Susan, an artist, has lived happily without a man. She has raised her son Scott and has had moderate success as an artist. One day, Scott brings his boss and friend, Tony, home to spend Thanksgiving. Tony and Susan are attracted to each other at once and they share some passionate nights together. But Susan is worried about their age difference and tries to resist him. Tony's ex-girlfriend doesn't seem to want to let go and when Susan sees them together one day, she makes the break. Scott is also having his own girl troubles. Can Susan and Tony overcome their problems and find a happy ever after or is their relationship only a temporary lust?
Fighting the gust of wind that pushed against the taxi door as he attempted to open it, Anthony Cole Roberts was triumphant when he won the battle. That is, until his polished-to-a-mirror-shine-patented-leather right shoe landed in a puddle of slush.
"Son of a bitch." Another frigid blast from Mother Nature carried his yell of frustration into the New York City skies as icy water wicked down his sock and filled his shoe. "Damn it all to hell."
Anthony managed to plant his left foot past the puddle and pulled its now soaking mate up to join it. A sigh of relief whistled through his teeth; the overnight bag clutched in his hand hadn't thrown him off balance.
Should have fucking brought my cowboy boots back from the ranch. Who gives a rat's ass if they get strange looks in the big city?
He wished to hell he'd insisted to Scott that he drive. When he'd mentioned the possibility to his young associate, Scott nixed the idea.
"I have a 4-wheel drive. Given how Maine roads tend to be in winter, I don't think your Porsche would get us there."
Maybe it was a good thing he wasn't driving. This unexpected snowstorm would have had him cancel the weekend
Unfortunately, his calisthenics didn't get him out of range of the spinning wheels of the taxi when it pulled onto the snow-covered street. Splattered from knees to feet with dirty slush, he muttered under his breath as he made his way toward the door the doorman held open for him.
"Nasty morning, isn't it?" The doorman tilted his head to indicate the snow swirling outside.
"Understatement." Anthony wasn't in the mood to discuss the weather or any other subject at the moment; he continued to the elevator. The only thing he wanted right now was to get to Scott's apartment and dig a pair of jeans, dry socks, and sneakers out of his bag. He'd just fucking ruined a new pair of slacks in an attempt to impress the parents of one of his employees.
Maybe he should have accepted his mother's invitation to spend the Thanksgiving holidays with her and her latest Italian stud in Rome.
Better yet--a quick trip to his Wyoming ranch for a few days of the simpler life he preferred. Two things made that possibility a no-go. He had a trial starting later the following week, and the area East of Cody had been hit by a freak blizzard. For him to land his small Cessna, the ranch hands would have to shovel the pasture he used as a landing strip. Old Pete, his foreman, would chew his ass for months over that, even if the name on the deed to the land bore his name.
When Gramps left the ranch to Tony instead of his son, he'd expected his father to pitch a fit. Instead, he'd shrugged and said, "More power to you, boy. Glad I don't have to muck around in all that cow shit."
Cole Junior never appreciated ranching. He preferred the comfort and glamour of big cities. After graduating from Harvard law school, he moved to Denver and played at a career. He met Ella Whittier whose family owned a large East coast retail empire and decided he was in love. They were a perfect match, at least for a while, since both loved the party circuit.
Tony's arrival was a blip on their radar and they turned his care over to a nanny. When he outgrew a nanny, his parents shipped him off to boarding school, with holidays and summers spent on the ranch with his grandma and grandpa. After grandma's death, he spent more time with his grandfather when he was there. No surprise the old man left him the ranch.
At least Mother showed a little interest in her only son when her social life was slow. I don't think I had a conversation with Father until my college years.
Another option had been to spend the holidays in Florida with his father and the pregnant barracuda he was currently married to. That was one invitation he would have walked through hell in gasoline drawers to avoid accepting.
So when Scott suggested he go with him up to Maine, have a great meal, and get in some skiing, Anthony decided why not? Maine couldn't be any colder than Wyoming in winter and God knows he'd spent his fair share of winter holidays there when Gramps was alive. Okay, so he didn't ski because he hated the cold, but he could sit beside a roaring fire drinking brandy in a lodge with the best of them. The elevator stopped on Scott's floor and Anthony made his way toward the younger man's apartment. He eyed the plush carpet and tasteful dÃ©cor. Maybe he paid his young associate too much if he could afford a place like this. Now that he thought about it, this was a pretty well-heeled neighborhood.
"Tony." Scott threw open the door almost as soon as Anthony pushed the buzzer. "You had me worried when I looked out the window this morning. Thought you'd bail on me when you woke and saw this little storm." If possible, the Boy Scout grin on the younger man's face grew larger. "Let me grab my bag and we'll be ready to roll."
Maybe it's a good thing I didn't look out the window. I probably would have decided to spend the weekend with my nose buried in a brief instead of a snow bank.
He didn't feel the joy his associate did. Maybe Scott was so joyful because he was dressed in dry, well-worn jeans and a red checked flannel shirt. Mischief danced in the tall young man's brown eyes as he took in his boss's appearance. Anthony snapped, "I need to change my shoes." The squishing sound as he stepped forward confirmed the need.
"Sure thing." Scott ran a hand through the shock of red hair that tended to hang across his forehead and grinned, then led him down a short hallway that opened into a large multi-purpose room. "The bathroom is right over here." He opened a door and stepped back. "I'll make us fresh coffee. Warm you up a little. It won't hurt if we're a few minutes late getting on the road. Mom will be just doing prep work for tomorrow's dinner and if we time it right, we'll get out of helping."
Dry feet and jeans improved Anthony's mood and it elevated another notch when his host handed him a steaming mug. He took a few minutes to assess the young man's living quarters while Scott cleaned up the kitchen. Given some of the designer items, he wondered once again if his associates were overpaid.
Done with the furniture assessment, Anthony scanned the walls. "I have that same print." He pointed to a large piece above the fireplace. He definitely needed to look at the salary structure at the office.
"Really. You have a copy of Butterfly Kisses?" The look on Scott's face was priceless--a mixture of shock and delight.
"Sure do. I saw Maryah on a morning talk show several years ago. They showed a shot of some of her work and for some reason I really fell in love with that one." He didn't need to share with Scott that what he'd actually loved was the woman with the lively sense of humor and honey blonde hair.
When the interviewer had asked her, "Out of all your work, what's your favorite piece?" her instant reply, "Butterfly Kisses." resulted in the camera cutting away to the mentioned work.
His eyes studied the vision of a woman dressed in a flowing white gown, standing in a field filled with butterflies. Several of the colorful insects played with the golden strands of her hair and one had lighted on her cheek. Anthony could almost feel the velvety wings of the butterfly stroking the woman's soft skin. Along with the sensation of touch the painting created in him, memories of his favorite field on the ranch flooded his mind. In spring and summer when the flowers bloomed, the meadow filled with butterflies. At that moment, he became determined to own the painting.
Problem was, there were only a few signed, limited edition prints available and the original was with an unknown collector. From the information he'd been able to find on the subject, Maryah had painted it for a special client.
"She's good, that's for sure. I have to admit this is my favorite, too." Scott flashed a grin as he picked up his bag from the couch. "Ready to roll?"
Anthony nodded and walked over to the chair he'd propped his bag against. His eyes took in the art gallery on the far dining room wall that he'd only noticed out of the corner of his eye earlier. "Holy shit. Are those all Maryah prints?"
A strange look crossed Scott's face before the typical grin replaced it. "Yeah. I told you, I like her work."
"No, I like her work." Anthony walked toward the hanging shrine. "But this is obsessive to the point of stalking. You're not stalking her, are you?"
"Get real." A scowl replaced Scott's normal happy beam. "Let's hit the road. We've got a lot of miles ahead of us."
Stopped from getting a better look at the wall full of prints, Anthony followed Scott out the door, puzzled over the young man's reaction to his comment. One minute Scott's expression reminded him of a thunderstorm ready to vent its fury on anything in its path, but as he turned away, the look switched to the cat who'd swallowed a canary.