Kipp Llewellyn would rather follow his dreams than toe the family line, so instead of the support of his wealthy family, he has estrangement and a part-time job with Hunter, an in-demand interior designer. Hunter opens a new world for Kipp to explore—and not just for his career. It’s through Hunter that Kipp meets and begins what he thinks is a one-sided flirtation with Ham, one of Hunter’s customers.
To Kipp’s astonishment, Ham asks him for a date. Unfortunately for Kipp, a mysterious phone call summons him home, where his father gives him an ultimatum: save the family company by marrying billionaire Hyde Wyndham, in which case all will be overlooked, or never set foot in his home again. But meeting Hyde leaves Kipp stunned and betrayed, because Hyde is actually Ham.
A guarantee of marriage is no excuse for making Kipp feel foolish, and Kipp had enough of the gilded cage in the first twenty-one years of his life. He turns Hyde down, stating that marriage should be about love rather than convenience. If Hyde wants him, he’ll have to court him the old-fashioned way.
- 4 Read lists
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 5
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: May/December, Age Difference, Queer Wedding, Interracial Relationship, First Time
Word Count: 87355
Setting: fictional town, Pennsylvanis
Languages Available: English
I’d spent the past four years wishing he would notice me but knowing he never would, not even to say hi; I wasn’t anyone special… just a staffer on the magazine and the guy who designed sets for the school plays. I was good at the latter, though, and no one needed to know that I’d first gotten involved as a way to be in Daniel’s vicinity.
But then he did notice me, asked me out on a date, and I… I was dazzled, walking on air until the evening I was to see him. I didn’t ask myself why a straight boy would be interested in me, but if I had, I’d simply have asked why wouldn’t he? Aside from being a nice person, I had the blond looks from my mother’s side of the family; people didn’t run screaming when they saw me.READ MORE
I had my hair styled, bought a pair of jeans with a zip instead of a button fly and a shirt that unsnapped so he could open them easily, and found a cologne the nice woman at the fragrance counter promised would melt my young lady. Of course I couldn’t tell her it was to melt my young man.
Daniel had offered to pick me up at my house, but if Sir—my father had insisted I call him that from the time I’d learned to talk—if he realized I was dating a boy… well, I was certain he’d order me to never darken his doorway again. So to avoid the sturm und drang that would cause, I told Daniel I would meet him in front of the Main Street Soda Shoppe, a very popular throwback to the diners of the 40s and 50s.
I hadn’t been angling to get a meal out of the date as well, but Daniel took me inside and bought me a cheeseburger and fries, and we shared a chocolate milkshake.
He took me to the movies, up to the balcony, where he put his arm around my shoulders, and I was the one who melted. I spent the entire movie with my head on his shoulder, and from time to time he’d rub his cheek against my hair.
Oh God, I was so in love!
I was looking forward to the end of the movie, to a good night kiss, but the best was yet to come!
After the movie he murmured, “There’s a lunar eclipse tonight.”
“I know this wasn’t part of our plans, but….” He smiled at me, his teeth a brilliant white. “Would you be interested in watching it with me?”
I’d be interested in watching grass grow if it was with him!
“Yes,” I said, somehow managing to keep the anticipation out of my voice. I could have danced and done a fist pump, but I knew how to conceal my excitement. Even though I wasn’t my father’s favorite son, I still knew what was due to the family.
So I sat beside Daniel in the classic Jaguar his father had given him, my hands folded primly in my lap, while he made the drive to Lila’s Hill. He’d lowered the top of his convertible, and the soft evening wind blew in my hair.
Martinsburg had been founded by my great-great-great-grandfather in the middle 1800s, and we’d lived there ever since. Legend had it that Great-Great-Grandfather Martin’s youngest daughter was a little… wild, and she often went there with her beaux. I wasn’t as wild as my great-aunt, not because I couldn’t be, but simply because I’d never had the opportunity: no one had ever wanted to drive up there with me.
No sooner had Daniel set the parking brake and turned off the headlights than I forgot my heritage, my upbringing, everything. I was out of my seatbelt and all over him, licking his neck, nipping his earlobe, whispering passionate words into his ear. “I’ve dreamed of feeling you naked against me! Do you want to touch me? You smell so good! I want to taste you!”
He turned his head away. “I don’t kiss guys.” I’d meant I wanted to go down on him—I’d jerked off in the shower to thoughts of us sixty-nining each other—but before I could tell him that, he said, “You’re going too fast, Kipp. A guy likes to make the first move.”
It was as if he’d doused me with a bucket of ice water. I didn’t even object that I was a guy. “I’m sorry.” Had I ruined my chance with him? Was that why he wasn’t hard? “I… I guess you want to take me home?” I started to slide off his lap, and his hands tightened on my hips.
“Not yet, sweet pea.”
I hadn’t ruined our evening! He’d even called me by a pet name! Okay, I wasn’t crazy about it but… a pet name! I was happy. A little confused, but so happy. He unsnapped my jeans and worked a hand beneath the waistband. And then he sucked in a breath. Was he shocked that I hadn’t worn shorts?
His fingers were inches from my dick. “Please! Just a little more! Please!” I panted, and I leaned forward to work the patch of skin beneath his ear. He didn’t want to kiss, but surely this….
“Don’t mark me!”
I sagged into his arms. Was there nothing I could do right?
“C’mon!” he whispered impatiently. “Fucking act like you want to be with me!”
Thoroughly confused now, I started to sit back on his thighs.
Abruptly, flashlights lit up the moonless night, there were raucous yells and catcalls, and the car was surrounded by boys. Daniel yanked his hand out of my pants and pushed me away, his action causing me to catch my inner thigh on the gear shift in the center console. I bit back a cry as I flailed and started to slide off the seat.
Somehow I managed to catch myself, and I looked around, for the first time in my life physically afraid. Martinsburg was a quaint little city, not some movie setting where kids would have sex and then get killed. I hadn’t even had the opportunity to have sex!
“Daniel?” This had to be a nightmare.
“Knock it off, guys,” he ordered, and I realized he knew them. They must have been the boys he hung out with. He held out his hand and waggled his fingers. “We had a bet.”
“Yeah, and you won, Danny!” They started tossing bills—five-and-ten-dollars—into the car. “Your reputation as stud of Martin High is solid! You can get in anyone’s pants!”
It was a bet? I sat there, frozen, staring through the windshield, trying to shut out their coarse words, trying to conceal the way my jeans gapped.
“Now that my reputation has been substantiated, go on home!”
They didn’t, not right away, just continued asking what base he’d gotten to, if my dick was as small as they were sure it must be, what it was like to kiss a guy.
I kept hoping Daniel would… defend me, perhaps? But when he did speak, it was just to say smugly, “A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.” He was suddenly a gentleman? “Now, I told you: go home!”
His friends finally left, but he continued to sit there, counting the money.
“Sweet! We made a cool two hundred bucks!”
“Why me, Daniel?” I zipped my jeans, fortunately not catching any pubic hair or flesh in the process. It took a minute to fasten the button, because my hands were trembling so hard.
“The guys know I can get any girl in Martin High, so they bet me I couldn’t get a boy.”
“That still doesn’t explain why you chose me.”
“You’re Marcus Llewellyn’s son. The guys thought you should be taken down a peg. You’ve got a reputation for being stuck up.”
Stuck up? Me? I gave a choke of bitter laughter. With a father who refused to have anything to do with me, and a brother who didn’t have time to spare for a sibling who was eight years his junior? I was just incredibly shy.
“No hard feelings, Kipp.”
“No feelings at all.” I clenched my teeth, afraid he would hear how they were chattering. “Would you mind taking me home?” My thigh began to throb. Or maybe it had been throbbing all along and I was just now noticing it.
He turned on the ignition and drove away from Lila’s Hill.
“Daniel.” His name was like ash in my mouth, and I was afraid the cheeseburger I’d eaten earlier would come back up. “My father doesn’t know.”
“Know what? Oh, shit. I didn’t even think—Look, don’t worry about it. I’ll make sure the guys keep quiet.”
How did he intend to do that? A secret stayed a secret only as long as not more than one person knew it.
And this… it was such a juicy tidbit. But apparently he thought he had enough sway to have them refrain from passing on what had happened this evening.
I must have made a scoffing sound, because he looked at me, puzzled. “No, seriously. They’re good guys.”
What had happened this evening that would make me concur with that? “Watch the road, please.”
He drove with one hand on the steering wheel, his other elbow nonchalantly cocked on the open window, and he whistled tunelessly through his teeth.
It seemed to take forever for him to reach the road where Llewellyn Manor was located.
“Please let me out here.” We were still some distance from the house, but I couldn’t bear remaining in the same car with him. I’d sneaked out through a side door no one ever used, and I’d have to hope Higgins, Sir’s butler, hadn’t bothered to check that it was locked.
He pulled over to the curb. “Here, take twenty dollars. That’s the least I owe you.”
So he could blacken my name even further, adding “whore” to it? “No, thank you.” I got out and walked toward the house, staying in the shadows of the hedges that shielded Llewellyn Manor from the hoi and the polloi.
He idled along, following beside me, so I didn’t even have the luxury of wiping the tears that streamed down my cheeks.
There was another way to get onto the grounds, and I slipped between the shrubs. They had leafed out, and although they scratched my face and tangled my hair, at least the scratches didn’t break the skin. As for my clothes, it wouldn’t have mattered if they were torn— I intended to throw them away as soon as I got them off my body.
For a second I thought maybe Daniel would get out of the car to make sure I was all right, but then I heard the engine rev, and he drove off.
I was alone in the night. The pain in my inner thigh was excruciating now, and I was biting back whimpers as I made my way to the side door, let myself in, and got to my room unseen.
My bedroom had its own en suite bath, so it was a relief that I didn’t have to worry about crossing paths with Sir or someone else in the household. I went into it and peeled down my jeans. The bruise that was starting to form looked bad, but what made me almost vomit was how close I had come to castrating myself.
I’d need some ice. I stripped off my clothes, put on my bathrobe, and hobbled down to the kitchen to get it. Higgins caught me.
“I’m thirsty,” I lied. I’d filled a carafe with ice cubes, and I had to add water to it.
Higgins merely nodded and returned to his room.
I went back upstairs, poured out the water, and made a compress with one of the washcloths. It was a toss-up as to which hurt more… the bruise, or the ice on my hot skin.
Even though I took a couple of ibuprofen, I didn’t sleep well. I dreaded going to class the next day.
There was no escaping it, however. Of course Jackson, Sir’s head chauffeur, wouldn’t drive me to school; that was left to Pierce. As under-chauffeur, it was his job to drive everyone else in the household.
“Are you all right, Master Kipp?”
“Yes.” My thigh hurt too much for me to put my full weight on my leg, and so I’d limped to the Rolls Ghost that was used for Higgins, me, and Mrs. Wales, our cook. “My leg must have cramped during the night.”
He opened the rear door and didn’t say anything else.
I hoped slow paces would make my limping less noticeable, but I wasn’t about to wager the Manor on it. And oh, my God, was everyone going to think that Daniel had fucked me? I entered Martin High, braced for taunting and derision.
But no one said anything or even looked at me cross-eyed. Mr. Madigan, who taught English and who was also the magazine advisor, didn’t take me aside to inform me I was being talked about. He was one of the few teachers who didn’t compare me to my brother Geoff. Even though Geoff had graduated from Martin High eight years before, he was still the big man on campus, still a legend. He’d had even more extra-curricular activities than Daniel, and he’d been Prom King.
Mr. Madigan did say he was pleased to see I had my shirt tucked in for a change. Well, there really wasn’t any need for me to wear it out any more. I’d caught sight of Daniel in front of his locker, talking to one of the girls who constantly hovered around him. He’d glanced up and grinned as I’d walked by—the same grin as the day before—and my body hadn’t reacted at all.
It was cold comfort.
The day passed, and nothing was said to me or about me at school.
But there was still the ordeal to be faced at home.
I generally ate alone in the small dining room, unless Sir was having a dinner party where the presence of both his sons was required—a very infrequent occasion—but this evening I could hardly force myself to take a bite as I waited with dread to be called into Sir’s study.
There was no summons.
As it turned out, my anxiety was for nothing; Sir never brought up my sexuality. Perhaps Daniel had convinced his posse to keep their mouths shut. Perhaps they didn’t think I was worth outing. Or perhaps it was just that none of the Families—as the wealthiest residents of Martinsburg referred to themselves—dared to say a word to Sir. He wasn’t a good man to cross. Whatever the reason, I was grateful.
But no matter how grateful I was for that, it didn’t stop me from making a point of looking the other way whenever Daniel and I passed in the halls. I knew well enough what he thought of me, and I didn’t need to see him staring right through me to prove it.
Fortunately there was only a month or so until graduation….COLLAPSE