This thing would kill him eventually.
Daggers of frustration sent stabbing pains into his temples as he held down the damn button again.
1… 2… 3….
The computer started to reboot, and Shaun growled under his breath as he leaned back to wait it out. Hard reboot number three for the morning, tying the whole previous day—and the entire week before that. If his boss hadn’t promised his computer guy friend would be arriving today, Shaun would’ve been sorely tempted to rip the whole thing loose and throw it out in the driveway.
“Having a bad morning?”
Shaun’s head popped up at the deep, unfamiliar voice, laced with amusement. A man filled the doorway in front of him, and when he said filled, he meant filled. The guy had to be at least six foot six, with shoulders so broad they nearly brushed both sides of the doorframe, but Shaun would have bet money not an ounce of it was fat. The man smiled, teeth flashing against his deep ebony skin, several shades darker than Shaun’s own medium brown shade, and Shaun’s brain told him it definitely liked what it saw.
“Yes,” the man drawled, as he strolled toward the counter. “I really am this tall. Yes, I played basketball, until it got to be too much for my knees. And the weather up here is just fine, thanks.”
He stopped across the desk from Shaun, who couldn’t stop staring. The man took Shaun’s breath away in more ways than he could count. Shaun forced himself to smile genially, pulling a cloak of professionalism around him like a shield.
“Welcome to Oasis Resort,” he recited. “We’re delighted to have you. How may I help you?”
The man leaned on the desk and raised an eyebrow. “I think the real question is, how can I help you?” He paused for effect and then grinned again. “Con Brooks. Conrad, but please don’t call me that.” He straightened up and held out a hand, which Shaun took automatically.
The name sank in, and Shaun smiled for real, relief overtaking his discomfiture. “You’re here to replace this piece of cra—I mean….” He cleared his throat. “You’re going to install top-of-the-line computers and a security system for the resort?”
“Correct on both counts.” Con squeezed Shaun’s hand lightly. “You must be Shaun.”
Shaun tried to ignore the shiver that ran through him at Con’s touch. “Shaun Rogers,” he confirmed.
“Nice to meet you, Shaun.” Con drew his hand back, but slowly, taking the time to drag his long fingers across Shaun’s palm. “And yeah, I’ll be replacing the ‘piece of crap’ you’re fighting with something that will actually work, and with some add-ons to help keep this place safer.” He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and flicked an ID and a credit card onto the counter. “But first, I need to get checked in and eat something. Got back home after midnight and crawled out of bed barely an hour ago. Haven’t had anything but caffeine this morning. Jimmy promised me pancakes.”
Shaun picked up the ID just to double-check—CONRAD P. BROOKS, it read—and then pushed it and the credit card back across the counter. “Your stay is on us, Mr. Brooks. Mr. Black’s orders.”
Con laughed, a full, rich sound that resonated throughout the entry area. “Lord, don’t call me Mr. anything. Con will do just fine. And I gotta say, even knowing about Jimmy’s legal-eagle past, I’m betting he’d say the same thing.”
Shaun half smiled at the reference. Jimmy Black, who owned Oasis, had an impressive résumé, including law school, massage training, and a few years in porn, which Shaun knew was where he and Con had met, about a decade earlier.
“Well, he’s the boss.” Shaun brought up the room information on the computer, which was behaving itself now, much as a car ran perfectly once it got to a mechanic. “And he’s got you in cabin four.” He named one of the four cabins on the “clothing recommended” side of the privacy screen that shielded the back side of the clothing-optional resort. “Do you know where it is?”
“I do,” Con replied, leaning farther over the corner, until Shaun could smell the sweet musk of his skin. “Though I wouldn’t say no to a personal escort.”
The layers of subtext ran deep in his words. Damn, the man radiated charisma. “Sorry. Gotta stay behind the desk.” Shaun hit a few more keys to finish signing Con in and then reached for the old-fashioned cabinet beside him that held the cabin keys. “I can give you a map or directions?”
He held out the key, and Con wrapped his whole hand, large and warm, around the key and Shaun’s fingers. “I’ll be fine,” Con murmured. “But I’ll be back for breakfast in a few, and maybe we can continue this conversation after I eat.”
Shaun swallowed and extracted his hand, equal parts relieved and disappointed that Con let him go. “I hope you enjoy your stay, Mr. Brooks.” He kept his tone formal. “I look forward to working with you.”
The sound of Con’s soft laughter lingered in Shaun’s ears long after the man had headed back toward his car.
SHAUN DIDN’T see Con again for over an hour. He’d gotten all his records updated, checked out the couple from cabin six, and fielded three phone calls, two of them yielding reservations. He was just about to grab his lunch out of the fridge in the back when the side door opened and Con walked through, holding what looked like a Frisbee in his hands. As he got closer, though, the smell of something fresh-baked and sweet drifted toward Shaun.
“Jimmy didn’t want you to be left out.” Con stopped at the edge of the counter and set the covered paper plate in front of Shaun. “Hang on a sec.” He reached into the pocket of his shorts, pulled out a knife and fork wrapped up in a napkin, and placed the bundle next to the plate.
“Better eat while they’re still warm,” he said with a wink. “Don’t want Jimmy’s hard work going to waste.”
Before Shaun could even get himself together enough to say thanks, Con had disappeared out the door, headed back across the short walkway between the office building and the bungalow where Jimmy lived. Shaun knew Jimmy’s boyfriends, Cory Lassiter and Mikey O’Malley, had been due in late the night before, and Jimmy must’ve decided to make a big breakfast for all of them.
Shaun reached out and pulled the plate closer, lifting the top layer to reveal three large, perfectly cooked pancakes covered in a thick layer of maple syrup. His stomach growled, and not for the turkey sandwich in the fridge.
He grabbed for the knife and fork and dug in. “Oh my God,” he moaned out around the first mouthful. Jimmy should’ve opened a restaurant instead of a resort, he thought. Shaun’s grandmother made amazing pancakes, but though he’d never dare tell her so, these were even better than hers. Fluffy and light, warm and sweet, they were some of the best things he’d ever put in his mouth.
An image of Con Brooks’s long body and the things Shaun might put in his mouth made Shaun choke on his pancakes. He managed to swallow without dying and washed down the mouthful with a swig from the bottle of water he kept behind the desk.
All right, already, he thought. Yeah, okay, so he’d started to figure out that he liked guys more than girls, even though he hadn’t yet done much about it. And yeah, he liked ’em big—not like that, but tall and muscular, with broad shoulders and thick arms and thighs. Shaun wasn’t small by any means, at six foot one and with an athletic build helped along by treadmill and free-weights time. But the thought of the way someone Con’s size could manhandle him made his skin tingle and his dick fill.
Shaking his head, Shaun forced his attention back to his plate of pancakes, sending up a silent prayer that the office would stay empty and the phones quiet at least until he finished eating. Letting these slices of perfection get cold would be a travesty.
He’d just finished the last bite when the door to the breezeway swung open again, and Jimmy entered, followed a step behind by Con. “I swear, I was about to lose my cool over this thing,” Jimmy was saying. He gave Shaun his signature giant grin and a wink. “I mean, Mr. Cool Customer here was making animal noises at the screen the other day, so you can just imagine the words that were coming out of my mouth.”
“Yeah, I’m getting the picture, and it ain’t pretty.” Con nodded to Shaun. “I’ve got the new computer and all the networking equipment in the back of my car, but I’ll get started with this system so we can head off any immediate computer-induced aneurysms. And then I’ll get the network and security stuff set up.”
“Bless you, my child.” Jimmy laid his head on Con’s shoulder—well, closer to Con’s elbow than his shoulder, considering their height difference. Jimmy was a solid foot shorter than Con. Jimmy straightened up a second later. “Shoot me a text if you need me. I’ll be spending some time with the boys the rest of the day.” He gave a naughty smile and waggled his fingers. “Catch you later!”
He headed back out the side door, and Con sent a fond smile after him before turning back toward Shaun. “I’ve known him for almost a decade, and I’ve never seen him this happy.”
Shaun had to agree. Even in just the few short months since he’d started working at the resort, he’d seen how Jimmy had changed. He’d always had a big, bright personality, and he and Cory, his longtime boyfriend, had clearly been in love. But bringing the much younger Mikey into their relationship over the past few months had kicked things up several more notches, softening Jimmy’s sharper edges and adding a layer of contentment over everything. Shaun couldn’t help being envious, even though he couldn’t imagine being part of a threesome like that.
Just one would do, he thought as Con gave him a wink and headed outside. I don’t ask for much….
Shaun snorted and, after tossing the plates and fork from his brunch into the wastebasket, turned back to the paperwork he’d been reorganizing.