The next installment to the
The Middlemark Mysteries Series
is now available!
The Case of the Voracious Vintner
(A Middlemark Mystery Series, Bk 2)
By Tara Lain
Where Bo Marchand comes from, gay men are just confirmed bachelors who never found the right girl. But now Bo’s a successful winemaker on the central coast of California, supporting his whole damned Georgia family, and all he really wants is the beautiful, slightly mysterious Jeremy Aames.
Jeremy’s vineyard is under threat from Ernest Ottersen, the voracious winemaker who seems to know all Jeremy’s blending secrets and manages to grab all his customers. Bo tries to help Jeremy and even provides a phony alibi for Jeremy when Ottersen turns up dead in Jeremy’s tasting room. But it’s clear Jeremy isn’t who he claims, and Bo must decide if it’s worth tossing over his established life for a man who doesn’t seem to trust anyone. When Jeremy gets kidnapped, some the conservative winemakers turn out to be kinky sex fiends, and the list of murderers keeps dwindling down to Jeremy. Bo has to choose between hopping on his white horse or climbing back in his peach-pie-lined closet.
Heart beating hard, Bo climbed out of the little silver-blue car and walked into the cottage-style building he knew to be a far more upscale establishment than its hippy-dippy furnishings made it appear. Jeremy was sitting on an old church pew against the entry wall when Bo walked in. Other would-be diners cast subtle glances at him—he was just that handsome—but his mane was pulled back into a strict tail at his neck, or they would have been staring openly. The smile he flashed as he stood went straight to Bo’s balls—and his cheeks with a flush of heat. Bo managed to get a word past his frozen lips. “Hello.”
Their eyes met and couldn’t seem to let go. Fine with him, but they weren’t even close to alone. Bo swallowed hard and glanced around at the other customers, then back at Jeremy. “So, are they ready for us?”
“Probably. They said they were getting the table ready when I came in.”
Bo walked over to the hostess and used the dimples. “Hello, ma’am. I’m Bo Marchand. You’re preparing a table for me and my, uh, associate, Mr. Aames. Would y’all happen to be ready for us?” Flashing all the expensive dental work seemed to do the trick.
“Oh yes, sir, Mr. Marchand. We have a lovely table for you, private as you requested.” She fluttered her lashes.
He leaned in. “A very important business meeting. You understand.”
“Oh yes, sir.” She looked behind her. “Violet, please take Mr. Marchand to his table.” She grinned and said softly, “Or anywhere else he wants to go.”
Bo chuckled and waved a hand to Jeremy to follow as Violet led them to a booth toward the back of the restaurant. They slid in on either side of the table.
Violet smiled. “Do you know what you’d like to drink?”
Jeremy asked, “May we see the wine list, please?”
“Of course.” She stepped to a nearby serving table and grabbed a menu. “Here you go.” She glanced down. “Can I ask how tall you are?”
Bo grinned. “Just a tiny tad over six feet four, ma’am.”
She giggled. “I’ll be back in just a moment.”
Jeremy chuckled. “You do package the charm there, darlin’.”
Bo’s cheeks heated.
Jeremy leaned across the table and angled the wine list so Bo could see. He said, “They have a few of my blends and most of your vintages.”
Bo said, “I’ll have a glass of the Marchand zin.”
“Excellent choice, sir.” A grin tugged at her lips. She probably remembered his name. She glanced at Jeremy. “You, sir?”
“I’ll have the same.”
“No Hill Top?” Bo asked.
“Nah, I like the good stuff.”
Violet walked away as Bo laughed. But then they were alone. Choose something to talk about. “Uh, so have you thought any more about how we can work together?”
A waiter walked up with two balloon glasses of red and placed them on the table. “Enjoy.”
Jeremy nodded. “Oh, we will.” As the waiter returned to the kitchen, Jeremy held up his glass. “To us.” His Adam’s apple bobbed. “Uh, to our partnership.” His nostrils flared. “I mean, to defeating Ottersen.”
Bo’s pulse fluttered in his throat. “To all of those.”
They drank and Jeremy closed his eyes, revealing long, thick lashes several tones darker than his dirty-blond hair. “Oh man, you do give good zin, my friend.”
“I’m so glad you like it.”
“I do. So much.”
The words were simple, but they made Bo shiver, and he sloshed a mouthful of wine between his lips, spattering some on the white tablecloth.
“Shall we read the rest?”
Jeremy nodded, all that fair hair rippling, and Bo plunged into his next line just for the distraction. “Indeed, you come near me now, Hal, for we that take purses go by the moon and the seven stars, and not by Phoebus, he, that wand’ring knight so fair.” His heart tripped. Knight so fair. He groped for his wineglass, hit it awkwardly, and tipped it right over onto Jeremy’s arm. “Damn! I’m so sorry.”
Bo grabbed the glass and hurried around the bar for a rag of some kind. He found a roll of paper towels and dabbed madly at Jeremy’s soaked shirt, the wine creeping up the cotton fabric toward his shoulder. “That was so careless of me.”
“No problem, really. I always keep a shirt close at hand for just such accidents because they seem to happen several times a day. The red’s the worst.” He walked behind the counter near where Bo stood, opened a narrow closet, and pulled a white shirt off a hanger. Then, as Bo tried to keep his tongue in his mouth, Jeremy proceeded to strip off his wet garment and drop it in a hamper, also in the closet. He pulled another shirt up from it and laughed at the huge red stain on the front. “See what I mean?”
Dear blessed God. His comparing Jeremy to Brad Pitt washed back into Bo’s brain, this time the lean, hard body of Fight Club. How did a normal person get abs like that, below shoulders and arms like that? Whoa.
With no apparent hurry, Jeremy sidled to the bar sink, took some towels and wet them, and began to wipe the wine off his glistening golden skin. Bo would gladly have volunteered his tongue for the job. Jeremy held out a fresh wet towel to Bo. “Would you mind? The wine seems to have seeped up onto my back a bit.”
Catatonic. For a second he thought he’d embarrass himself by being unable to move, but he managed to pull it together and take the towel from Jeremy. Jeremy turned and presented a masterpiece of shoulders and triceps for Bo’s careful inspection. Bo’s dick pronounced Jeremy flawless. “You’re very fit.”
Jeremy glanced over his shoulder abruptly, and for an odd second, he looked—what? Worried? Guilty? Why?
“Uh, yes, I used to be into working out.” He turned his head, but his shoulders had tensed a little.
Taking a breath, Bo wiped the wet towel over Jeremy’s smooth skin on his shoulder and down the side of his back. His hand faltered more than once at the heat penetrating the wet paper and the overwhelming desire to drop the towel and just touch that vanilla crème texture. Thank God Jeremy was turned backward because Bo’s erection threatened to take over the tasting room like Godzilla in Tokyo.
Okay, he couldn’t resist, and probably Jeremy couldn’t tell. Bo let his fingers slip off the side of the paper and slide across Jeremy’s back. Not perfectly smooth as it looked. There were little variations in texture here and there, tiny moles or freckles, like a living, breathing human. Oh dear God, that was more disturbing than perfection. The need to lean in and rest his cheek against all that strength flamed through him.
Suddenly Jeremy made a funny, snuffly sound, as if he was stifling a moan and a sigh at the same time.
Bo froze. Fuckity frogs and fishes! Swiftly and efficiently, he wiped the last dregs of wine from Jeremy’s flesh, dropped the towel on the bar, and walked out toward the opposite wall, taking deep breaths so there was no chance of Jeremy spying his boner.
A Middlemark Mystery
The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean
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About the Author
Tara Lain believes in happy ever afters – and magic. Same thing. In fact, she says, she doesn’t believe, she knows. Tara shares this passion in her best-selling stories that star her unique, charismatic heroes — the beautiful boys of romance — and adventurous heroines. Quarterbacks and cops, werewolves and witches, blue collar or billionaires, Tara’s characters, readers say, love deeply, resolve seemingly insurmountable differences, and ultimately live their lives authentically. After many years living in southern California, Tara, her soulmate honey and her soulmate dog decided they wanted less cars and more trees, prompting a move to Ashland, Oregon where Tara’s creating new stories and loving living in a small town with big culture. Likely a Gryffindor but possessed of Parseltongue, Tara loves animals of all kinds, diversity, open minds, coconut crunch ice cream from Zoeys, and her readers. She also loves to hear from you.
You can find Tara at Lain