At five-foot-two and skinny to boot, Maximus Bonner has always been a little sensitive about his size. When he’s forced by his job to attend a team-building activity at Rolling Meadows Ranch and Resort, his worst fears are realized—outdoor activities. On top of that, he overhears the hottest cowboy at the place making fun of the little stringbean. His anger getting the best of him, Max lodges a complaint against the sexy man.
As a vampire, Rhyme Mythstone has been waiting for his beloved for over a century. Imagine his surprise when he comes in the form of a tiny slip of a redhead with a fiery temper. With one teasing comment, his chance at wooing the human goes up in flames. Max wants nothing to do with him. Can Rhyme figure out a way to prove that he loves his beloved’s size and can make him happy?
Over the three months of working at Winnerman Construction, Max had become damn good at avoiding them or making certain someone else was in the room when he couldn’t.
Lilibeth’s laughter filled the vehicle.
“What?” Max asked warily as he eyed his grinning friend.
Smirking, Lilibeth leaned toward him. “When I heard where we were doing this team-building activity thing, I did some research. Rolling Meadows Ranch and Resort is owned and operated by a pair of men…who are married”—continuing to grin broadly, she winked—“to each other.”
“The place is run by fags?” Stanton questioned. “Oh. Sorry.” He leaned forward and patted Max on the shoulder again. “Didn’t mean it like that.”
Max glanced behind him and offered Stanton a smile and nod, barely resisting the urge to rub his shoulder. The friendly bruiser sitting behind him really had no inkling of his own strength. He was also a kind man. There wasn’t a mean bone in his body. Stanton just didn’t understand that calling a gay man a fag wasn’t polite.
Sadly, Stanton sort of lived up to his image—a big, dumb, gentle giant.
I like him, though.
“Well that’s a relief,” Max commented before humming as a smile curved his lips. “Maybe a few of the cowboys are, too. Maybe—”
He fell quiet, but Lilibeth—best friend since fifth grade that she was—must have read his mind. “Maybe a roll in the hay will be on the docket for your weekend?” she finished his sentence in a teasing tone.
Max felt his fair cheeks heat, betraying that he blushed. He hated his fair skin, but it wasn’t as if he could change it. With his red hair and freckles, his skin always gave away his thoughts.
“Why would you want to roll in the hay?” Stanton asked, breaking the silence. “Didn’t you just say you didn’t like bugs? I figure there would be plenty in there.”
To Max’s relief, Lilibeth turned in her seat to answer. She smiled widely at Stanton as she reached back and patted Stanton’s knee. “If someone goes for a roll in the hay with someone else, it means they’re having sex,” Lilibeth explained in a blunt fashion that she only used with Stanton. At first, it had shocked Max, but now he understood it. The man needed straightforward answers.
Out of the corner of his eye, Max watched Stanton shift in his seat. He rubbed the back of his neck as a faint glow lit up his bronzed cheeks. Then he shook his head.
“Naw, Lilibeth. That can’t be right. Getting naked in hay would be uncomfortable.”
Jerome chuckled from ahead of them. “She’s telling the truth, buddy,” he countered. “Normally you lay on your clothes or bring a blanket.”
“Oh. Huh.” Stanton nodded as he fell silent, his gaze straying to the window.
Max had no idea how long Stanton and Jerome had been friends, but the big blond always took the wiry black man’s word as gold. The pair drove in together and left together. According to the addresses for their paychecks, they lived together, but Max’s gaydar said they weren’t a couple.
“Slow the fuck down, Jerome,” George ordered gruffly. “Or you’re gonna miss the turn.”
“Relax, G,” Jerome replied. “I ain’t gonna miss it.”
Jerome did slow down, however. A few seconds later, he turned the SUV onto a gravel driveway that disappeared around a bend. Max returned his attention to the window, feeling a little better about the upcoming weekend.
If I’m going to be forced to go on this stupid retreat, at least I won’t get knocked around for checking out the cowboys.
At the last monthly safety meeting—I don’t know why I have to sit in on those meetings either, but whatever—the bosses had explained that the mandate had been passed down by the corporate office. All employees had to participate. The only reason someone could get out of it was if they’d had a doctor’s note.
Oh well. At least I’m being paid for the weekend.
After the vehicle rounded the hill, Max peered out the window. “Oh, wow,” he couldn’t help but mutter. The place that sprawled out before them was huge.
“Aww, look at the baby cows,” Lilibeth cried, pointing out the window.
“There’s baby horses on this side,” Max told her.
Lilibeth gasped and leaned half over him, her dark ponytail hitting him in the face.
Snickering, Max pushed her hair over her shoulder. He grinned upon seeing her smile. His old friend really did love baby animals. The only reason Lilibeth didn’t have a pet of her own was because she lived in an apartment complex that didn’t allow them.
“We’re here,” Jerome stated needlessly after he’d parked in front of a building marked Office.
“Good.” Stanton unbuckled his belt. “I need to stretch my legs.”
Jerome laughed as he opened his door, his white teeth flashing in his dark face. “It was only an hour drive,” he teased before exiting the car.
As Max followed suit, he heard Stanton following as he stated, “So. I hate sitting that long.”
Max glanced at the huge man, having to look up…and up, seeing as he only stood five-foot-two. He barely reached Stanton’s sternum. “I don’t like long drives, either,” he commented as he took his bag from George where the other man was pulling their luggage from the back. “That’s why I ride a bike to work.”
“And because you can hardly reach the gas pedal of most cars,” a snide voice commented with a snort. Then an elbow jabbed into Max’s kidney. “Ain’t that right, Max?”