M.Q. Barber-Crossing the Lines (Neighborl​y Affection #2) ~ Character Flash Fiction & #Giveaway



A safeword won’t save her from love.

After six months of cavorting in her neighbors’ bed, Alice admits signing the contract to be Henry’s sexual submissive is the best decision she’s ever made. He delivers on his promise to give her sexual satisfaction. But submitting to his dominance alongside his long-term lover shows her the sharp line between sex and love. Henry loves goofy, eager-to-please Jay. Neither man has promised to love her.

Hiding her feelings grows harder every night she spends with them. As they struggle with wounds old and new, her emotional turmoil threatens to shred their arrangement. Is it time to bow out before they show her the door? Or can a triangle be the shape of true love?

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Character Flash Fiction – Coming over to All I Want and More

Rain hit Alice’s umbrella with a spat-spat-spat the whole way down the block from the T stop. Kudos to Henry for handing her the umbrella as she headed out the door for work. He’d told her to meet him at All I Want and More Books for the interview at three, and it was almost that now. Squinting through the raindrops pelting around her, she made out the title above a shop with dark silk curtains in the window.

Jay coasted in from the opposite direction on his bike, jumping the curb and sliding to a stop at the parking meter. “I’m on time, right?”

“You’re on time, stud.” Mmph. On time and soaked, water coursing down the slopes of his bike helmet while his cargo shorts clung to his legs. Instinct wavered between enjoying the show and finding him a towel. Stripping him down and drying him by hand seemed a promising compromise. “Have you heard from Henry? He said three, but I don’t see him.”

“Not since breakfast.” Jay knelt and chained the bike. “He said he was gonna get in some studio time before we had to be here.” Ducking under the umbrella with her, he peeled off his helmet and pecked her cheek. “You’re too dry.” He let shaggy black hair fly. The ends whipped water drops.

“Ack, c’mon!” Chilly water dotting her skin, she flung a hand up and pushed him back by his nose. “What’s got you in a mood, goof?”

He pressed rapid kisses to her palm. “Hey, I didn’t hug you with my waterlogged clothes, did I? And you made it super-tempting with that white shirt.” Tugging her hand down, he stared with vivid brown-eyed interest at her chest. “Are you cold, or do I make that hot of a drowned rat?”

Patting his chest, she resolutely ignored the panicked need to check out how much of her interest poked through her shirt. “You make a hot anything.”

He beamed. “You think they’ll ask about my rubbers?”

“What?” Bad enough they had to share their sex lives with strangers. “Uh, no.” No way was she getting into a discussion about their condom preferences. “Has anyone yet?”

“No, but I just put on some new ones. Better grip and bounce.” He waggled his hips, khaki fabric slapping his thighs. “Getting into the wet season, you know.”

Three steps above them, the shop door swung open.

“Jay, stop teasing Alice about your bicycle tires, please.” Henry stepped out beneath the awning. “Come along inside, my dears.” He breathed elegant strength in a crisp navy blue suit and a deep gold tie, every inch as pristine as if the rain had never touched him. “I’ve fresh clothes for you, Jay, and our host has kindly offered the use of a private room for changing.”

Jay straightened up and lifted the umbrella handle from her hand. “Ladies first.”

He kept her shielded while she climbed the steps right into Henry’s embrace. Jay fiddled with the umbrella behind her, shaking off water and snapping the spines closed, a background chorus to Henry’s welcoming hum.

“Ready for another spate of questioning about our relationship, my dear girl?” Henry rubbed her back with firm, slow strokes as he rumbled in her ear. “Are you feeling bravely defiant or sweetly submissive today?”

“I’m feeling like I never wanna leave where I am right now,” she mumbled. His solid bulk heated her blood, and his broad shoulders carried the weight of her woes unbowed. “Can I just skip the questions about contracts and kinky sex and how many times I’ve screamed out your names in ecstasy since I signed on the dotted line?”

“You could,” he murmured. “But I doubt you truly desire the outcome. If you fall silent, someone will most certainly take up the slack.”

“I gotcha covered, Alice.” Jay bounced on his toes. “Whatever they ask, I will be all over that answer.”

A terrifying thought. “No, I’m good. Ready . We’re just gonna need extra cuddling time tonight to make up for all the hard-hitting questions.”

Henry squeezed her tight and ushered them both through the door ahead of him. “Behave, my lovely pets, and you may count on it.”



Silver metal attachment points dangled from brown leather straps dark as a liver chestnut and loose-wrapped in deep green silk. Green like the cloth peeking out of Henry’s pocket. Green like Jay’s ring. She bounced on the balls of her feet, giddy with relief. These cuffs were hers. She belonged.

“Do you remember your safeword, Alice?”

“Yes, Henry.” Yes, yes, I know it, please put those on me.

“Tell it to me now, please.”

“Pistachio.” I won’t need it.

“Good girl.”

She struggled to restrain her impatience under his thoughtful gaze.

“Hold out your arms for—”

Thrusting her arms forward, she offered her hands side by side and loosely fisted.


Henry raised his hand until his palm brushed her fingers where they curled under her hands. He bent at the waist and bestowed two gentle kisses, one to the back of each hand. He revealed a slight smile as he straightened. “Your eagerness pleases me. Perhaps it’s been too long for us.”

Always. Two weeks of waiting and wanting, and such a short time when fulfilling her sexual desires became a joyful hobby for him. He’d taken a year to make the decision, to agree to invite her into his relationship with Jay. How hard had Jay pushed to make that happen? Gratitude flooded her, both for Jay’s interest and Henry’s willingness to play along.

Henry slipped the cuffs on her and tightened the straps. The silk slid over her skin. Two inches of chain separated her wrists. Henry lifted them over her head, extending her arms until the stretch hurt before lowering them a smidge. “Is this position comfortable, Alice? Be truthful, or our time together will end early tonight.”

Jesus. Was he trying to scare her? His voice held a sharp edge of command. A safety reason, muscle strain, probably, had to be the cause, but to threaten to end the night early… “It pulls a little on my shoulders, but it doesn’t hurt.”

He lowered her wrists another fraction of an inch. “Better?”

“Yes, Henry.”

“Good. Be still for me.”

She complied while he made adjustments above her. Metal spun, whirring like screw locks on carabiners.

Henry backed away to the edge of the light. “Relax your shoulders, Alice.”

She lowered her shoulders as best she could and shivered at the secure grip of the cuffs around her wrists.

“Rotate your hands for me. Wiggle your fingers.”

She obeyed without question. His safety concerns were for her benefit, and she wouldn’t interfere no matter how desperate she grew to feel his touch. Having the length of his body grazing hers as he’d held her arms above her head hadn’t helped. Holding still had been difficult when she’d wanted to rub herself against him like a cat.

He circled her, always at the edge of the light, prowling. Jay stood somewhere in the darkness, his role in this game as shrouded as his body.

“You’re a very good girl, Alice.” Henry spoke in conversational, relaxed tones. He stepped in front of her, a foot away, and unbuttoned his jacket. “I want you to understand that now, before we begin. You haven’t displeased me in any way. Do you understand?”

He held his coat out behind him, and Jay stepped from the darkness to take it.

“Yes, Henry. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Henry unbuttoned his shirt cuffs and rolled his sleeves to the elbow.

“Correct.” He leaned in and kissed her, hard, one hand on her chin holding her in place as he nipped at her lips. “This is not a punishment but a pleasure.”


1427896Playing the Game (Neighborly Affection #1)

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Neighborly Affection, #1

She expects dinner with neighbors, but gets sex with a side of safewords.

Mechanical engineer Alice still drools over her sexy neighbors a year after she’s moved in. She can’t decide whether they’re roommates or partners, but either way, they spark a wanton desire in her that has her imagination–and vibrator–working overtime.

Henry, director of everything around him, studies human nature and applies philosophies to his paintings as well as his relationships. Quirky, polite to a fault, and formal, he follows his own code of honor even when it means denying himself.

Flirtatious and playful, Jay needs stability, guidance, and to please others. His antics counterbalance Henry’s stuffy ways while he brings a level of vulnerability and fun to everything the trio does.

BDSM play with the enigmatic artist and flirtatious joker across the hall allows Alice to put aside the linear thought processes which have kept her unsatisfied and distant with other lovers. She must dismiss her preconception of love, sacrificing her independence, if she’s to find a permanent place in their beds and hearts.

CONTENT WARNING: Explicit sex, graphic language, BDSM, bondage, spanking, M/M/F menage.


About M.Q. Barber and the Neighborly Affection series:

The story that began in PLAYING THE GAME (Neighborly Affection #1) continues in CROSSING THE LINES (Neighborly Affection #2). A Neighborly Affection short story, THREE-WAY TIE, is available as a free read on Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18721040-three-way-tie

M.Q. Barber likes to get lost in thought. She writes things down so she can find herself again.

Often found staring off into space or frantically scratching words on sticky notes, M.Q. lives with one very tolerant, easily amused husband and one very tolerant, easily amused puppy.

She has a soft spot for romances that explore the inner workings of the heart and mind alongside all that steamy physical exertion. She loves memorable characters, witty banter, and heartfelt emotion in any genre.

The former Midwestern gal is the author of the Neighborly Affection contemporary romance series. Pick a safeword, grab a partner or two, and jump in.

Keep up with the series via M.Q. Barber’s website (http://www.mqbarber.com), Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/mqbarber), Goodreads profile (http://www.goodreads.com/mqbarber) or Twitter feed (http://www.twitter.com/mqbarber).

giveaway4Lyrical Press is offering 5 ecopies of Crossing the Line

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Leave a comment


  1. Loved the rain play 🙂

    Already have my copy, so I’ll leave my spot in the rafflecopter drawing for some other lucky visitor. Believe me, you WANT to read this book 🙂


  2. Krystal Dunlap

     /  March 14, 2014

    This book sounds great! I for sure will be reading it even if I don’t win. Thank you for the giveaway.


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  1. Henry, Alice, and Jay play in the rain | M.Q. Barber | Author

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