The Mask He Wears
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by Fae Sutherland, Marguerite Labbe
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Ian Dennison loves his job, but when he's invited to the Mardi Gras ball thrown by his law firm, it's not for company loyalty that he goes. It's for Stephen Caulfield, his boss and the man for whom he's been longing since his first day.
Amidst the costumed revelry and fine champagne, the sparks fly between the men. Ian begins to think perhaps there is hope for them, despite the rules against company fraternization. That is, until a drunken senior partner lets slip the secret Ian never knew Stephen was keeping...his wife.
Is there more to the story than Ian suspects, or is the mask Stephen wears really who he is?
Genres: Gay / Contemporary
eBook Publisher: Amber Quill Press, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: December 2009
13 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [71 KB]
Reading time: 43-61 min.
"...A short story that manages to be unexpected and surprising despite being short...both Stephen than Ian are different from who you were expecting, they are both very emotional men...lucky enough to find each other and to discover that, despite the difference in social status and career level, they have more in common than they thought."--Elisa Rolle, Elisa-Rolle.livejournal.com
"4 Stars!...A good title for a man leading a dual life. Stephen takes his physical mask off when he finally makes a move on Ian but the mask around his life is still firmly in place. At first, Stephen appears cool and confident, but he shows his true nature after confronting Ian. He's really an insecure and sweet guy. His personality changes once again, showing a fiery side when Ian barges into his office having made his decision. Ian goes from devastated, to angry, to overjoyed, in the span of a few days. Stephen turns his world upside down...A good story with a little bit of heat and a lot of emotion."--Nikki, Rainbow Reviews
"4.5 Nymphs!...Fae Sutherland & Marguerite Labbe brings us love, secrets, and new beginnings...The story is compelling and makes you ask yourself 'what would I do for love?' Sutherland and Labbe make a wonderful writing duo and I'm anxious to see what they will bring to us next."--Scandalous Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews
"I know you're better than this, Ian. I know this kind of thing isn't what you're about." Stephen glanced down, a self-mocking smile crossing his lips. "I should've left you alone, but I didn't because I'm not looking for a fling. I'm not looking for a quick fuck in a stairwell with both of us walking away sated and not looking back. I didn't leave it alone because I know I could have something more with you."
He took a step closer to Ian, and the other man tensed. "Let's go somewhere and talk...we've always been able to talk to each other. Let me try to explain." He could only imagine what was going through Ian's mind and none of it good. He could only imagine how he looked in Ian's eyes now. The stark disillusionment was clear in the other man's downturned lips and the lines of weariness around his eyes.
And yet Ian still hadn't walked away, and it gave Stephen hope. Ian finally met Stephen's eyes, and the naked hurt in his honest gaze made Stephen ache in return. "I was half in love with you before I walked out of my interview. You finished the job the day we stayed late to complete that brief, and you laughed at my stupid jokes at nearly midnight when we were running on fumes."
Stephen's heart jolted to a painful stop before picking back up again. He didn't know what to say. For all of his eloquence in the courtroom, it left him now, and he felt more gangly and awkward than he ever had in high school. He wanted to give Ian the words to make him understand and didn't know where to start.
Ian raked a hand through his hair. "I can't breathe when you walk by. I listen for you laughing in the hall and wish I'd been the one to make you laugh. I work my ass off for you the most, because when you smile and tell me you couldn't live without me, it makes me happier than anything in my outside life could."
Stephen wanted to close his eyes. He wanted to turn away and not see that expression on Ian's face, like he'd taken something beautiful and pure and tarnished it forever in Ian's mind. He'd never cared, one way or another, what people thought of him. He'd always been of the opinion that you could only be yourself and if people liked you or not there wasn't much you could do to change their opinion. With Ian, it was different, though. He cared too much.
Stephen never should've pursued him. He'd known what kind of man Ian was, but the heart clouded things sometimes, and with Ian that was never more abundantly clear. But he'd started down this path, so Stephen owed him an explanation, and whether or not it was something Ian could accept was up to him. But, oh, what he wouldn't give to soothe that hurt from Ian. Hurt he'd caused.