A Love You So AnthologyGet swept up in two tales of love in all its hard, mad, messy, life-changing glory.
Love You So Hard
In Love You So Hard, Craig Elson is leading a plain and depressing life, despite being a good-looking guy and a talented strategic planner.
Jesse Randall aims to change all that by helping Craig find a new job, a new apartment, a new life…. That includes a new sex life. Craig wants to learn to top, and Jesse is happy to tutor him. But what happens when the lessons end and these two don’t want to say goodbye?
Love You So Madly
Ben Shane is engaged to one of the wealthiest men in America, but he’s ready to give it all up for sweet Dusty, the quirky handyman who works for his company. But Dusty doesn’t think it’ll work. What could a rich, perfect guy like Shane see in him? He must be mad. Or is he just madly in love?
Available in Paperback
Published August 24, 2018
Paperback (ISBN 978-1-64080-786-0)
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Excerpt from Love You So Hard
Craig Elson’s life has hit rock bottom. Even though he’s one of the best strategic planners around, a more confident guy takes credit for his work, and despite being a good-looking man, he suffers insults from the slimiest creep at the bar. Taking care of his beloved mom, who has Alzheimer’s, uses all his funds, leaving him in a plain, depressing car… and a plain, depressing life.
Until he sees gorgeous grad student Jesse Randall and his T-shirt that reads “I Would Bottom You So Hard.” The message seeps into Craig’s soul, and he asks Jesse to teach him to top.
Jesse’s had his eye on the quiet hottie who comes into the coffee shop, and he’s more than eager to perfect his tutoring. He sets out to get Craig a new job, a new apartment, and a new life so far outside plain and depressing that it’s unrecognizable. The problem is, Craig loves his lessons—and his teacher—too much to want to graduate. How can Craig reach the top without losing his sassy bottom?
Excerpt from Love You So Madly
OH MY freaking god. I’m mad.
Ben Shane forced his eyes back to his computer screen so he wouldn’t stare at him. Him.
Outside the huge glass wall of his office, across the aisle in his admin’s cubicle, the handyman crawled on his knees under the desk, ratting out some kind of wire and cord nightmare. His blue T-shirt had pulled from his jeans and showed off two exquisite inches of creamy beige, slightly muscled, zero-fatted skin.
Ben swallowed hard and released his breath long and slow, contracting his lungs as he couldn’t quite contract lower parts of his anatomy. Perfection. Wide shoulders narrowing down the middle of his back like a roadway to even finer things—tiny waist, round butt. And yet he wasn’t big. Dusty Kincaid—Ben had casually asked his admin the guy’s name—couldn’t stand more than five eight with those lean muscles, like maybe a swimmer or long-distance runner. He bounced around ClearWater Technologies shedding sunshine into every corner, seemingly undaunted by all levels of stress and hysteria over impending deadlines and missed product releases. Apparently his job was simple. He was a gofer, handyman, box filler, and carrier. Whenever anyone needed any menial task done fast, they seemed to yell, “Dusty!”
But Ben didn’t know his story. Why was a guy who appeared to be maybe twenty-one or twenty-two doing this work? Did he have aspirations? Goals?
And why the hell do you care?
His phone buzzed on the desk, and he smiled. Well, kind of smiled. “Hi, Alan.”
“Hi, dear. What time shall I pick you up?”
Ben stared at the volume of emails that had come in just while he was mooning over a tight ass. Seriously? “How about seven?”
“Jesus, Ben, give it a rest. You’re the damned head of the foundation.”
“Yes, which means I work hardest and longest.” Wealthy from birth, Alan Ashland didn’t know the meaning of work. Man, what Ben could do with Alan’s money in the ClearWater Foundation, the nonprofit arm of ClearWater Technologies. It could mean clean water. Malaria cures. Alzheimer’s protocols. But damn, I’m lucky to have him.
The annoyance in Alan’s voice vibrated across the phone. “And if you’d get those gorillas out of your house, maybe I could spend the night, at least.”
“You can spend the night now. You just have to excuse a little mess.” He sighed very quietly.
“‘Little mess.’ Good God, the construction of the damned pyramids didn’t create as much chaos as your so-called renovations.”
Okay, his house had exactly one habitable room currently. In Ben’s defense, that habitable room was the bedroom, but Alan didn’t seem willing to wade through construction workers to get to the bed. Shortsighted of him. Some of those workers were adorable.
Ben snorted. “Come on, Alan. You wouldn’t like it if it were as quiet as the Egyptian tombs. You just hate the house.”
“Hurry up with your construction. When we get married, you’ll get better money for it if it’s got a new kitchen and bathrooms.”
Right. He really wanted to sell his house right after he renovated it. Damn. Ben didn’t have time for the same old argument. “I’ll see you at seven. Pick me up here.”
Ben hung up and set the phone carefully on the desk. Alan was fun—sometimes. And everyone loved him so much. That includes me, right?
He glanced up again, but no Dusty. Good, maybe I’ll get some work done. He wiped a hand over his face. Right, and maybe I should spend some time working on why a happily engaged man is staring at other guys’ butts.
He settled down to answering the emails, but after about half an hour a tap on the door brought his head up again. “Hey, Craig.”
Craig Elson, his VP of marketing, stood in his doorway. “Hi, Ben. Got a minute?”
“Sure. Come on in.” Ben sat back, but he couldn’t keep his gaze from inspecting the hall and every person who walked by.
“I wanted to go over the advertising strategies for the foundation.” Craig followed Ben’s glance to the window. “But if you’re waiting for someone, I can come back.”
“Oh no, sorry. I’m not.” He pointed at the round conference table in the corner of his office. “I’d love to see them.”
Craig sat and slid his laptop toward Ben, who started scrolling through a series of bullet points on the goals for the campaign—showing corporate America and private donors the brand-building advantages of corporate responsibility. In other words, why they should give money to save whales or cure cancer instead of buying their CEO another beach house.
Craig leaned back in his chair. A tall, nice-looking guy, Craig tended to be on the shy side but was confident in his skills and really excelled at marketing, planning, and analytics. He’d come to the company the previous year, right before Ben had been brought on as VP and executive director of the ClearWater Foundation—the youngest VP in ClearWater’s history.
Movement beyond the glass wall of his office caught Ben’s eye. He looked up and froze. Dusty was back. This time he slowly bent at the waist as he unwound wires around Mary Kaye’s desk. Dear God. Ben’s face went cold, then hot.
“Oh God, Craig I’m sorry. I was just, uh, concerned about the wiring going in at my assistant’s desk.” He dragged his eyes back to the laptop screen, trying to ignore the little smile tugging at Craig’s mouth.
Ben furrowed his brow in forced concentration.
Craig murmured, “He’s something, isn’t he?”
Craig nodded his head toward the window. “Dusty. Like a ray of sunshine captured in a beautiful bottle.” He smiled. “He reminds me of my Jesse.”
Ben smiled to cover his embarrassment. “Do I know Jesse?”
“Oh right. I forget everyone hasn’t met him. My fiancé. Jesse Randall. First time I ever saw him, he was bounding into a coffee shop wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed I Would Bottom You So Hard.” Craig shook his head, but the smile on his face spoke of the sweetness of joy. “I was pretty much done for at that moment. He changed my life at every level, like I’d been someone else and suddenly became me.” He looked back at the screen. “I’ll bet Dusty has that power.”
Ben stared at the laptop. “Why do you say that?”
Craig shrugged. “It seems like it would be hard to ever tell him a lie.”
Just the idea made Ben swallow a lump in his throat.
“The hardest thing for me was making myself believe I deserved Jesse. I think that’s how it is with the special ones.” He smiled dreamily.
Ben dragged in a long but silent breath. He pointed at the laptop. “We need to add a reference to the importance of personal recommendation in the Asian community.” Maybe if he forced himself to talk about marketing, it would stop him from discussing Dusty Kincaid for the rest of the day, the way he wanted to.
A few minutes later, he managed to not look up when movement in his peripheral vision indicated that Dusty had left the area.
He glanced at Craig. “I didn’t realize you were gay.”
“Yeah. It’s nice to work at a company where that’s not a topic of discussion. Actually, it was Jesse who inspired me to apply for the job at ClearWater.”
“I’d love to meet him.”
Craig nodded. “We should make that happen.”
For a second Ben held Craig’s gaze. Damn, he wanted to talk. He wanted to spill his guts on… everything, but what the fuck did he have to complain about?
After Craig left, he settled down and worked his ass off until quarter to seven. Then he escaped to the men’s room, used his electric razor, brushed his teeth, and practiced smiling. Show how happy you are to be in this rarified company.
Fifteen minutes later, he left the lobby and went outside to meet Alan. They’d have to come back for his car, but Alan really liked to pick him up.
Ben sat on the bench beside the entrance, leaned his head against the granite wall, and closed his eyes for a minute. Working hard was his drug of choice. He’d been injected with it at his parents’ knees. His mom and dad started with nothing, both of them raised by single parents, if you could call them that—drug addicts who never held a job for more than a few days. All his parents wanted was to have a kid and give him a better life than they had. By the time Ben came along, they’d made a small success and worked even harder to expand it, sending Ben to the best schools, giving him lessons in music, art, tennis, golf—anything that could establish him in a new class of society. They celebrated every one of Ben’s successes, but getting engaged to Alan Ashland crowned Ben’s achievement in their eyes. He would be a duke to the crown prince of one of the world’s richest families.
Ben heard the lobby door open. He sighed and opened his eyes—to a dream.
Earphones plugged in his ears, Dusty sort of danced to the curb, then just kept bobbing and humming to the music only he could hear as he jotted something in a small notebook with a worn pencil.
Ben wanted—what? To go talk to Dusty? But what would he say? Something. Anything. Just to make contact. Would the guy think he was nuts? Oh God—
A car beeped, and a second later an old, faded silver sedan driven by a woman pulled up to the curb. The door opened, and Dusty hopped in the passenger seat. Just like that, any chance of actually meeting Dusty Kincaid drove away.
Who was that woman? His mother? Maybe even his wife? No, too old.
Again the question arose. Why the hell did he want to know?
Like a reminder from heaven, the rumble of Alan’s black Ferrari sounded through the circular drive in front of the ClearWater building, and then the car pulled in front. Ben rose from the bench, walked to the sexy sports car, bent down, and peered inside. He got a shiny smile back. Wow. Sometimes he forgot how gorgeous Alan was. The evening sun shone off his pale hair and made his brilliant blue eyes sparkle even more than normal.
Alan leaned across and opened the door, and Ben slid into the low, womblike leather seat that managed to vibrate with the purr of the car, right through his balls.
Alan leaned over and touched Ben’s cheek—not a gesture he did often but one Ben loved. Then he pressed his slightly cool, perfectly carved lips to Ben’s. When he pulled back, he smiled. “I’m sorry I was such a shit on the phone. Bad day, and I took it out on everyone. I couldn’t wait to see you. Highlight of my day.”
Well, damn. That was another reminder of why he’d been entranced with Alan to begin with. Charm, sweetness, and all that beauty didn’t count for nothing. “I’m happy to see you too. It’s been a long day.”
Alan pulled away from the curb, some soft rock playing on the sound system. They drove in silence toward the ocean. After a few not totally relaxed minutes, Alan turned down the sound. “I know you love to work, dear, but I hope once we’re married you’ll let yourself slow down a little.” He glanced over and smiled. He must have seen the stiffening in Ben’s face, because he said, “Remember you’ll be an Ashland. The family’s going to need your skills in so many ways. You’ll be just as busy, but with different things. More fun things.”
Ben smiled and gazed out the window. Why can nobody get that my work is fun?
“My folks are so excited about the party.” Alan turned into the super exclusive Newport Beach gated community where one of his family homes stared down over the ocean from the cliffs above.
At least on that subject, they could agree. “Mine too. They haven’t talked about much else for weeks.”
Alan laughed. “My mom’s like a kid getting ready for her first date.”
Ben chuckled to cover the odd churning in his stomach.
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