A “take life by the throat” philosophy has always served Rob well. It keeps him focused, forcing emotions and potential relationships to take a back seat to his aspirations. But once every obstacle has been conquered and he’s achieved his goal—executive chef at a famous Chicago restaurant—he must acknowledge that he has reached his mid-thirties very much alone.
Blake has just jettisoned his dream job—head of a fast-growing craft microbrewery—to escape from the woman who shattered his soul. Arriving at a Chicago beer festival prepared to drown his sorrows before moving on he is miserable and numb.
Fate throws the men together altering their respective worlds forever.
Once Rob reveals the personal demon that has haunted him for years, Blake allows himself to fully trust again, and admits he wants a child. But a mutual attraction evolves out of a business arrangement with the woman hired as their surrogate, which has the potential to destroy an already delicate status quo.
But time is of the essence, and becomes the one luxury they don’t have.
An honest depiction of a modern relationship mosaic reminding us to treasure every single moment we are allowed to love and be loved.
Rated PG13 for language
The next morning Rob sipped the espresso he’d developed a taste for since his time with René, and let Blake sleep in. Which gave him time to figure out how to broach the delicate subject of Suzanne and how well Rob knew her. He pressed out some dough he’d made the day before, crumbled real butter, cinnamon and pecans onto it, rolled it up and cut it into giant rounds of future deliciousness, then slid the tray into the convection oven.
Trying to distract himself and to keep from going into the bedroom and waking Blake the way he really wanted to, he flipped open his laptop and studied a few emails. Jack had fallen off his radar, dropped himself feet first into real estate, turning deals and hiring a manager for his father’s construction company in a flurry of success. He missed his friend, but understood the compulsion. God knows he hadn’t been the chattiest of pals either. He hesitated over the keys, nearly ready to send a note to Suzanne, but stopped at the sound of a jaw-cracking yawn.
He closed the device, and smiled up at the sleep disheveled young man in his kitchen. His heart sped up but he forced himself calm. He felt great, never better, had come off two years of perfectly clean cancer scans. His doctor here was ready to move him to yearly checkups as opposed to every six months.
Why not commit?
The chemistry between them was undeniable. But, then again, he knew the kid was recovering from a very tough emotional ride. He handed Blake a small cup of strong coffee, sat back down and took a deep breath.
“I went to college with Suzanne. We have a ton of friends in common still, including Evan.” Blake stared at him, the look in his eyes one that did not bode well for Rob’s plan for the day. “You need to know that.”
“What the fuck?” Blake put the cup down without drinking any, ran a hand through his bed-messy hair and down his face. Rob’s heart ached for the guy, but he didn’t want him to hear about it from Evan, or worse, Suzanne herself.
“Yeah, I know.” He toyed with his empty cup, letting the soft cinnamon smells envelop them in silence. “I didn’t realize it was you at all that day.”
“You didn’t realize…what? That I was the loser who tried to kill her abusive asshole spouse, didn’t quite manage it, then fell head- over-heels in love with her? Only to get summarily dumped on my ass? You didn’t realize I was that guy?” He made a noise in his throat, and then walked across the large room to the door wall.
Sunday morning street noises floated up from below. Rob forced himself to stay seated. Blake turned, his eyes bright with anger and disappointment. “I can’t fucking get away from her can I? Jesus!” He grabbed his jeans and tugged them on over his boxers, yanked his shirt down over his head.
“Wait,” Rob said softly, realizing the futility of it.
Blake threw his clothes into the suitcase in the hall, found his keys where he’d dropped them in their haste to get at each other last night, and whirled to face him. “You know what, fuck you. Fuck all of you people. Christ, I actually get to where I don’t think about her for nearly a solid twenty-hour period, find I a guy I…Well, shit, never mind. This is too much for me. Thanks Rob. It was a blast.” Rob stood and started to move closer. Blake held up a hand. “No. Don’t. You waited to the last minute to tell me this for a reason, I’m guessing. I’m out of here.”
“Where to?” Rob spoke softly, hoping to distract him from his anger.
“To none of your god damned business, that’s where.”
The slamming door was like a gunshot, and Rob felt it go through him with a shiver of frustration.
Shit. Nice work. Could have kept your fool mouth shut. He’d still be here.
He wandered out to the balcony, watched Blake walk down the street toward the parking garage. But it would have been under false pretenses. One thing Rob would not do is operate that way.
He sighed, pulled the cinnamon rolls out of the oven and dumped them in the trash before putting on shorts and his soccer cleats. He’d find a pick-up game somewhere, hopefully, and try to call Blake tonight. He had to. They were meant to be together. And this time, Rob was determined to make it work.
About Liz Crowe
Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse. While working as a successful Realtor, Liz made the leap into writing novels about the same time she agreed to take on marketing and sales for the Wolverine State Brewing Company.
Most days find her sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, unless she’s writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and many times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate, and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
If you are in the Ann Arbor area, be sure and stop into the Wolverine State Brewing Co. Tap Room—but don’t ask her for anything “like” a Bud Light, or risk serious injury.
TRI DESTINY PUBLISHING
The Stewart Realty series:
Floor Time (2012 Global eBook Award for Best Erotic Fiction)
Sweat Equity (Just Erotic Romance (JERR) Gold Star Award Recipient)
**Essence of Time (JERR Gold Star Award/ Jenkins Group, Inc. – 2013 eLit Award Bronze Medal for Erotic Fiction)
**Mutual Release: (JERR Gold Star Award)
House Rules (Prequel Novella)
**GOOD FAITH the mainstream final novel
(**indicates “stand alone novel”)
The Black Jack Gentlemen series:
Paradise Hops: (JERR Gold Star Award)
The Turkish Delights Series:
The Diplomat’s Daughter
Cheeky Blonde (novel)
Caught Offside (novella)
Healing Hearts (novella)
ELLORA’S CAVE PUBLISHING
Lust on Tap (novel)