Please welcome Anna Zabo with the cover reveal for
A business trip leads to a surprise encounter with an old flame in this sexy romance from the author of Just Business.
After Fazil Kurt breaks up with his girlfriend, a business trip to Seattle offers some much-needed time away. Sent by S.R. Anderson Consulting, Fazil is there to help audit Singularity Storage, a company they are trying to save. His first discovery is intriguing to say the least: One of Singularity's engineers is Todd Douglas, Fazil’s first love.
He knows better than to get personally involved on a job like this. Back in high school, Todd broke Fazil’s heart more times than he could count, but both men have grown so much since then—and Fazil never could say no to Todd...
This excerpt is actually between Fazil and Eli (who was one of the MCs of Just Business) rather than Fazil and Todd. I wanted to show some of the working relationships between the co-workers...and show Eli from someone else’s point of view. Eli also made an assumption about Fazil in Just Business that comes back to haunt him...
I should mention this hasn’t been past my editor yet, so it may change before publication!
The conversation for the rest of dinner remained light and thankfully devoid of Todd’s name. Still, Fazil couldn’t quite keep the more adult version of Todd’s smile from slipping into his brain. He’d put on muscle and scruff and still stopped Fazil’s heart.
So very unfair. If they hadn’t known each other—if Todd hadn’t broken his heart repeatedly—he’d have been tempted to flirt hard with him. That was one of the better ways to get over a breakup—a nice hot one-night-stand.
But Todd was a breakup. Many many many breakups. And there weren’t enough men or women in the world to get Todd out of Fazil’s head.
His swirling thoughts of Todd Douglas weren’t helped by a silent and twitchy Eli during the cab ride back to the hotel. Eli fiddled with his watch again.
Okay, something really was bothering that guy.
Sure enough, those proud shoulders dropped the moment they stepped into the hotel. Eli gestured at the bar. “Care for a few? On me?”
After sitting next to Todd with a hard dick all afternoon and nothing but water for dinner? He fucking needed a beer. “Don’t you mean on Sam?” He followed Eli into the hotel bar.
“No, this is my dime. I’m not charging Sam for my sins.”
Eli signaled the server and took a seat at one of the booths. With his leg, bar stools were probably not the most comfortable. “I’ve been expressly forbidden from beating the finance department into submission. Doesn’t keep me from wanting to, especially given the state of their records. The fools are just asking for an audit.” He flicked open the bar menu. “And after that stint of bragging by their CFO? I’m going to get a bit drunk.”
Eli the control freak tipsy? This ought to be interesting. “Engineering isn’t that bad. Lots of stuff that’s not written down, but the procedures are mostly there.”
Thanks to Todd. Who knew someone so lackadaisical could also be so organized? Then again, his room had always been neat. “There’s some undocumented open-source code I noticed, so speaking of audits, I’ll need to do one.”
Eli twisted his lips into a bitter expression. “Let Sam know.”
Fazil nodded. The server finally appeared and took their drink orders. A large gin martini for Eli and a Pike Stout for him.
Eli leaned back. “The people in finance aren’t bad. Most of them are just doing what they’ve been told. Ryan needs to be canned. With prejudice.” Eli worked his jaw and shook his head. “How that man got into that position— Fucking idiot’s schemes are barely legal. If that.”
Fazil winced in sympathy. No wonder Eli wanted a drink. He might not understand the financial end of things like Eli and Sam did, but he trusted Eli’s knowledge. He was tough, could be an ass sometimes, but the man was fair to a fault.
The server returned with their drinks. Fazil waved away the glass. It was, after all, a drink-from-the-bottle kind of night.
Eli took a sip of his cocktail and slumped back against the back of the booth. Like that, he looked younger and far less intimidating. “I’m glad things are better for you.”
“Engineering seems pretty good. Stephen is a bit frazzled but he knows his tech. It’s mainly just not having all the important shit stored in someone’s head.”
“No problems with Todd?”
Goosebumps rose all over. Fazil took a pull of beer from the bottle and hoped that covered the shudder. “No.”
“Good. I can’t quite tell if he’s an old friend or an old enemy.” Eli took a large mouthful of his martini. “I almost guessed enemy.”
“Not a bad guess.” Fazil toyed with the neck of his beer. “He’s my ex-boyfriend.”
Eli’s exhale was nearly a squeak. “But you’re—” He didn’t say the rest. Didn’t need to.
Fazil ripped the label off the neck of the beer bottle, then took a swig. “Actually no, I’m not straight.” He tried to keep the anger of his words, but they still fell like daggers. “There’s a couple more letters in GLBT than just G, Eli.”
Eli seemed to shrink a bit, his face pale but for very red cheeks. He reached for his drink with an unsteady hand. “I—shit.” He stared into his glass. “I’m sorry. I should know better than to assume.”
Now, that was a tone of voice he’d never heard from Eli. Absolute contrite sincerity.
“Yeah, well you know what they say about assumptions.”
Eli flinched, but nodded. After a sip, he looked up. “I guess I’m quite the ass tonight.” Now color touched his face and neck.
Fazil shrugged. “It’s not like I haven’t heard it before. Being bisexual means everyone thinks you’re just faking it, one way or another and you should make up your mind.”
Eli toyed with his drink. “I didn’t mean— I don’t think—” He took another taste. “I suppose I should just keep my mouth shut, least I jam my foot even father inside.”
“Well, that’s a first. Leaving you speechless.” Probably the beer talking, but what the heck.
Eli choked on his drink and lifted a single brow, and Fazil finally understood why Justin fell for this guy. Under all the posture there was a real person with quite a bit of heart.
“No, come on. Tell me. Why’d you think I was straight?”
Eli shrugged. “Well, aside from the whole girlfriend thing, I’ve never noticed you checking men out.”
He’d never risen to Eli’s off-colored banter. “Just because I didn’t check you out doesn’t mean I don’t look.”
Eli’s blush grew deeper and Fazil smiled before he drank more beer. “Besides, you’re not my type. If I want talk, dark, and cranky, I can look in my mirror.”
“Wait, I’m cranky?”
His turn to raise a brow and stare.
Eli studied his empty glass. “Okay, I’ll give you that.” A smile played around his lips.
“Not as much lately. Justin’s been good for you.”
He rubbed his thumb against his wedding band. “You have no idea.” Soft voice, dreamy distant look.
That was how love should be. Fazil had never found it, never felt it for anyone he’d dated. Well, except once.
But Todd had broken his heart again and again and again. And now the bastard was here. And had grown into everything that turned him on, too. He drained the beer. “So, what are we going to tell Sam?”
Eli slid his glass to the edge of the table. “Well, let’s figure that out.”
Over another round, they outlined their plan for the first week, Eli typing it in on his phone. “I’ll look at it in the morning and edit out most of the fucks, then send it off to Sam.”
True to his word, Eli also paid.
By the time they returned to their room, they were both yawning and Eli was practically asleep in his bed before Fazil crawled into the other and turned out the light. Despite his exhaustion, Fazil couldn’t sleep. His brain replayed every image of Todd from the day and contrasted them with all the memories Fazil had. The way he kissed, the quiver of his abs when Fazil touched his stomach on his way down to his dick, that hope in that smile when Fazil had said yes to lunch, the pride when he’d shown Fazil his work.
Fazil rubbed his face. What would those lips feel like now, with more experience behind them? Those hands that had known Fazil’s body so well.
Beneath that T-shirt and jeans, Todd had hardened into quite a man. If any other guy that hot had asked him out to lunch, Fazil would have pushed him against the wall and let his mouth answer in an entirely different way than saying yes.
And speaking of hardening… Fuck. Fazil rolled onto his side and ignored the throbbing in his dick and the ache in his balls. He was not about to jack off with Eli in the other bed. Enough was enough.
Todd was part of his past for a reason, no matter what fifteen years had done to sweeten that body. The core of a person didn’t change that much and he’d promised himself he’d never ever go back Todd.
Even if his dick felt differently.
Fazil closed his eyes and started coding in his head. It was one of two things that ever removed him from the world entirely.
The other was a good hard fuck, and he would not even begin to think of that in conjunction with Todd Douglas.
And now, drumroll, please.....
About the author:
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.
She has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where she fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. She also has a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.
She's most often found on Twitter.
Anna is offering one e-copy of Due Diligence (in pre-order form) to one commenter on this post. Please be sure to leave a method of contacting you in your comment. The giveaway ends on December 5th, 2015 at midnight EST.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.