I have a new co-write out with BA Tortuga for the Christmas season called Home for the Hollandaise. One of my best title ideas, thank you. It surprised us with how sweet it turned out, considering the title is funny. It's an old lovers meet years later story (the boys are only early thirties, y'all. They're not OLD) They're back in their hometown, and wishing they weren't. Here's the cover.
And here's a wee bit to get you going
He plopped everything in his Jeep and sat in the driver’s seat, breathing hard.
Seriously? Ten years, and the man had to be fucking beautiful?
It wasn’t fair.
None of it had been fair.
Nothing like going to surprise your long-distance lover by driving for eighteen hours and walking into his dorm room and finding him asleep, curled around another man.
He started the engine and headed to Starbucks. He needed caffeine. And maybe to get the hell out of this one-horse town. Nothing good had ever come from it, at least for him.
It was pure hell, jockeying into a parking space in the busiest Starbucks on earth, and then he got in line, praying that there’d be an empty chair, somewhere he could log on. He also said a little prayer that he didn’t meet anyone he used to know.
He ordered a dirty chai latte and a piece of lemon pound cake, stealing a seat in the corner of the store and opening his laptop.
Oh. Blessed technology. He caught up on emails, completely losing track of time.
He was chatting with his line cook, Maisy, chuckling at her story about the service the night before, when he realized he was out of drink. Damn it. He didn’t want to lose his table.
“Hey. You want another one?”
He looked up, surprised. Kent. What the fuck?
The man smiled down at him, dimples carved way deeper than they used to be. “You’ve got the only chair left empty. I’ll buy it with a coffee.”
“That’s fair. Dirty chai. Two shots of espresso.”
“You got it.” He’d half-expected Kent to protest his order, offer to get him a drip coffee, but it didn’t happen.
He leaned back, made sure he was only taking up half the space, his nerves making him jittery.
When Kent came back, he had two venti coffees and a sleek little laptop. He handed over the coffee and sat, not pushing it, thank God.
“Thanks, man.” Jack typed a little, trying to make himself seem busy, but he was totally distracted by Kent across the table. He would swear he felt Kent’s eyes on him, but when he glanced up, Kent was looking down.
What the hell did you say to the guy that had broken your heart? And your left wrist?
“Thanks for letting me sit in, man.” Kent was staring at him when he looked up, now. “I needed some sanity.”
“Yeah? You just here for the holiday?”
Kent pulled a face. “Yeah. Sister is pregnant, and Mom blackmailed me. I wish to hell I had a gig and could say no, but no one is in the studio until after the New Year.”
So, still a musician. “Are you in LA?” Were musicians in LA still?
“Austin, actually.” Kent chuckled. “Staying in Texas, you know? But it lets me be a little more, uh, open.”
“Austin? Seriously? My restaurant is off Sixth downtown. The warehouse district.” No. Fucking. Way.
“No shit?” Kent laughed, drawing some looks. Jack couldn’t blame people. It was a good look for the man. “Must be pretty upscale if I haven’t been there.”
“It’s fine dining, yeah. We do okay.”
“Nice.” Kent shook his head. “How long have you been in Austin?”
“I got a job at Trudy’s right out of school, then I moved to V’s.”
“Wow. All this time.” Kent glanced down at his computer. “Not that you would have seen me, huh?”
“You’re not invisible. I don’t get to the music scene much, though. I pull long hours.” He had a house in Hyde Park -- old and goofy and weird and in constant need of repairs. When he wasn’t working, he was remodeling. It was a thing.
“No, I mean if I had called you.”
“For what? We were pretty done by the end, I think. It took me three years to pay off my part of the hospital bill.” God knew Momma and Daddy weren’t going to do it.
“Hey, I was afraid I was never gonna play again for a bit.”
“Yeah. We tore it up.” What? He was supposed to apologize?
“We did.” Sipping his coffee, Kent went silent for a bit, but still stared at him. “You look amazing.”
“Thank you. I was sort of hoping you’d be fat and bald, but… Damn.”
Kent laughed again, a short bark of sound. “Oh, now, you know us cowboys are vain.”
“I have heard that. Chefs are just arrogant and tired.”
“I bet you work your ass off, huh?”