Author: Claire Thompson
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Romance UnboundSummary:
What can a sophisticated Wall Street trader and a simple handyman possibly have in common?
Handsome, sexy and gay, Will Spencer uses and discards lovers as easily as he trades stocks. He is used to taking what—and who—he wants.
Jack Crawford, a recently widowed handyman, never thought of himself as gay. Frightened by an erotic encounter years before, Jack has never embraced his deepest sexual longings.
In an unlikely pairing, Will and Jack explore an incendiary relationship, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always scintillatingly erotic. Jack is forced to confront feelings he’s hidden for a lifetime. Will is faced with something he isn’t sure he can handle—love.
Warning: Hot, delicious male/male erotic romance. Danger: Explicit m/m sex.
Will awoke with a start, his body jerking in response to a half-remembered dream. He was sitting in his living room, an empty brandy glass still clutched in one hand. After he sent Jack away he’d proceeded to pour himself way too much brandy and drink it all, cursing himself all the while.
I had him. He was reaching out to me. And I rebuffed him. I sent him home like we were characters in some stupid romantic comedy from the fifties. Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Now he’ll go home, sober up and thank God he got out of that one. I’ll never hear from him again. I’m such a fucking idiot.
Will sighed and pressed his hands to his head, which was throbbing dully. Wearily he stood and made his way to the kitchen. He poured himself a glass of water from the new faucet Jack had helped him pick out and stood silently admiring the space.
Jack was more than a handyman, more than a carpenter. He was an artist. The room was elegant, functional and pleasing to the eye. One would never have looked at the burly, masculine Jack and assumed he was capable of such artistry. Will realized he was holding on to a stereotype in reverse—assuming a straight man like Jack wouldn’t be capable of creating something beautiful.
Will drank the glass of water and poured another. Yes, he’d sent Jack away but, though he’d maybe lost an opportunity, he knew he had done the right thing. Any potential erotic feelings Jack was experiencing were too tentative to be taken advantage of while he was under the influence of alcohol. He might have been able to squeeze a one-night something out of it, but that wasn’t what he wanted.
For whatever reason, he had to admit he wanted something more with Jack. Unlike Paul and all the other sex partners he’d had over the years, he felt a connection with Jack he couldn’t explain. It made no sense when he tried to analyze it—Jack wasn’t particularly handsome, he was too old, he was straight, or even if he wasn’t, he came with a lot of baggage to shuck off before they could really have a meaningful relationship. Why would Will want to bother with someone like that? Why waste his time and energy? He could have his pick of men—why choose one so unlikely?
Why indeed? What made a person fall in love? Was it really something so simple as the way the other person smiled when you talked? The way he stroked the wall before applying paint, feeling for any hidden roughness he would sand away? Was it the way he’d touched Will’s elbow as he stood close behind him at the pool table, guiding him with a gentle, sure touch that spoke of his quiet self-assurance? Was it his scent, a sexy combination of male essence and whatever soap he used, mixed with the fresh laundry scent of his faded, soft denim work shirts?
Am I in love?
Surely it was too soon to say. Will knew he was in lust. He knew he wanted to explore Jack’s newfound interest, if that’s what it was. He was dying to pick up the phone and call him—just to see if he got home okay, if he was okay with what they’d talked about. He looked at his watch. Two a.m. was a little late to be checking, seeing as he’d sent the guy away hours before.
With a sigh, he hauled himself off to bed.
~*~In the morning a single beam of light fell onto Jack’s face, waking him. Before he was fully conscious he knew something had changed. Something had happened that made him feel different, though still in a semi-sleep state, he couldn’t recall what it was.
He became aware of the chirping of birds outside his bedroom window. He sat up and opened his eyes, squinting in the bright sunlight to see two robins, their red breasts proudly puffed as they whistled their springy duet. Jack smiled. He’d always regarded seeing robins as a sign of good luck.
He glanced at the clock. It was after nine. He rarely slept this late. Must have been all that brandy. The night returned to him with a flash, scrolling across his brain like a silent movie. He lay back against the pillows and put his hands behind his head. Just what exactly had gone on last night?
He tried to recall Will’s precise words. I feel a kindred connection, something between us that sometimes I imagine you feel too. I have this crazy idea maybe we could explore it—together.
Men didn’t say that sort of thing to one another. Not straight men, anyway. Yet when Will had said it, Jack hadn’t recoiled, though he hadn’t known how to respond. He felt the same way, really. At least as far as feeling a certain connection—an easiness he rarely felt with anyone.
Will had crept up on him. He’d slipped past Jack’s usual reserve with his disarming admiration and open friendliness. Was that all it was? Was Jack merely lonely? Was Will the first person to bother, since Emma had been gone, to push past his defenses?
Or was there something more? Did he find Will attractive? As a man? As a potential…lover?
Just the word made Jack flush, though he was alone in the room in his empty house. Did he flush because the idea repulsed him? Or because it excited him? Was he finally ready, twenty-six years after the fact, to explore whatever homoerotic feelings he might have buried beneath a lifetime of denial?
Jack got up and went into the bathroom, his bladder for the moment distracting him from his ruminations. After he peed, he turned on the shower and waited for the spray to heat as he shucked off his pajama bottoms and underwear.
He stared at himself in the bathroom mirror. What could Will possibly see in him? He was in his forties, the hair on his chest going gray, the laugh lines around his eyes pronounced, as were the grooves along either side of his mouth.
His body was still strong and firm, as a result of steady, hard physical work all his life. No gym workouts and tennis games to keep in shape, not for Jack Crawford. He’d built his muscles through the labor of his back and the sweat of his brow. He grinned at himself, aware for a horrible moment he sounded just like his father.
He turned sideways, consciously holding in his stomach and thrusting out his chest. Then he laughed out loud. He was being ridiculous—acting as vain as any insecure kid.
He climbed into the shower and soaped up his body and his hair, his mind returning to Will. Will’s body was lean and firm—the body of an athlete. He was definitely good-looking—almost too good-looking, Jack thought. The kind of man whose face you’d see in an ad for men’s cologne or fine Italian loafers.
Will had the look of an aristocrat, that’s the word Jack was groping for. He was young, rich and smart. Why in the hell was he interested in Jack?
Was he interested in Jack?
Will might have meant only and precisely what he’d said—that he liked and admired Jack. That didn’t mean he wanted to have anything more, did it? Just because he was gay didn’t mean he wanted to jump into bed with every guy he came into contact with.
Jack rinsed in the hot spray and soaped himself up again, this time lingering over his cock and balls. He sighed with pleasure as his cock elongated and hardened beneath his fingers. He closed his eyes, lifting his face to the hot spray as he massaged his shaft.
Will… Despite himself, Jack saw those brilliant green eyes, fixed so intently upon him. He felt for one ridiculous heart-stopping moment Will was actually there, watching him stroke himself in the shower.
Would Will like to watch such a thing? Jack flushed at the thought but tried not to censor himself from thinking it. Did Will have sexual fantasies about him? Was he way off the mark about Will’s feelings for him? After all, he’d only said he liked him. He’d said he enjoyed spending time with him. Yet when he had tried to respond in kind, admittedly in a clumsy, drunken ramble, Will had sent him away—dismissed him. Though part of him was relieved, it rankled nonetheless.
“My God, give it a rest, Crawford,” Jack said aloud. “For all I know, the guy has zero interest, no intentions. Here I am, gearing up for some kind of gay encounter and Will has probably forgotten the whole thing. Jesus, I’m pathetic.”
He forced himself to think of a naked woman as he finished jerking himself off. Just as he ejaculated his libido got the better of his conscious mind, thrusting the image of Will, bent over the pool table, his hair falling into his eyes, his lips parted as he prepared for a shot…
Jack finished his shower and roughly toweled himself dry. If only he hadn’t finished the job at Will’s place already. He prided himself on working steady and fast—it was a big reason he got repeat business, maybe the main reason. He had two jobs lined up for next week, though neither would take more than a day or two. After that, maybe he could call Will, invite himself over with some plans for Will’s master bathroom. It could definitely use some renovation…
Wait a minute. What was he thinking? Jack never solicited business. He let it come to him. If Will wanted more work done, he had Jack’s number. He wasn’t about to foist himself on the guy just because they’d maybe spoken a little too freely after a little too much to drink.
If Will wanted to see him again, Will could call. Will, after all, had been the one to send him away. Let him call him back—if that’s what he wanted. And if he didn’t, well, that was that. Jack had been doing fine on his own these past two years. There was no reason to suppose he couldn’t go on just as he had been for the next twenty.
Jack went about his business, making himself breakfast, eating it in front of the TV as he watched the Friday morning news, washing the few dishes and putting them in the rack to dry. He had a small job that afternoon—some finishing touches on a sunroom he’d built on a house not far from Will’s. Then the weekend loomed.
As he poured himself a second cup of coffee an uninvited thought slipped into his head. What if you wait for him to call, but he doesn’t? Will you let this second chance slip away like you did the first?
He had no answer.
I've been writing for nearly two decades, and have published over 60 novels. I write BDSM romance and non-con abduction tales, spanning both m/f and m/m genres. My love affair is with all things D/s (Dominance/submission). My work began as a romantic exploration of the BDSM life style, and then veered somewhat to the darker side of fantasy. I love delving into the dark psyche of a twisted mind, and gaining insight into what might motivate such a person to do what they do. I don't create all black and white villains and heroes, but rather strive to develop real, complex and flawed human beings. I don't want to simply provide an erotic thrill or evocative description. I seek not only to tell a story, but to come to grips with, and ultimately exalt in the true beauty and spirituality of a loving exchange of power. My darker works press the envelope of what is erotic and what can be a sometimes dangerous slide into the world of sadomasochism. Ultimately my work deals with the human condition, and our constant search for love and intensity of experience.