A sweet yet sexy excerpt just for you from One-on-One, Releasing January 16. I hope you enjoy this snippet from when Lancaster and Townsend first meet. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the book!
Was it too outrageous for a forty-one-year-old man to linger around the backstage area like a teenage girl at a K-pop concert? Shameful perhaps? Yeah, I knew it was, and yet there I was, mouth dry, pulse skipping a little faster than normal, trying my best to work up the courage to actually go over and speak to Townsend Harris. Sweet Lord, the man was beautiful. I wished I had my jug of tea, or more of that wonderful Finger Lakes region wine to wet my whistle. Townsend was talking to the other performers as he packed up his electric guitar. The band on next gave him and the rest of the Studebaker Foxes—what an unusual name—high fives then ran out to loud applause. That applause was due to Townsend and his band mates. They’d electrified the crowd with rocking blues tunes ranging from First Love to The Thrill is Gone and I’m a King Bee, that had me and everyone else on the green shaking our asses.
When he snapped his guitar case shut, I felt compelled to move forward, slide around the other musicians and newspaper photographers, and say something to him. That was the sticking point. But, even with a mushy brain and no clever words on my tongue, I pushed my way past a large man with a camera and found myself looking into deep brown eyes that would linger in my dreams for a lifetime.
“Hey,” Townsend said, guitar case in his left hand.
“I love your music and your eyes. Please come have a glass of wine with me?” Oh, sweet baby Jesus. The corners of his mouth twitched, pulling his plump lips up into a playful sort of smirk. “Forgive me. I’m usually much better spoken than that.”
“It’s fine. You’ve got pretty eyes too. Usually I like to get the name of the man asking me to have wine with him before I indulge.” He extended his right hand. “Townsend Harris, but you can call me Town. Everyone does.”
I wiped my hand on my shorts and pressed palm to palm. His grip was firm. “Lancaster Hart, but you can shorten that any way you like. Most drop it down to Lan, because it is a mouthful.”
“Is that a family name?” he asked, still holding, and shaking, and looking at me with those eyes of his.
“Yes, sir. Goes back over several greats to Lancaster Brownlee, who was part of the 6th Georgia volunteer infantry that mustered out of Atlanta. He was part of Colquitt’s Brigade and…well, you don’t give a tinker’s fart about my musty old family tree.”
Town smiled fully. Good thing he was holding my hand, or I might have swooned.
“Actually, I find genealogy pretty damn fascinating. Maybe we can chat about old Lancaster Brownlee over that wine?” His eyes were asking something of me, and I thought I knew what it was, but I’d not been at this thing long. Maybe I was reading his gaze incorrectly.
“You’re saying you’d like to have wine and talk with me?”
“Yeah, I’m saying that.” He still held my hand. I might’ve been pretty virginal at this whole out gay thing, but I did know that most handshakes didn’t go on for over two minutes.
“Okay, well then…good.” He released my hand. I shoved it into my front pocket. “There’s this tiny booth over yonder that has some nice fruity wines to sample if you’re into fruity things.”
“You know, I do like fruity things.”
“Oh hell,” I muttered when what I’d said sunk in. Good Lord. “I didn’t mean that quite the way it sounded.”
Town laughed. “You’re adorable. Let me stash this bulky thing in the trunk of my car and we’ll go have us some fruity wine.”
I nodded like a dullard. “Would you like someone to accompany you to your car?”
“That’s not necessary, I won’t get lost. I live four blocks from here.”
He did? How in God’s green earth had this beautiful man—who I was pretty sure was gay and had no ring on his finger, because I’d checked umpteen dozen times over the past hour and a half—not stepped into my radar?
“How have we not laid eyes on each other before now?” I had to know how fate could be that cruel to a lonely old boy like me.
“Do you spend much time at the mayor’s office? I live two doors down from there.” He had long legs which kept him and me on an even pace, although I was a few inches taller than he was.
“Where’s city hall?”
“No, there’s no city hall, the mayor’s office is attached to the fire hall, I work there as Ben Knapton’s aide.” He gave me a peek as we made our way up the bank and to the street. “How long have you lived here?”
“Little less than a year.” He nodded, the climb up the knoll making us both sweat a little. He looked fit and leggy. I’d always been a leg man. Men in kilts were the stuff of fantasy for me. Hopefully, Mario would never find that out or I’d be getting thigh flashes for the rest of his time on the team. “I don’t get out much. Hockey takes up most of my time.”
“Yeah, your team is bringing all kinds of attention to our village. Revenue too. Everyone in the mayor’s office sure appreciate both the media interest and the money the Cougars are adding to the city coffers.”
“We’re happy to oblige.”
We ambled along until we came up to a blue Ford Fiesta, a newer one, and he popped the trunk and placed his guitar into the trunk gingerly, taking care not to bump the case as he wiggled it in.
“So, you’re one of the mayor’s aides,” I offered up in an attempt to keep my eyes off his ass. The cargo shorts he was wearing pulled tight when he bent over to throw a blanket over the guitar case. “You tucking that guitar in?”
He stood up, closed the trunk, and turned to face me. I wasn’t sure which view of the man sent more blood to my cock, the front or the rear. Both were sinfully attractive.
“A man should treat his Les Paul and his lovers with the same gentle care,” he informed me, his voice as smoky as side of bacon. I had to glance away before I did something unseemly, like grab him and pin him to the car while I licked deeply into his mouth. “Hey, did I just step over a line? I was reading things between us right, wasn’t I?”
My sight left a robin flying overhead and returned to him. His brows were tangled in confusion. I tried to push my hands deeper into my front pockets, but there was no room.
“No, you were reading right. I just…” I was glad to see the confusion lifting from his face. “I just, well, I’m a little…I was married.”
“You’re not now though, right?” And his sleek brows knitted up again.
“Oh no, nope. Divorced about two years ago. I just…it’s been a long time since I was out playing the field. Things are different this time around.” A foursome of young girls in swim suits ran past, giggling like only teen girls could giggle.
“How long were you married?” He indicated we should walk with a wave of his hand. I fell in beside him.
“Twenty-one years, nearly. She’s still one of my best friends and—”
“She?” He stopped cold. I nodded. “So where are you coming at me from here, Lancaster? I’m picking up some strong gay vibes but…”
“Yeah, I’m more than a little awkward. I’m gay, been gay since forever, but back in Billow Ridge, Georgia, the son of the preacher did not chase boys. Or marry them.” I paused when another gaggle of teens raced by, boys and girls this time. “Betty and I have two children. I’m out now, happy for it too, but I’ve not actively pursued many men since I came out.”
“Have you pursued any men?” he asked, his tone lighter now.
“Counting you? One.”
His face, which I’d noticed was quite expressive as he’d played, showed just how surprised he was. Then a slow, sensual sort of burning smile played on his lips.
“I’m honored to be the one to pop your dating bubble,” he said, but his words held a different meaning, in my ears at least. Dating bubble hell, I wanted this man to pop more than a dating bubble. I wanted him to pop everything I owned that was poppable.
“Be gentle,” I replied, getting a rich snort of amusement.
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