Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tango in the Night by KC Kendricks
Tango in the Night
contemporary gay romance
available now at
Jubal Graham is back on the job after a shooter took the life of his long-time partner, and sent him into a coma followed by months of rehab. Determined to have justice, Jubal is focused on finding a killer, not a new romantic entanglement. Ellis Banks, with his smoldering blue eyes and denim-clad swagger is a distraction Jubal can’t afford – or ignore.
Ellis Banks came to Philadelphia to bust a drug operation; one that connects to the same case agency legend Kentuckian Jubal Graham is working. Ellis finds himself drawn to Jubal, but Jubal holds him off. Sure that Jubal is interested, even though he wears his slain lover’s ring, Ellis mounts a determined siege.
Jubal’s surprise at having a suitor develops into a growing affection for Ellis, one clouded with old fears. Fate ripped one lover from his arms, and now Ellis is in the line of fire. Jubal’s courage can protect Ellis, but is it powerful enough to love him?
“I’ve got a lot of miles on me, Ellis. I feel old.”
Ellis’ gaze locked with mine. I knew that interested look, having been on the receiving end of it often enough in my life. It was nice to know I could still turn a head. He reached out and trailed his fingertips down my arm. “You want some help feeling young again, Jubal?”
I hated to disappoint him. He was a nice looking man, and I couldn’t deny my curiosity about him. But…I rebuffed him as gently as I knew how.
“Not with a co-worker, Ellis, even a handsome stud like you.”
Ellis didn’t blink. His chin lifted the slightest bit as those blue eyes saw straight through my act. A warm little glow sparked to life in my belly. I knew by the way he pressed his full, sexy lips together he knew. We stood there staring at each, the air between us sparking with a strange blue lightning. He tried, but he couldn’t keep the corner of his mouth from quirking up in a little smile.
“If you change your mind, Jubal, just say so.”
I nodded. Ellis pushed off from the counter and walked towards the door. I had one more thing I had to say to him.
He stopped and turned around.
He laughed as the door closed behind him.
Ellis sat behind his desk, chin anchored in his left palm while his right index finger idly tapped the page in front of him. Lucky for me, a member of the janitorial staff busily washed the windows in my new office and I had an excuse not to go in there yet.
I had two choices. I could hide my interest in him, be the gruff senior agent, or I could let him know how strongly he had things stirring inside me. If I chose the latter, we needed to hash a few things out, namely how not to allow a mutual sexual curiosity affect the job.
Standing in the doorway, looking at him, I didn’t know which would win today. Ellis glanced up and saw me. He straightened, his chest expanding as he drew in a deep breath. I nodded and stepped into the squad room.
“Ellis. Are you on call, or just catching up?”
“I’m puzzled, mostly.”
I snorted and let the southern drawl creep into my speech. “Ain’t we all, most days?”
He almost smiled, the corner of his mouth twitching, and mimicked my accent. “I heard you hailed from Ken-tuck.”
“Yep. With a name like ‘Jubal’, where the hell did you think I was from?” I snagged the nearest chair and rolled it a bit closer to him. “What are you puzzled about?”
His gaze drilled into mine, his warm blue eyes eloquently saying he meant me. I smiled to let him know I appreciated his interest, but was careful not to show encouragement. He must have gotten the message. He flipped a folder at me. “There’s a few missing pieces here.”
I opened the folder and kept my surprise out of my voice. “This is an old case. I worked it for a while, but it went cold.”
“It ties into a new one, I just know it.”
A cold fist seized my heart. This case was potentially dangerous. I looked up at him. Ellis was running on instinct and that gut feeling that settled over you when you know what you can’t yet prove. His earnest expression begged me to believe him. I did, and I wished to heaven I could warn him off this one, but it would tip my hand.
“Keep digging, then. Trust your gut.”
“Should I trust what my gut says about you, Agent Graham?”
I closed the file and laid it back on his desk, my gaze flicking to the window washer. He was finished, putting all his supplies back in his cart. I waited until he exited to reply.
“Ellis, you and I need to get a few things straight.”
He tapped the signet ring. “That’s not your initial. The guy you were with last night?”
“No. I was with a friend last night. You were on a date.”
“So, maybe I should take you out on a date.”
“Ellis…” I froze as his fingers closed around mine, a delighted little quiver pulsing through my penis. I was intensely curious about the man, but we were in too public a place for this to continue. I pulled away. “Don’t do that here.”
“Will you go out with me, Jubal?”
Persistence was a good thing for a drug enforcement agent to have, but I wasn’t sure I liked his directed at me. I wasn’t sure I didn’t like it, either. It was certainly different to be on this side of the pursuit.
“Why did you come to my house last night?”
Ellis looked away as a flush crept up his neck. “I needed to know if your boyfriend lived with you.”
I clamped down on my temper. He was out of line, and his eyes said he knew how far. I counted to five before I responded. “He’s not my boyfriend. Don’t do it again. If he sees you dogging me, it’ll scare him.”
“Like I’m scaring you, Jubal?”
“You’re not scaring me.”
“Oh, the hell I’m not.” Ellis leaned back in his chair. “Okay. We’ll do it the old southern way. Even straights say a year is enough to mourn. You can play the reluctant widower for another two months. I’ll let you. Then you go out with me.”
“Boy, you don’t know anything about me.”
“Wrong. You were all anyone talked about when I transferred in. I took notes.”
“You’re an arrogant fucker, aren’t you?”
Ellis grinned as he stood and stretched, treating me to an eye level display of the full, rounded bump at the base of his zipper. He looked down at me, his expression pure insolence.
“Takes one to know one, Agent Graham.”
Once upon a time, I’d been as hot-headed and prone to temper as he was. The years
hadn’t burned it out of me, but I did manage it better. A fast-moving lone figure came into sight. I put the window down and slowed.
“Ellis, come get in the car.”
“What for? You don’t want me. You want Cliff.” He stopped and stepped in the street. “Well, guess what, Jubal? It’s too late for that. He’s gone. You don’t owe him a thing, and if you did, there’s no way to repay it.” He started walking again.
I hit the gas, pulled the Jeep across his path, and jumped out, wincing as needles shot up my leg.
“Stop right there. I told you Cliff isn’t your competition. I meant that, Ellis. Damn it! Don’t confuse me trying to…to…do what I need to do to get on with my life with clinging to a memory.” I fisted my hands in the soft leather of his jacket and shook him.
Ellis grabbed my jacket lapels and shook me back. “You put your life on the line for closure? Of what? Your coffin?” He pried my hands open and stepped back. “I want a lover, not a memory.”
“Why do you think I don’t want the same thing?” I reached for him again. He didn’t back up as I rested my hands on his hips. “Ellis, it’s been one helluva long day. I’m beat. Please come home.”
His dark eyes glittered, reflecting the streetlights. He almost—almost—reached for me, but he let his arms drop to his sides. It trickled into my consciousness I’d referred to my house as his home. I wanted it to be his home, but maybe he wasn’t ready to think in those terms.
Ellis looked away, shaking his head. “I don’t know what to do, man. I’m in this weird place with you.”
I took a half step closer. He didn’t move, so I slipped my hands inside his jacket, to his waist, where the heat of his body came through his thin shirt and traveled up my arms.
“Ellis. Love, look at me.”
He shook his head again as his breathing became ragged. “Where do I fit in, Jubal?”
“How do you want to fit it? You fill a lot of dark corners inside me. I want you in my life, if you want it, too. But for you, that means accepting everything about me, even my past.”
And for me, it meant taking a leap of faith with a man whose past I knew very little about. I thought he’d be worth it.
“I’m nothing but the rebound for you.”
“Give me a little more credit than that. There is no ‘rebound’ from the life I had. There’s only forward. With you if you’ll have me.”
“I don’t know.”
My heart fractured a bit, but I thought I understood. I pulled him to me, our chests pressed together. His head rested against mine as his arms held me tightly.
“Let me take you to your apartment, Ellis. We need to get some sleep. We’re both too worn out to stand here and make decisions. I have reports to finish tomorrow, and so do you.”
“No. I can get home on my own, Jubal. I’m a big boy.”
It hurt to release him, to lose his heat, his scent, and not know if I’d ever touch him again. I let him go. He finally looked at me, and I saw the uncertainty in him. I squeezed his hand.
“I know, Ellis. Me, too.”
- - -
TANGO IN THE NIGHT
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