Ethan Blake has dedicated his life to satisfying other people’s appetites. At forty-three, he’s finally landed his dream job—head pastry chef at an exclusive resort. Now he’s got a jet-setting career that’s taken him to romantic locations all over the world. But years before, after his parents threw him out for being gay, Ethan supported himself in a manner he’d rather keep under the covers today.
Roman Walker is a twenty-five-year-old fitness celebrity awash in thirsty followers. But when he walks through the doors of Sapphire Cove, it’s not just to oversee the menu for his celebrity client’s wedding. Decades ago, Roman and Ethan crossed paths on a New York street corner during a terrible, life-changing moment that scarred them both. Now Roman’s back for revenge.
But when his plan goes wildly off the rails, Roman suddenly finds himself at the center of an even stranger and darker plot concocted by his most famous client. Well-versed in the ways of the wealthy and the entitled, Roman’s former target offers to be his strongest ally during a moment that might derail the young man’s newfound career. But the experienced older man’s offer also ignites an irresistible and forbidden attraction that threatens to consume them both, even as it exposes old secrets and incurs the wrath of the powerful and the famous.
“Where are we eating?” Roman asked.
Ethan’s smile vanished. “Oh, I’m sorry. I…uh…have dinner plans with a friend.”
Roman felt as if he’d fallen off a cliff, hit a jagged set of rocks, and bounced. But what he said was, “Oh, that’s fine, ’cause Hank wanted to have dinner anyway.” It was a lie. Clutching Gertrude’s base with a white-knuckled grip, he looked away from Ethan suddenly as if he’d been distracted by a loud noise.
“Diana’s director of security.”
“Is he someone you can trust right now?”
Jealous, Daddy? Roman thought. More like hoped.
“I don’t know. That’s why we should probably have dinner.”
Ethan nodded and rose to his feet. “Keep me posted about Rachel, and I’ll make sure everything’s taken care of on Tuesday.”
When he extended his hand, Roman wanted to scream. Instead, he took it. At the weakness in his grip, Ethan huffed slightly with restrained laughter, as if he could sense what Roman was feeling inside, and it disappointed him.
Scared him, Roman thought. He’s scared because he knows if he gets sweaty with me, he’ll lose control, and he probably feels guilty about my dad and so I need to let him off the hook. Because I want him to lose control all over me again and again.
“Have a good evening, Mr. Walker.”
Ethan was several paces away when Roman rose off the bench and said, “We should have sex.”
Ethan turned. Even though a passing mother gave Roman a dirty look and tightened her grip on her toddler daughter’s tiny hand as they hurried past, Ethan looked unfazed.
“You know,” Roman continued, “just to get it out of our system. Especially if I’m going to be staying with you.”
“I thought you weren’t a casual sex person,” he said.
“I’m not,” Roman said, heart racing.
“Getting something out of your system sounds pretty casual.”
Roman was struggling for a response when Ethan said, “Thank you for the offer, truly, but no. I’ll see you Tuesday, Mr. Walker.”
Ethan started walking off again.
“I just think it’s weird,” Roman called after him.
Ethan stopped and turned, this time with more strained patience in his expression. “What is weird?”
“That you’re all wise and mature and stuff but you can’t be authentic and real about how you feel about me.”
Ethan took several paces toward him. “And how do I feel about you again?” he asked.
“Well, I think you answered that in your kitchen this morning, right?”
“An erection is not a feeling. It’s a biological event caused by a high volume of blood flow to a specific part of the body, often triggered by an excess of physical stimulation. Such as a back rub.”
“Wow. You really are Mr. Romance.”
Christopher Rice is the recipient of the Lambda Literary Award and is the Amazon Charts and New York Times bestselling author of A Density of Souls; Bone Music, Blood Echo, and Blood Victory in the Burning Girl series; and Bram Stoker Award finalists The Heavens Rise and The Vines. An executive producer for television, he also penned two novels with his mother, Anne Rice, Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra and Ramses The Damned: The Reign of Osiris. Together with his best friend and producing partner, New York Times bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher runs the production company Dinner Partners. Among other projects, they produce the podcast and video network TDPS, which can be found at www.TheDinnerPartyShow.com. He lives in West Hollywood, California, and writes tales of romance between men under the pseudonym C. Travis Rice.
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