Free-spirited computer programmer Kent McMann loves life, candy, his family, and his job designing apps. With his go-getter attitude, he succeeds at anything he tackles. So having a child with a surrogate mother is the perfect start to the family he’s always wanted, even though he still hasn't found his longed-for Mr. Right.
Then, into Kent’s life comes triathlete Dex Lochland, who also happens to be a successful app designer, and the two of them hit it off. They soon begin a relationship full of fun, sex, laughter, and love. But when Kent learns his attempt at fatherhood with the surrogate has succeeded, Dex is shocked. Unknown to Kent until that moment, Dex has never wanted children.
Kent's decision before he met Dex might cost him the man of his dreams.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
DEX LOCHLAND stepped off the elevator and tried not to sigh. The rooftop of the Tech for Life building was jumping with partygoers, the atmosphere cheery. It was a celebration, after all. Whatever new piece of tech or new program they were launching was sure to make the company a mint. TFL was the number-one fitness accessory and app producer in the country, and it showed in the party. Everyone was elegant and the food was decadent, despite the fact that neither of those really had much to do with fitness.
Why was he here again?READ MORE
Oh right, Julie had accused him of being too inside of his own head and of having no life outside of the Ironman triathlons he ran. The barb had hit just a little too close to home, and with his thirtieth birthday looming, he’d heeded her advice that he “get himself out there.”
The problem was, parties like this one tended to bore him. He hadn’t even come to his own launch parties, aside from the first one where he’d discovered he didn’t talk tech, he didn’t do well at random small talk, and he wasn’t interested in rubbing elbows with celebrities.
“Just find one person and talk to them. Then you can go home.” Julie’s instructions rang in his head when he would have turned around and taken the elevator back down to the lobby, so he straightened the tie that threatened to choke him and that Julie had insisted was proper attire—it was a fitness-app release for Pete’s sake, wouldn’t running or yoga gear have been more appropriate?—and waded into the throng.
He passed on the waiter with the tray full of champagne flutes and grabbed a bottle of Evian from a side table so they wouldn’t keep trying to offer him a drink.
He didn’t know anyone here aside from Douglas Manning, the VP of development who was his own liaison here at the company, but he didn’t really want to make Douglas his one person. Besides, he was pretty sure Julie had meant someone new. She’d probably even meant someone who was potentially a date, but he was going to count it as done whether he talked to a woman or a man.
Sipping at his water, he was drawn to the fountain surrounded by greenery at the far left of the rooftop.
“I brought Hula-Hoops for everyone!” The words rang out, a wild-haired guy bouncing and smiling wide. It was like watching a cartoon, seriously. A crazy, bright, loud cartoon.
“Kent!” The cry sounded from almost everyone.
Dude. Kent McMann, crazy genius and mad developer. That was who this launch party was for. Something to do with the damn Hula-Hoops, but the guy had all sorts of apps and add-ons for your phone, your tablet. In like every field. The man didn’t let categories hold him in.
Dex found himself caught as he watched the guy passing out Hula-Hoops in every color imaginable. Kent smiled at everyone, spoke and touched and chatted for a second. The man had the make-nice thing down; Dex was impressed. He could make a pretty good go of it when he really tried, but he had a harder time pretending this kind of thing didn’t bore the hell out of him. At least today’s craziness was outside.
“Ironman!” McMann got to him. “Great to meet you in person. Love the app. The logo tickles me.”
Now Dex was even more impressed. Not to mention Kent was adorable as hell with the crazy blond hair and the freckles across his nose. “Thanks, man. Congratulations to you! It’s your big day.”
“Thank you! I’m totally stoked. Want a Hula-Hoop?” Okay, this man was adorable.
“I can’t remember the last time I hula-hooped.” If he ever had. Still, he found himself holding out his hand, pleased when a rainbow one was handed over.
“I hope you make good use of it.”
“I don’t know, I might need lessons.” Was he flirting with Kent?
“I know a fabulous teacher.” Whether or not Dex was flirting, Kent was totally flirting back.
“You’ll have to give me his number,” Dex suggested.
“Give me your phone. Better yet, meet me at the elevator in fifteen minutes.”
Dex could totally handle fifteen more minutes. Especially if more time with Kent was his reward. “I’ll be there. Hula-Hoop and all.”
“Rock on, Ironman.”
“Keep on hooping.” He gave Kent a wink, then watched the man go. Broad shoulders moved down into a tiny little waist and a sweet, sweet ass.
Damn. This event was looking up.
He checked his watch and began wandering. He’d talked to his one person and, if he was lucky, was leaving with him. Dex actually found himself talking to a few folks, making small talk that was actually pleasant. The worst part of the event was that he was going to have to tell Julie she was right. Which was pretty much a win for both of them.
After fifteen minutes, he left his water bottle in a recycling bin and headed for the elevator.
Two minutes later, Kent was right there, those sherry-colored eyes shining. “You stayed!”
He couldn’t help but grin at the man. “And you showed.”
“I’m good that way.” Kent pushed the button on the elevator.
“From where I’m standing, you’re good a lot of ways.”
When Kent blushed, that pale skin went bright pink, and Dex was charmed. Utterly.
The elevator dinged, doors sliding open, and he waved Kent in ahead of him. Kent bounced in, looking like a happy puppy. That happiness drew him like a moth to a flame.
He pressed the button for the lobby and settled close to Kent as the doors closed and they started moving down. It gave him a chance to check Kent out properly. Pale and more than a touch goofy, Kent’s entire self was in constant motion, hands sliding over the railing in the elevator, adjusting his watch. It made Dex wonder how those fingers would feel against his skin.
He cleared his throat, trying to distract himself from thoughts that were going to make him hard.
It was Kent who broke the silence. “Do you drink beer? Wine? Coffee? Or did you genuinely want me to show you hula-hooping?”
“I’m happier with juice and water,” Dex admitted. “But I’d love to grab a drink with you. Maybe we can save the hula-hooping for later.”
“Sounds like a plan. There’s a place right around the corner here—upscale diner. We should be able to get what we want.”
“Works for me.” Dex thought he might have agreed to just about anything for the chance to get to know the bubbly Kent better.
The elevator came to a stop, the ding sounding as the doors slid open, and again, he waved Kent ahead of him. “After you.”
“Thank you, sir.” Kent bounced out with a flourish. “Coffee, ho!”
He had to laugh; Kent was so full of life. He had to admire the man’s ass, too, as he followed along. Tight and tiny and made for sin—it was a thing of beauty. Dex’s prick began filling, and he was thankful they were turning in to a little diner. He was even more thankful to slip into a booth, hiding his growing hard-on.
Kent propped his Hula-Hoop up in the window, the rainbow foil shining and sparkling, leaving designs of light on Kent’s face.
“That is charming as hell,” Dex noted.
“What is?” And that genuine cluelessness was even more adorable.
“Oh, you’re a lovely flirt. Thank you!” The best part was that Kent looked totally pleased.
“Thank you for asking me out.” It had been unexpected and pretty great—the best kind of surprise.
The waitress came over before he could say anything else. “Can I get you boys something to drink?”
“I’m good with water, please.” He didn’t need the empty calories found in alcoholic drinks.
“Water and coffee, thanks.”
“Can I buy you dinner while we’re here?” Dex honestly wanted more than just a quick coffee. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so taken so quickly.
“Absolutely. I would love that.” Kent grinned at him, wriggling in his seat. “I am free as a bird now that the cocktail party is over.”
“That’s great.” He passed one of the menus the waitress had brought to Kent and opened the other one. “You like diner food?” If Kent didn’t, they could have their water and coffee and move on.
“Oh, I like food. I’m really the easiest on that front. I’ll eat anything from McDonald’s to fine dining.”
“What I go for depends on where I am in training,” Dex admitted. “I’m alternating right now, so I’m eating a more normal diet. Have you eaten here before?”
“I have. I eat here all the time.”
“Yeah? What do you recommend?” He wasn’t surprised, really. The place suited Kent somehow.
“The chicken and dumplings are exceptional, the polenta cakes with the candied bacon is stunning. Uh…. Oh, the chili burger is surprisingly good.”
“You had me at candied bacon.” He rarely indulged in bacon and this sounded especially decadent, but he felt like giving it a try.
Kent cackled, the sound surprisingly birdlike. “That’s totally what I’m having.”
“Well, looks like we have stuff in common.” He closed his menu, watching Kent.
“That’s handy. You like sweet crunchy salty goodness and Hula-Hoops.”
“We both design apps,” Dex added.
“We do! We’re both into dick.” The last was offered carefully.
“We are. Thank God, or there would be this really awkward moment at the end of supper.” Because he had totally assumed Kent was gay when they’d been flirting.
“No shit on that.”
They looked at each other and cracked up, laughing together merrily.
He managed to sober up when their waitress came back with their drinks. They both ordered the polenta with candied bacon and got side garden salads with that.
When she was gone again, his focus turned back to Kent. “So, I have to ask. Why Hula-Hoops?”
“I like to hula-hoop. It’s fun and it makes people laugh.”
“You actually are going to show me how it works, you know.” Dex thought it would be fun to learn a new form of exercise.
“Totally. I took classes.”
Why didn’t that surprise him? “I didn’t even know they had classes in hula-hooping.” It made sense, though, that if there was an app, there were classes too.
“Oh yeah. It’s a yoga thing. You get in touch with your inner wiggle.”
“Your inner wiggle….” Dex had to laugh again. “You don’t seem to need any help finding yours.”
“No. God, no. I am the wiggle king.” Kent stopped, blinked, grabbed his smartphone. “Note to self. Wiggle king.”
Dex couldn’t remember the last time someone had made him laugh so much, just by being themselves.
“I want a dedication.” He had no clue what was going to become of that note, but he still wanted that nod.
“God, yes. Hell, you get collaborative credit.”
“Excellent. You’ll have to tell me what it is we’re collaborating on.”
“I have no idea,” Kent admitted.
Look at that smile. Dex was hooked. And laughing again.
His laughter was interrupted by the arrival of their food. He managed a “thank you” to their waitress, then cleared his throat a few times—laughing and eating at the same time would lead to choking.
They fell on the bacon like they were ravenous. Despite his misgivings about bacon, this candied version was damn good. He’d need to put in a lot of running for this. The polenta was good too, but the bacon was definitely the draw with this meal.
Kent licked his fingers, moaning happily. “God, this is good shit.”
“It is. Diners always have the best food.”
“Don’t they?” Kent looked so pleased.
“Thanks for inviting me.” He touched Kent’s knee under the table.
“Thank you for saying yes. That’s a grand thing.”
“Will you say yes if I ask you to come out with me again sometime? There’s a new rock-climbing gym that opened up on Nelson Avenue.” Dex had been wanting to try it but hadn’t had the opportunity yet.
“I would love to try that. I’ve never done rock climbing before. I love new things.”
“It’s a date, then.” Dex grabbed his phone and opened his calendar. The rock climbing would fit in great with his training on Thursday or Saturday. “Are you free Thursday afternoon?”
Kent checked his calendar. “I have an appointment at noon. Say three?”
“Three works great. Maybe I could make you a meal afterward?”
“I’d love that, man. Should I bring something?”
“Oh, that’s handy. I have that in spades!”
God, what a charming, dear man.
Dex owed Julie big time for making him go to the event, and he was so taken with Kent, he didn’t even mind.
“Do you have room for dessert, or would you like to walk off dinner first?” He knew of a little cheesecake shop that did an amazing duo plate to share.
“Let’s walk and then snack, huh? We can store your Hula-Hoop upstairs.”
“Upstairs?” Dex frowned. What was upstairs?
“My apartment. I like the building.”
“You coy devil, you. Upstairs it is.”
“What? It’s true.” Kent chuckled. “I told you, I’m in here all the time.”
“I believe you. I believe you.” He put up his hands. “Does that mean you get a discount on the food here?”
“Only when I remind them I own the building.”
“Well, to make sure they make their rent, I’m happy to pay full price.” Not to mention he’d offered to treat Kent at full price. He pulled his wallet out.
“I’ve got this one. You’re cooking Thursday.”
“Works for me. Thank you for dinner. I’m pretty sure I can’t rival candied bacon.” Hell, just the idea of candied bacon had never even occurred to him. Not to mention it was a rare indulgence, not something to be had several times a week.
“Oh man. Note I didn’t cook it. I just paid for it.”
“I’ll have to remember that.”
Dex was a good cook, though. He’d learned a lot about nutrition and cooking himself the best meals for training and running the triathlons. Hell, he’d invented the app for that. Which was why, in a roundabout way, Kent was coming for dinner on Thursday after their date at the rock-climbing gym. How cool was that?
“Come on up, honey. You can drop your hoop, and we’ll go have a wander. I love walking the city.”
“Sounds good.” Dex took a last sip of his water and followed Kent out the back entrance of the diner. This one led to the lobby of the building instead of outside. There were other stores, along with a bank of elevators, which was where they were headed.
The building was light, open, and they headed up to the penthouse level. The space here was spectacular—bright and modern, the white splashed with jewel tones.
“You have a decorator do this?” He suspected not. The brilliant color matched what he knew of Kent’s personality.
“Nah. I just put things where I wanted them, where it felt right.”
“Good, then this is you. And I love it. It’s a happy place. Kind of like you.” He wasn’t sure he’d ever met anyone as happy as Kent. It was infectious.
“Yeah? Thanks. I’ve been here three years and it’s home.”
“My place is considerably smaller.” It had a room for his workout equipment, though, and that’s what counted.
“Yeah. I’m not… please don’t think I was being all ‘look at me this is mine.’”
“Thought didn’t even cross my mind. You don’t strike me as the boastful type.”
Kent was just happy to show off his home. Dex could see that.
“No. That’s no fun. Playing is fun.”
“It sure is.” Chuckling, he got hold of Kent’s shirt and tugged him close. Tilting his head, he took a kiss.
“Oh.” Kent laughed into the caress, tongue sliding over his lips.
He opened up, letting Kent in. The kiss was playful, somehow light and lovely. He could easily have lost himself in it, but he was hoping for another chance before they parted ways. Anticipation was good for the soul, right?
“Oh, that is tempting.” Kent backed off. “Will you be offended if we walk now? I… I’m not a one-night-stand guy. I like to take it on the slow side. I know that’s odd, but… I really want to get to know you.”
“We’re on the same page—I was just thinking a little anticipation would make this even sweeter.”
“Oh good. Good. Excellent.”
He took Kent’s hand, and together they headed out to wander the city and find some dessert.
This was the best evening he’d had in a long, long time, and he couldn’t wait to see what happened next.COLLAPSE