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Liberal vegan meets corporate carnivore. What could possibly go wrong?
Phil Sorrells is a liberal vegan with a popular restaurant and a thing for aggressive little blonds. Thom Stone is an aggressive little blond with corporate ambitions and a fierce temper. The attraction between them is immediate, and the sex is explosive. But when they climb out of bed long enough to talk, they learn how different they really are. So how do they navigate the ideological minefield separating them to find common ground? Very carefully.
This book has been previously released. It has undergone minor re-edits by the author, without substantial changes to the story.
© Copyright 1st edition 2008 Ally Blue
© Copyright 2nd edition 2017 Ally Blue
It was a little after ten a.m. when Thom left his apartment and headed downstairs to The HO. He tried to tell himself his hands weren’t shaking when he unlocked the employee entrance, but it was no use. They definitely were.
So were his knees.
And just to make the whole situation as perfect as possible, his palms were sweating.
All in all, Thom figured he resembled nothing so much as the biggest dork in eighth grade about to ask the prettiest girl in class to slow dance. At least Phil wasn’t likely to sneer, or laugh, or ignore him altogether and run off to giggle with his friends in the corner.
Thom was standing in front of Phil’s closed office door, trying to work up the nerve to knock, when Mike came slouching in from the kitchen. “Hey, Thom. Phil’s not here.”
“Oh.” Thom stuck his hands in his pockets, feeling at once relieved and irritated. “I thought he was working today.”
“Yeah, he was supposed to, but he decided to take today off since he worked yesterday. He’s at home.” Mike crossed the floor to the employee restroom and paused in the doorway. “You could call him, though. He said he was gonna do some more work on the house, so he’ll be there all day.”
“Actually, I kind of need to talk to him in person.” Thom tapped his tongue stud against the back of his teeth. “Guess it can wait until tomorrow.”
“You could go over there, if you want. He won’t mind.”
A sudden image of bending Phil over his own kitchen table popped into Thom’s head. It looked good, even though Thom had no idea if Phil even had a kitchen table. In fact, he had no idea where Phil lived.
“What’s his address?” Thom’s mouth asked before his brain could decide whether or not it was a good idea.
“Fourteen oh one Groverdale Circle, in the Montford district.” Mike started to shut the restroom door, then pulled it open again. “You know how to get there?”
“No, but I’ll get directions on my phone.” Thom gave the boy a genuinely grateful smile. “Thanks, Mike. See you later.”
Mike’s cheeks went beet red. “Sure. See you.” He shut the door. The lock clicked into place.
Thom chuckled as he went back outside. If he didn’t know for a solid fact that Mike was straight, he would’ve sworn the kid had a crush on him. As it was, Thom figured Mike was just scared of him. That seemed to happen to Thom a lot, for reasons he had never understood.
Out in the alley, Thom ran up the outside stairs to his apartment to grab his phone, sunglasses, bike keys, jacket and helmet. He punched Phil’s address into Google Maps on his phone as he walked back down the steps. According to the map he pulled up, Phil’s house was only a couple of miles away, on a cul-de-sac at the end of a winding side street a couple of turns off of Patton Avenue. He could be there in five minutes, barring any unusually heavy traffic.
Five minutes. In five minutes, he’d be with Phil. In his house.
A wave of dizziness hit him. He clung to the railing while his heart attempted a flying leap up his throat. Why he should be so scared of having an honest conversation with Phil, he had no idea, but there it was. He was fucking terrified.
No room for fear. His first serious boyfriend used to say that all the time, particularly when he wanted Thom to indulge one of his kinkier fantasies. In spite of how he usually used it, it was one of the few nuggets of true wisdom the smug asshole had ever spewed forth.
It certainly fit now. There was no room for Thom’s doubts and fears right now. No place for them. If he wanted to keep his sanity, he and Phil were going to have to clear the air. Phil had left it up to Thom to decide what, if anything, happened next between them. Therefore, it was up to Thom to take the initiative.
For the first time in his life, he very much wished that wasn’t the case.
Suck it up and just do it, boy.
Squaring his shoulders, he descended the last few stairs and walked over to his Harley.
Four and a half minutes later, Thom pulled into Phil’s driveway at the apex of the cul-de-sac in one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. He sat there for a second, staring at the house and trying to decide whether it was charmingly offbeat or merely appalling.
The Victorian-style structure sat well back from the road, on a spacious lot shaded by gnarled oaks and graceful elms. Like many urban homes from that era, the deep, narrow house boasted a covered porch, intricate woodwork, a gabled roof and plenty of tall bay windows. However, the resemblance to anything old-fashioned or quaint ended with the architecture. The clapboard walls were painted bright cornflower blue, while rich purple adorned the gingerbread woodwork, the window trim and the porch railings. In contrast, the front door was done in the same retina-searing yellow as the anthropomorphic onion which welcomed patrons to The HO.
It was bright, eye-catching, unique. It stood out among its more sedate neighbors like a belly dancer in a monastery, flaunting its one-of-a-kind appeal with unabashed joy.
It was, in other words, unmistakably Phil.
For some reason, Thom found that fact endearing rather than scary.
Drawing a deep breath, Thom swung himself off his Harley, pocketed the keys and strode up the flower-lined flagstone path to the porch steps before he could change his mind. The steps were painted the same pale spring green as the porch floorboards. Black footprints formed a barefoot trail up the steps and across the porch to the door. Thom followed them, a grin tugging at his mouth. The prints looked suspiciously similar in size and shape to Phil’s feet.
And wasn’t it just beyond disturbing that Thom remembered Phil’s bare feet well enough to notice?
As he approached the door, Thom heard music thudding from inside. He listened for a moment, trying to get a sense of Phil’s current mood. The music he played nearly always reflected how he felt. Thom let out a relieved sigh when he recognized a track from Beck’s Midnite Vultures. Phil only played that one when he was feeling upbeat.
Gathering his courage, Thom lifted his hand and gave three firm raps on the sturdy wooden door. A few seconds later, the door swung open, blasting “Sexx Laws” to the neighborhood at the ear-splitting volume Phil seemed to prefer.
Phil stood in the open doorway wearing a pair of ripped, faded and paint-splattered jeans and nothing else. Sweat threaded tiny rivers through the thick fur on his chest and plastered curling tendrils of golden brown hair to his flushed face.
He looked positively edible. Thom gulped.
The slow, sexy grin that always turned Thom into a slack-jawed idiot spread over Phil’s face. “Hey, Bubbles. What brings you here?”
We need to talk. We need to figure out where whatever we have between us is going. After that, if we decide to pursue a relationship, we will need to set boundaries and limits. Then, and only then, you may take me to bed.
Not one word of Thom’s carefully rehearsed speech emerged from his dry mouth. Sex! his overactive libido screamed instead. Sex now! Sexsexsex!
He licked his lips. “Uh… I…”
Phil frowned. “Thom? You okay?”
Thom breathed deep in a desperate bid to calm himself. Bad idea. The ripe smell of sweat-soaked, overheated male skin flooded his brain, and he was lost.
He heard the growl rumble up from inside him, felt his palms plant themselves on Phil’s warm, damp chest, but he couldn’t stop himself any more than he could stop the sun from rising in the morning.
Phil stumbled backward when Thom shoved him into the foyer. “Hey! What the hell?”
Thom followed him inside and kicked the door shut. He tore off his jacket. It fell to the floor with a muffled thump.
Phil eyed him with a curious mix of arousal and trepidation. “Uh, Thom? What’s up, man?”
My dick. And it’s all your fault, you fucking sexy damn granola-head.
God, it made him angry to lose control like this. Stupid Phil, standing there all flushed and gorgeous, making Thom hard with nothing but his naked chest and his raw masculine scent and the growing fire in his eyes.