employee. The kid is much too young and much too innocent.
And Silver plans to keep it that way.
romance between a shy, inexperienced nerd and an outgoing grump of a
“I don’t like him. Call the next one on the list.” I ran a hand through my messy brown hair before I hefted a moving box onto the kitchen counter and sliced through the packing tape with a box cutter.
“Bo-dee,” my twin, Benji drew out the syllables of my nickname in a huffy whine, “that was our fifth candidate from the list. He was by far the best of them all.” He tapped a pen against the notepad on his lap. We were fraternal twins, but we looked almost exactly the same, enough so that strangers would sometimes confuse us. His hazel eyes snapped to mine. “We need a roommate.”
He wasn’t wrong. This latest guy just wasn’t who I wanted to share our apartment with. Yeah, because one look at him has you all hot and bothered and you’d rather deny him a place to stay than work around any kind of feelings.
“In all honesty,” my cousin, Kyson started, “that’s not saying much. The first four applicants royally sucked. This guy, what was his name?”
“Sage,” Benji provided.
“Yeah, Sage wasn’t just the best of them all, he blew them away.” Kyson was not only Benji’s and my cousin, but he was our best friend. Born within two months of each other, we were inseparable from birth on. And the family resemblance was uncanny. He could have passed as our brother with no problem. “The first guy looked like he planned to kill us in our sleep.”
I couldn’t help but smile. He wasn’t wrong.
“The girl was fine, seemed cool. But her bestie dropped too many hints about trying to ‘convert’ us to the hetero side.” Benji shook his head. “That third guy almost pissed himself when he learned the apartment was above a bar. When you asked if he was okay with the three of us being gay, I thought he was going to pass out. Probably couldn’t pay him enough to take our extra room.” Benji laughed.
“Guy number four was already asking about getting an extension on paying rent ‘a little late.’ That’s a hard no.” Kyson gave me a look. “Seriously, Bo, Sage seemed great.”
“And not just in comparison. Sage seemed great overall.” Benji stood up. “What could you possibly not like about him?”
“He’s a baby, for one.” I took plates and cups from the box and began stacking them in the cabinets of the new kitchen. I refused to think about how sweet and innocent the kid looked blushing his way through the applicant interview.
“So, he’s young. What did he say? Twenty-four? That’s only ten years younger than us.” Benji stood with hands on his hips. “Try again. I’m not letting this one slide. What else could you not like about him?”
Kyson left the living room, which was open to the kitchen, and joined me in unpacking. “He seemed very bright and responsible.”
He seemed like a sexy, smart nerd. And I’m not even going to acknowledge why that seems to be a turn on for me.
“He’s a student. He needs to study. An apartment above a bar isn’t exactly conducive to studying.” I broke down one box and opened another one.
“We were very clear with him about the location and probable noise level. He’s aware and if he wants the apartment, I don’t see why we wouldn’t rent to him.” Benji continued to stare me down in challenge.
“He was shy and skittish. Not exactly our type.” I gave another argument, but I knew it was a lame attempt. “He looked like he thought we were going to eat him alive.” And why the fuck do I keep thinking about wanting to eat him up?
Benji snorted. “He was definitely intimidated by you, but that was probably because you scowled and looked like a fuckin’ grump-ass the entire time we talked to him.”
“Why are you so against him? He has proof of payment history, references from his old place. Hell, that landlady said she was sad to see him go, but he wants to be closer to downtown. We’re on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis. You can’t get much closer to downtown. He claims to be tidy, keeps to himself, doesn’t care that the room is above a bar, and he was polite. Plus, he was cute.” Kyson waggled his brows.
“Soooo cute.” Benji smiled. “And was it just me or did he seem super innocent?”
“Yes. Very cute and innocent. Like super smart and capable in so many ways, but fragile and inexperienced in others.” Kyson nodded as he broke down another box. “Is that what you’re worried about, Bo? This kid is so cute and innocent he may get tarnished by your grumpy gruffness and aversion to relationships?”
My cousin and brother laughed.
I rolled my eyes.
But in all reality, the words hit a little too close to home. Sage was young, innocent, and so damn adorably cute I wanted to wrap him in my arms and protect him. That was a problem. I didn’t have time for protecting some kid who I had absolutely nothing in common with. I had a bar to open and make successful. I didn’t need a cute nerd as a distraction. But I couldn’t very well tell Benji and Kyson that, so I huffed and shrugged.
“Fine. If he wants the room, he can have it. I want it noted that I think he’s too young, I think he’s not the type for living above a bar, and I think he’s going to be more trouble than the rent payment is worth. And I’m not taking care of his ass or listening to him gripe and complain about noise level.” I unloaded dish soap and sponges to the under-sink cabinet.
turn into more, the two men are thrown into a position that has the
lovers quickly turning into enemies.
make the best of an impossible situation.
Gold that imperfection can be beautiful?
proximity romance between two slightly self-absorbed artists.
My phone rang. Saved by the bell. I was not looking forward to more questions about my overnight guest, Rhys. It had been shit luck that we overslept and he had to dart past my roommates that morning. Rhys was amazing in bed and we got along well, but we were both committed to setting up our new art businesses. I had the feeling that trying to combine our artistic talents and endeavors in anything more serious than sex would bring on a whole host of issues. So, we hooked up and didn’t bring our art or business into the mix. Clearly the relationship wasn’t going anywhere and would likely fizzle once we both got our studios up and running.
However, my twin brother, Bode, his boyfriend, Sage, and my cousin, Kyson would have loved to keep peppering me with questions about Rhys.
And if you’re being honest, the relationship could be going somewhere and you’d be okay with it. I really liked the guy—more so than any guy I’d ever hooked up with or dated—but we both had other things going on. Best to keep it casual.
But more than casual would be so good.
I ignored that niggling thought. “Hello?” I paused and listened, making eye contact with my roomies.
“Benji, it’s Kris,” my realtor spoke on the other end of the phone. “Are you available to meet?” Kris was a great realtor and never beat around the bush. I liked her directness.
“Yes.” I nodded as I spoke before allowing Kris to continue.
“Would you be able to meet me at the new building in a couple hours?”
“Yeah, that will work fine.” I was so excited to get my new building, I was willing to run down the damn street if she needed me to. I was chomping at the bit to open my art studio and shop.
“Great, hoping to get final paperwork signed.” Kris rustled some papers.
“Looking forward to it.”
“Ok, be careful. See you then.” Another phone rang on Kris’ side.
“Yeah, you too. Thanks. See you then.” I had to fight the grin attempting to overtake my face.
When I hung up, I couldn’t help the huge grin I turned toward the guys. “That was my realtor. Says I should come down to the new building today and sign some final paperwork.”
They all whooped and slapped me on the back.
“About fucking time.” Bode pulled me in for a hug.
I sighed and ran a hand over my face. “I’ve been waiting so long to have a studio and place of my own. I’m tired of renting shared studio space. I want to be able to create, teach, and sell all in one location. The Silver Creative is one step closer to reality.”
Two hours later, the four of us trooped down the stairs of our shared apartment and walked a few blocks to where my new building was located. It was an older space, but it had been completely renovated and both the exterior and interior were spectacular.
We entered the building and were greeted by my realtor, Kris. She frowned.
“What’s up? Something fall through?” My face adopted the same serious expression as my heart fell to my knees.
“Well, it appears there’s been a bit of a snafu the likes of which I’ve never dealt with.” Kris continued to frown.
I crossed my arms over my chest and scowled just as the door opened and two people walked in.
A flash of dark blond hair, dark-rimmed glasses, and a tall, strong build caught my eye.
Rhys? Why would a guy I’d had a few casual hookups with be at my closing? “What are you doing here?” I demanded even as my heart flipped-flopped.
“Could ask you the same thing.” Rhys stopped and looked at his own realtor with a questioning scowl.
Another person entered the front door. An older man who looked nervous like he thought we might hurt him.
“Ah, yes. Well, I see we’re all present and accounted for.” The man wrung his hands. “I must say, this is not something I have experience with, but I’m sure we can get it all worked out. Just some miscommunication, I’m sure.” I halfway expected him to pull a silk hanky from his pocket and dab at his brow.
“What’s the problem?” Rhys asked.
“Well, it appears that both a Mr. Rhys Golden and a Mr. Benjamin Silver have leased this building through what I’m assuming is a paperwork mix-up.” The older man grimaced. “An interesting and unfortunate predicament, but one I’m most sure we can set to right.”
Around the room, mouths dropped open and eyes widened.
“What the actual fuck,” I murmured under my breath and took a deep breath. This couldn’t be happening. I’d been working to get this building leased for months and had a lot of money sunk into setting up my studio.
“No way, I want this building. It’s perfect for my studio. I’m not sharing it with him.” Rhys crossed his arms over his chest and jutted his chin.
“Well, I’m not sharing with you either, so maybe you should find your own spot,” I spat back. As much as Rhys and I got along in the bedroom, I’d known I was right in predicting we would totally clash in our art businesses.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, please. Let’s gather at the table and discuss particulars.” The older gentleman turned pleading eyes our way.
knows pretending to be involved with the older man will likely come
back to bite him in the ass, but if the farce will help Spice and his
young son, Silver is totally on board.
Silver and Spice. Will a meddling grandmother, an adorable little
boy, and a team of friends be enough to convince Silver and Spice to
give a real relationship a shot?
forced proximity romance with a silver fox, single daddy and a
younger man ready for a family.
An hour later, Kyson was on the floor playing blocks, cars, and people with Arlo when a knock sounded at the door.
I frowned. I wasn’t expecting anyone.
I peeked through the peep hole.
And my grandmother. My very eccentric, bossy, somewhat interfering grandmother. She was eighty-three years old and extremely healthy. She traveled a lot, taking bus trips and cruises with other elderly folks. I loved her and enjoyed seeing her.
But why was she at my door at that exact moment?
Mom hadn’t said anything about Grandmother visiting.
I plastered on a smile and opened the door. “Mom, Grandmother. To what do I owe the surprise?”
Mom gave me an apologetic look and entered.
Grandmother patted my cheek. “You mean, What the heck are you doing here, I’m sure. I heard you got hurt. I needed to see you were okay.” She bustled in and clapped her hands to see Arlo. “My Arlo! Look how big you’re getting. I think you’ve grown a foot.”
Arlo ran to Grandmother. “Mimi!” Arlo saw my grandma three to four times a year, but we Skyped with her a lot. And she always sent great gifts for birthdays, holidays, and random occasions.
Arlo got hugs and kisses but soon lost interest and went back to his playdate with Kyson.
Kyson whispered something to my son and stood and joined the adults. “Bonnie, good to see you.” He turned to my grandma. “Hi, I’m Kyson Silver.”
“I’m Mildred. You can call me Grandmother, Grandma, Millie, or Mimi.” Grandmother shook Kyson’s hand and I swear she almost tittered behind her hand as she appraised him.
I get it, Grandmother. I feel the same.
“Well, I’ll get going since you have company.” Kyson gestured toward the door.
“Nonsense. Finish your game with Arlo.” Mom smiled lovingly at the floor where Arlo was back to playing with his toys.
“Yes, stay. We just stopped by to see that Bay was truly healing well from his injuries. It looks like you and Arlo have quite the little city going there.” Grandmother moved to the kitchen. “We’ll just have tea while we visit.”
I fought back a groan. So much for settling in for a movie and nap with Arlo. I guess I was fixing tea and chatting with Mom and Grandmother.
The three of us made idle chit-chat and sipped tea for close to an hour while Arlo played with Kyson and made trips to the table to show us what he’d built. I took Kyson a mug of tea and my heart clenched when he rewarded me with a grateful smile before he went back to playing with Arlo.
One of the things that meant the most to me about Bode, Sage, Kyson, Benji, and even Rhys to some extent—although I’d only recently met him—was that they all seemed to genuinely like Arlo and enjoy spending time with him. I knew Kyson was as attracted to me as I was to him, but I never felt like he was using Arlo to get to me. Even if nothing happened between Kyson and me, I had a feeling he’d stay close to Arlo. All the guys would.
By the time Bonnie and Millie headed toward the door, I was exhausted, but refused to let on. They said their goodbyes, gave hugs and kisses, and turned to leave.
But Grandmother paused and placed her hand on my shoulder. “I’ll be in contact. I have a proposition for you and Arlo.”
And with that cryptic message, she walked out.
time in central Indiana as an instructional coach/teacher in the
inner city of Indianapolis, being a mom to two amazing school-aged
children, and wondering how she and her husband of nearly two decades
haven’t driven each other insane yet. A lot of her time is also
devoted to phone call avoidance and her hatred of cooking.
romance. These loves don’t leave much time for housework, much to the
chagrin of her husband. Who would pick cleaning the house over a nap
or a good book? She uses any extra time to increase her fluency in sarcasm.
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