It sounds like the stupidest idea in the history of stupid ideas. Detective Inspector Josh Ingram wants to find a deadly medieval locket and through it, a murderer. So why does his boss decide to team him up with Matisse Vervein, a pop idol many consider just a pretty face... and expect the two of them to hunt down an art thief?
Marissa Godwin, Matisse's no-nonsense manager, isn't stupid. Neither is her brother-in-law, Detective Superintendent Tim Montgomery. Each is looking out for a lonely man on the verge of quitting what he does best, and both believe that their charges would make a great team.
The attraction sizzling between Josh and Matisse is hard to miss, but there's plenty of resentment, too. Focussed on pushing Josh and Matisse towards each other, Marissa and Tim haven't imagined the kind of trouble a music star and a detective can find when they ditch their prejudices and accept that the attraction between them is mutual. Or how far each is prepared to go to prove it to the other.
A standalone, feel-good romance set in England and Scotland, featuring a reluctant pop star who's not out, a detective trying his hand at being a bodyguard, plenty of adventure, and a happy ending.
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Badass Hero, Coming Out / Closeted, Out for You
Word Count: 41000
Setting: England, Scotland, London
Languages Available: English
"Are you insane?" Matisse Vervein stared at the man on the other side of the desk, convinced he couldn't have heard what he thought he had.
His day had begun normally enough until a cop had pulled him over right outside New Scotland Yard and told him he'd been speeding. Matisse had no idea whether that was true or not. He'd been too engrossed listening to the track coming from the Land Rover's sound system to watch the numbers on the dashboard. Never having had a speeding ticket before, Matisse had expected to get away with a slap on the wrist. Instead, the officer had asked him to step out of his car and follow.
He'd been led deep into the famous building, until he ended up in a small, tidy office, where a middle-aged man in a suit introduced himself as Detective Superintendent Timothy Montgomery and offered him a seat.READ MORE
Montgomery had a friendly smile, and the twinkle in his deep blue eyes could pass for reassuring. He'd confirmed Matisse's identity, but made no mention of speeding fines. Instead, he'd opened his mouth and—
"Did you just ask me to go undercover?" Matisse's voice rose to something close to a screech, but he didn't care. He was a singer, a pop star with a fanbase of millions. He had minders, assistants, stylists, and personal shoppers. He didn't… didn't….
"I did ask you that, yes." Montgomery didn't bat an eyelash at his outrage. "Though I didn't quite mean it the way you heard it. We're hunting an art thief who snatches jewellery, often during promotional events or fundraisers. You're a star. You're at home in the environment our thief operates in and you're known to support the arts. Nobody will question your presence at a charity gala. And we could use your help."
"You are insane." Matisse didn't care that he was insulting a senior police officer. The very idea was ludicrous. "I know nothing about police work. I know nothing about how thieves work. I—"
"We wouldn't send you to do this alone," Montgomery placated. "That's not how we work. Why don't you let me introduce you to your… partner?"
Right on cue, the door opened and a man stepped through. Matisse took in brown curls, chocolate-dark eyes, a perfect cupid-bow of a mouth… and his hands started to sweat. His breath caught at the sight of wide shoulders in a rumpled Henley and well-worn denim moulded to strong legs. When the man turned to close the door, one look at the tightest arse this side of Covent Garden sealed the deal.
Matisse was officially, royally, fucked.
Not that the detective super took any notice. He waved the newcomer closer and grinned like the cat that'd gotten the canary. "Come in and meet the rock star, Josh." He turned to Matisse. "This is Detective Inspector Josh Ingram. He's leading this case."
Matisse rubbed his palms over his thighs, glad he'd dressed himself this morning and wasn't wearing leather. Sweaty palms were embarrassing enough. Damp streaks down his thighs would be— He stood and held out his hand. "Matisse Vervein. And I don't do rock."
"That's a shame."
Josh Ingram's throaty rumble was as sexy as his arse. He was half a head taller than Matisse and a good bit wider. Older, too, and he loomed in an enticing way. Matisse wanted to be—
Matisse cut that thought short.
He wasn't out. He couldn't be out, doing what he did. And he had no idea whether the walking beefcake in front of him shared his inclination. Given the way he looked at Matisse, as if Matisse were dirt on his scuffed Doc Martens, chances weren't good.
"You like rock? I like rock. I can do rock—I sometimes do—but it's not what most of my fans want to hear." The intense gaze didn't move from his face, and Matisse wanted to hide. Great. Now he was babbling.
"Relax. I don't bite."
That's a shame. Matisse opened his mouth. And closed it again without emitting any sound. Josh Ingram's grip circled his bicep and returned him to his chair. Matisse kept his eyes down. He'd almost outed himself. A replica of Josh's comment had been on the tip of his tongue, ready to spill forth in response. That couldn't happen. He couldn't let it happen.
Desperate to control a situation careening off the rails, Matisse reached for his star persona. His hands were in his lap, his back didn't touch the chair, and neither his voice nor his face gave anything away. "Asking me to help the police is ludicrous. But still... go ahead and talk. I can listen."COLLAPSE