Drunk on love.
Like a well-aged whiskey, master distiller and old-money entrepreneur Malone Kensington is elegant and refined. Unfortunately he’s also a perfectionist who is more dedicated to the success of his generations-old company than his own love life.
That company needs a public spokesman.
What Colton Hale lacks in sophistication, he more than makes up for with the charisma that’s allowed him to survive on the street from a young age and charm his way into the lucrative—if overwhelming—public position at the Kensington Distillery. When Mal takes Colt under his wing, hoping to polish off his rough edges, opposites attract and a passionate romance blossoms despite the differences in age and background. But can it survive a Kensington Board of Directors who believe Colt is nothing but a gold digger and a kidnapper determined to profit from the love of Mal’s life—dead or alive?
- 2 To Be Read lists
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Age Difference, Class Differences, Famous / Not Famous
Word Count: 61000
Languages Available: English
“You know this kid?” Bodyguard waved in Colt’s direction.
Nodding, Audrey said, “Yes. He’s an employee here. A very good one.” She glanced from the bodyguard to Colt. “What are you doing here?”
Colt opened his mouth, but the bodyguard beat him to an explanation. “He was downstairs scaring away the men here for the interviews. Apparently he had a—how to put this? A very creative version of the agreement between the potential applicant and the company.”
“You what?” Audrey asked. He could tell she was shocked since she forgot to use her Miss Manager voice.
“It took us weeks to arrange all this,” the unnamed man sputtered. He got up and began pacing around the room. “Do you realize what you’ve done?”READ MORE
“Yeah, I do. I saved you from mucking your plan up,” Colt said. Holding up the papers, he put on his most pleading expression and continued, “Five minutes. That’s all I’m asking you to give me. Five minutes, and I’ll show you a much better plan. If you don’t like what I have to say, then I’ll personally go round up all those other guys and bring them back.” He paused and gave the group a visual once-over. “But I won’t have to.”
“I should have you arrested!” the pacing man sputtered.
“Jeffery, sit down,” Bodyguard said. His voice, like his stance, was stern.
“But—” Jeffery started.
Bodyguard walked to the middle of the room. “I want to hear what he has to say.”
“So do I,” Audrey chimed in, and Mr. Krems nodded his agreement.
Hurrying to the table, Colt motioned to it with the papers he held. He licked his lips. Couldn’t get cold feet now. “May I?” He was greeted with a collective nod. Spreading the papers out like giant playing cards, he talked as he worked. “I worked in Kensington’s Place Saturday night and had the chance to talk with a number of customers who were in town for an interview here. Except these guys usually go to auditions.” Colt stopped and looked around at their stunned faces. “You invited a bunch of guys in their twenties who live off their looks to a distillery. And gave them free drinks. They drink, they talk. What did you expect would happen?”
“He’s got a point,” Mr. Krems said. “Why didn’t we think of that?”
“Because you’re honest people,” Colt said softly.
“And you’re not?” Jeffery snapped.
“No, sir, I’m honest. But as Miss Hollan already knows, I’ve lived on the streets since I was fifteen. You learn a thing or two and have a different perspective on some things.”
“Go on,” Bodyguard said. He was standing very close to Colt, and the heat he gave off was distracting.
“They told me their names, some of the other jobs they’d held, things like that. I remembered the details, and yesterday I went to the library and looked them up. A few of them I found simply by remembering what they looked like and searching through pictures. You put out a call for actors to play the face of this company.” Colt moved some of the papers around. “The problem is, anyone looking any of these men up will find them on databases and in write-ups. These are men looking for work in a specific field. They’re out there. Pictures, resumes, everything. This guy here was in a soap opera.” He pointed to another page. “This one did a car commercial. And that one has done Shakespeare in the Park. They’re going to come across as an actor hired to play a part.”
“He’s got a point,” Mr. Krems said. “And I take it you’re suggesting you are our solution?”
You can do this. Colt nodded. “Go ahead and try to find me. I don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account or an agent, and I’ve never been in a play or movie or anything unless you count middle-school drama class.” He looked around at them. “But I do work for this company already. I know a little bit about it and genuinely care for this place, and I love this part of the country. I wouldn’t be acting. I’d be speaking from my heart.” He put one palm over his chest. “People will sense that my feelings are real.”
“Standardly we do a social media search on all applicants. I’d already given Colt his job here first, but I did do it later, and he’s telling the truth.” Audrey smiled at him. He had the feeling she approved of what he was doing.
“You did say if I was interested in another position here to talk to you,” Colt said and gave her a lopsided grin.
Bodyguard was studying the papers scattered across the table. “I like him.”
“You’ve worked here for how long?” Mr. Grice asked.
“Almost six weeks, sir.” Colt motioned to the pieces of paper. “I know it hasn’t been long, but it’s longer than any of these guys.”
“I really like this one,” Bodyguard said. Colt glanced at him, wondering why on earth he’d have an opinion. “He’s someone who shows initiative, and I saw downstairs how he thinks. Let me ask you something, Colt.”
Colt nodded. This guy probably wasn’t a bodyguard. “Sure.”
“Why do you want this position?”
Colt opened his mouth and shut it again. Bodyguard tilted his head and scrutinized Colt. “I don’t have a fancy degree, but I want a good job. I want to earn my way without hurting people.” He shrugged. “It sounds like a challenge and sorta fun. Most importantly, the first time I saw this place, I fell in love with it. I want to be a part of it.”
Bodyguard nodded slowly and looked around at the others. He looked Colt in the eye. “You’re hired.” He held up one hand and focused on Jeffery when he opened his mouth, no doubt to protest. “I like this one, and he’s who is going to, as you put it, be the fresh face of Kensington Distillery and Still House. It’s obvious he can think outside the box and on his feet. We need that. He did a great job of getting rid of the competition, which is always a goal.” He winked at Colt. “My personal favorite was the leeches.”
Jeffery slumped back in his chair, and Colt would’ve sworn he was pouting.
Audrey crossed the room to Colt and put one hand on his shoulder. “Colt, let me introduce Malone Curtis Kensington.”COLLAPSE