Authors: E.L. Todd
I plopped down in front of Danielle’s desk and downed my beer.
She eyed me from her place in front of her computer. “You’re really going to drink in here?”
“Why wouldn’t I drink in here?” I took another drink.
“Because it’s your office. A client could walk in any moment.”
I shrugged and finished half of it. “You know, I’ve always thought you and I had something special.” I tapped the surface of her desk with my knuckles. “Why don’t we find out?”
She rolled her eyes dramatically. “I’m so sick of you guys hitting on me all the time.”
“I’m so sick of you being so beautiful all the time.”
She threw a pencil at me. “Knock it off. I know you just do it to get a rise out of me.”
“You sure get a
out of me.”
She threw another pencil at me.
“Hey, watch the face!”
She opened her desk and pulled out a folder. “I have a new client for you. Don’t act like this and you should be good.” She tossed it in front of me.
I rolled my head around my shoulders, getting the kinks out. Then I cracked my knuckles and stretched my arms. It was a routine I did every time I got a new assignment. Then I opened it and took a look.
Danielle watched me. “Long story short, he’s gay and his parents aren’t exactly accepting of the practice. He thinks if he can have a professional by his side, he can make a good impression and get their acceptance. Nothing you haven’t done before.”
“This will be a walk in the park.”
She gave me a teasing look. “Don’t let another slip-up happen…”
I slammed the folder shut. “Let it go. It happened one time.”
“And we were almost shut down,” she hissed.
“Cato was fucking around with his client,” I argued.
“But his client didn’t sue us!” She threw another pencil at me.
“Okay, knock it off with the throwing missiles!” I threw them on the ground.
“Stop being annoying and I might consider it.”
I turned back to the folder. “Anything important I should know?”
“His parents are wealthy. That’s about it.”
“When am I meeting him?”
I nodded. “What’s his name?”
“Pretentious name…I’m calling him Max. I can actually stomach that.”
“Whatever, Jett. Call him whatever you want as long as you get out of my office.”
I gave her my best smolder. “You’re cute when you’re angry.”
She grabbed a handful of pencils out of her drawer in preparation to toss them at me.
“I get it,” I said as I quickly got to my feet. “I’m out of here.”
She chucked them at me just as I slipped out the door. “Asshole!”
Maximillion was sitting outside of Starbucks at a table with an umbrella hanging overhead. He wore a black t-shirt that was tight on his body and dark jeans. Just from looking at him, I wouldn’t have known he was gay. He had fair skin and bright green eyes. His body was thick and toned like he hit the gym often. He was definitely a good-looking guy.
“Maximillion?” I asked.
He stood up and extended his hand to shake mine. “Yes. How are you?”
“Well. I’m Jett.”
“Cool name.” He dropped his hand and returned to his seat.
I sat down across from him. “First thing first, I’m not gay.”
A smile stretched his lips. “Your personal life is none of my business and I wasn’t going to ask. But I can tell you’re straight from a mile away.”
“Glad we got that cleared up.”
He chuckled. “I get the impression you’ve done this before and it didn’t end well?”
“He said he was in love with me and he stalked me for an entire month.” It wasn’t funny. I got really fed up with it toward the end. I even threatened to beat the shit out of him.
He didn’t laugh at this revelation. “Well, I’m pretty normal so we’ll be fine.”
“I sure hope so.” I flipped through his folder. “What exactly do you want me to do?”
“My parents don’t know I’m gay, actually.”
I flipped through the pages again. “You gave us the impression that they do.”
“Well, I know they aren’t accepting to homosexuality in general. They’ve made rude comments about it in the past. They won’t be supportive when I tell them. I thought if I did it with a upstanding guy who’s good-looking, well-mannered, and polite then they would understand that gay relationships aren’t much different than straight ones.”
“I see,” I said quietly. I might be the recipient of a hate crime. It wouldn’t be my first time.
“What are you thinking?” he blurted.
“Am I in any immediate danger?” I rested one ankle on the opposite knee while I examined him.
“No. My parents may not like you but they would never lay a hand on you. That includes the rest of my family. Don’t worry about it.”
“Okay,” I said, feeling relieved. “Does anyone in your family know the truth?”
“My sister. That’s about it.”
“I’m guessing she doesn’t care?”
“No, she doesn’t,” he said. “It’s nice to have the support of at least one person. But I couldn’t really hide it from her since we live together.”
That was odd. Why did a twenty-seven year old man live with his sister? “Why is that?”
“I’m in between jobs right now. She has an extra bedroom so she let me stay with her.”
“That was nice of her.” If my brother needed a place to crash, I’d throw him on the street.
“We’ve always been close, even before she knew I preferred men.”
“Having at least one person on your side makes your army that much stronger.”
“I suppose.” He watched the people pass on the sidewalk while he rested his chin on his knuckles. His eyes glistened like emeralds.
“You just don’t look gay,” I blurted.
He turned back to me. “Maybe because gay people…look like regular people?” There was a teasing note to his voice.
“Most of the gay men I work with our flamboyant and eccentric. You’re very different from that.”
He shrugged. “I guess I’m more mellow.”
I turned back to his folder. “Is there anything specific you want me to do?”
“Just stand by my side and take their heat. That’s all.”
“No kissing,” I blurted. “It’s a rule.”
“That’s fine.” The corner of his lip upturned in a smile. “With all due respect, you aren’t my type.”
Not his type? What did that mean?
“Not your type?”
“Yeah…so you don’t have to worry about me checking you out, not that you aren’t good-looking. So, relax.”
“I wasn’t not relaxed.”
“Okay.” Judging the look in his eyes, he didn’t believe me.
Not his type? Everyone thought I was hot. He didn’t?
“My parents invited my sis and I over for dinner on Friday. I wanted to break the news then. Can you make it?”
His question shattered my thoughts. “You’re my client. Your needs are my priority.”
“That was a fancy way of saying yes,” he said with a light laugh.
“That’s how we do it at Beautiful Entourage—fancy.”
Max and I approached the townhouse.
“So, how do you want to play this out?” I asked as I walked with my hands in my pockets.
“I’ll introduce you as a friend for now. Then I’ll tell them the truth.”
“Okay.” This was his gig so I would do anything he wanted. “So, if I’m not your type why did you hire me?”
A grin stretched his lips. “I hurt your ego, didn’t I?”
“No,” I said quickly. “I’m just curious.”
“You’re a man most people find attractive. And attractiveness makes people more liked. I just thought you had the right look for this circumstance.”
“If I’m not your preference, what is?”
He chuckled lightly. “You really don’t like not being eye-candy.”
“That’s not what I said…”
“If you’re straight what does it matter?” He watched my face as he said it.
Max faced forward again. “You’re funny.”
I didn’t have time to continue the conversation because we arrived at the door.
Max knocked then winked at me. “Showtime.”
For a guy that was about to tell his family he was gay, he seemed oddly calm. When I did this in the past, the guys were always nervous wrecks. Max possessed a confidence I hadn’t seen in someone in a long time.
The door opened, and a woman I assumed was his mother answered, “Hey, Maximillion. You look handsome, like always.” She pulled him into a hug and kissed him on each cheek.
“Thank you, Mother. You look beautiful too.”
“Such a sweet boy.” She rubbed his shoulder. “Who’s this?” she said as she turned to me.
“This is my friend Jett,” Max explained. “I hope you don’t mind me bringing him along.”
“Not at all.” She hugged me fiercely, like she was my own mom. “Of course he’s welcome. Any friend of Max’s is a friend of ours.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Vanna.”
“Call me Victoria,” she said quickly.
She escorted us into the house and into the living room. “Your son is here, Scott.”
He rose from the couch and hugged Max. “That’s my boy.” He had a stark resemblance to his son. Even in his older age, he had the shine of someone in his youth. He was thin and in shape. His wife was the same.
“Hey, Dad.” Max hugged him back. “This is my friend Jett.”
Scott shook my hand. “It’s a pleasure. Welcome.”
“Thank you, sir. Your home is lovely.” It was from the Victorian era, and clearly had been restored. I knew they had money if they could afford a place like this. So far, they were extremely nice. I found it hard to believe they would treat Max differently when they knew the truth.
“Thank you, dear,” Victoria said. “We’ve been living here for decades. We love it.”
Max stayed by my side, our shoulders almost touching. “Where’s Ophelia?”
“She’s finishing her special baked potatoes in the kitchen,” Victoria explained.
“I’ll be there in a second!” A distinctly female shout came from the kitchen.
“Take your time,” Max said. “I don’t want to see you anyway.”
“Go to hell,” she shouted back.
I tried not to smirk. “You guys seem close…”
Max shrugged. “I tease her because it’s my job.”
“And he takes that very seriously,” Scott said.
“It’s my purpose,” Max said.
A woman emerged from the kitchen area and came into the living room.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw her.
Her shoulder length brown hair had a slight curl at the ends. It framed her face and moved like it was weightless. It had a distinct shine to it when she was directly under a light.
Her green eyes stood out like emeralds, shining with their own light. They absorbed and reflected every source of energy nearby, burning bright like a fire in the middle of the wilderness. They were so startling green I wasn’t sure if they were real. They expressed her emotions like a beacon. When she was excited, they glowed.
She was short, perhaps five foot four, but she had legs that made her look six feet tall. Her dress reached slightly past her thighs, and I could see the tone muscles of her thighs and calves. They were slightly tan, like she spent a lot of time outdoors. Heels were on her feet, and that gave her some more height.
Her curves were outlined in her tight dress. Her waist had a noticeable hourglass figure. Her hips were wide and her stomach was tight. Her chest was curvy and perky. That held my attention for several seconds before I moved onto her rounded shoulders.
My god, she was perfect.
I didn’t even realize she was talking to me until Max nudged me in the side. “Sorry?”