Forty-five-year-old English professor Nathan Qells is very good at making people feel important. What he’s not very good at is sticking around afterward. He’s a nice guy; he just doesn’t feel things the way other people do. So even after all the time he’s spent taking care of Michael, the kid across the hall, he doesn’t realize that Michael’s mob muscle uncle and guardian, Andreo Fiore, has slowly been falling in love with him. Dreo has bigger problems than getting Nate to see him as a potential partner. He’s raising his nephew, trying to leave his unsavory job, and starting his own business, a process made infinitely more difficult when a series of hits takes out some key underworld players. Still, Dreo is determined to build a life he can be proud of—a life with Nate as a cornerstone. A life that is starting to look like exactly what Nate has been seeking. Unfortunately for Dreo—and for Nate—the last hits were just part of a major reorganization, and Dreo’s obvious love for Nate has made him a target too. Honorable Mention: Best LGBT Cover

Chapter One

THERE was just no way. 

“You won’t know unless you try.”

I turned to look at my ex-wife, who was still my best friend in the world. “Are you kidding? It’s hopeless.”

“It’s actually kind of cute.”

“Oh God,” I groaned and buried my face in my folded arms. 

We were having lunch on a Sunday at a bistro she liked that I, of course, had never heard of. But to say that she knew things about fine dining or even “chic” dining that I did not was the understatement of the century. She was more chateaubriand, and I was steak and potatoes. 

“Sweetie, there’s nothing wrong with it.”

“I think there’s a code or something.”

“What code?”

“Thou shalt not covet your ex-students.”

She laughed. “I think you made that one up.”

“Oh God, it even sounds disgusting.”

“It does not.”

“Like you would know.”

“Don’t be an ass just because you’re having a crisis.”

I groaned louder. 

“You said you had him in class fourteen years ago? Is that right?”

“I bet he doesn’t even know who Duran Duran is.”

She started laughing. “So that makes him, what, thirty-two now? Thirty-three?”

“Or a Rubik’s Cube.”

The laughing got harder. “Even thirty-two is perfectly respectable for a man of forty-five.”

“Oh God.”

“You’re so ridiculous.”

“That’s a thirteen-year age difference, Mel. I could be his father.”

She was lost in a fit of giggles. 

“I could!”

She just shook her head, wiping at her eyes. Christ, it wasn’t that funny. 

“Jared is closer to his age than mine.”

“True.” She shivered slightly in the crisp November air. 

It made more sense for the man I had a very immature crush on to date my twenty-seven-year-old son. I was too old for him. 

“But your son isn’t gay, and Sean is, and so are you, my darling.” 

I lifted up my head, raked my fingers through my thick dirty-blond hair, and looked at her. “Do you mean to not help?”

“Love,” she chuckled, “twenty-eight years ago me and my best friend got drunk off our asses, and because he was hot—still is, I might add—I jumped his bones when I had the chance and got knocked up just like the nuns said I would.”

“Thank you for the recap.” I grunted, leaning back, looking at her.

Her hand went to my knee. “And lo and behold, nine months later you did the right thing and made an honest woman of me because you loved me and fell madly in love with your kid the second you saw him.”

“He was cute.” I sighed in memory. 

“He looked like an undercooked slab of meatloaf.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“But true,” she…


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