Back in the Day by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna

Back in the Day


Fifteen years… (or close enough to make no difference). What were you doing fifteen years ago? It turns out we were starting to fill out a prompt chart for 50 Kinky Ways to please your lover, stories that became the Exploring Limits books.

We knew from the start that we wanted to set all the prompts in the same “world” and use them to tell an ongoing story about a developing relationship. And since we couldn’t decide on just two leading men to star in our fantasy world, we chose three.

And what better way to put our three lovely men in close proximity than the set of a miniseries? Turns out we’re both a little obsessed with the Arthurian legends, and that set and story gave us all kinds of opportunities to have our leads together for an extended period of time, in all kinds of interesting situations.   

We had to be sure our main characters had distinct personalities and “voices,” since it can be challenging enough to keep track of who’s who with only two men, let alone three. We decided that Jonathan, the lone American starring as King Arthur in our story-within-a story, would be a virgin to the world of men (since that seemed to be the natural first prompt to write). Devon, cast as Lancelot, would be the experienced member of the trio, with some secrets in his past he wasn’t anxious to share. Kit, the miniseries’ Perceval, would be out and proud and more impulsive than his two older castmates.

Then all that was left was getting them in bed. Oops, is that a spoiler? All joking aside, with a prompt table full of things like biting and roleplay and gag balls and clamps, it would have been easy to let the stories devolve into nothing but a series of sex scenes rather than the development of a romantic relationship between three men discovering love as they explore their kinkier sides. That was where our partnership made all the difference. Nicki’s knack for plotting and organization kept us on track, tracing out a way to hit all the prompts while working in the emotional development we wanted to infuse so the stories would be meaningful as well as sexy.  

Once we’d arranged the prompt table into the order we wanted to tackle them (eliminating a few neither of us felt capable of addressing and replacing them with “writer’s choice” categories that better fit our plot outline), the stories started to flow. This was back in the days of Live Journal, when immediate feedback followed each posting, and readers started to lobby for their favorite prompts. We continued to add chapters to the story over the next five years, even after we’d both left LJ behind. Whenever one of us felt stalled on whatever we happened to be writing at the moment, we could always pick up the next prompt from the table to get the creative juices flowing again.

And then suddenly we had over 250,000 words of story… way too much for a single book, no matter that it was one arc, which left us trying to figure out how to make it publishable. Back then, the solution was to put it out as six novellas in serial format, but we always wished it could be in print too. Which leads us to 2019 and the decision to put out a second edition of the novellas, edited to reflect everything we’ve learned about writing in the intervening years, and grouped into two novels.

It’s a bit sobering to look back at the original stories and realize how much we’ve learned about writing in the intervening years. Things like overusing epithets, autonomous body parts, and invalid simultaneous actions (he can’t take off his pants and put on a condom at the same time) were relatively easy to clean up. On the other hand, we made a conscious decision to leave the story told from multiple points of view. While we might have revised each chapter to a single character’s perspective, doing so would have lost the developing nuances of emotion from each of our lovers. The story simply wouldn’t be as powerful without being able to see into each of their hearts as their relationship grew from curiosity and desire into romance.

With that in mind, enjoy a peek at the moment Jonathan realizes just what Kit and Devon have in mind for him…



Kit snuggled up against Jonathan on the couch, resting against Jonathan’s shoulder. He was tempted to kiss him, but that wouldn’t be fair to Devon. They’d agreed to do this together. He settled for trailing his hand across Jonathan’s chest. It seemed Jonathan wasn’t the only one feeling his alcohol, though. The two shots of vodka impaired Kit’s coordination just enough that he misjudged and brushed his fingers directly across Jonathan’s nipple.

Jonathan jerked at the stimulating touch. “Kit?” he asked, turning to look into brown eyes dark with desire. “What’s going on?”

Juggling the bottle of scotch and three glasses, Devon returned just in time to hear Jonathan’s hesitant question. He didn’t know what Kit had done to prompt it, but now that it was out in the open, it had to be answered. “If you have to ask, we obviously haven’t been doing a very good job,” he murmured, setting the drinks on the table and returning to his place at Jonathan’s other side.

Jonathan chuckled, as much at the realization that he hadn’t misinterpreted his friends’ actions as at Devon’s response. Maybe he could do this. Maybe he could finally let go of all his inhibitions and explore the side of himself he’d always suppressed. “Okay, maybe the better question would be why?”

“Have you looked in the mirror recently?” Kit asked in reply. “We’d have to be blind not to want you. And since we couldn’t figure out a fair way to decide which one got to have a go at getting your attention, we decided to do it together.”

“You’ve got my attention,” Jonathan assured them. “What are you going to do with it?”

The challenge in Jonathan’s voice might have been mostly bravado, but Devon wasn’t about to let it go unanswered. “This.” He reached up to frame Jonathan’s face and turn it until he could reach the lips he’d wanted to taste all night. His first touch was gentle, tender, but as Jonathan moved beneath him, he gave in and kissed him hungrily, letting Jonathan taste his desire in return.

Despite his relative confidence that “this” was indeed what they had intended, Devon’s kiss caught Jonathan off guard. It felt strange having a beard brush against his lips, but not unpleasant. Tentatively he returned the kiss, a reaction that met with great success as Devon’s lips moved over his more forcefully. Jonathan could taste the beer Devon had drunk earlier, as he was sure Devon could taste whiskey on his tongue. When they finally broke apart, staring at each other carefully, Kit stole his attention.

“My turn,” Kit said, turning Jonathan’s head so he could kiss him as well. This kiss was as different from the first as the two men who had given them. Devon’s kiss was hungry, almost demanding, whereas Kit’s kiss was more cajoling, asking rather than taking. Both had enormous appeal.

When Kit released his mouth, Jonathan glanced uncertainly between them. “So you want to… share me?”

“Aye.” Devon nodded, sliding around to sit on the table in front of Jonathan and holding his gaze. “If you’ll have us. But what do you want?”


Check out Exploring Limits today!





We could always share him….

After failing to capture the attention of their bicurious costar singlehandedly, Kit and Devon team up to seduce Jonathan, who plays King Arthur in the new miniseries Camelot.

The chemistry between the three actors is off the charts, and it brings out the adventurous side in all of them. Things heat up in the bedroom as the trio explores the pleasures of dominance, submission, bondage, toys, and anything else they can find to get the most out of their secret time together.

But a gay ménage presents problems without easy solutions—especially as they work closely together on set. For their threesome to survive and evolve into a true committed relationship, they’ll all have to test their physical and emotional limits.

This volume includes newly edited and expanded versions of the novellas:

Exploring Limits
Stretching Limits
Refining Limits


Author Bios:

Growing up in Chicago, Nicki Bennett spent every Saturday at the central library, losing herself in the world of books. A voracious reader, she eventually found it difficult to find enough of the kind of stories she liked to read and decided to start writing them herself.


When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands). The cat pretends they’re all beneath her, no matter what language they’re speaking.

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