A book by its cover

Book of secrets

“Earth to Kelly. Come in, space cadet.”

She’d started reading and checked out of the conversation with her friends Ashley and Claire. Kelly really had been paying attention, right up into Ashley started talking about her latest conquest and then she’d picked up her book.

“Sorry, Ash. I just got to a really good part and–”

“I swear to god, Kelly. You’re always reading a damn book and not living life. Put the book away.”

Not living life? What was there outside of a book?

In books you had sex, excitement, and love. Books didn’t reject you, books made you feel better, books never turned down your invites, or destroyed your trust.

People did that stuff all the time.

Kelly looked around and wondered why more people didn’t fall into a book. It was much safer.

They were out at a local restaurant, one of those causal eateries that saw a lot of people from the moment it opened for the day. Too many people for Kelly, but she’d agreed to come out.

It should’ve been a great visit with her college friends. She hadn’t actually seen Claire in six months and hadn’t seen Ashley since they graduated two years ago. They were her closest friends, frankly. It was an unlikely friendship considering Kelly had never been super social in school, but Ashley and Claire had taken to her freshman year and they’d remained friends since.

She missed seeing them, she just struggled to keep her head out of a book.

Books were more interesting than most people if she was honest.

“Kelly, you haven’t changed at all since school.” Ashley laughed and took the book Kelly was holding to read the description. “A fairytale erotic romance. Oh that sounds spicy.”

“When was the last time you went on a date? Or got laid?”

Kelly blinked in surprise at being asked. “None of your business.”

“That long, huh.” Ashley stole a fry off her plate. “You were always the more prudish of the group. Though this book says you like things on the kinky side when you get it.”

“It’s a shame because you’re gorgeous.”

Kelly wasn’t sure she’d go that far. Her ability to critically assess meant she knew she wasn’t ugly by any stretch, but she didn’t turn heads either. Not that she paid others much attention to know for sure. She was average at best. Her dark hair, darker skin, and almond shaped eyes made her look exotic. If she cared enough, she’d dress the part, but she didn’t. Ponytails, yoga pants, and comfortable shirts were her jam. Her breasts were too large to squeeze into anything tight fitting anyway.

Claire was staring at her with narrowed eyed focus. “We need to get you out of the book and into some sex. I’m going to set you up.”

“No.” Kelly retrieved her book, shaking her head firmly. “Not happening.”

Her friends had questionable taste in men. She recalled one Ashley had dated that she had met on a online dating site. That guy had lived with his mother and had an insect collection reminiscent of Buffalo Bill. She was lucky she didn’t end up part of the man’s woman suit.

Claire hadn’t done much better. Just last week, she’d gone one a date with a guy she met at a bar. They’d gone back to his apartment where she found pictures of his wife and his wedding ring in the bathroom. He never mentioned being married and claimed the woman was his sister. His. Sister.


“Come on, Kelly. Just try this. We would not set you up with someone weird.” Claire started to get excited, warming up to the idea. “I have the perfect guy in mind. Not my type, but he’s so sweet and be great.”

Considering their collective track record, Kelly was positive he probably was a closet crazy.

“What if he’s the one? What if he’s who you’ve been waiting for… reading about for years? Are you really going to miss this chance to meet a great guy?”

Kelly wasn’t so stupid to believe in a Prince Charming, but she couldn’t shake the notion that her person was out there waiting for her. Claire knew that she feared missing him and was turning the screws on her.

“Just one date. It’ll get your head out of a book and into life.”

Way to play on her worries. Kelly wanted to say no, but that tiny bit of doubt stayed her tongue. What if he was the one? She felt her will crumbling a little in the face of both women’s earnest looks.

“Oh okay, fine. One date.”

Both women started squealing. She’d known them for a long time and the smiles were more devious then she would’ve liked. Doubt of a different kind hit her, but before she could back out Ashley was signaling for the bill.

“Excellent. Come over to mine tonight around seven. Do you have any stilettos?” Claire was already texting away on her phone. She waved away whatever Kelly was about to say. “Never mind, just show up and we’ll take care of everything.”

This had real potential to be a disaster. “Clarie-”

“Oh good. He’s definitely free.” Claire tossed her phone in her bag and then eyed Kelly. “This is going to be a perfect night.”

Kelly had some serious doubts about that.

“I think my underwear is showing.”

She felt hands up her skirt, pulling down her comfortable panties before she could swat them away.

“I thought I told you to take these off! Step up.”

Kelly barely lifted her feet afraid her bits would peep out if she moved too much. She groaned at how she looked in the mirror.

“I’m nearly naked.”

The moment she’d showed up at Claire’s, they’d pulled her in and started a transformation. Ashley handed her a scrape of fabric that Kelly didn’t think could pass as a dress, made her strip out of everything except her underwear, pushed her into the bathroom, and told her to change.

When she’d pulled the dress on and let it drift down her body, her first thought was that it felt like silk on her skin. Her very next thought was that hardly any part of her was covered. Her breasts were practically spilling out of the top and the skirt just brushed the top of her thighs.

Kelly could admit the royal purple looked gorgeous against her dark skin. She could also admit she looked like she was going to walk the street.

They wasted no time pulling her out of the bathroom and sitting her down in a chair. On with some high heels that made her legs look long and a necklace that settled in her cleavage.

Ashley applied some smokey makeup that made her eyes look huge. They did strange things with contouring and suddenly she looked like the red carpet version of herself.

Claire pulled her hair up into a surprisingly easy top knot. A couple mists with some setting spray and she was declared a perfect specimen.

“I think I need a jacket.”

Kelly thought they would maul her. It was seventy-five degrees at seven thirty at night in the middle of a Florida summer. They were not letting her leave with a coat.

“I feel naked.” Her hands fluttered with the hem of the dress. “A stiff wind and everyone will see what I’m working with.”

Ashley batted her hand away. “Let them see. If it gets you laid, it’s a win win.”

“I’m not trying to get laid.” Mostly she wasn’t. She wanted someone who was interested in the things she was interested in. Like a good book and the occasional picnic where they could relax and read.

“Oh for Christ’s sake, Kelly. We’re trying to get you laid so you’ll loosen up and start being a part of the world.”

“I am a part of this world. I work with people all the time.” They made her sound like she didn’t interact with people at all.

“You’re at the bookstore and are forced to talk to others.”

“You’re making me feel like a social invalid.”

“You damn near are.” Claire grasped her shoulders and shook her gently. “Kelly, we are your friends and we’re just here to help because we care about you.”

A knock sounded at door, halting all other talk. Claire clapped and rushed to open it.

“Great, he’s on time. We know how much you love a punctual man.”

Throwing it open, Kelly had to admit that from looks alone, he was cute. She tried not to judge a book by its cover as some of the best ones she’d read had no cover art at all, but he did manage to spark her interest.

He was wearing a deep blue button up that made his blue eyes pop and fitted black jeans. The body beneath wasn’t the overly muscled type, more the runners build. He definitely took care of himself.

“Kelly, this is Julius.”

He stepped inside and held his hand out. “Please, call me Jay.”

Oh, he had the smoothest voice she’d heard in a while. It was one she could listen to on audiotape for hours. It was deep and teased along her nerve endings in a lovely way.

Ashley pushed her forward, forcing Kelly to put her hand up for a shake. Her palm slid across his and she felt all delicate and feminine.

“Nice to meet you, Jay.”

The husky note in her voice was foreign to her ears. She hadn’t been this physically interested in a man in a long while.

“You look stunning, Kelly.”

The man definitely knew how to make a girl feel good. He made even her plain Jane name sound beautiful when he spoke.

She felt her face heat and a smile blossom on her face. “You look pretty good yourself.”

Claire clapped, making Kelly jump. “Awesome. Out you go, guys. I expect her home no earlier than one am. Preferably not before the sun comes up.”

Kelly turned around to glare at her, but both women had unrepentant smiles on their faces. She shook her head, grabbed her purse, and took the arm he offered her. They stepped outside into the warm summer night with her two friends watching.

Just as Kelly got into his red Audi A3, Ashley shouts after them.

“Be good, but not so good you don’t use all the condoms in your purse.”

Kelly wanted to melt into the white leather upholstery.


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