Connor Murphy, the CFO of the family business, has given up his dream of becoming a chef in order to help the company. After all, family means the world to him, something his boyfriend learned at Christmas, much to his displeasure. This is why six months after that disastrous Christmas, Connor is sans boyfriend and buries himself in work to take his mind off his single status. Still, he enjoys baking desserts and bringing them to his beloved nanny. He also enjoys going to the Coffee Shoppe, exchanging glances with the man behind the counter. Until the man is suddenly gone.
While Murphy Doyle waits for a job in his preferred field, he helps out behind the counter at his family’s coffee shop. He might be a physical therapist, but he also loves to bake, especially desserts, which are a big hit at work. He’s been intrigued by the businessman who frequently comes into the shop, wearing a three-piece suit and always ordering the same thing. Murph would have loved to ask him out, but it’s against company policy, so they never speak, just gaze silently at each other, everything but their eyes hidden by the masks they wear due to the pandemic. And then he gets his dream job, and he’s afraid the opportunity is lost.
Are these two men destined to be ships passing in the night, or will family meddling somehow bring them together?
Connor made good time and arrived at Nanny’s house by two. He parked the rental car in the driveway and got out.
The front door was thrown open, and he grinned to see Nanny standing there. “Hi, Nan!”
“Connor!” She was looking very summer-like, wearing a pair of cream-colored capris, a short-sleeved blouse covered with lilac blossoms, and a pair of lavender espadrilles. She hurried down the steps and across the lawn. “I’ve been on the lookout for you.”
“How are you?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine! I’m so happy to see you.” She threw her arms around him and hugged him so tightly he thought she’d squeeze the breath out of him.
“So am I. I’m just sorry I haven’t come to see you more frequently.” He should have made more of an effort to drive out here.
“You know you’re always welcome, but I understand -- this time of year, everyone is busy. But we were all able to Facetime, which was lovely.” She stepped back and beamed at him. And then she burst out laughing. “Oh, Connor. Your shirt!”
He looked down at it and couldn’t help grinning himself. The T-shirt read It was me. I let the dogs out. He’d been five when the song came out, and Mother hadn’t been happy, especially since he’d misunderstood the refrain and went around the house singing woof, woof, woof. At the time, it made sense to him.
Nanny, though -- she wouldn’t mind whether he sang the song or wore the shirt.
She patted his arm, still laughing. “I’m so glad to see you’re dressed more comfortably.” She knew he tended to wear a suit even when he worked from home.
That was something else Jordan hated. His former boyfriend had called him anal about it, especially when everyone else wore pajamas or lounge wear during the lockdown. The thing was, it helped him delineate work time from play time. Jordan, on the other hand, was always so casually dressed it was hard to tell if he was working or just screwing around, and often bordered on sloppy.
Fortunately, Nanny distracted him from unhappy thoughts of his ex. “Did you bring your suitcase or a duffel?”
“A duffel. It has plenty of room to hold the clothes I’ll need for the week.”
“Smart boy. Why don’t you get it? I can carry the cookies,” she offered innocently.
“Sure you can.” He reached across to the passenger side and took out the tin that held her favorite cookies. He handed her the tin and shut the car door with a bump of his hip. “No sneaking bites.”
She drew in an affronted breath -- which was obviously bogus -- and pressed a palm to her bosom. “As if I ever would!”
“Right. I don’t know who I was thinking of.” He walked to the trunk, opened it, and removed his duffel.
“This is a new car, isn’t it?” She looked over the Cadillac sedan with interest. “I thought you preferred sports cars.”
“I do. This is a rental.”
“Is the Bugatti in the shop?”
“No. It’s in the garage. It’s been using too much gasoline.”
“Ah. Do you plan to replace it?”
“I suppose I’ll have to.” He loved the sports car, and while he could afford the current cost of gasoline, he thought switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle was a smarter idea. Of course Mother had objected, once again concerned about what the neighbors might think, but in this instance he wasn’t going to let her dictate his choice. “I was thinking of either a hybrid or an electric car.”
“Murphy drives a hybrid.”
Okay, time to get the inquisition over with. “Nan, are you sure there aren’t any repairs you need done?” He slung the duffel over his shoulder and offered her his free arm.
“Not a one, mo chroí.” She gave his arm a squeeze. “I told you ...” She tipped back her head and met his eyes. “What’s going on, Connor?”
“I ... uh ...” Dammit, he was never any good at skulking. “I was wondering if the reason you don’t need any help is because you have someone doing the odd jobs for you.”
“Your cousins, you mean? They’ve all been busy --”
“No, I ... I meant Murphy Doyle.”
Nanny came to an abrupt halt and freed her arm. “Who told you about Murphy?”
“Then you are seeing someone named Murphy Doyle.”
She pinched his waist.
“Hey!” It hadn’t hurt, but it did surprise him.
“I want the truth, Connor Kellan Murphy.”
Uh oh. Not good when Nanny called him by his full name. How had he gotten himself caught between the rock that was Mother and the hard place that was his nanny? “Mother was concerned.”
“Why? About what?” Her gaze narrowed. “Oh, no, never tell me she thinks Murphy is my boyfriend!”