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by Jan Irving
Category: Erotica/BDSM Erotica/Gay Fiction
Description: As the holiday season draws near, Sam Masterson, a former marine in a wheelchair, has more holiday unspirit than spirit going for him. He owns a building where a lot of misfits make a home and his neighborhood is threatened because of a shiny new development going up. He heads uptown to speak his mind to the man behind the monstrosity. Architect Tall Hollander is not what he expects -- tall like his name, but sexy and up front about finding Sam attractive.
Sam also has other pressures -- a brutal thief known as The Bruiser is haunting the area, he has sole custody of his vulnerable nephew Joey, and his latest gay romance has just been rejected because it's too "unrealistic." So Sam escapes into fantasy, the only place where he finds the passion he hungers for. That is, until Tall decides to use his creativity to spark his holiday fire.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM elements, Domination/submission, male/male sexual practices.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: February 2011
30 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [225 KB]
Reading time: 143-201 min.
The building was impressive, a sleek gray tower with a spire at the top. It was easily taller than anything else for miles, yet I did not hesitate as I entered, checking the register to find the specific office I was searching for. As I walked through the ground-floor lobby, I caught the many-mirrored flash of my own reflection. Six feet four, blond, blue-eyed, wearing my ice-cream whites for this occasion, hat tucked under my arm. Normally I hated wearing them, not wanting to look like a kiss ass, but as I stepped into the elevator, intercepting the glances from women--and men... Mmmmm. If I chose to hold that eye contact, I knew I wouldn't be alone this afternoon. I'd wind up in a fancy hotel room since this was uptown, and fingers would hurriedly unbutton my uniform to touch my dangling medals and then other dangling parts...
As the elevator shot up at a dizzying speed that I enjoyed to the max, I couldn't help but smile. "Piece of cake," I said.
A few heads turned at my words. I saw the curiosity, the gazes on my body. I knew they'd whisper about me after I left their tame office. I spent a few minutes wondering what kind of sexual fantasies would feature me as the star attraction.
The elevator opened, and I strode onto my floor, catching the gaze of a young man running the desk of Witherspoon Architectural Firm. I gave him a cocky smile, and he immediately warmed as his eyes roamed all over me.
Uh-huh. He wasn't bad looking. I decided I liked his blue eyes and wanted to try out the rest--
I was the last to swing out because I'd been daydreaming I was my latest hero, Navy SEAL Rock Daniels, so of course the fucking elevator caught on my wheels as it started to close. I shoved through the doors with a thud and then colored hotly when the young man overseeing the desk looked up with startled blue eyes, studying me warily.
My cheeks were still warm, and I bent my head, shielding my face with my baseball cap. It gave me a moment as I rolled by a console table with a single white orchid resting on its glossy surface. The floor was some kind of pigmented concrete that made my wheels rattle extra loud. In the lobby were framed drawings of award-winning buildings, and goat-hair rugs that were extra deep and luxurious and something I had to be careful to avoid.
I knew I should have shaved, but Miranda had needed a babysitter and twenty minutes turned into an hour and a half in no time. Not that her kid did anything but sleep in a crib. But someone had to be around while his mom went for a job interview.
As I rolled closer to the desk, I discreetly sniffed myself. Not too bad. My Grateful Dead T-shirt was wrinkled, and I seemed to remember I had slept in it last night. I needed a haircut, but I was no dazzler. Brown hair, brown eyes.
The kid was still staring at me, which was a sharp reminder that my T-shirt, my lack of shave--none of that mattered. What mattered were the wheels. All anyone saw were the wheels.
But to hell with it. I was here, so I'd say my piece.
His desk plate gave his name as Dan Manners. I smiled at him, trying for harmless--the determined side of me I'd pull out later, if I had to. "I don't have an appointment, sir." Shit. I'd stopped sirring and ma'aming people a while back. The high-class building had me fucked-up.
"Uh-huh," he said. "Look--"
"But I really need to speak to one of the partners here."
He wouldn't meet my eyes. One look, kind of sliding over me, then the chair, then away from the chair.
"We are really busy today. Midweek, you know..." He typed something into his laptop, suiting his actions to his words and no doubt wishing I would disappear.
I could tell him I wouldn't be that easy.
I studied him, his cream cable-knit sweater. Business casual, I thought they called it. By his laptop was that new bottled water with vitamins in it that tasted like unmixed Jell-O.
Okay, no eye contact and I could tell he was getting ready to dive into one of the other doors, leaving me until I gave up. I leaned forward and gave him an earnest look. "Dan, if you don't get one of the partners out here right fucking now, all work on Troubadour Towers will come to a halt on Monday."
He froze, and I could tell he was feeling threatened. It was kind of flattering.
"Do you have a problem, sir?" he asked politely while he pressed a button on his sleek console. I was betting it was security.
"Yes, I have a--" I cut off another curse word. I was angry. I had good reason. But if I didn't keep it civil, I wouldn't accomplish my goal. And there were people who were counting on me again. I couldn't let them down. "They're pouring the cement for the underground parking right now, but if those trucks can't get through on Monday morning, that puts you guys behind, right? And I'm betting your bosses won't like that."
Dan seemed to reassess me. "Is this some kind of...? Look, there's nothing in that neighborhood. No historic sites, no nothing. It's just graffiti and some dealers and abandoned houses. I did the research myself."
My cheeks burned with color, but this time not from embarrassment. "There's the neighborhood."
He blinked. "Uh."
"People live there, and we have a problem."
His face darkened. "There is no way Mr. Johnson will talk to you," he said.
"Who is he?"
"Earl Johnson. He is the senior partner." Dan might have been referring to God from his tone.
"This is not a shakedown. I want to see someone. Now."
Whatever Dan would have said was interrupted when a pearl pink door opened and a tall blond man emerged. He was the six feet four of my fictional Navy SEAL. He was tanned, toned, holding rolled plans in one hand. Like Dan, he had relaxed the dress code. His white shirt and silk garnet tie were loosened, and he was sans suit jacket. He paused, gaze going from me to Dan, his radar no doubt quivering.
"Is there a problem, Dan?"
"No," Dan said.
"Yes," I said. I looked at Dan. "You don't need security."
"Security?" Tall Blond Drink of Water sauntered out and crouched next to my chair. I must have made a growling sound, because eyes the color of the Mediterranean on a sunny day widened.
"I'm not a kid or a pet," I bit off.
"I like to look a man in the eye," he said.
Well, fuck me. I didn't know what to say to that.
He held out his hand. "I'm Trevor Hollander."
His grip engulfed mine, and I couldn't help but think comparatively of hands and feet and...
His warm blue eyes held mine, smiling as if he knew what I was thinking.
I cleared my throat. "I'm here about Troubadour."
"Mmm-mm." He lowered one sandy brow. His eyes had flecks of green in them, which gave them their warmth, and his beard shadow was darker than his hair--probably not because he'd added the blond but because he had what I always thought of as a man's beard, something intensely sexy when rubbed gently against the skin of my chest. "That's my building."
"Progress!" I rasped. "I wanted to talk to the man behind the monstrosity."
"Ouch." But he didn't look pissed, just amused. "Why don't you come into my office and we'll talk?" He leveled a look at Dan. "Call off security." He straightened gracefully to his feet, and his knees didn't even creak. Probably he was a yoga freak.
Of course, yoga made me think of slinky sexual positions, like everything made me think of sex. I pictured him in bed with Rock, my blond Navy SEAL hero behind him, making his body sway, one hand flat against his stomach as he--
But that wasn't quite satisfying. He looked too much like Rock. I adjusted my baseball cap and followed Tall, as I'd nicknamed him, into his office.
I was rubbing my knobby knees. I made myself quit it, but not before I noticed Tall's gaze on them. He was sitting facing me on the edge of a chair in front of his cliched mile-long desk. It brought our heights back to something like they would have been before I'd wound up in the chair. It also had me simmering.
I, too, liked to look into a man's eyes. I figured that even before the chair, I'd have been shorter than him but broader in the body.
"Okay, from what you've said, I can see there is some kind of problem, but I really need the concrete trades to get through to my building," Tall said, giving me a mild look. "In this economy, in this city, surely you can see it's important that people have work."
"Your building should not be there," I said flatly.
"Okay, wait." He lifted one palm, and I flashed to seeing it as a submissive gesture. I wanted to shake my head at myself. It wasn't relevant. It wouldn't ever be again. "Can we start with your name?"
"Sam," I said. "Sam Masterson."
"You were in the army, right?" Tall asked.
I'm not sure what he saw in my face, but he lifted his hands again. "You just... There's something about you that reminds me--"
"I was not some grunt in the army," I said, swallowing. "I am... I was a marine."
"Quicksand," Tall said. "Sorry, I got sucked into a tangent. It's just..." He shrugged, and I could see his skin glowing through his shirt. I wondered what it would taste like. Like tired man, probably, but that was as enticing to me as coffee. I could picture unbuttoning that shirt and finding out, sliding my hand against him... No, wait. Not me. Rock. I was... He wouldn't want me.
Tall continued. "Well, you must know you're very attractive."
A noise burst out from my throat.
"Let's stick to business and leave the bullshit," I said. I wasn't sure what his game was, but I hadn't appreciated him kneeling by the chair. I didn't like him looking down on me, not at all, but that was real.
Tall frowned and started to say something when his phone rang. He leaned toward it and read the number before very politely excusing himself to me.
I watched him much the way a cat watches a mouse. I couldn't help it. The chair hadn't changed my makeup as a man. I'd been used to handling myself a certain way.