Mudpacks, murder, deceit, betrayal and tattoos—how much can a friendship sustain without cracking?

La Bella Luna
© 2007 Bobbie Cole
Available Now from Samhain Publishing

Try telling your best friends that your husband is leaving you for another man, or that you’ve slept with one of their husbands and have borne his child. Better yet, let them know you’ve just committed murder or that you’re dying.

Ann, Eazy, Merry and Leta Lou—all four of the Oklahoma City socialites, having spent years merely scratching the surface of their friendship, are thrust into an emotional tornado and left with the devastating ruins of aftermath as the secrets they’ve kept surface. Ann wants to help them rediscover their dreams, but before she can do that, she must first destroy their illusions.
Money can’t buy happiness, forgiveness, or peace, but it can sure make life…and death…a lot more interesting.

Enjoy the following excerpt for La Bella Luna:

“I want you to be as naughty as you please tonight,” Ann told her three guests the next afternoon after the last two had arrived. “That’s why I told you to rest before you got here. Because, ladies, we are going to eat, drink, smoke and do it all tonight. Before you fill your plates, I want each of you to take one of those pens and a block of paper I’ve cut out, and list your secret naughty pleasure. Something you’ve never done that you want to do or be or have.”

Merry and Leta Lou each tentatively accepted the slips of paper Ann held out, locked glances and then slid the paper back onto the counter with nervous laughs, shaking their heads. Ann gave a sigh, chastising them with a mock glare. “Just do it.”

“A secret desire, hm?” Leta Lou asked.

“Something deliciously naughty,” Ann said with a wink.

Eazy rolled her eyes and groaned. “Bullshit. I’m not telling any of you something that private.”

“Yes, you will. If you don’t, I’ll make something up and embarrass the hell out of you,” Ann told her. “Everybody has to play.”

“What are we going to do with these?” Eazy asked, still obviously not convinced that she was in safe waters.

“We’re going to discuss them one by one after dessert. C’mon. Write!” Ann ordered.

When they’d done as she’d asked, Ann gathered the snippets of paper and tucked them under the phone for later. While the rest of them chatted over jalapeño chicken and sautéed mushrooms, Eazy’s eyes kept glancing over at the telephone.

“What is said in this house stays in this house, right?” she asked.

“Why are you so worried?” Ann couldn’t help but laugh as she watched Eazy’s face.

“Because I can’t believe I just bared my soul like that.”

“How about whatever is written down, we all do?” Ann asked. “That way you won’t be the Lone Ranger.”

“Do?” Eazy had a stricken look on her face. “I thought you said we’d discuss them.”

“Well, let’s take it a step further. Let’s all do whatever’s written down.”

Leta Lou and Merry laughed. Eazy blanched.

“Yeah, right,” she said. “I can just see this.”

“What are you afraid of, Eazy?” Leta Lou asked. “I’m game if you are.”

The rest of them looked at Merry.

“Sure,” she said.

After that, nothing they talked about could hold their interest as the tension built around those small pieces of paper. Often, when they had girls’ night out at Ann’s, she would challenge them to do something different. Once they played a game of Truth or Dare as they played bridge, and the one who failed to be honest had to drink a shot of tequila. Another time they went bowling and were sore for weeks afterwards. And one Christmas they went Christmas caroling and visited other country club friends and got them to join in.

“How about what you want, Ann?” Leta Lou asked, stabbing the air between them with her fork.

“Mine comes last. But we all agree to do whatever is written down.”

“Then write yours down as well,” Eazy told Ann. “I’m not doing it unless it’s written down. You’re such a bully. I’ll bet even the boys were terrified of you when you were growing up.”

Ann challenged her with a cackle. “Promise that you’ll do it?”

Eazy looked around at the rest of them and nodded. “I will if you will. But even you may balk at doing a couple of things.”

“Never.” Ann put down her fork and looked at the others who stared back at her expectantly.

“Well, this is getting us nowhere,” Ann commented. “We’re going to be starving later, but I doubt any of you have even tasted your food for the past ten minutes.”

Wordlessly, they filed back to the kitchen and set their plates on the counter. Ann wrote down what she wanted then pulled out the slips of paper, placed hers on bottom, and with ceremonious deliberation selected one of the other three.

“I’d recognize this chicken scratching anywhere. Eazy wants a vibrator.”

Ann almost felt sorry for her. Almost. It took them a few seconds to recover from the shock.

“A dildo?” Merry asked.

“I’ve been single a long time,” came Eazy’s defensive response. “And I’ve always wondered what the…big deal…was.”

Everyone sniggered then burst into laughter.

“Some of them are pretty big,” Merry said with a laugh.

“Leave it to you to already be intimate with something like that. Well, if you’re just going to make fun of me,” Eazy said in a huff, “I might as well…”

“Oh, Eazy!” Ann cried, throwing an arm about her shoulders. “I’ve never had one either, so this could be fun. Let’s go shopping!”

Amidst Eazy’s furious blushing and Merry’s shrieks, they all gathered their purses and jackets and headed toward Eazy’s car, piling in like sorority sisters.

“You’ve probably never needed one,” Eazy grumbled.

“I’ll have you know that I was celibate for several months after all my husbands’ deaths,” Ann said, climbing in beside her and fastening the seat belt. “There’s no shame in acknowledging you have needs. Besides, this could be fun.”

*

Christy’s Toybox on North May wasn’t deserted, as Eazy had hoped. But there were only a few customers milling about. And rather than waste time fording through a sea of feather boas and a mountain of shocking videos while looking for dildos, to Leta Lou and Merry’s amusement and Eazy’s chagrin, Ann nabbed the sales clerk immediately and asked her to direct them to the vibrators.

“What do you suggest?” Ann asked, once they’d arrived at the displays at the back of the store that wrapped around them on three sides.

The gum-smacking clerk blew a bubble, popped it and gave Ann a blank stare. “Why, whatever trips your trigger, sister,” she said noncommittally. “You want motion in the ocean, I’d say the Eager Beavers or one of the Power Bunnies. For variation in size, the row behind you goes from magnum to derringer, and there are more over there by the cock rings and flavored lotions.”

Eazy picked up what looked like a large water pistol. “What the hell is this thing?”

“It’s a dildo, like the others,” the clerk said. “The little thing right there that you’re using as a trigger…it does look like a gun, doesn’t it?” she continued. “But that’s for your smaller hole. You know—your asshole.”

Eazy dropped it as if it had bitten her, triggering a wave of laughter throughout their end of the building.
“You’re shittin’ me.”

“Nope. Some women get off on that sort of thing. Men, too.”

“But it has water in it,” Eazy said in her own defense. “The thing has water. What’s a dildo doing with water in it like a squirt gun?”

The sales clerk recovered it from the middle of the rack where Eazy had dropped it and pushed a button, turning it on.
“See?” She held it up for them all to see. “Bubbles.”

“But whose gonna watch it?” Eazy asked with a perplexed frown. “I mean, it goes…well, you know.”

“Sometimes there’s a man down there, honey,” the clerk said, unblinkingly. “And the bubbles are there for a reason, for her pleasure. Makes the thing throb very gently, not like someone hammering you.”

Eazy still wasn’t satisfied. “Where do the bubbles go?”

The clerk sighed impatiently and explained. “They don’t go anywhere—they are regenerated by the battery. Bubbles equal satisfaction. Like a hot tub for your pussy.”

By the time they’d all recovered, they were only halfway through with their shopping. Each of them found the one they wanted, along with either a bottle or tube of flavored lotion or gel, a video or two, and even a deck of playing cards.

“Another fantasy of yours?” Ann asked Eazy, eyeing the black Eager Beaver contraption she’d selected as they prepared to pay for their purchases.

“Hey, this is as close as I’ll ever get, so why not?” she reasoned. “Besides, the only other one they had this size was purple. That would be just too weird for me.”

Ann was thrilled that the shopping trip had turned out to be so much fun, and even though she was starting to feel a little tired, she knew that she had to make it through the rest of this night.

“What’s next?” Merry asked, once they were settled back into Eazy’s Cadillac.

Ann reached into her purse and pulled out the slips of paper she’d brought with her. Closing her eyes like some swami or fortuneteller, she chose one.

“This must be Leta Lou’s,” Ann said. “Looks like the next thing we’re all doing is getting tattoos!”

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