Hi! Happy Friday! For this week's Fiction Friday I want to share the first three chapters of Bad Boys Need Love Too: Gage. Oh, and btw it's on sale this weekend for .99! If you haven't yet read this ridiculously sexy opposites attract bad boy romance, now is the perfect time to check it out. Take a look at the first three chapters and if you want more, Gage and Joseph, hit that buy button! Happy Reading!
Joseph rode his motorcycle into the repair shop his co-worker’s brother had referred him to. He killed the engine and set the kickstand, looking around as he dismounted. The place was clean and organized, bikes in different stages of repair parked in numbered squares painted on the ground. He noticed there were mostly standards and cruisers with very few racers.
He removed his helmet, brushing dust from the ride off his suit as he took in more details. The floor was polished and painted concrete, the walls decorated with framed posters of motorcycles. The typical curled-edge posters of bikini-clad chicks draped over bikes were nowhere to be seen. Nothing was out of place. The owner obviously took pride in his business. There was a service counter at one end of the shop, but there was no one behind it. He looked through a wide window that looked into a small waiting area. Someone was in there, but it was an older man flipping through a magazine. He looked like a customer so Joseph didn't bother to go in. As he walked around he finally noticed a man on the ground working on one of the bikes.
“Excuse me is the owner around? I'd like to have him take a look at my bike.”
The man looked over at him for a moment before he went right back to what he was doing. “Why do you need the owner? You too good to talk to a lowly bike mechanic?”
Joseph’s face flushed in anger at the man's rudeness. “No,” he snapped back. “But my friend referred me here and told me to ask for the owner, Gage Mason. So get off your high horse and get him for me.”
The man stood. “I'm Gage.”
Joseph colored again, this time in embarrassment. “Oh.” He went forward to shake the man's hand. “Joseph Naderi. And I'm sorry about my rudeness.”
Joseph assessed the shop owner as he wiped his hands on a towel and came forward. He looked like he belonged in this bike shop. He had thick, dark brown hair that lay in a careless sweep over his forehead. Eyes that were just as dark as his hair watched him with a steady, direct gaze. His jaw was hard and defined, shadowed by light stubble. His jeans were clean but ripped in a few places, giving Joseph glimpses of the hard thigh muscles beneath the denim. A close-fitting, dark t-shirt showed off his toned upper body. His arms were so nicely defined that the sleeves of the shirt were tight on his biceps. Scuffed but comfortable looking black work boots were on his feet.
The man looked tough and wild. The type of guy Joseph had always been attracted to, but never dared to approach. He got his mind back on the business at hand as Gage accepted his handshake and spoke.
“No problem. My fault for bustin' your balls. What's going on with your bike?”
Joseph explained that he’d noticed his motorcycle, a Ducati Diavel, not getting as much power when he took it to high speeds. “I suspect it might just be spark plugs, but I’d rather have a professional look everything over to be sure.”
Joseph watched as Gage ran his hand over the bike while he asked him more specific questions. Gage looked back up at him and Joseph found himself trapped by the oddly intimate power of his stare.
“It’s a great bike. Fast and pretty.” Gage stroked his hand over the bike seat. “Very pretty.”
Unsure whether or not that was a come-on, and even more unsure how to handle it if it was, Joseph looked away. “Will you take a look at it for me?”
“Yeah, I'll get it going.” He waved his hand in a wide arc, indicating the other bikes in the shop. But I got people in line before you so it'll take about a week.”
“That's fine. Do I pay you a deposit or diagnostic fee now?
Gage shook his head. “Nah. Let me see what I can do. I get it fixed I'll call you and you can take it for a run. When we get the ride as smooth as you want you pay.” He headed over to the counter and picked up the parts and service brochure for his shop. “I don't bullshit around on labor hours or charge outrageous prices for parts.” He handed the brochure over. “Here's a list of my prices. I'll call you to let you know what needs to be done before I get started so you can decide. That work for you?”
Joseph looked up from glancing at the reasonable prices. “That works for me.” He held his hand out to shake the other man's again. This time a frisson of electricity ran up Joseph’s arm as soon as their palms met. He looked into those dark eyes and saw them sparkling with what looked like amusement. Joseph found himself watching as a small smile quirked up the corners of the mechanic’s sultry mouth.
“I'll see you soon, Joseph.”
Gage watched as his new customer walked outside to the cab waiting for him. He was intrigued by Joseph Naderi. From the few minutes he’d spent in his company, Gage had already picked up on contradictions in the man. He’d come in wearing a sharp suit, with matching button down and a perfectly knotted tie. But he was riding that beast of a bike. And after a moment, Gage had noticed that Joseph’s light brown hair wasn’t just combed back, it was long and tucked into a neat ponytail. But those contradictions weren’t the only thing that had Gage interested.
Joseph Naderi was beautiful. There was no other way to put it. He was tall, only a few inches below his own six foot two. His features were elegant and defined; high cheekbones, sharp nose and angular jaw. His mouth… pale pink and sweetly curved. Gage had found himself imagining everything he wanted to make those lips do as he watched Joseph talk. Thick brows and long eyelashes framed the most gorgeous eyes Gage had ever seen. They were sea green, lightened further by a ring of gold surrounding the pupil.
It was those eyes that had held Gage’s interest most. With the exception of that quick flash of temper, they were sweet and shy. And Gage had noticed the spark of attraction there in response to his flirting before Joseph had looked away.
Yeah, all of those contrasts, suit and motorcycle, shyness and temper, definitely had him intrigued. Gage looked forward to seeing Joseph again so that he could learn more about him. But he’d have to get his bike repaired before that happened.
Gage turned his attention to Joseph’s bike. It was a Ducati Diavel, black and gunmetal gray. An expensive racer, heavy and substantial, unlike those flimsy crotch rockets he loathed. Gage smiled. He might do a little rearranging of his schedule so that he could get to work on the Diavel sooner, rather than later.
Joseph sat in his small office in the major law firm where he worked. He was supposed to be working on a brief. Instead, he sat staring off into space thinking about Gage Mason. For three days, Joseph hadn't been able to get the bike mechanic off his mind. The way those dark eyes had watched him. So direct, like Gage had been studying him. And he'd gotten a vibe of what he was pretty sure was physical attraction off the other man.
Was Gage attracted to him? He wasn’t sure. Joseph had been surprised at the way Gage had spoken to him, accusing him of being too good to talk to a bike mechanic. That had both infuriated and intrigued him. Joseph wasn’t a snob and he didn’t appreciate anyone judging him to be so from one glance. But he also couldn’t believe the man had the nerve to talk to a potential customer like that. Gage clearly wasn’t one to be too concerned with making nice with clients. That was so unlike Joseph and the people he was used to that he couldn’t even imagine what that was like.
Looking at the wall clock in his office, he realized he'd been thinking about that mechanic for a good ten minutes. He needed to get his mind on work. The title of partner wasn’t going to fall into his lap while he was daydreaming.
He’d just managed to push thoughts of Gage Mason aside when his cell phone rang. Checking the screen, Joseph saw the name he'd stored in his phone, Mason Bike Shop. Joseph’s heart rate increased in nervous anticipation before he answered. “Hello?” Gage’s voice came across the line low and throaty, not even bothering to ask who he was talking to.
“Hey, your bike is ready. Can you come check it out today?”
Joseph was surprised, but he answered quickly. “Yeah sure, no problem. But it will have to be after work. How late are you open?”
“I normally close at six o’clock but if you think you'll be later than that I can wait around for you.”
Joseph was grateful for the offer. “Thanks, I appreciate that. I'll try to get there as close to six as I can.”
“Good. I'll be here.”
The phone clicked in his ear. Joseph set his cell down on his desk. His heart was definitely pounding now. He was going to see the man who'd been on his mind for days tonight.
Gage sat behind the counter and watched Joseph walk in. He'd finished the bike earlier than he anticipated solely because he wanted to see its owner again. Joseph looked very different tonight. Instead of a suit like before, he was in jeans that looked soft and well-worn as they hung off his narrow hips. A dark gray tee clung to his torso, just tight enough for him to see that his abs were smooth and hard. And his hair was down in a cloud of soft-looking brown curls around his shoulders.
Gage clenched his hand into a fist. He wanted to grab up all that pretty hair and hold the man still so he could get his tongue deep into his mouth and find out what he tasted like. He hardened slightly imagining it. Joseph probably tasted like cherries. Sweet, with just a little bit of tart to keep him interested. Gage pushed the thought aside. Joseph was at the counter with an eager smile on his face.
“My bike is already finished? You work fast.”
Gage let his lips curl in a slow smile. “Not always. I usually like to take my time.” He watched as Joseph caught his meaning and quickly looked away. His smile grew. He loved that this pretty boy was slightly shy. That meant he'd get to corrupt him. He pulled the Diavel's keys from the drawer in front of him. “Take it out. See what you think.” Instead of sliding the keys across the counter, he held them out in his open palm so that Joseph would have to touch his skin to get them. Joseph’s eyes locked on his as he reached out and took the keys. His teeth briefly bit at his full bottom lip as his fingers brushed his palm. But once he had the keys in his hand he grinned, his excitement obvious.
“I'll be right back.”
Joseph strode quickly over to his bike. In one motion, he swung his leg over to settle on the seat and pulled his helmet on. Once his face was covered he felt free to look over at Gage as he started the engine. That man had him tied up in knots. This time there was no doubt the mechanic was attracted to him. He just didn't know if it was something he wanted to pursue. The feeling he got when Gage looked at him, or whenever their skin touched was excitement laced with a little bit of fear. He could tell Gage wasn't like the men he usually dated. He was calm here in his shop, but Joseph sensed there was wildness lurking just beneath that façade. And Joseph figured he ought to keep his distance.
He wheeled the bike around and pulled up to the garage opening. After checking to be sure that the street was clear, he tore out of there. Bending low over the handlebars, he weaved in and out of the light traffic. The Diavel was performing beautifully, responding immediately to every twist of the gears. The roar of power beneath him was clear and throaty.
Joseph grinned and gave a happy shout inside his helmet, pushing the bike even faster. He leaned far to the side as he rounded the street corners, but eventually he slowed. Joseph hated to end his ride, but he knew Gage was probably ready to close up shop. He turned and went back the way he'd come. He could go for a longer ride whenever he wanted. Joseph drove back into the garage, revving the engine unnecessarily out of pure joy as he rode almost right up to the counter. Joseph shut the bike down and took off his helmet. He ran a hand through his windblown hair and grinned at Gage.
“You do good work.” He hopped off the bike and went up to the counter. “She rides like a dream.”
Gage arched an eyebrow. “Your bike is a chick?”
Joseph laughed. “Yep. She's the only woman I ride.” Joseph’s eyes widened and his laughter came to a choked halt. Did he really just say that? That sounded like the cheesiest pick-up line ever.
But Gage just shrugged unconcernedly. “Nothing wrong with that.”
His face hot with embarrassment, Joseph waited while Gage charged him with the credit card he’d left before his ride. He waited there quietly as Gage took care of the transaction. Joseph considered asking Gage out. But he hesitated. Even though he was pretty sure the other man was attracted to him, that didn't mean that he was openly gay. Besides, something about Gage Mason intimidated him. One look at him and it was obvious he was a bad boy. Joseph didn't know if he could handle that. So he didn't say anything. He made small talk about the way the bike had performed and said thanks as he signed the receipt and paperwork. When he was finished, he held his hand out for Gage to shake.
“Thanks, man. I really appreciate it.” Gage’s calloused, yet warm hand wrapped around his.
“You're welcome, Joseph.”
Joseph had to suppress a shiver. The way those dark eyes watched him and the way Gage said his name in that low voice. It got to him more than the smooth pick-up lines of the guys he normally dated. He cleared his throat and pulled his hand back. “Thanks again.” He mounted his bike and put his helmet back on without looking back, but he knew Gage was watching him. As he rode out of the garage, the taste of regret was bitter on his tongue.
“Hey, little brother.”
“Yousef! It’s about time you called me back.”
Joseph laughed and settled down on the couch to talk to his younger brother. It had only been a few hours since his brother left a voicemail asking him to call. But of course to a teen, a few hours waiting for the phone to ring was an eternity. “I’m sorry, Darius. What’s going on?”
A loud sigh came across the line. “It’s Dad.”
Joseph sobered quickly and sat up straight. “Is everything okay? Is Father all right?”
“He’s fine. He’s just being a stubborn jerk again.”
Joseph relaxed at his brother’s words, frustrated though they were. He was all too familiar with his father’s stubbornness. In fact, Joseph hadn’t seen the man in nearly six years because of it. It hurt, but there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t make Cyrus Naderi accept his son for who he was.
“What is Mr. Naderi putting his foot down on this time?”
“I want to go to school in Miami, but he wants me to go to Southeast Texas University and he wants me to live at home!”
That news didn’t surprise Joseph. Southeast Texas University was an expensive, private university. It was a prestigious school, frequently named in lists for top schools in America. Cyrus Naderi considered it as the perfect place to get a degree in a respectable profession. But knowing his little brother, it wasn’t the type of school he wanted to attend. Still, he tried to be the responsible big brother.
“Southeast Texas is an excellent school, Darius. You’ll get an excellent education there. And I enjoyed my time there as well.”
“I know that. But that doesn’t mean that’s where I want to be. I want to be on the beach and I want to study film, not medicine or law. Dad’s just stuck in the fifties on what’s an acceptable career. And he only wants me to live at home so he can keep an eye on me and make sure, well, you know.”
Joseph did know. He’d dated a few girls in high school because that seemed like the thing to do. But once he was on his own at college, he’d finally worked up the nerve to date guys. Once he had, he’d realized that was who he was and never looked back. He’d waited until after he graduated with his undergrad degree to come out to his parents, thinking that their pride in his accomplishment and seeing him as a mature adult would make things go smoothly. They hadn’t. Instead, his father had been furious and thrown him out of the house. He’d been cut off both financially and from his family.
“I’m sorry, Darius. I know my history is influencing Father’s desire to keep you at home.”
“It’s not your fault, Yousef. Dad is just being ridiculous! How do I get out of this? I refuse to go to any school besides the one I pick. And if he tries to make me go to school here and live at home I’ll say screw it and skip college altogether.”
“You’re not skipping college, little brother.” He paused while Darius groaned. “You just need to be smart about this. Apply to the colleges you want and keep your grades up. That way if you have to pay for your own school and housing in order to go where you choose, you can try for scholarships. But don’t give up on Father. Talk to him again, calmly. And get Mother on your side.”
The sigh that came through the phone was filled with all the impatience and frustration of youth. “I shouldn’t have to convince Dad to let me go to school wherever I want, but I’ll try. And you’re right, having Mom as backup should help.”
“How is she?”
“Mom’s all right. She misses you. You’ll probably have to set up a not-so-secret, secret meeting soon so she can see you.”
Joseph’s laughter at his brother was tinged with just a bit of sadness. He hated that he was banned from the Naderi household, but at least his father turned a blind eye to his wife visiting her oldest son. And for the past two years, he’d allowed Darius to visit as well. “What else is going on? Are you still dating Yasmin?”
“No. We broke up. We both figured if we dated for too much longer our parents would be arranging a marriage. And neither of us is ready for that.”
Darius laughed and so did Joseph. Their family might have assimilated almost completely into American culture, but there were some things from their Persian heritage they held on to. Preferring to arrange marriages for their sons was one of them. They clearly wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so with him, but he was sure they still held out hope for Darius.
“So what’s up with you? And don’t just tell me about work. Hearing how much of your life revolves around that law firm makes me dread growing up.”
Joseph shook his head. His brother was right, he didn’t have too much else in his life besides work. He actually had to think before he came up with something to talk about. “I’m getting my bike tuned up at a new shop. The mechanic there is pretty cool.”
“Cool, huh? Cool like you like him?” his brother asked in a sly voice.
“No Darius, not like I like him. He’s too direct and rude and …” Joseph trailed off, trying to think of the right word to describe Gage Mason. Grungy wasn’t right and sexy wasn’t appropriate to say to his little brother. “He’s just too rough,” he finished.
“You mean he’s not stuck up,” Darius said with a smirk in his voice. “I don’t know how you date those boring suits. I can’t believe any of them can let loose enough to drop their pants for you. You should ask the bike guy out. I bet he’s not a stick-in-the-mud in bed.”
“Darius!” Joseph was glad Darius accepted his sexuality without question, but he was not going to discuss his sex life with his baby brother. “I’m hanging up. Keep me posted on what’s going on with you and Father.”
“Bye, Yousef. Good luck asking out your mechanic.”
Joseph was out riding his bike around town. He didn't have any destination in mind, he was just enjoying himself. As always he loved the thrill the high speeds of his bike gave him. But there was something nagging at him. The feeling of regret from leaving without approaching that mechanic was still there. He'd expected it to fade. Gage wasn't the first guy he'd been attracted to, but not pursued. Usually, once the moment passed, he forgot about the guy and moved on. Not so with Gage. His interest in the man continued unabated, helped along by the conversation with his brother.
At night when Joseph was alone or even sometimes when he was working, his mind would turn to Gage Mason. It was his voice that was most often on his mind. He heard it in his head, the rise and fall of its unique rhythm, the husky tone. He wanted to hear it again. Wanted to hear it not just as a memory in his head but coming from the man's lips.
Still, Joseph was hesitant to go for it. Gage had bad boy written all over him. In relationships, that normally spelled trouble. And he couldn't afford to get involved with anyone who might slow or possibly derail his progress at the firm. They didn't judge him for being gay, but they would judge Gage if things were to get serious and he started bringing him to company functions. That's just the way things worked. He'd seen a couple of people who were trying to climb the ladder dump someone they were dating because the partners didn't approve. The disapproval was expressed subtly, but it was expressed.
Rounding a corner he noticed a Sonic coming up on his right. Joseph checked to be sure he was clear and then got over to pull into the parking lot. He couldn't resist his favorite summer treat. Pulling into one of the berths, Joseph pushed the call button then took off his helmet to order. The voice that came through the speaker sounded young and excited to be at work. Joseph smiled to himself. He hadn’t worked at that age, but he remembered what it was like to be excited at every teenage milestone.
A few minutes later Joseph sat there straddling his bike, slowly sipping a Slush. He'd made up his mind. He was going back to Mason's shop. If the other man still seemed interested, he'd ask him out. It wasn't fair for to judge him from two superficial meetings. Besides, one date didn't automatically mean they would ever have a relationship. Joseph decided to try to loosen up and just have fun.
Looking at his watch, he noted how close it was to six. He was tempted to hurry and drink, but he didn't want to get a brain freeze. Trying to ask someone out with a blinding headache probably wouldn't go over well. Forcing himself to drink slowly when he was eager to see the sexy mechanic again was hard, but he managed. When he was finally done, he threw the Styrofoam cup in the trash and pulled his helmet back on. His skin was hot with anticipation as he started his bike. Now that he’d made his decision, he really hoped the guy said yes.
Gage wiped his hands clean on a towel. It was six o'clock, which meant he was done working on the bikes in his shop for the day. His assistant mechanic, Danny, had left an hour ago. Now he had an hour of paperwork to get through before he could go home. He hated that part of being a business owner, but it had to be done.
Settling down at the metal desk in his office, he started to review invoices for parts orders. He’d only been at it for five minutes when he heard the sound of a motorcycle pulling up in front of his building. He could tell it was a racer by the sound of the engine. The shop was closed, but Gage still went to see who it was. If it was a friend, he'd let them in no matter the hour. But instead of seeing one of his buddies through the glass, he saw the distinct body of the Diavel he'd repaired last week and its owner, Joseph Naderi.
He smiled in pleased surprise and hit the button to raise the garage door. He hadn't expected to see Joseph again unless he went after him. He knew he did careful and thorough work so there was nothing wrong with that bike. Which meant that Joseph was here because he wanted to see him.
Joseph rode in and Gage walked over to him as he shut down the bike and pulled off his helmet. Gage didn't even try to keep the heat out of his expression as he looked at Joseph straddling his bike. Again he was dressed casually, and his long, curly hair was down, windblown from his ride. There was the faintest hint of a five o’clock shadow along the sharp line of his jaw and above the curve of his lip. And those gorgeous eyes of his were bright with excitement.
This man was beautiful. Even in his jeans and tee, Joseph still looked fresh and neat and clean. Gage wanted to get him dirty. He wanted to see him sweaty with his hair even wilder and his clothes ripped and twisted half off his hard body. So many things he wanted to do, and now that Joseph was back it looked like he might get that chance.
“You're still here.”
Gage quirked a brow. “Obviously. What are you doing here? Bike giving you trouble again?”
Joseph shook his head slowly. “No. I uh… wanted to say thank you for fixing her. The ride has been smooth just like you said it would be.”
Gage smiled real slow and moved in closer. “You go around and personally thank everybody who does work for you? Your cable repair man? The guy who changes your oil?”
Again Joseph shook his head slowly. “Not usually.”
Gage gripped the bike's throttle, watching as Joseph’s gaze dropped to his hand. He squeezed the throttle once and saw Joseph’s throat working as he swallowed. “Tell me why you're really here, Joseph.” Sea green eyes rose to look into his. They were so expressive that Gage could easily read his nervousness. Gage smiled again. “I already know but I want to hear you say it.”
“If you already know why do you need me to say anything?”
Gage released the bike and for the first time, touched that lean body. He put a hand on Joseph’s thigh, feeling the heat of skin and firm muscle through the denim. He stroked lightly. “Because…” He drew the word out. “You made the effort to come here. I wouldn't want to deprive you of the chance to do what you came to do,” Gage said as he squeezed the leg beneath his palm. Joseph’s lips parted, surprise at his actions clear on his face. But he didn't try to stop him. That was good. “Go ahead, Joseph.”
“Would you like to go out to dinner with me?”
“So formal. Are you also going to bring me a corsage? My favorite color is blue. That should help you pick out the ribbon.”
Joseph’s face tightened and his eyes quickly went from soft to snapping with anger. “Forget I asked.”
He started to turn the key on the bike, but Gage closed his fingers over his hand before he could. Joseph had a temper. He shouldn't be surprised. He remembered how Joseph had snapped at him when they first met. Gage liked that. It would take more than a pretty face and a tight body to hold his attention for more than one night. “Don't go. I was just fucking with you.”
“Why are you so rude?”
Gage arched a brow. “Rude? How so?”
“You antagonize for no reason. It’s frustrating. You could just be polite and say yes or no.”
“Does it get under your skin, Joseph?” he asked while he tried to hold back a smile.
“Yes,” Joseph snapped.
“Hmmm… I’ll try to be more polite then.” Joseph’s fingers relaxed on the key so Gage let him go. “Yes, I'll go to dinner with you.” Joseph smiled and Gage brushed a thumb over his lips. “Why is your mouth red?”
Joseph had to think for a moment. He was so flustered at the familiarity with which Gage was touching him that it took him a moment to remember why. “Oh. I had a Slush from Sonic.”
“Cherry.” A small smile touched the corners of Gage’s mouth and his eyes sparkled with amusement. Joseph felt like Gage was laughing at a secret joke. But he didn't get it of course, and for some reason, Joseph felt like he needed to explain himself. He licked his lips, tasting a faint hint of the cherry flavoring.
“It's my favorite.”
Before Joseph realized what was happening, Gage’s hand slid into his hair gripping it tight. Joseph froze as he watched Gage’s eyes drop to his mouth. His skin prickled with anticipation. Was he about to be kissed? He licked his lips again more out of nervousness rather than any attempt to entice. Gage’s eyes tracked the movement before he looked back up at him. Joseph was taken aback by the intensity he saw in those eyes. They were bright with heat and sharp with hunger. He'd never had anyone look at him like that before. His heart pounded with an exhilarating mix of fear and desire. Maybe he was right before. Maybe Gage was too much for him.
Gage could feel his blood racing under his skin, thick and hot as it shot straight to his cock. He wanted to kiss Joseph, getting the taste of cherries on his tongue as he pulled this pretty boy off his bike so that he could fuck him right there on the garage floor. His fingers clenched on the silky strands of hair in his fist as he seriously considered doing exactly that. But although there was definitely desire in the wide eyes that stared back at him, there was also apprehension. Joseph wasn't ready for the furious passion he would unleash on him.
Normally with his partners Gage didn't give a fuck if they were nervous. He just did whatever was necessary until he got them to give him what he wanted. Oddly, for whatever reason with Joseph, he was willing to take his time and put him at ease. Closing his eyes to the sight of those pouty red-tinged lips, he ruthlessly pushed back his desire. Gage untangled his fingers from Joseph’s hair, and opening his eyes, he took a step away from temptation.
“Friday at eight o’clock. Wilson’s Steak House. You know it?”
“All right, I'll see you then.” He took another step back, watching as Joseph started his bike and put his helmet on. He waved in response to the hand Joseph raised in goodbye before he rode off. After he was gone, Gage reassured himself he'd done the right thing. Good things came to those who waited, right? He wanted Joseph, wanted him eager and without any hesitation. So he would wait.
“I have to know. How did you wind up with that bike of yours?”
It was Friday night and Joseph was at Wilson’s Steakhouse with Gage. They’d talked a little about Gage’s life earlier, with him sharing that he’d wild when he was younger, before settling down enough to open up his shop. But for the past few minutes the conversation had centered on Joseph.
“I hate to stereotype, but I wouldn’t normally think someone like you would ride a bike like that. He laughed. “Or any kind of motorcycle actually.”
Joseph arched a brow. “Someone like me?”
Gage ran his eyes over him. “Well, you might not be in one tonight, but you’re definitely the comfortable in a suit type. How is it you’re just as comfortable on the back of a motorcycle?”
Joseph smiled and answered Gage’s question. “I fell in love with amateur racing after I saw it on an ESPN special. My father indulged me when I was a teen so he bought me my first bike after I begged.”
“Yes. Not to stereotype myself, but I was a typical upper-class Persian American kid. My parents got me whatever I wanted as long as I got the best education and chose a suitable profession.”
“Sounds like a fair trade.”
Joseph shrugged. “I held up my end of the deal. I graduated from Southeast Texas University with my undergrad and law degrees.”
“And now you practice law here. Have you been anywhere else, Joseph? Anywhere fun?”
Joseph shrugged slightly. “Not really. Well, I went on my senior trip in high school and to South Padre for spring break in college once, but I’ve mostly just been focused on my education and then my career.”
Gage shook his head, a teasing smile on his mouth. “Sounds like you’ve always been a good boy, Joseph.” His gaze flicked up to Joseph’s ponytail. “Do you ever let loose and let your hair down?”
“Metaphorically speaking?” he asked as he ran a hand over his hair. “Not really. I still race on weekends sometimes, but that’s it. I don’t know why I don’t relax and have fun more often.” Joseph looked down at the table for a moment before he looked back at Gage. “But I want to.”
Gage leaned back in his chair, that smile still curling his lips. “I think I can help you with that.”
Joseph started as Gage’s leg brushed against his under the table. He thought for a second it was an accident. Until Gage’s leg moved again, rubbing softly back and forth against his calf. Joseph didn’t move. He sat there, allowing the touch, while he tried to describe what he did at his law firm. But the way the man across the table watched him made it clear he was thinking about things besides Business Law.
As he talked, Gage’s fingers found their way to his, distracting him further. Gage’s thumb swept over the inside of his wrist, lightly, making goose bumps rise up on his skin. Joseph’s breathing shallowed, his voice lowering. He cleared his throat in an effort to bring his tone back to one of polite conversation.
“We work with clients all over the south and I’m starting to work on higher profile accounts. I plan to make partner within the next three years.”
“I don’t doubt you’ll make it. You seem smart and you’re gorgeous. Not that you’d use your looks to get you what you wanted,” Gage tacked on with a teasing wink.
Joseph shook his head. “Of course not. That wouldn’t be appropriate.”
“But there might be occasions where it’d be all right. Like with me.”
Slight pressure from Gage’s thumb had Joseph turning his hand over. A single finger danced over his palm as Gage traced indecipherable patterns on his skin. Joseph’s fingers curled in reflexively, just enough to touch Gage, but not enough to prevent him from continuing the delicate caress.
“I bet you could get me to do whatever you wanted with just a look from those pretty green eyes.”
Joseph didn’t know what to say to that. He’d never been the recipient to such upfront flirting. He glanced away and took a drink from his glass of water to cover his silence. Setting the glass down, he looked back at Gage. Again, amusement was in his dark eyes. Joseph knew he was transparent right now, but he couldn't help it. He'd never been so affected from nothing more than conversation and innocent touches.
The server came by their table and Gage let him go to pay the check. Joseph belatedly realized he should have done it since he'd been the one to ask Gage out. He started to say something, but his date spoke first.
“You ready to get out of here?”
Joseph swallowed hard and nodded. As they walked out of the restaurant Gage didn't touch him again. But he was so close Joseph could feel the warmth of his arm against his own. He swore he could feel an electric charge between them. Once they were outside, he led them to his car. He'd driven instead of riding his bike tonight. Gage ran his hand over the hood of his black Nissan Z.
“Nice car,” Gage said as he leaned against it and crooked his finger at him.
Joseph approached, irresistibly drawn to Gage. He looked good tonight. He’d dressed up for their date in black pants and a navy blue button down. But there were hints of the rough and tumble mechanic Joseph had met in the garage. Gage’s sleeves were rolled up, revealing thick forearms hard from the physical labor he did. His dark hair fell in a casually messy sweep across his forehead, curling at the nape of his neck. And nice clothes or not, there was no hiding his tall frame and broad chest.
Leaning there, Gage looked like the bad boy who cleaned up just enough to seem respectable, but was still wild underneath. Joseph ended up standing in front of Gage, almost, but not quite touching him. Gage slowly brushed the back of his fingers across his cheek. His voice came out in a husky whisper that sent a shiver down Joseph’s back.
“I need to see something.”
Gage brushed a thumb across his mouth. “If you still taste like cherries.”
Joseph swayed forward, bracing a hand on Gage’s chest. He ran his tongue over the spot Gage had just touched. “Go ahead.” Joseph saw that flash of heat in Gage’s eyes before he pulled him even closer. Firm lips settled on his. Joseph relaxed, following Gage’s lead as they kissed. He was surprised at the slow pace Gage set. From the way he'd been watching him tonight he'd expected something a little more intense. But the man had said he liked to take his time.
Gage pulled back slightly. “Open for me, Joseph. Let me taste you.” Joseph did as he asked immediately, a soft breath escaping from between those pouty lips. He leaned forward again, tracing his tongue lightly over Joseph’s bottom lip before licking into his mouth. Joseph moaned and melted against him. Gage wrapped an arm around his waist, holding their bodies tight together as he deepened their kiss. He stroked his tongue along Joseph’s, tasting him just like he'd wanted. Taking his time with slow, deep kisses, he sucked that full bottom lip into his mouth more than once it tasted so good.
Desire pooled low in his stomach at the way Joseph was responding to him, kissing him back without any reserve. In no time at all Gage was stiff and hard in his pants. When Joseph pressed even closer to him, he felt that he was in the same condition. Gage definitely wanted to take things a little further. But he forced himself to remember they were in a public parking lot where anybody could be watching and ended the kiss.
Gage brushed his lips against Joseph’s one more time before he pulled back. He tapped a finger against his bottom lip. “Sweet like cherries. Just like I thought.” Joseph’s long lashes rose to reveal green eyes soft and languid with arousal.
“I haven't had a Slush today.”
Gage smiled. “It's got nothing to do with a drink.” He put his hands on Joseph’s lean hips and pushed him back a little. “We should get out of here. We've put on enough of a show for the fine patrons of Wilson’s Steakhouse.”
He waited a beat to see if Joseph would say anything about them continuing the night somewhere else. When he didn't, Gage refrained from bringing it up himself. Instead, amazed at his uncharacteristic patience, he asked him out again. “I gotta take care of some things tomorrow night, but come out and shoot some pool with me on Sunday.”
Joseph agreed and they quickly made plans when and where to meet. Gage tugged Joseph close for one last kiss before he let him get in the car and drive off.
Sunday evening, Joseph rode his bike to the local pool hall Gage had invited him to. Their date Friday night had gone so well that Joseph hadn’t hesitated to say yes to a second date. Gage was definitely different from the men Joseph tended to go out with, but he was starting to think that wasn’t such a bad thing. The scales were tipping more in favor of excitement over nervousness when it came to the sexy mechanic.
Joseph had just gotten off his bike and removed his helmet when Gage roared onto the lot. He was practically salivating as he watched, unsure if it was over the man, or the bike he was riding. He waited on the curb as Gage pulled into the space next to his bike.
“Is this the Indian Chief Dark Horse?” he asked, trying to keep the awe out of his voice. Going by the cockily amused look on Gage’s face, he didn't make it.
“Yep. You like what you see?”
Joseph looked at Gage sitting there on that sexy bike. He hadn't worn a helmet so his dark hair was tossed in windblown waves all over his head. Sunglasses hid his eyes, but that just meant that Joseph’s gaze was drawn to that expressive mouth of his. A dark blue tee stretched across his chest, giving subtle outline to the pads of muscle beneath. His faded jeans molded to his thighs as he straddled the bike. Yeah, Joseph definitely liked what he saw.
Gage took off his sunglasses and crooked his finger at him. Joseph stepped off the curb to get a closer look. Nearly everything on the bike was a smooth black, from the wheel covers to the tail pipe. He ran his hand over the painted Indian headdress on the tank and looked at Gage.
“This is a beautiful bike.”
Gage pursed his lips, his chin coming up as he gave Joseph an arrogant stare. “You surprised I own something this nice?”
Joseph blinked. He wasn't sure what to make of that comment. “No, I just really like it.” Gage smiled and the weird moment, if it even was one, passed.
“Hmm... maybe I'll let you ride it one day.”
Joseph’s eyes widened. “Seriously?”
Gage laughed and got off the bike. “We'll see.”
Gage and Joseph walked into Red’s Pool Hall. It was a typical setup. A long bar ran nearly the entire width of the building, with rows of green topped tables behind it. It was smoky and dim, the bar lit by neon drink signs and the pool tables lit by the stained glass lamps that hung above them. Multiple conversations created a low hum of constant sound, interspersed with an occasional shout from an enthusiastic player or spectator.
After they got a rack of balls and a couple of beers, they headed to a table towards the back. Joseph took his time choosing his cue, aware that Gage was watching him. Once they’d both chalked up, Gage gestured to the table.
“I invited you so you get to break.”
Joseph grinned and stepped up to the table. He leaned over the green felt and set up his shot. Right before he struck the cue ball he looked over at Gage. “You're such a gentleman to let me go first.” Then he struck the cue ball hard, scattering the bunch and sinking several into the pockets. He saw more stripes than solids fall, so he called those as his own as he straightened.
Gage looked at him with a rueful grin on his face. “Why do I feel like I'm about to be taken for a ride?”
The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. “Don't worry. I'll make sure you like it.” Joseph was surprised at his boldness, but he didn't try to take back what he said. He liked Gage and he liked the way he made him feel. So when Gage gave him a look filled with heat, he just smiled and set up his next shot.
A few minutes later, Joseph finally missed and Gage kneeled down to eye the table.
“How'd you end up such a pool shark?”
Joseph took a sip of his beer. “Well, I told you I went to STU, but by the time I started on my law degree my circumstances had … changed. I relied on scholarships and financial aid for my tuition, housing, and books, but there wasn’t much left over for anything else. I couldn't afford to go out every weekend so I hung out in the student center. They had a pool table there and I played. A lot. By the time I graduated I probably could have played pool professionally.”
Gage finally took his shot, sinking two solids. “Why didn't you?”
Joseph shrugged. “Playing pool isn’t what my family considers a respectable profession, and it’s not what I went to school for. Besides, I didn't learn a bunch of trick shots and stuff like that.”
Gage missed his next shot and stepped back. “But you learned enough to run the table?”
Joseph didn't answer at first. He knocked his last two stripes in then looked across the table at Gage. “Yep.” He sauntered to the other end. Leaning over the felt, he pulled his cue stick slowly through his fingers several times while looking straight at Gage. “Eight ball, corner pocket.” Then he struck the cue ball hard, sending the black eight ball streaking across the table to drop in the corner pocket. He straightened up and grinned. “I win.”
Gage came over to him. “What do you want for your prize?”
“We didn't say we were wagering anything.”
Gage’s fingers brushed lightly over his stomach. “C’mon, Joseph. Winner always gets a prize. What do you want?”
Joseph swallowed hard. “I guess a beer?”
Gage smiled real slow, before bringing his hand up and lightly touching his mouth. “You'd better hope I don't win the next one.”
Joseph just barely restrained from licking his tongue out to taste the finger resting on his lips. Thankfully it was only there for a second before Gage headed over to the bar to get them another round. Even though he was the winner, he went ahead and racked the balls while he waited.
The next game Joseph wasn't as focused. Gage kept touching him every chance he got. A brush of his hand across the small of his back as he passed. His hand curving over his hip to gently move him out of the way so he could take his shot. And whenever they were on the same side of the table Gage didn't just talk to him, he leaned over and spoke softly right into his ear. Joseph was so distracted that he didn't realize he was losing until Gage only had one ball left before he was down to the eight ball.
As Gage lined up for his final shot, Joseph found himself hoping the eight ball would go in just so he could find out what Gage wanted for his prize. After spinning for what seemed like an inordinately long time the black ball finally fell into the pocket. Gage gave him a wicked look as he approached.
Gage watched Joseph as he went over to him after sinking the eight ball. He could see Joseph was nervous, wondering what he was going to claim for his prize. But to his credit he didn't back down. He just stood there and waited. When Gage was right in front of him, Joseph spoke.
“You don't play fair.”
Gage smirked. “I play by whatever rules it takes to win the prize.” He reached up to tug at a strand of the hair Joseph had left loose and curly tonight. “But don't worry I'll make sure you like it.” Joseph’s eyes widened as he turned his words back on him and he had to hold back a grin. Gage leaned in close until he could feel Joseph’s breath on his lips. Then he pulled back. “On second thought, I think I'll collect my prize later.”
Joseph cleared his throat. “Later?”
“Yep. Later.” He stepped back out of Joseph’s personal space. “Loser racks.”
An hour later, they were on their fourth game. Joseph had won the third round quickly but when it came time to claim his prize he'd again asked for a beer. Now Gage had been quiet for some time, but he finally spoke right before Joseph took his shot.
“Let's get out of here.”
Joseph stood up in surprise. “You don't want to finish the game? We've got the table for another thirty minutes.”
“No, I don't want to finish this game.” Gage canted his head low, looking at him with his dark steady gaze. “Do you?”
Joseph’s lips parted. Tension crackled between them, making his skin prickle with awareness. He set his cue stick on the table. “No.”
Gage’s mouth twisted into a knowing smile. “I didn't think so.”
Joseph stood still as Gage came close enough to whisper in his ear. His warm breath washed over his skin, sending shivers down his spine.
“Didn't they teach you any manners in that fancy law school, Joseph? Always return your cue stick to the rack.”
Joseph narrowed his eyes at Gage. “I know that. But you…”
Gage raised an eyebrow when he didn't finish his sentence. “I what?”
Joseph didn't answer. He didn't want to admit out loud just how much Gage affected him. He put the balls back in the tray, ignoring the soft laughter he heard behind him. They finished the last of their beers on the way to returning the balls and settling their tab. Then they went outside into the cool night.
As soon as they were outside, Gage pulled Joseph into the dark alley next to the building. He yanked him into his arms, kissing him roughly. Pushing Joseph back against the wall, he slid his hands into that cloud of curls and grabbed on tight. Gage ground his stiff cock hard against Joseph, who groaned and thrust right back. His fingers tightened even more when he felt how hard Joseph was.
Gage circled his hips in a slow grind against Joseph over and over. He grew even more aggressive in his kiss, sucking hard on Joseph’s bottom lip and licking at his tongue. And Joseph matched him kiss for kiss, his arms coming up to wrap around his back, pulling their bodies as close as possible.
“Fuck.” Gage breathed the curse into the hot mouth beneath his when Joseph brought his leg up, rubbing it against his thigh like a fucking cat in heat. Gage dropped a hand from Joseph’s hair and reached down to grab onto that leg. He squeezed, wanting to rip off those jeans so he could feel Joseph’s skin against his palm. Stroking his hand up his thigh until he cupped Joseph’s ass in his hand, Gage squeezed again, this time drawing a moan from him in response. His cock hardened even further at the sound, making his jeans tight and uncomfortable. Gage pulled back and looked at Joseph. He was so damn turned on his voice came out even raspier than usual.
“I'm trying to be good here, but you have no idea how much you fucking tempt me. And I have no idea why I haven't coaxed you into my bed yet, or hell, talked you into letting me fuck you right here up against this wall.”
Joseph swallowed hard when he was done talking.
“It wouldn't take much,” he said in a shaky voice.
Right then Gage realized what it was. He didn't want to persuade Joseph. He wanted this pretty boy to come to him. And until Joseph did he would wait. As long as he didn't take too long. He slowly released his leg, letting him drop it back to the ground. “I don't want it to take anything.”
Joseph’s heart raced, his chest heaving as he struggled to bring his breathing back under control. He understood what Gage was saying. He was putting the ball squarely in his court, letting him decide when things between them went to the next level. He looked into Gage’s eyes, black in the dim light of the alley. Physically Joseph was ready. More than ready. But something held him back. He took a deep breath and slowly released it. “I have to go into the office early tomorrow morning.”
Gage didn't say anything. He only nodded once and released the grip he still had on his hair to step back. Joseph immediately missed the solid warmth of Gage’s body against his, but he didn't say anything either. He just straightened up and followed him out of the alley to go home. Alone.
My rambling and not at all edited thoughts on romance novels, writing, and pop culture.