Their marriage was supposed to be a business transaction. Only love wasn’t factored into the contract. And he never expected he would fall in love with his husband.
One of my favorite tropes is the marriage/relationship in trouble. I like to see people/characters fighting for their relationships and the love they share. Struggling with life circumstances but working their way back to each other. I think that is because I am a character-driven writer.
Characters come to me first.
The Marriage Contract started as a completely different story. But the characters would not cooperate. Over the years, I’ve learned not to argue with my characters.
It’s useless. So I let them guide the story. And more often than not, turns into a better story than I originally planned.
Grant Thornton and Tristan Castillo are the heroes of the story. And as far as characters go, Grant was more stubborn than Tristan. Tristan was just dark, broody and scared. And one night as I was watching television, Tristan popped into my head and this version of the story was born.
Then I started peeling back the layers. I looked at the character histories, their flaws and baggage and use that to plot the scenes and develop the story.
And then the puppies got involved. Not one puppy but two.
The Marriage Contract is about to flawed, vulnerable men who are afraid to take a chance on love. But also afraid not to try to love.
Thanks to Delilah for having me on her blog. As a bonus, here’s the reveal of the new cover for The Marriage Contract.
Tristan Castillo wants to make his marriage work, but there’s one problem— his husband. Not only is Tristan coming home, he’s bringing a surprise, a puppy named Apollo. But when he arrives home, he gets a surprise of his own. Grant adopted a dog too. And when he hears Grant named his puppy, Zeus, he figures it for a sign that they are meant to be together.
Tech mogul and closet jazz musician, Grant Thornton needed a husband to get past the codicil in his grandfather’s will. It was supposed to be a simple business transaction. Only love wasn’t part of the bargain and Grant doesn’t know if he loves Tristan or the things he does to his body.
As a former Marine and Michigan State Trooper turned chocolatier, Tristan is used to going after and fighting for what he wants. Sure, love wasn’t in the contract but it’s not something you can put a value on either. He came back to win his husband and he’s going to pull out all the stops to get Grant to open up to the possibility of love and a happily ever after with him.
With the help of Zeus and Apollo, Tristan and Grant start their journey towards forever. But old demons and old habits threaten to keep this union a true marriage of convenience.
Now. I’d like to discuss the VERY important topic of why I cannot get The Mountain Between Us out of my head, in spite of the many negative reviews. (CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD)
Is it because Idris Elba takes his shirt off? Partly. Really though, it’s the cabin. The cabin where these two frozen and bedraggled people stumble in, finally get a break from fighting life or death circumstances, and the bow-chicka-wow-wows ensue.
I am a total sucker for the stranded in a cabin story. Or the stranded on an island story, or the riding out a storm in a barn story, or… you get the idea. Put two people who wouldn’t otherwise be together into a situation they can only get out of with the aid of falling in love and smexy naked times, make it even a little believable, and I’m there.
As I sit here thinking about it, honestly any good trope that is well-executed (or well subverted), will get my motor humming. Enemies to lovers? Oh, yeah. Workplace romance? Forbidden circumstances? Secret baby? Yes, even the secret baby stories. Make me love it, and I’m yours.
I’m such a sucker for the tropes, that I’ve realized I squeeze as many as I can into each book, often without really trying. They’re just so delicious, I can’t stay away. For me, if one trope is the cake (which, I mean, who doesn’t love cake??), then two are the frosting, three are the sprinkles, and the more sprinkles the merrier.
Now I’m hungry. Anyone else dying for cake now?
In my upcoming book, DON’T LET GO, I’ve managed all sorts of many-layered goodness. I couldn’t be more excited. There’s an alpha male (two, actually), an emotional love-hate situation, a fake relationship, a fling, a touch of class warfare, a playboy, a protector, a run at revenge, a super-delicious May-December kind of thing, and IMO the best? A road trip, during which they become temporarily stranded (YESSS!!!).
Quite a lot of sprinkles on that cake, and I hope you’ll enjoy digging in.
So tell me: What are your favorite cak—Uh, topping—Uh, tropes? Ok seriously, I gotta go bake a cake now, people.
Left behind by everyone he’s ever loved, Alonzo Grover lives as if he’s got no tomorrow. The discovery of a letter from his deceased boyfriend breaks him out of his rut and spurs him to right an old wrong, but the local stick-in-the-mud sheriff’s lieutenant seems determined to ruin his plans.
Lieutenant Sebastian Haas despises tangling with his small town’s most promiscuous party kid. Alonzo’s youth and recklessness drive him crazy in more ways than one… So does the uncomfortable secret they share. But when Haas’s estranged family arrives in town to throw a wedding he wants no part of, he jumps into Alonzo’s car to avoid the family drama.
Together, they wind up on an unexpected road trip. With one setback after another, it looks like they might kill each other before they make it home to Evergreen Grove. That is, unless they find something better to do than fight.
I’m about to turn and leave when the door slams in against the wall and I find Sebastian Haas, local sheriff’s lieutenant and town hard-ass, giving me the stare down. His blue eyes glitter with the help of the bar’s twinkly fairy lights, serving me a look that’s half “Don’t fuck with me” and half “Can U Handle It?”
“Mr. Grover. Staying out of trouble this evening?”
Everything about this guy pushes my buttons. Can’t stand his perfect cop face. Can’t stand the way he pulls off the world’s ugliest green uniform thanks to a jaw that could crush rocks and a body with no signs of a donut fetish. This guy is the biggest fake goody-goody I’ve met. And I’ve met a lot of fake people in my time. The system is full of liars, let me tell you.
“Maybe you’ll want to help me get into some trouble. Eh, Lieutenant Haas?”
Yeah, I know. You’re supposed to be respectful around law enforcement. My buddy Tyler warns me all the time about the consequences of my attitude, even though I learned that lesson when I was eight. But there’s something about Lieutenant Haas.
He brings out all my ugly, as my old friend, Ruthie, would have said.
Sometimes it’s just the way he stares. He seems out of place in this little town, looking like the product of a science experiment where Channing Tatum and Matt Bomer got smashed together into one person. Then that person put on a cop uniform that fits extra tight through the backside. And then acts so uptight, he could blow diamonds from his asshole.
For real, how can a man so hot be such a bucket of cold water?
Elisabeth Staab used to be the kid who loved getting grounded because there were mystery novels in her bedroom. One day reading romances saved her life, and now she writes them, because the world needs more happy endings. Keep in touch by signing up for her newsletter, or stopping by ElisabethStaab.com.
My first experience with steak pies came in the spring of 2009. My best friend from college informed me that she was leaving Auckland after a two-year stint with her partner, so I decided I’d better get there before I lost the free room and local tour guide. For those of you who’ve read The Officer’s Siren, this might sound familiar. For the purposes of this post, I’ll call her Emily (like I did in the book). Emily took me to the grocery store after my jetlag wore off, and I found a huge selection of these wonderful meat pies. Now I love cheese, and I really love meat and gravy, so the combination of both in a pastry shell had my mouth watering before I even got to the checkout stand. They didn’t disappoint! My favorite by a mile was the steak and brie pies. Australian meat pies have the meat ground, but New Zealand Pies are chunks of steak. I’ve had both, but prefer by a mile the Kiwi (New Zealander) pies. I’d definitely brave the 13-hour flight to have these again.
After returning to Seattle, I didn’t find a source for these wonderful treats until another writing friend, Maia Strong (seriously, check out her stuff – she’s awesome), took me to Pies and Pints on Sixty-Fifth Avenue NE in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Although they had the Aussie version of the meat pies, I loved the place so much, I sent my guys there in both The Officer’s Siren and in the second novel of the Rain City Tales, Past Secrets Present Danger. Sadly, after 13 years, Pies and Pints in Seattle closed in 2017, but the wonderful space, and the yummy meat pies, live on as our guys’ go-to place after work for pool, pies, and tater tots!
The second installment of the Rain City Tales, Past Secrets Present Danger, is now available for download on Amazon and Kobo today! Past Secrets Present Danger follows accountant Roger Matthews navigating his partner, SPD Officer Paul Tomlinson’s, secrets and past when he lands in the hospital after a shooting. Stay tuned for Rain City Tales Book 3: I’m Yours due out before Valentine’s Day, and Rain City Tales Book 4: The Wedding Weekend, out in May 2018.
You can order the first Rain City Tales story, The Officer’s Siren, here.
Checkout Brent’s website for more details on upcoming books.
Excerpt from Past Secrets Present Danger:
The pub teemed with people as they stepped inside, and Roger thought the restaurant seemed overly crowded for a mid-week evening. Paul navigated his way through the sea of chairs, holding Roger’s hand and steering him to a small table not far from the pool table, where Fred Collier waved his arms in animated conversation with Alex and Sarah Templeton.
“Not sitting at the bar this evening, gents?” The bartender, Seb, approached the table with two coasters and tossed the disks onto the table top.
Paul grinned. “No room. How’s married life treating you?”
“I think your buxom Italian wife disappointed all the women and over half the men in this place when she caught you,” Roger joined in.
Seb laughed. “Emily’s amazing. I’m still marveling at how awesome she is.” He leaned in. “Although, just between the three of us, I could do without the jogging outfits she comes up with. Love is blind, though, eh?”
As Seb moved to another table, Fred hurried over. “Paul, good that you’re here. Alex and Sarah challenged me to a game, and I need my partner.”
Eyeing his co-worker, Paul crossed his arms. “What’s the matter?” he asked, his tone wry. “Your pool-shark buddy, Mike, not available?”
Fred’s eyes widened. “It was just that one time, I swear. You were out of town, and I was in a bind.”
“That’s not what Sarah said,” Roger piped up. He loved joining in the teasing interplay between Paul and his boss, and loved even more the fact Paul’s friends and fellow officers had accepted him so readily into their circle. “She told me you constantly beg Mike to come play.”
Paul shifted his gaze from Roger to Fred. “Is this true?” he asked with exaggerated dismay and indignation.
Swinging his gaze toward Sarah and Alex, Fred glared at the couple. The Templetons exchanged glances and shrugged while smothering smiles.
Officer Jason Lynch and his husband Mike Bryant wove their way to Roger and Paul’s table.
Mike’s goofy smile lit up his face. “Did someone mention my name?”
Stifling a laugh, Roger sat back and watched the officers bicker about who was entitled to play and how often Mike was cutting in on Paul’s gig. Seb bustled over and planted his hands on his hips.
“All right, boys. If you don’t cool it,” he said, winking at Roger, “I’ll have to call the cops.”
The room filled with the roar of laughter from the three officers. Jason and Mike took the two extra seats at the table, and Roger handed his menu over to the pair.
“I’m ready to order, Seb,” Roger said.
Seb pulled his pad from his apron. “Shoot.”
“The steak and cheddar pie with a mound of tater tots.” He glanced at the beer list. “And…a bottle of Roger’s Pilsner.”
Mike chuckled next to Roger. “I’ll have the same, except I want a ginger beer.”
Seb nodded. “Paul?”
As his boyfriend and Jason ordered, Roger cast Fred a bemused grin. The poor guy was desperate for Paul to go shoot a game of pool with the Templetons, and Paul was purposefully taking his time, being indecisive about his food and drink order.
When Seb finally left the table, Fred plunked down between Paul and Jason. “Seriously, are you going to help me out, Paul?” He glanced across the table at Mike. “I’m sure there’s someone else here who’d play if you don’t want to.”
Paul leaned toward Roger. “What do you think, babe?”
“Let Mike play.” Roger grinned. “The game’ll be over in about five minutes.”
Another roar of laughter erupted from the table, although this time Fred didn’t join in. He looked like a spoiled child whose favorite toy had been stolen away.
Taking pity on him, Roger turned to Fred. “Just kidding. Go shoot one game.” Roger raised his index finger and waved it in front of Paul. “One game. You have commitments after we’re done eating.”
Heat burned through the look Paul shot him as he pushed himself to his feet. “Okay, Fred. You heard the boss. One game.”
“Commitments?” Jason looked between them.
Mike chuckled and reached his hand under the table. “Commitments.”
Eyes widening, Jason stared at his husband. “Oh. Commitments.”
About the Author
Brent Archer began writing in 2011 at the nudging of his cousins (ahem, Elle James and Delilah Devlin). His first story sold, and he was hooked! Keep up with Brent Archer and his current releases at his website, and follow him on Twitter: @brentarcherwrit.
Christmas is almost here! And so much is happening in my world, I’m having a hard time catching my breath.
Some of you may remember that, last year, my family was dealing with my then 97-year-old grandma who had fallen and broken her back. After spending time in rehab, she was moved home, and our family pitched in to give her round-the-clock care. Well, this year is a new crisis. Beginning about two weeks ago, her health is failing, and despite the doctor’s best efforts, and ours, she’s declining. I suppose it’s to be expected at 98, and she’s ready for it. Still, we’re all very saddened, and we’re back in “pitch-in” mode.
My dd is her nighttime care-giver now. My SIL just started a new job with the sheriff’s office and works nights. So, guess what my job is? Yeah, I’m the kids’ nighttime babysitter. They are running me ragged, and my working hours have been slashed. We’re all tired and squeezed. No complaints though. Grandma and the kids come first.
So, here’s hoping your holidays are more joyous and restful than mine!
Noah hopes buying the classic ’68 Camaro from a fellow firefighter’s widow will ease some of the grief weighing down his heart. When a noise under the hood sends him looking for a mechanic, he finds so much more. Big and burly Hoyt grabs Noah’s attention right off, and not just because of his bad-boy biker looks and ice-blue eyes. The fact Hoyt is a Dom and a member at Club LaForge certainly interests Noah.
Hoyt never thought he’d feel that rush with a man again after his partner died, but his body certainly reacts to meeting Noah. LaForge seems like the perfect place to meet and work off some energy and explore this sudden flood of desire. The heat between them starts to burn through their emotional barriers, whether the men are ready to make a deeper connection or not.
Read an Excerpt
Noah stopped before the sign at the intersection. One right turn and one block’s drive, and he’d be at the fire house.
His fingers tightened on the leather-wrapped steering wheel of the Camaro. He still didn’t think of it as his Camaro. No one at the station would either. It was Danny Truitt’s car.
And the only reason Noah was driving it now was because Danny was dead.
“Huh.” Noah rubbed the pain over his heart. It was funny, but even thinking those words still had the power to make his chest tighten. Which made driving his buddy’s car feel somehow disloyal. Read the rest of this entry »
I love the Pacific Northwest. The State of Washington boasts some of the most diverse biozones on the continent, encompassing craggy and rugged coastline, sandy coastal beaches, the Salish Sea, the Cascade Mountains, the fertile Columbia River, Wenatchee, and Yakima Valleys, the rolling farmland of the Palouse, the Okanogan Forest, and the foothills to the Rocky Mountains. Born in Spokane, Washington, I spent the majority of my adolescence exploring the Palouse farmlands and the Rocky Mountain foothills.
When it came time for college, my life completely changed. I’d been reading Clive Cussler’s adventure books about oceanography and shipwrecks through my teen years, and I couldn’t wait to live by the water. The University of Washington offered an Oceanography BS, and I applied and was accepted to the school. Nothing could have prepared me for Seattle. Fish other than trout to try, the towering Mount Rainier volcano standing watch over the city, people of diverse backgrounds and thought, a bus system that could get me anywhere I wanted to go, and trees everywhere.
Arriving in September after a long, hot summer complete with water rationing, the autumn stretched on and on, deliciously warm with bright yellow and red leaves taking their time changing and leisurely falling. Then October hit. And the rain. Good Lord, the rain. Day after day after day. As November rolled around, the frigid and wet wind sliced through the thickest wool coat and chilled me to the bone. Thankfully, I was having my own romance at that time (25 years and counting), so I was kept warm and toasty both physically and emotionally.
As I sit in a cool little café near Pike Place Market, I think back on all the adventures I’ve had in this remarkable city, and I’m excited to share some of those stories in my new series, Rain City Tales. The Officer’s Siren is the first installment, and follows hotel security guard Mike Bryant and SPD Officer Jason Lynch as they navigate their way through the dangers of Jason’s job and the perils of Mike’s family. The second installment is now available for pre-order, Past Secrets Present Danger, and follows accountant Roger Matthews navigating his partner SPD Officer Paul Tomlinson’s secrets when he lands in the hospital after a shooting.
You can order Mike and Jason’s story The Officer’s Siren here, first book of the Rain City Tales Series. Checkout Brent’s website for more details on upcoming books.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“My truck’s been stolen,” Mike grumbled.
“All right, sir. Let me get some details, and I’ll send an officer to you.”
Mike gave the operator the make and model of the truck, and his location. After ending the call, he waited on a plush seat by the crackling gas fireplace.
His phone dinged as he fought to keep his eyes open, and Mike glanced at the screen showing an update to his news stories notifications. He nearly missed the cop’s entrance, but he glanced up in time to see the tall officer, the weight of exhaustion temporarily dispelling. Early thirties, the blond hair, cropped on the sides but long on top, framed a rugged face. His intense blue eyes scanned the room.
The crotch of Mike’s slacks stirred as he took in the handsome specimen in front of him. The officer’s muscular arms bulged from of his regulation blue shirt, a sturdy chest stretching the fabric. His classic V waist led to long legs.
The officer leaned on the front desk across from Isaac, his firm, round butt on full display. “I’m looking for Mike Bryant.”
Mike stood and approached the officer. “That’s me.”
“Officer Jason Lynch. You’re missing a truck?”
Fumbling for words, Mike stuttered a response. “Yes, um, I left it parked out front last night, but, uh, now it’s gone.”
With half a grin, Officer Lynch took a blank report from the binder he carried. “Fill this out, please.”
Mike took the paper and scribbled in the required information. He tried to keep his attention on the form, but found himself more focused on the officer. Just as he finished signing his name, he glanced at the blond cop. Their eyes locked, and a smile slid across Lynch’s face. Heat rose into Mike’s cheeks.
Nodding at the form, Officer Lynch maintained the grin. “All finished?”
Mike handed over the page. After glancing over the form, Jason took a business card from his wallet. “Here’s how to contact me. We’ll see if we can locate your truck.”
Relief washed over Mike. He extended his hand. “Thank you.” Lynch grasped it in a firm grip and shook. Mike’s eyes opened wide as a finger rubbed along his wrist.
He returned the gesture, his pants suddenly too tight again. Trying to regain control, Mike released the officer’s hand. “If you do find it, I’ll come pick it up. You don’t need to impound it.”
Lynch nodded. “I’ll be sure to call you.” He smiled, winked, and strolled out the door.
As he stumbled back to the chair by the fire, Mike’s knees nearly buckled. He plopped down, trying to get his erection to subside.
Chuckling, Isaac came over from the desk and sat down next to him. “Quite a hunk.”
“Yup. He’s interested in me, too.”
Isaac’s lips formed a smirk. “Right. And how did you deduce that?”
“He did this.” Mike took Isaac’s hand and rubbed his finger along the wrist.
Isaac rolled his eyes. “To be young and full of pent up sexual energy.”
Mike winked. “Who said it’s pent up?”
About the Author
Brent Archer began writing in 2011 at the nudging of his cousins. His first story sold, and he was hooked! The third and final installment in his Golden Scepter Series, The Hurricane’s Triangle, will release on November 28, 2017 with MuseItHOT Publishing. Preorder it here.
Visit his website to keep up on upcoming releases, and follow him on Twitter: @brentarcherwrit.
Thanks for Inviting me to your blog today, Delilah! The past few weeks have been a whirlwind as I’ve been preparing for the release of Myths, Moons, and Mayhem, a steamy collection of paranormal erotica and erotic romances featuring male ménages a trois.
Working with the authors of the nine stories in this collection has been a true delight. Each has brought a different perspective to the theme. We’ve got everything from ghosts to werewolves—Sasquatch even makes an appearance!—but what really impresses me about the stories are the relationships at the heart of them. Just like there are many ways to be a romantic couple, there are also many ways to explore love and desire within a threesome. The writers of Myths, Moons, and Mayhem excel at showing the different permutations that these relationships can take.
In some of the stories, an established couple is struggling and needs the perspective of a third partner to draw them back together. That’s what happens in Morgan Elektra’s “The Endless Knot.” When vampire Jackson runs into Rafael, his werewolf ex, on a Halloween night in New Orleans, he assumes their encounter will turn sour as always. But a gorgeous human intervenes, showing them how to channel the tension and competitiveness between them in a way that fulfills all three men.
In other tales, a single guy finds himself attracted to two different men at the same time and decides to seize the best of both worlds. Rob Rosen plays with this theme in a delightfully lighthearted way in “Close Encounter of the Three-way Kind,” when a man who’s been eyeing his hot neighbor gets a surprise visit from an attractive alien in search of information about the human sex drive.
And sometimes, desire builds in the background, as three characters confront a bigger problem together. That’s what happens in “The Secret of the Golden Cup” by Rebecca Buchanan, when a classics professor finds himself at the center of a magical war and a former student and a campus janitor run to his aid. The men weren’t looking for a new relationship—in fact, at the beginning of the story, Grover is avoiding relationships because he doesn’t see himself as good boyfriend material. But the pressure of the situation reveals the true heroism of each man, and they can’t help but want what they see.
Myths, Moons, and Mayhem has been a labor of love, and I want to share that love with readers. To celebrate this new release, I’m offering a special gift when you order Myths, Moons, and Mayhem by the end of the today, Friday, Oct. 13: seven of my paranormal and speculative stories collected into an ebook I’m calling Chance & Possibility: Seven Fantastical Tales of Gay Desire.
Chance & Possibility is an eclectic selection of stories previously published in multi-author anthologies and my mixed-genre collection Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love. They range from sweet fairy tale romances to scorching hot tentacle erotica. In its pages, you’ll find fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal stories, and you’ll meet:
an unemployed journalist whose sentient iPhone hooks him into rescuing stray cats—and leads him to love
a college student who falls in love under the full moon of the Jewish harvest festival, Sukkot, but finds that his new boyfriend shies from his touch when the moon wanes
a professional horticulturalist who develops a more-than-scientific interest in a strange new plant he’s been assigned to care for
Chance & Possibility: Seven Fantastical Tales of Gay Desire isn’t available to buy anywhere. The only way to get it now is by ordering Myths, Moons & Mayhem at your preferred store, then forwarding the receipt to email@example.com. I’ll send your choice of a mobi (for Kindle) or epub (for all other e-readers) this weekend (I’m in U.S. Central Time).
Myths, moons, and mayhem make the perfect threesome—and so do the men in this anthology.
Enjoy nine erotic stories of paranormal ménages a trois fueled by lust and magic, where mystical forces collide with the everyday world and even monsters have their own demons to conquer.
A werewolf gets a lust-fueled lesson on fitting in with the pack, a professor unlocks ancient secrets and two men’s hearts, and a pair of supernaturals find themselves at the erotic mercy of a remarkable human. Ghosts, fairies, aliens, and mere mortals test the boundaries of their desires, creating magic of their own.
Penned by favorite authors such as Rob Rosen and Clare London, as well as by newcomers to the genre, Myths, Moons & Mayhem is an eclectic mix of paranormal lust and polymythic beings that will spark your fantasies and fuel your bonfires.
About Dale Cameron Lowry
Dale Cameron Lowry’s number one goal in life is getting the cat to stop eating dish towels; number two is to write things that bring people joy. Dale is the author of Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love and a contributor to more than a dozen anthologies. Find out more at dalecameronlowry.com.
From the moment he entered the dark taproom, Caleb Hunt found himself drawn to the handsome man who sat alone at the end of the bar, away from the crowd. His interest in the dark-haired, muscled adonis took him by surprise, not remembering when he’d felt such hunger from a simple glimpse. Unable to stay away, he quickly found an open seat next to him and slid into it. When Ronan turned his ice-blue eyes to Caleb and introduced himself, his warm hand sent shivers of desire through his body and he was enthralled.
Ronan Scott’s boring Friday night had taken a turn for the better when Caleb took the seat next to him. Over the next few hours, he found Caleb easy to talk to and at the same time, he found that he couldn’t tear his gaze away from the beautiful man. Caleb captured his attention in a way that no other had for as long as he could remember. Taking a chance, he leaned forward and captured Caleb’s lips with his. And with the simple kiss, Ronan understood that Caleb would become an essential part of his life.
As Ronan and Caleb explore their new relationship and integrate their lives together, they realize that not everything will be so seamless…
That’s when he spotted him and everything stopped.
His breathing hitched in his chest and his heart thudded once, hard, and even the music seemed to fade as his gaze landed on a dark-haired man who sat by himself at the bar. As Caleb’s eyes slid down the man’s body of their own accord, he noted the fitted black tee that emphasized the muscles of his arms, back, and shoulders, before his gaze dropped lower to his legs encased in denim.
When he lifted a beer to his mouth and swallowed, Caleb felt his own throat tighten. A shiver of desire passed over him. Never had he felt this way about a man or woman in his life.
Before he could analyze his actions or talk himself out of his stupid plan, he walked toward the man. Part of him wanted to see if the man was as stunning as he believed from across the bar or if he’d been alone for so long that his mind had conjured the perfect man.
Before Caleb could reach the stool next to him, a beautiful blonde glided up to him, running her hand down his chest. Her smile flirty and sensual. Although Caleb had never been propositioned in any way close to resembling what he witnessed, he knew that she offered the man a brazen invitation to get to know her better.
Disappointment flooded Caleb’s chest.
In the next moment, however, she frowned and backed away from him as quickly as she arrived, leaving an empty chair.
Not questioning his good luck, Caleb hurried over and shed his coat, dropping it over the back. He flagged down the bartender and indicated the beer he wanted.
He sensed the man’s eyes on him, but for the moment, he wasn’t brave enough to turn and catch his gaze. Not when his breath had stuck in his throat, and he didn’t know if he could speak without sounding choked.
As soon as the bartender handed him his mug, the man turned his body toward him and leaned over to speak, close to his ear.
“Are you here alone?”
Caleb had to bite the inside of his lip in order not to moan out loud at the sexy, deep voice. Remembering the question, he shook his head and pointed toward Dylan and Garrett across the room. Dylan, of course, had a woman on his lap and was tracing a finger down her neck, before he leaned toward her and his mouth followed the same trail.
Garrett was looking down at his phone. The shy woman he’d been talking to had disappeared, much to Caleb’s disappointment, and another was trying, unsuccessfully, to get his attention. She looked drunk and very loud by the way he flinched every time she spoke.
“Dylan, the one on the right with a woman on his lap, is the biggest flirt in the world. He’s never serious about any woman he takes home. Garrett is his best friend, the complete opposite of Dylan, but he’s loyal.”
The man laughed and Caleb couldn’t help the lift of his lips at the sound. It was deep, rich, and addictive. But when the man turned his ice-blue eyes on him, something unidentifiable swelled in his chest. He could sense that he should speak, to keep this gorgeous man talking for as long as possible. “Are you here alone?”
Smart, Caleb. Just parrot the same question back.
The man smiled before he nodded over to his group of friends. Some were flirting, but others were enjoying the company of their friends on a Friday night.
“The ginger is Hawk; he’s a divorce lawyer who is handling Ryan’s divorce. That’s why they’re hunched over their beers. Ryan’s wife apparently hadn’t been faithful during their entire four-year marriage, and he found out when he came home early from a business trip. Jack is the one who is flirting with the group of women; he’s like Dylan in that way, never serious. He’s a CEO of a tech company and he could have any woman with his looks and the power he exudes, but he’s never been in a serious relationship. Sam is my second-in-command, the one who looks faintly sick, because Adam is a forensic scientist who loves talking about his work.”
Caleb found himself smiling at the group of friends. When he glanced at the man, who had turned back to Caleb after pointing out his friends, he snagged Caleb’s gaze. “So, do you have a girlfriend at home?”
“No. I can’t remember the last time I had a date, much less a successful one. You?”
Caleb breathed a sigh of relief when he shook his head.
“I’m Ronan Scott.” He held his hand out.
Shit, even the man’s name is sexy.
He had to clear his throat before he reached out and grasped Ronan’s large, warm hand in his. “Caleb Hunt.”
Something inside Caleb warmed in increments until fireworks exploded behind his skin, all from a simple touch.
About the Author
Valerie writes paranormal and contemporary romances with strong alpha males and brilliant, beautiful heroines. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab. She’s addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character driven romances.