Born to old Virginia money, film producer Kyle Wakefield’s conservative upbringing kept him in the closet. Only once did he venture outside: for a tempestuous teenage affair with Nathan Carnes. When Nathan’s self-destructive streak landed him in prison, Kyle slammed the door on youthful hopes. Despite Hollywood successes, he still hides his true self.
He thought he’d moved on, until his production company hires Nathan and his Second Chances stunt crew to work on the London set of a big-budget action flick. Watching Nathan risk life and limb with fellow ex-cons looking for a fresh start makes it tough for Kyle to keep his desires hidden.
Thirteen years have passed since Nathan’s teenage self-doubt led him to sabotage any chance of a future with Kyle. He’s come a long way since then, but despite their explosive sexual chemistry, Kyle treats their attraction like a deep dark secret.
Their matched Hollywood ambitions and a pain-in-the-ass director make cooperation essential. As the London holiday season casts its spell, the two men find themselves on the verge of falling in love again—even as old secrets and pain keep them shackled. The only hope of unlocking their hearts is a Christmas miracle.
Warning: This book features a snowy London Christmas, sex on a pool table, a hot-and-dirty gay nightclub, and naughty references to candy canes.
Kyle’s eyes went heavy lidded. His tongue slicked across his bottom lip. “Look, Nate.” He drew the name into a pleading whisper. “Last night was…”
“It was damn good.” Nate shrugged, managed to look away. Pedestrians streamed by on the sidewalk, but no one they knew. Office workers and chavs in tracksuits and a few tourists with backpacks and maps, all on the go as night fell. “Or it was fucking amazing. Maybe that’s the phrase you’re looking for.”
The maybes were a painful disease. Every thought was one Nate second-guessed—something he’d been doing for ten years.
He lifted his hand. The skin across the back of Kyle’s neck was surprisingly soft. The ends of his hair brushed Nate’s knuckles. “That’s one place where we never had any problems. The sex.”
Kyle’s grin turned a little wistful. “That’s for sure.”
Nate kissed him, tenderly, with their lips sliding together. Kyle tasted like sweet coffee and fruit. For a minute he kissed back too. There was no denying the way his lips clung to Nate’s, the way his tongue twined and soothed, the way his elegant fingers cupped Nate’s jaw. One thumb dug into the underside of Nate’s chin—a little spike of hurt to counter the nice.
Then the hiss of brakes squealed from somewhere behind the van. Kyle flinched. His mouth froze, and his neck turned to bone beneath Nate’s touch.
Nate should have let him go, stopped kissing him. He should have allowed things to just…be. He couldn’t. Kyle had the same damn hang-ups as always. He was a man comfortable about everything in the world except for his real place in it.
Instead of pushing away an intimate, unexpected moment, Nate tucked his free hand in Kyle’s expensive collar. He yanked them both up from the edge of the van, into a standing position. He kept his mouth on Kyle’s. Kept kissing. Kept taking.
If this was all he was going to get from his lover, so be it. He’d make sure it was fantastic for him, at least. Nate would take what he wanted. Right then, he wanted Kyle’s mouth.
What he hadn’t expected was how Kyle melted under the onslaught. His spine curved. He eased against the door of the van. Even as his hands pushed under the hem of Nate’s tight black T-shirt, Kyle was still hiding.
Nate pushed him away. Instead of teaching Kyle a lesson, he was only hurting himself. The spike of pain in his chest was undeniable. He’d thought he was beyond his old self-destructive behavior.
Considering the way he couldn’t seem to keep clear of Kyle, maybe not. Ten years ago he’d thrown everything away and still managed to make a noble choice. He could have taken Kyle’s parents up on their offer and gotten off with probation, but he hadn’t. Instead, he’d refused to promise to stay away from Kyle—only to earn his lover’s disgust and disappointment.
Principles hadn’t gotten him much, only three years in prison and ten years alone.
This wasn’t some magic do-over. This was an ambitious producer from old Virginia money who was using Nate for his own ends. Part of him, the less cynical part, hoped those ends actually meant believing that Nate could do the job he was hired to do. Then again, this was Hollywood on vacation in London. In Tinseltown, everyone was a shark in training.
Nate slammed the van door shut, doing his damnedest not to look at Kyle. He didn’t need the other man’s snotty arrogance, not when he was barely holding on to his temper.
Kyle straightened his impeccable button-down shirt, simply oozing privilege.
“Don’t give me your attitude. That can’t happen here—not again. We’re on the street.”
“We are.” Nate sneered. “So proud of you to notice. Do you also happen to see there’s no one here we know? They’re all strangers and people who shouldn’t matter for shit. I’m no one’s dirty secret, Kyle. I got over settling ten years ago.”
“I don’t want you to be my dirty secret.”
“No? Sure seems like it. Private pool table fucks? Check. Ducking around the issue with your business partner? Check. Kissing, nope.”
“No.” Kyle’s glittering brown eyes narrowed, and his chin lifted with hauteur. “I meant I don’t want you at all.”
Katie Porter is the writing team of Carrie Lofty and Lorelie Brown, who’ve been friends and critique partners for more than five years. Both are multi-published in several romance genres. Carrie has an MA in history, while Lorelie is a US Army veteran. Generally a high-strung masochist, Carrie loves running and weight training, but she has no fear of gross things like dissecting formaldehyde sharks. Her two girls are not appreciative. Lorelie, a laid-back sadist, would rather grin maniacally when Carrie works out. Her three boys love how she screams like a little girl around spiders.
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