Renovations Book 6
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Ven is ready for the next step. But to make his plan to pop the question work, he needs everyone’s support — including Toby’s ex-wife. Toby seems happy with the way things are, and Ven risks losing everything if Toby doesn’t want to marry again.
Length: Novella | Rating: Hot | Publisher: Torquere Press
Themes: Interracial Relationship; Working Class Hero; Interclass Relationship; Hero with Children; Bisexual Hero; Contemporary Romance
Toby had convinced Ven to take one day off, really take a vacation day. It turned out to be more of a half-day, since the gas inspector had been by to check out the pipes and the new fireplace in the master bedroom that morning, but after that, Ven had been hauled away from work by his very determined boyfriend. By the evening, Ven felt like his feet were going to fall off, but it had been worth it.
They’d been all around Toby’s old neighborhood, fueled by frozen soda drinks and hot dogs and caramel corn from various corner stores. They’d shot hoops, slipping through the gap in the chain-link fence around the school and sharing a ball with a handful of boys and girls around Josie’s age. It was houses more than tenement buildings, but it felt something like home to Ven.
Now, standing on the street corner across from the garage where Toby had followed his dad to work as a little kid, they were deciding which way to go. Further downtown was just starting to light up — bars and strip clubs and XXX shops putting their neon lights on — and the other way was back to where they’d parked the car that afternoon. Ven put an arm around Toby’s waist. “Don’t tell me you didn’t go down that way.” He pointed toward all the neon.
Toby laughed a little and nodded. “Not ’til I was a little older. But, yeah, I went down there. Want to go explore the nightlife?” He tipped his head, grinning at Ven, his expression just a little bit wicked.
That was a fine, fine look. Ven stole a kiss, so fast, less than he wanted but more than he should have. “Let’s go. I’m up for anything.” He meant it.
Toby led him down the street toward all the glowing neon. Past a strip club decorated with bright pink outlines of women’s legs was a similar club with men doing the stripping. They peeked inside, but didn’t actually go in. Instead, Toby led Ven into a bar a little further down the street, one with people surging in and out of the door like waves on a beach. They squeezed past the crowd, paid the cover charge, stopped just inside to let their eyes adjust to the dim lighting.
Music was the same in clubs like this anywhere. They could well have been back home, they could have been at home any time in the last ten years; the only things that changed were the hairstyles and the drinks. The music was too loud to tell the difference between now and then. “Buy you a drink?” He looked around, marking where the exits were, the stairs down behind the bar, the dance floor, the pool tables. It looked good.
Toby didn’t answer right away. When Ven looked at him, he was looking Ven up and down, slowly. “Yeah,” he said, a little grin tugging at the corners of his lips. “I think I’d like that.” Toby flashed Ven a teasing grin and then headed for the bar. He didn’t look back to see if Ven was following.
Ven followed him to the bar and caught him up against it with one hand on either side of him. “What’ll you have?” he murmured in Toby’s ear.
“Whatever’s on tap,” Toby said, turning so that Ven could see the freckles scattered over one cheek. “Unless you’ve got a suggestion for something better…?”
“Not yet.” God, Ven loved being this close. He could smell Toby’s warmth, see the details of his beautiful face, his flawless skin, the softness of his full mouth. “You are so gorgeous,” he breathed against Toby’s ear. When the bartender got close enough, Ven made himself look away. “Two draughts.” He could feel Toby through their clothes, knew in his head what it would feel like to press up against his lover naked. He was so damn lucky.
A little movement brushed Toby’s body back against Ven’s, a little tilt of Toby’s head bared his neck as he glanced back at Ven. “You come here often?”
“The cherry on top.” — Emily, Rainbow Reviews
“Heartwarming, sensual, and playful.” — Nannette, Joyfully Reviewed