Excerpt: Paul was twenty-four and had just started working under his father when he met Damon. Damon, several years older, worked under the head of his own company, and was a prodigy out of the London School of Economics and highly respected among his peers. Paul developed an instant fascination for the charming, sophisticated, and quite business-savvy Brit. Paul’s father told him to keep an eye on Damon, because he knew he would be in charge one day. Paul kept two eyes on him. Sometimes, Damon reminded Paul of his own mother: hardworking, sophisticated, smart, but also highly personable. Paul imagined his father had been most attracted to his mother because she could be a social and professional dynamo but also put people at ease with her charming, laid-back personality. Paul often heard men fell for women most like their mothers. But again, maybe a woman wasn’t what he needed to look for.
Over the years, he and Damon found themselves often in correspondence and physically together on multiple occasions. Paul’s fascination and appreciation for the man slowly turned to attraction. When their friendship took on a coyly flirty air—and then eventually a blatantly seductive tone—Paul nonetheless proceeded with caution. He personally preferred men over women, even if this fact took a while for him to accept, but he also knew Damon had a wife. Damon married young, and Paul heard people joke he did so to get the obligation out of the way.
“Where’s Ellie?” Paul asked.
“At the party.” Damon looked down at their hands. “She said to have a good time. She knows me better than I know myself.” Truthfully, Damon loved his wife and Paul knew this full well.
“So she’s all right with us being together tonight? No jealous wife trying to murder me in my sleep?” Paul chuckled, though he worried, really. He didn’t know Ellie as well as he did Damon, had in fact made a point not to get too close to her.
“Of course not.” Damon looked up, flashing a charming, squinty-eyed grin. “This isn’t the first time we’ve done this.” He paused. “I don’t mean that to be callous. I only meant—”
“I know what you meant,” Paul said gently. “You’re lucky to have such an open-minded wife.”
“Yeah, well.” Damon continued to smile. “I’ll tell her all about it later, and she’ll tell me about that photographer following her around tonight.”
“Never let things get boring, hmm?”
“That’s how a marriage lasts as long as ours has.” Damon’s focus seemed to be on their hands, still joined, his idle rubbing. “She’s a wonderful woman, and she makes me happy. But I’ve been curious for a long time. As a man gets older, his tastes broaden. I’m not as uptight as when I was younger. She wants me to go explore. And report back with my findings, of course.” He looked back up at Paul.
“So that’s what all this flirting all these years has been about.”
“I can’t recall you ever rebuffing it.”
Damon had him there. “Why me, Damon?” Paul had to ask the question. “And why tonight? I know we’ve had a connection in the past, but—”
Damon cut him off. “Why not you, Paul? I think you’re brilliant. Self-confident.” He leaned in closer and lowered his voice. “Don’t tell your father, but I always thought you had a better head on your shoulders than he did.”
Paul smirked. “That isn’t a reason to want to sleep with someone.”
“It’s better than any other superficial reason.” The light glinted in Damon’s dark eyes. “Would you be happier if I said it’s because you have a tight arse and a good tailor?”
Paul laughed. “And you think this is the best night for it?”
“It’s a new beginning. New territories opening up for us. I think it’s the perfect night”
Paul mused they were being so very professional about the situation, hashing the details out as though they were making a fiscal plan—but then, they would hardly be inclined to behave any other way. He did have some concerns though, a list of cons to bring to the table. “If you think it might ruin our professional relationship,” Paul said haltingly, “I don’t want to risk that.”
“I don’t think this could ruin our relationship, only make it stronger. I want to. Now. Here.”
“In the car?”