A Foothills Pride Story
Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.
When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can't imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max's dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?
Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.
I SWISH. I sway. Occasionally I lisp. Sometimes, it’s even an act. These days gay sells, and I’m not above selling my design services with a lot of swish, sway, and lisp.
Oh, I’m a twink. I freely admit it. And sometimes twink works and sometimes, well, twink just queers the sale, for this designer.
Some days I just need to forget trying to impress another potential client for a few minutes, be my introverted dreamer self, and relax. I’ve fought hard for the extrovert shell, which all my friends well know, but as I pass from my workaholic twenties into the abyss of my unknown thirties, I wonder which Fredi Zimmer is going to emerge triumphant.
Some days I can barely lift my hands for another “Oh. My. God! Look. At. You. Girl!” Some days my inner bitch claws to get out. Some days I wonder if any of us can possibly be sane enough to cross the street by ourselves.
When I’m working, my life is all about the mental game while I juggle up to five multimillion dollar projects at a time. So taking a minute to let all the balls rest is essential to my mental health.
I stretched as I got myself comfortable in one of the plush chairs in the reading area of Penny’s Too. I’d designed the remodel of this mid-1880s brick bank building into a coffee bar for my friends Jimmy and Felicity. We’d decided on a modern take on an Old West men’s club, which fit beautifully into the Old Town area of the foothills community of Stone Acres, California. I hadn’t done a half-bad job, if I do say so myself.
I sat back and took a sip of my namesake drink, Fredi’s Feast, an interesting mix of cinnamon and cardamom with a heady dollop of whipped cream. It was foamy and frothy, but lusty underneath. I was a little surprised at how my best friend, Jimmy Patterson, saw me, or at least which flavors he’d used to translate my personality into a drink. Lusty? Just the word made me tingle.
True, I’m an out-and-proud gay man, having declared myself in junior high, and my wardrobe since then has proclaimed my love of color and often hints at my undeniable sense of originality and whimsy.
Today, however, I was dressed in work clothes—a vintage 1940s three-piece teal sharkskin suit. With a fire-engine-red shirt and antique-ivory lace tie, I was looking my sartorial best.
As I sat in Jimmy’s coffee house, I let myself relax. It was about time I took some real R&R to find myself a big boy with benefits, something I hadn’t done in, well, what seemed like forever. I had the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon just to sit, sip, and imagine my dreamboat. Maybe the hunk of my imagination would walk in and romance me.
Before I got completely lost in this improbable fantasy, who should walk in but the most gorgeous hunk of man I’d seen since moving here from San Francisco? He ordered and then, wonders of wonders, sat down in the club chair next to me. My, my, the day was definitely looking up. Who’d have thought one little dream would turn real so quickly?
Sunlight streamed through the high old windows of the historic building and bathed this delightful creature in golden light. He gleamed, from his dishwater-blond hair to his handmade Lucchese boots. He was the picture of Western America: tall, lanky, huge shoulders, huge hands, droopy brown-blond mustache. And a very nice bulge where it should be.
He was my fantasy come to life. I stared and made a little wish. Why not? With the influx of gays who’d moved into the area when city prices rose through the roof, why couldn’t he be one of us?
As I studied him, the long, tall frontiersman nodded, making my cheeks heat as I shyly returned his nod. I was shocked at myself. When was the last time I’d felt shy, of all things? He was hitting buttons I didn’t even know I owned.
I mentally shook myself. I was no blushing virgin. Far from it. I hadn’t been shy since I was in middle school. I’d gone to college, gotten my degree. I was Fredi Zimmer of Fredi’s @ Home and Fredi Zimmer of Fredi’s @ Work. I’d been written up in Architectural Digest and all the best national home improvement magazines. I’d been around the block so many times my blisters had blisters.
As I reminded myself of the long road I’d traveled, my chest expanded and I regained my aplomb. Sure, I might be five foot seven in bare feet, compact body-wise, and look like I’m only a little older than sixteen. Nevertheless, I’m not somebody who was intimidated by the Call of the Wild, no matter how lovely he was.
This time I faced the lanky he-man, nodded, and gave him my smooth, professional smile. Now, comment on the weather? Penny’s Coffee Stop? Fuck it, ask him out?
“Hi there.” The stranger leaned toward me and stuck out a gigantic hand with long tapering fingers. “Max Greene. Little gal over there said you’re Fred. Right? You’re a hard man to track down.”
Oh my God. His voice washed over me like sin filled with sex. He might as well have come all over my three-piece suit. He was my Pied Piper. I’d follow him anywhere.
With a deep breath, I put my hand into the giant’s elegant paw, then nearly ruined it all by swooning. Again he surprised me. Even though my hand was engulfed in his, Max didn’t squeeze or start a power play. His was a nice, firm, comfortable handshake between men. He was meeting me as an equal.
“Well, the name’s Fredi, actually, but you can call me Fred, honey.” I was proud my voice stayed low and confident while my insides were Jell-o shots about to ignite.
“Good to meet you.” Max released my hand. His face was a little pink. Interest or embarrassment? “I’m wonderin’ somethin’.”
“Oh?” I tried to look confident, not simpering. As usual, faced with a man like Max, Little Fredi was ready to greet him, but I pushed my libido down. Get real. Little Fredi thought every good-looking man was ready to party with him.
“Got this huntin’ fishin’ cabin. Up in the foothills. Kind of beat up, rural, you might say.” Max stopped, peering at me as if it were my turn to talk. Now his face was bordering on red.
I couldn’t think of a thing to say. Was Max inviting me to the cabin? Oh my. If so, why? I just sat there staring at him and quirked an eyebrow.
“Um, oh?” I finally managed, still staring at Max, waiting.
“Yeah, well,” Max said as if it took drawling those two words to prime the pump and get him to speak again. “Wonderin’ if you’d come up to the cabin. See what you can do. Make it better.”
Ah, the light finally went on. Damn. Oh well. The dream of him picking me up and us spending the rest of the day between the sheets in his mountain hideaway drifted away. Max was a potential client. All right. Disappointing, but okay.
I switched into business mode with a sigh. I hadn’t gone to all the trouble of getting my degree and building a business only to jump all the hot men who hired me. Not yet, anyway.
I got out my netbook and clicked to my day planner. “I’d be happy to take a peek at it. What day’s good for you?”
Max looked uneasy and his pink cheeks turned red, as if he hadn’t planned for the eventuality that I’d actually agree.
“Uh, how ’bout right now?”
Since I was free until late afternoon when one of the Stone Acres new bridezillas was getting back from San Francisco where she’d been shopping all morning, what to do?
“Could you excuse me?”
When he nodded, I got up and sashayed to the order station.
“Hey, Courtney, love. You know the luscious hunk over there?”
If he’d been a lion or tiger, I’d say Max was basking in the morning sunshine.
“Mr. Greene?” Courtney asked, bypassing the two other men intent over cell phones who were sitting nearer the windows. “Sure, everybody knows Mr. Greene. My brother works for him over at Greene’s Outdoors. Ty says he’s a great boss, the best. Why?”
“Thanks, my dear.”
Okay, he’d checked out. So what the hell? I could spend an hour or two with Max before putting on my ultragay designer persona for my late-afternoon appointment. The god-awful spoiled, bitchy bride wanted me to incorporate whatever she found today in San Francisco into my multimillion-dollar house design. I’d said I’d see what I could do and then I’d tacked another twenty thou onto her bill. Her infatuated fiancé had agreed for some reason I still couldn’t fathom. Max at least would add a little spark to an otherwise dull day.
“Okay, I’m free until four,” I told him as I replaced my day planner and zipped up my bag.
“Yeah, um, yeah, okay,” Max agreed. “Cabin’s about forty minutes.”
We both got up, and I followed Max to the door.
I loved book one of this series, so I was so excited to read book 2, and boy did it live up to my expectations! Pat Henshaw has a way of bringing her characters to life that is both fascinating and exciting!
I was so glad Freddie got his own book, I really needed him too ;)! Freddie gets an offer from Outdoor Store owner Max to renovate his cabin and Freddie pegs Max and straight and therefore off the table right off, but he shouldn't be so quick to judge, because in this one Max will surprise him over and over.
I really love Max and the way that, though he looks a certain way, and people know him as a good ol boy and think he is straight, when he meets Freddie, he isn't afraid to act like he likes him, even in front of people who he knows won't approve!
Can Freddie believe Max really wants him, and can these men come together in the midst of hate minded people that want nothing more than to tear them apart?
Oh yes, you sooooo have to read this one, and if you haven't read book 1, What's In A Name, I will leave the link to the review I did of that one a while ago so you can check it out too! Thanks Pat, for giving Freddie the story he deserved and doing it with style!!
"Some days I can barely lift my hands for another “Oh. My. God! Look. At. You. Girl!” Some days my inner bitch claws to get out. Some days I wonder if any of us can possibly be sane enough to cross the street by ourselves."
I absolutely adored twink extraordinaire, Fredi, when I met him during Jimmy and Guy's book. He made me laugh a lot, and I sure needed that. Still do, as a matter of fact, which is why I grabbed 'Redesigning Max' so I could see exactly what Fredi could do with a real man's man, just recently out. *grins*
Max and Fredi meet when Max comes looking for someone to redo his mountain cabin. Of course, Max didn't really understand what a true interior designer can do for you. He just assumed Fredi would look at it, come up with a plan, get it done, and Max would pay for it. Max didn't realize he had to actually answer questions! About himself! About what he wanted! Oh, it was almost too much. Although, when Fredi pulled out his hanky to cover his nose before he walked into the cabin/charnel house, I had to put the book down to get a good laugh.
There's more to this story and these men, though, than just a lot of laughs. Max moved to the area as a young boy after his parents died and his aunt and uncle took him in. They already had four boys, all older than Max, and Max was just left to survive. No wonder he's shy and doesn't say much. It also explains why he's never come out, never dated, never even kissed another man. Fredi might be out and proud, a practically famous architect and designer, but he's not used to dealing with true emotions, and falling in love with Max is about as true as it can get.
Another delightful addition to the series, Max and Fredi’s story is sweet, loving, very light on the heat, a little angst, and a lot of laughs. Thank you, Pat, for a most enjoyable read!.
NOTE: This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews
I want to start this review by copy/ pasting the author note to this story:
During the recession at the beginning of the 21st Century, many gays &lesbians moved from San Francisco Bay area &Sacramento to the Sierra Foothills FLAG (Foothills Lesbian and Gays) was formed. This series was written for them.
It's not part of this story, it's the entire explanation of how it's come to be. I love that. That said Max and Fredi's story is sweet, but there's such bitterness, and hate in this story for our MC's. It goes to show no matter how things progress, how laws are made, how rights are given, there's still oppression. People who will refuse to accept what is. Fredi and Max live in the real world. A world that they have to survive but they have a very strong love and it was a pleasure to read them.
This is the first time I read Pat Henshaw and it was an absolute delight.
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