Darwin “Dare” Mancuso owns a string of food trucks across the city. His friends often tell him he works too hard and has too little fun. Dare knows it’s true, but he has high standards for both his business and his love life, and isn’t about to fall into bed with just any man he meets, no matter how hot he is.
Then Abel Messler comes into his life, and Dare takes notice. Unlike the entitled business types to whom he serves every day, Abel has an innocence that’s hard to ignore and draws Dare in. When Abel loses his job, it’s all Dare can do not to hug him and kiss all his troubles away.
Instead he invites Abel out for a good time with friends, and the end result gives both men more than they ever expected.
I found Ricky and D’Andre right away and gave them hugs and kisses before ordering a Bud. “The guy from earlier? He’s coming tonight. Name’s Abel. He’s an innocent, so be nice, hear me?” I warned them, and their smiles of acquiescence didn’t fool me for a second.
A few minutes later, I felt the mood shift a little in the bar and turned to see what was up. I almost dropped my beer when I saw Abel walking through the crowd, men drooling a little as he squeezed by, though they surely didn’t make it easy.
Ricky leaned in to whisper in my ear, “You sure he’s innocent? He looks like sex on a stick, and he knows it.”
I had to agree. God, I wanted a piece of that so badly. Abel had chosen to wear a semi-sheer white shirt that showcased gold nipple rings and a tribal tattoo on his abdomen. He wore black skinny jeans that just seemed to emphasize his long, long legs, which were encased in ankle boots.
He wore eyeliner that made his gray eyes pop, and lip gloss that made his mouth shimmer in the light. The diamond studs in his ears completed the package, and I wanted to fall to my knees and worship him from head to toe.
When he spotted me, Abel gave me a big smile that caused little Dare to perk up uncomfortably. I resisted the urge to adjust myself. He finally reached me, after swatting at the last guy who’d grabbed his ass. He rolled his eyes and huffed. “What am I, a piece of meat?”
“Well, honey, the way you look ...” Ricky began, but I kicked his shin and he shut up.
“I’m glad you could make it, Abel, and what my mouthy best friend here is trying to say is you are a gorgeous man. Can you blame them?”
He smiled. “That’s sweet of you to say.” He leaned between us and asked for a Bud, just like I had, and then focused on me again. “Introduce me to your friends, Dare.”
“He gets to call you Dare, already?” Ricky asked, one eyebrow arched meaningfully in my direction.
I ignored it. “Abel, this brat next to you is Ricky, and D’Andre is his longtime boyfriend. They come in peace, usually.”
Abel chuckled. “Glad to hear it. Nice to meet you,” he said to both men before collecting his drink from the bartender and handed over a credit card. “Run a tab, would you?” he asked and the bartender nodded, lingering a little over releasing Abel’s hand. I staked my claim by grabbing his hand with my own. I was here first, mister.
“So you seem to be in a better mood now than you were earlier,” I offered, and tried not to drool as I watched him take a few swallows of beer.
“I figured life’s too short to worry about stuff. And I wanted to have a good time with a newfound friend who saved me from the doldrums. Thanks again.”
“Anytime, believe me.”
Ricky chimed in, “He means that literally.” I rolled my eyes and D’Andre shut him up with a kiss.
The music changed to a driving beat, and Abel started to sway to the music. “I want to dance. Come with me?” he asked, finishing his beer with a few gulps and placing it on top of the bar.
“You go ahead. I’ll join you in a bit.”
“Okay.” And then he was gone to join the surge of the crowd and the grinding men on the dance floor. Dear God, how would I survive this night?