Peter was a man on a mission. Ever since his lunch conversation with Xander on Saturday—if it could be called a conversation—the pieces had started to fall into place. The more he thought about Xander, the more he began to understand what was really going on, and it had nothing to do with the guy’s aversion to relationships.
“You don’t want someone like me, I get it. It was a mistake. Okay?”
Xander’s words had caught Peter off guard, and it wasn’t until long after Xander had gone that they finally sank in. There were times when Xander seemed confident. Like when he was out on the construction site working. He’d quickly familiarized himself with all the tools and handled them skillfully, as if he’d been using them all his life. At least until Peter showed up. Then the guy turned into one of those infomercials where picking up a hammer resulted in flailing chaos with the added bonus of a bandage or two.
Xander didn’t seem to have a problem holding a conversation with Mr. J, Mike, or even Jo. The moment Peter appeared, Xander acted like he didn’t know what to do with himself. He had no idea how sweet he looked, the way his cheeks flushed, or how he mumbled to himself when he thought Peter couldn’t hear him. Those weren’t the actions of a guy who saw Peter as nothing more than a one night stand. For some reason, Xander didn’t think he was good enough for Peter, so it was up to Peter to prove him wrong.
While he dressed, he tried his best to ignore the little voice in his head telling him Xander might bail on him. It had taken a good deal of persuasion for Xander to finally agree. Peter was itching to send another text or call, but he didn’t want to be pushy. The last thing he wanted was to scare Xander off. Tonight was about showing Xander the possibility of something more between them. To show it didn’t matter to Peter the car he drove, what his apartment was like, or what he did for a living.
Peter finished buttoning up his charcoal gray dress shirt, leaving the top two buttons undone. His hair had a small amount of gel in it, his cologne was subtle, and his dark blue jeans gave him a more casual look. He wanted to look good for Xander, but not too dressy. Choosing his outfit had been almost as tough as choosing where to go for dinner. He wanted Xander to feel comfortable tonight, though he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous.
The doorbell rang and he took a deep breath. “Relax. You can do this.”
Turning off the bedroom lights, he made his way to the front door, opening it with a smile when he got there. The moment his eyes landed on Xander, his brain vacated the premises. Holy shit.
“Hey.” Xander smiled bashfully, his hands shoved into the pockets of his black jeans. He was clean shaven and wearing a navy blue dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, revealing his muscular arms. “I hope this is okay. I didn’t know where we were going and—”
Peter kissed Xander, cutting him off mid-sentence. He tasted minty fresh, and his aftershave sent the most delicious shiver up Peter’s spine. Xander leaned into the kiss, his hands going to Peter’s waist and his lips parting to invite Peter in. Peter was very tempted to skip dinner and go right to dessert. Instead, he pulled back with a soft laugh.
“Sorry. I just needed to do that. You look great.” Xander’s smile warmed Peter all over. He motioned behind him. “I’m just gonna grab my keys and jacket.”
Peter swiped up what he needed before locking up then headed down to the truck with Xander quiet at Peter’s side. He remained that way until they were on the road.
“So, um, where are we going?” Xander asked, his gaze focused outside his window.
Peter noticed the way Xander was trying his hardest not to fidget. His knee had bounced a few times before he caught himself.
“Relax,” Peter said, taking hold of Xander’s hand and giving it a squeeze. He smiled warmly, loving the slight flush on Xander’s face. He loved that Xander didn’t pull his hand out of his even more. “There’s this great little steakhouse not far from here. It’s cozy, but grills a mean porterhouse.” He pulled his hand away and placed it on the steering wheel. Slow and steady. He’d need to keep remind himself.
Xander blinked at him. “A steakhouse?”
“Yeah, why?” Peter’s smile faded. Had he made the wrong choice? “Is that okay? We could go somewhere else. Maybe I should have asked you where you wanted to go.”
“No, steak is good. That’s perfect, actually. Really.” Xander’s smile was genuine, reaching his big brown eyes. He visibly relaxed a little and even turned on the radio.
“Great,” Peter replied cheerfully. They chatted as they drove down to the steakhouse with Peter asking Xander what cut of steak he recommended. Peter did his best to help Xander feel at ease. As Xander talked about prime cuts, Peter couldn’t help but wonder what could have caused Xander to have such a low opinion of himself. Why would he think Peter wouldn’t want more from him than the occasional screw?
A few minutes later, Peter had pulled into the steakhouse’s parking lot. Actually it was more a wide patch of gravel than a lot. He turned off the engine and got out, locking up as soon as Xander closed his door. They headed inside and Peter was aware of Xander taking in everything around him.
The place had a rustic look to it, all old fashioned wood and gold accents. The lighting was low, giving it a cozy warm feel. The flat screens above the bar were playing music video and the place was filled with lively chatter. It wasn’t packed like it tended to get on the weekends, but it was still pretty busy.
A large bald man in a checked shirt gave him a nod and smiled from behind the bar. “Hey, Peter. Take a seat. Sheryl will be right with you.”
“Thanks, Kyle.” Peter gave him a smile before headed for a booth at the end and around the corner. Somewhere they could talk without Xander worrying.
“You know him?” Xander asked quietly, following Peter toward their table. Peter slid into the booth and Xander sat across from him.
“Kyle used to help my dad out on the farm when he was younger. Before he opened this place up. Really nice guy.”
Xander shifted his knife and fork to one side. “Does he, uh, know about you. Being gay, I mean?”
“Yeah, he kind of figured it out when he caught me sucking face with Liam, his busboy, behind the restaurant one day after school.”
Xander sat back with a laugh. “Shit. I didn’t know you were so adventurous.” There was mischief in his sparkling brown eyes. Xander leaned forward, his knee brushing up against Peter’s. With a wicked grin, Peter slipped his leg between Xander’s. He hoped tonight was the start of a new adventure for him, one that included Xander.
Hello all! Welcome to The Power of Love Blog Hop! For many of you, it’s still winter, so to warm up your Valentine’s Day, I’m offering some heartwarming stories, and a chance to win some nifty prizes! Grab yourself a cup of cocoa, coffee, tea, whatever gives you that fuzzy, yummy feeling, and let’s get started!
Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love it or Loathe it, it’s inescapable. Not even my fellas can get away from it. Personally, I’m a very low-key kinda gal. I prefer a cozy night in with some good food, great company, and a little fun. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I tend to approach it the way my character Trip from An Intrepid Trip to Love does: with caution, distrust, and one eye on the door, ready to make a break for it. Let me explain.
For my newsletter, I wrote a short story for my subscribers featuring characters they voted for. Trip won, so he and the love of his life, Boone, got their own Valentine’s Day story. Like Trip, I was thinking of what sort of Valentine’s Day gift Boone would like. I shopped around online, while Trip shopped around in his fictional greeting card stores. We browsed. And browsed. And browsed. And Oh. My. God. Well, Trip’s horror reflects my own.
Aside the onslaught of merchandise, most places divide everything up into gifts for him, and gifts for her. The majority of gifts for her consisted of lingerie, roses, chocolate, jewelry, stuffed animals, and the racier gift like nipple tassels (O.o) or uh, edible underwear. The guys got jewelry, and underwear, sure, but they got iPods, and red Converse sneakers, and electronics, and strawberries dipped in chocolate made to look like footballs.
Now, I have nothing against chocolate (I live for it), and I wouldn’t say no to some bling, but if I got a pair of red Converse sneakers from someone on Valentine’s Day, I would be all over that. There’s just so much stuff, it’s overwhelming. On the plus side, there are some… disturbing gifts our there, which makes for not only entertaining viewing, but writing. Here are some interesting gifts I came across:
Sexy underwear doesn’t do it for you? How about underwear for two?
Or how about the Girlfriend Pillow?
Or for your lover of horror, how about this heart cake from Lil Vanilli?
Want to hold hands this winter, but those pesky gloves get in the way? Share a heart-shaped mitten!
If all else fails, nothing beats a good old fashioned greeting card.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Fancy some free reads? Did you know I have several m/m romance stories available for free download?
[Trip and Boone’s Valentine’s Day story is one of many exclusive freebies offered to subscribers of my newsletter. If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here: http://www.charliecochet.com/newsletter/
The newsletter went out today, so if you signed up, and would still like to receive February’s newsletter containing the story, just let me know through the contact form and I’ll email it to you: ] http://www.charliecochet.com/contact/
A $10 Amazon Gift Card
A Charlie Cochet Swag Bag (click for larger view)
The Auspicious Troubles of Chance “Snugglepup” tote bag
Rudy’s Red ReinDear keyring w/snowflake charm
Jack Frost’s snowflake ribbon bookmark w/snowflake & heart charms
Notepads, postcards, bookmarks, magnets
Hot cocoa & mini marshmallows
Just leave a comment on this post stating what your guilty pleasure is. Is it chocolate? Reality TV? Something naughty?
Winner will be chosen at random, and announced here on the blog on Monday, February 17th (Eastern Time).
To continue on with the rest of the blog hop, just click the link below.
Hello all! Today I’m over at Guys Like Romance, Too! offering a special Valentine’s Day treat: a short story with Chance & Jacky! It’s available to read online or you can download a PDF if that’s easier. You’ll find my little intro and the links over at Guys Like Romance, Too! Enjoy!
Hello all! I’m very excited to announce my author newsletter is ready for sign up! Just enter your email address under the “Subscribe to Charlie’s Newsletter” on my blog’s sidebar or on the ‘Home’ page footer, and click the ‘Subscribe’ button. You’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to activate your subscription. Once you do, that’s it!
It’ll be once a month starting February 15th, and you’ll receive a newsletter the 15th every month after that. This newsletter is all about you: the reader, so it won’t be filled with nothing but promo or ads. It’ll include all kinds of fun and exclusive goodies like giveaways, swag, flash fiction & free reads, news, updates, current projects, random chatter, & whatever nifty ideas pop into my head.
The February 2014 newsletter will include a short but sweet Valentine’s Day story featuring one of my couples chosen by readers. Runners-up will get the next holiday story. There will also be a giveaway and more!
As a special treat, a little St. Patrick’s Day gift to you. I’ve written a little holiday special with Bruce and Jace.
For those of you unfamiliar with Bruce and Jace, they are the protagonists of my Valentine’s Day Sip, When Love Walked In which takes place in Manhattan, New York, 1933, and tells of how the two met.
Blurb: Bruce Shannon is a Private Investigator dealing with case after case of missing persons and infidelity. None of which inspire warm, fuzzy feelings during the week of Valentine’s Day. Then again, Bruce isn’t exactly a fuzzy feelings kind of guy, which suits him just fine. He doesn’t need anyone anyhow, only his cat, Mittens. That is, until the handsome Jace Scarret wanders off the streets and into Bruce’s life. Will Jace end up showing Bruce that maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t so lousy after all?
♣ ♣ ♣
Endearing Young Charms – a St. Patrick’s Day Special by Charlie Cochet
There was no reply.
“Bruce?” Jace knocked cautiously on the grumpy detective’s office door, all the while wondering what on earth the man could be doing in there. It had been a slow day, so Jace knew there weren’t any clients, nor were they working any cases at the moment. With any luck, Bruce was finally getting somewhere with the previous month’s expenses. He knew how much Bruce hated paperwork, but it had taken Jace over a month to undo the damage done to Gladys’ pristine filing system. The man had a talent for disorder.
After Jace’s request, Bruce had growled at him, stomped into his office, and slammed the door, but soon it was clear that the detective was indeed working on the expenses—made evident by the sheer amount of cursing that had been expelled. However, that had been hours ago, and Jace had begun to get rather concerned, especially since he’d been attempting to get Bruce’s attention for the past fifteen minutes now.
Walking to the outer office door, he locked up. He didn’t need any clients walking in while Bruce was in the middle of one of his colorful outbursts. With that done, he went to Bruce’s office and quietly let himself in.
“What the—” Fuming, Jace marched over to Bruce’s desk, his arms crossed over his chest as he glared at his boss, and lover. “What are you doing?”
Bruce sat with his legs propped up on his desk, his sleeves rolled up to the elbows, tie crooked, a dime novel in one hand, and a glass of whiskey in the other.
“Reading,” he murmured, without looking up.
“That much I gathered,” Jace replied through his teeth, somehow managing to summon patience. “Is that what you’ve been doing for the last three and a half hours? Reading a dime novel?”
That earned him a frown, but Bruce didn’t bother looking away from his book to do so. “Don’t be a bunny. It doesn’t take me that long to read one of these. This is my third.”
“Your…” Jace gaped at him before his gaze shifted to the archive box on the desk. It was filled to the brim with balled up pieces of paper—Bruce’s preferred method of filing. Jace picked one up and held it out to Bruce, who casually took a sip of his whiskey as he continued reading. “How am I supposed to sort out the expenses if you keep turning your invoices into something the Yankees could use for practice?”
Receiving no reply, he opened his mouth to begin another bout of scolding when there was a faint rustling sound. For a moment, he thought it had come from the box. Leaning in, he peered at the sea of wadded up foolscap. Suddenly, they attacked him. With the manliest of yelps, Jace jumped back, his hand flying to his chest as he attempted to get his pulse back to a normal level. “Jesus Christ! What the hell is that?”
Gingerly, he approached the box to get a better look. As soon as his finger touched the cardboard edge, a white paw swooped out and batted it. “For crying out loud! Mittens!”
“Oh yeah, I forgot.” Bruce put his book down and grinned up at him. “She crawled in there about an hour ago. Don’t know what the hell she’s been doing in there, but she’s obviously enjoying it.”
“Well, at least one of you is doing something with these invoices. Shame it can’t be the one capable of dialogue,” Jace grumbled, wishing he could stay mad at Mittens, but as the only thing visible was her pink nose poking out from under all that paper, he couldn’t help but forgive her. Bruce on the other hand…
“Dialogue is overrated,” Bruce grumbled. “Besides, you’re wrong about Mittens.” He rapped his knuckles against the box. “Sweetheart, talk to Jace.” As instructed, Mittens began to meow. Jace was unimpressed—with Bruce anyway, and arched an eyebrow at him.
“What? It ain’t her fault you can’t understand her.”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Jace closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. He wondered how Gladys had managed. One thing was certain; the woman deserved a medal or sainthood. “Bruce, you are not leaving this office until you at least make some headway on these invoices.”
“Nope.” Bruce stood and started rolling down his sleeves. Swiping his cufflinks off the desk, he handed them to Jace, who was so taken aback by Bruce’s response that he took the cufflinks without a second thought. Had he missed something?
“What do you mean ‘nope’?” Jace asked dumbly, as Bruce extended an arm out to him. Granted, Bruce was the boss, and although most of the time he griped about things, when Jace had a valid point, Bruce usually gave in.
“I mean nope. I’m done for the day. And so are you.”
“I am? We are?” He fastened Bruce’s shirt cuff then started on the other. “But it’s the middle of the afternoon.”
“It’s St. Patrick’s Day,” Bruce declared with a big grin that had Jace’s stomach filling with butterflies. How was it possible for the man to be so excruciatingly frustrating, yet terribly irresistible at the same time? And the worst part was that Bruce was completely aware. Despite his arrogance, Jace couldn’t keep himself from melting under the man’s gaze. He quickly shook himself out of it.
“You obviously ain’t Irish,” Bruce muttered, allowing Jace to straighten his tie for him before he walked to the coat rack, put on his suit jacket, and picked up his overcoat and hat.
“What does that have to do with anything?” He was still confused. Not an unusual state for him to be in where Bruce was concerned.
“We’re going to go celebrate.”
Jace’s gaze went to the half empty bottle of whiskey on the desk before it shifted back to Bruce, who narrowed his gaze. “There something you wanna say?”
“Nope.” Jace shook his head for emphasis.
“Wise guy.” Walking over to the desk, Bruce tapped the side of the archive box. “Sweetheart, it’s time to go home.”
Mittens leapt out of the box, sending balled up invoices in all directions. After being deposited on Bruce’s shoulder, the two followed Jace into the outer office where he picked up his own overcoat and hat.
“You spoil her too much,” Jace muttered as they left and he locked up. Mittens had to be the most pampered cat in all of Manhattan. Not that he was jealous or anything.
“She deserves to be spoiled,” Bruce replied, scratching Mittens under her chin. As they walked out of the building, Bruce was still smiling, which was rather unusual for him. Was it because it was St. Patrick’s Day? It wasn’t as if the man didn’t drink at all hours any other day. What was so special about today? “Come on,” Bruce added. “We’ll drop Mittens off and then head to McBride’s. Corned beef and cabbage is on me.”
Jace followed quietly along and in no time they were at Bruce’s apartment. He waited in the living room as Bruce dropped Mittens off and disappeared into his bedroom. When he came out, Jace couldn’t keep the dopey grin off his face. Bruce was sporting a green tie. Further to his surprise, Bruce handed him a similar one.
“I have a tie,” Jace said, looking down at his own less ostentatious one.
“You don’t want to go in there and not be wearing green. Believe me.”
Not entirely sure what Bruce was getting at, Jace removed his tie and replaced it with the new brighter one. Having been a bank clerk, his ties had usually been restricted to black, gray, or deep blues. He had to admit, he was a little tickled that he was wearing something of Bruce’s—even if it was a little garish. It was silly, he knew, but it always made him feel somewhat closer to Bruce whenever he had the chance to wear something of his. It reminded Jace of when they’d met.
“What’s with the face?” Bruce asked, ushering Jace toward the door. “You’re not jealous of Mittens are you?”
How was it that Jace never had any clue as to what Bruce was thinking, but the man could read him like an open book? Not that Jace had any intention of admitting as much. “Who said I was jealous?”
“Your bottom lip,” Bruce replied, poking at it softly and sending a shiver up Jace’s spine. “It juts out whenever I’m not paying you enough attention, and you get all mopey like a puppy.”
That brought a raised brow from Jace. “Well someone certainly has a high opinion of himself.” Doing his best to keep his wanton thoughts at bay, he made to open the door only to have Bruce smack his hand against it and shut it. Jace pulled on the doorknob to no avail. “Do you mind? What on earth has gotten into you?”
“I’m more concerned about what needs to get into you,” Bruce replied, his voice low and throaty. Jace’s cheeks flared up as Bruce leaned into him, his lips inches away.
“Must you be so crude?” He hated the tremor in his voice, but it couldn’t be helped. It had been days since they’d been intimate. Bruce had been busy working cases, which usually meant he was in a foul mood, and Jace was still learning when to initiate contact or leave him be. Bruce Shannon was a conundrum. One Jace had yet to figure out.
“Am I insultin’ your delicate sensibilities?” Bruce asked, his arm wrapping around Jace’s waist and his hand finding its way to his backside. He gave it a firm, sudden squeeze, drawing a gasp from Jace.
“Um… no,” he managed feebly, uncertain of what to make of Bruce’s bold move. “I thought you said we were going to celebrate?”
“Are you complaining?” Bruce asked, and started to draw away.
In a bout of panic, Jace grabbed Bruce’s jacket and crushed their lips together, thrilled by the deep, slow moan that escaped Bruce. Jace’s kiss was returned with exceptional enthusiasm and he had to admit to nearly sighing when Bruce’s strong arms enveloped him in a tight embrace. Their kiss grew more ardent and needy, until they were forced to come up for breath. The lust in Bruce’s eyes was enough to make Jace go weak at the knees.
“Forget the pub,” Bruce said gruffly, as he all but tore off Jace’s clothes. “Let’s celebrate here.”
Jace was hardly about to argue, and even if he had anything at all to say on the matter, it was gone the moment Bruce had him stripped down to only his shirt—having given up by the third button. He grabbed Jace, hauled him off his feet, and pressed him against the door, using his weight to hold him there. With his legs wrapped around Bruce’s waist, Jace swiftly went to work undressing his lover as much as was physically possible from his position. His hands took advantage, running all over those hard, delicious muscles. There were kisses, licks, bites, and plenty of grinding coming from both of them.
Bruce pulled Jace away from the door and precariously carried him into the bedroom, dropping him onto the bed with a bounce. As he pulled off his tie and flung it somewhere across the room, followed by the rest of his clothes, he paused to sweep his gaze over Jace.
“God damn, you are somethin’ else.”
“You know,” Jace purred, his fingers tracing a line down Bruce’s chest. “I can see myself really enjoying St. Patrick’s Day from now on.”
“Less talk, more celebrating,” Bruce ordered, kissing Jace to the point of making his toes curl. He wrapped his legs around his lover and gave himself up freely and wantonly. One thing was certain, Bruce had one hell of a way of celebrating holidays.