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by Alice Blue
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Gay Fiction
Description: When glass artist Marco Ravel is commissioned to create a piece for a rich recluse, he's thrilled for the opportunity to stretch his creative muscle. He doesn't expect to fall for the man hiring him. For Henrik Schweitzer, the relationship blossoming between himself and Marco shakes his world to its foundation. He wants to keep what the two of them have together, but after eight years of near-complete solitude he doesn't know if he has what it takes to change. Marco and Henrik both know they can have something special, if they can conquer the mountain of fears in their path.
eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC/MLR Press, LLC,
eBookwise Release Date: October 2012
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [238 KB]
Reading time: 150-210 min.
As soon as the blonde with the big tits and the too-short-for-the-weather skirt walked into his shop, Marco Ravel knew he was in trouble.
Not on his own account. Tits had never done it for him. Washboard abs, a rock-hard ass and a hint of five o'clock shadow were more his speed.
No, the trouble would come from Marco's shop assistant, Darryl. The kid had way more self-confidence than sense and Marco figured he could safely bet every dollar in the register that Darryl would be trying to tap that the minute he spotted it.
Because Furnace Glassworks had only been open for six months and couldn't afford to lose customers to Darryl's overactive sex drive, Marco brushed at his shirt in case of stray lunch crumbs and hurried toward the woman while Darryl was busy ringing up the old lady buying Christmas ornaments. As he rounded the big table in the middle of the shop where he'd displayed his glass sculptures, the woman lifted her phone and snapped a photo of the vase she'd been studying.
Marco frowned as the woman tapped at her phone, then started talking to someone through her headset. What the hell? Yeah, the vase kicked ass--tall, lush and curvy as the woman herself, formed from a gorgeous, smoky gray glass streaked with threads of vivid blue. One of his best, if he said so himself. But a picture? Uh-uh. Buy it or live without, that was Marco's motto.
He couldn't say that, though, much as he might want to. Just because someone didn't buy this time didn't mean they wouldn't next time.
Deep breath, hot head. Be cool
Nodding to himself, he forced his face into its most pleasant smile and strolled up to the lady with the body, the expensive outfit and the camera phone. "Good afternoon, ma'am. Anything I can help you with?"
She looked up at him--not far up; her heels put her within a couple of inches of his six foot two--and flashed a dazzling smile. "Yes, in fact you can. I think I'd like to buy this vase." She glanced down at her phone. "Right? What do you think?"
Her headset kept Marco from hearing whatever the person on the other end of the line said, but her smile came back a couple of seconds later and the big blue eyes raised to meet his again.
Damn, she was good. If he'd swung that way he'd have drooled.
He gave her his best cool eyebrow arch. "Did you decide?"
"Yes. I'll definitely take it." Murmuring something Marco didn't quite catch--presumably to the mystery person on the other end of her headset--she stuck her phone into a holder on the waistband of her skirt. "Could you wrap it for me, please?"
"Sure." Very carefully, he lifted the vase and carried it to the checkout counter. Hot Blonde followed him, her heels practically noiseless on the short carpet he'd installed because the thought of a wood floor under all that glass gave him the screaming heebie-jeebies. "What sort of occasion is it? We have pretty much any kind of paper you might want. You can get a card next door at Dottie's."
She laughed. Of course her laugh had to fit the rest of her--so pretty it was kind of ridiculous. "No, I didn't mean like that. It's not for any occasion." Setting a red leather purse on the counter, she unzipped it and pulled out a matching wallet. "It's just that I still have a lot to do this afternoon, then I have about an hour's drive to get home. I'd like the vase wrapped to make sure it doesn't break, that's all." She handed him a credit card. "It's a beautiful piece."
"Thank you." He took the card, then hesitated. "Don't you want to know how much it is?"
"Not really. I want it no matter what it costs." She smiled, looking amused. "Thanks for checking, though."
Yeah, me and my big mouth. He swiped the card. It cleared, of course. People who didn't care about price never had their plastic denied. It was a law of the jungle or something.
He handed the card back, along with the slip for her to sign. She took the piece of paper and scribbled her name on the line. "So. Do you make all these pieces yourself, Mr. Ravel?"
Startled, he blinked at her. "How do you know my name?"
"It's on your business card." She nodded at the stack of them sitting in front of the register.
"Oh. Yeah." He took the signed credit card slip she handed him. "How'd you know I'm Marco Ravel, though?"
Her perfectly shaped brows rose. "I'm a businesswoman. I know an owner when I see one."
Marco laughed. "Okay, I'll buy that. So, yeah, I make all the things in the shop."
Whether that was a good hm or a bad one, Marco had no clue, so he kept quiet. Fetching a box and a pile of tissue paper from the shelf behind the checkout counter, he got busy wrapping the vase Augustina Pryce--according to her Visa--had just bought. He couldn't help noticing she picked up one of his business cards and put it in her purse.
Once the vase was safely packed in a box with tissue paper and newspapers for extra padding, Marco put it in a sturdy bag and handed it across the counter to her. "There you go, Ms. Pryce. Enjoy your vase, and thank you for shopping at Furnace Glassworks. I hope we'll see you here again."
"Oh, you might." She studied him with an uncomfortably keen interest. "Do you ever work on commission?"
"Sometimes." He smiled, trying to play it cool and not look as curious as he felt. "Do you have a piece you need done?"
"Not at the moment. But I might, in the future." There went the toothpaste-commercial smile again. "Thank you, Mr. Ravel. Maybe I'll see you again soon."
"Come by any time."
After she'd left the shop, Marco planted his palms on the counter and let his smile relax into the what just fucking happened expression fighting to get out. For once, he was glad of the unseasonably chilly weather keeping the tourists off the sidewalks and thus out of the shop. He needed a minute alone to think. His little store had done all right so far. A large percentage of Gatlinburg's hundreds of thousands of tourists were looking to buy unique, locally made artwork as gifts or mementos of their stay. His glass art fit the bill, and he'd done a respectable business since he'd opened in November, just in time for the holiday travel boom. Still, making a living this way was harder than it sounded. A good commission could net him a whole lot more profit, a whole lot faster.
An elbow in his ribs brought him out of his thoughts. He straightened up and faced Darryl. "I don't have her number, so don't ask."
Darryl grinned, not a bit fazed. "It's cool. You can introduce me when she comes back." He clapped Marco on the shoulder with one big, solid hand, and sauntered toward the door to greet the trio of well-heeled older women who'd just entered.
Marco shook his head, smiling in spite of himself. If Augustina Pryce did come back, he'd damn well introduce her to Darryl. He needed a woman ten times smarter than him to take him down a few notches.
While his assistant charmed the customers, Marco went back to his workshop to find something to replace the vase on the sales floor. Maybe he'd end up with a commission and maybe he wouldn't. In the meantime, he had a business to run.