Hannah Stewart knows what she likes, and it doesn't include relationships. She has enough on her plate with her fledgling adult novelty shop, Yes Please. But even with an arsenal of sex toys at her disposal, she's hit a dry spell-one she wishes the sexy Mitchell Fredericks would help her out with.
There's just one snag. His sexy roommate and business partner, Ben Harrington.
The last thing she wants to do is come between their friendship-even though she'd like to come between them in other ways. Instead, she comes up with a proposition for them, one that might lead to a very hot, very unexpected outcome.
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Hannah sank back into the booth seat, the smooth leather cushioning her with the familiar cradle of a well-known spot, and looked lustfully at the man emerging through the swinging door of the Mapleton Pub kitchen. The burger he was holding was beautiful, but the head chef carrying it was definitely the tastier-looking entrÃ©e. With his blond hair, chiseled jaw, and steel-gray eyes, Mitchell Fredericks was so model pretty it was practically a clichÃ©. Add in that body, built like a brick wall, and she would take whatever he was serving her. She smiled at Mitchell as he reached her table, resting her chin on her hand.
"Damn, Mitchell, all that meat for me?"
Mitchell gave her a tight-lipped smile, his favorite kind. "You know it, Hannah." He slid the burger in front of her, giving her the chance to ogle his taut forearms below the rolled-up cuffs of his chef jacket. "And for you, Lori, the fish and chips. Just as fried, just as deadly." He pulled a bottle of malt vinegar out of his jacket pocket and set it down next to her. "And your malt vinegar. Like I could forget."
Across from Hannah, her best friend, Lori, smiled up at Mitchell and accepted her plate. "Ahh, Mitchell, nobody's coming here for the health food. You're not going to sell salads as long as the rest of your menu is so delicious." She shook her head in appreciation, the loose spiral curls of her afro bouncing with the movement. After tapping her fork on the batter of the fish, she made an appreciative noise that sounded obscenely sexual. "That is a beautiful batter."
"Thank you." Mitchell looked between the two women. "Do you ladies need anything else?"
Hannah flashed him another dazzling smile. "I was hoping to make some more inappropriate double entendres about the burger if you wanted to stick around."
Mitchell sighed and shook his head. "I swear you only like me for my food."
Hannah shrugged. "I can't help it. You deliver the meat. Besides, you'd be disappointed if I stopped making lewd comments. What else are you going to think about at night?" She bit into a french fry, still looking up at him through her lashes. Teasing Mitchell was one of her favorite games.
"I'm sure I'd think of something." He put his hands on his hips. "You planning to be at tonight's Chamber of Commerce meeting?"
"You know it." Hannah raised her water. "Some late-breaking news about Fall Festival."
"Yeah, I saw the email." He scratched his jaw, where he always had a light dusting of blond stubble. Hard to tell if he was keeping that on purpose or if he just got lazy about shaving. Probably the latter. He didn't seem to be the type to obsess about his appearance, except for clearly working out on the regular. He kept talking as she poured out some ketchup for her fries. "I want to see if Ben will come tonight. He might want to get involved in the festival."
"Ben?" Hannah hadn't seen Mitchell's best friend at the Chamber of Commerce meetings in a long time. She seldom saw him in general, even though he and Mitchell were co-owners of the restaurant. "Is he going to sell beer at your booth?"
"I don't know. Regulations have been a pain in the ass in past years. They've always charged a lot more to booths that sell alcohol."
"You should, you know." Lori piped up and lifted her glass of German-style wheat beer. "Sell this stuff at the festival. Even if it costs more. I would cut a bitch to get some."
Mitchell fixed her with a deadpan expression. "If you don't want to get violent, you could just buy some in the shop. Or at the supermarket. We distribute all over western Mass."
"You get your beer wherever you want, Lori. I'll be here every week as long as everything stays so delicious." Hannah winked at Mitchell, who shook his head at her lewd expression.
"Enjoy your lunch." Mitchell took a step back. "Jess will be over to check on you soon."
As soon as he was back in the kitchen, Lori rounded on Hannah. "You are a whore, you know that?"
Hannah laughed. "You're not allowed to call me a whore! You're doing your entire dissertation on alternative sexualities."
"Your only alternative sexuality is flirting shamelessly with that man and never doing anything about it." Lori sighed, turning to peer at the closed kitchen door, then turned back to Hannah. "He is a fine piece of man."
"You want him, you go after him." Hannah took another bite of burger. "You know I don't do relationships."
Lori wrinkled her nose. "I don't know. He's hot and all, but I haven't dated a white guy in a really long time. And I don't think the middle of my PhD dissertation research is the time to get involved with someone new. Plus, he's so serious. I need someone more lighthearted. Or several someones. I don't know." She used her fork to break apart the flaky fish and batter. "The deeper I get into this dissertation, the more I think that monogamy is fundamentally flawed." She popped the bite into her mouth, then sprinkled some malt vinegar over the entire plate.
"I don't think so." Hannah contemplated her friend across the table. "I know lots of people who are happy with monogamous relationships. Just because I'm not one of them doesn't mean the whole system is a failure." She set the burger down and gestured at Lori with a fry. "You're having sample bias. You've only been talking to nonmonogamous people, and now you think monogamy is terrible."
Lori broke off another piece of fish. "Maybe. But aren't you being hypocritical here? You're always blabbing about how you'll never tie yourself down to one person, one man can never meet all your needs, blah, blah, blah. How is that any different than what I'm saying?"
Hannah picked up her burger and thoughtfully chewed a bite, considering how to answer. "I think most people are happy with just one partner. I'm too independent for that. It wouldn't be fair to put all my desires onto one guy and think he can be everything to me." That, and the idea of being vulnerable and risking heartbreak was not on her to-do list. "My needs are ... varied."
Lori snorted. "Kinky as fuck, you mean." She gave Hannah a knowing look, and Hannah grinned in response.
"What can I say? I own a sex-toy store. It's spoiled me for vanilla missionary sex." She ate more of her burger. "God, if I could fuck this burger, I would."
"That's unsanitary and terrifying." Lori sprinkled some more malt vinegar over her plate. "You should fuck the chef instead."
Hannah sighed. "Don't think I haven't considered it. Nightly, and in a number of detailed ways."
"What's stopping you?"
"Mitchell's a relationship kind of guy. You can just tell."
"How can you just tell?" Lori pressed.
How couldn't she just tell? All the conversations she'd had with him, both here in the restaurant and at their monthly Chamber of Commerce meetings — it was obvious.
"It's hard to describe. You spend so long working in a sex shop, you get a feel for people. Who's a freak, who's not. Mitchell's not. He's vanilla. He's monogamous. He's probably looking for a committed relationship. Or maybe he's not looking for any relationship at all. This restaurant probably keeps him pretty busy."
Lori shrugged. "Maybe he's already in a relationship."
"Nah." Hannah paused, looking off toward the closed door, then back at Lori. "You think? I've never seen him with anyone besides Ben, but that makes sense since they live together."
Lori raised both eyebrows but didn't comment.
"No, I don't think so. It's not like that." Hannah shook her head. "They're best friends. Business partners. And Mitchell flirts with me like that all the time. I feel like if he were with someone already, I'd know about it. He'd talk about it, at least."
"Maybe." Lori didn't look convinced, but she also didn't continue to debate the issue with Hannah. Any sort of friendship that lasted so long — in their case, the ten years since college — came with that kind of sixth sense where she felt like she knew Hannah better than Hannah knew herself. Hell, sometimes she probably did.
It was probably Mitchell's loss, though, that she wasn't going to fuck him. She was good in bed — she'd had enough experience to confirm — and her career had taught her a few tricks not known to the more traditionally employed. After all, when you had eight hundred square feet of retail sex shop space plus two hundred square feet of storage, you had a lot of sex toys, and a lot of time to learn creative ways people might use them.
"If you're not going to fuck the chef, then who are you fucking?" Lori stopped eating long enough to drink some of her beer. "I know you've got to be fucking somebody. I just keep thinking you're hiding it from me. Like, maybe you're fucking a celebrity and had to sign an NDA."
Hannah snorted in laughter. "Not in over a month. Work has been crazy, and we had inventory last week, and before that, my parents were visiting." She grimaced at the memory. She loved her parents, but having them a few hours away in Maine was much nicer for their relationship than when they were staying in her house. They always found little ways to criticize her, small, well- intentioned comments about how she might be living her life differently that left her on edge by the end of any visit.
"How are you even coping without sex?" Lori's smile was teasing, a flash of white teeth.
Hannah shrugged. "I don't need sex, Lori, I just like it." She had always been the most sexually adventurous of her friends, quickest to invite a potential partner to bed, unable to wrap her mind around the shame that others seemed to feel about the act. "Good sex is like good food. It's one of the most beautiful pleasures in life." She held the mostly eaten burger up for emphasis. "It's like this burger. You get a burger this good, you savor it. You don't worry about calories, or carbs, or whatever. You live in the moment; you don't ruin it by trying to make it be more or different than it is." She set it down and picked up a french fry. "But you can't live on burgers."
"You'd die of a heart attack, for one." Lori ate some of her own fries.
"Well, right. But you won't get a heart attack from good sex." Hannah paused. "Maybe from really good sex."
"I'll drink to that." Lori clinked her glass with Hannah's.
Hannah took a drink of her water. "Truthfully, though, I'm thinking about giving up one-night stands." She set the glass down. "When I don't know a guy well, he doesn't fuck me well. I don't have the time to teach him what I like." Her most recent date came to mind, an app-generated hookup with a local grad student. "The last guy I slept with, really nice guy, but he was probably in his midtwenties, and he just didn't know enough about how to please a woman yet. I taught him a few things, but Lori, I'm almost thirty. I don't have time to teach college boys how to fuck."
"That doesn't sound like a one-night-stand problem. That sounds like a young-guys problem."
"Maybe, but my two hookups before that were my age, and they weren't any better. I guess my clit just has a steep learning curve." Hannah sighed. "The fuck buddies thing was working well for a while, but Jalen moved away, and now Tim's gotten serious with Deborah." She rested her chin on her hand. "I need somebody I can fuck around with on an ongoing basis and have it not be serious."
Mitchell walked past them carrying plates of food for another table, and Hannah watched him go, absentmindedly turning to check out the flex of his ass in his slacks as he passed by. When she turned back forward again, Lori was giving Hannah the biggest "are you fucking kidding me?" face.
"What?" Hannah couldn't help how defensive she sounded, nor the red flush that crept up into her cheeks. "It's like looking at beautiful art."
Lori snorted. "Beautiful art that you want to ride like a pony."
"Shut up." Hannah smiled anyway. "No harm in looking."
"What's up for the Mapleton Fall Festival this year?" Lori drank some of her beer. "You get a booth? It's been a few years since you've done it."
"Not this year." The festival was such a blessing and a curse all at once. "It's always the same situation. It's a family-friendly event. I can't sell toys. I have to sell the tamest stuff I have, like the massage bars, and the candles, and those stupid love coupons. I barely break even. Sometimes I lose money. I wish there were a way to sell my actual products, but the chamber would never go for it."
"Why not? Can't you just card people? They do it at the booths that sell beer."
"They don't want underage people to even be able to see my products." Hannah grimaced. "I suggested a curtained-off space with ID check, and they still wouldn't go for it, worried kids might run in and accidentally see a dildo. There was a lot of pearl clutching at the idea." Sometimes Mapleton wasn't nearly as progressive as they wanted everyone to think they were. "The chamber sent out some surveys over the summer asking for suggestions, and I've been pushing for an adults-only night event." She gestured toward where Mitchell had been, like he was still standing there. "But it's also like Mitchell said. Even if they give me the go-ahead, it's pricey. I haven't been able to afford the space in, like, three years now."
"It's a good event, though. Builds visibility. You spent all that money on marketing earlier this year. Seems like this would be more good marketing."
"I know." Hannah picked at her fries, drawing patterns in the ketchup on her plate. She did like the spirit of the festival, when the entire town essentially shut down to celebrate their community and local businesses. "It's good for community spirit. The problem is that community spirit is going to drain me dry."
"Meh, it's an investment." Lori shrugged. "And you always have a good time."
"You know how hard it's been for me since the new property owner bought the building last year and raised my rent. I can't take any financial risks right now." Hannah hated talking about this shit out loud. Lori might be her best friend, but it was also hard not to envy her professional competence. Lori was juggling so many responsibilities: writing for the Valley Voice paper, interning in the community, teaching a class, and writing a doctoral dissertation. Hannah was struggling to keep one simple business operational. It was pretty damn embarrassing.
"But a boost in sales wouldn't hurt." Lori tapped a fry against her lips, then ate it. "You've been saying for months that if you got a sudden cash boost, you could turn the tide before the holidays."
Lori had a point, but Hannah had run the numbers. The financial burden was still too great. "I didn't send in a vendor application, so I think that ship has sailed." Hannah rested her chin on her hand. "But I don't know. The email they sent us was really cryptic, something about last-minute changes to the event. Maybe they'll make all the booths suddenly free." She forced a laugh.
Conversation drifted to Lori's ridiculous schedule, and thank goodness they had moved on to talking about something other than her. Even best friends like Lori got a little intense sometimes. She didn't want to admit it, but Lori always asked the questions she didn't want to ask herself. Why didn't she ever ask Mitchell out? Was it really because she thought he was a committed- relationship kind of guy, or because she wasn't sure he was really into her?
All this time flirting with him, over a year of eating regularly at the Mapleton Pub, and he never progressed past flirtation. He never seemed bothered or uncomfortable about it, but he didn't return her affections, teasing as they may be. Even if she wanted to fuck him, she wasn't entirely sure he was interested. Normally, that sort of thing didn't matter. She could handle rejection when it came to sex. She wasn't everybody's type. With Mitchell, though, something seemed different. Getting rejected by Mitchell would feel like a deeper rejection. Somehow, she'd come to care what he thought about her.
She watched him pass by on his way to deliver another table's food, and as he caught her eye, he gave her a quick smile, which she returned. No, Mitchell was good to flirt with, but she wasn't going to take that any further. She could find a fuck buddy, or she could entertain herself.CHAPTER 2
Mitchell flicked on the lights in the living room as he passed through, already itching to strip his clothes off. Everything he wore smelled like food. He was nose-blind to it, but that didn't mean he didn't know, and he couldn't wait to shower and change. Tonight was the monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting, and he didn't want to smell like the kitchen at the Mapleton Pub. This meeting was one of the only places he saw Hannah outside the restaurant, and it would be nice to remind her that he was more than just a chef.
Except in all the ways that he was not more than just a chef, like how his restaurant had subsumed almost all meaningful relationships in his life. Still. Hannah didn't need to know that. At the Chamber of Commerce meeting, he could wear normal clothes, approach her without carrying plates of food, and ... talk about the restaurant. Yeah. Super exciting.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Three-Way Split"
Copyright © 2018 Elia Winters.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Three-Way Split is book one in the Comes in Threes series by a new to me author, Elia Winters. Hannah Stewart grew up always feeling sort of middle of the road. Like she never really stood out, or did really well at any particular thing. She loved Mapleton, Massachusetts, loved the small town vibe, and decided to open her own business there, a sex toys store. Hannah enjoyed her independence. She wanted to succeed and know that it was her that did it. She enjoyed sex but had no interest in a romantic relationship. She didn’t want to be dependent on anyone. Her business had been open for four years and she would have been in the green except that the landlords had raised the rent on her building and it was killing her profits. If something didn’t change soon, she would have to close. Mitchell Fredericks and Ben Harrington have been friends since college. When Ben’s life fell apart, Mitchell suggested they go into business together and buy a pub in Mapleton. They also became roommates. They had been living and working together for seven years now and their business was successful. Both men are bi-sexual and two years ago, they decided to add sex into their relationship. No emotions, no commitments, just best friends with benefits. Hannah often went into the pub and had been crushing a bit on Mitchell for some time but never let her desires be known. Planning stages have begin for the town’s fall festival and this could be just what Hannah needs to give her business a boost, only she can’t afford the booth fees. So Hannah, Mitchell and Ben form a partnership for the event. This is the first time she really has gotten to know Ben and is instantly attracted. Can she really be this attracted to both men? Sparks soon fly and Hannah explores her attraction first individually with the men and then all together. But she makes it clear that this is just for fun. During the course of their time together, all three of them are forced to assess their feelings for one another. Could Mitchell and Ben have had feelings for each other all along and just never admitted it to themselves. Can they add Hannah into the mix or is trying to form a relationship with three people involved doomed to fail? “How about you? Do you like mixing business and pleasure?” “My business is pleasure.” Okay, I have mixed feelings about this book. While I wasn’t head over heels in love with the characters, I did enjoy them. And this book is getting four stars because the heat level is off the charts! Hannah bothered me a little bit with her independence streak. Not so much where it came to her business but in her approach to relationships. SPOILER The biggest thing that bothered me, though, was the ending. I want my romance books to have a Happy Ever After. To know that the people involved have found their forever love and are committing themselves to each other, no matter how many are involved in the relationship. This book ends with a happy for NOW! No long term commitment. No promise of monogamy. I want them to move in together, maybe the promise of a wedding. So, this left me feeling a bit cheated. Yes, they all love each other and they are very happy, but no promise for the future.
This is the first book I've read (as far as I can remember) that really explores a polyamorous relationship and I was here for it. Hannah, Mitchell, and Ben were such wonderful characters, each fully embodied with their own desires and insecurities. Mitchell and Ben have been friends and roommates and sometimes lovers for a long time but neither has been honest with himself or each other about their feelings. Hannah's been attracted to Mitchell for a long time but doesn't know him well and is acquaintances with Ben. She doesn't think either man is interested in her, while they both definitely are. However, Mitchell is too shy to act and it takes Ben making a move for Mitchell to realize what he wants. And from there, they eventually realize they want to explore something together. This was super sexy and hot to read but there was also a lot of emotional depth. Hannah is fiercely independent and hates asking for or even accepting help, even when she should. This could be frustrating to read about, especially because accepting help would mean her business (sex toy shop!) could stay open. Ben has a photographic memory (might actually be eidetic memory) and keeps his feelings to himself because he doesn't want to be hurt. It was really moving to watch him slowly open up and realize he could have the relationship that he wants. Mitchell has a learning disorder: dyscalculia, where he mixes up numbers. It was really interesting to have a learning disability represented in a story and I'd be curious to hear how the representation holds up from someone who also has dyscalculia. He's such a talented chef and honestly a dream man but he doesn't recognize what everyone else sees in him. I loved watching him flourish! These three really had to learn how to communicate and face their fears and I loved reading about the ups and downs as they figured things out. Such a fun read!
4 Sizzling Stars Review by Elizabeth Late Night Reviewer Up All Night w/ Books Blog Ladies –maybe Gents—have you ever read a MMF before? Yes? No? Indecisive about it? Well let me tell you where to start if you are a bit scared. Start with, Three-Way Spilt by Elia Winters. Why? Because it is so so good!! Ben, Mitchell, and Hannah all have their reasons for wanting a relationship based on just sex. No commitments. Ben and Mitchell have great chemistry but throw Hannah into the mix with them and it is just WOW! I guess it does not hurt that Hannah is the owner of a sex toy shop so she can spice up their sexy times. Now do not go thinking that this book is all about sex, because it is not. Three-Way Split is about overcoming your past to make room for your future. Ben, Mitchell, and Hannah all have their own unique qualities that make them who they are and they are great together. I will admit I was hesitant at first but after the first few pages, I was hooked! You will not be disappointed and I encourage you to give it a shot.
Decadently steamy! A story of three people, all strong and sassy in their own way, who find their way into a situation that none of them are sure how to handle at first. Hannah doesn't want to call it a relationship, Mitchell feels more than he'll ever admit, and Ben has been hurt before and is gun shy. Through sharing themselves with each other, an awakening of love and laughter leads them to a happiness none of them ever imagined. A solid story line with delectable characters. Must be okay with menage and M/M interactions to enjoy! Adult novelty store owner Hannah Stewart doesn't do commitment, but she does enjoy sex ... a lot ... and for the last year, she's been lusting after Mitchell. They are friends around the neighborhood and at the community business meetings they both attend, but when they're alone, flirting commences. Chef and pub owner Mitchell Fredericks loves running Mapleton Pub with his best friend and roommate Ben. They've been in each other's lives since high school and are now enjoying the good life of being successful business men. They are both bi-sexual, and in the last couple of years have been enjoying each other more than ever before, but Mitchell has also been yearning for Hannah. Brewer and pub owner Ben Harrington hits on Hannah the minute he meets her, but he can tell there's spark there between her and Mitchell as well. His playful nature might be just what these two need to finally take it to the next level, and he hopes he'll be joining in!
I received an ARC of this book to read from NetGalley to read in exchange for a fair review. Three Way Split by Elia Winters is the first book in her Comes In Three Series. I had just finished reading a a super depressing book and was looking for something lighthearted and this book was a perfect antidote to the previous one. Mitchell Fredericks and Ben Harrington are best friends, business partners and for the past couple of years casual lovers. Hannah Stewart is not looking for anything other than a friends with benefits situation, she’s been flirting with Mitchell in the hopes that he might be interested and when she learns that Ben is part of the equation it fascinates her. These three have their various reasons for not wanting to commit but when they are together its highly combustible ... and what if? Super Steamy Publishing Date August 20, 2018. #ThreeWaySplit #NetGalley