NOT A DATE

Jake has harbored a secret crush for his boss for a long time. Will he finally work up his nerve to ask Ryan out? Maybe. Maybe, if it’s not a date. After all, Jake is a young wisecracking don’t hold me down type of guy. Not a date is just his speed. But can Ryan convince him that good sex is great, but real love is better?

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Chapter 1

With last week’s promotion, Ryan was now my direct boss. This was good and bad.

Good, because, OH YEAH. I mean now I get to stare at him from up close instead of from afar. It was bad because it is not good to lust after your boss. Who knew if he was even gay? He was chief architect in our huge office. (Did I say huge? One can hope. Bad, down boy. Bad.) A huge office with not one hint to his life outside of work. Not one photo of a friend or family, not one decoration that was tell.

I’m the marketing guy. I mostly do copy writing to sell the new building projects, but I do a lot of other stuff. And now, I’m directly under Ryan.

So to speak.

Which is a big deal for someone who is only twenty-six.

However.

Ryan is the kind of cool, crisp, brunette hunk that could put world leaders and GQ models to shame and around him I’m completely tongue tied, which is not like me.

So I’ve been taking orders and keeping my mouth shut.

Which has gotten me exactly nowhere.

If I did something wrong, anything, I could end up losing my job. Or worse, having to face Ryan every day, maybe for years, eating crow, humble pie, humiliation, eating my Gaydar-ville gone wrong. He’s too beautiful to be straight. He’s too haunting to be on the wrong team. But still. I’m a chicken and so far I’ve done nothing.

Now I’ve been working for Jonowski & Sons for three years. I’ve seen Ryan at the break room and the water cooler and at company functions. When you work for someone for that long you feel like you know them, but the truth about your work acquaintances is you don’t really know them. (Even though my right hand may or may not have… never mind.) Ryan was a crazy good architect, great dresser, got along with everyone, polite to a fault. Never mentioned a girlfriend but never mentioned a guy either. Never gave me an opening. (So to speak.)

Up until this week I worked in a small cubicle way down the hall. Now I had a big desk in an open space almost directly across from his big glass office. Right in his sightline.

Good and bad.

In other words, oh fuck.

Concentrating on work was a little harder than before.

And I REALLY didn’t want my performance to go down. (So to speak.) You could tell a lot about a guy by his performance.

But I don’t think I’ve ever wanted something so much.

Time to grow some.

There’s a saying ‘do nothing get nothing’.

Which is why I walked in today and said…

“Ryan, I have two tickets to see Winston Marsalis Jazz Orchestra on Friday at the Festival…”

“Wait,” he said before I could finish. “Jake,” he said. Ryan stood up and held his palm up in the universal sign for stop and I stopped mid-sentence. He walked around me and closed the door to his office. Then he came back and stood in front of me. “Are you asking me out on a date?” His voice went up a lot at the end.

“Nooooo,” I said backtracking. A LOT. “No,” I said. “I’m doing a report on this concert. For the Armstrong, Malcolm, and Charleston Liberty News,” I said. A paper or eZine or blog that I had just made up. “And I have an extra ticket and I could really use someone with an artistic sensibility to go with me and give me their opinion. You know, someone like an artist, or an architect, or a jazz fan, or…”

I struggled to think of something that might say boss, or gay, or be a huge ego stroking compliment but I came up with nothing. “It’s not a date,” I finished lamely. “I could use an extra pair of ears to sample it, if you’re interested. But if you’re not…” I turned around toward the door.

“I’m interested…” Ryan said drawing the word out.

My eyebrows shot up.

“Very interested,” he said.

“Good,” I said trying to sound blasé, “Then it’s a non-date.”

“Right,” he drawled. “How about I pick you up for this non-date?”

Fuck. Did it just get hotter in here? I gulped. “Ah. Yeah. That would be great.”

“It’s just the two of us, right Jake?” He took one step closer to me, predatory. “Or are you asking any other eyes and ears for other opinions for your … article?”

“Ah, no,” I said, “Just you.”

“Then I’ll pick you up,” he said.

“Okay,” I said. “I live at…”

He cut me off. “I know where you live.”

Okaaaayyy.

Yowsers.

This is where you turn and run away.

“Right,” I said. “I’ve got work to do,” I said. And I hustled my ass out of there. And I made myself scarce as possible until Friday night.

I couldn’t fucking wait.

Ryan rang my doorbell at exactly six o’clock Friday night.

I opened the door and my eyeballs bugged out of my head. He was wearing a $3,000 black tuxedo and carrying a single long-stemmed white rose. He looked gorgeous, scrumptious, movie-star worthy. I looked him over head to toe to head again and blinked. Shook my head back and forth vigorously like a dog.

His eyebrows rose in inquiry when I didn’t say anything.

“Perhaps I misread you?” he asked politely.

“Ah-ug. Cah.” I said. Then I banged myself hard in the chest. I repeated the motion. “Ca-cough.” I gave myself another hard fist to the heart. “Just making sure it’s working,” I said.

I stepped back and made a sweeping gesture with my hand. “Please come in. I think the concert’s been cancelled. We’ll have to stay inside. Like FOREVER.”

He laughed.

“Starting right now,” I said as he walked over the threshold and I shut the door behind him.

He laughed again, a nice warm sound. He handed me the flower.

“I’m underdressed,” I said gesturing to my charcoal-colored button down and jeans.

“Or overdressed,” he said raising an eyebrow. It was one of those statements where I couldn’t tell if he was just kidding or not.

“You look fantastic,” I said. “You dress for every non-date like that?”

“When I think it means I might be able to intimidate one of my underlings, absolutely.”

I pulled him close. I closed my eyes and resisted the urge to bury my nose in his neck, but just barely. I came damn close, my face an inch away from his skin. He smelled incredible, musk, and soap, and the faintest hint of some expensive scent and under that, raw power.

Fuck resisting, I nuzzled my face into his neck.

“I’ve been wanting to do this since the day I had my first interview and I saw you,” I whispered.

He backed me up until I was against the wall between the bookcases. “Yeah?” he whispered in my ear, and there was a hint of a low growl in his tone. “What else did you want to do?”

“Everything,” I said.

“Tell me,” he demanded.

I laughed.

He locked his eyes on me with a look so fierce my mouth went dry. “No, I’m serious, tell me.”

The air shimmered, suddenly hotter.

“We won’t make the concert if I tell you now,” I said. “If I tell you…” I paused and gently rubbed my lips against his, barely touching him. “Oh God,” I said. “If I tell you,” I said and then closed my eyes. “I’ll want to do some of those things right now.”

He laughed softly in my ear.

“Well let’s wait then,” he said and pulled away abruptly. I felt a chill as if something precious was stolen. “We wouldn’t want you to miss your information for your report for… Armstrong, Murderlong, Charlesdong…”

“Shut up you,” I said playfully.

“Come on,” he said and took my hand.

“Let me put the flower in water,” I said.

“Leave it,” he said.

I did.

*