Category Archives: Guest Releases

Tuesday Guest Tickle: Hard Act to Follow by K. Vale (Giveaway!)

Another Hollywood romance, with Kyrie, who you might remember from Double Takes and that ill-conceived reality show.

hardacttofollow

 

Find it at:

Liquid Silver Books
Amazon
All Romance Ebooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 

 

 

 

 

Hard Act to Follow Playlist: As Time Goes By
Guest Post by Kimber Vale

Howdy, all! Kimber Vale here going on and on ad nauseum about my musical inspiration for my latest release, Hard Act to Follow. Bear with me. I’ll be brief, I promise.

Yes, I secretly work in the music industry and I’m just trying to boost record sales. Just kidding.

Oh, and thanks so much to the lovely Kate Lowell for hosting me today! You’re the bee’s knees and elbows.

Anyway, As Time Goes By may seem like an odd choice for a playlist tune. Hey, my musical tastes are nothing if not eclectic. Why not a classic?

In truth, the iconic song from Casablanca (Play it again, Sam—which is actually a misquote, but one everyone recognizes) is highly apropos for my playlist. Plus, I get bonus points because it was originally written for a Broadway play. You see, my MC Kyrie is an actor and classical film buff who’s working his way toward Broadway.

At one point in Hard Act, Kyrie is depressed because his relationship with his best friend Greg has taken a nose dive. Apparently, a one night stand with your ex-brother-in-law can make things awkward. Who knew? So Kyrie hides out in a dark bar during his graduation party. A pianist is playing in the corner and Kyrie considers requesting As Time Goes By. He doesn’t, and then regrets it after the musician launches into Hey Jude.

HATFbanner8As Time Goes By is a song about love being love, no matter the date, no matter how much time passes. In Casablanca, it works with the story line of lovers separated by time and distance who reunite and realize they still love each other. But I adore how “a kiss is just a kiss” works no matter the gender of the lovers. It’s my sincere hope that people the world over will welcome lovers of every kind as time goes by—and the less time, the better.
——–

——-
So, what’s the story about?
Kyrie is an actor with a physical aversion to telling lies, a one-eyed cat, and horrible taste in men. His ex-brother-in-law and best friend, Greg, harbors a secret crush he can’t shake. After denying his feelings for Kyrie for too long, Greg finally gives in to desire one drunken night. Come the morning, the facts get twisted. Kyrie pretends he doesn’t remember a thing—a lie that eats him alive—and Greg can’t stop thinking about how he screwed up the best thing in his life.

Before they can clear the air, Kyrie follows his dreams to New York City, but could he also be running away?

A mistake from Kyrie’s past detonates their silence, and Greg is forced to confront the man he loves. Is their new truth strong enough to support a relationship, or are they doomed to crumble under old fears? Their friendship could evolve into something a million times stronger, but maybe Kyrie’s act is just too hard for Greg to follow.

How about a sample?
“Beer!” Kyrie came from Greg’s small kitchen with two fists full of Sierra Nevada IPA. “Last two— You need to do better, buddy.”

“I try not to keep a ton of alcohol—”

“Yeah, yeah. But this is why we never hang here.” Kyrie turned around, arms spread, still laden with pale ale. “And this…” He spun around. “Is so much classier than my dump. Game nights would be sweet over on the swanky side of town, bro.”

“I let you and the other riffraff over here every other week, and the swanky side of town just took a turn for the worse.”

Liar. You let Kyrie over here and he’ll drink too much and pass out on your bed. That’s why you avoid this shit—because you can always leave his place with your blue balls and your pathetic fantasies. But Kyrie here is a live hand grenade. Duck and cover.

“Catch!” Kyrie tossed the beer underhand, and Greg barely managed to grab it with uncoordinated fingers.

“Watch it!” Greg bent to set the beer on his glass coffee table, heart thumping for a thousand reasons.

“You deserve an exploded brew for that comment.” Kyrie popped his bottle cap with a keychain opener that screamed arrest me. He dropped his keys on the table beside Greg’s beer while looking up at him with an intense stare. “Is that why you’ve been avoiding me lately? Tired of playing with the riffraff across town?” Kyrie smirked, but pain touched his voice and eyes.

“No, man. You know I’m busy as hell. I didn’t mean that about game night…”
“You totally did.” He narrowed his amber gaze at Greg. “Kilborne’s a slob, and he and Liv would lick your fridge clean. Their combined eating forces are the stuff of legend.”

“It’s weird. She does have an amazing appetite for a girl her size.”

“It’s her thyroid, lucky bitch. Big eyes and a stick figure. She looks like a freakin’ anime.”

Greg grinned, reaching for his beer as he sat heavily on the couch. He recalled its tumultuous state and set it back on the table.

Kyrie plopped down next to him, his knee brushing Greg’s despite the vacant cushion to the guy’s left. “Here. I said I was gonna get you good and drunk.” He took a quick tug and then pushed his bottle into Greg’s hand.

“I really don’t need it. I’m there.”

“You need something. To relax. Chill out. Live a freakin’ little. Something.” Kyrie knocked his knee into Greg’s and his hand slipped off the beer and fell onto Greg’s thigh.

“I’m… relaxed.” But the buzz was suddenly scattered by apprehension. Kyrie couldn’t be this close—touching him. Rubbing the inside of my goddamn thigh!

“Chug it.” Kyrie leaned over, his breath hoppy and sweet, his top lip still glistening from the last sip he’d taken. Greg sucked in a wavering inhalation.
The hand on his leg inched higher and squeezed while Kyrie grasped the glass over Greg’s fingers and led it to his lips.

“Drink up.”

Greg opened his mouth and managed to take a sip without choking, miracle of miracles.
“Good dog.” Kyrie grinned wickedly less than a foot from Greg’s face. He took the beer back and brought it to his own lips, the tip of his pink tongue darting out to lick the glass where Greg’s mouth had just been.

Greg almost whimpered as Kyrie sucked back a mouthful, his gaze glued to Greg’s the whole while.

Like porn when the chick maintains eye contact while giving head. Wonder if guys do that in gay movies. Despite the strange sexual attraction simmering inside him—the one that had him jerking off to visions of Kyrie way too often—Greg hadn’t had the balls to look for gay stroke films. He wasn’t even sure he’d find them appealing. He’d never even considered sleeping with men until Kyrie came along and flipped his world over like a sore loser tossing a board game.

All he knew was Kyrie’s puckered lower lip wrapped erotically around the bottle top. Paired with his gorgeous, almost challenging golden-brown stare, it sent a surge of blood to Greg’s dick so hot and fast it made him lightheaded.

“What are you looking at?” It was too close to Greg’s dream. Way too fucking close. And so was Kyrie. But instead of Greg reaching out and grasping nothing but ghost, Kyrie’s hand on his thigh pressed hard, real and reassuring. Instigating. It slid slowly inside and up while Kyrie lifted his eyebrows in question, his sweet mouth forming a tiny O that made Greg desperate to kiss him.

Greg tried to swallow, but the lump in the back of his throat didn’t move—wouldn’t allow for speech. He took a shallow breath that caught when Kyrie’s pinky wisped over his bulging cockhead. Kyrie placed the beer on the coffee table with his free hand while that little finger flirted over Greg’s ridge like it was reading braille. Reading Greg’s perverted mind through his khakis.

“Kyr—” he croaked.

“Shhh.” Kyrie leaned closer, a full hand stroking up Greg’s hard-on. “Don’t.” His lips skimmed across Greg’s, warm, soft, and tremor inducing. Greg inhaled sharply, maybe to work out a final cry for reason, but any remaining resistance fell away as Kyrie’s familiar scent overwhelmed him. Instead, he groaned as that knowledgeable hand squeezed him through his pants, and those seductive lips, a bare hint of stubble peppered above the upper one, touched down again to ply and cajole without words.

Who is this Kimber person anyway?
K. Vale writes erotic romance of all stripes, from hot hetero to mouthwatering manlove. Find her MF work published under Kimber Vale. Come for the sex. Stay for the story. Stalk Kimber on Facebook and Twitter @KimberVale, and check her site for updates, new releases, and freebies at http://www.authorkimbervale.com. The blog: http://www.kimbervale.me.

And here’s the giveaway! A $25 Amazon gift card to celebrate her new release!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday Guest Tickle: Saving Kane by Michele Rakes

MMR_SavingKane


Buy it here!
Loose Id


Michele’s Blog
Michele’s Facebook
Michele’s Twitter: @MicheleRakes








What’s the story about?

A twenty-something paramedic suffering from PTSD and a failing relationship with his high school sweetheart becomes embroiled in the tragic life of a young, gay man brutally beaten, raped, and left for dead.

Kane Abel can’t help falling for his caregiver, the handsome paramedic who saves his life, but he’s resistant. The one time Kane throws caution to the wind, he’s left with a wired jaw and a tracheostomy. He can’t take much more hurt. With his attacker’s promise to return, Kane lives in a constant state of fear, and with the ever-present paramedic, arousal.

Garrett Young struggles with the question of his sexuality, unable to get Kane out of his mind even as he fights against the demise of his long-time engagement with his girlfriend Amanda. Every day is complicated by his ongoing battle with PTSD and alcoholism, compounded by his fear for Kane’s life.

What MT, a staff member at Loose Id had to say about it:

Saving Kane is the debut story from new-to Loose Id author Michele M. Rakes. It’s m/m, and it’s not a gentle story. I like lighthearted books but I also like stories that have hard-luck characters who overcome odds and obstacles, and endure the angst and sometimes ungentle, unkind actions that come with it. Right now I’m sort of skimming as I format, but dayum, this looks good. Prolly not something you can gulp right down, but I reckon the story will stick to your ribs, so to speak.

A little preview:

The days all blend together. Two weeks feel like two months. Garrett’s the only one who makes the days stand out. By my bedside, during the night, schmoozing the night nurse into letting him stay. Sometimes, he sleeps in the chair.

The day nurse, Yolanda, enters my room. Her voice is full of cheer, and her Brooklyn accent’s so much easier on my nervous system. “Hey, you! Nice to see you again. Did you know Kane’s going home today?”

“Is he?” A low, familiar rumble fills the room, sending my skin into instant ripples of gooseflesh—a dark-chocolate voice.

Garrett’s back. The surprise of him in my room this early in the afternoon floods my body with a rare heat. Did he know I was leaving the hospital today? Did the night nurse mention something to him? I didn’t tell him. My instinct’s to play possum, always unsure of how I’m to behave with Garrett. I prefer to simply listen to the man talk, especially when he thinks I’m sleeping.

The ice pack over my eyes blocks everything except a vague light. I can’t see Garrett, but I imagine he’s in his usual spot. Long legs spread wide, his muscular form makes the chair appear small, and his uniform is rumpled from a night’s work.

I still don’t like the lights on; so much easier for me to hide in the dark. Garrett doesn’t mind. Yolanda urges me not to look in the mirror yet. I haven’t seen my face, avoiding the moment with diligence. I must be gruesome. I wonder what Garrett thinks of me, although at night he doesn’t seem to notice. Is he horrified by me in the light of day?

“I thought you might be his ride. I gotta say, you’re the only one who’s showed up.” Yolanda prattles on, filling Garrett in on all my secrets.

“He hasn’t had any other visitors? All this time?” Garrett asks, pinpointing my loneliness with a skewer of doubt.

“Oh, no, honey. You’ve been the only one today. Some guy visited him yesterday, but Kane had to send him home. The young man was a mess. Crying and carrying on like he’d been the one attacked. Poor Kane had to console him. Kyle or Lyle?” Yolanda’s voice lowers to a whisper. “Anyway, he talks about you. You’re his angel.”

Tuesday Guest Tickle: The Swan Prince by Erin Lark

The-Swan-Prince-500

Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Length: 149 pages
Price: Only $.99 right now!

A slightly different shifter romance, riffing off the old fairy tale, The Six Swans. Remember that one, where the princess had to live in poverty and weave coats of nettles to return her brothers to their human form? And if she spoke a word before the spell was broken, they were doomed to that form forever? Not exactly the same story here, but the influences are obvious.

Trapped between his royal heritage and swan shifter status, Oliver struggles to find happiness in the life he was born to. But when he’s caught in the crosshairs of a trigger-happy hunter during migration, he takes human form and seeks shelter in an old barn. Healing from his wound so he can fly soon will be hard enough…and then he’s discovered by the barn’s owner and realizes the mid-season shift left him mute.

Bastion’s spent the better part of his adult life caring for a bunch of bullheaded stallions, but this is the first time he’s ever found a naked and gorgeous man in one of his stalls. Despite the mysterious stranger’s suspicious wound, Bastion takes Oliver in, clothes him, and nurses him back to health.

When passion flares, Oliver must decide…follow his heart and stay? Or join his flock and fulfill his royal duty?

Cover Reveal! Shooting Stars 3 by Kimber Vale

hardacttofollowIn Hard Act to Follow, we meet up with Kyrie again, after failing to snag hottie rock star Gio in Double Takes. I know, I felt bad for him too. It’s coming out on August 18, from Liquid Silver Books.

Now, here’s Kimber!
_____________________________________________________

First of all, thank you so much for hosting me on this, the momentous one-month countdown day to my upcoming release, Hard Act to Follow!

I’m super excited to be here. I absolutely adored writing these characters and I can’t wait to share them with…well, anyone who will take them in and throw them a scrap of bread. Do it. You didn’t want that crust, anyway. It was dry and had all those yucky seeds on it. Maybe even mold if your bread drawer is like mine. I promise you won’t regret it.

Kyrie is an actor with a physical aversion to telling lies, a one-eyed cat, and horrible taste in men. His ex-brother-in-law and best friend, Greg, harbors a secret crush he can’t shake. After denying his feelings for Kyrie for too long, Greg finally gives in to desire one drunken night. Come the morning, the facts get twisted. Kyrie pretends he doesn’t remember a thing — a lie that eats him alive — and Greg can’t stop thinking about how he screwed up the best thing in his life.

Before they can clear the air, Kyrie follows his dreams to New York City, but could he also be running away?

A mistake from Kyrie’s past detonates their silence, and Greg is forced to confront the man he loves. Is their new truth strong enough to support a relationship, or are they doomed to crumble under old fears? Their friendship could evolve into something a million times stronger, but maybe Kyrie’s act is just too hard for Greg to follow.

———-

Kimber Vale is giving away a release day e-copy of Hard Act to Follow along with a $5 Amazon gift card for a little extra spice from the spice weasel. BAM! Win it before you can buy it!

Click here to go to the Rafflecopter site and enter!

———-

Hard Act to Follow is a standalone novel, but you can still get jazzed for its release by picking up the first two books in the Shooting Stars series, Forever is Now and Double Takes. 🙂 Find Kimber’s work at Liquid Silver Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance, and all the other usual suspects.

Hard Act to Follow on Goodreads!

————–

BeFunky_Stenciler_6
K. Vale writes erotic romance of all stripes, from hot hetero to mouthwatering manlove. Find her MF work published under Kimber Vale. Come for the sex. Stay for the story. Stalk Kimber on Facebook and Twitter @KimberVale, and check her site for updates, new releases, and freebies at http://www.authorkimbervale.com. The blog: http://www.kimbervale.me

Tuesday Guest Tickle: Technically Dating by Jena Wade

Jena’s got a new release. Hooray! Here’s all about it, including the spiffy cover.
TechnicallyDating

Coming June 25th (Tomorrow!) from Dreamspinner Press

Blurb:

Meek and mild Bruce Collins decides to set aside his life in technical support for the evening and try a wild night on the town. Self-described nerd Bruce meets suave Westley Taylor at a club, but the night doesn’t go as planned. When they run into each other the next day, Bruce is determined to get the details right and finish what they started. Westley is impressed and invites Bruce on date after date. Bruce figures they’re technically dating and might even be in a relationship, until he accidentally overhears a phone message intended for Westley. Every aspect of their time together comes into question. Now, it’s time for Westley to set the facts straight.

Excerpt:

“I’m sorry.” Bruce sighed and cupped Westley’s face with his hands. “Any chance we could postpone this until later?” The temptation to say yes lingered on his lips, but they still had the issue of where they were going to hook up. Mature Westley choose that time to remind him of his responsibilities. “I have to work early tomorrow.” He couldn’t exactly start his walk of shame at his place of work. Though, it was appealing.

Bruce kissed him hard and then smoothed Westley’s swollen lips with the pad of his thumb. “I’m going to dream about these lips tonight.” He stepped back, and Westley felt the loss in the pit of his stomach.

“I’m sorry,” Bruce said.

“Me too.”

Westley stood in the parking lot of the club and watched Bruce walk away. The sound of the club thumped in the background, and the laughter of the partygoers reached his ears, but he ignored it.

Seeing Bruce again was unlikely. If he was staying at the hotel, that meant he wasn’t local. Loss settled in Westley’s chest when Bruce got into his car and drove out of sight.

Where else can you find Jena and her other amazing stories?
Her website
Her Twitter

Tuesday Guest Tickle: Tempeh for Two by Karenna Colcroft

TempehforTwo_200The concept behind this series always makes me giggle–imagine a vegan werewolf. A vegan alpha werewolf, at that. I like Karenna’s style. It’s that same sly perversity that created Glyn and Levi for me.

Tempeh for Two is that last book in the ‘Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat’ series. As such, you should buy them all, so you’re not left figuring things out when you get to this one. 😀

Here’s what the story’s about:
Tobias Rogan never wanted to rule anyone, but in the past several months has gone from quietly running the smallest pack in the U.S. to controlling the Northeast Region. And now, to save the werewolf world, he must challenge the Anax, ruler of all werewolves in the United States. But Tobias’s mate, Kyle Slidell, is being held as blackmail, and Tobias must choose: Issue his challenge and risk Kyle’s life, or allow the Anax to declare war.

We found the others in the kitchen, where Kendra and Avery were bustling around cooking and setting food on the island. Ordinarily they would have had everything ready before our friends arrived, but I didn’t blame them for the oversight this time. Too many things had happened for them to have their minds entirely on their jobs.

Dave and Ramon stood at one end of the island. Brianna sat at the corner of it with Trey beside her. When we entered the room, Brianna jumped off her stool and hurried toward us. “Tobias!”

“Hello.” I gave her my first genuine smile of the day.

She faltered and stopped a few feet from me. “I’m sorry, Arkhon. I should—”

“You should call me Tobias unless I tell you otherwise.” Werewolf titles held a horrible weight for Brianna. She had never been permitted to address the alpha of her first pack by name, and she had been used by him and most of the other males in that pack. Saul had insisted on a different title, one which should have been earned not demanded, but he’d made her call him “Alpha” at times as well, from what she’d told me.

The day she’d joined my pack, I’d told her she would only be required to call me by title on formal occasions. This wasn’t one. Seeing my friends from Boston brought a lightness to my heart that had been missing since March. This was a celebration.

“Tobias.” Brianna’s smile returned. “It’s so good to see you.”

“And you.” I reached to touch her and stopped at holding out my arms, giving her the choice of whether to accept a hug.

She did. She was sturdier than she’d been last time I’d seen her. Back then she’d looked half-starved, even after two months of healing and life with Carlos. She’d put on some weight now, and it looked good on her. She appeared healthy.

She allowed me to hold her for only a moment, but it was enough for me to sense the growth and healing within her. She pulled away and turned her smile on Kyle. “Hey.”

“Hey.” He grinned. “Mated life looks good on you.”

Brianna’s cheeks colored. “Yeah, sure.”

I walked over to Trey, who had also stood but had remained at his place. “Hello, friend.”

“Hello, Arkhon.” He tilted his head.

I rolled my eyes. “Do I have to say this to each of you individually? Titles are formal. We’re friends here. Unless I tell you otherwise, use my name.”

“Hello, Tobias,” Trey said in a half-sarcastic lilt.

“Have you taken over being wiseass of Boston North Pack?” I grinned. “How are Mikey and Jeremiah?”

“Mikey’s doing all right.” He sobered. “Still has nightmares sometimes about what happened back in January. Lately nightmares about his mother’s family, too. And he told me to tell you to watch out for the colorful wolf.”

“I will.” I had no clue what Mikey might mean by “colorful,” but if the boy had seen fit to send me a message, I would listen. If we’d listened more to Mikey in the past, some of the events we’d dealt with over the winter might have been avoided. At least we would have been better prepared.

“Jeremiah helps him a lot with the psychic stuff,” Trey said. “He’s been teaching Mikey how to filter things better, for one thing. He’s keeping an eye on Mikey and Tareth while we’re gone, and if Tareth has the baby before we get back, Mikey will stay with Jeremiah.”

“The baby had better not come while I’m away,” Justin said in a near-growl. “I will be there to see him born if it kills me. He and Tareth need me.” He paused. “I need to be there. I can’t miss the birth. It’s too important.”
“I’m sure Tareth doesn’t want to have him while you’re gone either,” I said.

He nodded and relaxed. “I know. Just keep hoping.”

“Hey, Kyle.” Ramon’s white teeth flashed in something between grin and grimace. “I have a joke for you.”

“Oh, how lucky for me.” Kyle shook his head. “I don’t know if I want to hear this, but go ahead.”

“If tofu turkey is called tofurkey, what do you call tofu duck?”

All of us stared at him for a second. Kyle caught on first and started laughing so hard he had to lean on the island. “You asshole.”

The rest of us laughed with him, and the lingering tension and anger from Kyle’s trial finally went away. The darkness didn’t completely leave my mind, but for the first time in two days, I felt completely happy. I was with friends. This was how it should be.

Karenna Colcroft is a firm believer that love is love, regardless of gender and number. She is a survivor who knows that true love doesn’t heal all, but it can help someone find the motivation to try. Karenna lives in the northeastern United States with her two children, her real-life romance hero husband, and three cats, one of whom does a mean parrot impersonation. Find out more about Karenna and her books at http://www.karennacolcroft.com

Tuesday Guest Tickle: Shoes & Ties is Now Available!

Like a little heat in your kitchen? Bring this book with you. A young, passionate chef and a high-powered business executive–a recipe for spice and excitement!

Blurb:

Ashten Brody is a chef fresh out of college. He lands his dream job working as a personal chef to Trent Cole, local luxury hotel owner. As it turns out, Trent is also his dream man.

After working together, the two are unable to deny their attraction. One late night they can’t hold back any longer. Too bad Ashten rushes off soon after.

In the weeks that follow, it appears to Ashten that he has landed his dream man and his dream job. He and Trent appear to be on the path to a serious relationship and life-long happiness. Life seems to be just too perfect…

Links:
Jena Wade’s website
Loose-Id
Amazon

I notice there’s a giveaway for a copy of the book going on…
Giveaway at Kay Berrisford’s Blog

Excerpt:

Ashten Brody smoothed his hands down the front of his suit one more time. He hadn’t expected Trent Cole’s security guards to frisk him at the door. The man ran a luxury hotel in North Carolina. It wasn’t like he was a celebrity. Though he had the appearance of one.

As flustered as he was now, Ashten was confident that he was the right person to be Trent’s new personal chef. He was not confident, however, that Mr. Cole would hire him. He’d only just finished his degree in culinary arts and hospitality management. He was young and green, but he wanted this job and would do anything to get it. Well, that was a slight exaggeration, but he would wear a bland, conservative suit complete with a tie and jacket if it helped him beat out the competition.

The elevator pinged, and he took a deep breath as he stepped out, still in awe that he had gotten an interview. The main office was located on the top floor of the ten-story hotel—convenient if Trent ever worked late and needed to crash at the office.

Finding the secretary easily, Ashten stood next to her desk and patiently waited for her to finish her phone call. The lobby area was comfortable, with decor that matched the rest of the hotel. Doors lined the walls, and a few windows revealed the insides of conference rooms and small offices. Ashten rested his hands on the mahogany horseshoe desk. It was large enough to fill his old apartment.

“May I help you?” Annette, as her nameplate said, asked as she hung up the phone.

“I have an interview scheduled with Mr. Cole. I’m a bit early. My name is Ashten Brody.” His voice sounded calmer than he felt. It was important to make a good impression on the secretary, though; they were the ones who ran the whole office.
The secretary raised her brow. She opened her mouth to speak, but the elevator at the opposite end of the room dinged, and Mr. Cole stepped onto the floor, a deep scowl etched on his handsome face. Ashten’s breath hitched in his throat. He bit his lip, pain stopping any reaction his cock might have had to the man capturing his attention. The pictures he’d found in his Internet search hadn’t done the man justice. Trent Cole oozed confidence. Ashten’s eyes followed him as he crossed the floor. A touch of afternoon stubble shaded his strong jaw, and his tailored suit outlined his broad shoulders perfectly. The open jacket revealed lean hips, which brought Ashten’s tongue out to wet his lips. Trent walked directly past the desk, not bothering to glance at Ashten or Annette. Everyone in the office moved faster and looked busier now that the boss was in the room.

“Annette, please send in the applicants as they arrive. The sooner I get these interviews over with, the sooner I can get back to real work. Thanks.” Without waiting for a reply, he stepped inside his office, leaving the door wide open.

Ashten’s face heated, and his heart pounded. He rolled his shoulders back to try to get ahold of himself.

“Go right in, dear. Good luck.” Annette gave him an encouraging grin.

Ashten flashed a broad smile. “Thank you, ma’am.” He turned and walked toward the open door.

* * * *

Trent rubbed his tired and aching eyes before he reviewed the résumé of the first applicant. “Ashten Brody?” He looked up to see an attractive young man enter the room.

He must not have hidden his surprise well, because alarm flashed across the applicant’s face.

The Ashten Brody approaching his desk was far too young to have obtained two degrees from the University of Chicago.

And far too attractive to work near me every day.

“Yes. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Cole.” Ashten reached his hand out to shake Trent’s.

Trent stared at Ashten, hesitating too long. The raw sex appeal of the man standing before him dulled Trent’s reflexes. His piercing emerald eyes matched his tie, and the suit framed his lean shoulders and hips. Trent eyed the man up and down, unable to stop himself. Ashten dropped his hand to his side, and an awkward tension filled the room. Trent hadn’t even bothered to stand up to greet Ashten.

When he finally regained his composure, he said, “Please sit down. How old are you?” He narrowed his eyes at the younger man, hoping for a truthful response to the question he already knew the answer to.

“Mr. Cole, age is hardly an indication of ability. My résumé shows my capabilities.” Ashten spoke with ease, voice holding steady. “And if I’m not mistaken, you were quite young when you started managing the hotel.”

The man was bold, certainly confident. Confidence could be faked, especially when it came wrapped in such a lovely, tight package. “Résumés can be padded.”

“Considering the amount of paperwork I filled out for your company to run a background check, you should know that my résumé doesn’t lie.”

Trent crossed his arms and studied Ashten, watching for any change in his expression. “I have a hard time believing a man as young as you appear has already received two degrees and has the necessary experience to do this job.”

A blush crept up Ashten’s neck, and he shifted in his seat.
“Maybe I just look good for my age?” He settled back in his chair, hands folded in his lap as he smiled knowingly. “You have the background check. You tell me how old I am.”

“Your age wasn’t what I was looking for in the background check, Mr. Brody,” Trent said.

“Please, call me Ashten.”

“Ashten, I’m a busy man. As the owner of this hotel, I’m very involved in its day-to-day operations. I work long hours and will require you to do the same. Not only will you be my personal chef, providing me with breakfast and dinner each day, but you may be required to bring me lunch or even cater my business meetings. There are times when I’ll need you to work with the kitchen staff to prepare for a large conference. This will be a demanding job. I will not have time for—nor will I tolerate—complaints. I need an adult to do this job, not a kid fresh out of college, still wanting to party more than work.”
Ashten chuckled and shook his head. The deep rumble almost brought a smile out of Trent, despite his attempt to maintain his professionalism.

“Mr. Cole, I don’t complain, and I know a little something about hard work. Despite my age, I’m perfectly capable of doing this job and doing it well. I can handle whatever you throw at me.” Ashten ran his fingers through his golden hair—the movement was mesmerizing.

It was all Trent could do to stop himself from reaching out to comb his own fingers through the yellow locks. Clearing his throat, Trent rested his elbows on the table and steepled his fingers against his lips. He didn’t trust himself not to open his mouth and tell the boy exactly what he’d like to see him handle. His libido sure picked a hell of a time to return. Last time he’d been interested in another man… He couldn’t remember. Fuck. Must’ve been quite a while.
Ashten stared back at him in that uncomfortable moment of silence, no doubt thinking he’d said something to warrant it.

Trent let him suffer.

Ashten continued, “And excuse me for finding humor in the situation, but I can assure you that clubs aren’t for me.”

Trent believed that Ashten believed he was capable, but that didn’t mean he was. Though a healthy amount of self-assurance went a long way, it didn’t make up for lack of experience. Trent had no reason to trust what Ashten said, other than a gut feeling. He almost wanted to give him the job based on his gumption alone. Ashten Brody piqued his interest in more ways than one.

“I think that I’ve learned all I can about you. I’ll have my secretary call you with my final decision by the end of today.”

Trent stood and extended his hand.

Ashten’s shoulders slumped, though he straightened them quickly.

“Thank you for your time.”

Trent pushed the speaker button on his phone. “Send the next applicant in, Annette. Thank you.”

With a nod, Ashten walked out of Trent’s office.

He had a long afternoon of interviews scheduled, but he was sure his decision had already been made.