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The Reluctant Dom (Suncoast Society #4)
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Love hurts…if you’re lucky.
Kaden’s dying, but before he goes he has one problem to solve–he must ask his oldest and dearest friend, Seth, to take over as Dom and Master to his beloved wife, Leah.
Seth has always seen himself as the perpetual screwup and Kaden as the strong and steady one, so his friend’s request rocks his world. He also knows there’s no way he can refuse Kaden this.
Now Seth finds himself immersed in a role he’s far from comfortable with–inflicting physical pain to provide emotional comfort to the woman he’s secretly loved for years. Can he deal with his crushing grief over the impending loss of his oldest friend and still learn the skills he must master in time to become The Reluctant Dom?
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“I made her three promises when we got married, Seth. I would never lie to her. I would always take care of her. I would protect her, never let anyone hurt her ever again.”
Seth watched his friend swirl the bourbon and ice in his drink. Kaden had laid his glasses on the table, and his face looked haggard and worn. There was something deeply wrong with his friend tonight. They’d known each other over forty years, since they were babies and their moms were best friends, and this was plain…
Kaden met his friend’s concerned gaze. “I love her, Seth. She’s my life. What am I going to do?”
“What are you talking about, dude? You’re freaking me out.”
Kaden sat back in his chair. “I went to the doctor today.”
Seth felt a mental chill. “Are you gonna make me beat it out of you or what?”
Kaden took another drink. This was their weekly boys’ night out, but Seth knew this was nothing like any other night. “I’m dying,” Kaden whispered.
This had to be a horrible practical joke. Kaden was always looking for a way to get one up on Seth and sucker him in. “Dude, that’s not funny. You don’t fucking joke about something like that.”
“Do I look like I’m laughing?”
Seth studied him, a cold, hard rock of emotion settling in his stomach. “What the fuck?”
“I’ve got cancer. Best guess is a year or so.”
“Well you need to go get a second opinion! Maybe the doctor’s wrong. They can be wrong, you know.”
Kaden looked at his glass again. “This was my third opinion. Pancreatic cancer. Inoperable.”
Numb shock engulfed Seth. This man was his brother in everything except name and blood. There were a few years they were separated by distance while Seth was in the Army, and even then they’d e-mailed and talked on the phone as much as possible. Other than that, they’d been close.
“They’ve got medicine, radiation, chemo. There’s got to be something.”
“No. I refuse to spend the time I’ve got left like that. They said it’ll only buy me a few months, if I’m lucky. I’d rather not spend it puking my guts up.”
“But there’s got to be something—”
Kaden shook his head. “I refuse to go out like my dad did. I go out on my terms.” He took another sip of his drink.
What do you say in a situation like that?
Seth shook his head. “Fuck.” He took a swig of beer. “How’s Leah holding up?” he quietly asked.
“I haven’t told her yet.”
He stared at his friend in disbelief. “What do you mean you haven’t told her?”
“I wanted to make sure before I did. I saw the first two doctors last week. They all agree on the diagnosis—and the prognosis.”
Poor Leah. They’d been married nearly twenty years. Seth was overseas in the Army when Kaden met and married her in the span of three months. Seth had immediately liked her when he returned home and got to meet her. She was good for Kade.
Seth was lost in a swirl of emotions. Kaden had to repeat his question. “How’s the apartment hunting going?”
What the fuck? Kade had just dropped the bomb that he was dying, and now he was asking about that?
Seth numbly shook his head while still trying to process Kaden’s news. “I’m still looking. It’s hard since I’m in school and shit. I’m sick of living at Ben’s place and need to get back out on my own.” Seth’s older brother had insisted on him staying with them during Seth’s divorce.
“So you’re finally free of the bitch? I knew the papers had to be coming soon.”
“Paperwork came through last week. I’m officially divorced. Only took two years and losing my ass.” He looked at Kaden and refocused on the discussion at hand. “Quit changing the fucking subject!”
Kaden knowingly smiled. “I wasn’t.”
Kaden sat back. “We need to have a talk.”
“Fuck that. You need to get your ass home and tell Leah.”
Kaden’s grey eyes settled on his. “I need to talk to you first,” he said, his voice dropping to a soft, steady tone. “Seriously.”
Seth took a deep breath. “Okay, what?”
“I want you to move in with us.”
Seth blinked. “What?”
“We’ve got plenty of room.”
“What?” He’d wake up any minute from this nightmare. Or whacked-out dream, or whatever the fuck it was. This could not be real, couldn’t be happening.
Kaden leaned forward and dropped his voice even further. “I need you to hear me out, without interruption. I don’t want you to give me a yes or no tonight, okay? Can you do that for me?”
Seth slowly nodded.
Kaden’s eyes never left his. “I need to tell you a few things about myself. About Leah. I need you to listen so you understand where I’m coming from, because this is hard enough for me to talk about without justifying myself to my best friend, okay? Promise?”