Read Christmas And Gingerbread Men Online

Authors: Liza Kay

Tags: #Adult, #Contemporary, #Erotic Romance, #GLBT, #Gay

Christmas And Gingerbread Men (2 page)

BOOK: Christmas And Gingerbread Men
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His gaze bouncing back and forth between Chris and Pitney, the stranger’s dark brows lifted. “Private, huh?” His rescuer’s face darkened when Pitney shook his head fiercely, then Mr. Gorgeous grabbed the front of Chris’ shirt. With surprisingly little effort, he manhandled Chris until he stood between Pitney and his ex.

The man was even fitter than Chris, although his muscles looked natural, not like he wolfed down steroids and guzzled protein shakes in his free time. His expression was grim, his brows knitted, and his dark blue eyes shot daggers at Chris. Honestly, the guy looked like the love child of a mobster and a businessman. Sexy as hell.

Chris struggled against the grip, but with the way the collar of his scrunched shirt tightened around his neck, it was obvious he didn’t stand a chance.

“Leave. Now.” The stranger’s deep, husky words caused Pitney’s skin to goose bump. He felt... protected, safe. Did that even make sense? Maybe he’d hit his head on the wall a tad too hard.

Chris got a not-so-gentle shove and stumbled through the door. However, he shot one last, nasty glance at Pitney before he left. It wouldn’t surprise him if Chris made a detour on his way home and spilled Pitney’s secret to their friends.
Shit.

“Hey there, cute stuff.”

Huh? What?
When he looked at his rescuer, the events caught up with him and, to his utter embarrassment, Pitney started to shake like the damsel in distress. Must be the adrenaline leaving his body. As if he needed any help to make himself even less attractive to his hero. However, who was to say what Chris would’ve done to him had the guest not interrupted him?

“Aww, come on now. He’s gone.” The stranger touched his shoulder and started massaging his tense muscles.

Pitney sniffled and concentrated on the other man to keep the panic at bay. Up close, Pitney thought the stranger even more handsome. He saw no gray hair, but noticed some creases around his eyes, so he guessed him to be in his early thirties. The light crinkles hinted at a man who smiled and laughed a lot. With his smooth skin, straight nose and high cheekbones, the older man looked stunning. Lovely, even.

Someone like him, if he was gay by some miracle, would never look twice at poor, skinny, freckled Pitney. Not that now was the right moment for flirty chitchat. In fact, Pitney had never chitchatted flirtatiously, with anybody.

“Oh, cutie. You’re shaking like a leaf in the storm. Come here,” the man crooned and pulled Pitney against his chest.

Okay, maybe he’s gay after all.
Although the move shocked the hell out of him, Pitney didn’t put up much resistance. Looping his arms around the guy’s neck, he melted against his muscled chest. He sighed when strong arms tightened around his back and a big hand cupped the back of head.

The hug felt divine, but maybe the awesomeness was due to the lack of manly hugs in his life. Pitney, who believed in using rare opportunities, held on tight and sniffed the man’s neck. He’d blame shock in case the guy complained. A musky scent and woody cologne swamped his senses and he fought the urge to groan. Damn, the guy smelled good.

“Deep breaths, cutie.”

Had the guy lost his contacts? Pitney wasn’t cute! He wasn’t even remotely handsome. Pitney decided it didn’t matter right now as his rescuer crooned soothing encouragements while his hand stroked up and down Pitney’s back, drawing lazy circles whenever he reached the spot between his shoulder blades.

Whimpering, Pitney tightened his hold to stay in the safe embrace as long as possible. Not because Chris’ appearance had shocked him so much he needed the support, but because he liked that hug and the man who delivered it. He knew it wouldn’t last long. Somebody, most likely Eugene, would notice his absence and come search for him. Even worse, their cuddle was a major violation of Virgil’s rules.

“Sorry for going all leech on you. I’m all right now,” Pitney murmured after a while.

“Nothing to be sorry about.” With the soft, whispered reply, the older man’s breath fanned over his neck, causing a delighted shiver to ripple through his body.

Pitney looked up and shook his head in wonder when he took in his rescuer’s handsome face and purple-blue eyes once again. Talk about greedy when it came to snagging the good genes.

“It’s Pitney, right? Or do you prefer cutie?” the man asked and gave Pitney a dazzling smile that almost fried his brain. Was the guy trying to mock him? Didn’t matter, because Pitney couldn’t avert his gaze when faced with so much beauty and kindness. Oh, and how had his hands ended fisting the lapels of the man’s suit jacket?

“Ah... yes. Pitney. Winters.” Wow. Eloquent.
Go, Pitney!
“How do you know my name?”

When the man grinned and tapped the name tag pinned to his vest, Pitney thought it was time for a mental face-palm.

“Hi, Pitney Winters. I’m Rafael Bell.”

Rafael shot him another dangerous smile and Pitney’s brain melted like his body had melted against the man’s stunning chest. He was a happy little puddle as long as his companion kept smiling.

“Guess you need to get back before someone sends out a search party.”

Pitney nodded, although he didn’t want to let Rafael go just yet, and nuzzled the older man’s jaw. He was an affection-starved young guy who suddenly had the attention of the most beautiful man he’d ever seen. Maybe Rafael thought Pitney was well enough to return to his job without hyperventilating and wanted to get rid of him now.

“Pitney?” Rafael’s whispered words caused Pitney to raise his head from where it had rested at the man’s neck.

“Yeah?”

“We can’t go out there as long as you keep your arms wrapped around me. Not that I don’t like holding you, but with your arms around me, it’s a bit hard to walk.” He teased and winked. “And maybe you don’t want your colleagues and the guests to see us squished against each other.”

Pitney felt his face flush as heat crept up his neck and just knew his damn freckles glowed more than usual. One more fact he detested about himself.

He unwrapped his arms hurriedly, then cast Rafael a shy look through his lashes. They stood so close, and with them being the same height, it was the perfect position for a kiss. Not that he thought Rafael wanted to kiss him, but a guy could dream and fantasize, right?

“Thank you,” Pitney said. He’d feel embarrassed about the squeaky quality of his voice later. Much later. “I... have to go back to work, you’re right.” Even more important, he had to put some distance between Rafael and him before he forgot his good manners, tossed his uncle’s rules overboard, and attacked the sexy man.

Rafael frowned and looked him up and down. “Are you sure you’re up for it? Maybe you should take a break, drink some water.”

Good god, what did the man think had happened between him and Chris before he’d come in? “No! No, it’s okay. My shift ends in half an hour anyway,” he said hurriedly when the older man looked like he wanted to object.

A break was the last thing he needed. Eugene would go ballistic if he dodged his responsibilities so close to closing time. In addition, he didn’t want anyone to know what had happened in the restroom. Virgil would force him to explain why Chris had come by, and before that happened, the devil would engage in a snowball fight. His uncle didn’t like Chris because he thought Chris was a lowlife wannabe thug.

“Well, if you’re sure.”

Pitney tugged at his disheveled clothes, then reached up to check his hair bun. It felt a bit messy, but still okay enough to pass his uncle’s protocol. “I’m sure. Thanks again. I guess your... uh... companion is wondering what’s keeping you so long.”

Rafael gave him a puzzled look and tilted his head. “Take care of yourself, okay?”

God, he was so handsome and sweet. Pitney didn’t want to step back and return to work, but he had to. This wasn’t a romance novel. Men who met in restrooms didn’t look into each other’s eyes and fell miraculously in love. They occasionally fell against the tiles when they hooked up, nothing more.

“I will. See you at your table.” Pitney couldn’t help but place his hand on Rafael’s chest, right over his heart. Then he turned and left. Damn, what a night.

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Damn, what a night.
Half an hour later, Rafe leaned against his car and could only wonder about the evening’s turn. One moment he’d enjoyed a meal and argued with a client, and the next he had a young guy clinging to him like a boa. Not that Rafe minded. That was, he didn’t mind the clingy cuteness. His annoying client, though, he minded very much.

It wasn’t the first time he’d come to
Virgil’s
to eat and noticed the lad. Until now, he’d never sat at one of his tables though. Pitney was always a quiet, shy one, and Rafe thought it charming.

While his client’s tiresome monologue about his on-off relationship with his girlfriend had bored him to death, Rafe’s gaze had strayed through the restaurant, repeatedly landing on the object of his interest. More than once, he’d gotten a good look at the skinny ass Pitney’s apron thankfully failed to hide.

Rafe couldn’t remember why exactly he’d started looking at the younger man. Pitney wasn’t what others would call handsome. He stood about six feet, making Rafe think him a bit too tall to classify as a twink, and it wouldn’t hurt if the lad fattened up a bit.

Anyway, he was... compelling in a unique way. Rafe had a soft spot for unique men. Maybe that was the reason he was lurking in the dark like a creepy stalker and waiting for Pitney to leave the now-closed restaurant.

He looked around, but the prick that had cornered Pitney in the restroom was nowhere in sight. Wise decision. Rafe hadn’t liked the guy’s nasty sneer that promised nothing good or Pitney’s frightened, wide-eyed stare.

A door’s faint squeak had his head turning, and he saw Pitney closing it and then walking across the parking lot. All the while, he glanced around the dimly lit place. When the younger man noticed him, he came to a sudden stop and their gazes met. Rafe only hoped Pitney wouldn’t freak and run. He didn’t want to frighten him, far from it.

Pitney surprised him, though. He slung the strap of his bag over his shoulder, then came closer until they were only about five feet apart. Next, he let his gaze travel up and down Rafe’s body, a curious expression on his face. The lad had opened the bun he usually forced his hair into, and his pale blond curls fell down to his shoulder blades. They were shaggy and so tight they looked like they’d been wrapped around a thin pencil.

“Hi.”

Rafe grinned at the Pitney’s shy greeting. “Hi.”

“Uhm... what are you doing here? Where’s the guy you had dinner with?” In the dark it was hard to tell, but Rafe thought Pitney was blushing. Then he gazed down and frowned at the concrete and his ratty sneakers. “Sorry, none of my business.”

Rafael chuckled. “Business meeting,” he elaborated and bent down a bit to catch Pitney’s attention. “He went home on his own. I’m here because I waited for you. How are you?”

A deep breath filled and expanded Pitney’s thin chest, and when he let it out again, his curls waved in the breeze. He stuffed his hands in his jeans pockets. “I’m okay, I guess.”

“Want to get a drink somewhere?” Rafe held his breath while he waited for Pitney’s response.

Pitney’s head snapped up, his eyes wide as saucers. Then he squinted like a cute feral cat trying to decide whether it wanted to accept a bowl of milk or run away. Rafe wished he knew what was going through Pitney’s head.

“Just to wind down after a long evening,” Rafe added, and gave the skittish man a—he hoped—encouraging smile that said
I’m safe, you don’t need to worry.

After minutes of squinting and silence, Pitney’s stiff posture relaxed. However, he still looked wary. “No alcohol. It makes me tired, and I need to drive. A soda would be okay, though.”

It sounded more like a question than a statement. Rafe just grinned and squelched the urge to pump his fist. “Thank you, Pitney. How about you follow me in your car?”

 

Pitney plopped his delicious ass down onto a chair in a bar not far from Virgil’s. His shoulders hunched a bit as he pinned his gaze to the tabletop. The mass of his curls slid over his shoulders, hiding his face. Rafael sat down beside him and pushed a hand through his own short hair.

“So, a soda then?”

When his companion looked up, the clear amber, nearly golden color of his eyes took Rafe’s breath away. They were huge, and dominated the lad’s face. His freckles stood out because of Pitney’s pale skin. There were way too many freckles on his face for him to look handsome. Pitney’s mouth was a bit too large for his rather delicate face, as well as his pointed nose. And earlier, Rafe had seen the gap between Pitney’s upper front teeth.

Despite the endearment Rafe had used, probably nobody else would call Pitney cute. He found himself fascinated anyway. Plus, he knew from previous trysts that beauty wasn’t everything, and true beauty lay on the inside.

“Pitney?” he asked again as the other man’s lack of reply finally registered.

Pitney knitted his brown in confusion. “Huh?”

Rafe smiled and tried again. “Drink?”

“Oh! Oops, sorry. Yes, a soda, please.” A wide grin and coloring cheeks that glowed a slight pink accompanied Pitney’s words. Well, that looked cute. Rafael ordered them both a soda, then watched his now quiet companion for a while.

Eventually, Pitney began to squirm in his chair, his long, slender fingers plucking at a paper napkin.

Rafe wondered about the cause for the younger man’s nervousness. Was it the invitation? Their sudden closeness? A combination of both? Poor guy obviously didn’t have much self-confidence.

“Ah... thank you. For, you know, helping me out.” Pitney’s whisper was barely audible, and his Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed repeatedly.

Rafe cupped Pitney’s hands with his bigger ones and dragged them away from the growing pile of napkin snippets. He hoped the gesture wouldn’t freak Pitney out.

“You’re welcome, Pitney. Did you know that douche?” Rafe was curious. With Pitney finally talking, he wanted to know more about him. There was something intriguing about the skinny man.

BOOK: Christmas And Gingerbread Men
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