Aspiring chef Taylor Gershwin needs a new place to live, and someone in his friend’s apartment building is advertising for a roommate.
It sounds perfect. He’d be close to his best friend and it isn’t too far from his job as a short order cook and the chef school he attends. Sure, the guy he’d be roommates with, Mike Hanovan, is something of a Neanderthal. A big brawny guy with a snake tattoo who also happens to be a cop ... and hot as hell. And Taylor doesn’t exactly want to tell him he’s bipolar. Lots of guys he knows don’t understand mental illness.
But maybe this time, Mike will accept Taylor for who he is, stuffed sea creatures and all.
Mike was about to open the pantry cabinet when he saw the cardboard box filled with his usual convenience foods.
“What the hell?”
The apartment door opened with a bang and Taylor rushed in holding two big canvas bags filled to the top with what appeared to be groceries.
“Oh! You’re home,” Taylor said. “Can you take one of these? Weighs a ton.”
Mike walked over to him and took both bags. “I hope there’s something good to eat. I’m starved.”
“Then I arrived just in time.” Taylor followed him into the kitchen as he set the bags down on the counter. “How was work?”
“Hell,” Mike said simply. “You threw out my food.”
“I did not. I left them in the box. But, I’m not sure that can really be called food. In your line of work it’s more important than ever to eat healthy. Keeps the stress down.”
“I don’t really have time to cook.”
Taylor rolled his eyes. He actually rolled his eyes at Mike. “Many healthy dishes take no more time than those processed foods you buy. Besides, now you have me here.”
Mike smiled and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I do, huh? So you’ll be my own personal ... chef?” He’d wanted to say slave. Sex slave actually. Right now he was so turned on by Taylor his jeans were becoming too damn tight. But fuck, Taylor was hot and sweet.
“Yes, whenever I can. Of course, I have school and work. But I can also make you food that you just have to heat up. Just as easy as that box of noodles and salt you mix with hamburger.”
“Ah, I should have known a guy who wants to be a chef would be a food snob.”
Taylor nodded. “Now go sit down on the couch or something while I unpack this stuff and make you something to eat. You want a beer or something?”
“I don’t drink beer,” Mike said. “Or anything. I don’t drink alcohol.”
Mike shrugged. “Never really cared for the taste. I see plenty of people messed up by drugs and alcohol in my line of work. I’d just rather not get in the habit.”
“Huh. I had no clue. Okay. Well, what do you drink then?”
“Right now I wouldn’t mind a cup of strong coffee.”
“All right,” Taylor said, moving to the pantry. “I assume you have coffee in here.”
Taylor sighed. Mike came to stand behind him and peered inside the cabinet.
“The brand of coffee you have in here. It’s absolute swill.”
He was tempted to rest his hand on the small of Taylor’s back. Because damn, he wanted to touch him. Badly. But he resisted. For now. Instead he laughed. “It is, huh? That brand has been around in households for decades.”
Taylor wrinkled his nose and removed the container from the pantry. “Probably been using the same grounds for decades too.”
“I don’t go in for the fancy gourmet coffee.”
“I can see I need to turn you away from the dark side,” Taylor said. “But for now I’ll make this crap. Go sit down and I’ll bring it to you.”