A Change of Scenery
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by JM Cartwright
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Conway Danvers is tired of a life twisted and constrained by the politics of working in Chicago. He chucks it all and heads to a small city in West Virginia, where this Yankee is in for a rude awakening -- professionally and personally. On his first day in town, he meets southern gentleman, Stephen Rydell. While feeling a strange, compelling attraction for Stephen, Con is in denial. He doesn't want to want another man. Stephen, meanwhile, is comfortable with who he is and happy running his garden shop. He knows he and Con could be the real deal -- but it takes two to get this gig going. Con is stubborn. Stephen is determined. Who's going to come out on top?
eBook Publisher: Torquere Press/Top Shelf, 2011 www.torquerepress.com
eBookwise Release Date: April 2011
36 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [231 KB]
Reading time: 148-207 min.
"Who's the hunk?"
The customer's voice carried -- deliberately, Con was sure. He could see Stephen trying to hold back a smile, and he ground his teeth some more, then huffed out a breath when he heard Stephen quietly announce they were neighbors.
"Oooohhh. Yummy. Lucky you!" Con felt his face heat up when the stranger turned and look at him with a grin.
"Um, yes, lucky me." Stephen picked up a receipt and handed it across the counter, pushing the large potted plant along. "Here you go, Jeremy. It was great to see you. Give my best to Hal -- and thanks for stopping in."
Jeremy took the hint gracefully and filled his arms with the plant. He nodded good-bye to Stephen and, after smiling again at Con, headed out the front door.
Scowling, Con watched the man leave. Stephen, hands braced on the counter, stared with raised brows at Con. The expression on his face clearly asked what
"Who was that?"
Huffing at the question, Stephen pushed away from the counter and strolled around to lean against the front of it. He crossed one ankle over the other and set his hands at either side on the edge. He had apparently removed the apron upon coming back inside the shop and had washed the dirt off his hands and face, since he once again looked very refined, despite the jeans.
Even as Stephen's studied nonchalance irritated him, Con was struck once again by the man's classically handsome features. The black hair was raked back, and the silky brows were raised a little over those damned green eyes. Stephen's male allure made him scowl all the harder.
"Tha-at," Stephen drawled in exaggeration, making the word two syllables, "was the bookstore owner. His name is Jeremy Glick." Stephen gazed at Con challengingly.
Dropping his arms, he took one step forward. "You seemed awfully buddy-buddy for him to be just another business guy, whispering like that."
"Well, if it's any business of yours, Jeremy wanted me to know that he'd taken my advice on something and that it had worked out for him." Stephen shrugged. "He was sharing the good news."
At that moment, the other customer came out of the cooler and walked over to the counter, holding the flowers she'd selected. She stared at the two men quizzically for a second before looking at Stephen. "May I check out now?"
Stephen smiled at her. "Surely." He moved around the counter in a businesslike fashion and rang up the sale. Chatting briefly with the woman, he wished her a good evening as she left. As the door closed behind her, Stephen moved back to his pose in front of the counter.
Con again stood there watching Stephen. He was caught between the urge to do something -- anything -- and the need to go back upstairs and hide -- uh, watch the game.
Stephen didn't quite contain his smile. "Did you want to talk to me about something?"
"Um, yeah." He quickly made up an excuse. "Um, I told you I'd help you with your house, remember?" Con stepped forward to emphasize what he was saying.
"Oh. Well, you don't have to worry about that. I know you're busy with your new job. I'm sure you've got better things to do." Stephen pushed himself away from the counter and moved to an artful display of jewel-colored terra cotta pots and wrought iron stands. Picking up one of the pots, Stephen made a show of checking it for cracks and chips.
Gritting his teeth, Con moved to where Stephen was standing. "It's no big deal. I've settled in at work and have time this weekend to take a look." He tried to sound matter of fact. He'd kind of laid it on the line for Stephen. He should somehow make it up to the poor guy, shouldn't he?
Stephen continued to check the pots, picking them up and turning them in his hands. His head was studiously bent forward, and his eyes were on his stock. "No, really, I'll figure something out--"
So much for being nice. Con reached for his arm and pulled him around. The small pot wobbled dangerously before Stephen got control of it again. "Damn it, Stephen, stop screwing around with that and look at me!"
That got him a serious response.
"What?" Stephen hissed, irate. "I can't believe you! You give me some perfectly idiotic story outside to explain why you ran away from me last week--"
"Uh-uh! No. I--"
Stephen steamed ahead, talking right over Con's attempted denial. "Oh, no, don't deny it. You ran away, plain and simple. Big tough guy ran away because he got scared." Stephen set the pot down and faced Con, stepping right into his personal space, poking Con in the chest for emphasis. "Now you come in here expecting me to be grateful that you've decided to help me like nothing else happened." The drawl was really pronounced now. "Well, let me tell you something, mister. You can take your offer--"
Agitated to the point of action by the finger repeatedly bumping his chest, Con knocked Stephen's hand away and grabbed the wrist in the same motion. He'd heard enough. Fueled by his strange obsession with this intriguing, irritating, frustrating man, Con's patience, never in great supply, went up in smoke.