The Challenge


Katie Donato and Dean Manion are total opposites. She’s straight, he’s gay. She’s a serial monogamist, he’s never been into commitment. But they both love sex, and a challenge.

So when Katie tells Dean she thinks she could pleasure him better than he could ever satisfy her, he dares her to prove it—by sleeping together. Soon Katie and Dean are taking their friendship to places they never imagined.

But what about the guys they’re really interested in dating?

Available now at:


“You’re late. Again.” Katie Donato barely glanced away from her laptop as Dean Manion slipped the nonfat, sugar-free white chocolate latte onto her desk and his lean, long body into the chair next to hers.

“But I brought lattes.”

She glanced at him then, taking in the smug grin, the artfully careless hair, the slightly loosened tie. “You know, traffic is a good excuse for being late. Lost car keys. Forgetting you had to pick up your favorite suit from the dry cleaner’s, even. But not last-minute blow jobs from the dude at the Copy Cabana.”

Dean laughed and sipped from his own cup. “Not last-minute, not Copy Cabana.”

At this, she swiveled in her chair to study him. “Don’t tell me you had a sleepover last night?”

Dean grinned in answer and drank deeply. “Ahhh, sweet caffeine. I’m going to need it.”

“Is that your subtle way of saying you were up all night fucking?” Katie lifted a brow and sipped at the drink, then tipped the cup toward him. “This is a peace offering but it still doesn’t let you off the hook. We have a meeting with Smith and Simon in half an hour and I’ve been here since eight putting this proposal together.”

“Sorry.” Dean’s brows knitted and he leaned forward to rub his knees against hers, but Katie pushed him away with a laugh.

“Stop. I’m not some eighteen-year-old, just-out-of-the-closet emo-banged pretty boy. I’m immune to your wiles.”

“Bullshit.” Dean said this with the utter and absolute confidence of a man who oozes sensual appeal and knows it. He leaned back and propped his feet, shod in expensive Italian leather, on her desk.

Katie shoved them off. “It’s not bullshit. I know you too well, Dean. You’re like a Lladró figurine. Pretty to look at but too expensive to be practical and not at all useful.”

“Hey.” He frowned at this and set his cup on the desk to lean toward her again. He touched her knee. “The fuck’s that supposed to mean?”

Katie, spreadsheet completed, hit the Print button and stood to smooth the wrinkles in her skirt. “It means you should’ve been here at eight this morning to do your part of this project and you weren’t, because you were too busy getting your dick sucked.”

She wasn’t angry–not really. Annoyed but not furious. She’d worked with Dean long enough to understand him, so when he sidled in late to work with a latte for her, she knew better than to be surprised. Didn’t mean he was free of blame, though.

“I said I’m sorry.”

She knew he meant it, even as she knew without even looking at him he was giving her a patented Dean sexy stare guaranteed to bring most anyone to their figurative knees. She pulled the papers from her printer and stapled them, then slipped them into the presentation folder she’d carefully prepared. She gathered the rest of her materials while he watched in silence, but damn it, lost it all when she could no longer stifle the yawn that had been doing its best to sneak out of her.

“Ha!” Dean stood, looming. “What’s that?”

Katie feigned innocence and swigged coffee. “What?”

“You yawned.” Dean had no problems invading anyone’s personal space if it benefited him, but he was one of the few who could get away with such a thing with Katie. Now he sidled up close, blocking her retreat by pressing a thigh against hers to keep her pinned with the desk at her back. “Up late?”

Katie bit hard on the inside of her cheek to keep from giving in to a grin. “None of your business.”

“Katie,” Dean said in a low, sultry tone. “Of course it’s my business. Who was he? Guy from the dry cleaner’s? The gym? Don’t tell me he’s that loser from college who looked you up on Connex.”

“Time for the meeting.”

It was useless, and Katie should’ve known better. Dean put out one long arm and kept her from moving past him. “Spill it.”

She sighed. “Fine. You don’t know him because I’ve never mentioned him before. I met him in a coffee shop a few months ago.”

“The Green Bean? Which guy?”

“No. The Morningstar Mocha. And you wouldn’t know him, he’s straight.” At least she thought Jimmy was straight. She hoped he was.

“A few months ago? You’ve been holding out on me?” Dean frowned. “Damn.”

“Not holding out.” Katie rested her butt on the desk, an eye on the clock, and drank her coffee. “There isn’t anything to tell you. Unlike you, I don’t bang just any guy who comes along.”

Dean put a hand over his heart. “That hurts. You act like I don’t have standards.”

It was nice to have a friend good enough to understand that a single raised brow meant so much. “Uh-huh.”

He leaned against the filing cabinet across from her. “He kept you up late. That’s something.”

“We weren’t fucking, Dean.”

He made a face. “Why the hell not?”

“I don’t know,” Katie teased. “Maybe I’m wrong and he is gay.”

Dean snorted into his coffee and tilted his head to study her. “You like him?”

“You like the guy you were with this morning?” She deflected the question easily enough.

“I like all the guys I’m with, at least at the time.”

Katie ticked off the list on her fingers. “You let him sleep over and were late to work because of him. Granted, that doesn’t mean much, but add to that the fact you haven’t been describing every inch of his cock to me in precious, explicit detail, and I’m pretty sure that means you like him.”

Dean’s gaze shifted. Ah, she was spot-on. Wow.

“Dunno what you mean.”

“You only keep quiet about the dudes you like, which are few and far between lately.” Actually, there hadn’t been any. Katie kept the tone light, not wanting to bring up old flames just for the sake of needling her friend–there was plenty to tease Dean about without bringing Ethan into it.

“Sure, I like him. I like lots of stuff.”

Katie laughed. “I know you do.”

With this laid out between them, Dean seemed satisfied. “So long as he’s not that douche from Connex. That guy was bad news.”

Katie laughed at the way Dean bristled on her behalf. “Umm…no. I wouldn’t even fuck him with your dick. C’mon, move that pretty ass. Time to shine.”

“We have a few minutes.”

Katie sighed again. An old argument. She liked to be prompt, even early. Dean preferred to make a grand entrance. She eyed his practiced pout. “I told you, that doesn’t work on me.”

“It works on everyone.”

This was very close to true. “Only because everyone else doesn’t know you like I do. All promise, no delivery.”

Dean leered, once more leaning so close Katie could get a full whiff of his delicious cologne. “Shut your mouth! The fuck you mean, no delivery? I deliver.”

Katie leaned, too, so her breath would tickle his earlobe. “No, babe. That ass and that smile promise a lot but Dean Manion only delivers to addresses on Penis Avenue. Vagina Street’s out of your delivery zone, remember?”

He turned his face half an inch so his lips brushed her neck. “Just because I don’t doesn’t mean I couldn’t.”

At this boast, so typical, Katie burst into laughter loud enough to make her happy she had her own office with a closed door. She pushed at his chest. “Please. You’ve never fucked a woman. Have you ever even kissed a woman?”

“I’ve kissed you,” he reminded her, letting her push him away but not making it easy.

“A New Year’s Eve kiss under mistletoe. Besides,” Katie said as she gave his tie a fond yank, “there was no tongue. Doesn’t count.”

“Doesn’t mean I couldn’t,” Dean repeated stubbornly.

Katie cast another glance at the clock. Fifteen minutes to make it from her office, down the hall, up three floors in the notoriously slow elevator, down another two corridors to get to the meeting room. “Look, your reputation as a sex bomb is safe with me. I swear I will never reveal to all the women crushing on you that you’d rather get a paper cut on your tongue than eat pussy.”

She laughed again at his outraged expression. “Don’t act like it’s not true. I’ve seen you with the girls in reception, the ones who always give you doughnuts. You can whore yourself for a bear claw all you want, but when it comes right down to it, you won’t put out.”

Dean was the part of their team who came up with the brilliant ideas; Katie figured out how to put them into action. Dean orchestrated the flash and bang while Katie made sure all the pieces fit into place. Yet it was Dean who fought the hardest to win the accounts, even when Katie’s careful financial summaries determined the risk wasn’t worth the effort. Dean who worked long hours ripping apart campaigns and sewing them back together until nobody could possibly offer something better. The same competitive edge that made him killer at racquetball drove him in his work, too, just as Katie’s intrinsically neat and tidy personality did in hers.

She’d just tapped Dean’s warrior nature. She saw it in his eyes and stance, so briefly fierce she’d have stepped back from it if the desk hadn’t already been under her butt. Any other man in the office–hell, anywhere–who gripped her hips and pulled her close up on his crotch that way, who ran his mouth along the curve of her neck to find her ear and breathe heat into it —any other man would’ve earned a knee to the nuts and possibly the heel of her hand into his Adam’s apple.

Instead, Katie tensed under Dean’s practiced touch, head tipping to give him greater access. There was no denying he was scrumptious. Probably more so because they were such good friends, and she knew his quirks. Most definitely because he was gay and triggered the “never gonna get it” hormone. Now she closed her eyes while he ran his lips lightly over her skin.

“This is so out of the boundaries of appropriate workplace behavior it’s not even funny,” she murmured.

He moved away, not quite enough. “Since when have I ever been appropriate?”

“This is true,” Katie said, amused to hear the sex-syrup tone of her own voice. God, it had been too long since a man had put his hands on her. “However, it doesn’t mean you could make me come.”

Disgruntled, Dean stepped back. “You think it would be so easy to get me off?”

“I do, actually. Now c’mon, shake that oh-so-fine ass, please. We really have to move.”

Dean crossed his arms, still looming over her. “What makes you think that?”

“Because I’m looking at the clock.”

“No.” Dean shook his head. “That I’d be so easy to get off, but you wouldn’t. What makes you so sure?”

He was, Katie saw with genuine surprise, seriously wounded. She tugged his tie gently. “Because you have a penis, sweetie, and penises are notoriously easy to please. And I like sucking cock. I’m sure if you closed your eyes, you’d never know my mouth was attached to a set of breasts and a cunt. On the other hand, the fact you’ve never made love to a woman and aren’t turned on by women, would probably mean that providing me with the same favors wouldn’t be as successful.”

She paused, deciding to go for the truth simply because Dean was a friend and a good one, at that. “And because I have a hard time getting off with straight men who are into me. I think managing an orgasm with a guy I knew was cringing the whole time would really be impossible.”

“Is that a challenge?”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake. No.”

Dean gave her the full force of his flirting grin, the one she’d seen slay the girl who brought around the bagels, random guys on the street and everyone in between. “You’re afraid to take me up on it?”

“Are you suggesting I…fuck you?” Katie didn’t even look at the clock this time. The idea was intriguing. Tempting, even. It wasn’t like she’d never wondered what it was like to get in Dean’s pants. And to be the first woman to ever have him?

Fucking delicious.