Mark Landing has a very difficult job to carry out within the next week. As the leader of Plimpton’s Neighborhood Hero Award Committee (NHAC), Mark must obtain a vote from ten NHAC members to determine which of three candidates will land the monetary award.
While interviewing each candidate, Mark finds one of them, bar owner and part-time roofer Cane Mercer, steamy-attractive. Not only is Cane handsome and easy to talk to, he’s a hero. He rescued three children from an accidental house fire a few months earlier. Hero or not, Cane flirts openly with Mark.
There’s one little problem, though. Anyone who knows Mark knows he’s Mr. Clueless when it comes to picking up men, dating, and falling in love. Will he end up with the hot and steamy roofer/bar owner, or will he forever be single and Mr. Clueless?
Cane stood behind his desk, naked from the waist up, and changing into a fresh Mensville T-shirt. Interested in his furry chest, swollen pecs, and tight looking abs, I watched him slip the shirt over his torso.
He said, “Sorry, guy. I just unloaded some fresh produce in the rain. The rain is heavy today. It’s not a good day to get incoming freight. Mother Nature is always against me.”
I finally saw the wet T-shirt lay in a ball on a corner of his desk. “No reason to apologize,” I told him. “Your bar, your rules.”
He grinned: beautiful, Italian face with dark eyes and muddy brown hair, teeth perfect, crow’s feet around his eyes, narrow nose, unshaven. Too nice to look at. A doll. Handsome for all the right reasons. Not really Hollywood-perfect, but very close to it. Think bad boy mixed with some Prince Charming.
“Damn shirt’s a little too small for me,” he said, pulling it down near his trapezoid-shaped belt buckle.
“Actually, you look pretty good in it.” And he did. No lie. The material snugged around his pecs and bulging biceps, barely hiding his flat stomach. Hell, I couldn’t make up mind if he looked better with the shirt off or on.
“Thanks, bud. Glad you approve.” He reached out with his right hand, which I shook. “You work for the NHAC, right?”
“I’m a volunteer. My job for the committee is to organize a voting team for the award. My day job is the mayor’s assistant. Fortunately, Taylor Mason lets me come and go as I please regarding my schedule.”
“What else do you do?”
Hot guys in too-tight T-shirts who move produce, I thought, trying to study his face, but haphazardly letting my stare fall to his pecs and solid nipples hidden by his shirt.
“Excuse me?” I mumbled, hypnotized by his muscle-packed chest, broad shoulders, and narrow hips.
“Eyes up here, guy,” he politely scolded me, snapping.
Embarrassed, I quickly moved my view to his face, finding it just as attractive as his pumped torso. “Sorry. It’s just…you’re easy to look at.”
We were not getting off on the right foot.
* * * *
Cane and I talked for the next half hour. I sat across from him and learned many facts about the man in that short period of time. He lived on Tenth Avenue in downtown Plimpton, renting out the top floor of a Korean grocery store. He drove a 2001 Jeep Cherokee, although I knew he could have afforded something newer since his bar seemed to do well in the community. His parents, both alive and physically well, lived in Tucson, Arizona, enjoying the sunny days and their retirement. Ale was his choice of beverage, he didn’t smoke, and he enjoyed watching professional wrestling. He believed that nothing turned out simple in his life, and he had work hard for anything and everything he wanted.
My next set of questions became quite personal. Maybe they shouldn’t have. But I instantly felt so drawn to the man, connected to him in a strange and uncertain way that I couldn’t understand. Truth be told, I wanted to know everything I could about him. “Where are you most happy, Cane? Here at your bar, or on a roof?”
“I pretty much like them equally. Either place pleases me. I get a lot of attention around her from the local guys. They know I’m single and usually want to get with me.”
“So, you’re comfortable with guys hitting on you?” The question wasn’t remotely connected to him being a hero, but what the hell.
He nodded, obviously proud of who he was. “If the right guy comes along and flirts with me, I won’t push him away.”
“Who’s the right guy for you?”
“Professional. Nice to look at. Someone sweet and honest. I’m not asking to meet Captain America, but it would be nice.”
“I think we’re the same age, right?”
He raised an eyebrow and asked, “Are you thirty-seven?”
“Then we’re the same age.”
I asked, “When’s your birthday?”
“August twelfth. Yours?”
“We’re both Leos.”
He said, “We should hate each other. But something tells me that we don’t, and won’t.”