True Colors

This is Book #1 of the TRUE COLORS series.

From the very first, Zeke Roswell and Miles Winter are like oil and water. After a tragic fire claimed his brother’s life, Zeke’s personal and professional life spiraled out of control, and now he has no choice but to sell his gallery to cover hs debts. Enter successful entrepreneur Miles, who buys it and plans to make a commercial success out of Zeke’s failure.

Their initial hostility stands no chance against the strong passion that ambushes them. Zeke’s talent and lust for life intoxicate Miles, and Zeke finds Miles’s self-assurance and determination equally fascinating. But it’s not until an unsolved mystery of violence and stolen sketches threatens to sabotage any chance at happiness that Miles and Zeke realize they have a chance at all.

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EXCERPT
© Clare London

Miles didn’t know what made him start on up the stairs without calling or knocking.When he reached the top, he looked across the landing, searching for Zeke.  The door to the studio was wide open and he could see inside.  There was a table set up in there now, and a couple of display stands, though there were no pictures or plans in view.  The overhead light was off, and the only light in the room was from a thick church candle, anchored on a china plate and balanced rather precariously on the edge of the table.  There were two coffee mugs there as well, and another empty plate.Miles took a tentative step forward and peered further in.  Over by the window, he saw Zeke with his back to him, one arm braced against the wall, facing out toward the city view.  His body was silhouetted against the darkening sky outside by the single, flickering flame of the candle.  His hair was tied back this evening, a short but vivid trail of dark curls against a white T-shirt that was too short, as usual; it rode up around his midriff.  He wore those damned sweat shorts, though probably another pair, but the same style.  Miles stared at the gap of fresh skin between shirt and shorts; followed the lines of muscles down the back of Zeke’s thighs; gazed at the slight glimmer of sweat in the hollow behind his knees, as it caught what little light there was.

His heartbeat stuttered and re-settled to its regular rhythm.

Almost immediately afterward, he noticed the other pair of legs.  Another person stood in front of Zeke, largely hidden by him.  The four limbs were closely pressed together and there was the shadow of fingertips at Zeke’s waist.  Miles realized the other person must be extremely close, because he couldn’t see a separate face, couldn’t see easily which arm might be which.

With a wash of cold shock, he also realized how stupid he was, for the pair of them were obviously kissing.  Zeke’s head dipped against the girl’s and her other hand gripped softly behind his neck, tangling into his hair, tugging him further against her.  Miles saw the muscles of Zeke’s shoulders tensing as he pressed her body up against the wall more tightly, pushing his chest against her, his mouth so obviously working on hers.

Miles heard a soft gasp; a moan swallowed by another eager mouth.

Zeke’s free arm was hugged in front of his body, the hand hidden from view.  The girl’s legs were parted against his hips.  Miles imagined him flipping open the button of her jeans; he had visions of Zeke sliding his long, supple fingers down into her clothes; of touching her curls; of stroking parts that were hot and sweaty, and sensitive to every finger’s touch….

His shock became even colder as he watched the hand on Zeke’s waist slip down to his ass, and squeeze him confidently through the sweat fabric.  Miles saw the muscles of Zeke’s shoulders shiver with pleasure, and his back arch under the touch.  But there was something about the darkly tanned skin of the companion’s bare arm, seen clearly for the first time—something that jarred.  There were strong tendons stretching to grasp at Zeke’s body, and soft hairs glinting in the evening glow.

It was a masculine hand; a young man’s hand.  Miles had assumed it was a girl, but it was male.

He knew he had to leave.  He had invaded Zeke’s privacy.  Carter had tried to tell him Zeke was busy; he just hadn’t realized with what.  He felt sick, and wondered briefly why a genuine error should make him feel so unstable.  He wasn’t aware of making any noise as he turned to go back downstairs, but out of the corner of his eye he saw the figures straighten up and turn in his direction.

“Miles?”  It was Zeke’s voice.  Miles cursed every God he’d ever read about, and paused, his hand on the doorframe.

“Hold up, Miles.  We’re just finished here, you know?  Marco’s just going.  Aren’t you, man?”

Miles stood, transfixed, staring at somewhere between the stairwell and the floor, as he heard the disgruntled mumbles from Zeke’s companion, and Zeke’s own careless laugh.  “Not now, Marc baby.  Yeah, I know.  But first it was Carter calling, and now it’s my boss.  I don’t have the time tonight.  I’ll call you.  Come on, man….”

Some rustling clothes; Miles heard a zipper being wrenched up.  There was a jolt to his elbow, and a young, dark-haired man pushed past him, none too gently.  Miles had the brief impression of a scowling, Mediterranean-cast face, and a body that obviously worked out; then Marco was gone, lumbering down the stairs in a rather unattractive sulk.

“Christ, don’t you ever knock?” growled Zeke.  He came to stand next to Miles with a wry smile on his face.  His cheeks were flushed; his lips plump and moist.  “Guess that was useful for me, though.  He’s a little too clingy for my liking.”

“I interrupted you… both.  I’m sorry.  I thought with Carter gone, you were free.”

“You met Carter?”  Zeke looked at Miles with interest.  “Good.  I told him some stuff about you.  Probably best he sees you for real, or I may be blackening your name needlessly, eh?”  He laughed, easily enough.

Miles leaned a little away from him.  He hated him, briefly, suddenly, and had never known such a reaction in himself.  How could Zeke be so cool after such embarrassment?  How could he just abandon the sensual anticipation of that make-out session, and dismiss his lover so swiftly?  How could he chat so calmly to Miles about other people entirely; how could he laugh as if nothing had happened there?  Miles wished he could wipe his own embarrassment from his mind—the strange, churning feelings inside his stomach that he was sure were showing on his face.  He’d never known such discomfort.

Nor had he ever felt such desire.  A desire that wracked his gut, demanding that he be where that young man had been, just moments before: wrapped around Zeke Roswell, with Zeke’s tongue in his mouth, and Zeke’s hand down the front of his pants.

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