WooHoo!! We have author Jaime Reese and the star of A Restored Man, Cole Renzo, at Sinfully Sexy HQ today. This time the girls have abandoned Mark and left him on his own with our guests. Find out what Jaime and Cole have to say about their story and why the girls had to rush off leaving Mark entertaining their guests at Sinfully HQ in Twinkly Bottom.
Also Macky and Mark absolutely loved the third book in Jaime’s The Men of Halfway House series so be sure to scope out their joint review and don’t forget to enter the draw for your chance to win an ecopy of the book plus lots of other goodies.
…..with guests author Jaime Reese and star of A Restored Man, Cole Renzo!
Jaime and Cole have come for afternoon tea at Sinfully HQ in their small but very quaint English village of Twinkly Bottom.
Mark: Macky? Macky? Where are you? The taxi has just pulled up! *Mutters to himself* I bloody knew she'd disappear, always when you need her.
Macky: *sounding muffled* I'm locked in the little girls room with Handy Andy the plumber...he just needed me to hold his tool for a minute because his pipe was about to burst...I locked the door in case of flooding, tripped over his tubing and dropped the key down the loo! OOOPS!
Mark: This was all supposed to go perfectly! Sinfully HQ looks like a showroom....I donned my sunshine yellow fluffy Marigolds, cleaned like a devil and done the hoovering. Monique cooked up a storm so we have enough cake and tea to sink a battleship ...and NOW you choose to go furtling about with Handy Andy again in the closet!!! Why?????
Macky: *Giggling* Ooh Andy watch where you're putting that power plunger!!! *shouts through door* it's alright Marky! I've sent Monique off to get a locksmith she'll be back in a couple of hours...said she just wanted to pop into Mark’s & Spencer’s first…...WOW Andy…....I've never seen anyone unblock a u-bend using one of those!!!!
Mark: *face palm* I swear we’ve never had so many leaking taps since Handy Andy showed you where his tattoo of a bath plug is! I reckon you must have a plumbing hotline with him!
Macky: *shouts through door* Don't panic Marky! Just limit them to one cup of tea and they probably won't need the loo.
Mark: *sighing* I don't believe this...it was all going swimmingly. Jaime is bringing Cole with her. Can’t wait to see if his motor mouth behaves itself this afternoon. He is adorable though, can’t help but smile.*shouts back* So that's it? I'm on my own again?!?
Macky: I can shout questions through the door if that helps?
Mark: *major eye roll* You can’t be serious?
Macky: Erm...So that's a no then?
Mark: *doorbell rings* OMG! They're here! DO NOT SAY A WORD!!! *Mark takes a deep breath, opens door and greets Jaime and Cole* Hey guys welcome to Sinfully HQ UK. Hope you had a safe journey?
Jaime: *extends hand in greeting* Hi, Mark, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you. *looks over to Cole who is craning his neck, looking around the room, and elbows him*
Cole: Ow, why the hell did you elbow me?
Jaime: *does a chin up gesture toward Mark*
Cole: Shit. Sorry. *extends hand* It’s nice to meet you.
Jaime: It was a long flight but we’re happy to have made it safely.
Cole: Yeah. The plane movie sucked but Ty gave me a few car magazines and books to read to pass the time. *jerks his head toward the side door* What was that noise?
Mark: You’ll see we're missing Macky, she really wanted to be here but I’m afraid she's ...*cough* a little indisposed at the moment *smiles politely*
Cole: Seriously, what was that noise?
*Jaime pulls Cole by the arm toward the sofa*
Cole: Are we supposed to act as if that didn’t just happen?
Mark: Come in and make yourself comfortable guys, please take a seat *gestures to the Sinfully guest sofa* I’m afraid we only have tea today, so I hope that’s OK? *Mark pours cups* As Monique knew Cole would be here she even made a special effort and baked a Lamborghini cake. The grey slab next to it with the letters on it is supposed to be a keyboard cake for authors….erm.…just use your imagination guys. Would you like a piece?
Cole: I got it! *launches from sofa toward the cake table*
Jaime: That was so nice of Monique! Thank you so much.
Cole: *returns with a piece of cake and shoves a spoonful into his mouth*
Jaime: *turns to Cole* You didn’t bring me a piece?
Cole: I’m your sidekick today, not your butler or whatever they call it here ‘across the pond’. *he says in a poor attempt to mimic an accent*
Jaime: *slaps Cole behind the head* How about you get me a piece anyways. Remember, I can always kill you off in the next book.
Cole: *rubs the back of his head* You wouldn’t do that to Ty. Besides, you love me. *puckers his lips*
Jaime: *rolls eyes* Cake. Please.
Cole: *grumbles and returns to the cake table for a second piece*
Mark: So Cole I believe this is your first visit to the UK? What do you think of what you've seen so far?
Cole: It’s different over here. Greener, that’s for sure. And you’ve got hills too. We’ve only got Mount Trashmore over in Miami.
Jaime: *whispers to Mark* That’s what he calls the landfill in Miami.
Cole: I’m dying to drive in the hills here. And it’s got to be cool as hell to drive on the opposite side of the road too. I want to get one of those plaid skirts for Ty.
Jaime: That’s Scotland. And they’re not skirts, they’re kilts.
Cole: *sits down on sofa and hands plate with cake to Jaime* Doesn’t matter what they’re called. I just want to see what the guys wear underneath.
Jaime: *shakes head* Focus, please.
Cole: I am. He asked what I liked about it here.
Jaime: Eat your cake.
Mark: Where did the idea of a Halfway House come from Jaime? Why did you get Matt and Julian to set it up for you?
Jaime: The idea stems from two factors. First, people are sometimes misunderstood—
Cole: Like me. *gives Mark a toothy grin*
Jaime: *chuckles and hugs Cole*
Cole: *smiles and wraps his thickly muscled arm around Jaime* See? I’m lovable. I can be a little annoying but I make up for it in other ways. Just ask Ty. *waggles eyebrows*
Jaime: *shakes head* People are sometimes misunderstood, and this can potentially affect the path they take in life. Secondly, we're human and make mistakes. We often crave a second chance, to make things right, to love again, to help others, or just to do things a little differently the second time around. These are men who have been dealt a crappy hand in life, whether by their own doing or as a result of circumstance. The house provides them with a rare second chance they crave, at life and/or love. And I can’t think of any pair better to run the house than Matt and his J.
Cole: *stifles a chuckle* Julian gets all growly when you call him that.
Mark: The whole idea of the Halfway House for integrating young offenders back into society is a great one. Do many of these type of places exist in the US?
Jaime: Yes, throughout the country. There are different types of halfway houses scattered throughout the country. They each run things differently and some are far stricter than others.
Mark: Was it set up originally to be a series or did it just develop into that?
Cole: *head jerks toward the side door again* What the hell is that noise?
Jaime: The potential for the series was always there.
Cole: Seriously…um…you’re just going to ignore that?
Jaime: *glares at Cole then turns to Mark again*
Where was I…yes, the potential for the series was always there. And the nature of the halfway house setting opens up the opportunity for the series to be never-ending since guys can cycle through the house endlessly. The halfway house is the common element, but it does not necessarily mean the story revolves around a resident of the house. It could be someone who has interacted with a resident or Matt or Julian, at some point—a relationship that blossoms as a result of the halfway house. For example, Aidan. He and Jessie have a story to tell even though he’s not a resident of the house and they never would have met had they not crossed the threshold of the house.
Cole: Those two. I swear. I just want to lock them in a closet together and see what happens. They’re wasting too much time.
*looks toward the door again as he finishes his cake*
OK, really. Are we just going to ignore the fact that noise is coming from behind that door? *he says, jabbing his finger in the direction of the door*
Jaime: *whispers* Focus on the interview.
Cole: *whispers to Jaime while staring suspiciously at Mark* Why don’t you keep him busy while I pick the lock and find out who he’s hiding? I hear giggling.
Mark: *interrupts quickly* So Cole from what I hear you have a big family. How do you keep track of all those relations? Is it a blessing or can it also mean stress at times?
Cole: *clears throat* I can’t keep track of everyone. I see them at weddings, family reunions, stuff like that. Big events usually once a year. And each time, there are new faces that pop up or the kids have grown a lot since I last saw them. One time, one of my cousins got married and they had to rent out the entire second floor of the hotel. Huge mob of people. *he smiles* I love my big family. We can drive each other nuts, but I wouldn’t trade them.
*banging from door followed by laughter*
Cole: *head jerks in the direction of the side door again* Seriously, you should have cleared out your happy hostages before the interview. They sound like they’re getting restless.
Mark: Ah sorry guys the neighbours have a few problems with their rafters, the workmen are trying to straighten them out. *curses under breath - I’ll kill her! * So Cole, where were we? Ah yes, big families? *apologetic smile*
Cole: *crosses arms*
Neighbors? Really? *scowling*
The sound is coming from right there. *points to the side door*
Wait a minute, I thought there was supposed to be someone else here with you. Macky, right? Where’s Macky? Where’s Monique?
Jaime: Cole, maybe they had another commitment.
Cole: Or maybe Mr. Marky here took the cake and gifts from them and shoved them into that little room over there. *pointing to the side door*
Mark: *trying to get Cole’s attention back* How many beanies do you actually have and what’s your most outrageous one? We won’t go into your fascination with superhero underwear today though. *blushes*
Cole: *stands and starts unbuttoning jeans*
Jaime: Stop it.
Cole: *looks over to Jaime* He asked about the superheroes. I just wanted to show him my new ones.
Jaime: No, he asked about your beanies and said he didn’t want to get into your fascination with superhero underwear.
Cole: *lowers his zipper and flashes his underwear quickly*
Ty got me these! Aren’t they cool?
*he zips up his pants again after flashing Mark*
Jaime: *rolls eyes* Sorry, Mark. I imagine if he wore a skirt he’d be flipping it up to everyone.
Cole: A kilt would save some time right about now. *waggles eyebrows*
Besides, look at him. *points at Mark*
He’s cute when he blushes. Even if he’s holding people hostage in that tiny room.
*nears Jaime to whisper* It’s always the quiet ones you need to worry about.
Jaime: *sighs* Sorry, Mark. *turns to Cole* He asked you about your beanies. How many and which is your craziest one?
Cole: *turns to Mark* I’ve got a stockpile of them. I could wear a new one every day and be good for at least a month. Some I’ve bought, some my mom knitted. *smiles and bites his lip* Ty gave me a few of them too.
Wildest one? Hmm. *rubs his head through his beanie*
Most of them are solid colors, I’m not into putting that really weird crap on my head. But my brother, Gus, once gave me a beanie. It looked like the top of a cupcake, you know, it was knit in white to look like the frosting part with a red cherry on top. No way in hell would I ever wear that on my head. He tried though, managed to rally all my brothers and my sister to push me to try it on. *shakes his head* Not. Gonna. Happen. They’d wait for that one second to flash a pic and post that on Facebook or something. I wouldn’t be able to live that shit down.
Mark: I know Cole is a talented mechanic but how much research did you have to put in Jaime on this subject to write Cole’s story? I’d never even heard of a LoJack before until I googled it, but maybe that’s just those funny American and British English differences.
Jaime: Both my husband and I have a love for cars. So although I had to do research, the topic wasn’t completely foreign. Knowing the terminology for some things was helpful in finding what I needed. I wanted to include car-related content for story relevance, but tried not to overload the story and risk boring the reader.
Mark: How do you feel having a holiday Cole without Ty or Aidan at your side?
Cole: *shrugs* Aidan’s not so bad after a while, but I’m glad he’s not around. He makes me edgy. He’d probably be scoping out the banging coming from behind that door. *points to the side door again*
I miss Ty. We made a pact to go to any new place together. *smiles*
He’s already been to the UK. Besides, he had to stay back home to finish up a project he’s working on. I’ve got Jaime with me. She makes sure I don’t screw things up too badly when Ty’s not around.
Mark: Will there be more residents moving into Halfway House with their stories to tell?
Jaime: I hope so. I’d love the chance to give more men a happy ending.
Cole: *snorts a laugh* A happy ending. You know that’s code for a massage with a hand job or blow job, right?
*turns to Mark and whispers* See? It’s the quiet ones you need to worry about.
Jaime: *sigh* I was referring to giving these men their happily ever after – finding love and a partner.
Mark: I don’t want you pulling a Napoleon on me Cole, but you are just a little vertically challenged *smiles politely* How do you cope with people pulling your leg all the time about your height? It must get totally exasperating I should imagine.
Cole: *arcs an eyebrow and smirks* I’ve heard just about every joke at this point. Tough not to, being around the guys at the shop. I’m 5’9”, that’s not short it’s just that most of the guys around me are tall. I’m not small where it counts. I’ll drop my drawers again and you can whip out your ruler if you want a full report.
Mark: *Mark blushes yet again, changes subject quickly while trying not to choke on his cake* So guys as you have come a long way to visit us here at Sinfully HQ you can’t leave without us giving you a little something to remember your time here. Macky got really busy and has knitted Cole a Union Jack beanie *hands present to Cole* For Jaime, Monique whipped up some of her famous clotted cream fudge for you packed in a traditional teapot *hands fudge to Jaime*
Cole: *grabs the beanie from Mark* Thanks!
*turns around and switches out his current beanie with the new Union Jack beanie*
Jaime: *takes fudge* Thank you!
Mark: So as the weather is warm and sunny today, yes we do get sunny days in the UK, I thought I could show you around our little village of Twinkly Bottom. I have a friend who has a workshop with a large Rolls Royce, Mini and Jaguar collection and said we could drop by and he’ll show us around. Can’t get more British than that, interested? He also said we can take any car we like and have a spin, would you like to drive Cole?
Cole: *snorts a laugh* I’m still hanging on your little village’s name. Twinkly Bottom. Totally love that. *waggles eyebrows* I’m always up for a drive! How about we make it a challenge and I drive on the US side of the road over here?
Mark: Well, that would definitely be quite an interesting experience Cole but as our country lanes here are very narrow you’ll be driving in the middle of the road for most of it anyway. *smiles at Cole adoringly*
Jaime: May I just use your restroom before we go?
Mark: NO! Sorry, I mean we also have a problem with leaky plumbing at the moment. We can use the one at our local pub on the way. OK then, let’s go! *ushers Jaime and Cole quickly out the door*
Cole: *whispers to Jaime* I think we need to shove him in the trunk before he tries to get rid of our bodies, too.
Mark: Ooopps, almost forgot...one minute guys I just need to run back in and get my umbrella, well it is England you never know. *Mark shouts while closing door* We’re off out Macky, see you later!! And behave yourself, Monique shouldn’t be too long. Byeee!
A Restored Man by Jaime Reese
Title: A Restored Man (Men of Halfway House #3)
Author: Jaime Reese
Release: 17th February 2015
Genre: M/M (contemporary)
Cole Renzo thinks his greatest challenge is to behave for the remainder of his term at Halfway House. Until he meets his new boss, Ty Calloway, a man who ticks off every box on Cole’s list of interests.
A sought-after restorer and customizer of exotic and collectible cars, Ty had enough confidence to command what he wanted in life, until one fateful night changed everything. Almost two years later, he’s slowly rebuilding his life with great control. He’s defied the odds and works tirelessly to be the man he once was—but he still feels broken.
Cole’s candor and unfiltered personality awaken Ty’s barely-remembered desire to greet each new day with a smile, while Ty’s unwavering acceptance of Cole’s quirks and brash humor makes Cole feel as if he fits in for the first time in far too long. When a nemesis threatens Ty’s personal restoration and the things he holds dear, Cole is determined to protect their relationship, even if that means sacrificing everything he’s worked so hard to achieve.
But Ty will have to let his guard down, surrender control, and admit he needs Cole first, even if that puts himself at risk of breaking beyond repair.
Macky’s and Mark’s Review
Four hours later after entertaining Jaime and Cole, Mark is back at Sinfully HQ……..
Mark: *throws front door open and hollers* Macky? Have you managed to extricate yourself from the loo? More’s to the point have you liberated Handy Andy and has he fixed the plumbing?
Macky: *Appears looking frazzled* Yay! I'm free at last! Handy Andy has a big smile on his face now that he's unblocked his pipes... But oh my goodness! I can't believe I got locked in the loo and missed all the fun! I was trying to listen at the door but I'm always a bit worried about turning my back on Handy Andy when he's wielding his plunger!
Mark: Is Monique back from the locksmith’s then? I assume she got you out.
Macky: No, *rolls eyes* of course not! She’s probably got waylaid by shoes in Mark’s & Spencer’s or is chatting up some nice sales assistant. But Handy Andy got us out eventually, his tool bag is amazing a right treasure trove of toys and gadgets! OMG! Look at the state of me, it's a good job Jaime and Cole didn't see me looking like this!
Mark: Get yourself sorted then, and I’ll make us a fresh pot of tea. Now Jaime and Cole are gone we have to get down to the serious business of chewing the fat about the book.
Macky: Good idea Marky...I'm gasping for a cuppa. You start the ball rolling because I need to compose myself after that terrible, ordeal? I can't think straight because I'm so...OOOH CAKE!!!!!
Mark: I guess that means I’m going first then? *thinks to himself - why doesn’t that surprise me* Let me begin with Cole now that I have met him. To be honest I found him absolutely adorable. I’m sure he would try the patience of a saint, but you just can’t help but to love him. His mouth is in overdrive before his brain has caught up at times, but you just have to smile as there is never ever any premeditated nastiness to it. It’s just like a child who says what they think no holds barred but its all totally innocent in some respects. He is totally upbeat; such a joy and bundle of energy to be around. Yes I admit it, he has a won a place in my heart for sure. I know you didn’t meet him personally, obviously Handy Andy was a lot more interesting *rolls eyes* but after reading his story what’s your take?
Macky: Well there's no contest really, is there? Hmmm, let me see...Handy Andy in his flat cap...and a hot young bad boy mechanic in a cool beanie?!? I'm thinking Cole might just be slightly ahead in the yummy stakes! OMG! I can't believe I got stuck in the loo and missed meeting him and Jaime! *Sighs* He's such an endearing character. I fell fast the moment the story opened and he was doing his sexy dance in the kitchen of the halfway house! Motor mouth and a bit of a wise guy, he's the cheeky, naughty boy...how can you not love that?
Mark: Absolutely Macky, you can see why he is so good for Ty. He was exactly the sort of person that Ty needed around to pull him out of that dark place he was in after going through those horrific experiences. I thought the two of them complimented each other perfectly. Ty was coping with a lot when Cole first turns up on the scene. When I think what Ty had been through I was amazed to think that he had pulled himself together that far. What were your first impressions of Ty?
Macky: Aww Ty! What a lovely guy, I was drawn to him straightaway even though he was obviously struggling physically and mentally with something sad when we first meet him. It's not that he's particularly morose or deeply depressed, but with everything that's happened to him you can tell he's lost some of his spark and because of that everyone around him is treating him with kid gloves...that is until Cole explodes onto the scene with his cheeky manner and brain that doesn't go into gear before he opens his mouth, invariably putting his foot in it. He's a breath of fresh air who makes Ty smile and laugh again, bringing him back to life in only the way Cole can.
Mark: I think it was just perfect timing Cole walking into Ty’s life at that moment. Had to keep laughing though as Cole didn’t let up one bit; horny little bugger - lol!
Macky: Hahaha...yes horny little bugger is right! I loved how he flirted with Ty and got him flirting back. Their attraction was palpable, and those kisses!! OMG! Talk about the perfect make out sessions! No one writes kissing scenes like Jaime. She never fails to get me tingling all over when her guys are locking lips! Sooo sexy and sensual but really romantic too. It was just lovely watching Cole getting Ty to open up, in fact I think that was probably my favourite thing about the story; the chemistry and connection we saw forming between them as everything else unfolded in the background. The sexual tension and transition from attraction to love was played out perfectly.
Mark: The other person I loved was Jeff. I think Ty was brilliant to pair Jeff (his senior tech) up with Cole to work with initially because you could feel that Cole would respond well to the patience and experience of an older guy. I think if Cole was paired up to work with someone his own age it could have been a disaster. I just loved the whole banter between these two.
Macky: Yeah, I really liked Jeff too. He was a great foil for Cole's 'young cocky car thief/mechanic' persona. You could feel the easy camaraderie they had, which made for some funny moments and some touching ones towards the end.
Mark: I actually found all the characters great from Cole’s family, my goodness how many relations did he have? To Ty’s brother Aidan who Cole could never quite fathom out where he stood with him, to Stacie the PA, to Ty and Cole’s team when they arrived. No matter how small an appearance they had in the story they always really seem to come alive, shine and were real for me in that moment.
Macky: I totally agree Marky. All the supporting cast shone in this, even the not so nice ones, and that's exactly WHAT they did...they supported the story and enhanced the plot rather than just being there as secondary, cardboard cut-out characters. Each person in this had their part to play, and without them I don't think the story would have flowed as easily as it did. There are some fantastic 'banter offs' between Cole and a lot of the other characters. Cole and Aiden, in grumpy protective brother/ cop mode...Cole and Justin, in 'big brother' mode...Cole and Matt, in tease mode...he just bounced off everyone didn't he? Lol….I did a fair bit of snorting...but the best one-on-one moments were definitely Cole and Ty in 'sexy, flirty, kissy mode'. Loved all their little in jokes they shared. The superhero undies, Cole's eye's, Ty's fishing for compliments, the pet names...just so cute!
Mark: Oooh yes! I don’t know how Jaime does it, but she does get the dynamics between her characters spot on. They always have just the right amount of yin and yang going on to make them very different but there is always common ground found where they are totally compatible with each other. All a little broken in their own way with their own tragic experiences but it never goes to the ridiculous. Always real and believable.
Macky: Yes, even Cole is carrying some emotional baggage and it's not all to do with his spell in prison, even though that's something he's not proud of. Beneath that confident, cheeky manner, there's also a vulnerability about him, especially relating to his relationship with his big, exuberant, loving family. But we also see it when he's with Ty sometimes. As much as Cole is the key to healing Ty, it also works the other way too, as Ty's influence on Cole calms and settles him in a way that no one else has ever been able to do before.
Mark: Once again Macky, I think we agree that Jaime has not only delivered us a great romance but a really interesting story and plot too. The whole thing going on with Robert and his criminal ways holding Ty over a barrel from the days when Ty’s dad ran the shop. How Cole becomes essential in getting this all sorted for Ty, provided once more for an utterly enthralling and entertaining read. When I reflect on book one and with this third book I can really feel and see how Jaime’s writing has matured and is going from strength to strength. Roll on Book 4 - that’s all I can say. I reckon there was also a hint in the interview of whose story might be next – can hardly wait.
Macky: I think I might have an idea too. However, I'll second what you said, Mark. I reckon Jaime is on to a real winner with this halfway house series. And you're right about the balance of romance and story; up to now each book has delivered on both counts, this one got pretty exciting at the end, and if the next one matches up then we're in for another treat. I do think Cole is a hard act to follow but I'm sure Jaime has another entertaining read in the pipeline.
Mark: *looks at watch* I don't know about you Macky, but I'm shattered now so time to clear up I guess. Do I need to get my Marigold’s on and do the dishes or are you volunteering seeing you left me in the lurch?
Macky: I don't look as good as you in the fluffy Marigolds Marky, plus I WAS stuck in the loo while you got to meet Jaime and drool over Cole and his beanie, so how about we both put our feet up, have another slice of cake and a cuppa, and leave the washing up for Monique in the morning?!? Hahahahaha...or is that being too evil!
Macky and Mark: *grab cake, burst into laughter and put their feet up*
The music reverberated off the walls and filtered back through Cole's body. The sounds of Pitbull's "Timber" had him gyrating in the kitchen as he reached into the refrigerator. He grabbed the mozzarella then did exactly as the song commanded after shutting the door. He spun his body around repeatedly, holding the bag of cheese above his head while his hips arched up and down, completely seduced by the pounding beat of the song.
He closed his eyes. His heart thumped in unison with the beat, guiding his thick, compact, toned body in the fast-paced thrust of his hips as if he were pushing into the welcoming heat of a lover.
The pace slowed and so did his body, in complete sync with the rhythm. His hips rounded deeply, seductively, giving a show that would always excite more than the traditional foreplay.
Cole Renzo had some moves and he knew it.
The song sped up again and he glided barefoot across the tiled kitchen floor to reach the garlic cloves from the basket in the corner.
"Hey, you," Matt said, entering the kitchen, speaking loud enough for his voice to travel above the music.
Cole looked over at Matthew Doner, owner of the halfway house where he stayed, and smiled as his body moved to the rhythm of the song, not faltering a single beat with the interruption. He knew Matt loved to dance and had caught him doing his own version of a solo when he thought no one was watching. He dropped the garlic cloves on the counter and bent his finger in a come here motion, swinging his hips in a fluid Salsa-like move as he walked toward Matt slowly. Matt laughed and took two steps forward. Cole pulled him closer, spun him once then wrapped his arm around Matt's waist and started to dance to the faster thump of the song.
The laughter echoed in the kitchen as they moved in perfect time with the fast-paced rhythm nearing the end of the tune. Matt held up his arm and Cole circled with the expert elegance of a seasoned dancer, then pulled Matt close, stepped to the side and spun Matt in the same fashion.
"What the fuck!" Julian thundered when he entered the kitchen.
They froze at the sound of Julian's tone, just as the song ended. Cole's hand still rested on Matt's waist as they tried to settle their breathing, the absence of music magnifying the harsh puff of each exhale.
"Hey!" Cole responded cheerfully. "Matt and I were getting it on in here. Matt's got some hip action that would make a—"
Matt's hand came up around the back of Cole's head to cover his mouth, stopping him midsentence. What the hell? He was just going to compliment Matt on his seductive dance moves.
Cole glanced at Julian. His golden skin glowed, and he looked as if he had actually swelled an inch or two while standing there. His nostrils flared like a bull's. His usual intimidating green-eyed glare was more vicious than usual.
"What. The. Fuck," Julian said in that controlled tone that couldn't hide the undercurrent of his bubbling rage. He looked like he wanted to murder someone. Correction. Based on the white-knuckled fists he held at his sides, he was probably going to beat the shit out of some poor soul.
Murder would show mercy.
Matt's hand couldn't hide the smile Cole imagined was plastered on his face. Poor sorry ass idiot who dared piss off Julian Capeletti. He looked up at the green-eyed guy who towered over Cole's five-nine stature.
"J, calm down," Matt said to his partner in his usual calming tone.
Yeah, good luck with that. Julian was about to go ape shit on someone and Cole was going to have a front row seat to that show. Cole's stomach fluttered and he started shifting his weight from foot to foot. He couldn't wait to see Julian actually lose it for once.
Julian's jaw clenched and his fists tightened.
Wait a minute. Cole looked back and forth between Julian and Matt. Julian's not pissed at Matt—he never was. They had one of those sickly sweet, always romantic I love you lick fest relationships you secretly want but would never openly admit. Why was Julian so mad? And who the hell was he mad at? There was no one else in the kitchen.
Shit. Cole slowly registered how his actions or words may have been received. He instantly released Matt as if his fingers were singed and put his hands behind his back. Matt removed his hand from Cole's mouth. Cole took a few steps back and raised his hands in a surrender-like fashion, hoping to calm the golden beast that seemed to be growing in width with each passing second.
"We were just dancing," Cole said calmly. He knew better than to joke with Julian while he was in this state of mind. Stick to the facts. "I was making dinner…your favorite actually." He walked over slowly toward the stovetop like someone stepping away from a wild animal. He kept his focus trained on Julian as he lifted the pot tops on the stove.
Matt neared Julian and placed his hands on the stretched black T-shirt covering his broad chest. "J, I heard the music and came in here. You know I can't resist a dance," he said teasingly as he stroked Julian's chest. He then smiled and placed a kiss on Julian's neck.
Julian's focus shifted quickly from Cole to Matt and back to Cole. Within a second, his glare had changed. Matt kissed him again and Julian's eyes partially closed but snapped open, re-focusing on Cole as his target.
Matt's hand reached up Julian's neck to the back of his shaved head.
Julian's eyes closed and his head lolled to the side, seeking Matt's kisses up his neck then along his jawline. In a flash, he grabbed Matt by the hand and pulled him out the kitchen. Matt quickly glanced back to Cole with a huge grin on his face.
Cole sighed with relief as his entire body relaxed.
He always seemed to get a rise out of Julian but it was never intentional. Not really. He wouldn't deny he occasionally had some fun at Julian's expense. He just had the worst case of foot in mouth syndrome. It seemed his mouth worked much faster than his brain. He would never say or do anything to intentionally hurt someone, his mother had taught him better than that. But with a thousand different thoughts racing in his mind at any given moment, picking the right thing to say didn't always work out in his favor.
Or as Julian said, he had no social filter between his brain and mouth.
Cole returned his focus to the dinner he was preparing. Food. God, he loved to cook and was thankful as hell Matt and Julian allowed him to tinker in the kitchen. He didn't want to stir anything up—aside from the sauce he was preparing—but he needed to burn off the nervous energy that thrummed through his body on a constant basis. He pressed the button on the iPod docking station to jump to the next playlist and lowered the volume. The smooth sounds of Maroon 5 streamed through the speakers and eased his nerves as he continued to stir the sauce. Visions of Adam Levine singing and dancing came to mind. Mmm. The things he'd love to do to that man.
He was placing the garlic rolls in the oven some time later when Julian walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator to grab a bottled water. Cole closed the oven and stilled, hoping for some magic superpower that would render him invisible. He couldn't abandon dinner and risk it getting ruined or, even worse, messing up Halfway House, the place he had called his home for the last two months. Shit.
Cole turned, feeling as if he should say something, but shut his mouth almost as quickly to avoid aggravating the situation. He sucked at apologies and usually ended up shoving his other foot into his mouth as well.
Julian glared at him just as Matt entered the kitchen with flushed cheeks, a dreamy smile, and swollen lips. Matt hummed as he tugged his shirt to straighten it. When he looked up and saw both Cole and Julian looking at him, his eyes rounded and he quickly turned and exited the kitchen.
Midday booty call. Busted.
A slow smile began to spread across Cole's face. He glanced over at Julian who still had a death glare focused on him.
Julian pointed a finger at him. "Don't you dare go there," he said before turning away. "And pull up your pants. I can see your damn Spider-Man underwear."
"Hey, don't rag on the superheroes. Oh, and by the way…"
Julian turned and gave Cole a pointed glare.
Cole did a chin up gesture toward the door where Matt had been only moments ago. "You can thank me later."
The muscles in Julian's jaw flexed. He inhaled sharply, shook his head, and left the kitchen without saying another word.
Series Reading Order & Buy Links
1) A Better Man
2) A Hunted Man
3) A Restored Man
About the Author
Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself.
Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone
deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired
with a little difficulty are more cherished.
Connect with the Author
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