Fearless


by Tawny Weber

Chapter One

A Girlz Guide to a Rockin’ Life

Words of Wisdom…

Put up or shut up.

“I’m bored. Can’t we do something new tonight?”

“You’re always bored. I just want to chill. Maybe we can make nachos? The really gooey kind with jalapeños.”

“I want to try that new caramel vodka before it’s served at my next marketing retreat. Gotta keep my rep as the martini queen.”

“Do you really think being known as the gal who’s tried every martini out there actually helps your career?”

“We all gotta have a rep. Yours helps you get dates, doesn’t it?”

“Helps her get laid, at least.”

Stuck in a funk, Gia Renyard let the words of her three best friends roll right over her. She didn’t look up from her careful application of nail polish, even as a pillow flew past her head. Probably Sara trying to nail Jessa over the “getting laid” comment.

The four of them had met in a marketing class in college, randomly grouped together to do an assignment. Their task had been to create a useful tool that spoke to a specific market segment. It’d taken a few meetings and finally a round of martinis for the four women, all polar opposites, to realize they had one common goal. To rock their lives.

And just like that, the Girlz Guide to a Rockin’ Life had been born.

Gia gave thanks to this day for that assignment. Not only had it netted her three best friends, it’d given her a life manifesto. Gia grinned, slicking on another coat of polish. Not that she had to refer to the guide very often, since she had her Girlz readily available.

Ever since college, the four of them had made a point of getting together every few weeks for a Girlz night. Manis, pedis, fashion magazines and martinis. Dishing dirt, commiserating and planning their lives. And, every once in a while, updating the Girlz Guide. Because flaking on something that fabulous would be like wearing discount shoes and last year’s trends to a hot club opening. Just every kind of wrong.

But Gia was in a weird mood tonight. Maybe it was exhaustion. A network engineer at a growing company in San Francisco, she’d been working her ass off the past couple of weeks in hopes of finally making a good enough impression to snag a promotion.

It could be the call that afternoon from her mother, so busy praising the latest in a long list of her older sister’s successes and then lamenting her younger sister’s current screwup that she’d never even asked how Gia was doing.

Or maybe it was the fact that they’d kicked off the evening with Caryn telling them all about her latest sexy hookup, in very graphic detail.

Gia couldn’t remember the last time she’d had graphic details worth sharing. Not like Caryn’s, which included a Thai restaurant after hours, coconut martinis and silk scarves. But that was Caryn. She saw something she wanted and she made it happen. Sometimes it happened with curry.

Or there were the impossible-to-compete-with details of Jessa’s Caribbean cruise last year. On the first day, she’d met her dream guy, and she’d spent the next five days being romanced and five nights being sexually worshipped. Then, to top it off, she’d brought the guy home and married him.

And Sara, well, Sara had almost too many details. Dramatic details, sure. But they were still details. This month she couldn’t decide if she was in love with a guy she’d met at a club last month or her ex-girlfriend who kept calling. Sara bounced from sexual adventure to heartache to despair and right back into lust again.

And then there was Gia. It wasn’t as if she were the sad and lonely friend. She’d had boyfriends. She’d enjoyed plenty of good sex and knew her way around an orgasm. But none of her adventures included scarves, cruises or kink.

Not like her friends.

Jessa was the princess. Pretty, pampered and sweet, she’d always inspired guys to fall at her feet.

Caryn, on the other hand, was a ball breaker. She had a plan and worked it. She had guys at her feet, too, but usually on a leash.

Sara flew through life, and sex, like it was an all-night buffet and she was starving. She never stayed still long enough for guys to even find her feet.

And then there was Gia. Good ole average Gia. Dependable, nice, cute.

Not phenomenal. Not horrible.

Just average.

Average sucked.

“Gia? What’re you craving?” Jessa asked from where she lounged on the couch, her head back on the pillow to better enjoy the moisturizing benefits of her facial mask.

Slicking another coat of Midnight Crimson polish over her nails, Gia absently finished her thought aloud. “A wild sexual adventure that includes chocolate, feathers and three dozen orgasms?”

The room went silent. Even the iPod, playing Rihanna in the background, seemed to quiet.

Oh, shit. Had she really said that?

Gia looked up to find three sets of eyes locked on her in varying states of shock and amusement. She winced, then carefully pushed her martini glass away.

“Oh, this is juicy. Tell us more,” Jessa prompted, clapping her hands in excitement.

Part of her wanted to. But she wasn’t the juicy type. She was the practical one, the one who kept it real. Which probably explained their surprise.

“That was just the vodka talking,” she dismissed with a wave of her hand. “So, are you guys hungry? I’ve got nacho fixings. Or better yet, how about cookies?”

“No way,” Caryn protested, waving her own glass in protest. She had her feet propped on the coffee table while Sara painted delicate roses on her toenails. “You can’t offer up something that good, then try to change the subject.”

“Nope. That’s the sort of thing that needs explaining. In great, graphic detail. Drawings might help, too.” From her spot on the floor, Sara wiggled her brows. Her black hair was pulled up in a messy ponytail to avoid any polish mishaps.

Gia debated. She could gloss over it on her way to make those nachos. She could downplay it into a joke. Or she could fess up. The first two were easier. And definitely the type of thing she’d always done when she’d found herself in the spotlight before. Like anyone who craved center stage, then discovered they were sick with stage fright, she’d always ducked back into obscurity.

But she was so tired of being average.

And the only way to get over average was to enlist the help of her friends.

Gia pressed her lips together, nerves churning the vodka in her stomach into a nasty froth. Did she want this, or didn’t she? Was she a wimp or a woman, dammit?

Ignoring the voice in her head screaming wimp, she took a deep breath and confessed.

“All of you have a hot memory,” she said slowly, as if weighing each word would keep her from looking like an idiot. “A wild sexual fling where you pushed your own boundaries, lived out the fantasy, did all those uninhibited things they write about in the magazines.”

“You’ve had plenty of relationships,” Sara pointed out. “And it’s not like you’re an uptight prude or anything.”

“But none of the guys I’ve dated were the kind who inspired fantasies. Not the kind that deserve details over martinis.”

“She’s right,” Jessa offered, sitting upright so the light caught the moisturizing mask on her face, making her shine like a blond light bulb. “It has to be the right guy. Your very own Prince Charming. Otherwise, the fantasy is hollow.”

“I’m not looking for a prince,” Gia protested, a little horrified at everything that would mean. Castles and forever and her as a princess? Yeah, right. As if that would fit. “I just want the fantasy.”

“So is it the act you want? Great, kinky sex that pushes your boundaries?” Caryn used both hands to indicate explosions going off. “Or is there a specific guy you’re hot for that you want to make this memory of yours with?”

Wetting her lips, Gia hesitated. An image flashed through her mind. The guy was gorgeous, with black hair, blue eyes, a man dimple and some sexy stubble to keep him on this side of pretty. His body, shown in great detail in the photos posted on his Facebook page by a beach babe he’d spent a week in Hawaii with, was a work of art.

Throw in brains, a sense of humor, legendary stamina and a vivid imagination, and Gia melted a little just thinking about him.

“Do you have a guy in mind?” Caryn asked again, studying Gia through narrowed eyes as though she were trying to see into her brain.

Gia bit her lip.

Her friends, sensing good dirt, pounced.

“You do. You don’t want just anybody. You’ve got the hots for a specific body. That’s what this is all about.” Sara leaned forward, her long black ponytail sliding over one shoulder as she gave an excited bounce.

“You want fantasy sex with a specific guy. Like it’s gettin’ it time?” Jessa’s voice rose with excitement.

“Woot, gettin’ it,” Caryn and Sara echoed, referring to the ritual they’d all created using the Girlz Guide to brainstorm solutions. They could be solutions to guy problems, to diet frustrations or even to finding the perfect pair of shoes. When one Girl had a problem, they all chimed in to help her figure it out.

“Wait, before we start, I’ve got to rinse my face,” Jessa exclaimed as she launched herself out of her chair and hurried to the bathroom.

“I’ll mix another batch of martinis,” Caryn declared, hobbling into the kitchen on her heels, her still-wet toes in the air.

Sara was already digging through her duffel bag–styled purse for one of her ever-present notepads and a pen.

Holy crap, what’d she done?

It was one thing to entertain the fantasy. To wish in her head for great sex with a guy she was crushing on. It was another to invoke a gettin’ it session. If they just talked about it, she could dismiss it all as chitchat. She could say it was just talk, not something she really wanted. In other words, she could wimp out. But if they brainstormed a plan, they were going to make her go through with whatever they came up with.

Gia chewed on her thumbnail, a little worried about what she’d started.

Because she had no doubt she’d be dealing with the results. Usually fueled by vodka and chocolate, the women had come to believe by using their Girlz Guide they could do anything they set their minds to.

Like the time Sara, brokenhearted over his cheating, had wanted revenge on her boyfriend. The women had made a video from all of the Skype sessions he’d had with Sara, pasting his words together into a confession of his sins, and posted it on YouTube. It’d gone viral in two days.

Or when Jessa had wished for the perfect wedding but hadn’t want her wealthy husband-to-be paying for it. The four of them might not have had a lot of money or major connections, but when she walked down that aisle, they’d made sure she had the fairy-tale princess wedding she’d always wanted.

Gia wondered if it was too late to run.

“Ready?” Jessa asked, her face glowing clean and her auburn-streaked blond hair loose again. She stopped in the kitchen to help Caryn with the tray of martinis; then both settled around the coffee table. The three women lifted their glasses, toasted the gettin’ it game, then gave Gia a “let’s go” look.

Gia bit her lip.

She wanted this.

Didn’t she?

A wild sexual fantasy might not change the world. But it’d sure as hell change her love life from average to awesome. And maybe make her feel as if she was a fully qualified member of the Girlz, instead of the tagalong buddy.

“Okay, questions. I’ll start,” Caryn said, to nobody’s surprise. “First off, what’s the fantasy? Remember, the more details, the better.”

“Again, feel free to draw pictures,” Sara suggested with a grin, holding out her pen and paper.

Gia pulled a face. Then, pretending the idea of sharing her sexual fantasy wasn’t weird—even with her best friends—she leaned her head back on the chair, closed her eyes and let her imagination soar.