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“This field of study is just emerging but most researchers agree, the definition of a sex addict is someone whose deviant sexual behavior interferes with daily life—their relationships, job, et cetera.”

Well, shit. I wouldn’t fight her on this. I was radioactive. An ass**le. A user of women, but shit, they’d all been willing. Maybe she was right, though. I hated the tears and drama that came with my less-than-stellar behavior toward the opposite sex. And the last thing I wanted was my behavior to rub off on my brothers. I wanted better for them.

Dr. Lowe scribbled something on a piece of paper. “Here’s the group you’ll be attending. First meeting is tomorrow morning and they meet weekly. I’ll receive reports on your progress and what you’re learning about yourself during these group sessions. If you progress well, I’ll be able to note that in my letter to the judge. The choice is yours.”

She shoved the paper at me.

“Okay.” I kept my voice neutral as I picked up the paper, but inside? Inside, I was fighting the urge to curse and crumple it into a ball.

This was bullshit.

Chapter Two


I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer. I needed to stop my hands from shaking. This was going to be fine. I could do this. My pep talk did little good, though; I knew how pathetic I was. A sexual addiction counselor and technically still a virgin.

It wasn’t from lack of effort on my part. I’d made up my mind my sophomore year of college and decided to have sex with my boyfriend at the time, Jason. He’d been thrilled, of course; I’d made him wait six long months with only heavy make-out sessions to sustain him. He’d been weird about sex—often leaving me to initiate things and tell him when I was ready for more—which only made me feel undesired and insecure. I didn’t know what I was doing. I wanted him to take the lead, but never had the courage to tell him.

When I finally told him I was ready, we were in the backseat of his Toyota Prius, since we were both too embarrassed to tell our dorm roommates that we needed some privacy. He’d done it before but seemed almost more timid than me, repositioning us over and over in the tiny car, and then losing his erection when he’d finally slipped on the condom. I felt like a failure. Like it was somehow my fault, and it wasn’t an experience I wanted to repeat. So I hadn’t.

The only part of being a virgin that bugged me was that if anyone here knew, I was sure I’d be a laughingstock.

But I thrust my shoulders back, ready, or at least ready to fake it for my first solo group session without my mentor, Belinda. I could do this. I’d be fine. It was a different group than the one I’d trained with. Belinda had recommended that, which I thought was good advice.

I’d gotten to know the roughly dozen or so regulars who attended her Tuesday night meeting. I’d become familiar with their stories—like Pamela, the sweet Italian girl who was always looking for love, trying to make up for her father’s rejection. Or Ted, the middle-aged businessman who’d become addicted to Internet  p**n  during the economic downturn when he was laid off and home alone every day. Bored and horny.

Today I’d have a whole new group to get to know, the Saturday morning group. As scary as it was, this was a fresh start. This group wouldn’t see me as just the trainee. I was the group leader. I’d studied for this, gone to school for this. But that didn’t mean my stomach wasn’t flipping violently when the doors opened and the first person entered the room.

An older man with hair graying at his temples.

I smiled warmly, then averted my eyes and went back to organizing the papers on my desk. I didn’t want him to feel watched or uncomfortable in my presence. There was a fine line between being friendly and open, and giving people their space. I certainly never wanted anyone here to feel judged.

The room began to fill, people mingling near the coffeepot, making small talk about the weather or local sports teams—discussing anything but the reason we were all gathered here. Most were middle-aged men, not surprising there, it was the same with my last group. But a few younger people and women made it a little more diverse.

When everyone had taken a seat in one of the chairs arranged into a semicircle in the center of the room, I was just about to take the spot at the front when a guy about my age, looking tense and unsure, opened the door and just stood there.

He was tall and extremely fit with wide shoulders and a toned chest, hinted at by the way his T-shirt clung to him. His hair was cropped close, just long enough to be messy in the front. But his deep, expressive eyes were his most stunning feature—a mix of dark hazel and warm brown framed in thick lashes and bright with intelligence.

For a split second I struggled to pull my gaze away from his. I’d appreciated attractive men before, but this man possessed a magnetism that made it impossible for me to look away. My heart thundered in my chest while I stared, mouth open, watching him.

His hand curled around the doorknob, but he made no move to enter. He was obviously new here. And by the looks of it, about to flee.

“Are you here for SAA?” Our abbreviation for sex addicts anonymous. “Come on in, we’re just about to start.” I found my voice and motioned him forward.

He swallowed hard, his throat contracting as emotions flashed across his face. Then his expression hardened and he entered the room, letting the heavy door fall closed behind him with a thud.

Mister Tall, Dark, and Devastatingly Handsome took the last open seat, the one directly across from me, and raked his gaze over my skin. A hot shudder passed through me and I fought to control my nerves. Something about having to address the group with his dark eyes on me made me incredibly nervous.


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