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Excerpt Thursday! Milestones

Another Thursday already? Let's continue the anthology excerpts - and remember to celebrate love all year round. Not just on Valentine's Day.

Milestones by Chrissy Munder. Available in the Reflections of Love Anthology from Dreamspinner Press.

Buy Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=55_128&products_id=1014

Summary: Things started out great for Devon and Jeff, but as time passes and their work commitments grow, so does the distance between them. As Valentine’s Day approaches, it takes a stranger’s advances and a friend’s well-meaning interference to remind them that sometimes it’s more important to celebrate the little milestones in life than the big ones.


“YOU aren’t going to leave a message?”

The entire ambience of the hotel bar was on this side of being too much. Too much color, too much distraction, and the canned music was turned just a little too loud for Devon’s tastes and the way his head felt. But he was still able to hear the smooth voice of the tall blond who had walked up beside him.

“You know what they say,” Devon replied as he stared at the blank blue screen of his cell phone in disgust. Jeff hadn’t answered; he was probably working late again and left his cell in his jacket. Nothing unusual there.

What was unusual was that this time Devon didn’t know what he would say if he did leave a message. Usually Devon made it a point to say something loving at least once a day when he was away on business, either to Jeff or Jeff’s phone, as happened far too often lately.

“If you can’t manage to say anything nice….” Devon let his voice trail off before he finished the saying. That was the thing about old adages: the damn things were usually right when you thought about it.

“…Then don’t say anything at all.” The blond tipped his beer toward Devon in a mocking salute as he finished Devon’s sentence. “My name is Hector. Hector Ruiz.” He gestured politely to the empty seat beside Devon. “May I?”

“Uh… sure.” Devon wondered what he was doing even as he nodded his agreement for the jeans-clad stranger to join him at his table. “I’m Devon Barnett.” He extended his hand and watched as it was enveloped in the large, warm hand of the man now sitting across from him. This was not a good idea, especially when he was feeling down. He wasn’t usually susceptible to the advances of tall blonds in hotel bars.

“Ruiz?” Devon questioned for something to fill the sudden silence between them. “Doesn’t exactly go with the hair.” He winced. That was a shitty thing to say even if it did go along with his mood.

“So much hair dye, so little time.” Hector just smiled and ignored the implied insult. “Are you here on business?”

“Does it show?” Devon finally put his cell phone down on the table. There was a time when that cell phone had been his lifeline, his connection to Jeff and a source of constant comfort at being far away from home. They used to spend the nights he was away on business talking, laughing, having phone sex.

Not anymore.

“Well, you are sitting here in the hotel bar, all by your lonesome.” Hector leaned back in his chair, his T-shirt pulled tight across his chest. Devon couldn’t help but sigh as he compared the lean muscles to Jeff’s slightly chubbier frame. He loved the way Jeff’s belly curved under his hand. “I’m sensing there’s a story here.”

Amused despite himself, Devon laughed. His other options for the evening were sitting in his room and reviewing the client’s latest irrational demands or heading for the hotel exercise facility to work off his frustrations. Based on the fact he was in the best shape of his life, Devon might have to admit he had a lot of frustrations. “Are you offering a sympathetic ear?”

Hector’s eyes were brown, Devon thought absently. A warm brown. They reminded him of Jeff’s eyes when they had started dating and Jeff actually used to look at him. Now it seemed like Jeff was always busy with work, or busy thinking about work or just busy being at work. When Devon really thought about it, work seemed to be all Jeff had time for over the past couple of years.

“I could be offering all kinds of things.” Hector’s voice had lowered and Devon blinked at the implications left hanging in the air.

“The question is: are you interested?”