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Knights of the Board Room series

Summary: This was offered as a five-part serial blog post. In the feature, the K&A men and their wives participated in a modified form of the Newlywed Game!

Originally posted Aug 31-Sep 4, 2015 on the Riverina Romantics blog


© Copyright 2015 - All Rights Reserved

“I think we need to strip search Celeste for recording devices,” Ben advised. “Just to be thorough. And have her sign a nondisclosure agreement.”

“Touch her and I will break both your legs,” Leland responded calmly, taking a swig of his beer. “I’ll vouch for her integrity.”

“A significant other is not a reputable source in court,” the lawyer retorted.

“Good thing we’re not in court.” Leland stretched his arm out on the lounge chair behind Celeste’s shoulders. “Just at a house with a plenty of empty land around it. And coyotes.”

“Don’t pay any attention to Ben, Celeste,” Marcie said, handing Ben a glass of iced tea before settling herself in his lap and curling her arms around his broad shoulders. “I think it’s so cool that you’re using us as a test run for this. Tell us again how it works.”

“It’s basically a modified form of the Newlywed Game. They’re doing it Friday as a charitable event. The mayor and his wife are participating, the chief of police, a bunch of local celebrities. They want me to play Alex Trebek, but give it a Walter Cronkite flare.” Celeste wiped any expression from her face and spoke oh-so-seriously. “So can you confirm that for us, Mayor? You like to lick your wife’s feet, but only when she’s doused them in her special Cajun sauce and has crawdads between her toes?”

At a ripple of laughter and groans, Celeste smiled, a little more at ease. Leland’s brief squeeze on her knee helped. She shouldn’t be nervous—she wouldn’t be here if the five-man executive team of Kensington & Associates hadn’t been wholly agreeable to her doing this. Celeste still couldn’t quite believe they had been. She’d brought it up initially with Marcie as a joke over coffee. But then Marcie talked to Janet, Matt’s admin, who thought it was a wonderful idea. The next thing Celeste knew, she and Leland were invited to a late afternoon pool party and barbecue at Matt’s second home in Texas—flown there by private jet, of course. The plan was to have her do her thing during early evening cocktails, after Nate, Cherry and Talia, Marcie and Cass’s younger siblings, had taken off to the house’s extensive game room.

Now they were all out on Matt’s deck, with its awesome view of the Gulf, the sun setting at the western end of it. When she’d first met Jon, Peter, Lucas, Ben and the formidable Matt Kensington, she’d dubbed them the Knights of the Board Room with caustic derision. Over time, she’d realized they more than lived up to the name. Their five wives, all strong, intriguing women in their own right, would testify to that.

The Dom/sub angle just added the icing to the cake. All five men were dedicated sexual dominants, their wives different levels of complementary submissives. As such, Celeste had a feeling this “test run” would have a very different flavor than the official show she’d be hosting later in the week.

Janet and Max, the K&A limo driver she’d been seeing for a few months now, were here tonight as well. While the efficient admin had not volunteered her participation beyond score keeping, Celeste was hoping she could get a couple answers from her and Max, no matter how closed-mouthed they were normally. Janet was a Domme herself. Max, a former Navy SEAL, was no submissive, but somehow they made it work, and Celeste was dying to know just how.

Nosy reporter. That’s what Leland would say. She slanted a fond and loving glance at her own Master. He was part of K&A’s inner circle, and he fit with them, so much so she could get lost in how safe and cherished she felt with him. What a sap she’d become.

“It’s a little different from the game.” She focused on her explanation once more. “Since it’s more for charity and fun, most questions can be asked in front of the spouse. We only have a couple where we’ll use index cards to see if they guess it right.”

“You know, even the President gets the chance to vet his questions before they ask him anything,” Lucas said. “So he doesn’t end up revealing national secrets.”

“Or looking like an ass. Or like more of an ass than usual,” Peter snorted.

“No politics,” Savannah, Matt’s wife, said immediately, raising a finger. “We agreed on that at the last social gathering. It’s bad enough I have to listen to Matt snarl at the television in the morning because he insists on starting the day with the news. I turn it to Sesame Street as soon as I can get my hands on the remote. When Angelica starts smiling and chattering, he won’t change it back.”

“I’m outnumbered in my own house,” Matt noted.

“You should hear Peter.” Dana chuckled. She wore her dark glasses to screen her sightless pale green gaze. The glasses were studded with diamond rhinestones, which went with the equally bedazzled American flag on her snug white T-shirt. The Army sergeant’s vision had been lost in Iraq, but not an ounce of her character and personality. Now she managed to tilt her head in a way that suggest rolled eyes. “It’s like listening to a one-sided WWE match in high volume. Who knew having a baby would solve a husband’s news-related Tourette’s syndrome?”

“Definitely consider it,” Rachel said, beaming and reaching over to squeeze her friend’s hand. “Baby’s are great for all sorts of things, not just that.”

“I’ve working on convincing her, Rachel.” Peter winked. His long legs were sprawled out under a coffee table. The former National Guard captain was wearing a beige T-shirt that stretched over his impressive physique and revealed the Don’t Tread On Me tattoo on his biceps. “She can’t resist my charm forever.”

“Otherwise known as his incessant nagging.” Dana snorted.

Matt waved a hand to calm the chatter and bring them back on topic.

“While we’re not doing the public event, I think we should contribute to the charity. It’s the NOLA Salvation Army chapter. For every question answered by a celebrity, sponsors donate a certain amount, like a marathon walk. For our private session, I propose we each kick in a generous amount for every question answered. Triple that for every question we decline to answer. Or get wrong, when we have to guess at a right answer.”

“Easy for you to say,” Lucas responded. “You and Savannah have known each other the longest.”

“Sounds like more money for the Salvation Army,” Matt said, unruffled. “Win-win. Janet will be keeping score. Savannah and I will put in $500 for every answered question.”

“We’ll match that,” Lucas agreed, Cass nodding with him. When similar amounts were offered by the others, Celeste beamed.

“That will be wonderful. Okay, are you all ready? More alcohol might be a good idea.”

“No fair getting us all liquored up.” Jon gave her a reproving look out of his midnight blue eyes, though his lips quirked. “It won’t work.”

“Not true. It would work,” Peter said. “I remember some pretty wild Central American poker games that were the result of too much alcohol. Correction: predating these wonderful women in our lives who have erased every memory of such times from our minds,” he added prudently, clasping Dana’s bare foot where she was curled up against him.

“I don’t know,” Ben drawled. “Didn’t you suck down an entire bottle of tequila from between that dancer’s tits--” He winced as Marcie elbowed him and Matt fired a handful of unshelled peanuts at him in admonition.

“First question,” Celeste said at Janet’s imperious nod.

Using a descriptive word that begins with the initial of your last name, let’s hear your wife describe your first date together?

“Oh, hell, that one’s way too easy for Marcie.” Dana chortled. “Soooo freaking easy. And literal, not metaphoric. Ben thinks taking a woman out for a nice dinner includes having the waiter going down on her underneath the linen tablecloth.”

“Not every woman. Just one particular one,” Ben said, reaching over Marcie to flick Dana’s ear.

“Hey, I’m not complaining.” Dana smacked at his hand, connecting solidly despite her not being able to see it. “I personally think that they should offer that service at every restaurant, including the McDonald’s drive-thru. OMG, can you imagine if Lucas had a tongue stud? Cass, you’d need to post a heart warning on his forehead…”

“Orgasmic,” Marcie answered Celeste’s question, with as straight a face as circumstances allowed. “Thanks to the fabulous tongue of our waiter Noah.”

“Hey, I orchestrated the whole thing,” Ben protested. “So I’m the one who deserves the thanks.”

“I could keep going with the rest of his name,” Marcie said, ignoring him. “O’Callahan. Next letter, C – cunnilingus, “a”…”

“Just the first letter,” Celeste said, grinning. “I really wish we could televise this instead of the one we’re going to do. This would be so much more fun. Dana?”

“Peter Winston…hmm.” Dana tapped her drink with a short nail. “I’d call our first date the first session at The Zone, wouldn’t you?”

“Yeah,” he agreed. He had his arm curved over the back of the sofa and she laid her cheek on it now, gazing up at him as if she could see him. “I’d count that.” When he brushed his lips over hers, he gave her decorative choker, adorned with his dog tags, a light tug, caressing her sternum beneath. The gesture let him run his fingertips lightly over the swell of her breasts. Not too immodest, but distractingly possessive and sensual.

Leland’s hand moved off the back of their own settee to slide along Celeste’s nape and caress, as if he were picking up on her reaction, and she was sure he was. She had to force herself to tune back in to Dana’s response.

“The guys had taken Peter to The Zone to decompress right before his deployment to Afghanistan. I was headed to Iraq the very next day. So Winston…W…. Wowsa? WTF? Where are my underwear?”

“I don’t think I ever took off that tiny thong you were wearing that night. I didn’t have any trouble getting past it, that I recall.”

“No you didn’t. You’re a very determined man.”

“Okay.” Celeste took a steadying breath. She and Leland had attended the after party for Ben and Marcie’s wedding, so everyone in this room except Janet and Max had been present when actual sex or BDSM sessions had been going on between all participants. Which meant they weren’t too worried about blatant sexual innuendo. She wasn’t objecting, but she was definitely jumping Leland in one of the seven bathrooms before this was over. “Savannah, um, how about Matt next?”

Matt’s wife, CEO of Tennyson industries and one of the few women on the Fortune 500 list, was the most reserved of all the K&A women, but her blue eyes lit with amusement at the question. “Our first thirty-eight dates, according to my husband, occurred in board rooms. What other people call meetings. But the night we were married, after a wonderful dinner, we took a ride on the beach on his quarter horse. We must have walked four or five miles along the coast, him holding me, the both of us watching the stars come out. He was so gentle, romantic. Kind. So I could say kind for the K in Kensington, but…” An impish look crossed her face, at odds with her normal serious demeanor. It gave Celeste a glimpse of Savannah’s playful side as she met Celeste’s gaze deliberately and spoke after a dramatic pause. “Knightly.”

Celeste laughed with the others. “Perfect.” Privately, she could totally imagine Matt Kensington in a knight’s armor, but it wouldn’t be shiny. It would be battered by a hundred combats, stained with blood. The man had a dangerous conqueror side. “Cass?” She nodded toward Marcie’s older sister, Lucas Adler’s wife.

“Amazing? Awesome?” Lucas prompted her. Cass was stretched on a lounge chair in a swimsuit and sarong that made the most of her lush figure while Lucas had her bare feet in his lap, stroking them. “Keep in mind, I can tickle you mercilessly here.”

“Your modesty is only exceeded by your patience for reality TV.” The corporate negotiator who’d raised five siblings pretty much on her own didn’t look fazed by the thread of tickle torture, though her eyes were full of love for her husband.

“Astonishing,” she decided. “That a man could have the utter balls to walk up to an armed woman on a motorcycle and talk her into oral sex without saying a word.”

“Lucas has far better uses for his tongue than talking,” Savannah said, pressing her lips against a smile, which she directed toward Matt when he tugged her hair.

“Rachel?” Celeste didn’t know if she’d deliberately waited to ask Jon’s wife the question last, but there was something about Rachel that often made her want to take extra care. It wasn’t that the woman acted fragile. She was a physical rehabilitator and a yoga instructor who had a comforting healing mojo vibe around her. But Celeste had a sense that Rachel’s road had been exceptionally rocky, perhaps because until recently she hadn’t had this support network. She sat at her Master and husband’s feet now, leaning against his knee, and wore his collar, a lovely creation of seed pearls and silver wire. Since she looked more content and serene every time Celeste saw her, Celeste thought her hesitation might have been overly protective.

“Jon Forte. Our first date was fortuitous. Fate.”

Jon bent and kissed her warmly, gripping her hair in a tender yet unmistakably possessive way. “Fortunate in all ways,” he said. “For me.”

Who is your spouse's celebrity crush?

“Pass these around to the ladies.” Celeste handed out index cards. “I want you to write down who his celebrity crush is, and then we’ll see if you got it right.”

“This is a trap.” Ben chuckled. “You know we’re supposed to say the only woman we ever notice is our wives.”

“That’s a given,” Janet said pragmatically. “But if you need the caveat, then this is who you’d have fantasies about if you’d never met your wife. Which we know would be instantly replaced by fantasies of her the second you met.”

“I think that’s a time paradox,” Ben said, going over the wording and shooting a grin at Janet when she sent him a freezing look.

“And of course if your wife dies, she’d expect you to pine over her and never look at another woman,” Cass added, nudging Lucas. “Even a celebrity.”

“Another given,” he agreed with a smile.

There were a few minutes of scratching. When all of the women had looked up, Celeste proceeded. “Okay, reverse order this time. Jon, who’s your celebrity crush?”

Jon looked unexpectedly sheepish. “Are you taking a pass?” Celeste asked, nodding to Janet, whose pen was poised to mark the three-plus credit.

“No, he just can’t get it out, because it would ruin his supercool image. Which is an illusion, since we all know he’s a geek. It’s Gillian Andersen,” Peter supplied. “The X-Files chick with red hair. He had a real thing for her when he discovered Scully and Mulder.”

Rachel shrugged helplessly and lifted her card, which was blank. “I couldn’t think of anyone. You always make me feel like…there’s no one else.”

Jon folded up the blank card and tossed it away, then put his hands on her face and brushed his lips over hers once more. At his murmured “There isn’t,” against her lips, Celeste let out a windy sigh. “God, if you guys had done this for the official show, the viewers would have doubled their call-in pledges.”

“Yeah, thanks, Jon,” Matt said dryly. “How’re we going to follow that and still come out on top with our wives?”

Cass grinned. “Well, I’d point out the obvious, that you are ‘tops’, but…” She glanced down the lounge chair at her husband. “Okay, ‘fess up so I can show them how well I know you.”

“Scarlett Johannssen,” Lucas supplied.

Cass grinned and flipped up a card to show Scarlett J written on it. “He loves that part in Iron Man 2 when Robert Downey Jr. says I want one and Gwyneth Paltrow says, No.”

“Ben?” Celeste asked.

“He’s shy about his crush on Justin Bieber,” Peter advised. “Took him a long time to let go of that.”

“Yeah, like you don’t get a hard-on over Dwayne Johnson,” Ben retorted.

“Hey, I’ll take The Rock’s brawny ass over Justin’s any day.”

“Ben?” Celeste repeated, patiently. Janet nudged her.

“Now you understand what I deal with during board meetings,” the secretary said. “They’re like a bunch of toddlers overdosed on Smarties.”

She was sitting on the lounge chair next to Celeste. Max straddled the chair behind her, watching her scribble while he had a hand lightly on her hip, the other curled loosely around a beer. The limo driver, who had Peter’s brawny build and similar coloring with grey eyes and dark blond hair, looked amused at all of them. He didn’t talk much, but he always had a distracting presence, and not just because of that Navy SEAL fit body. He watched over Janet like the sun and moon combined, an appealing vibe to any woman with a pulse.

“Jessica Alba,” Ben said. “Gotta love those brown-eyed blondes.”

“She’s not a natural blonde,” Marcie said primly, though she lifted her card, showing she had the right answer.


“That’s a tough one. I love women in all shapes and sizes,” the big man grunted.

“You love tits in all shapes and sizes,” his wife supplied helpfully. “You only love one woman. A woman who has an assault rifle and six handguns.”

“Very true. But will I earn points if I say my current celebrity crush is Zoe Saldana? A slim, hot woman of color who can kick ass?”

“Doesn’t sound a thing like Dana,” Ben mused. “Not sure how that’s going to earn you points—ow!” He jerked away as Dana found his leg and pinched it with sharp nails.

“Matt?” Celeste asked, choking on laughter.

“Grace Kelly.”

“Jessica Alba, Zoe Saldana and Grace Kelly?” Celeste cast a glance around the room, noting the physical similarities between the men’s celebrity choices and the women they’d married. “I’m sensing a trend here. Jon, they may have figured out how to catch up with you.”

“The real question you should ask is who their crushes were BEFORE they met their wives,” Janet noted. “For Matt, I can vouch that it was always Grace Kelly. Her reserve and style intrigued him. But he’s also known Savannah for quite some time, as Lucas pointed out,” she added with a demure smile at her boss, though her dark eyes twinkled.

“Do you know who the others’ celebrity crushes were before then?” Celeste asked curiously, noting the wives looked similarly interested.

Janet gave Matt a droll look. “I assume it’s not classified information.”

“Would it stop you?” Lucas asked.

“Probably not in this case, because I think brutal honesty is important in every relationship. It’s for your own good. Dolly Parton for Peter.”

At the bark of laughter from his wife, Peter grimaced good-naturedly. “Like that’s a big surprise to any of you…”

“Lucas’s was Ellen Barkin in The Big Easy,” Janet continued, “For her very well-acted, ultra-sexy off camera oral sex scene. Ben’s was Jennifer Lopez, I think because he enjoyed envisioning what he could do to her backside, and Jon’s…” She pursed her lips. “No, nothing there. He truly is very singular in his tastes.”

Rachel beamed while the men made gagging noises at Jon.

What drink best describes your wife on your wedding night?

“Buttery Nipple,” Peter said dreamily.

“Climax, climax, climax…” Lucas supplied. “And that was before actual sex.” He laughed as Cass elbowed him, but then he gave her an appraising look, his silver eyes getting a heated gleam. “It was so fucking hot to take you over that edge with my mouth, over and over, before I was inside of you. Couldn’t get enough of it.”

“Thank God there’s a good breeze off the water tonight,” Celeste murmured. Though Matt Kensington tended to have pretty strict rules about using profanity around women, apparently he was taking Lucas’s usage as a fervent reverence. From the flush that tinged Cass’s face, she agreed.

“The Butt Burner,” Dana said for Ben. “Oh, right, that would be what you did to Marcie, not the other way around…” She yelped as Ben tackled her and mock-tried to smother her with a decorative pillow. She rolled into Peter’s lap like a petite Ninja, using her feet to push at him while Peter fended him off. When they settled, all laughing and Janet calling for order like a stern schoolmistress, Celeste nodded to Matt.

“I have to go with a grocery store wine,” Matt said. “Because it’s appropriate. Barefoot white, because I woke up close to dawn and she was standing in the open sliding glass door of my bedroom, wearing my white shirt and nothing else. Her blond hair tousled and down, all that pretty pale skin, her feet bare. When she turned to me, all I could think is ‘Savannah Tennyson Kensington, my wife, is standing in my bedroom in my shirt and bare feet’.”

“I’ll do the windy sigh for that one,” Dana told Celeste, and she, Marcie and Cass did it simultaneously, with dramatic flair. Celeste noticed Savannah had a charming blush as her husband pressed a kiss to her hand.

“Sassy Bitch,” Jon said, surprising everyone in the room. He grinned. “Rachel showed a whole different side of herself to me that night. It gave me the opportunity to make good use of her hairbrush.”

“My hairbrush, his belt and a kitchen spatula,” Rachel said, with a little shiver. Cass stretched out to give her a high five.

“You go, girl. Look at you, embracing your bad self.”

What is the most embarrassing thing you have done around her?

“Pass, pass, pass…” Ben said emphatically, reaching for his wallet. “I think I have enough cash to cover that right now.”

“Oh no, you HAVE to tell them,” Peter said. “I will triple that bet just to hear the words come out of your mouth.” The other men jumped in to add to the chorus.

Marcie, grinning, squeezed his hand. “It’s for charity, after all.”

“I hate all of you. And payback is a total bitch,” Ben said menacingly to Peter.

“You shouldn’t have told them about it,” Marcie pointed out reasonably. “Because I never would have. I respect your privacy. It’s not my fault the five of you gossip like a bunch of women.”

“We were not gossiping. We were discussing techniques and they tricked it out of me. I still think you let it slip at one of your girl nights.”

“Would I lie?” She blinked innocently at him, and Ben shook his head.

“If you’d only snapped just one picture,” Peter mourned. “We could have blackmailed him forever. Hey.” He reached over Dana and slapped Ben in the head, which the lawyer fended off with a return punch. “No giving your sub the hairy eyeball. She’s got to play the game fair unless you’re serious about being a chickenshit pussy and paying this one off.”

Ben sighed. “Fine. Fuck all of you. I’ll tell it, because she’d just snicker while she was trying to get it out. I’d custom-ordered a toy, an anal plug made to my…dimensions.”

Cass leaned over Matt’s lap, bracing a hand on his thigh as she whispered to Savannah. “Bet that required extra shipping costs.”

Ben shot her a glance, continued. “It had some specific features I didn’t want to use on her until I was sure of the way it would feel. So she came home while I was field testing it. Bends, stretches, squats, walking… that kind of thing.”

He paused, glared at the other men. “Giggling in men is so unattractive,” he observed.

“It’s just as arousing to a male to be stimulated in that area, so needless to say, he was very…impressive looking,” Marcie said dreamily. “I really wished I had taken a picture. Several. They would have gone with me to the grave,” she promised him. “I’d want to take them with me. I’d carry them to the Pearly Gates.”

“Not sure if St. Peter would have let you in with those,” Dana said.

“They would if Mary Magdalene was manning the door,” Janet quipped. “And she’d give Ben an automatic transfer from Hell, right up to Heaven’s door.”

“If you had taken a picture, you would have reached Heaven far sooner than later,” Ben threatened. He pointed a finger at Celeste. “And cop boyfriend or not, that story ever leaves this deck, they won’t find YOUR body at all. Stop laughing.”

As Celeste did her best, Marcie spoke up, saving her Dom further embarrassment and giving Celeste time to compose herself. “How about Matt, Savannah?”

“He was singing in the shower.” Savannah paused, glancing at Matt, who looked pained, but signed, a tacit go-ahead. “‘Love to Love You, Baby’, by Donna Summer.”

“Oh my God.” Now Cassandra started laughing. “Complete with the orgasmic chorus?”

Savannah nodded. “Before I realized he was singing, I thought he was having a stroke. He was going full blast.”

“The damn song had been in my head ever since your wedding reception.” Matt cast an accusing glare at Ben and Marcie. “Do you know how irritating and distracting it is to be meeting with the manufacturing managers of eight plants and have that going through your head? Desperate times called for desperate measures. I figured if I belted it out, it would get rid of it. It worked…until now.” He sent a sharp glance at Lucas and Peter, who were doing a hip hop style hummed version in the background while smirking. “I will fire both of you,” he said darkly.

“Rachel, how about Jon?” Celeste asked.

Celeste was surprised to see K&A’s mechanical genius look…cranky. Rachel, her lips quivering, curled her hands around his biceps. “You know, at the time it happened, I did say it was nice to know that you aren’t always perfectly serene. So it was kind of a gift to me. An enlightening one.”

“And you do always say that enlightenment is important,” Ben said.

Jon grimaced. “I understand why the Buddha went to sit under the tree, way the hell away from anyone else.”

“It was a prank,” Rachel explained. “They’d put together something for us to watch at the office after hours—something private,” she added, giving Celeste a we-can’t-share-that-part droll look. “So after we all went out to dinner that night, we went back to the board room. Jon has a remote for the display projector, programmed to do all sorts of fancy things. The guys had cloned it, or whatever Lucas calls it.” She glanced at Lucas for confirmation. “Lucas had worked it so when Jon’s remote was supposed to be doing one thing, Lucas would hit a button on the clone he had under the table and it would do something else.”

“It drove him absolutely batshit, trying to figure out why it wasn’t doing what he’d programmed it to do,” Lucas put in. “He about had a brain aneurysm right there. Cursing, totally non-Jon like.”

“First time I’ve ever seen that perfect hair of his standing on end,” Matt grinned.

“Unlike Marcie, we were prepared,” Lucas said as Jon crossed his arms over his chest and studied the stars overhead with great interest. “We got it all on tape, too, since you can record in that room. As the ladies well know.” He cast them a fond look which resulted in various looks of amused discomfiture.

Yet the discomfiture was laced with another quality, one that suggested to Celeste the women were recalling exactly what had been recorded in those private board room sessions with great pleasure. She wondered if those were the type of recordings that had been viewed. “We really should do home movies one night,” Peter added. “Now it’s Cass’s turn.”

“Actually, I think it’s my AND Dana’s turn.” Cass poked her husband and threw Peter a mischievous look as Dana snickered. “Lucas and Peter were over at Jon’s house one night. We’d been out for a girl’s dinner, and when we came back, there was all this thumping in the basement. You can see through the windows from the outside, and all we saw was pitch blackness and…” Cass had started to laugh, too hard to continue, so Dana finished, giggling. “Rachel described it to me perfectly. They were sparring with these extra-large, glow-in-the-dark dildos, doing the Star Wars light saber thing with it. All I heard was Peter yelling in an exaggerated Southern accent: “You’ll call me daddy before this is over, Luke, boy!”

“In all fairness, there was a good deal of beer involved in that evening,” Lucas said, though Celeste noticed with delight his ears were somewhat red. “Speaking of which, refills, anyone?”

Who would you cast to play your spouse in a movie?

“Charlie Hunnam!” Dana and Cassandra said at the same time. “I was a syllable ahead,” Dana asserted. “He’s mine. I call dibs. That boy’s more of a badass. He can’t be an accountant, even one with a devil-blessed tongue.”

“But Chris Hemsworth is more like Peter,” Cass wheedled. “Him and his mighty hammer.”

“The hammer might put him more in Ben’s camp,” Peter said.

Dana shrugged. “I’d take Brendan Fraser, too. A la The Mummy Returns with Rachel Weisz. He was hot in that. And so big and brawny. But I really want Charlie.”

“I think Charlie is far more versatile than you realize,” Rachel said. “At least in my fantasies.” As Jon raised a brow, she hastened to add, with a beautiful smile, “That very small proportion of fantasies that don’t feature you as the one and only part of them.”

“But who would you cast to play Jon?” Cassandra asked. “Can’t choose the same guy.”

“Oh, that’s easy. Heath Ledger is Jon in every way, even to the wonderful voice,” Rachel said. A wave of agreement went around the room. Recalling Heath Ledger’s deep voice, Celeste compared it to Jon’s, which could easily belong to a radio DJ’s. It was partly why he could keep a group of meeting attendees mesmerized when he talked. She could only imagine what it was like to hear him issue commands to a sub in that voice. Jon was deceptively mild compared to the other men, but when Rachel had confessed to him using the belt and hairbrush, Celeste hadn’t found it as difficult to imagine as she would have expected. Every once in a while, she’d catch a look on his face that was pure, take-over-all-your-senses Dom. Coupled to that voice… A little shiver went up her spine as she thought of her own Master’s deep, steady voice, commanding her to her knees.

“All right, beeyatch.” Cassandra sighed, sticking her tongue out at Dana. “It will be a sacrifice, but I’ll go with Frederick Weller. With the eyes and the voice, I’m betting he has a tongue almost as clever as yours.” She dropped her head back on Lucas’s shoulder and smiled as he brushed a kiss over her lips, clasping a caressing hand around her throat. “Ooh, or Bradley Cooper.”

Marcie shook her head. “See? This is too tough for any of us.”

“I know.” Ben dusted his fingertips on the front of his shirt. “I’m too unique.”

“Actually, I was wrestling between several different choices. Can I have them all?” she asked Celeste. “They could do different scenes of the movie. Kind of like how the James Bonds change, only in my case it would all be in the same movie.”

“It would take three men to do what I do a third as well,” Ben mused. She elbowed him and he laughed, curling both arms around her and gathering her up to him. “Who are these assholes you’d want to play me?”

“Well…Matt Bomer is as beautiful as you are, but I’m thinking it would be Chris Pine, if he was a brunette with green eyes. He has your intensity. Or Ryan Reynolds in his more serious moments.”

“You’re very quiet,” Cass nudged Savannah. “Boggled by all the choices?”

Savannah gave Matt an appraising look. “Jeffrey Dean Morgan,” she said. “Or Tom Selleck from Quigley Down Under. I keep seeing him in chaps every time we spend time here on the ranch.”

“Can we see him in chaps?” Rachel asked brightly, to a rousing agreement from the other women.

“No.” Matt shook his head emphatically.

Cassandra spoke over the chorus of feminine boos. “You could use the video feature on your phone next time he wears them. We could have our own home movies. Girls’ movie night, our own version of Magic Mike!”

“Okay,” Celeste said, “I’m sorry, but there ABSOLUTELY must be some kind of “whoopee” question in here, because it was always a staple on the show. Where is the most memorable place you have made whoopee?”

Rachel: “The butterfly garden at the Audubon Insectarium. Jon rented it as a private event and we had it all to ourselves. It was amazing to see them fluttering around as we were making love. They landed on our bare skin, during and after.”

Savannah: That’s what I love about our men. They’re happy to be tourists in their own town and find wonderful places for us to be. It was the New Orleans Art Museum,” she said, taking Matt’s hand. “The Impressionist room, which he knows is my favorite. He’d reserved it for the evening, unrolled a cushioned mat, and we lay on the floor right beneath a Monet. He knows how much I love Monet…

Cassandra gave an impish grin. “Lucas took me back to the Berkshires, to the clearing where we met. We even rented a motorcycle and rode it tandem there. I got to drive, but he nearly caused me to have an accident with the things he was doing to me while I was trying to get us there.”

Marcie cleared her throat, glanced at Ben. “Well, I feel kind of white trash after hearing you three, but it was one of the biker bars down on Bourbon Street. We were playing pool, and Ben backed me up to a corner in the shadows and…” She gave a little shudder. “It was definitely memorable.”

“Oooh, girl, not white trash at all.” Dana fanned herself. “Okay, a little, but maybe Ben’ll give Peter the address of that bar? I may not get the full benefit of exhibitionism because I can’t see anything, but Peter is very good at whispering in my ear and telling me what he’s seeing, to get me all hot and bothered. For me, it’d be his boat. He draped this gauzy tent thing on a low hanging branch over the water to protect us from bugs, and then parked it there one night on the full moon. It was a bit of a challenge to do our thing without upsetting the boat, but that made it all the more intense. And staying out there all night, listening to the sounds of the bayou, and feeling the light of that moon through the cloth…I wasn’t so sure about it on the front end, but he made me want to go do it again anytime.”

What was your first married fight about?

“What did we fight about in our first twenty-four hours?” Marcie asked Ben. “We fight pretty much every day about something. Because he’s so hard-headed,” she told Celeste.

“I’m not hard-headed at all. You’re unreasonable. Everyone knows women are unreasonable.” Ben frowned, obviously trying to remember. “Shit, I can’t think of anything. Whatever it was, it wasn’t important. We fought enough beforehand, I think we had our quota for awhile.”

“Newlyweds,” Matt said sagely. “Ask them in another year, Celeste. Lucas?”

“It was money, wasn’t it?” Lucas asked Cassandra. At her nod, he explained. “When we got married, Cass was determined to keep everything equal between us. If I paid for dinner last night, she had to buy the same amount of groceries the next day, or whatnot, and she got pretty OCD about it.”

“But you have to realize these guys also want to pay for everything if it involves a woman,” Cass countered, as the ladies nodded emphatically. “But in all fairness, like most business conflicts I negotiate, we just weren’t seeing it from each other’s perspective. He thought getting more fluid about expenditures was a sign that we trusted one another, a confirmation of what being married is about.”

“Whereas she’d worked hard to earn enough to support her family on her own, and she was proud of that fact. She saw me trying to pay for everything as a way to minimize that accomplishment, make her dependent, a kept woman.” Lucas stroked Cass’s calves, her feet back in his lap again.

Cass smiled a little. “It’s the first time I’ve really seen him lose his temper. He brought his checkbook into my home office, slapped it down and said, ‘Fine. You want to make sure the balance sheet stays perfectly fucking even, then you can deposit or withdraw from my accounts whatever you want. I’ll become your kept man if you feel like you have to take care of the whole fucking world.”

“Wow. Two curse words in one rant,” Savannah said, her eyes twinkling. “He was quite angry.”

“He was. But having it out helped us understand one another. Now I know he was just letting me know we were in this together going forward, not trying to take over. We had some of those discussions while we were engaged, but I guess we had to reach a meltdown point to resolve it once and for all.”

“That’s my wife. The negotiator and diplomat.” Lucas dropped a kiss on top of her head. “For my part, I realized I needed to convince her that I found her more than capable of caring for her family, that that wasn’t even an issue for me. But I still won’t let her pay for dinner when we go out.”

“A man’s got to draw a line in the sand somewhere,” Matt agreed while his wife rolled her eyes.

Their attention turned to Dana as she chuckled, responding to Peter’s murmured prompt in her ear. “Ours is so mundane. Toilet seat lid.” She held up a finger as the group started to laugh, “It’s a big freaking deal if you’re blind. You find the base with your foot, and turn around to sit down, and find yourself halfway into the sewer system, especially if you have a narrow ass like mine. If he didn’t stop forgetting to put it down, I told him I was going to talk to my youth group at church, the one with my devoted juvenile delinquents. They’d catch me a copperhead snake, which I’d drop in there before he goes in to do his thing. See how he likes something biting him in the ass when he’s not expecting it.”

“There are always adjustments when you start to share a household,” Peter said magnanimously. “It just took me a little time to get up to speed on that one.”

“A little time and the threat of venom-injected testicles,” Jon agreed.

“Okay, Rachel. Do you two ever fight?” Celeste asked. She just couldn’t imagine it.

“Yes,” Rachel said emphatically. “Explosive materials in the lab.”

“Some of Jon’s best experiments involve explosive material,” Ben objected. “Chicks ruin everything.”

“Didn’t you tell me you didn’t have any explosive material in your lab?” Leland queried.

“Only C-4,” Rachel declared in an exaggerated tone.

“I have a permit for that,” Jon said.

“I’m not sure anyone outside of industrial use gets a permit for C-4,” Leland mused.

“Don’t be such a cop. It depends on whether you know the legal loopholes for it,” Ben said. “Which I do.”

“You know the loops in the loops in the loops,” Cassandra retorted.

“Which is why he’s paid so well,” Matt said comfortably.

“I am very capable of using explosive material safely,” Jon defended himself.

“Except for that day something happened, and there was a minor explosion down there that shook the house. I was sure you’d blown an arm off.”

“I had a blast shield around it.”

“I’m not sure this argument is completely resolved,” Cassandra murmured to Savannah. “At least you’re a nurse, Rachel,” she interjected. “You can keep the limb on ice until someone can sew it back on.”

“After I beat him over the head with it,” Rachel muttered.

“Savannah?” Celeste asked. “First marital fight?”

“Al Forsecki.”

Matt grimaced. Celeste looked around, because the members of the group were chuckling again. “Before Matt and I got together, Al took me to dinner a few times, for business functions,” Savannah explained. “He served as my plus-one, nothing but a friend.”

“In her mind. Not in his. He had a hard time understanding she was married. When we were at a reception, he thought he’d push the point by getting her off by herself to maul her. Claimed he wanted to have at least one kiss from the bride to verify she really wanted to be off the market.”

“And why is he alive?” Celeste asked Marcie. Marcie grinned.

“Your basic biblical miracle. And Peter was there to pull Matt off him.”

“Which was entirely unnecessary,” Savannah said censoriously. “I rebuffed his advance, verbally and physically. I pushed him away and told him that was inappropriate. He was in the process of apologizing and straightening his suit coat, when Matt dragged him to the chocolate fountain on the buffet table and tried to drown him.”

“I was cooling him off. He needed it.”

“You overreacted, and acted like I was incapable of handling something as simple as discouraging a man’s attentions. Most men are not like you. They take no for an answer.” She softened the jab by touching her husband’s strong jaw. “Though I can say--on a few occasions—I’ve been glad of that trait.”

“Taking no for an answer isn’t one of your team’s strengths,” Celeste said to Matt. “According to an informal poll of your wives.” She raised a hand, a prompt, and five hands shot into the air in agreement. Six, because Dana put both in the air. Grinning, Celeste glanced at Janet. “Max doesn’t seem easily dissuadable either.”

“It’s the SEAL way,” Janet said, gazing at him fondly. “’No’ is failure, and there is no such thing as failure.”

“So has he proposed yet?” Marcie asked brightly. “Because if he doesn’t take no for an answer, we can set a date.”

“Your wedding nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. If we ever have one, you might have set it back a decade,” the executive admin told her tartly. But from the look she cast at Max, Celeste wondered if the question had already been posed and was pending. There were times—not often—when she missed doing the social column news.

“How about you, Celeste?” Marcie asked, tucking her tongue in her cheek. “I know you and Leland aren’t married – yet – but what’s your most recent fight?”

“Some people, who shall remain nameless, want to keep the house picked up and clean far beyond what any normal human would. Who cares if papers and files are left stacked on chairs and tables?”

“My recliner,” Leland said. “You left a stack of news clippings, as well as an empty yogurt container and the dirty spoon, in my recliner. I was merely indicating there are boundaries.” He cocked a brow at her, gave her a slow smile. “You didn’t seem to mind how I made my point at the time.”

Clearing her throat and ignoring Marcie’s snicker, Celeste glanced at the clock. She’d told Janet she wouldn’t take up more than an hour of the evening, and it was drawing close to that point. “Okay, here are a grab bag of questions, which some or all of you can answer, depending on who has an answer.”

What song would you pick to describe your wife in the bedroom?

“How about “Superfreak” for Marcie?” Dana said glibly to Ben.

“Only if yours is “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls,” Marcie retorted, grinning.

Ben and Peter exchanged a look. “I think they both covered that one pretty well,” Peter said. “We’ll go with those two.”

What song best describes your husband in a bathing suit?

“I’ll answer that for all the ladies,” Dana said. “Pretty much any hymn that has ‘Praise the Lord, Hallelujah, and thank You for these bountiful gifts’ in the lyrics.”

“Amen,” Savannah said with fervor, making the rest of them laugh.

What will your husband say is his scrawniest muscle?

“Not Lucas’s tongue,” Marcie quipped right away.

“Or Ben’s groin muscle. It’s got a lot to lift,” Dana noted.

“I’m not sure a muscle is responsible for that,” Rachel said in a practical sort of way. “It’s more of a blood thing.”

“Don’t mess with the flow,” Dana responded, giving her a pinch. “This isn’t about science.”

What movie or book title will your husband say gives the best overall description of your marriage?

Marcie laughs. “That easy. War and Peace.”

Rachel nodded. “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Read it years ago, so don’t remember the content, but at least the title seems fitting.”

“Hmm,” Dana mused. “I’m going to go with The Bible. Lots of different interpretations of the same material, all of it capable of being twisted to the meaning that best suits ‘his’ own purposes. And that’s the lower case ‘his’, by the way.”

“Very appropriate for being married to a minister,” Peter said agreeably, ignoring the jibe.

“If your wife was a superhero, what would her superpower be?” Celeste beamed at the assembled group. “The question is actually written the other way, but I’m changing it up. I figure the men’s superpowers are already widely known.”

“We’d deny it, but Matt doesn’t permit modesty,” Lucas agreed. “Says it’s dishonest and a detriment to his desire to take over the world. Cassandra’s is negotiation. She could get someone to buy firewood in hell.”

“Spiritual strength,” Peter said, touching Dana’s face in a serious moment. “She has faith to spare. She gives the people at her church the strength to get back on the right moral ground and give themselves a better life.”

Dana closed her hand over his, turning her face into his large palm. “You’re a big part of my spiritual strength,” she responded. “So I guess you’re the reverse of kryptonite for me.”

“Will,” Matt said emphatically, glancing at his blonde-haired wife, who regarded him with amusement. “When she sets her mind to something, nothing’s changing it, short of an act of God. And even He better bring reinforcements. Fire, flood, whatever.”

“I remember you changed my mind about you,” she observed.

“Did I mention the act of God thing? I brought all of them to help me.” He nodded to his team. “And even then, it was a close thing.”

“He compared us to natural catastrophes,” Ben said. “Isn’t he just the bestest boss ever?’

“I think he was saying you were forces of nature,” Cassandra said smoothly.

“See what I mean about the negotiating skills?” Lucas grinned.

* * * * *

“All right, I think that about winds us up,” Celeste said. When Janet showed her the marks on the pad, she smiled. “That’s an awesome number. The Salvation Army is going to do backflips. I really appreciate you all doing this.”

“You’re going to be a great emcee for the official event. We can’t wait to watch it.” Matt rose, offering his hand to Savannah. “What do you all say to a swim? Cocktails by the pool.”

“Awesome. Time to go swim with the kids in the indoor pool and play video games. I call the controller for the first round of Call of Duty,” Peter called out.

Ben shot him a grin. “Gotta catch me first, muscle-head.”

“I’ll have the check cut and sent to the charity,” Janet told Celeste as the group started to rise. Ben and Peter already had a head start, taking the stairs off the deck. Marcie linked arms with Celeste.

“Do you feel more comfortable doing this now? You said earlier you weren’t sure if it was a step back toward social news, even though it was being done for charity.”

“Yeah, I said that. But I run my own blog now, so I can do a little of this, a little of that. And I’ve learned lately that love is just as important as crime news.” Celeste cast a look at her Master, who was talking to Savannah and Matt. However, at her regard, he sent her his warm, you’re-all-mine smile. “Being around you all reminds me of that pretty vividly.”

“I can see that.” Marcie squeezed her. “Dopey-in-love girl.”

“Yeah, right back at you. I think I’m going to enjoy twining around Leland in nothing but a swimsuit.”

“Ben mentioned something about chicken fights.” Marcie winked. “Let’s not keep them waiting.”


More about the Knights of the Board Room series: Five powerful corporate executives, five bonded males. Together they help each man find the woman of his dreams, even when it takes the sensual talents of all five to break through her shields and convince her that he’s the Master who can love her—body, heart, and soul.

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