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Lieutenant (Governor Trilogy 2) by Lesli Richardson (1)







Chapter One

Susa


Now


I never knew what I was getting into when I first met Owen and Carter.

Maybe it’s better I didn’t know.

Maybe I would’ve run away if I had.

But now I’ve been sworn in as the lieutenant governor of the great state of Florida, working with Governor Owen Taylor.

Publicly, it might seem that I serve at the governor’s pleasure, but that’s nothing close to the truth.

He serves me at mine. Especially the pleasure part.

We both serve my husband, Carter Wilson. My Master and Owner.

Also Owen’s best friend and chief of staff.

And, as Owen dubbed him long ago, a bastard extraordinaire.

Boy, how I love him. Both of them.

Not many women are lucky enough to have two men who love them as much as Owen and Carter love me.

I grew up in a political family. My father likes to “joke” that me changing my party affiliation from GOP to Independent contributed to the massive heart attack that forced him out of running for higher public offices and into semi-retirement.

Except, here’s the thing—I never wanted to be known as Benchley Evans’ little girl. I always wanted to make my own name.

If anyone’s to blame it’s my father, because he’s the one who taught me how to be ruthless.

Brutal.

Never come in second.

There’s only one winner.

Joke’s on him. We came in first, all right. By a damned landslide.

Without running under the banner of his precious GOP. And without the help of being a Democrat, either.

Both parties have good points, but both parties have increasingly fatal flaws that mean neither is doing their constituents any favors in this state. Tribal politics run rampant. No one’s interested in actually governing, only scoring poll results and sound bites. Florida’s a major swing state, and party candidates are frequently too busy tonguing the taints of national-level pols, trying to curry favor with them to help their own careers, instead of focusing on what’s important to the people of our state.

I wasn’t Florida’s first female lieutenant governor, so that wasn’t a glass ceiling I could shatter. But I damn sure plan on being Florida’s next governor, provided Owen is re-elected.

There’s no reason to think he won’t. Carter won’t let him lose.

If there’s someone who wants to win even more than my father and I do, it’s Carter. Which is one of the reasons why Daddy hates Carter so much.

If only Daddy knew what else Carter does, he’d really hate him. Him and Owen both.

But I love them, and no way in hell will I give them up.

Not for Daddy, and not for anyone else, either.


* * * *


Right now, I’m leaving Owen’s office and returning to my own before I finish for the day. At my husband’s earlier summons, I’d left my chief of staff, Draymond, while we were going over tomorrow’s schedule.

As I stand waiting for the elevator, I feel a draft up my skirt and Owen’s cum threatening to slide down the insides of my thighs where Carter had him fuck me over Owen’s new desk just minutes earlier.

That’s one way to break in an office.

Except I screwed up.

Well, not screwed up, really.

I was counting on Carter being so damned busy today, between the swearing in ceremony and it being Owen’s first day as governor, that Carter wouldn’t think to do a panty check.

I should have known better. Of course he would figure out a way for the three of us to privately celebrate the inauguration.

Carter ripped them off me, and now they’re in his pocket.

Which is why I have to squeeze my thighs together and pray the elevator hurries the hell up and gets here.

Of course, squeezing my thighs together reminds me that I’m going to have bite marks and bruises all inside my thighs from where Carter pinched and bit me only minutes earlier, because there were too many people in the outer office for him to spank me.

Worse, the bastard extraordinaire didn’t get me off.

Ohhh, I’m sure I’ll get a proper punishment later tonight at home, after the inauguration ball, but…

Yeah.

I know I’m smiling right now over that thought. Because it’s not like I’m dreading it or anything.

Just like I’m not dreading the fact that Carter gave Owen carte blanche permission to bend me over and fuck me anytime we can safely do so without risk of discovery.


* * * *


I make it back to my office and hold up a finger to stall Draymond as I duck into my personal bathroom. I take a quick moment to clean up—breathing a massive sigh of relief that I haven’t left a damp spot on the back of my skirt—and then return to hear what my COS was saying.

I really like the guy, Draymond Garcia. He’s a talented attorney who worked on several of Owen’s campaigns for us, and a friend of Carter’s. Carter took care of me, the way he always has, and hired Dray to be my chief of staff shortly after we won the election.

Carter is the power behind the power, and don’t think I don’t know that.

Daddy always says that time is never your friend, and it’s never on your side. But my Nana always told me to take time to make time, or else I’d regret it.

Those two contradictory pieces of advice are both correct.

Dray helps me in both ways—keeping track of my time for me and helping me make time where I need to. He is as hungry for power as Carter and I are. Another good reason he’s here—he wants to be here for the long-haul. Dray is focused on spending the next sixteen years in Tallahassee with us.

With me.

The only full-time woman in his life, outside his family and the occasional friend.

No, seriously. He’s gay. Hot as hell, and his long-term live-in boyfriend, Gregory, is just as gorgeous.

Draymond’s fashion sense is on fleek, too. Another reason Carter wanted him working for me—to make sure if he isn’t around to personally approve how I look, he knows Dray will step in and fix me up. He’s a handsome mixed Latinx with impeccable style, getting his six-five height and flawless dark brown skin from his tall father, and his gorgeous green eyes from his Puerto Rican mother.

If I had to worry about Carter and Owen’s fidelity, maybe I’d be a little jealous of Dray and the time he gets to spend with my husbands.

But more importantly, Carter trusts Dray with our secrets. He’ll be not only my body man but also my point man in terms of making sure I look like I’m where I’m supposed to be, even if I’m sneaking away for a few private moments with Owen.

One of the three men Carter saved from the car bomb that fateful day in the desert by throwing his body over theirs was Dray’s older brother, Samuel. That means we literally don’t have to worry about his loyalties. If Carter called Dray and told him he had a body he needed help hiding, Dray wouldn’t waste time asking stupid questions.

He’d show up with shovels. Or maybe even a wood chipper.

And I can guarantee you he’d look good doing it, too.

Carter helps pair Dray with discreet beards for family functions involving his grandparents. His parents and brother know about him being gay, but they all pretend around both sets of grandparents, just to keep the peace.

Dray’s boyfriend goes, too. They’ve told the grandparents Gregory’s an orphan—which is technically true, since his asshole family disowned him when he came out—and that he’s Dray’s roommate—again, technically true—so they welcome him as another grandchild and are none the wiser.

Once both sets of Dray’s grandparents have passed, the two of them plan to get married.

Dray finishes going over this week’s schedule with me. I don’t miss the playful smirk he’s wearing.

“What?” I ask.

“Nothing, ma’am.” Unlike when Owen calls me that, the m is lower-case.

“Just say it.”

He shrugs. “Your husband called me right before you returned. He told me that, in the future, I’m to snitch on you if I see you wearing panties, unless he’s specifically told me ahead of time he’s cleared it.”

I glare. “Snitches get stitches.”

He grins. “I’m more afraid of him than I am you, ma’am.”

I prop my elbows on my desk, my head cradled in my hands. “Dammit.”

He snorts. “Sorry, ma’am, but he outranks you.”

I’m the lieutenant governor.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And you know damn well I’m running for governor in eight years.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I lift my head. “And as my chief of staff, you’ll still squeal on me even then, won’t you?”

He grins and shrugs. “Sorry, ma’am. Sarge outranks you.”

I slump back in my chair. “You’re not sorry one damn bit. I think you’re a sadist, too.”

“You might not be wrong, ma’am. Now, let’s firm up Monday’s schedule, please?”


* * * *


When I’m ready to leave and head to our townhouse here in Tallahassee, the FHP officer assigned as one of my permanent security detail is sitting at his desk in my outer office, along with my administrative assistant, Andrea. He goes ahead to get the car.

I personally don’t want a security detail, but Carter—and Owen—have insisted. Yes, it’s customary for the lieutenant governor to have security, but I was hoping to avoid it. They worry with Carter being Owen’s COS, and with me being Senator Benchley Evans’ daughter, that that it might paint a larger target on me.

And, as Carter informed me, if he wasn’t Owen’s COS, he would be my personal security detail.

Our townhouse isn’t far from the Florida Governor’s Mansion, not even two blocks, but it might as well be miles away for me. I won’t be able to sneak back and forth very easily. It’s a quick walk for Carter, however, which is one of the reasons he selected it.

The other reason is that it’s a center unit. Owen owns the one to the left of ours, and Daddy owns the one on the right. Daddy’s sits mostly vacant, unless he needs to travel to Tallahassee for meetings or events. They used to have a house here, but sold it and bought the townhouse after Daddy’s heart attack. Once his term in the Florida Senate ended, they started living in their house in Brandon again full-time. Now, he and Momma are talking about buying another house here, since I’ll be here most of the time. If they do that, at least it means I won’t have to worry about them being right next door anymore.

Meaning we’ll have nearly guaranteed privacy.

We first invested in the townhouses when Owen was elected to the Florida Senate, which turned out to be a doubly good choice once I was elected to the Florida House of Representatives not long after. Just like with our two homes in Brandon, just outside Tampa, we’re usually using only one. Owen’s townhouse is for show. There is, in fact, a hidden door that connects our unit to Owen’s.

We pass the Florida Governor’s Mansion as the trooper drives me through the chilly January afternoon, and I stare at the place as we ride by. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven past that mansion in my life, or how many times I’ve been inside it as Representative or Senator Benchley Evans’ daughter.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to live there. Not as the wife or daughter of the governor, either.

Eight years.

Eight years, and I’ll officially be living there.

I hope.

I’m already trying to think of how we could explain Owen living there with us, even though I know Owen himself, and Carter, will nix that plan.

I’m already missing our house in Tampa, our bedroom, our large bed, falling asleep in a warm, naked pile of jumbled limbs and unhampered love.

This is going to be a major sacrifice for all three of us, but I think it’s worth it.

Our state suffered greatly under several terms of GOP governors who were beholden not only to the state and national parties, but also to the NRA, Big Sugar, and other dark-money lobbyists. A party that spent too much time and money trying to court hard-right Evangelicals instead of returning to its fiscally conservative roots. It’s difficult to spot it if you’re merely a tourist in our state, enjoying the beaches or theme parks. Nothing feels wrong in those fantasy lands.

It’s in the plummeting graduation rates and increased pollution statistics where the truth begins to emerge. Toxic algae blooms, increasing sinkholes, more dangerous tropical storms and hurricanes hitting our shores more frequently, the rising sea levels threatening our coastal regions.

I’m no longer sure if, after sixteen years of running our state, I’ll still want a national office. I’m beginning to think no. I know Owen doesn’t want to pursue a US Senate or House seat. He wants to help get me elected and then return to private practice, this time in Tallahassee, so he can remain with us.

Except…if I run for the US Senate, my time will be split between Florida and DC, and I’m not sure I can handle being away from my guys for that long, or if I’ll still have a taste for being a politician by then.

The trooper walks me to my front door and waits to leave until I’m locked inside and have reset the alarm. I’m not going anywhere until it’s time for me to depart for the inauguration ball, and a limo will be sent for me then.

One of the few times the three of us will be able to ride together without any questions being asked. It won’t be unexpected that we’d share a limo tonight. Our public victory celebration.

It’s saving money that way.

One more excuse Carter will ruthlessly use to explain some of the choices he’ll make over the next sixteen years to give us as much time together as possible. It’s less money to protect several people in one place, versus two groups of people in different locales.

Daddy wanted to hire me a personal assistant, at his expense, to accompany me to Tallahassee. To help ensure my privacy and to do things for me like run errands, shopping, so there was no risk of spending taxpayer dollars on a state employee doing those kinds of things.

Carter shut that down in record time, reasonably explaining that we couldn’t start our first term in office appearing to take largesse from someone so intrinsically tied to the GOP, my daddy or not.

Fortunately, Daddy is a reasonable man and understood that.

Unfortunately, Senator Benchley Evans is also a sneak. Carter soon caught wind of him setting up a blind trust, through which Daddy thinks he’s going to hire someone.

I’m leaving that fight up to Carter. I don’t have time to deal with it.

Right now, I need to get ready for tonight.

I strip and examine my new marks in the bathroom mirror.

Yep, those will show nicely for a few days, at least. Carter was careful not to mark me on my shoulders or neck or upper arms over the past couple of weeks, so they wouldn’t be exposed by the gown he and Owen chose for me to wear tonight.

I take my shower and fix my hair, my makeup, and go through my work e-mail as I await the limo’s arrival. Carter had his tux sent to the mansion. He’ll take his shower and get ready with Owen, working to keep Owen calm and prep him for facing the crowd tonight.

That’s one way Carter knows he doesn’t have to worry about me. I am my daddy’s daughter, and I was raised on these kinds of events. I can just about walk through them in my sleep.

Even the ball is a relatively sedate affair when compared to the lavish, political party- and lobbyist-funded galas of past administrations. We’ve deliberately kept it low-cost—as low-cost as one of these things can be—and have invited people not just from our campaign staff, but lawmakers from both parties, as well as some private citizens worthy of recognition for their volunteerism, or their efforts for our campaign.

Other than Daddy and three of his closest friends, who were more like adopted uncles to me growing up, there are no “lobbyists” on the invite list.

Instead of spending money on A-list celebrity entertainment, Carter’s enlisted bands and choirs from a local high school and from FSU, which is located in Tallahassee. The cost of bringing them all in is still far cheaper than we’d pay for an hour of time for some well-known Top 40 band. Plus it highlights state talent. And had we accepted offers by celebrities for donated performances, it would have been labeled cronyism in the works by our opponents.

What are they going to do, complain that talented high school and college students are being spotlighted? That will make any complaints look bad no matter how they try to spin it later.

Carter hopes some of them will try so he can have Comms viciously lance their griping as sour grapes and petty, partisan politics. Also something we can point to as proof that it was time for a change in how things are done in our state.

Our food tonight is being prepared by people who work for several non-profits in the Tallahassee area and which receive state funds to provide services to the homeless and needy. Meaning the fees they earn tonight are going to help charities while spotlighting them and giving them well-deserved media coverage.

Our campaign is also paying for the decorations and facility fees. Carter is still weighing what to do with the remainder of cash left in our campaign coffers. Whatever its final destination, it’ll be a worthy recipient and that will be “leaked” to the press when it happens.

Carter is ruthlessly protecting our infant administration. We’ll face so many outside threats as it is that any self-inflicted scandals we can prevent aren’t a bad thing.

Right now, we’re still surfing a wave of both major parties’ desperation over our landslide victory numbers. Lawmakers are trying to jockey for position to appear to their constituents to be the most reasonable at working with us.

That has to continue for as long as possible for us to achieve a fraction of our agenda. Giving either party a toehold to exploit scandal will torpedo us. But the fact that we ran as Independent—and won by such a huge margin—has already opened the floodgates of candidates deserting both parties to switch their affiliation to I.

It’s also why I know we’ll have to make such excruciating personal sacrifices, and we’ll all face some lonely nights ahead of us.

I’m used to that. I was raised in a family where that was the norm, not the exception. I know I’ll be okay.

And it’s why I desperately worry about what the stress of that will do not only to Carter without Owen sharing a bed with us, but especially to Owen.

I consider Owen every bit as much my husband as Carter. So does Carter.

Dray knows, because he works for us, but he’s also a trusted family friend and has signed an NDA. We just can’t tell anyone else.

Yet.

Owen completes both of us in ways I never imagined possible. Which is why this works for all three of us.

One day, we’ll be able to openly express our love and our relationship.

Unfortunately, today is not that day.

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