Patrick Dolcet is hired by a friend of an ex-boyfriend to represent him when he enters a custody battle. While stopping at the client’s place for a consultation, he comes across a man who pushes every last one of his buttons. Brand Erdogan is big, brawny, and has a friendly smile. Patrick isn’t certain if the attraction is mutual, and Brand seems reluctant to start anything…for a few reasons. The man doesn’t consider himself gay, or even bisexual. On top of that, Brand thinks Patrick—a successful custody lawyer—is way out of his league. With a little help from a friend, Brand agrees to join Patrick for dinner…and then another. Even though their actions are discrete, someone has it in for Patrick. When pictures of Patrick and Brand in a compromising position threaten not only his job, but his relationship with Brand, Patrick has to rely on the trust they’ve built. Will the chance at love be enough to keep Brand at Patrick’s side? Or will one too many obstacles tear their possible future apart?
Patrick Dolcet kept the smile pasted on his face even though he would much rather have glared at his belligerent date. This was the last time he would agree to a blind date from one of the partners at his firm. One way or another, Patrick would find a way out of it.
Maybe that’s what I’ll do when I get home…think up a list of acceptable excuses.
“So, I was thinking we could skip dessert,” Walter stated. Resting his forearms on the table, he leaned toward Patrick and leered at him. “I’d much rather we head to my hotel room and fuck.” Walter hummed as he perused Patrick’s body—what he could see of it anyway. “I want to sink my dick in your tight ass so damn bad. You ready to go?”
Good grief. The nerve of this guy!
So shocked, Patrick had to clear his throat before finding his voice. “Uh, as flattering as that is, I’m sorry, Walter. I have a meeting with a client tomorrow morning, and there’s still a few things I need to get together.” He did his best to keep his tone even, not allowing the disgust he felt to bleed through.
Walter snorted as he shook his head. “I don’t want to sleep with you. I just want to fuck you.” He lifted his hand, obviously attempting to get the waitress’s attention. “There’ll still be plenty of time for you to do that after I fill your ass.”
The arrival of the waitress gave Patrick a second to think. “Hey, gentlemen. Can I interest you in some coffee or dessert?” she asked with a perky smile.
Gentlemen. Ha! If she only knew.
“No, thanks,” Walter replied. “Just the check.”
“Of course,” she replied before turning away and heading off.
Walter stood, saying, “While you take care of that, I’m gonna go piss. Be right back.”
Patrick watched in silence as Walter walked toward the back of the restaurant. As soon as his date was out of sight, relief flooded him. He pulled out his wallet.
As much as it galled Patrick to pay for Walter’s dinner without a fight, it was just the break he needed. He slid a pen and the receipt from his cab ride to the restaurant from the inside of his suit coat pocket. On the back of the slip of paper, Patrick wrote a quick note.
I received an emergency call from a client. The dinner is paid for. Have a good night.
Patrick left the note on Walter’s empty plate, then returned the pen to his pocket. Without waiting for the check, he pulled his wallet out. He had a good idea of how much the dinner had cost, so he left ample cash on the table.
Then Patrick swiftly exited the restaurant.
Crossing the sidewalk to the street, Patrick glanced up and down the road. He spotted a taxi in the distance and stuck out his arm to flag it down. To his relief, the taxi stopped, and he quickly climbed inside.
After giving the cabbie his address, Patrick relaxed back in the seat and heaved a grateful sigh.
“Long day, sir?” the cabbie asked, glancing at him in the rearview mirror.
Patrick focused on the man. “No,” he replied with a shake of his head. “A bad date.”
The cabbie’s expression turned commiserating. “I remember those. Never been more grateful than when I found my wife.” The man’s smile became one of fondness. “Now I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
Upon recognizing the look of adoration on the man’s face as he spoke of the woman who was obviously the love of his life, Patrick felt a pang of something in the vicinity of his heart. He wished someone would feel that way about him. Unfortunately, so far, all his attempts at relationships had failed miserably.
Thirty-one years old, and the longest relationship I’ve managed is four months.
That had been with a firefighter named Trace, and they’d ended amicably. The relationship had just sort of…fizzled. They were even still friends. In fact, Trace was the one who’d given his card to the client he had to see in the morning.
Once again, Patrick had to force a smile. “I’m happy for you.”
The cabbie must have read something in his tone, for he gave him a reassuring smile. “You’ll find her, son. Have faith.”
Patrick couldn’t remember the last time someone hadn’t taken one look at him and jumped to the conclusion that he was gay. Hell, he not only wore lip gloss but eyeliner as well. Of course, it could have been because the cabbie was more focused on the road.
“Him,” Patrick corrected softly. “And I sure hope so.” This time, Patrick didn’t have to force his smile. “It’d be really nice to have someone to come home to after a long day.”
Without missing a beat, the cabbie replied, “Find him, then. If a relationship is what you want, never stop looking.” He grinned as he used his rearview mirror to meet Patrick’s gaze for an instant before returning his focus to the road. “There’s a soul mate out there for everyone.”
Nodding, Patrick prayed the man was right.
The trill of Patrick’s phone caught his attention. He pulled it out and grimaced. Having no desire to talk to Walter, he denied the call, sending it to voicemail.
A moment later, his phone beeped, indicating Patrick had a message. Patrick pressed a button and lifted the phone to his ear. Walter’s angry voice came through the line.
“You just think you’re gonna cut and run on me, man? I was promised you’d put out. I can’t wait to tell Freedman you made a liar out of him.” Walter’s voice lowered to a nasty snarl as he added, “I also think I’m gonna start a few rumors unless you’re at my hotel in thirty minutes. Get your ass over here, or you’ll be sorry.”