Character interview with Alice, Henry, and Jay from the Neighborly Affection by M.Q. Barber

Rather than bore you all with nonsense about myself, I
thought I’d send Alice, Henry, and Jay from the Neighborly Affection series to
share a bit about themselves. Thanks for taking them off my hands today,
Brynna!  – M.Q. Barber
“Sorry.” Alice scurried into the green room. Not late, but
cutting it close. “Sorry, sorry, sorry.” Nice place. Dark, like Henry’s
bedroom. “I got lost on the way here.”
Jay paused in mid-reach for the plate of complimentary
cookies on the sofa-side table. “You never get lost.”
True. Lost, distracted—same thing. She shucked her coat,
tossing it over the chair housing Jay’s messenger bag. “The Internet’s a big
Sprawling on the cushion beside Henry, Jay stretched out his
legs and flashed her a smirk. “You didn’t look lost when you slipped into that
custom corset website—“
She snatched a cookie and shoved it between his lips. Too
late. He crunched with gusto.
Henry extended his hand and guided her to a seat in his lap.
Mmmph. She’d taken her lunch hour early and raced over from work for this
interview. Midday snuggles with Henry and Jay never happened in a normal week.
“Are you unhappy with the selections I’ve made for you, my
dear?” Henry rolled his thumb across her knuckles.
“Not one iota.” The set she wore under her clothes now had
been a Henry pick. “My whole body breathes better all day with you wrapped
around me. I just thought I’d surprise you.”
“Oh?” He wrapped her up, a tight squeeze around her
midsection. Bliss. “I believe it’s in my job description to surprise you, sweet
girl.” Releasing his hold, he kissed her cheek and settled deeper into the
couch. “Perhaps you mean to issue a challenge to my control?”
Temptation carried her fingers to his collar. The perfect knot
in his tie offered slick, smooth curves to trace. “Could be fun to see what
makes you lose your grip.”
He stilled her hand, his fingers strong and warm around
hers. “And you’d love to be the one who pushes me over the edge, would you?”
“Me or Jay.” She nudged him with her shoe. Sexy sloucher,
hiding firm abs under that wrinkled tee. “Or me and Jay. He’s got those long,
lean cyclist’s muscles. Great for pushing.” God were they.
“Totally ready to push whatever you want where you want it
when you want it. I’m your guy.” Jay patted his chest with both hands. “Are you
busy now? Now’s good for me.”
“Is there ever a bad time for you?”
Black hair dangled as Jay tipped his head back and pondered
the ceiling. “Not with Henry.”
“Jay has a long history of trust with me.” Henry clasped
Jay’s shoulder in one hand and squeezed her fingers with the other. “Not so for
you, my dear. Surely you harbor some reservations about our arrangement, even
Well. Nothing she’d get into before an interview. And
nothing important, not really. “I trust you. I wouldn’t have signed the
contract if I didn’t.” Answering his questions had been hard enough. “I
would’ve told you to take your sex games and shove ‘em.”
Jay bounced his knee against theirs. “Totally ready to
“We know, stud.” She wanted so bad to laugh. Encouraging Jay
would send her whole mindset off the rails, though. Focus mattered for these
interviews. They’d better start soon, or she’d have to jet back to work and let
the guys take this one.  
“Jay.” Henry’s low baritone stopped Jay’s motion. “Thank
you, my boy.” He pinned her in place with his stare, the churning mind behind
deep green eyes no doubt assessing her . “Giving up that control wasn’t easy
for you.”
“No, but…” The door hadn’t opened. No interviewer yet.
Nobody to see her being all gooey-emotional with her sometime sex partners. “You
make everything feel so amazing. I never would’ve guessed…”
Jay rolled toward them, his sweet, brown-eyed puppy look at
Cute Factor Five. Henry tugged, and she sank against his chest. “Guessed what,
“How important our time together would be to me.” Mmm.
Henry’s dress shirt lay soft under her cheek, and he smelled of oiled leather
and citrus zest. “How much I’d learn. How many, uhh…”
“How many orgasms you’d have?”
She choked. “Yeah. What Jay said. You better get all of
those inappropriate comments out before the interview, buster.”
No answer. No teasing pouty face, either. Maybe she’d hurt
his feelings. She rubbed his chest. Apology only. Not at all to feel up the
solid muscle under his shirt. Nope. “So how early are we? When does the
interview start?”
Jay chortled.
“What, was it canceled?” She pushed herself upright. “Did I
rush over here for nothing?”
“Not for nothing, sweet girl.” Henry’s inscrutable dominant
face almost transported her straight to his bedroom. Naked and waiting. “We’ve
just completed our interview.”
“We—wait, that was the interview?” Oh God, had she said
anything she shouldn’t? “Why didn’t you warn me?”
The smirk crossed Henry’s face at glacial speed. “I enjoy
surprising you.” Should’ve seen that coming. “Didn’t you enjoy it?”
As if he had to ask. “Yeah, the interview was painless. I
thought there’d be more torture.”
“There will be, Alice.” The smirk, the stare, the heat of
his body beneath her. Torture in some contexts. “But I’ll deliver the rest in
private, hmm?”
Oh hell yes.
About the Neighborly
Affection series
The story begins in PLAYING THE GAME (Neighborly Affection
#1) and will continue soon in CROSSING THE LINES (Neighborly Affection #2). A
Neighborly Affection short story, THREE-WAY TIE, will appear next month in the
free FIRST FROST anthology (
from Lyrical Press.
Keep up with the series via M.Q. Barber’s website (, Facebook page (,
Goodreads profile (
or Twitter feed (
PLAYING THE GAME is available now from Amazon (,
Barnes & Noble (,
iTunes (
and other online retailers. Here’s the quick-and-dirty description:
She expects dinner with
neighbors, but gets sex with a side of safewords.
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
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
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.
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.
WARNING: Explicit sex, graphic language, BDSM, bondage, spanking, M/M/F menage.