Available from Cobblestone Press, November 9th.
Mercy would be pleased to see how successful her meddling had been over the past couple of weeks. She was much more likely to set people up than Jules. Maybe he was lazy, or maybe he just liked to let people find their own dates. Because what if he was wrong? What if the hook-up was a disaster?
He’d let Mercy make those mistakes. He’d just make sure the equipment was running correctly, that everyone ended up where they were supposed to be on the site, and he wouldn’t worry about anything else.
But when he got back into the office after his weekend with Shea—and yes, he’d called in and begged Mercy to take over for him on the weekend—he’d seen her handiwork everywhere.
She’d fixed up half a dozen people and, as always, she had put together couples he’d never have considered. He kept meaning to do a study on the statistics. How many of Mercy’s hook-ups were successful? How many were disasters? How many—and he was willing to bet it was more than a few—ended up as permanent relationships?
It was a skill, or maybe an instinct, he didn’t have. When it was his shift to stay in the office and check the posts, he mostly ran an eye over them looking for something exciting, something to make the evening interesting. He had never linked someone up. He couldn’t see what Mercy saw, that immediate possibility of connection.
Jules loved that about Mercy, and it also drove him crazy.
The minute he’d arrived back in the office after his weekend with Shea, he could see the wheels spinning in her head. He suspected that she’d known before he did that he wasn’t just having sex with Shea, he was having a relationship. For the first time in forever. Maybe for the first time ever.
What he and Mercy had together was a relationship. It was love. But it wasn’t love. It had taken Jules a while to figure out what the difference was. No, it hadn’t taken a while, it had taken Shea.
Mercy was his best friend. She was amazing. Smart, beautiful, entertaining, everything a man could want. Except he didn’t want her that way. He wanted Shea. But Mercy would always be his best friend.
Shea had said to him something that had cemented what Jules felt for him, made him realize how insightful he was and how well he already knew Jules.
“I want to spend some time with Mercy,” he said. “Just the two of us. I want to get to know her, and for her to get to know me. She’s your best friend, your business partner, the most important person…”
Jules kissed him into silence before saying, “Not anymore.”
Shea smiled and continued, his voice a little shaky. “…in your life. She always will be. We need to be comfortable with each other. She needs to know that I know how important she is to you, and I won’t do anything to harm that closeness.”
Tears welled in Jules’ eyes. “Shea. Love.” He had to stop talking before he started sobbing.
Kissing away the tears, Shea smiled. “I know,” he said.
“No, you don’t. I…” Jules hesitated, unsure whether he could actually get the words out of his throat, into his mouth, and out into the world. “I love you. Mercy will always be part of my life, but you… You’re everything.”
Jules’ heart thundered in his chest. What if Shea didn’t love him back? What if he’d made a complete and utter fool of himself? What if…”
“Shh,” Shea whispered against Jules’ mouth. “Shh. You can’t imagine how long I’ve been waiting for you to say that, how often I’ve dreamed of you saying that.” He kissed him, softly, sweetly, gently, and then pulled away to kneel at Jules’ feet.
“I love you, Jules. I will always love you. I’ll make you happy. I promise.”
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