The night Kieran bangs on Theo’s door and kisses him changes both their lives forever. Theo has never been in the closet, but Kieran isn’t out and risks losing everything -- his inheritance, his relationship with his family -- should his parents find out.
But their feelings for each other can’t be denied, and Theo agrees to keeping their budding relationship a secret. But can their love grow and flourish when hidden away in the dark? Or will it wilt and die before they have a chance to live happily ever after?
After six, as I’m on my third mug of coffee and putting the cinnamon rolls into the oven to bake, the thump of feet hitting the floor reaches my ears. It’s quickly followed by padding footsteps and the door to the bathroom opening and closing.
All the muscles in my body freeze up at once, and I forget how to breathe for a second. The moment of truth is here, and I’ll soon have the answers to my questions whether I want them or not. I shiver, not entirely sure if it’s because I’m too hot or cold, and I almost manage to trap my hand in the oven door when I close it. Then I just stand there, having completely forgotten what I was doing.
A glimpse of my mug from the corner of my eye brings me back to reality.
I grab it too quickly and hot liquid sloshes over the rim, splashing on my fingers. “Goddammit,” I mutter between clenched teeth, slam down the mug on the countertop -- spilling more coffee, of course -- then grab a bunch of paper towels and start cleaning up, huffing at my carelessness.
I’m probably too busy being hard on myself to notice the padding feet approaching the kitchen because I jump at the deep, raspy “Good morning,” behind me, and my heart rate speeds up until it’s hovering in dangerous, heart-attack-inducing territories.
“Good morning,” I whisper, not turning around, my body tensing as though I’m waiting for a blow.
This is it. The moment I’ve been fretting over all night, the moment that’ll change my life forever in one way or another.
Kieran comes closer until I can feel his warmth along my back, making the hairs on my neck stand up and a shiver racing along my spine.
“May I touch you?” he asks in a rough morning voice. My mouth isn’t cooperating, so I just nod, and his warm hands land on my waist. “Is this okay?”
I nod again; my words are trapped in my throat and refuse to come out.
What does this mean? Is he trying to say he meant what he said yesterday? Is he trying to let me down gently? Not knowing is driving me crazy.
“Breathe.” He steps closer to me, pressing himself against my back, and I drag a stuttering breath into my lungs.
“Will you please turn around?”
“Sure,” I say but stay frozen to the spot. He must realize I’m unable to move because he walks us a couple steps back, then slides between me and the counter until we’re finally face to face.
God, he’s even more beautiful when sleep-rumpled. He has crease marks from the pillow on his cheek, his stubble glitters on his skin, his hair is wild as though he’s stuck his fingers into a wall socket, and his gaze ... His gaze is warm and fond and melted, and he doesn’t take his eyes off me even for a second.
“Oh, Theo, did you even sleep?” His tone is gentle.
I shake my head as the timer goes off. “Excuse me,” I mumble and slink out of his grip, then take the cinnamon rolls out of the oven. “Are you hungry?” I ask, back turned to him again. “I baked. And there’s coffee.”
“Do you want me to leave?”
His question makes me whirl around. “No. Why would you ask that?”
“Because you don’t want to look at me and you seem ... uncomfortable.”
I shake my head, still not able to string together a complete sentence.
“I’m sorry I barged in here like this. For kissing and touching you without consent. It was unforgivable and I regret it.”
His words are a blow to my hopeful heart, and I stumble. “I understand,” I say, then sucking my lower lip into my mouth to stop it from trembling. And I do understand, it’s not like I wasn’t prepared for this scenario. It’s what I’ve been worrying about all night, after all.
He reaches out to me, movements slow and careful as though he fears I’ll bolt like a skittish animal. I can’t meet his gaze, but I can’t move away either.
“I don’t think you do,” he says, voice low and soft as he coaxes my lip out from between my teeth. “I regret the way it happened, but I don’t regret finally kissing you.”