Loving You Easy by Roni Loren




  PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF RONI LOREN

  “Hot and romantic, with an edge of suspense.”

  —Shayla Black, New York Times bestselling author

  “An angsty backstory made beautiful by a hero who doesn’t know how perfect he is. Don’t miss this Ranch treat!”

  —Carly Phillips, New York Times bestselling author

  “[A] steamy, sexy yet emotionally gripping story.”

  —Julie Cross, author of the Tempest novels

  “I dare you to even attempt to put it down.”

  —Cassandra Carr, author of Burning Love

  “Unique and emotional.”

  —USA Today

  “Thoroughly pleasing . . . The romance is as sweet as the action is hot, and there’s something deeply satisfying about the way this couple comes together.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Get ready to crank up the A/C—this is a scorcher!”

  —RT Book Reviews

  “Loren does an incredible job portraying the BDSM lifestyle in a sexy and romantic way . . . Loren should definitely be put on the must-read list.”

  —The Book Pushers

  “Like a roller-coaster ride . . . When you hit the last page, you say, let’s ride it again.”

  —Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

  “Roni Loren’s books are masterful, story-driven, sensual and very erotic . . . Definitely one of my have-to-get-as-soon-as-possible series!”

  —Under the Covers Book Blog

  Titles by Roni Loren

  CRASH INTO YOU

  MELT INTO YOU

  FALL INTO YOU

  NOT UNTIL YOU

  CAUGHT UP IN YOU

  NEED YOU TONIGHT

  NOTHING BETWEEN US

  CALL ON ME

  OFF THE CLOCK

  WANDERLUST

  LOVING YOU EASY

  Novellas

  STILL INTO YOU

  FOREVER STARTS TONIGHT

  BREAK ME DOWN

  NICE GIRLS DON’T RIDE

  YOURS ALL ALONG

  BERKLEY

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  Copyright © 2016 by Roni Loren

  Penguin Random House supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

  BERKLEY is a registered trademark and the B colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Names: Loren, Roni, author.

  Title: Loving you easy / Roni Loren.

  Description: Berkley trade paperback edition. | New York : Berkley Books, 2016. | Series: A loving on the edge novel ; 9

  Identifiers: LCCN 2016025988 (print) | LCCN 2016028867 (ebook) |

  ISBN 9780425278574 (softcover) | ISBN 9780698184237 (eBook)

  Subjects: LCSH: Sexual dominance and submission—Fiction. | Bondage (Sexual

  behavior)—Fiction. | Virtual reality—Fiction. | BISAC: FICTION / Romance/ Contemporary. | FICTION / Contemporary Women. | FICTION / Romance /General. | GSAFD: Romantic suspense fiction. | Erotic fiction.

  Classification: LCC PS3612.O764 L69 2016 (print) | LCC PS3612.O764 (ebook) |

  DDC 813/.6—dc23

  LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016025988

  Cover art: Fiber optics © alexskopje / Shutterstock.

  Cover design by Annette DeFex.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  To my husband, kidlet, and family,

  thank you for your endless encouragement and love.

  To my friend Dawn for being my sounding board and

  first reader for this book. It might’ve been

  burned in a bonfire before it was

  done if you hadn’t helped me push past the roadblocks.

  Thanks for being such a bossy cheerleader!

  And finally, to my readers, thank you for continuing

  on this journey with me. I look forward to

  many more trips to come!

  CONTENTS

  PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF RONI LOREN

  TITLES BY RONI LOREN

  TITLE PAGE

  COPYRIGHT

  DEDICATION

  PROLOGUE

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

  CHAPTER THIRTY

  CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

  EPILOGUE

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  PROLOGUE

  february 14th—log-in time: 11:26 p.m.

  I know how to recognize dangerous men.

  My mother taught me from an early age what to zero in on. The way a man looked at you. The way he spoke. The way he tried to get you to do something or see his point of view. The way he made you feel when he came close to you, that visceral, bone-deep sense that there was danger present. Your instincts know, Cora. Don’t ignore them.

  It’d been a lot to teach an eight-year-old.

  I doubt Mom wanted me to have to face that kind of fear so early on, but when you’re a detective and there’s a killer on the loose with a vendetta against you, you do what you have to do. My mom never caught the killer, and I never forgot the lesson.

  So even though he’s only a form on a screen, a cartoon really, I know the instant that he strides into the game what Master Dmitry is. I know what my body is trying to tell me even as I sit in the safety of my bedroom on the other side of a screen. Danger. Back away.

  But I don’t. I can’t.

  Dangerous men scare me. And I’m fascinated. After years of being mostly ignored, of failing at the dating game, of making high art of being put in the friend zone, I want to know what it’s like to be someone else. To not play it safe. To be desired.

  I use my wireless controller and have my character, Lenore, flip her hair to catch his attention. She’s so unlike me, Lenore. All flowing blond locks and epic curves. Feminine with a capital F. She’s the girl the guys fantasize about. I want to be that girl for a little while. Feel what that’s like.


  He turns and faces me. His hair is long and the color of the deep ocean, pulled back with a leather band. He’s chosen to wear all black. Most of the dominants in the Hayven game wear the same, but somehow it looks more fitting for him, like he was made to only wear that color. He hasn’t designed his character to be overly muscled. He doesn’t look like a comic book superhero like most of the male players in Hayven, but he’s tall and broad and intimidating. Quietly powerful.

  “So, you’re Lenore.”

  The deep voice in my headset makes me jump. I know the sound is affected by the voice changer the game has. Hayven has layers of identity protection. That’s why I’ve chosen this game, why I can be someone else without worry. But still, the sound of him in my ear is enough to send goose bumps prickling my skin. I lick my lips, force the word past my lips. “Yes.”

  He doesn’t correct me, tell me to call him sir. I like that. I like players who don’t make assumptions.

  He steps closer. We’re in the public part of the game. You can create whatever environment you want in the private spaces, but the main part of the game has zones—the park, the island, the city, the forest, and the main house. Right now we’re in the forest. A place with towering trees and limited moonlight. There’s a map in a small box in the corner of my screen where a few red dots glow, indicating other players are nearby, but I can’t see anyone. That’s why I was here. I was looking for others to watch. That’s what I do. Harmless fun. But with Dmitry moving toward me and the first-person style of the game, I feel like I’m suddenly alone with this man. Red Riding Hood to his Wolf. I’m looking through Lenore’s eyes and there’s nowhere to run.

  “You’re popular around here,” he says, that deep voice a stroke against my ear, the sound intimately close in my headset. Despite the name, there’s no accent.

  Popular. Ha. There’s a word that’s never been used to describe me before. Unless it was to designate most popular girl to play against in a video game battle or most popular chick to invite to guys’ poker night. But I remind myself that he’s not talking about me. Tomboy. Proud geek girl. He’s talking about Lenore. Pretty, voluptuous Lenore. “I do all right.”

  The night sky is black behind him until a streak of lightning cuts across it, making the leaves of the digital trees turn to a thousand silhouettes. The gamemasters are brewing a storm, playing with the many toys this game has. Dmitry doesn’t appear to notice. If anything, he looks as if he’s called the lightning himself, his presence making everything feel electric. “Why do you think you’re so popular? Besides being beautiful. There are lots of beautiful women here.”

  Yeah, no shit. No one’s going to make an ugly avatar. Hello, beauty of video games. But I don’t know how to answer the question. I’m not sure why I get a lot of friends or attention in the game. Maybe it’s because I’m involved but mysterious. I’m a watcher, a tease, not a participator. “I’m here a lot. People get to know me.”

  His blue hair is blowing in the wind now, a few strands pulling free of the tieback. “You’re here on Valentine’s Day.”

  The words hit me like icy drops of rain, yanking me briefly out of the game world and back into reality. Like I need a reminder. Like the TV isn’t playing a marathon of every romantic movie ever made. Like the dudes at my shitty job didn’t spend the day incessantly talking about how they’re so getting laid tonight because they threw a box of chocolate or some flowers at a girl. Like the guy I’ve been sleeping with for three years didn’t balk when I asked him if he wanted to do something tonight.

  Why? It’s not like we’re dating, Cora. We’re just great FWB. You’re like a bro with a vagina. Sex without the drama of things like Valentine’s Day. Which made me realize a) I thought I had a boyfriend and didn’t, b) I’ve been sleeping with a guy who uses chat abbreviations in actual speech, and c) he actually said bro with a vagina like that was an okay thing to call me. I’m not sure which one disturbs me more. Probably that I let this “bro with a penis” in my bed. For three years. It’s too pathetic to even cry about. Okay, maybe I cried a little.

  “I’m not a romantic. Hallmark holidays aren’t my thing.” I ignore the half-empty heart-shaped box of Russell Stover candy I bought at the Walgreens on the way home.

  “Guess we have that in common, then.” He’s close now. If this were real life, the wispy dress Lenore is wearing would be whipping in the breeze, brushing against his skin. He looks like he wants to rip it off. I kind of want him to, until he lifts his hand.

  My fingers, so in tune with the controller by now, automatically shift to make Lenore take a step back. My heartbeat has picked up speed. The danger signals are going off in my head, the virtual world playing tricks on my real brain.

  “Why are you scared to play, Lenore?” The voice caresses my senses, startles me with its quiet edge as he lowers his hand.

  “What? I’m not. I just . . . like to watch.”

  “I know. I’ve watched you watch. I’ve also watched you deftly deflect any offers. You’re good at the tease. Good at playing the less-experienced dominants and keeping them panting after you.”

  My throat tightens and I reach for my beer to take a sip. I’ve seen glimpses of Dmitry in the game. But if he plays, he does it privately. And he doesn’t seem to have any regulars he talks to either. He’s like a shadow. That guy at the bar who comes in, drinks, and leaves. But somehow he knows. He knows that despite the submissive designation on my character, I’ve never actually played that role in the game. “You watch, too.”

  “Yes, I do. But I also study. There’s a difference. I’ve studied you.” He steps closer and this time my fingers are frozen against the controller. There’s so much that I don’t know. I don’t know what he really looks like. I don’t know how he smells or if his real voice is that deep. But somehow with his words in my ear, the soft sound of his breath, my body reacts anyway, knows there’s a real man on the end of this phone line. My skin is warming, my blood pumping, arousal and a hint of fear twining together. He reaches up and brushes hair away from Lenore’s face. I shouldn’t feel a tingle against my brow where his fingers would be, but I do. “I’m tired of watching.”

  “Oh.” My voice is small, an afterthought. My persona as Lenore the Confident Vixen slips out of my reach as my real self invades.

  “I think you are, too.”

  I close my eyes, the words filtering through my blood, my defenses rising, trying to put up some sort of fight against my galloping libido. “Why would you think that? You don’t know me.”

  “I know enough,” he says with utter calm. “I know that you’re smart and that anytime someone gets you close to participating in the game, you make jokes, get sarcastic, and protect yourself. You’ve got a sharp wit and a smart mouth, Lenore. I bet in your life, you’re a force, a successful woman with a lot on her plate. You don’t give in to men. You don’t give in to anyone.”

  The truth of the words rattles me. This man doesn’t know me, but somehow it’s like he’s peering through the computer screen and seeing my life.

  “And that’s exactly why you crave this so much. Why you’re here so often. You want to know what it’s like and it terrifies you.”

  My throat is dry, the words sticky against my tongue. “This is just a game.”

  “It’s been a very long time for me, Lenore, and I know this is a game. Believe me. But ignore the window dressing on the screen. What’s real is that I’m here and you’re here. Whatever roles and labels we have in real life aren’t with us right now. All that’s left is this: what we want to do right now, alone, with no one else watching or judging. No one will know what happens tonight except us. You can let go. You’re safe.”

  Safe.

  My mother would say that word is its own kind of lie, but I want to believe it. Right now, I do. The truth tumbles out of me. “I don’t know how to do this.”

  “Close your eyes.” The words are gen
tle but commanding.

  I can’t do anything but listen. My lids fall shut.

  “All you have to do is listen to my voice. You can always say no at any point, but trust that I’ve got your pleasure in mind. I can give you what I know you’re craving when you watch. All I ask is that you’re honest with me, in your reactions and in what you’re telling me you’re doing. And I’ll give you the same.” He pauses for a long second and when he speaks again, his voice has grit in it, his own need sneaking through. “Give me tonight. I want to hear what you sound like when you surrender to it, how you sound when you come.”

  I swallow hard and something tightens low in my belly. I knew all along where this was leading. From the very moment he walked into my corner of the game. That’s what Hayven is about ultimately—sex. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use what I watched in Hayven for fantasy fodder. But I’ve never taken the step of sharing that experience with another player. It seems a little too . . . far. Too personal. Like it stops being a game and becomes part of my life. And maybe a piece of me had thought it would be like cheating on Kevin—Kevin who was never my boyfriend. But there’s no more Kevin and the temptation is beating through me like a wild drumbeat.

  “Don’t you want to know what it’s like? To give up the power for just a little while? To let go of any responsibilities and just listen and act?” His voice is like a dark, winding river, rumbling against my senses, dragging me into the current. “To let me bring you to your edge? To know you’re bringing me to mine?”

  I inhale deeply, keeping my eyes closed, and focus on just his voice. Not the game. Not Lenore. Not the romantic comedy playing in the living room. Not the fact that everyone else I know is on a date tonight. Just the unfamiliar sound of a sexy dominant man making irresistible promises in my ear. Let me bring you to your edge.

  Your instincts know, Cora.

  I’ve spent my life avoiding dangerous men.

  I won’t tonight.

  In the tell-no-secrets safety of my bedroom, I say yes.

  ONE

  four months later

 
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