Too busy to date while he worked to put himself through school, Russell Bishop’s dedication finally pays off; he has a great job with Vantage Marketing. Stephen Parker, CFO of the marketing firm, has resigned himself to a life without a partner. For six months, they wanted each other but it isn’t until Russ slips on spilled coffee, and Stephen rushes to his rescue that they discover their attraction is mutual. However, the twenty year age gap between them proves difficult when they begin dating. Fiercely independent, Russ isn’t sure he’s ready for long-term commitment. Scarred from a previous relationship, Stephen is afraid history is repeating itself. Is there any way for them to meet in the middle and become equals?
As if he’d heard Stephen’s thoughts, Russ straightened and turned his head before hopping in a half circle to face him, smiling widely. “Hey. Didn’t hear you come in.”
Stephen realized he still hovered in the doorway and he stepped forward and let it shut behind him. “Hi. How was your day?”
Russ leaned back against the counter, all of his weight on his uninjured foot. “Once I got over being pissed at you, not bad.”
Stephen gave him a wry smile. “I am sorry; I didn’t mean to come off heavy-handed.” He set the bags in his hands on the counter and walked closer to Russ. “I was worried about you.”
Russ laid a hand on Stephen’s chest, fingers curling around his tie. “I’m a big boy; I can take care of myself.”
Stephen nodded, stepping closer so his feet were between Russ’ but careful not to bump the injured ankle. “I am sure you can,” Stephen said calmly. “But I feel at least somewhat responsible for your accident.”
“I don’t blame you for it.”
“I know you don’t.” For a few heartbeats, they looked at each other until Russ tugged at the tie. Stephen didn’t lean in, but it didn’t take a genius to decipher his intention. He looked up at Stephen and spoke quietly. “It feels strange to be wearing your clothes and sleeping in your bed when we haven’t so much as kissed.”
Stephen’s voice was husky. “Was that a hint?”
“No.” Russ wet his lips. “But this is a demand: I want you to kiss me.”
“I can do that.”
As I said in an earlier post, I’d been toying with the idea of writing a story about a couple with a significant age gap. I ran across a picture (more on that early next week) that sparked an idea and the plot slowly built from there. Unlike many of my previous stories where the idea came all at once, in a rush, this was slower. It came in fits and starts, trickling out. Every story is different, and I kind of love that. Sometimes lines of dialogue that pop into my head tells me who the characters are. In this case, getting a solid grasp of where the characters came from and finding out what their motivation was needed to be squared away before I could truly hear them. My pre-readers, who I can’t thank enough, were fantastic about brainstorming ideas with me.
Russ and Stephen were an absolutely fascinating pair for me to explore. Although Lucas and Sean in the Wine Tasting Series had an age gap, it was only eleven years and both were financially secure, over thirty, and Lucas’ career was more established.
Russ and Stephen have a lot more to deal with, and almost two decades of age difference. There’s bound to be some friction there, huh? With Stephen’s past relationship looming over them and Russ’ stubbornness … well, they have a lot to work through.
Keep an eye out for the blog tour info. I’ll post that in the near future. And I can’t wait to hear what you think of Russ and Stephen!