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The Secrets In My Scowl
Sparks ignite and tempers flare when a sexy, optimistic wedding planner moves his business in across the hall from a jilted, divorce lawyer’s practice.
“Look smart ass. This is the last time I’m going to remind you about breaking sections of the lease. If there’s a next time, I won’t stop until you and your frilly, white wedding shit is thrown out of here. Do you got it?!” Wylde looked in Jacob’s pained eyes and answered in his deep voice. “Yeah, counselor. I got it.”
From high school, up until he became a successful attorney Jacob Snowden was convinced that love had it out for him. “Everyone left,” were the words he lived by. His mother, his high school sweetheart, his father, and his fiancé, all left Jacob just when he felt it was safe to let down his guard. Not any longer. Jacob was a determined man, set at keeping people at a distance. If his six foot one, military-made body didn’t scare people off, his permanent scowl surely did. At almost forty, Jacob’s social life was non-existent, but he told himself his work fulfilled him. He helped people get out of their loveless marriages. Jacob Snowden was one of the best divorce lawyers on the east coast and was damn proud of it. So, imagine his disdain when a wedding planner moves into the suite directly adjacent to his… an insanely masculine, male wedding planner.
Wylde Sterling had made quite a name for himself in his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, working for a wedding planner that catered to the elite. He was known for his charm and impeccable taste. Yep, he was incredible at giving couples the wedding of their dreams. But he wanted nothing more than to plan his own. After striking out in love more times than he cared to admit, Wylde decided to start his own business in a new city, hoping Richmond would give him a fresh start. Things started out wonderfully – until he started to piss off the angry divorce attorney next door.
Wylde could see past Jacob’s mean scowl, knowing there was a reason for it. It was the man’s defense mechanism, his means of keeping people away. Everything in Wylde told him to stay away, but he believed Jacob just needed to meet a man who had been hurt as badly as he had.
This story ends in a HEA and not on a cliffhanger.
Wylde waited for Renaldis to finish before he ordered his pan-seared scallops. He was thankful once the food began to arrive because there was little conversation between them. Instead, he focused on enjoying the exquisite taste of his scallops. He thought of asking about the guy’s family but didn’t want Renaldis to turn that into a competition, too. “How’s your food?” he asked instead.
“Good. Damn good,” Renaldis said, not breaking stride.
After a few seconds of silence, “The scallops are great tonight, as always.” Wylde gave a little smile, thinking about how much he was going to miss this place.
“Oh, let me try it. I’ve never had ‘em before.” Renaldis eyed Wylde’s food before reaching over and stabbing one of his scallops off his plate and popping it in his mouth. Looking around, slightly embarrassed, Wylde finished his last one and signaled for their server to bring the check.
“Not interested in dessert today? We have Italian lemon cake tonight.”
Wylde could taste the fig ice cream and lemon syrup it was typically served with, but there was no way he was sitting there another second longer than needed. Maybe he’d blow off the rest of the date and come back and get some dessert alone.
The server brought the check and Renaldis was quick to pick it up. Wylde smiled at him. Who knew the guy was generous under all those rough edges? He sometimes felt chivalry was nonexistent between two men, but there were still a few gay men who believed in the old-age courtesy.
“Damnit. I hate it when they don’t split the seats.” Renaldis stared at the check, then pulled out his cell phone. “I’m not the best adder, so I gotta use this. So you had the wine, seafood, and you ordered the appetizer, so that’s on you, man.”
Wylde’s mouth dropped open. “Seriously.”
“Hey. I believe in fairness.” Renaldis winked and Wylde thought his delicious scallops were going to come back up. “Um. I only had water. Soooo, that puts you at….”
Wylde casually reached over and slid the check from Renaldis’ fingers, pulled his wallet from his back pocket and slipped out a few bills. He signaled for the server and handed her the small folder. With a polite smile, he took his coat from her, thanked her for her service, and turned to leave, not bothering to wait on his ridiculous date. He quickly pulled up his Uber app and ordered a car.
Renaldis met him out on the curb. “That was cool of you to pay, man. I appreciate it.” He pulled Wylde towards him, smiling that creepy grin. “I guess that means I got to put out. I really like that hoop in your lip. Makes me wanna lick it.”
What the hell? Wylde jerked angrily out of Renaldis arms. “Hey, don’t touch me. You’re welcome for the dinner, but no putting out is needed.”
“I don’t mind.” Renaldis shrugged. “Do you bottom?”
Wylde scowled. “That’s none of your damn business and irrelevant at this point. Damn, you are boorish as hell.”
“Excuse the hell outta me for boring you, but you’re the one with the attitude problem,” Renaldis threw back.
Wylde just barely refrained from laughing in the man’s face and he surely wasn’t going to explain that boorish didn’t mean boring.
“My cousin said you were one of the coolest guys he’d ever met. Why you acting like this? We were having a nice time.”
Wylde did laugh in disbelief this time. “Goodnight, Renaldis.” Can’t say it was a pleasure.
“I can’t believe my cousin set me up with some stuck-up ass dude. I’m on vacation. Can’t we just hang some more?”
“No. I’m fine.” Wylde looked at the man. “You better get going; the concert will be starting soon.”
“You really not coming?” Renaldis inched closer, putting his face close to Wylde, but Wylde’s height made the man have to look up at him. He pulled back, putting some more distance between them. “Alright. I see how it is. That’s real fucked up; ya know what I’m saying. I’m a visitor here and I’m being treated like shit.”
Wylde looked up and saw a sedan approaching with the U in the windshield. “There’s my ride. Goodnight.” Wylde put his hand up, signaling the driver. Renaldis yanked on his elbow, spinning him around.
“You called a damn cab?! I would’ve took you home, man; you ain’t have to do all that!”
“I asked you not to touch me.” Wylde’s voice went deeper, his light brown eyes narrowing in anger. This time, he stepped into Renaldis’ space, glaring down at him. “I said, goodnight. That’s it.”
Renaldis put his hands up. “Fuck off. I knew you’d be stuck-up when I first saw you. That’s why you have to be set up, because you can’t get a damn man on your own.”
Wylde turned and tucked his long body inside the car, leaving Renaldis on the curb barking his insults. As he rode home, he felt the sting of what Renaldis said. Fact was, Wylde had been unsuccessful in getting a husband of his own, even a man of his own. He was thirty-one. He’d been sure he’d at least be in a long-term relationship by now. His mother told him there was no timeframe for a person to fall in love, that it happened when it happened. Up until he turned twenty-five, he believed that, too. But he wondered why, if he was so sweet, so handsome, so nice and successful… how come men only wanted to fuck him and not date him? He’d done a lot of self-evaluation over the years and couldn’t think of anything he needed to change about himself without compromising his morals and values.
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Meet the author:
A.E. Via is an author in the beautiful gay romance genre and also founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books. Her writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths. When she’s not clicking away at her laptop, she devotes herself to her family—a husband and four children. Adrienne Via has tons of more stories to tell, but she really would like to hear yours. Via Star Wings Books is currently accepting submissions for established and aspiring LGBTQ authors.
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