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Two For The Road

by LE Franks

Two for the Road - LE Franks - Cocktails & Chaos
Part of the Cocktails and Chaos series:
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 5.99
ISBN: ASIN: B091DQ3566
Pages: 331

Nick's unwelcome past roars into his life like a tornado. Will its path destroy his and Fatboy's secret romance?

Hot and heavy under the covers, cool and distant in the public eye, Nick and FatBoy have been keeping their relationship secret from friends and coworkers at the bar. But if Nick gets his way, their first carefully planned weekend will catapult their relationship to the next level—after all, once FatBoy experiences the liberation of an exclusive gay resort, how can he possibly be content to keep their love life under wraps?

But circumstances have never been kind to Nick, and expecting Fate to give his love life a free pass is too much to ask. When an attack at the bar leaves Nick reeling and confused, it is merely the first domino to fall in a chain of events that leads Nick to question who he is, how he got there, and where he belongs. His only hope is that he’ll still have the man of his dreams at his side when he reaches the end of the road.

This book is on:
  • 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Independently Published
Cover Artists:
Pairings: M-M
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Find Love and Come Out, Office / Workplace Romance, Opposites Attract, Passing as Straight
Word Count: 91771
Setting: Road Trip in the South
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

There are two things I crave that are hot enough to melt the surface of the sun: a naked FatBoy under my sheets, and the chicken sandwich Nashville is known for. Right now I had neither. Instead, the only hot and heavy breathing to be found came from the stifling humidity in my airless loft.

July had rolled across Tennessee with a vengeance. Temperatures were in the nineties, which brought the dank musk of decay, rolling thunder, and muggy air that clung to the skin and smothered all motivation to move. Inevitably the swamp-like conditions chased me from my bed and into the shelter of the bar, where I stayed until long after the last beer had been poured and night was a bruise of periwinkle fading on the horizon. 

Today was more of the same. 


I headed into work early to escape the heat, driving the five blocks in my air-conditioned truck. It wasn’t long enough to keep my cool—the leather-wrapped steering wheel seared my palms, and the plastic of the gear shift was tacky, as if it were slowly melting. Given enough time, I’d probably come back to find only a stalk of metal in a puddle of grey ooze. 

When I pulled into the restaurant, I was ready to call it a day, a night—or even a lifetime—whichever got me turned around and heading straight for the Gulf of Mexico, or maybe into it. But as I parked behind the bar and pushed open my door, it was too late. The air shimmered around me like a malevolent force, and stepping down into it was like entering Hell’s sauna. 

Sucking in a breath was like swallowing wet cement—a drop of sweat broke and slid down my cheek, and my undershirt and trousers stuck to my skin. 

I needed another shower. 

Rolling my wrist, I checked the hour on my father’s vintage Hamilton, my thumb rubbing across the scratched crystal. It was an old habit, one that conjured the image of the man who’d made them, until I shoved it away—the last thing I had time for was the ghost of parents, past. 

Instead, I considered my options as I crunched across the gravel lot to the back door. No one was in a hurry during the dog days of summer. The bar wasn’t scheduled to open for another hour and a half, and Ian, the only bartender scheduled for lunch service, wouldn’t show up much before then. I had plenty of time to slow-walk my Monday inventory in the cold room until the chill leached the smoldering heat from my bones. 

Stepping inside, I locked the door as a blast of air conditioning hit. It dried the sticky sweat on my skin, and glued the shirt to my back, sending me into the locker room to shower and change, again. By the time I’d finished, and was all buttoned up and tucked in once more, life vibrated through the walls. 

I heard the familiar clank of pans, and the murmur of voices from the kitchen telling me Sal was driving his crew through their lunch prep. By now our head chef Marco would be working on the dinner specials and calling in orders for the coming week. He wouldn’t show his face until the lunch service was well underway. 

I wasn’t hungry enough to invade their whirlwind of controlled chaos in order to beg for scraps. I’d wait until Marco resurfaced—maybe share a steak and sample a bottle of wine or two while we worked out the pairings for dishes he dreamed up in the airless broom closet he called an office.

Blake wouldn’t seek me out until later, always happy to put off ordering until tomorrow if he could get away with it—and as owner he could, and usually did. With luck, he wouldn’t show up at all and I could drop the inventory sheets on his desk and sneak an undisturbed nap on his couch until my shift officially started at four o’clock. 

Plan in mind, I wandered the bar removing chairs from tabletops, straightening barstools as I moved. The place looked good. Our cleaning crew had done their work—taking advantage of the early close on Sunday to do the heavy cleaning—they’d left the scent of lemon and orange lingering in their wake. 

I moved the last table into place and swung around to check our stock. Christine had been head bartender the previous night, which usually spelled disaster for the close. But instead of the disorganized mess I’d come to expect, everything was pristine. All the bottles had been restocked, the beer fridges full…it would only take Ian fifteen or twenty minutes to prep the fresh ingredients he’d need for service. 

Maybe she has a brain tumor.

Or maybe she’s now a pod person.

That seemed more likely. A tumor wouldn’t survive in the caustic environment of Christine’s brain. 


I should be nicer.

I hated to admit it, but we’d been getting along better since the riot. Throwing myself in front of a rabid biker to protect her seemed to be the ticket; though at the time I’d thought her gratitude was a little thin. FatBoy had elbowed me in the ribs, hard, to get me to accept her awkward thanks. Since then we both pretended it had never happened.  

I shrugged and left, no longer interested in pondering the mystery of Christine, and turned down the hall to the cold storage with its blissful chill. 

It was a fairly decent-sized room. Along one wall we kept the kegs for the beers on tap as well as a locked cage for the premium bottles. Off to the right was a separate climate-controlled room for fine wines and champagne. The other walls were covered in steel shelving bolted to the floor, filled with the wine and booze we rotated on a daily basis. 

In the middle were the stacked cases of beer I’d use as a desk when I worked on inventory and prepping orders for Blake. I kept a jacket and gloves in my locker in case I planned on lingering for more than a few minutes, but I hadn’t bothered today—imaging the icy blast of air from the register seemed like heaven.

After seeing the shape of the bar, the cold room was a surprise. Boxes were stacked haphazardly right inside the door, blocking my way. I wanted to see who had closed along with Christine so I reached around the jamb to grab the schedule hanging from a nail on the wall when I spotted the delivery sheets jammed under a half-sealed flap on a box of mixer, and snagged it instead. 


Nothing had been checked off. I scanned the page for the signature of the person going on my shit list. Blake. Of course. No one on my team would have left a delivery in this state. Blake had probably just opened the door and chatted up the driver while he dumped the order inside. 

He’s worse than a damn Irish setter.

I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

* * *

When I finally stopped rearranging bottles like deck chairs on the Titanic, I was still missing two from an artisan distillery. I counted once more.

Bourbon, bourbon, vodka…

I scratched my chin with the cap of my pen. We should have had three bottles of bourbon on hand.

Maybe Marco?

Or Blake getting sticky fingers after spotting something shiny? It had happened before, though usually with the Scotch. 

Christine branching out into mixology? 

Not likely. 

My money was on Marco—the bourbon had a nice caramel finish that he’d love to work a recipe around—I just needed to find where he’d stashed his note. My thoughts were derailed by the soft click of the door behind me. I’d lost track of time. I didn’t bother to check. It’d make sense for my bar-back to track me down, first thing.

“Juan?” I asked, face buried in bottles of twenty-year old Irish whiskey.

The slide of a mouth and teeth along the back of my neck sent sparks shooting across my nerves, ratcheting up the heat. Not Juan.

“Guess again.” The voice lit me up. 

Excerpt: Two For The Road - Chapter One


About the Author

LE Franks is an author of Gay Romance fiction, living in the SF Bay Area surrounded by inspiration; and after years of ignoring the voices in her head, she’s now giving them free reign in the form of her characters.

Her stories are a unique mix of humor and drama with enough suspense to produce fast-paced stories filled with emotion and passion, and featuring characters that are quirky and complicated.

For the latest, check out her website for links to current works, news, and social media.