Book IX in the Men of Marionville collection
Contemporary gay romance
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Hollis Milnor didn’t think twice about moving to Marionville. His ailing cousin needed his help running his nightclub, Frolic, and Hollis needed to put some space between himself and an ex-boyfriend determined to make his life miserable. Management skills he has. Experience running a nightclub, not so much, but he’s a quick learner.
Caleb Brewer is a steady, hard-working man establishing a microbrewery. He’s got a great product and demand for it is growing. When a new manager takes over the hottest nightclub in Marionville, Caleb is determined to maintain his prior arrangements.
What starts out as business quickly heats up the summer nights. Hollis hesitates, reluctant to step over the legal line. Caleb isn’t just a vendor. He works part-time at the nightclub. Becoming involved puts them both in murky waters, waters that become crystal clear when the past catches up with Hollis and puts everyone he loves in danger.
“Caleb. Come in and sit down.” I motioned at a chair. “Something wrong?”
He eased down in the wing chair and stretched out his long denim-encased legs. “Did we sorta get off on the wrong foot here? I can’t afford to have that happen.”
I gave him points for directness. He didn’t aim to come off as being abrupt. He simply kept everything right out front. I liked that.
“I know. It’s my fault, Caleb, and I’m sorry. I’m here to manage the nightclub, not get personally involved with any of the men working within the business end of things.”
He studied me for a moment, and then nodded. “Fair enough. I thought that might be it, but I wanted to be sure that’s all it was. Now I need to ask you this.” He took a deep breath. “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight? I’d like to talk about some business.”
He would, would he? I admit getting involved with the hired help wasn’t a good idea and he comes back with an invitation to dinner?
We could talk ideas and possibilities for our respective ventures right now. We didn’t need food, wine and the privacy of a crowded restaurant, but what better way to learn more about him? A wave of goosebumps fluttered over my back.
“I guess I do need to eat sometime.”
His blue gaze locked on mine. “I think I like that you had to consider it. Too much impulse can lead a man astray.”
Oh, hell, yeah. “Is that where you’d like to go? Astray?”
A smile teased the corner of his mouth. His eyes sparkled with humor. “I’ve been there before so I know which road not to take.”
“Same here. Tell me something. How long have you been connected with Frolic?”
“Not long. Maybe a year. Why?”
I grinned at him. “You might have information useful to me.”
He rolled his eyes and lifted his gaze to the ceiling. “And that, Caleb Brewer, is why the man agreed to have dinner with you.”
I chuckled. “Talk to yourself often, do you? I like to keep things above board, too. So, yeah, I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions, but I think I’ll really enjoy having dinner with you.”
“I get it, and it’s okay. So how about I meet you about seven o’clock? At The Wharf? It’s the best place in town.”
“I’ve heard about the place. Give me your phone number in case something happens and I can’t get away on time. I can at least let you know I’m running late and why.”
We exchanged cell numbers and he held his hand out as he stood to leave. I reached out and his fingers closed around mine. The shock of his warm palm against mine turned my arm to lead. He let go of me.
“It’s not a date, Hollis. Not if you don’t want it to be.”
He walked out of the office while I stood watching his retreating backside. It wasn’t until he’d disappeared I realized I rather wished it were.