Shy, conservative Darrell Lincoln has worked hard to get his job as billing manager for the law firm of Anderson, Llewellyn, and Stevens. For a conscientious worker like Darrell, the job is perfect except for one thing. He has a big-time crush on one of the partners, Travis Anderson. Darrell thinks a gorgeous, wealthy, hotshot lawyer like Travis would be interested in a guy like him only in his dreams.
Lonely after the death of his longtime partner, Travis isn’t the dashing, smooth playboy Darrell imagines him to be. In reality he’s just as interested in Darrell as Darrell is in him.
Both men are after the same thing -- each other. Their relationship is the stuff of dreams ... until Travis meets Darrell’s not-so-welcoming family. Can Darrell convince Travis he’s still his dream man?
As Darrell slid into the booth across from Travis at the Mexican restaurant they'd stopped at, he reminded himself to play it cool.
The waitress approached their table immediately. "Señor Travis, it is good to see you."
Travis smiled. "You, too."
"It's slow tonight with the rain." She glanced at Darrell and smiled. "Oh, you brought a handsome friend."
Darrell's cheeks heated and he was glad for both his brown skin and the low lighting of the restaurant. He kept his gaze on the menu.
"Darrell works at my firm," Travis said.
"Welcome. What can I get you to drink?"
"I'm driving and it's raining, just an iced tea for me."
Darrell nodded. "Make that two."
"I'll be back with your drinks."
"You could have had something."
Darrell lowered his menu to look at Travis. "I'm not really much of a drinker, to be honest."
"Nothing wrong with that. What are you thinking of having?"
"The chile relleno."
"Good choice. I think I'll have the carne asada."
They gave their orders to the waitress and then Darrell started stuffing his face with the chips and salsa on the table. He had no idea what to say. He'd never been good at small talk on dates, which this wasn't, and he never felt comfortable talking with employers either.
"I have to tell you, Darrell, I've been very impressed with your work."
Darrell had a salsa covered chip about halfway up to his mouth. He paused and blinked. "Um, really?"
Travis smiled and nodded. He couldn't help but admire the gentle curve of the man's sensual lips as they turned just a bit upward. Darrell usually noticed men's lips first, even before he noticed their arms or their asses. And Travis had a fine ass, too.
"We had some issues with the person we had in your position before. Some discrepancy problems as well as just letting work go. I didn't like the idea of anyone losing their job, but we didn't feel like we were left with much choice." Travis paused to sip his iced tea. "To be honest, when Mark brought your resume to us I was a bit skeptical."
Mark Stevens was one of the firm's other partners and the man Darrell had interviewed with for the position in the first place. The third one being Nathan Llewellyn. Like himself, Mark was African American, and for a moment Darrell wondered if that might be the reason Travis had been skeptical. Almost all his life, Darrell had been dealing with assumptions about his education and work background simply because he was black and originally from south central Los Angeles.
"But," Travis continued, "your lack of experience in a law firm didn't end up being a factor. Your education was excellent. I wasn't sure we could take the time to train you on our weird billing programs."
Darrell shrugged. "They were a piece of cake."
"I know. Like I said, obviously my reservations were unfounded." He held up a hand. "Now, to be honest, Mark had once insisted we hire an intern who was the daughter of a friend of a friend and she ended up being a disaster, so he didn't have the best track record."
"But Mark didn't know me prior to sending in my resume."
"Exactly but I was leery of his choices at that point." Travis smiled disarmingly. "The point is you've been a terrific addition to the firm."
The waitress arrived with their meals, refilled their iced tea, and disappeared once more.
"I've been talking with both Mark and Nathan about you."
The bit of food Darrell had just placed in his mouth suddenly tasted like sawdust. He chewed and swallowed. "You have?"
Travis laughed. "Don't worry. You look like I just said we've been planning your murder."
His ears heating, Darrell attempted a smile. "Well, I ... what were you talking about?"
"All good, I assure you. I'll make sure Barnaby gives you the details when he returns to the office, but we definitely feel a raise is in order."
Darrell blew out a slow breath of relief and maybe a touch of disappointment. Now it all made sense taking him to dinner. It was merely a way to thank him for his hard work and to tell him about the raise. A part of him, tiny though it was, had sort of hoped Travis was interested in him. Well, that was before he'd basically confirmed he was straight when they were talking about Barnaby earlier.