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Authors: Vivien Dean

What We May be

BOOK: What We May be
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WHAT WE MAY BE

…Jared’s voice trailed off when he turned to follow Theresa’s gaze over his shoulder. Rick marched in his direction, his mouth grim, his steps long and sure. He slowed only as he approached, focusing on Jared with a velvet intensity that made him sit up a little straighter.

“There you are.” Rick gripped the back of Jared’s chair and leaned down, either ignoring the curious stares from the rest of the table or completely oblivious to them. Jared wasn’t sure which. “Listen, I got an emergency call and can’t stick around. But I didn’t want to just take off after we made plans.”

In spite of his earlier annoyance, Jared smiled with every ounce of warmth that had overtaken his body at Rick’s nearness. “Oh, you didn’t have to worry about me.” Beneath the table, Theresa’s foot connected with his ankle, but Jared was proud that he didn’t even blink. “I hope everything’s okay.”

“Well, we’ll see about that.” He pulled a folded piece of paper from his jeans pocket and set it in front of Jared. “If you want to get together sometime, give me a call. I want that conversation you promised me.”

Rick straightened with a smile, but with his mission done, didn’t linger. Jared watched him leave, his gaze invariably straying to the man’s ass again.

“Okay, you win.” Theresa wasn’t even looking at him when Jared turned back to her. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one checking Rick out. “He’s way better than any of the twinks the agency sends us.”

“Way better,” Jared echoed. And then repeated it again in his head…

ALSO BY VIVIEN DEAN

Blood Of Souls

Born To Be Wild

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Crave

Interlude

Ruby Red Rebels

WHAT WE MAY BE

BY

VIVIEN DEAN

AMBER QUILL PRESS, LLC

http://www.AmberQuill.com

WHAT WE MAY BE

AN AMBER QUILL PRESS BOOK

This book is a work of fiction.

All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Amber Quill Press, LLC

http://www.AmberQuill.com

All rights reserved.

No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.

Copyright © 2009 by Vivien Dean

ISBN 978-1-60272-471-6

Cover Art © 2009 Trace Edward Zaber Layout and Formatting provided by: Elemental Alchemy PUBLISHED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

WHAT WE MAY BE

CHAPTER 1

Jared Harvey stared out over the sea of black T-shirts and blue jeans and shook his head. “I am so glad Leo is not here to witness this fashion travesty.”

Next to him, his assistant Theresa elbowed his waist. For a girl who put more than one va in her personal va-va-voom, she had an awfully bony elbow. “You need to be nice tonight. This is for charity.”

“And we couldn’t have saved the twenty bucks for these godforsaken shirts and tossed it into the kitty instead?” Jared sighed, though it was just as much about missing Leo as it was having to walk into a crowded dining hall wearing the same thing as every other person in the room. “I don’t even know 1

WHAT WE MAY BE

most of these people.”

“Probably because you hadn’t actually seen Leo since you two were modeling.” Tucking her arm through his, she pulled him away from the doors and toward the open bar. “And didn’t you say everybody liked Leo? He obviously had a lot of friends after he quit the biz.”

“Yes, and now we all look like we should be wearing tool belts and laying gaffer tape. Joy.”

The AIDS dinner was meant to honor Leo’s death, the last of his requests from the very extensive will he had left. News of it hadn’t surprised Jared. He remembered Leo Bloch as generous to a fault, ready to give the designer shirt off his back if someone even hinted at wanting it. It had been nearly eight years since Leo had quit the business cold turkey, seven since Jared had last seen him alive. This particular personality trait hadn’t changed.

Several hundred people filled the dining room. Though Jared only recognized a few of the faces, he knew from the five-hundred-dollar-a-plate price tag that most of them likely had some sort of money. At the organizer’s request, he’d tried to use some of his old connections to get it some press, but the sad thing was, AIDS benefits weren’t exactly the vogue right now. It didn’t matter that he was an ex-model, or an up-and-coming designer, or even that Leo had been a bigger name than him back in the day. His industry was a fickle beast, and if it didn’t scream “It” from the top of the tallest building, nobody wanted to touch it with a five-inch stiletto heel.

At the bar, they stood behind a portly man ordering what 2

WHAT WE MAY BE

was clearly not his first sour apple martini. He giggled at his partner, who was also obviously not on his first drink, but when he picked up the glass from the bar, he swung his arm wide, knocking into Jared’s waist and spilling the alcohol down his front.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” He grabbed a stack of napkins from the bar and began patting Jared’s stomach in a flurry of hands, trying to dry him off. When he strayed below the belt, Jared grabbed his wrist to stop him, ignoring Theresa’s titters at his side.

“That’s okay,” Jared said. “I’ve got it.”

Reluctantly, the man released his hold on the napkins and took a step back. His round cheeks reddened further as his eyes swept up Jared’s tall form. They stalled at Jared’s chest.

If he’d been a woman, Jared would’ve slapped him for staring at his breasts. “Well, at least now you smell as delicious as you look,” the man flirted.

His partner slapped his arm. “Oh, you’re bad.”

“Great,” Jared muttered. “Like I need a couple of drunk queens hitting on me right now.” He sincerely hoped that wherever Leo was, he was enjoying this.

“Ben, can you get Mr. Jansen another drink, please?

Though maybe we should make this one a virgin martini instead.”

The calm baritone behind Jared startled him into turning around to look at its owner. He was even more startled to realize he had to look up at him, too. At six-four, Jared was accustomed to his view of the world, and while he 3

WHAT WE MAY BE

occasionally met men who were taller, most of the people he knew were not.

This one was. By a solid two inches. And about fifty pounds of packed muscle.

“Okay, so I guess there’s at least one person these shirts look good on,” Jared said. He looked up to meet warm brown eyes, crinkled at the corners from years of laughter. Dark blond hair fell in waves across his forehead, the rest just a little too long to be completely fashionable, but it was thick and made Jared’s palms itch. At some time in the past, the man had broken his nose. The imperfection managed to make him even more appealing.

And now, the man was smiling, or at least the corners of his full lips were turned up in amusement. “Why don’t you come with me?”

Jared blurted the innuendo before his brain could tell his mouth to shut the hell up. “Just name the time and place.”

Theresa jostled his arm as she leapt forward to step between them. Jared had the distinct urge to shove her out of his way of this man when she said, “Mr. Harvey didn’t do anything wrong. He was just standing there when the other guy knocked his drink into him.”

It took him a moment to process why she was bothering explaining, but then it hit him. A guy who looked like this, taking charge of the situation? Could only be a security guard.

And in New York City, that often meant a cop moonlighting on the side. Jared didn’t usually care too much about who he hit on, but flirting with security who thought he was 4

WHAT WE MAY BE

responsible for a minor scene was probably not the wisest choice he had ever made.

The guard still looked amused. “I’m well aware of what happened,” he said. “I was just offering to exchange—” He paused and glanced at Jared. “—Mr. Harvey’s T-shirt for a dry one.”

“Oh.” Theresa deflated and flushed a bright red. “Sorry.”

Jared plucked the shirt away from his stomach, only to stop when it flicked droplets of alcohol at the guard. “A dry shirt would be great, thanks.” The guard nodded, but as soon as he turned his back on them, Jared mouthed to Theresa,

“Oh, my God!”

“I know!”
she returned silently.

Her features smoothed over, the epitome of innocence, when the guard paused and glanced back. Jared bustled forward to follow. He stayed behind a step or two to allow the other man to lead the way through the throng, not to stare at his well-defined ass cupped almost lovingly in his faded blue jeans. Though staring was a more than enjoyable pastime until that moment when the guard held open a door marked

“Private” and gestured for Jared to go through.

“You’re a medium, right?” the guard asked, stopping at a row of boxes lining the service corridor. He didn’t wait for a response before extracting a carefully folded T-shirt and holding it out.

Jared took it, though the prospect that he was now going to own two of these things didn’t fill him with glee. “Thanks.

And I’m sorry about that out there. Theresa gets a 5

WHAT WE MAY BE

little…protective, sometimes.”

The guard smiled. “Most girlfriends usually do.”

The assumption brought a bubble of laughter to Jared’s lips. “Oh, God, no, she’s not a girlfriend. We work together.”

The prospect of dating Theresa made him laugh even harder.

“Though she’s going to think it’s hysterical that anybody could ever confuse me as straight.”

The other man chuckled along with him. “Well, then…”

He stuck out his hand. “I’m Rick.”

“Jared.” Warm fingers engulfed his. The skin was dry and hot, callused from hard work, and unfortunately, the greeting didn’t last longer than was appropriate. Jared pulled back and looked Rick over with open appreciation this time. “I should probably buy that guy a drink, then, for giving me an opening to meet you.”

“Except it’s an open bar.”

Jared dismissed it with a wave of his hand. “Technicality.”

“And I’m pretty sure I would’ve noticed you before the night was through.”

“Yes, but would you have led me to a darkened hallway to get my clothes off?” With a wink, Jared pulled the wet T-shirt over his head and tossed it aside. He didn’t have nearly the physique Rick did, but he had nothing to be ashamed about.

“Credit should be given where it’s due, I think.”

There was no mistaking the distinct glimmer of interest in Rick’s dark eyes as they scanned Jared’s bare chest. “Offering you a dry shirt is just me being courteous.”

“Just. In this city?” His smile was hidden as he pulled the 6

WHAT WE MAY BE

new one on. He went to tuck it into his jeans, but as those were still slightly damp from his dousing, Jared let it hang free for the moment. “That kind of behavior usually gets a medal around here.”

“Well, I’d like to think Leo would’ve wanted me to do it.”

His brows shot up. He hadn’t expected the security guard to have known Leo. But the fact that he did—that part of the reason he was being so helpful was because it was a reflection of Leo—boosted him even higher in Jared’s esteem.

“So do you get to eat with us, or just stand on the side looking menacing in case someone uses the wrong fork?”

Jared asked.

Confusion flickered behind Rick’s eyes, but he shook his head. “No, I’ll get my own plate, just like everybody else.

Why?”

“I’d like to sit together. Continue this conversation. Find out if you look as good on the inside as you do on the out.” He smiled. “Not that that’s ever made a difference to me before, but, well, I’d like to think Leo would want me to.”

Repeating Rick’s earlier words scored the points Jared had been hoping for. “I think that can be arranged. I’ll come find you when they start seating.”

Jared followed him back out to the dining room, offering one last smile when Rick moved gracefully through the crowd.

Horrendous fashion statement aside, the T-shirt had done more than he would have ever anticipated. Picking up guys at charity events wasn’t his usual modus operandi, but Jared wouldn’t file a complaint about it any time soon. In fact, he 7

WHAT WE MAY BE

might pay for another plate, just to say a silent thank you to Leo.

His smile remained while he went off in search of Theresa.

Yeah. That was exactly what he’d do.

* * *

The umpteenth time his leg jiggled against Theresa’s, her hand shot out and grabbed his knee in a death claw.

“Will you stop it?” she hissed. “You’re driving me crazy.”

Slowly, Jared reached beneath the table and pried her fingers away. “Talk to the doctor,” he said in a low voice, nodding toward the man seated on her other side. “Pretend I’m not here.”

BOOK: What We May be
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