A TASTE OF WINE
~ Shreveport ~
I do love thinking about you.
The color of your beautiful eyes and the
tilt of your lips as you smile at me makes
my heart beat faster. There isn’t another
man on this planet who could ever turn
my head or grab my attention the way you have.
Everything about you makes want more of you.
I can’t wait to see you tonight.
Ryle Cross grinned as he read the note that accompanied the wildflower bouquet in the crystal vase on his desk. He felt like the luckiest man in the world and his heart was so full with love he didn’t think it could get any fuller.
He was dating the hottest man in the city, and they’d been together for almost a year. The only problem they were having was that they were still living in separate apartments. Race was still having a few problems with his colleagues, but Ryle was looking forward to their future together.
He folded the note which had been neatly printed on powder blue stationary with three hearts in the middle of the top of the page. He grinned wondering if Race had designed the template on his computer.
“Cross,” a cool voice greeted him, and he looked up guiltily to find his boss’s brown eyes staring down at him. She tossed a folder onto his desk and he sneaked a peek at it before his gaze darted back to hers.
“Yes?” He quickly set the letter aside as her gaze went to the flowers.
“Where’s my brief?” she demanded. “I asked for it twenty minutes ago.”
“Actually, you told me to wait because you were in a meeting with Mrs. Burnett.”
“Well?” she demanded.
He picked up a manila folder from his desk and held it out to her. “I made note of the precedent cases in yellow and put them on a separate sheet for quick reference.”
She took the folder and opened it glance over the front page before meeting his gaze again. “Have you ever been attacked for being gay?”
He frowned. “Once or twice, why?” he asked and got to his feet in case she was planning on aggression. He didn’t really have a problem hitting women since he’d been attacked by a girl in college who’d thought he’d stolen her boyfriend. She’d broken his arm because he hadn’t wanted to hit her.
“Every been fired for being gay?”
“You about to fire me?” he asked carefully. He enjoyed his job
“Hmm,” she said lifting her brows. “I bet your boyfriend would come off the bench to take the case himself.”
He smiled. “Not unless I told him I wanted to fight this on my own.”
She nodded. “I’ve never dealt with a gay person before. My new client said he was fired before he’s gay.”
“Maybe he was fired because he wouldn’t put out,” he said.
Michelle snorted, but her eyes lit with curiosity. “His boss was a man.”
He made a face. “The guy could be bi or on the down-low,” Ryle muttered. “I mean just because he’s not out doesn’t mean he’s not gay. Men get raped and we get fired because we won’t put out too.”
Her brown gaze turned snapped with anger now, and she put her free hand on her hip. “Okay, so maybe he’s been victimized?”
“Could be.” He shrugged. “Men aren’t seen as sex victims, and we certainly aren’t encouraged to open up about when it happens. Then, you’re straight so he’s not going to just tell you. You have to ask the right questions.”
“I want you to meet with him and go over some things with him,” she said. “Let me know if he opens up. His employer is Dominic Dune, the hotel and resort owner. I’ll take him through the ringer if I can build a case, but I can’t build a strong enough one without all the facts.”
He nodded. “Okay,” he said. “When do you want me to talk to him?”
She smiled. “Now.”
He blinked. “I thought I was about to get fired.”
She snorted. “You’re too damn good to fire. Besides, I don’t really give a damn about who you’re sleeping with as long as you don’t bring drama to my office.” She gestured to the flowers. “Flowers, I can put up with, the smell of lunch, I can get past, the occasional kiss I can overlook, but fighting gets warned then fired.”
“Got it.” He nodded. “Conference room?”
“Two,” she said and her gaze went to the flowers. “Nice, but you’d think a judge would send roses.”
He laughed as she walked away. Ryle picked up the folder to read through the file.
“So, everything’s set?” Race Talon leaned back in his chair, cell phone on speaker as he set a couple of folders before him.
“You’re in. You should get the tickets by courier.”
“Great.” He grinned already looking forward to tonight’s date with Ryle. He’d thought it would be fun to do something a little different. Plus, this was a very public venue.
The Johnson Wine Tasting event was very popular, but you needed tickets to attend. The event included several wines from local and national wineries as well as local cuisine. Some of the wines would even be up for sale.
It was popular as the April 1st Cork Wine Festival held during the Red River Revel.
“You’re not actually bringing that guy you’ve been seeing are you?”
“Of course I am.” He chuckled. They were both out but he didn’t take Ryle out too often. His job was demanding and when he got off he wanted to spend time in with his lover, but tonight he had something special in mind.
“People are starting to talk,” his friend said. “I thought you’d pull back and start dating women again.”
“Why would I? I’m in love with Ryle,” Race told him. “But you don’t want us there, and then I’ll refuse the tickets and stop payment on the check.”
“No,” he said quickly. “I just wondered if you were trying to make some sort of political statement or something at my event. I know you’re pro-gay rights and everything.”
“I don’t need to make any statements, Johnson,” Race retorted, anger rising in his belly. “My job may put me in the limelight, but I don’t really care what the public thinks. They’ll have a chance to make their voices heard on election day.”
“Okay, listen,” Johnson said. “I’ll see you two tonight, but promise me you’ll leave if it becomes necessary.”
“I’ll leave if some dip-shit gets vocal, but I’m not going to make a habit of running just because straight men are uncomfortable with my sexuality. That includes you, Johnny. You can go straight hell if you can’t hack it.”
A sigh filled his ear. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Race punched a button to end the call and shook his head. He’d wasted too much time giving a damn about what other people thought about him. All that mattered was his family and Ryle.
He opened the folder and his phone rang drawing a groan from him. He grabbed it and connected immediately. “Hello?”
“Race, son how are ya?”
Race smiled at the sound of his father’s voice. Robert was a doctor whose love and support had always been available to his children, even his gay son.
“Nothing much,” he answered. “What’s going on with you?”
“Not too much, I’m just standing here at the nurse’s station signing some papers. I thought I’d take the time to call you while I could.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“Your mother wants to see you for dinner soon. I warned her not to interfere in your life,” he said with a hint of amusement. “You know how she is. She’s eager to hear that you’re getting married and a baby is in the future plan.”
Race laughed. “Not the near future. I’m busy tonight so we’ll have to make it this weekend.”
“I’ll let her know,” he said. “How are things between you and Ryle?”
“Fine,” he replied with a laugh. “We’ve got plans tonight that’s why we can’t stop by.”
“Is it getting serious?”
“I’d say so,” he said softly. In his mind, they were already the perfect couple, but he knew Ryle wanted—needed certain things to happen in order to consider their relationship as going in the right direction, and he no longer had any problems with making those things happen.
“Good. I hope we’ll be hearing some happy news soon.”
“I’ve got to go, Dad, if I want to get out of here on time,” Race said. “Love you. I’ll talk to you in a few days.”
“Love you too, son. Have fun tonight.”
“Thanks I will.” Race grinned. As long as Ryle didn’t get too mad tonight, he would have a perfect time.
“Ryle?” Michelle came to a stop next to his desk as he finished up the additions to the file on the new client.
He looked up at her knowing she wanted an update since she’d had to leave shortly after she’d sent him in to talk to the man.
“I’m just finishing up the file now,” he said.
“Just tell me what he said,” she said irritated. “It’s been a long day.”
She’d been in court all afternoon, and the case had obviously been a little trying since she looked like she was ready to bash him over the head.
“It took some coaxing but he admitted his boss has been sexually harassing him for months, along with touching him in appropriately.”
“So, this is sexual harassment? Why didn’t he just say that?” she demanded.
“Because I think it’s more,” he told her and leaned back in his chair. “I think he was raped at least twice, but he’s afraid to pursue it.”
“Why?” she demanded tiredly. “Why couldn’t he just go to the police like normal people?”
“Men aren’t supposed to be raped,” he told her quietly. “Besides that, his boss is seemingly straight with no history of showing even the slightest interest in gay men.”
“Call Tucker and tell him to investigate the bastard,” Michelle muttered. “Even if we can’t prove rape, we might be able to prove sexual harassment. Tell him to get me everything on both men he can dig up from the last ten years. I don’t want any surprises.”
“I’ll call him before I leave,” he said. “How was court?”
“Bad,” she said angrily. “What are you doing tonight?”
“I have a date.”
She blew out a breath. “I really need you to work late.”
He grimaced. He’d been looking forward to tonight even though he had no idea what Race had planned. They rarely went out which made him think despite people knowing Race was seeing a man, Race was still trying to keep them as low-key as possible.
“I’ll call Race,” Ryle said quietly, silently hating her more than he wanted to keep his job right now. If he didn’t enjoy it, didn’t need it, he’d quite.
She waved a hand. “Just come in at six. I think if we start early we should be able to unravel this mess before I’m due back in court,” she said. “Just don’t forget or you’re fired.”
“I won’t,” he told her and removed his cell phone from a desk drawer to set an alarm for five. Race would be so mad, but he’d warn him tonight so there wouldn’t be any surprises.
“Have fun,” she said. “But not too much. I want you ready to work.”
“I’ll be ready,” he told her making a mental note to bring the coffee. If he had to be here that early, he at least needed some of that good rich coffee Race had introduced him rather than that instant stuff in the breakroom.
“Type this up before you leave.” She dropped a note pad on his desk and headed for her office.
He groaned inwardly. He was going to be late.
Ryle was late. Race understood, but he hoped they didn’t miss this altogether. He’d gone to a lot of trouble to get a pair of the limited amount of tickets, plus he really didn’t want to postpone tonight.
Race studied the ties he’d laid out on the bed as he contemplated not wearing one at all. He’d been in one all damn day and it had been too long a day as far as he was concerned. He picked up the blue one and then tossed it back deciding to go with darker one since his shirt was blue. He tossed it back picking up the red one Ryle had given him for Valentine’s day.
The front door of the condo banged open and he let out a sigh of relief. Two minutes later Ryle came jogging into the bedroom.
“I won’t be long, baby, I promise,” he said. “Michelle had a pissy day in court and she decided to dump some of it on me she got back. She even wants me to work early in the morning.” Ryle stopped next to him and caressed his back.
Race bent down to give him a kiss and Ryle moaned as he curled his arm around his neck.
“I always miss you,” Ryle said and nipped Race’s bottom lip and cupped his face while kissed him again.
He slid his hands up Ryle’s back drawing him closer. Ryle felt so good in his arms having a more public relationship with him was worth it.
“I can tell. My call went to voicemail today.”
“Sorry baby, I was talking to a client, and then I had so much to do after that,” he said. “Forgive me?” he asked in a pleading tone making a cute face that Race just loved.
“Even if I wanted to be a jerk about it, I couldn’t,” he said. “We both have demanding jobs. So, how early?” Ryle wasn’t exactly the quietest person in the mornings which had made him regret agreeing to move in with him.
“At six,” he winced and hurried to the bathroom removing his clothes as he went. “Sorry baby. I promise I’ll be as quiet as I can.”
“It’ll be fine.” He was due in court at nine, but he’d have time for the gym in the morning as well as going over the briefs he’d brought home.
“I know you’re going to be upset, but I am sorry,” Ryle said. “It was that or work late tonight, and I really didn’t want to miss our date.”
The shower came on and Race shook his head smiling as he cast a look at the mess of Ryle’s clothes leading to the bathroom. He was going to have to get used to that or train the man not to leave his things all over the place.
Race put the car keys in his pocket along with his wallet before grabbing his suit jacket. He slipped a few things into the inside pocket and then left room. Ryle would be another twenty minutes.
Ryle smoothed on moisturizer when he got out of the shower wanting to take as little time as possible, but knew he wasn’t going to make it if he didn’t mentally go over his outfits now. He’d bought a new shirt yesterday, so he’d wear that along with his favorite olive pants and sports coat.
He dried his hair and dashed into the bedroom to dress quickly. “Baby, I’m almost done.” He slipped on his shoes and decided to put his hair in a neat knot to keep it off his face. “No, I can’t. Race will be so embarrassed.” He stared at his hair in the mirror.
He’d have to get it cut.
Ryle grabbed a black band and noticed four decorative bobby pins similar to ones he’d seen gracing the dark hair of one of Races colleagues.
“We’ll be late, Ryle darling if you don’t hurry.”
He twisted his hair and created a neat knot at the back of his head. He used the pins and pulled a single tendril down at his nape. Satisfied he went out into the living area and Race looked up from whatever he was reading on the sofa.
Race’s lips tilted in a smile. “Oh beautiful,” he murmured. “You’re always worth the wait, but tonight you look so sexy with your hair up.”
He blinked. “What?”
Race set the folder aside and got to his feet. “You should do it more often.” He caught Ryle’s hand and pulled him into his arms for a kiss. “Let’s go.”
Ryle was more than a little off balance as they headed to their destination which was still a mystery to him.
He turned down the radio as Race made a turn. “Are we almost there?”
“Umm-hmm. I’m not sure you’ll like it, but I hope.”
“I’m sure it’s fine.” Another night at the gentleman’s club. Race hardly ever took him anywhere else. They were going to have to chance that. “I think our new client was raped by his boss.”
“Is he filing charges against him?”
“Not for rape but discrimination.”
“He might not want to admit to it, so don’t try to force him,” Race said. “Besides, he might not even be prepared for the nasty court battle.”
“You ever try a case of male rape?”
“Gang rape of a gay man by three straight ones who used a broom handle and something else. It was a very emotional case, and I got a hung jury the first time around. My client tried to kill himself and the guys who attacked him harassed him forcing him to go back to court and I won.”
“This wasn’t a local case,” he murmured.
“No. He lived in Arcadia and got very little support from the locals who thought he was a freak.” Race turned off the street and pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant in downtown Shreveport, not too far from Festival Plaza where a lot of the city’s festivals were held.
“Race,” he said.
“So, I shouldn’t push him to add the rape charge?”
“No. Let him do what he feels he can live with. Is the boss gay?”
“He’s married with a child.”
“The boss’s lawyer will be looking to destroy your client anyway, so the case will be hard enough to win. I suggest you dig into the boss’s pass. If he’s done this once he’s done it a dozen times. He was probably the jock who harassed girls in high school and got blow jobs from guys when his parents weren’t home.”
“He was the picture of the typical jock with a secret life,” Ryle said.
“Exactly. Look and you’ll find something you can use.” He released his seatbelt.
“Michelle’s already put the detective on it,” Ryle told him. “She wants to nail the son of a bitch.”
Race smirked. “She’s a take no prisoners hard-ass in the courtroom.”
Ryle grinned not missing the admiration in his lover’s tone. He released his own seatbelt and face Race. “What are we doing here?”
“The wine tasting festival’s dinner and wine tasting night,” Race told him.
Ryle shrugged. “I guess it was nothing for a judge to get a pair of the limited tickets?”
“Naw.” He grinned and Ryle laughed and climbed out.
Ryle followed and Race met him on his side. “I’m glad Michelle didn’t press working late,” Ryle told him. “I would have hated to miss this.”
“Me too,” Race said putting a hand on the roof of the car next to Ryle.
“What?” Ryle asked.
Race cleared his throat. “I’m just a little nervous that’s all.”
“We don’t have to go in,” Ryle said.
“Not about that,” Race said and reached to caress Ryle’s jaw. “I love you, Ryle, and I’m ready to shout it to the entire world.”
Ryle laughed. “Right. I mean I know you love me, but shouting it to the entire world? You? Not in this decade, but tonight is proof you’re ready to be a gay man more publically. That’s enough for now.”
“Really?” Race leaned toward as rain began to mist down on them. “Why settle?”
“Because I love you, and I’m willing to be patient,” Ryle told him softly as he put his hand on Race’s side and slid his hand up beneath his jacket.
Race dipped his head and kissed Ryle softly. Ryle sighed into the kiss.
A cat call drew them apart and Ryle smiled.
Rain started to come down harder and Ryle squealed. “My hair!”
Race laughed and retrieved the umbrella from the backseat. He got the umbrella open and over Ryle’s head in a heartbeat.
Ryle moved close to him wrapping an arm around his waist. They hurried up to the door.
“Did this place get flooded out when the Red overflowed it’s banks last year?” Ryle asked with frown. “I thought they’d decided to move.”
“He changed his mind,” Race said.
The flood had done a great deal of damage to areas of downtown Shreveport and the neighbor city of Bossier. But like all victims of natural disasters, they’d picked up the pieces and rebuilt their lives. Some were still trying.
“I wouldn’t have,” Ryle murmured. “My heart broke for them. That’s why I never want to live on a lake though.”
“Good thing I don’t either,” Race teased and Ryle grinned.
They shown into the spacious restaurant and right away the scents of spice and smoked meats hit them. Ryle followed the group before them as they strolled headed into banquet room filled with rows of tables laden with food and wine.
“Where shall we start?” Ryle asked looking up at Race. “I’ve always wanted to come to one these and the Cork and Wine.”
“We’ll go next year,” Race told him and put his hand to the small of Ryle’s back.
Ryle looked up at him and smiled. “Save the date.”
Race leaned closer to him to his surprise. “Saved.” Race kissed the tip of his nose and a wave of love rushed over him, clenching his heart. “Race what are you doing?”
Race smiled down at him. “You can’t tell?”
“Gentlemen.” A man in a white suit jacket turned to them behind one of the tables. “Would you like to start with a local vintage from On Cloud Wine?”
Ryle blinked and looked at him. “We’d love too.”
The man poured them each a splash and Ryle took a sip. “Mmm. Nice.” Ryle looked at Race as they moved away from the table.
Ryle turned to see his ex Charlie and the woman Ryle had caught him in bed with standing a few steps away. He smiled more than over Charlie.
“Hi, Charles,” he said with a smile. “Amberly, right?” He turned his gaze on the blonde dressed in a sedate black dress.
“Ryle,” she said giving him a nod.
“You didn’t come alone?” Charlie asked and Ryle thought he saw longing in his eyes.
They’d broken up because Charlie’s wealthy family wanted him married and Charlie had been terrified he’d be disinherited if they found out he was gay. Charlie had expected him to keep seeing him on the side.
“I came with—”
“Hello, Charles,” Race said and put his arm around Ryle. “Amber, that’s a nice dress.”
Amber beamed. “Thank you, Judge.” Her gaze darted to Ryle. “You two know each other?”
“Ryle’s my lover,” Race told her and she paled. “We’ve been living together for five months.”
Race smiled. “It is still a shocker to some people,” Race said. “Charles is too liberal minded to be shocked though, right?” He slapped Charles’s shoulder. You two enjoy yourselves.”
Ryle gave Charlie a last smile as Race led him away to sample another wine.
“Race, what are you up to?” he murmured after taking a sip of wine.
“Being the man I should be when we’re out together,” he said. “Besides, I kind of wanted him to know he’s not getting another chance with you.”
Ryle grinned. “I did get a kick out of the look on his face,” he admitted.
“Anyway, I want to change things between us.”
“How?” he asked, going cold as the wine suddenly soured on his stomach.
“I was just going to ask you to marry me tonight.”
Ryle’s heart stopped for all of ten seconds. His hand flew to his mouth at the same time he went cold and then hot. “Was? But you don’t want to now? Why?”
Race laughed. “No. Ryle, baby, I want to marry you. I was just so nervous that the timing was wrong and you’d think I wasn’t ready yet.”
Ryle’s eyes widened. “Do you have a ring?”
“Yeah. It’s nothing special. Just a simple little diamond.”
“Let me see me it,” he demanded impatiently and turned to a passing waiter to set his glass on the tray.
Race removed the small jeweler’s box from the inside pocket of his jacket and lifted the lid. Ryle gawked at the gorgeous diamond that glittered beneath the lights. It was perfect in size and shape nestled in a gold band with two smaller stones flanking it.
“Ask me,” he ordered. “Ask me now, Race.”
“Ryle Cross, will you marry me?”
Tears misted in Ryle’s eyes. “Yes.” He nodded the word a whisper. “Yes.” Ryle waited until Race had put the ring on his finger and then threw his arms around him. “I love you.”
“I love you more than my words have been saying,” he said hugging him tightly as he lifted him off his feet.
Applause erupted around the room.
“Now, aren’t you glad we weren’t any later, Val?”
Ryle heard Race’s father’s voice and his eyes widened as he released him. He whirled around to see both his parents and Race’s grinning as they looked on.
Race laughed and was that a blush on his cheeks?
“Congratulations,” Robert Talon said raising his wine glass.
After several toasts and congratulations and handshakes, Ryle was glad for a quiet moment next to a table of bite size cakes and bites.
Ryle smiled up at Race. “Race, are you sure?”
“More sure about you than I was about law school. Set a date and pick a honeymoon destination. I’m ready to make you Mr. Talon.”
Ryle laughed and captured his Race. “Six months?”
“Yeah.” Race kissed him pulling him into his arms and Ryle curled his arm around Race’s neck.
This was going to be forever.
This is a fictional account but there are wineries in Shreveport and a wine festival on April lst called the Cork Wine festival. It’s part of the Red River Revel festival that takes place every year that includes a variety activities especially for kids. I haven’t been to the Revel in a while, but I’ve been thinking of going to the Wine tasting this year.
Dane Clark is sexy and makes Amyas Washington’s heart beat fast, but Dane is wrong for him and Amyas knows it. Dane is the kind of man who could steal his heart and leave him devastated when the fling is over. But Amyas can’t stay away, even when tragedy strikes and Amyas’s ex walks back into his life, determined to pick up where they left off.
Dane isn’t looking for a long-term relationship, but he does want companionship. The problem is, Amyas draws him like a moth to a flame, and he’s sweet. But he’s all wrong for him, and Dane knows it. So why can’t he stay away, even with Amyas’s crazy ex-boyfriend running around?
Despite his attempts to back away from Dane, Amyas finds himself thrown into Dane’s waiting arms in his hour of need. And a simple shoulder to cry on becomes a blooming love affair that leaves them both branded on each other’s souls.Excerpt:
The next morning, Anne shuffled downstairs feeling marginally well, but she knew the pain would come back. If she didn’t take her own life soon, she’d be confined to a bed—and that wasn’t how she wanted to spend the last few days of her life.
She made coffee and smiled at the spotless kitchen.
“You’ve never been this meticulous,” she murmured. Amyas had always been neater than any boy she’d ever known except those with OCD disorders. Still, he’d never been this good at cleaning a kitchen. He’d always missed a spot or left a glass unwashed.
Her baby had grown up, and he had a boyfriend. “Damn.” How did that happen? A boyfriend, and a white one at that, but at least he was good looking. He was well mannered and sweet, too.
She started the coffee and headed for the family room to watch the news while it percolated.
She pulled up short at the sight on her sofa. Her baby boy was curled against the golden boy—Dane, was it? Amyas’s head rested on Dane’s chest and his hand on his stomach while a leg was draped over Dane’s.
Dane kissed Amyas’s temple. “Amyas,” he said softly. “Wake up, gorgeous.”
“Dane,” Amyas said groggily. “Shit. I didn’t mean to keep you.”
“It was one of the best nights of my life,” he said in a soothing tone.
“You’re such a liar,” he muttered. “A man crying all over you like a baby? I’m sure you’ve had better.”
“You don’t give either of us enough credit, baby. I have to go before your mom wakes and finds us like this.”
“That would shock the hell out of her,” Amyas said.
“Maybe, but I think you need to give her the benefit of the doubt. If you throw away these last days with her, you’ll always regret it.”
“I’ve already lost too much time with her,” he admitted. “I used to love being with her. She was the best woman I knew. In so many ways I wanted to be like her. I wanted my man to look at me the way my father looked at her.”
“You can still have that,” Dane murmured.
There was a brief silence and Anne wondered about their relationship. She saw the same raw hunger in Dane’s eyes she’d seen in her husband’s since the day they’d met. It had been as if he’d been waiting all his life for her.
She’d almost thrown the best thing to ever happen to her away because he hadn’t been her ideal young black man.
“I better go. Call me later just so I’ll know how you’re doing.”
“If I get the time,” Amyas said and then looked up. He squeaked. “Mom!”
“Dang,” Dane muttered, and both men leaped to their feet.
Anne smiled. “Morning, boys,” she said, humor in her tone.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Dane said quickly.
“It’s okay. I’ll be in the kitchen. Amyas, your old room is still as it was before. There might be some of your old clothes in the drawers.” She turned and gave them some space.
“She’s probably going to chew me out.”
Dane smiled. “She looked amused and perplexed, so relax.” Dane took a step back. “I’ll see you around.”
“Yeah. Sorry I won’t be able to make it to the fundraiser.”
“It’s not your fault,” Dane told him, brushing a lock of hair off his forehead. “You’ve got a lot on your plate.”
Amyas nodded and walked him to the door. Dane gave him a faint smile and stepped out.
Amyas wanted to say something but had no idea what to say. The man had held him through a weak moment of pain and rather than ridicule him, Dane was still acting as if he wanted to see him again.
He was just too good to be true.
Amyas hurried upstairs to shower and change. His room was still the same as it had been three years ago. A full-sized bed between two windows and a slender chest across from that next to a chair with a pair of jeans tossed over the arm.
He’d discarded them in favor of something Carlyss would like that day. They’d just come back from a father-son trip and he had been in a rush to get to Carlyss to soothe his ruffled feathers.
All the good that had done. Carlyss had been pissed and had thrown him into a wall.
God, he didn’t miss those days, and he was glad Carlyss had taken off to Arkansas.
“Ah, I see you found your clothes,” Anne said when he joined her in the kitchen, hair still damp.
“Coffee?” she asked, indicating the pot on the counter in the sunny kitchen.
“Thanks.” He went to pour himself a mug before joining her at the square table for four. “I hadn’t planned on having Dane stay. That just happened.”
“You’re going through a lot,” she said with a shrug. “He’s there for you like a good man should be.”
He studied his mother, confused by her words. He agreed, but she was speaking of gay men, not a heterosexual couple.
“I would rather see you with a black woman, but Dane seems nice, sweet.”
He shrugged. “We really don’t know each other that well.”
“What are you waiting for?” Anne asked as she lifted her cup. “He looks at you the way your father looked at me when we first started going out. His looks changed to something warm and loving. He was the one who kept the spice in our marriage.” She smiled. “He was planning to take me to Paris in a few weeks.” She wiped away a tear that silently slid from her eye. “I think I could like Dane.”
“You do?” He gave his mother’s hand a squeeze.