About American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera, out May 20th!
Fairy-tale endings don’t just happen; they have to be fought for.
New York City social worker Camilo Santiago Briggs grew up surrounded by survivors who taught him to never rely on anything you didn’t earn yourself. He’s always dreamed of his own happily-ever-after, but he lives in the real world. Men who seem too good to be true…usually are. And Milo never ever mixes business with pleasure…until the mysterious man he had an unforgettable hookup with turns out to be the wealthy donor behind his agency’s new, next-level funding.
Thomas Hughes built a billion-dollar business from nothing: he knows what he wants and isn’t shy about going after it. When the enthralling stranger who blew his mind at a black-tie gala reappears, Tom’s more than ready to be his Prince Charming. Showering Milo with the very best of everything is how Tom shows his affection.
Trouble is, Milo’s not interested in any of it. The only thing Milo wants is Tom.
Fairytale endings take work as well as love. For Milo, that means learning to let someone take care of him, for a change. And for Tom, it’s figuring out that real love is the one thing you can’t buy.
This book contains chicken and waffles, Central Park Zoo sea lions, very steamy moments and also Beyoncé.
Adriana’s Playlist for American Fairytale
I knew I hadn’t fallen into some bizarre parallel universe, because Melissa’s office was stifling hot as usual and those corny affirmation posters she had all over the place were still hanging on the walls. But something or someone was definitely fucking with me today. First, the random I decided to give a blow job on Friday turns out to be the mysterious billionaire donor for the shelter project. Then the guy—whose name is Thomas Hughes—breaks out into Dominican Spanish. I mean both these things were possible, obviously, but it was all just too fucking weird.
I looked over at Tom, who was staring at me again with an amused expression, like I was the most adorable thing he’d ever seen. He was dressed down today, just gray slacks and a burgundy cashmere sweater. The red made the sexy salt and pepper at his temples stand out even more. It was a challenge not to stare, to be honest.
“So you’re Dominican?” I didn’t mean to sound like I thought he was shady, but I was barely hanging on to my sanity by this point.
More rich and velvety laughter escaped his lips. The husky sound reminded me of being on my knees and him asking me if I wanted his cock down my throat. I coughed to cover the moan that almost came out of my mouth.
Tom’s eyes widened like he knew exactly what I was thinking.
He cleared his throat and leaned in to answer my question. “Well my father’s American, but he’s lived in the DR since the seventies. He was a marine during the `65 occupation. He fell in love with the island and the people while he was there.” His lips turned up on a lopsided smile.
Working with this guy was going to be torture.
“When he left he vowed to return someday. He served two tours in Vietnam, and only returned to the U.S. long enough to get his GI Bill degree. In `74, he moved to Santo Domingo and took a job as a high school math teacher at the international school. He met my mom about six months later and that was all she wrote.” He smiled fondly at that. “I came to the States for college and stayed. My family are all in DR though, so I go back a few times a year.”
Melissa was the first one to react to his story. “You rarely hear stories of Americans immigrating and settling in other countries, even though there are so many living as expats all over the world. Thanks for sharing that, Tom.”
I knew I should say something, but Tom’s whole vibe was really throwing me off my game.
He was so…unlikely.
“One of my best friends is Dominican. He came from DR with his mom when he was six. We grew up together in the Bronx.”
His smiled turned just a tiny bit mischievous then. “Is that how you recognized the accent?”
I shrugged and tried hard not to moon over the sexy dimple on his right cheek. “Well you do sound like Nesto, but there are a lot of Dominicans in New York City, as you probably know.”
He dipped his head before he answered. “I do. I’ve lived here for most of the last twenty years. With the exception of two years of grad school in Boston and short-term stints overseas for business.”
This conversation felt too intimate, like it was almost wrong to have Melissa here to witness it, still I kept talking. “I was born here but my mom’s Cuban, so we made the mandatory pilgrimage through Miami. We came up here when I was thirteen.”
I had no fucking clue why I was giving him my bio in detail, but I didn’t seem to be able to keep my mouth shut. It was the look he was giving me. Like he wanted to throw me on the floor and order me to have another go at his dick.
Between trying to keep my tone professional and managing all the feelings being this close to Tom were inducing, my body was trying to do too much, and my mouth was taking the hit.
I needed to get this conversation back to the actual project before I offended this guy. I regrouped quickly and put my game face on. “I’m fluent in Spanish, so if that’s how you prefer to communicate, I’m happy to do so.” I flashed him my best Becky smile and tried to bring this motherfucking meeting back on track. “Melissa tells me that you’d like to be kept abreast on how the project progresses. Is there anything in particular you’d like me to be aware of? I’d be happy to send you updates.” Rambling, I was rambling.
“That sounds great, Camilo.”
I clenched my fists under the table before I said more. Because I knew this was where I would be doomed. “Or we could meet periodically. Just say the word.”
Tom kept looking at me with an amused expression and it was fucking unnerving. Was he mocking me or did he think I was funny?
What the hell?
My face must have started to show how anxious I was because he broke eye contact and when he looked at me again his face was softer. No more smirking. He leaned in a little like he was going for more approachable body language. The problem was him getting closer only got me more worked up.
“I’m not sure if Melissa told you, but the reason I requested someone bilingual is because I’d like my mother to get some updates too.” At the mention of his mother his face lit up. A Dominican boy who loved his mother.
Like I needed one more reason for my ill-advised crush to grow.
“Mom doesn’t speak a lot of English and I may bring her to a meeting when she’s in town for a visit.” His face changed for an instant, and it was clear whatever he was remembering was painful. I wondered if his dad had been an abusive asshole, but he smiled when talking about his parents, so maybe it was something else. Whatever was on his mind must’ve had to do with his reason for doing this project. I wanted to ask, but I managed to keep my prying to myself.
I nodded, already so invested in making sure things with Thomas went smoothly. “That’s absolutely fine. How would you prefer that we communicate?”
I hated myself for hoping he said face-to-face, because how could that have any sort of good outcome?
Tom’s face turned serious again, like he was also struggling with how far we were going to take this farce. A few seconds passed and I sat there with my hands gripping the edge of the chair, waiting, because I knew. I fucking knew this was it. If Tom said he’d be fine with getting updates by email it meant whatever it was we’d shared at the gala had just been a bit of fun for him.
Usually being in a situation where someone else clearly held the upper hand, would send me running in the other direction. But as I sat there all I could think was, please say you want to see me again.
He glanced at Melissa who just sat there beaming, blissfully ignorant of the unfolding drama, then back to me. “If it’s alright with Melissa and it doesn’t interfere too much with your responsibilities, I’d like for us to meet once a week, Camilo.” My heart thumped so hard I almost pressed a hand to my chest. “Just during the initial stages, after things start moving we can adjust.”
Melissa piped up then and I was surprised she could get a word out, with how hard she was grinning. “That sounds totally fine, Tom. Camilo and I already spoke and he will be able to meet with you as needed.”
I tipped my head in agreement, as I tried hard not to show how much his answer was affecting me. The feeling of utter elation at his words should have tipped me off to just how inappropriate this all was, but I ignored all that shit and just sat there nodding. I looked over and smiled at Melissa whose head was also bobbing up and down. “That should be fine, Mr. Hughes—”
“Tom. Please, call me Tom.” His face looked so earnest, like he was trying to do everything he could to make himself non-intimidating.
I assented and when I spoke again there was a warmth in my voice that had no place at a work meeting. “Once a week sounds good. My schedule is pretty full, so if it works for you I’d prefer if we set a day and time to meet on a weekly basis. That way I can have it in my calendar as an ongoing thing.”
He smiled again, and this time Thomas from Friday night creeped out a little.
He was so fucking sexy.
“That’s fine. My schedule is relatively flexible right now,” he said, pulling out his wallet, then passed me a business card.
“Why don’t you email me some times that work for you, and we can go from there.” He stood up then, our meeting was over, apparently. Melissa and I got our asses in gear and stood up as well.
I extended my hand to him as I got up. “I’ll be in touch before the end of the day.”
When he took my hand in his I was sure I saw sparks. “Looking forward to it, Camilo.”
Melissa’s grin was still in full force as we walked out of her office. “Tom, thanks so much for coming today, we’re incredibly excited and grateful for this project. It’s a game changer for us.”
He seemed happy and genuinely pleased at her excitement. Keeping my shit together with this man was going to be an uphill battle.
“I’m glad we can move forward. I’ll have my finance person contact you regarding some information we need.” He turned to me again. “Thank you both.”
With that he walked out to the elevators with Melissa as I stood there stunned. I knew I was in over my head with this whole situation. This could cost me my job, or worse, could cost the agency a once in a lifetime donation. I should have been worried.
I should have come clean to Melissa.
Instead I power walked down to my office and my calendar, so I could email Tom with a time and place to see him again.
About the Author:
Adriana Herrera was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings. When’s she not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a social worker in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
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