This is so not the time.
Hadn’t been the time with Lincoln, and sure as hell wasn’t the time with her.
“Do you need help?” Lincoln asked. Then he bent down to one knee, and Ethan did the same. They looked as if they were proposing to her now, but hovering probably wasn’t the best thing either.
She looked between them and shook her head. “I’m fine. Just enjoying the day.”
“You look like you had other plans for the day,” Ethan put in.
Her lips quirked up into a smile, and then her eyes watered. Ethan wanted to hit himself.
“Can we get you anything? Coffee?” Lincoln asked.
She looked down at the bag she held, and then tossed it and the bottle into the trashcan right next to her bench. “I really have nowhere else to be. So, coffee sounds great. You’re not murderers or serial killers, are you? Because I’ve watched enough Criminal Minds that I know, sometimes, serial killers work in pairs. But, usually, it’s just by themselves. And I also know that if they do work together, there’s normally a dominant and a submissive within the pair.” She shut her mouth, and Ethan just shook his head.
“You would really get along with my brother, Aaron. He loves Criminal Minds.”
“I don’t know if I love it. It tends to keep me up at night. Anyway, I really should go home.”
“Come on, let’s get you some coffee. Make sure you’re okay. But first, my name’s Lincoln. And this is Ethan. You look like you’ve had a tough day.”
The woman gave them a watery smile before standing up, and they followed suit. “I’m Holland. Today was supposed to be my wedding day.”
“We got that much,” Ethan muttered, and Lincoln elbowed him in the gut.
“I mean the dress isn’t really that great for just a Thursday afternoon out.” She sighed. “I could use that coffee. And I really hope you guys aren’t serial killers.”
“Well, I’m not,” Ethan said and then gestured over at Lincoln. “Can’t promise the same for him.”
Holland’s eyes widened, and Lincoln muttered something that Ethan probably didn’t want to hear.
“I’m not a serial killer either. Though, of course, that’s the first thing a serial killer would say. Anyway, we can go have coffee now right outside of that café. We don’t even have to go in. I promise. You’re safe with us.”
Even as Lincoln said the words, they warmed Ethan, and he knew that even if he wasn’t there, she would be safe with his best friend. Because Lincoln was the person you went to when things got bad. And from the way Holland was standing there, looking lost in her big wedding dress, he knew things had gotten bad.
“Okay,” she whispered.
Ethan knew, right then, that no thoughts of him wanting his best friend, or things with work, or even the fact that he was getting out of shape mattered.
This bride needed them, and he was a Montgomery. Lincoln was pretty much a Montgomery, as well. And that’s what Montgomerys did. They helped.
Even if their libidos happened to get in the way.
Sated in Ink
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Carrie Ann ships out her autographed books once per month, so please allow 4-6 weeks for shipping.