Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the amazing
In today's post, we'll look at Hearsay and Capital Loss, and we'll have our author interview. There's also one more chance to win one of Taylor's books!
First up, Hearsay
Senior associate attorney Derrick Swain wants it all: a loving husband, a fulfilling career, and a couple of kids. After years of hard work he's on the fast track to a promotion. He’s also met the man of his dreams. A week of daily lunch meetings in Central Park provides the perfect setting to get to know him better, and Derrick thinks it won’t be long before they take the next step and go on a date. But instead of asking him out, the object of his affection stops showing up without explanation, leaving him to wonder what went wrong.
As part owner of one of the most prestigious law firms in New York City, Roman Bradford knows that professional success isn’t the be all end all. Although he’s been lucky in life, true love has eluded him for the most part. One too many failed relationships have caused him to be leery of trying again, until he meets a man that can only be described as temptation personified. A few conversations is all it takes for Roman to start believing things will be different this time around. It doesn’t matter that they are boss and employee, or that he’s feeling too much, too fast. Not when he can see the same emotions in Derrick’s eyes. Then life turns on a dime, and Roman has no option but to let his chance at happiness go.
A battle of wills ensues when a life-altering case brings them together a year later. Roman wants to do the right thing by not letting anything happen between them, and Derrick is determined to prove they’re meant to be together. Evidence will be presented and final arguments will be made. Will they be able to come to an agreement, or will they opt to have their potential relationship dismissed?
“I agreed to go over there tonight.”
“Go over where?”
“What?” She pushed him away, studied his eyes, swatted him on the head, and hugged him again. “Didn’t we agree it isn’t a good idea to have sex with your ex?”
“We did,” he whispered, not really caring that Tashana was probably about to lecture him on the subject one more time. He just took a deep breath and settled in on her breasts. It was comfy there. Her bosom felt like a safe place. “But we’re both single and a little desperate right now, and he has such a pretty cock.”
Tashana swatted him again. “Every time you go and get your rocks off with the guy you avoid each other for the next four weeks,” she said.
“It’ll be the last time,” Derrick promised.
“That’s what you said three months ago,” she reminded him.
“It was way longer than that.”
“You were doing so well, boo,” she added. “Why’d you go and ruin it?”
“He’s under a lot of stress.” Derrick looked up at her. “He needs to blow off some steam. And you know what? So do I. This week’s been hell and if the guy thinks that sucking me off and fucking me through the mattress will help him, who am I to object? Plus, I’m horny. I’m so horny I could fuck a tree. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I got laid?” He shot her a warning look. “Don’t answer that.”
“Why not let her answer?” The unexpected voice was husky; the tone scolding and dripping with derision at the same time. “After all, isn’t that what this firm pays its employees for? Discussions on all sorts of personal, intimate subjects while on the clock?”
Derrick’s voice caught in his throat. He didn’t dare breathe, but he slowly moved his head from Tashana’s chest to her shoulder until he was able to take a peek.
This was not the kind of thing that happened to him. He didn’t suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome, and, as daring as he could be at times, he had never been caught with his pants down. But today his luck had obviously run out because, lo and behold, that was Roman Bradford looking at them from Derrick’s office door.
All of a sudden the atmosphere changed, and the office seemed to be brightly lit, as if the clouds had moved to give way to the sun right outside his window. Derrick felt a hot burst of electricity run through his body and a buzzing in his ears. He hadn’t felt this energized in a year.
“Please, tell me that’s not him,” Tashana whispered in his ear.
“Afraid I can’t,” Derrick whispered back.
He was incapable of looking away from Roman. Incapable of processing how much of a predicament they probably were in. Incapable of even feeling mortified over that bit of too personal information his boss had overheard. He couldn’t. He was too busy worrying about what the other man would make of it. He knew it was presumptuous on his part to think Roman would care, but Derrick didn’t want this man he admired so much to have a bad opinion of him.
“I’m not as much of a slut as that statement made me sound,” Derrick blurted before he could stop himself.
Looked like he was also incapable of filtering his words.
Roman didn’t even blink behind the thick, black-framed glasses he wore.
Lord, but he was gorgeous.
Forty-four years old, and guys half his age couldn’t hold a candle to him. Tall and elegant; powerful and sophisticated in that kind of understated way that screamed I own this joint without having to say a word. It was the first thing he’d noticed about Roman the day of his job interview with the senior partners of ABC. Six years later, it was the number one personality trait that made Derrick crazy horny for the man, closely followed by his work ethic and how modest and humble he’d remained despite his professional success. Add the physical attributes and no wonder Derrick was toast within minutes the first time he had a private conversation with him.
Roman Bradford was perfect… but there was something different about him.
It wasn’t that his dark brown hair was liberally sprinkled with gray now, or that he seemed to have lost weight and gained some muscle, which in turn made him look taller than six-foot-two. It wasn’t that, whereas he was usually calm and composed, he was now so tense that a muscle in his jaw was jumping.
Derrick perused him quickly, and that’s when he realized that even though there were substantial physical changes, it wasn’t even Roman’s appearance that was different. It was something more intangible. His demeanor, maybe… or was it his aura?
“Don’t let my presence make you feel like you need to get back to your own office, Mrs. Woods,” Roman said, bumping the folder he was carrying on his thigh a couple of times. His voice was soft, but there was no mistaking the disapproval behind his words.
Although Roman was addressing Tashana, he didn’t look in her direction once. Instead he kept his olive green gaze glued on Derrick’s face.
“Is there something I can help you with?” Derrick managed to ask.
Roman squeezed the yellow folder, opened his mouth, and seemed to give his words careful consideration before he said, “Meet me in the conference room in five minutes.”
The second Roman was out of sight, Derrick buried his face in Tashana’s neck and took a deep breath. “I sounded like an ass.”
“A little bit,” Tashana agreed.
“I can’t believe he was just here.”
“I can’t believe you’re still holding me.”
“I need to be held.”
“He called me Mrs. Woods.”
“I’m nobody’s Mrs.,” she complained, as if she seriously expected for the boss of one thousand employees to know that detail of her personal life.
“It’s been weeks since the last time I saw him,” Derrick whispered, ignoring Tashana’s nonsense and thinking about the time he ran into Roman at the courthouse at some point in late August. It’d been brief, and no words were exchanged, but Derrick could’ve sworn his boss had wanted to talk to him.
“Last time I saw him was at the firm’s picnic.” Tashana turned her head until she was able to look at Derrick in the eye. “Is that wood I feel against my leg?”
“You’re a sick woman.” He pushed her away. “He looks different.”
“He’s lost some weight,” Tashana agreed.
Derrick shook his head. “When I started working here, he was a pretty cool guy. He was always authoritative but very easy going at the same time. Later on, I noticed he was looking stressed out of his mind, although that got better last year. Matter of fact, he looked happy for a while.” Derrick shook his head again. “I don’t know what’s happened to him, but sometimes he looks like he hates the world and… sad. He looks extremely sad.”
“What he hates is seeing his employees shooting the shit when he’s paying them top dollar,” Tashana informed, not commenting on his analysis of their boss’s attitude.
Derrick let out a long sigh. “He’s going to fire me, isn’t he?”
Tashana straightened her blouse and removed some lint from her skirt. She looked far from concerned.
“What’s he gonna fire you for? Having a sex life?”
And wouldn’t that be fantastic? Not losing his job, but for Roman to actually care that Derrick had plans to go see someone. He’d never be so lucky, of course.
“Why was he here?” Derrick got up from the window sill and laced his fingers behind his head. “He’s never come to my office before. Not once in the six years I’ve been with the firm.”
Tashana shrugged. “You’ll find out soon enough.”
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Second in our line-up, Capital Loss
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short has no blurb. The description below is the prompt that accompanied the picture I chose for this event. It is my intention to expand this story into a full novel and give Cole and Eduardo time to grow as characters. The title for that story will be "Fixed Assets" and it will have a blurb.
How did things get so bad? I thought I had it all, a great job that I loved, a wonderful home by the beach and you. All of that is gone now. I found out the hard way all you wanted from me was my money. You left me the minute you found out I lost my job and lost the money when the financial bubble burst. Now I have nothing, I feel like I’m nowhere, no one. I don’t feel like living anymore. Will anyone save me?
This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group's "Love Has No Boundaries" event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.
“Thank you for the card and the flowers,” Cole said in a sweet tone after a few seconds. “I’m a bit upset at you for not sticking to our agreement, but I really love them.”
Weeks ago Cole had decided he didn’t want to exchange presents on Valentine’s Day. He’d said having a quiet, intimate evening with his man was all he wanted, and, albeit surprised by the request, Eduardo had agreed to it. But how could he not get Cole anything? No way. It was Valentine’s Day, and the orchids and sappy heart-shaped card he’d left for Cole on his side of their bed were inexpensive and perfect. Something he could get away with.
“I’m glad you liked them.”
“But that’s not it, right? It’d better not be,” Cole said with a flirty laugh. “I want more than orchids on Valentine’s.”
Eduardo frowned. “I thought we weren’t exchanging presents.”
“What I really want doesn’t cost a dime, and only you can give it to me, so you better get home at a decent time tonight. Your presence is crucial for what I have in mind.”
Well, didn’t that sound promising? The last time Cole was so adamant about Eduardo getting home early was on their anniversary. They’d given each other erotic rubs and tried five different positions from The Gay Kama Sutra. It’d been an amazing night. Eduardo could remember every detail as if it’d happened yesterday, even if more than a month had already passed.
Has it really been that long since the last time we made love?
“I’ll be there at a decent time.”
“Do you promise?”
“I promise, pa,” he said as his colleague came outside and glared at him. “Eight o’clock,” he added before ending the call.
There was nothing Eduardo wanted more than taking proper care of his boyfriend, and he really meant to leave work by seven-thirty. Making love to his significant other on the most romantic day of the year was imperative.
But his clients were demanding, selfish, entitled pricks that didn’t care about anyone’s needs but their own, and so it was almost midnight when he finally dragged his exhausted ass home.
Their fancy dining table caught his attention as he made his way to their bedroom.
Both he and Cole were always on the go and preferred to have their meals while reading the paper or magazines at the kitchen island. But tonight Cole had taken the time to set the table. Candles and the flowers Eduardo had given his boyfriend complemented the china they’d gotten from his mom as a housewarming present, and that was complemented by the silver cutlery Cole insisted was only for special occasions.
It was the first time Eduardo saw the prized silverware out of its storage.
“Shit,” he whispered tiredly as he loosened his tie and looked around their apartment.
The light was off in the kitchen, but the pots and pans on the stove were still warm. No surprise there. No matter how many hours he worked, he could always count on a hot meal and a sexy, exquisitely toned and willing body when he came home. But this was obviously a special dinner, and he regretted missing it.
He uncovered one of the pots and smiled at its content. “Beef stew…” he leaned in and inhaled the rich aroma. “He made my favorite.”
Knowing he wouldn’t be able to eat something so heavy this late at night, he put the food away in the fridge and rushed out of the kitchen. He wanted to apologize to Cole before he keeled over from exhaustion.
Cole looked up from the book he’d been reading the moment Eduardo stepped into their bedroom. “Hey,” he greeted with a lazy smile. “I didn’t hear the front door.”
“I was being quiet in case you were asleep.” Eduardo hung his suit jacket on the door and toed his shoes off as he walked toward the bed.
“I thought you’d be here earlier.”
“A meeting with a client took longer than I expected,” Eduardo explained. “I couldn’t get away.”
“You should’ve called to let me know you wouldn’t be able to make it,” Cole stated in a casual tone.
His boyfriend’s recrimination cut deeply. Not because he already felt guilty enough as it was, but because even though Cole talked the talk, he genuinely looked and sounded like he didn’t give a shit Eduardo had missed dinner.
That was one of the things about Cole he didn’t understand and, quite honestly, also hated. He always tried to spend more time together, but never got upset when only a small fraction of his plans came to fruition. There was no hurt. No frustration. No matter how often Eduardo fucked up, or how many promises he broke, Cole never sounded like he cared.
It was Valentine’s Day, and he had a right to be pissed. He’d cooked a romantic dinner and gotten stood up, yet he looked like it was all the same to him. It made Eduardo uncertain of the reasons why Cole stayed with him, and extremely nervous as to the foundation of their relationship. No. Scratch that. It made him feel Cole didn’t care if he saw him, as long as the money kept coming in.
Stop it, he ordered himself. The fact that he wanted a few financial guarantees before moving in with you doesn’t make him a gold digger, but even if he were, you love him. You gotta stop this insecurity bullshit.
Eduardo cleared his throat and said, “I know I should’ve called, but I really didn’t have time.”
“Are you hungry?” Cole removed the covers and got out of bed. “If you are I’ll throw something on and go make you a plate, but if not...” He walked around the bed and stood in front of Eduardo, his smile feral and his eyes lustful.
“I’m not hungry,” Eduardo croaked, mesmerized by the sight of Cole in nothing but a pair of skimpy black side cage briefs. Sexiest thing he’d ever seen.
“Good,” Cole whispered hotly against his lips, “because it feels like I’ve been waiting an eternity to unwrap my Valentine’s present.”
“Aren’t you mad at me?” he blurted.
“I’ve always known your job is stressful and time consuming, and making money is a priority.” Cole traced Eduardo’s lips with his tongue and unbuckled his belt. “I’ve long accepted that not seeing you all that much comes with the territory,” he added in that flat voice that never gave away his thoughts.
“And that’s great,” Eduardo agreed. “I really appreciate it.”
“But...” Cole arched an eyebrow and looked him in the eye. “I sense a but coming.”
“But I’ve got to be honest with you.” He pressed their foreheads together and brushed Cole’s smooth chin with his fingertips. “All these acceptance and understanding can be—”
“Can be what?”