Ransom Burke, the handsome, wealthy, gay CEO of Burke, Burke, and Hammett, has implemented a strict no-fraternization rule for his firm. And with good reason—his father's profligate ways almost destroyed the family company. Ransom’s new policy works well until he comes into the office one day and sees Parrish Rutledge, his new executive secretary. Ransom finds Parrish extremely attractive but fights his feelings. If he takes Parrish as a lover, he'll have to fire him.
Parrish has been alone since he was sixteen, having been tossed out by his older brother. He dreams of his boss but knows nothing can ever come of it. Then an office party becomes their undoing and they give in to their passion. As expected, Ransom offers Parrish a choice: stay and ignore what happened or leave the job and return to college. Neither option is even remotely appealing. If only Parrish could persuade Ransom there's a third possibility….
- 2 Read lists
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Class Differences, Office / Workplace Romance
Word Count: 87355
Setting: Charlotte, NC
Languages Available: English
Parrish Rutledge was so excited he didn’t know what to do with himself. Today was going to be the best Valentine’s Day!
He had always loved this day because of how his mom had made it for him. She’d bake cupcakes and frost them with red icing and they’d watch a movie marathon of love lost and love found. There were chocolates and candy hearts and even a Beanie Baby bear with a little red heart that he kept until he was sixteen.
When he was in middle school, the boys and girls would shyly give each other cards for Valentine’s Day. Parrish had given out his fair share, because his mom had insisted on it. And while he’d have liked to give a card to the boy who sat in front of him, he knew even at that age it could result in a punch in the nose.READ MORE
In high school, those cards had been given because the boys and girls were dating, and the card was accompanied by a kiss. With his mom recently deceased, there was no one to nudge him along. Parrish didn’t even bother.
He met Robbie when he was sixteen and Robbie was seventeen. They lived with the same foster family, and what they did was confined to kissing and touching, sometimes rubbing against each other frantically. The Pitneys were cool with what they did as long as they were discreet. Parrish had high hopes for Valentine’s Day, but then Robbie turned eighteen a few weeks before. With no real prospects, Robbie had joined the army, and that was the last time Parrish saw him.
He’d dated on and off after he left for college, finally finding someone he liked enough that he went to the local CVS to buy condoms and lube. He had high hopes again for Valentine’s Day, but they broke up about a week before, when Parrish found Arnie making out with the assistant basketball coach in the showers. They were so wrapped up in each other—Arnie was never like that with him—they didn’t even realize they had an audience. Parrish walked out without saying a word, and afterward, Arnie couldn’t understand why he refused to see him anymore. Well, fuck Arnie.
But things were finally looking up! Now in his junior year, Parris was dating Marty Schuur, the hottest guy on campus. The guy who could have anyone he wanted, wanted him! Marty was Parrish’s boyfriend!
And this year, he’d finally have someone to go with to the Valentine’s Day dance! Their college was fairly moderate regarding same sex couples, and they’d be able to dance together without worrying about being bashed.
Most importantly, for the first time in forever, he wasn’t going to be spending Valentine’s Day alone.
Of course he had to get Marty something that was worthy of such hotness. He didn’t have much money, but he had enough to buy a chain with Marty’s zodiac sign, the Scorpion, for the charm.
Marty was tutoring some sophomore, but as soon as he was done, they were going to grab a bite, go to the dance, and then return to Marty’s dorm room, where Parrish would give his boyfriend his Valentine’s gift.
Oh, the heck with it! He couldn’t wait until later! He was going to give Marty his gift now. Marty would be so thrilled. He’d send the sophomore away, and they’d spend the rest of the afternoon on Marty’s bed. Maybe he’d even let Parrish top for a change. And instead of Burger King or McDonald’s, for dinner Parrish would take him somewhere special, maybe Red Lobster.
Maybe they’d skip the dance.
Parrish bounced down the stairs to Marty’s dorm room on the second floor, tapped on the door, and flung it open. “Happy….”
Marty was on the bed, and under him was the sophomore. Parrish felt as if he’d taken a blow to his gut.
He swallowed. “Sorry,” he said. Was this what Marty had been doing when he said he was tutoring other students? Parrish closed the door and started walking toward the stairs. All he wanted was the shelter of his room.
He turned to hear what his former boyfriend had to say.
Marty stood in the doorway, yanking up a pair of shorts obviously not his because they were on the snug side. “You’ve got it all wrong!” He smiled at him.
“Do I?” Only five minutes ago Parrish had considered that smile the epitome of sexy. God, he felt like such a fool! “I guess we’re through.”
“Why would you think that? This doesn’t mean anything!”
“To you, maybe. But to me?” And how would that sophomore react to learn he meant nothing to Marty?
“You’re breaking up with me?” How could he look surprised? “You can’t…. Come on, babe!”
God, he was so disappointed. He’d built up such dreams….
Marty must have realized Parrish was serious when he said they were through, because he lost that coy expression, replacing it with a dark, uncaring look. “Y’know what? We’re done. I was gonna break up with you today anyway!” He sneered at him. “As if I’d ever let you top me! You’re not worth spending Valentine’s Day with!”
“No, I guess not.” Parrish turned away and climbed the stairs to his room. He knew his world wasn’t coming to an end—it hadn’t when Arnie cheated on him—but it hurt like hell.
His palm hurt too, and he realized he’d been squeezing his fingers shut. He opened them and looked down at the charm he held in his hand.
Maybe the jeweler would give him his money back.
This was originally supposed to be a Christmas story, and while it does have a Christmas scene, it was reworked to center around Valentine's Day.