Citywide by Santino Hassell | Five Boroughs #6
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQIA
Publication Date | November 13th, 2017
| excerpt |
Stephanie was still eyeing Scott like he’d just wandered in off the street. Then she glanced at me, but she had a weird look on her face, and that weirdness spelled reluctance. She did not want me to meet this person. “Scott is my boss. He’s the, um, DeFrancis of Berger & DeFrancis.”
I stared at her hard, waiting for her to introduce me, and watched that panic grow. What the fuck? There was absolutely no way Stephanie was banging her boss. She had too much integrity. And besides that, she’d often complained about the inequity of salaries, and how her fellow paralegals and the legal assistants irritated her by obsessing for years over her not having a boyfriend or girlfriend. She’d never once said anything to imply . . .
But it wasn’t my business. She did not belong to me.
I pasted on a half-assed smile and held out my hand. He had a limp, damp handshake.
“I’m Angel León. Nice to meet you, man.”
Scott nodded, cocked his head, and then awareness sparked. “Oh, you’re Stephanie’s fiancé.”
I stared. “What?”
Beside me, Stephanie’s face was flaming. She seemed close to exploding right there in the glass-encased office as Caleb and Oli looked between us in confusion. They, wisely, didn’t speak.
“Stephanie’s fiancé,” Scott awkwardly clarified. “We don’t, uh, well, that is, I don’t talk about personal things with my employees, but—” Holy fuck, would he ever get a sentence out? Stephanie appeared ready to melt into a puddle of humiliation on the floor. “She said she couldn’t come to the company retreat in Lake George next weekend because she had plans with her fiancé. Angel.”
The effort to not crack a smile was monumental. This was stupid. I knew it was stupid. She’d thrown my name in the fray at work to keep them off her back. It had nothing to do with some actual desire to ever be engaged to me. But even so . . .
I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and pulled her in with a shit-eating smile. “Gotcha.”
Across from us, Oli was also turning red from an obvious effort not to laugh. Caleb looked like he wanted to die from secondhand embarrassment.
“Um . . .” Stephanie shuffled besides me. “Right . . .”
“But you know what, Scott?” I dug my fingers into Stephanie’s arm. “Those plans may dry up. Is it too late for her to go along?”
Oli had taken a sip of his drink and choked. Stephanie gave me a hateful glare. I kept smiling at Scott.
“No, not at all. We’re going to have cabins, do team-building activities, and there will even be a hike.” Scott listed these activities as if in theory they were awesome, but his voice barely made it to semi pleased to be participating. “There are a lot of couples going, so you’re more than welcome to attend. We still have one room available.”
This time it was Stephanie who brightened like her wattage had suddenly received a boost. “Well, we might just take that into consideration, Scott. My Angelito loves outdoorsy stuff.”
I kept my mouth sealed into a smile even as I saw this plan backfiring.
| Five Boroughs Series |
| about the author |
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.
He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
| Connect with Santino |
| giveaway |
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