Tuesday, July 29, 2014
The Paint Store Boys
"Popping His Cherry" (MM) is out 2 August and it's on discount as well!
AVAILABLE: Saturday, August 2nd
This title is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, August 9th.
Builder Max Hall and Detective Nicholas O’Hare have a wonderful night together after the court case between The Paint Store and serial pest Mitchall. But then they’re both very busy at work, and Max doesn’t answer Nick’s calls. Is their romance over before it really began? Max had admitted to Nick that this was his first gay romance. Max was adamant that he’d gradually realized he wasn’t attracted to women and craved the rougher, tougher love of another man. Was he lying? Was all his talk about wanting to have his male cherry popped just talk, and once he’d had the experience he’d decided to revert to loving a woman? Had Max just used Nick? Nick thought there was genuine love between them, but if so, why isn’t Max answering his cell phone anymore?
But the problem is much deeper than that. Something has happened to Max.
Max Hall sat on the end of the bench in the booth where the crowd from The Paint Store was celebrating their court victory over serial litigator Mitchall. The man had tried to persuade the judge that when he made a legitimate complaint about a faulty paint roller one of the staff had viciously broken his finger.
Since Ainsley was able to produce photographs of Mitchall’s finger marks on her thigh, and he had no evidence his finger had been damaged, his case was thrown out of court.
It had been Max’s job, as a builder as well as part owner of The Paint Store, to give evidence that the paint roller was perfectly marketable. Mitchall hadn’t wanted them to see the roller and when Max had insisted, it was obvious why he’d hidden it. The so-called ruined wall had only the tiniest evidence of any unevenness of the paint application on it, and that could be blamed on the skill of the painter rather than the quality of the roller. Max had taken pictures of both the wall and the roller as well.
Fortunately the judge had agreed with them. But even better than that, the entire incident had caused him to meet Detective Nicholas O’Hare. Nick had seen the pictures of the opening of the store in the local newspaper, and had wandered in to have a look for himself on his day off. He’d arrived at absolutely the right time for The Paint Store staff. He’d seen Mitchall lean over Ainsley, grip her thigh, and scream at her.
The judge had believed him absolutely when he’d said that anything that might or might night have happened to Mitchall’s finger was self-defense.
“Personally I wish she had broken it. That might have taught the idiot a lesson,” Nick had said to him as they walked from the court to the bar for their drink.
“Yeah, me, too. But mostly I’m just glad it’s all over,” Max said, ensuring he was sitting next to Nick. The detective looked even sexier today in his prim navy blue suit and pale blue shirt than he’d looked in jeans and a faded blue T-shirt the first time they’d met. Watching him loosen his navy necktie made Max wonder what it’d feel like to kiss the man’s slightly stubbled cheek.
Max had always been attracted equally to men as to women, yet he’d never had a relationship with a man before. It was rather embarrassing to realize that he was thirty years old and his male cherry remained unpopped. But that was something that he planned to fix real soon. Maybe even tonight.
He’d known he needed to accept his sexual orientation after spending an hour in Nick’s company on the day Mitchall had come to the store. It was just that he hadn’t been able to think of an appropriate way of going about it. The store had the detective’s cell phone number, but what was he supposed to say? “I’ve decided I’m gay. Will you pop my cherry?” was hardly a good enough pick up line. Tonight was his only chance. There’d be no logical reason to speak to the man ever again after tonight. So somehow he had to arrange for them to leave together. But how?
* * * *
Detective Nicholas O’Hare hadn’t spent two years at the Police Academy without learning to read body language, and he’d known from the very beginning that the attraction he felt toward the big builder was reciprocated.
He sipped his craft beer and pretended to be looking down the table at Roland, who was speaking, while he actually watched Max out of the corner of his eye.
The builder was six foot four, and solid with it, muscles bulging beneath his sports coat and business pants. Nick had never loved such a big man before. Usually he preferred smaller, slender men like the interior designer, Basil. But apart from the fact that Basil had eyes for no one except the staff member, Edward, it was Max who Nick was drawn to. Max was huge and assertive on the outside, but Nick had a strong feeling that he’d be a great, big, soft, cuddly teddy bear in bed.
Well, time would tell. He planned to make a move on the man tonight, and see what might happen.
It was fascinating watching the four owners and staff members interacting like this, relaxing after the pressure and drama of the day in court. Each owner was very different from all the others, but they seemed to understand and make allowances for each other’s personalities.
On the outside Max was very much a man’s man. A big, tough person with definite ideas. He teased Basil by calling him Baz, which the designer clearly disliked, and he and Basil both called Cuthbert, the accountant, a bean counter in quite a derogatory way, which Cuthbert waved off. Yet underneath the teasing Nick sensed their bond was strong.
Roland, the business manager, was the final member of the group and he looked and sounded as staid as Cuthbert, yet had some quite radical ideas at times.
The three full-time staff members were also a close-knit group—Edward, Robyn, and Ainsley, who’d shown such courage against the bullying Mitchall. Henry, the final staff member, was clearly in awe of everyone else, yet had staunchly supported them all. Nick was as certain as a nonmathematical person could be, that The Paint Store was on solid ground as a business.
What wasn’t on such solid ground was whether or not Max would split off from the group and come somewhere with him so they could get to know each other better.
Their attorney, who’d accompanied them all to the bar, left, but the others decided to buy food, so he did the same, aware that now he was the only noncompany person remaining in the group. But he didn’t plan on leaving without Max. Or, at the very least, without a date organized with Max.
nce the food was eaten, Ainsley and Robyn finished their drinks and decided to leave. Cuthbert started saying his good-byes, and Henry did, too. Nick decided this was the perfect opportunity. Under cover of all the conversation he asked Max softly, “How about we continue this event somewhere we can talk? Just you and me.”