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Toying With Her by Prescott Lane (1)

CHAPTER ONE

STERLING

Let’s just get this out of the way. I’m Sterling Jamison. I’m a twenty-eight-year-old woman, and I developed a sex toy. There, done! Let the judgments begin.

But you should know, that little sex toy, Woman on Top, has made me a millionaire several times over. With a climax guarantee, my little invention is very sought after. And with a high probability of achieving multiple orgasms, well, let’s just say I’m practically a household name, even if no one wants to admit it.

But that’s brought with it a whole slew of problems, which is why I am spending the summer back home in Fall Springs, Alabama. That’s me—a simple Southern girl from Small Town, USA, who ended up a sex toy empire maven.

The journey from Fall Springs to vibrator expert wasn’t a smooth one. I got a scholarship to college in New York, but worked part-time as a receptionist for a urologist in New York City to earn extra money. I’d go to class studying to be an engineer then schedule appointments for men with erectile dysfunction every other second of the day. I swear, at least fifty percent of the patients’ chief complaints were that they couldn’t get it up anymore. And I’m not talking about just older men, either.

This one day, a man came out with dickroid samples, happy as can be, but his wife looked completely devastated. I didn’t get it, so I started paying close attention to the women that accompanied the patients. And sure enough, most of them came out looking like they just received a life sentence. As I was handing a woman a discreet brown paper bag of samples one afternoon, she mumbled, “If only he knew what to do with it.” She must have seen the shocked look on my face because she just went on a rant. “These pills make them think it’s all about them and how long they can pound into us! Do you have a pill that can teach them a woman’s orgasm is a whole-body event?”

I was a young twenty-something at the time. I wouldn’t say I was very experienced, either. Only one man had ever satisfied me. The couple other boyfriends I’d been with had never gotten me there, but I just assumed it was a young guy thing—always in a hurry and selfish as hell. But apparently, this affliction crosses generations. So that got me thinking. And honestly, it got me exploring.

I spent every cent I had on different vibrators, dildos, plugs. You name it, I had it. And I kept records of what worked, what didn’t. How long it took me to reach orgasm. If I could have more than one. Whether the toy lost its effectiveness after a few uses. The way I saw it, there was a serious gap in the market. First, most vibrators on the market could go faster, but not harder. And second, not much was specifically designed for a woman to be on top. I had to wonder, why? Was it because vibrators were developed by men? If you don’t know the history of how these little pleasure devices came to be, you really should type it in your search engine.

The skinny is, back in the 1800’s, most men believed women could not have orgasms. Basically, women were taught to suppress their needs and keep their men happy. Men thought women’s bodies existed for their pleasure only. The amount of sexual frustration in those generations of women must have been off the charts. Needless to say, women started complaining of a myriad of symptoms, which doctors classified as “hysteria.” Long story short, they realized the treatment of this disorder was to give the women hand jobs. I bet the women lined up in droves to go to the doctor for that. Anyway, the downside of the treatment was that the doctors performing said hand jobs got cramps from performing so many treatments. Thus, the vibrator was born. Consider that the history lesson of the day!

But it’s an important lesson, one we are still learning today. I have to wonder if it’s those years of being indoctrinated to see our bodies as less than men’s that we are still struggling with today. Is that the reason we’re so hard on ourselves?

My company is about women owning their pleasure, their bodies, not being ashamed or embarrassed by it. But even I struggle with that. Which is why the whole time I was inventing, I kept my little project secret—from my family, from most of my girlfriends, and most definitely from my boyfriend.

It took me almost two years to get it right. But when I did, it exploded—literally. I sent my invention off to sex toy bloggers. Yes, there are actually people who review sex toys for a living. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, my toy was featured in every major woman’s magazine and website. It was a huge learning curve, but I did it. I gained a lot, but I lost a lot, too.

I tried to maintain anonymity as long as possible, but eventually my name spread. I was forced to tell my family, friends, and boyfriend about my secret life. The boyfriend couldn’t handle it. The breakup was ugly, and involved him throwing a lot of insults at me: “If you didn’t spend so much time flicking your clit, then maybe . . .” It only went downhill from there. Perhaps I should send thank you notes to all the boys who couldn’t get me off. I could title it, “Dear clit clueless.” Maybe I’m being too harsh. Without them, I might still be a struggling twenty-something.

Unfortunately, things with the opposite sex never improved. It’s not like I didn’t try. I didn’t throw in the towel right away, but I’ve yet to find a man that can handle me—what I do for a living or the money it has provided. I had my share of freeloaders, but I’ve had my share of men that couldn’t handle me making more than them, too. A lot of women might have a problem dating a man that makes less money than they do. I don’t. That would leave the pool of men even smaller than it already is.

I expected my girlfriends to be cool about it. I mean, most of them own similar toys, but I was very wrong. Within the first year, I was no longer getting calls to go out with them. Apparently, I made meeting new people hard. The inevitable question of “what do you do?” caused embarrassment for my so-called friends. I don’t expect my return to Fall Springs to be any different, having long ago lost touch with my high school girlfriends.

So no friends, no boyfriend, and no dates in almost three years, because men were either turned off by my profession or turned on for all the wrong reasons. I was feeling pretty desperate. And mansperate, too. Because it doesn’t matter how many orgasms a toy can give you, it can’t hold you and kiss you. I can do a lot of things for myself, but I can’t do that. So I’m heading back home to my family that still loves me—sex toy maker and all.

*

Fall Springs isn’t as small town as it used to be. Just outside Mobile, Alabama, the town has become a popular vacation getaway. Nestled along the shores of Mobile Bay, the pace here tends to be a little slower, the tea a little sweeter, and the sun a little hotter. It’s a place where college football comes second to Jesus himself, and neighbors still help neighbors when hurricanes knock against our back doors. When I was a young girl, I couldn’t wait to leave, to go to the city, but now I can’t get home fast enough—to wrap myself in the southern comforts of home. Besides, my company pretty much runs itself these days, so I can escape for the summer.

Fall Springs is best known for its location, its quaint antique district and most recently—me! And I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing or not.

The drive down to Fall Springs from New York City took me two and half days. I’d planned on being here Saturday night, but couldn’t make it. So I finished up the last few hours this morning, which means I’m arriving right in the middle of Sunday services. I should’ve thought this through. But having lived in the city for the past several years without a car, I’d forgotten how much I hate driving long distances. I only just bought my car, a few days before my move. At the time I was thinking only about comfort, purchasing a roomy SUV, but the thing is like driving a bus.

I turn up the radio, “Sweet Home Alabama” playing. I believe there’s a soundtrack to our lives, a song brings backs memories—where you were, who you were with, a kind of calendar of our lives in melody form. Ever wake up with a certain song in your head? That can set your mood for the rest of the day or drive you nuts trying to remember the words. You get the rhythm stuck in your head, but nothing else. Or the same part repeats over and over again. It doesn’t have to be a song you love, sometimes it just works out that way. And I’m the type that just has to move when I hear a beat. I can’t help it. And you can always tell what kind of mood I’m in by the songs I’m listening to.

Slowing my car to a crawl, I open the sunroof, letting the warm southern sun shine down on my brown hair and fair skin. I haven’t had a decent tan in years; maybe my skin will finally get a sun kissed glow again. Daddy used to get so mad at me when I’d sunbathe in the backyard sans bikini top. I figured it didn’t matter because I couldn’t fill out the smallest cup, anyway. Hips and booty, I got covered, but God forgot me the day he handed out boobs.

It’s funny because my momma has great boobs. She used to tease me that she could tell what kind of day she was going to have based on how her breasts looked that day. She’d wake me up, bouncing on my bed, and say, “Sterling, I’m having a good boob day! It’s going to be a great day.” Yes, my mom is “that” mom. God, I’ve missed her. Missed home.

What is it about your parents’ house that makes your belly get all warm inside? It could be the thought of my momma’s home cooking, but it’s more than that. It’s like being wrapped in this sunshine all the time. Don’t misunderstand me, my family is cray-cray. Well, correction—the women in my family are crazy. Maybe that’s why all the men die first. My daddy always says he’ll go to the grave laughing at my momma.

Momma and Daddy have been married almost thirty years now. In fact, their anniversary is in a few weeks. Daddy retired from his landscaping business a few years ago, but his real calling is being a deacon in the church. He’s been one for as long as I can remember. But the most important thing to know about Daddy is that he’s a man of few words. And Momma is a hairdresser and never stops talking. They are perfect together. They both have gorgeous, Irish red hair. Not me! But I got the green Irish eyes while theirs are both brown.

The house where I grew up is almost magical. The backyard is Mobile Bay. And the house could easily rival the graceful mansions of the Hamptons. With a huge wraparound porch complete with rocking chairs and windows to let in the natural light, it was a dream growing up here. The house has been in my family for a few generations. Growing up, everyone assumed I was rich because of the house, but we were middle class all the way. So it’s nice now that I’m financially secure to be able to spoil them, sending them on vacations all over the world. That’s how I love to spend my money.

Pulling my car alongside the house, I step out, letting the bay wind hit me, the smell of a fresh start in the air. Slamming the door with renewed energy, I rush to the back of the house. Only salesmen use the front door. Rushing up the back-porch steps, I call out, “Momma? Daddy?”

But instead, I’m met with a note taped to the door.

Gone to church, sweet tea’s in the kitchen along with a list of things for us to do. I don’t care if you are a millionaire. You can’t sit on your butt all summer. Idle hands do the devil’s handiwork. Momma

Told you—crazy!

Smiling and rolling my eyes, I make my way to the yard, my old tire swing still hanging from the tree. The tire is still old and ragged, but the rope looks new. Had to be Daddy’s doing.

Giving it a little tug, I stick my legs through the middle. While I’m not a little girl anymore, it still feels perfect. This is why I’m home.

I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be loved, to be surrounded by people that love you. Not pretenders. That’s the real reason for my trip home. Daddy and Momma think I need a vacation, a long rest. And that’s true. But what I need more is to fill my belly with my momma’s good cooking, for my daddy to call me “Sugar,” to sleep in my old bed, to sit on my tire swing, and to soak in their love. Because the truth is, no matter how much money I have or how many “friends,” I’ve never known love like the kind in this house.

I hear my momma’s voice screaming, “Sterling’s home!”

“Out back,” I yell out, getting to my feet, preparing myself for the deafening screeches sure to follow. One blazing redhead comes at me like a three-alarm fire. And we fall into one great big hug, all arms and legs like an octopus.

“Let me get a look at you,” Momma says. “Gimme some love!” With a huge smile on my face, I kiss both her cheeks.

Taking a second to study this woman, my heart is about to burst. The amount of love in this backyard feels like enough to save the world from itself. Momma’s red hair is spotted with gray now, her skin has a few more wrinkles, but she’s the picture of everything I want to be when I’m her age—still young at heart, still laughing and making mischief. Something about being surrounded by strong women just makes every woman around her that much more badass.

“Hot damn, my baby’s back home,” Momma says. Did I forget to mention my momma cusses like a sailor? “Let’s celebrate! I’ll whip us up some Mint Juleps.” Oh, and she can drink anyone under the table. An odd combination for a deacon’s wife, but Daddy doesn’t seem to mind. He says she’s the best person he knows—booze and swear words included.

“Amy,” my daddy says tenderly, causing my momma to step aside. It’s his turn. He doesn’t need to say anything. His eyes tell me everything I need to know.

“Daddy!”

“Sugar!” he says, wrapping his arms around me and picking me up, my feet dangling in the air. Even in his sixties, he’s still as strong as a horse.

“Keith, put her down before you throw your back out,” my momma says. Daddy places me down and wraps one arm around each of his girls.

“I’m sorry I didn’t make it in time for church,” I say. “Isn’t it your Sunday to preach?”

“Oh, don’t you worry about that,” Momma says. “You know your daddy. Doesn’t say much.” We start walking back toward the house. “How was the drive? You must be exhausted. Hungry?”

My momma throws out a half dozen more questions before I can answer the first one. God, it’s good to be home.

“She’s been cooking all night,” Daddy whispers in my ear.

As soon as my nose crosses the threshold into the house, my stomach rumbles, the homemade macaroni and cheese calling me. She’s got some recipe where you make it in a Crock-Pot. It’s the best. “It smells so good in here,” I say. “What can I do?”

She waves her hand at me. “Just relax.”

“I will, but first I’m fixin’ to . . .” I pause. I’ve only been back in the South for a few hours, and my southern sayings are already flying back. “I mean, I need to get my bags out of the car.”

Hearing the screen door slam, I turn around, seeing my daddy’s already on it. Momma gets her arms around me one more time, then heads to the sink, starting to peel some potatoes. My mom always has the best and latest town gossip. That’s one of the perks of working as a hair stylist. “Fill me in. How’s business?”

“Good.”

My momma hasn’t ever given a one-word answer in her life. “And?”

“Look at that man,” she says, nodding out the window at my dad trying to carry all my luggage in one trip. “Please go help him.”

Rushing out the back door, I round the house then screech to a halt.

“Deacon Keith, let me help you,” I hear a man say as he hops out of a Jeep.

“Rorke, good to see you,” my daddy says.

“I’m glad I saw you.”

“You pulled over to help an old man out,” my daddy says, laughing and picking up four suitcases. Daddy turns for the house, his eyes landing on me.

“Daddy, let me . . .” My mouth stops working when Rorke Weston’s blue eyes land on me. The last time his eyes were on me, I was naked, and he was giving me the best orgasms of my life.

Even though it’s got to be close to a hundred degrees outside, my body shivers, remembering. There’s no forgetting those soulful blue eyes or that thick brown hair that always has that fresh from fucking look. And can we get a hallelujah and an amen for all the farm boys out there? I mean, those arms. Who knew baling hay could do all that?

“Sterling?”

I invented the hottest selling sex toy of the decade. I’m not ashamed. In fact, I’m pretty proud of myself. But all the judgments and ridicule of the last couple years have taken a toll. I just want to escape it all, have something simple for a change. But as soon as I hear his deep, rough voice say my name, I know simple just got very complicated.

*

RORKE

This is what trouble looks like. It’s disguised in a white lace dress with green eyes that shoot all the way across the yard. And damn me if she doesn’t look just as good as I remember. “It’s been a long time,” I say, knowing I’m grinning like a fucking fool, but it’s so damn good to see her.

Ours wasn’t one of those messy teenage breakups. Hell, it wasn’t even a breakup. We were always just friends, except for that one night. But it was never anything more, unless you call your first heartbreak nothing.

“Ten years,” she whispers, taking one small step in my direction.

Walking towards her, I see her eyes scan down my body. Clearly, I’m not the same guy she remembers. The last time I saw her was at least forty pounds ago. Yeah, I was the chubby kid in high school. “Was wondering if you’d remember me?” I tease, giving her a little wink.

That gorgeous smile of hers comes out. I’m not sure who reaches for who first, but she’s suddenly in my arms, wrapped in a huge hug. “Rorke Alexander Weston,” she giggles, I’m sure remembering how much I hate it when people call me by my full name.

Giving her a squeeze, I pull back so I can look into her green eyes. “Damn, you look exactly the same.”

She blushes, shaking her head. “So do you.” That’s not true, but I’m hoping it means she remembers me fondly. She reaches up and runs her fingers through my thick, dark hair. She always loved my hair. I’m not sure why. It’s nothing special. But I sure did love it when her hands slipped through my brown hair that one night. Just that one night.

“Rorke teaches at your old high school now,” her dad, Deacon Keith, says.

“You do not!” she cries, her hand flying to her hip. “You hated high school. Couldn’t wait to get out of there.”

She’s right. Those four years weren’t the best for a lot of reasons. But Sterling was the quintessential high school crush. The “It” girl—cheerleader, popular, beautiful, brilliant, and kind. She was every boy’s fantasy, including mine. Of course, she’d been my dream for as long as I can remember.

“Well, now I get to inflict the pain, so it works,” I say. “You should come by and visit before summer starts. The place looks the same. Even a few of the same teachers. Everyone would love to see you.”

She looks away for a second, then gives me a tight smile. Not the Sterling smile I remember. “Sure,” she says.

“That’s a fine idea,” her dad says, picking up the suitcases and walking away. “See you later, Rorke.”

Sterling gestures towards her house. “I should get back inside. First morning home.”

“I should get going, too,” I say, motioning towards my Jeep. “Mom and Dad are expecting me.”

“They still own the stables?” Sterling asks.

The Jamisons and my family are close, partly because they stabled their horse with us and Sterling rode several times a week, and partly because my twin brother was very sick growing up, and my parents often called on Sterling’s dad for prayer and guidance. So our moms became close friends. “They still own the land, but Dad’s mostly retired now.”

“Tell them hello for me.” She glances back towards her parents’ house. “I need to pick your mom’s brain. I want to plan a big anniversary party for my parents.”

“I’m sure she’d love to help,” I say. “I can have her call you.”

That was playing a little dirty, but she gives me her number, and I plan to use it.

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