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Make Me a Match Vol. 2 [MultiFormat]
eBook by Chrissy Munder & Maria Albert & M. Jules Aedin

eBook Category: Gay Fiction/Romance
eBook Description:

Whether he knows it--whether he wants it--every man in these stories is headed for his perfect match. Dating services, matchmakers, family introductions, even unlikely friends... the means may differ, and the road probably won't run straight, but "happily ever after" is guaranteed at the end. It's about romance and heart, but some steamy attraction never hurts! Be it a perfect stranger or a crush from long ago, all it takes is a little help to find that certain someone and "Make Me a Match."

Stories included are:

Stormy Weather by Chrissy Munder
Score Two for the Good Guys by Maria Albert
Fragments of a Fiery Sun by M. Jules Aedin
Some Delay Expected by Sean Kennedy
Hot Property by S. Blaise
Waves of Love by John Simpson
Thirty by Zahra Owens



eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, Published: 2008, 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2009


24 Reader Ratings:
Great Good OK Poor


Chapter One

Dinner was finished and Grant excused himself, leaving Robert sitting in the candlelit living room admiring the January moon that shone large and impossibly low in the midnight sky. It was reflected on the inky darkness of the lake, highlighted by the expansive wall of glass windows.

The sound of the smooth jazz Grant had playing on the sound system followed him as he walked into the kitchen of his condo. He fumbled as he reached for the two balloon snifters he had washed so carefully that morning and left to dry on the sideboard of the sink. He was still feeling nervous.

So far the evening had been pleasant. He had managed not to overcook the pasta for a change and the garlic-mushroom wine sauce, while stronger than he had originally hoped, had mellowed nicely. As for his date, well, Robert was an attractive man with light brown hair and a sleek build, but Grant just wasn't feeling much spark.

Give it some time, Grant told himself. It was only the first date and what did he expect?

That they would exchange smoldering glances and there would be a fireball of chemistry that would cause them to fall onto the kitchen counter, dinner forgotten in the blaze of passion?

Maybe. Grant had to grin at his fancies as he poured the blended Armagnac he had been saving for a special occasion. His first date of the New Year should qualify. He just needed to develop some patience and give Robert a chance.

After all, a mutual friend had hooked them up when Grant had announced his determination to find himself happy and settled in a relationship this year. That was a good sign; they already had something in common.

"Brandy?" Robert smiled widely as Grant carried the glasses out into the living room and sat on the couch after passing Robert one of the snifters. "How nice."

"Actually, this is Armagnac." Grant knew he sounded stuffy as soon as he corrected Robert and immediately regretted opening his mouth.

"Never heard of it." Robert gave a shrug before he brought the glass to his lips and took a hefty swallow.

Grant cringed at the abuse of the fine spirit but urged himself to patience as he took his own savoring swallow. "It's actually made from distilled wine. In simplest terms, it's boiled to create steam, then they condense the vapors and allow it to reconvert into a liquid again." All right, he told himself. Enough of the lecture. Don't continue unless he looks interested.

"Sounds like a lot of work for something that tastes like this." Robert grimaced and placed the snifter carelessly on the low table before him. "But, I'm not here having dinner with 'Weather Guy Grant' to discuss brandy."

"Armagnac," Grant corrected again before he could catch himself. Man, did he really hate that nickname. The next thing he knew Robert would be asking about....

"I really want to hear what it's like to work with Rick Steel. Have the two of you ever done any storm-chasing? You know, like they made that movie about?" Robert smiled winningly at Grant. "I think that's so cool."

"Well ... uh ... no, actually." Grant wanted to groan. Great. Another Rick Steel fan. Was he just the closest they would ever get to the real thing? "Stormy weather's never been my favorite; I'm not sure why anyone would want to put themselves in that kind of danger." His expression brightened. "But I did spend a year up at the Mount Washington Weather Observatory."

"I'm sure it was great." There was no mistaking the dismissive tone of Robert's voice. "But don't you find there's just something elemental about a storm, the wind, the driving rain, the forces of nature unleashed? I saw Rick's live broadcast when the storm drains backed up downtown and I thought it was fascinating."

Grant blinked when he realized how much closer to him Robert suddenly appeared. When had the other man moved? And just his luck, it would appear that the guy was a weather groupie. "Well, all of those things usually lead to property damage and possible loss of life. My job as a meteorologist is to try to help people avoid them."

"Honestly, Grant." Robert ran both of his hands lightly up over Grant's firm thighs and leaned in even closer. "I think we've spent enough time talking this evening, don't you?"

Uhm ... no? Grant bit down on his lower lip. How much of a wuss would he seem if he answered with what he was really thinking? Still, he was only human, and Robert's hands were strong, arousing as they squeezed his quads, the warm grasp making his other head suddenly wake up and want to do his thinking for him.

"Well.... "Before Grant could finish his sentence, Robert pressed their lips together, effectively silencing Grant's words.

What the hell, Grant thought as Robert's tongue found its way into his mouth. Robert was a skilled kisser; his tongue was warm and sinuous, and Grant enjoyed the secondhand taste of the Armagnac as well as the firm press of Robert's body against his. Take it when you can get it. Grant let his brain shut down and his body start making its own decisions on how the evening should progress.

* * * *

It was only later, only when Robert was lying naked and aroused on the bed, that Grant's brain started up again, poking and prodding at his lack of resolution in the face of some easy sex. And it sure picked a lousy time to do so.

Grant looked down at the body spread wide beneath him. He would have preferred the intimacy of being face to face but Robert hadn't liked the idea. So now he had one hand on the small of Robert's back, tilting his hips on the pillow for easier entry while his other grasped Robert's waist for more leverage.

There was no doubt Grant was ready; he moaned as he bent, letting his tongue slip over Robert's spine, the skin salty and moist with sweat. Robert was there as well, his hips jerking, crying out as Grant quickly jammed another finger in, hitting the right spot as he groaned into the small hollow right at the base of Robert's tailbone.

Using his thighs to press Robert's legs wider apart, Grant shifted his hips forward, pressing closer to the shadowed and beckoning opening and beginning the slow, sensuous descent into the welcoming warmth. Fuck, but it had been a long time. Grant grunted as he slid in the final inch.

Grant just wanted to stay there for a moment with his balls snugged up against Robert's ass. His cock was pushed deep inside the tight opening and he wished the moment had more meaning than just a quick fuck. He was shaking with need, wanting to kiss Robert, wanting to express his thankfulness for this gift of closeness, of touch, but Robert kept his face turned away.

Despite the way their bodies were connected it was hard for Grant to concentrate on the task at hand. Not only was he wondering what was behind Robert's seemingly overeager yet strangely distant attentions, but also the lube Robert had brought with him was one of the new warming kinds and it felt odd through the latex that covered him.

"Oh yeah!" Robert bucked upward, pushing himself demandingly back against Grant. Okay, obviously his inattention had been duly noted. Grant rocked deliberately forward, thrusting deep within Robert and then pulling out again slowly. He sucked in his breath as he found the rhythm he was seeking.

His brain filled with sensations he struggled to name as Grant slowly kept moving in and out of Robert's ass. It was hot. Slick. God, it felt unbelievably good. There might not be an emotional connection between them but right now the physical was doing just fine.

The warm channel clenched at him, reluctant to let him go. Each time Grant entered a man he enjoyed this feeling, loved the way his partner's body was always tighter than Grant expected. He pushed forward again and watched as Robert dropped his head down, the muscles of his back standing out in relief under the smooth skin.

The sight of Robert's momentary submission brought out the animal side of Grant, the very element that Robert had been asking for. He wanted the forces of nature unleashed? Well, get ready. Grant thrust harder, striving to drive deeper. He could feel Robert's body as it was jolted forward with the motion only to be held still by the force of Grant's grasp on his hips.

Grant wrapped one arm around Robert's shoulder and pulled the other man's body closer to him. He was grunting with each leveraged thrust, gasping and panting as he tried to hold back the raging desire to let his body run its own race and simply take what he needed from the man pinned beneath him. Luckily Robert was a talker and his running commentary distracted Grant from the building tension within.

"Harder. C'mon. Give it me." Robert shifted, managing to bring his knees closer to the pillow and up under his thighs. The change in position forced Grant's thrusts even deeper and he knew even with Robert's verbal play-by-play he wasn't going to be able to hold back much longer.

"That's the way." Grant closed his eyes to shut out the other man's voice. He tried to reach down and take Robert in hand to help him finish but Robert just kept grinding his prick against the pillow beneath him and ignored him. "Yeah. Oh God. Oh yeah."

Grant's balls drew up tight, hard as stones and ready to spill. Just as he gave a shuddering groan Robert let out a yell that made Grant freeze.

"Oh God, Rick! Fuck me, Rick!"

* * * *

Grant squinted at the computer monitor. Crap. Surely it wasn't time for reading glasses already? His eyes were tired from the late night and once Robert had left he had stayed up even later just sitting and thinking. That was never a good idea; even a worse one after his New Year fiasco.

He hesitated before he typed in his screen name and e-mail address and then paused for a sip off his coffee cup. Grant hated to say it but he felt weird signing up for an online dating service. Surely there was another way? He shuddered, remembering Robert and the night before.

Then again....

The signup process complete and his credit card processed, it was time for the all-important questionnaire. This was what would determine his compatibility on multiple dimensions with other interested men. That thought cheered Grant. He wasn't alone. According to the brochure, there was an entire Web site here of busy, professional, and more, importantly, gay men who were looking for something more out of life.

The first series of questions were pretty basic. Education level, religious preferences, smoker or non-, astrological sign. Wait a minute: How many children did he want to have? Well, in this day and age it could happen--adoption and the like. Okay, not so weird. Grant felt himself relax as he moved through the questions.

This one was interesting: How would he describe his bedroom? Grant read through the choices: (a) very clean, (b) everything's picked up but it needs to be vacuumed, (c) it's a mess but I plan to clean it very soon, (d) it's a mess and there's not a chance I'll clean it. He looked around at his orderly condo and smiled.

Question number eleven: Describe your attitude toward money. Grant found he was nodding his head. This would definitely be important in a long-term relationship. The choices ran from saving every penny to squandering cash with no plans to change. Well, he supposed there was a match for everyone.

Describe your perfect wedding? With same-sex marriages already legal in many countries and some U.S. states as well, Grant decided it wasn't as far-fetched as he might have once thought. Isn't that the kind of relationship he was looking for--one that was essentially marriage-minded? He spent extra time on the question as he dithered between a road trip to Las Vegas or a beachside ceremony with friends.

It was actually fun.

There were a lot of questions about personalities, and even questions on his favorite sexual positions. By the time Grant had completed the questionnaire he was actually feeling excited and couldn't wait to see some of his matches.

This was going to work out great.

* * * *

Chapter Two

"Coming through!"

Craig balanced the heavy tray above his head with an ease that spoke of years of experience. He didn't know why there was a crowd in front of the prep station but with a table of nine demanding businessmen waiting on him to bring their appetizers he didn't much care.

"Did you see him? Did you see him?" Amy was his closest friend; they had known each other since all the way back in high school. But even so, there were times her endless enthusiasm gave him a headache. Like right about now.

"See who?" Craig reached around Amy's back for some of the prefilled containers of dipping sauce. Heaven forbid the chicken tenders didn't come with the right assortment of goo to drown them in. "Or is it see whom?' Here he was working on his degree and he still didn't know the difference. Of course, his degree being in mathematics might have something to do with his ignorance.

"That guy from Channel Eleven. You know!" Christ. Now she was squealing. Sometimes he really thought the end of Western civilization as he knew it was going to happen at the hands of the cathode ray tube. Not that technology still used cathode ray tubes, but he didn't know what they had been replaced with. Anyway, Amy definitely overindulged in her favorite cable programming.

"No," Craig said patiently, his hands flying as he finished gathering the rest of the needed condiments. "I don't know. I don't have a television and you know it."

"God, Craig! I swear you are such a loser." Amy's hands were on her hips now; she was really getting wound up and he didn't have time for this. "Weather Guy Grant. The guy with all the funny weather jokes? He's sitting in my section."

"Well, good for him." Craig put the last hot plate down on the tray and lifted it up once again. "And good for you. I hope you'll be very happy together."

"Craig!" Amy wailed. "Aren't you even going to take a look? I mean, I'm waiting on a celebrity."

"And I'm waiting on nine businessmen who are just looking for an excuse to stiff the gay waiter on his tip. I'll look later." Craig gave her a quick kiss on the cheek by way of an apology and then pushed his way back out into the busy restaurant.

* * * *

Grant sipped nervously at his glass of iced tea and tried not to look at his watch again. He was sweating. He couldn't believe it. Here it was, his first meeting with--Grant looked down at the small note card on the table in front of him--Steve Winnette, and he was going to slide right out of his chair on a sea of sweat.

Usually Grant hated blind dates so he had to think of this as something else if he was going to get through it. It was his first opportunity to actually meet someone from the online dating service. He had gotten a fair number of matches and it had been nice to have a choice. Grant had liked the looks of Steve's picture and his brief introductory e-mail had been interesting.

Grant ran his hand over the top of his head, checking that everything was still in place. Not that there was going to be anything out of place. He kept his hair cropped close not only to keep the station managers happy but also because he had inherited his father's tendency toward male-pattern baldness.

Grant snuck another quick look at his watch. A whole thirty seconds had passed. He wondered if David had remembered to pull the latest METAR reports before working up the preliminary forecast for the next broadcast.

He fidgeted with the neck of his navy polo and wondered if he should have worn something nicer than just khaki pants and the short-sleeved shirt. Grant didn't realize that the dark navy made his eyes seem an even deeper blue and accented his tan.

David was a good enough intern but forgetful about even the basics, and since Rick, the head weather broadcaster at the station, refused to do his own research for his program, Channel Eleven's reliability percentages for every broadcast but Grant's were falling just about as fast as the barometer during an incoming storm.

Well, that train of thought killed an entire sixty seconds. Grant looked around the restaurant. It wasn't one he usually frequented; he tended to avoid crowds and preferred to stick to familiar territory. But it was close to the station and Steve had suggested it in his e-mail.

Nice plants, nice windows, the restaurant had nice everything. Including the rather nice-looking waiter currently bent over and clearing a table close to Grant's. Very nice actually, Grant admitted as he watched the firm thighs flex and power the waiter quickly around the table.

Add in the brown curly hair and slim frame and the waiter scored a near ten on Grant's list of likes. Why didn't any of the men on his dating Web site look like that in their pictures? Of course, someone that looked like that probably wasn't hurting in the relationship department.

Grant wasn't sorry that the men sitting at the table the waiter was clearing had left after only a few drinks and appetizers. The group of businessmen had been obnoxious to say the least. He gave the waiter points for his tableside manner. No matter how many rude jokes had been made at his expense the man had stayed calm and professional.

Another five minutes had passed in contemplation of the attractive waiter. Grant sipped at his iced tea once again and fiddled with his fork. Maybe he should have ordered a drink. That might have helped take the edge off his nerves.

Of course, then instead of sweating he could just be passed out on top of the table when Steve arrived. Grant looked at his watch again. Who was he kidding? Steve was over a half-hour late. He wasn't going to show. Grant had been stood up.

Hell. Grant immediately started wondering what he had done wrong. Was it his last e-mail? Did his profile on the dating service Web site need revision? Did he need a different picture?

What would make a man who had given him all indications of interest back out at the last minute? A car accident? A broken leg? A death in the family? Grant sighed quietly. Maybe he had seen a broadcast?

"Can I get you anything else while you wait for your friend?" The bouncy waitress was back. She was just too happy for Grant right now--all smiles and wavy blonde hair. Grant gave her his professional smile; he had already given her an autograph when he first sat down and she had recognized him.

"Just the check, please," he murmured politely. "It looks like my friend isn't going to make it after all."

"Oh." For a minute her wide smiled dimmed but then it was back in full force. "Well, you'll just have to be sure to come back again. Our special on Thursdays is a shrimp stir-fry to die for."

"I'll remember that." Grant slid his credit card across the table and concentrated on making it out of there with his dignity intact. It wasn't the first time he had been stood up but he had been hoping for something better this time around.

Meteorology had never made any claims to being a sexy profession what with all the math and science involved, and to Grant's knowledge his looks had never been described as anything other than average. But that was why he was using the dating service. Except it didn't seem the results were much different from those he had achieved on his own.

* * * *

Craig stretched as he waited for Tony, the shift manager, to process his table's charge card. It didn't matter that he could have done it faster in his sleep. Wait staff weren't allowed to process customer charges. Some bull about monkeying around with the tip.

"That's so sad."

Amy was behind him, waiting her turn to have her ticket processed.

"What?" Craig asked, even though he knew he would probably regret it.

"Weather Guy Grant? The guy at my table? He got stood up." Amy bumped her shoulder into his. "He looks so disappointed."

Craig let his gaze travel in the direction Amy's shoulder turned him. There was one single guy sitting at a table in the middle of the crowded floor. Nice-looking, Craig agreed. The hair was a bit thin on top but since most guys started losing their hair in their mid-twenties these days it wasn't anything unusual.

At least the guy was smart enough to keep his light brown hair short. The Bruce Willis shave-it-all-off-once-it-started-to-go look was always preferable to a desperate comb-over attempt. Not that this guy was there yet. Besides, from what Craig could see of his torso some thinning hair didn't mean much. Not when combined with a physique like that.

"That's a weather guy?" he questioned with amazement. Those biceps were amazing. The guy was really tanned too, hard to keep up in the winter unless you were a real outdoor enthusiast. That didn't look anything like the spray tan his last boyfriend insisted didn't turn his skin orange despite all proof to the contrary.

"Cute, huh?" Amy nudged Craig as Tony kept punching buttons on the credit card terminal. It seemed he had messed up again and needed to clear it out and start over. Craig rolled his eyes. They were going to be here forever.

"His broadcasts are really fun to watch. A lot more than that Rick Steel guy who's on most of the time." Amy wrinkled her nose as she kept on talking even as Craig kept watching the man sitting at the table. "And he gets the weather right, too. Do you know what happened the last time I listened to Rick's forecast?"

"Uh-huh." Craig muttered absently. The flex of an amazing amount of muscle caught his attention as the man at the table tilted his head to the side before rolling his shoulders. Really, really, big shoulders.

He knew he really shouldn't be staring like that but Craig found he was unable to look away. Even as he continued to chastise himself the man at the table looked up and their eyes caught and held.

Craig caught his breath. Amy might think her customer looked disappointed but even from a distance Craig thought his eyes were the most beautiful he'd ever seen, a dark blue framed with even darker lashes. Weather Guy Grant even had a dimple on his right cheek.

Despite the fact he was staring Craig couldn't help but smile tentatively back when he received a pleasant smile and a nod. The guy probably thought he was a fan. Better that than he realized Craig had been so rudely checking him out.

"Craig?" Tony was trying to get his attention. Craig turned away from the appealing sight of Amy's customer and took his customer's card and charge slips back from Tony. He had to focus on his homework tonight; he couldn't afford to spend time thinking about how nice it would be to hang onto those big shoulders and luxuriate in the feeling of all that hard muscle pressed up against him.

He really couldn't.

* * * *

Chapter Three

Grant faced the wall of computer monitors in the television station's weather lab and stared at the display of numbers, maps, and colored graphics without seeing them. He was thirty-three now. Not ancient. Not even close to being over the hill. But that all-elusive thing called a relationship continued to elude him.

He spun the chair around, pushing himself over to the feed from the National Weather Service, and began to pull the data he would need to compare the prior forecasts and computer predictions to the current conditions. Not many people would believe it, but a five-minute broadcast weather report was the result of at least four hours of solid work.

Even as he reviewed data and weather observations from around the world to factor into his prediction formula he contemplated his situation. He wasn't particularly lonely. Grant had a circle of close friends and an attentive family.

His mother and father might have been surprised when their son the high school wrestler announced he was gay but in the end they had been more concerned that he chose meteorology as his path rather than trying for a professional sports career.

His sister was married and had three kids and while Grant liked being part of an extended family he wanted one of his own. At least he wanted to have someone all his own. Someone to come home to, someone who would listen to him talk about the latest wind conditions and cloud heights, someone he could listen to in return. Not someone that would try to get close to him just for the thrill of a celebrity rub-off.

Grant glared at the low-pressure system he could see moving in from the west and made a mental note to update the graphics for the broadcast. Of all the things he might have imagined when he became a broadcast forecaster, that little price of fame wasn't one of them.

The advertisement in the back of the urban circulation he had picked up at a club he had gone to with friends had seemed like a logical way to go about things. Forget the old-fashioned way. They promised to take his interests and personality profile and match it with others interested in the same things. All for a fee, of course, but modern times demanded modern means.

He was still waiting for it to deliver on those promises. But things were looking up. After the fiasco with Steve the no-show, Grant was hoping today's lunch date would be more promising. This time his match's name was Mark. Grant couldn't remember his last name but he had it written down.

He sounded interesting. A history professor at the local university, Mark's profile had indicated a desire for a long-term relationship rather than an interest in casual dating. Grant always enjoyed the History Channel specials and he had the education the man indicated he preferred in a potential partner.

Grant wasn't sure he agreed with that stand. He had met too many people whose degree lent them an undeserved arrogance, especially when it came to dealing with others who didn't have the benefit of a formal education. Paper did not intelligence make. But Grant was determined to keep an open mind.

That Mark liked mountain biking was a big plus in Grant's opinion. His last boyfriend had thought he was too sports-orientated. Grant knew of a hotel right off the Hart-Montague Bike Trail he liked to stay at that would be great for a first weekend get-together. There was nothing like a quick dip in a pool after a satisfying day spent riding the trail.

Of course, seeing as how it was still January that was a dream that would have to wait. Perhaps he needed to think about some close and easy winter activities they could try. The Ludington State Park wasn't far and it offered a nighttime snowshoe tour that he had enjoyed in the past. Called the "Queen of the State Parks," it was just as awe-inspiring in the winter as it was the rest of the year.

"You got that seven-day forecast ready yet?"

His thoughts interrupted, Grant looked up and forced his professional smile to his face. "Hey, Rick," he said smoothly even though he really couldn't stand the other man's attitude or the reminder that Robert had used him as Rick's stand-in. "How's it going?"

Competition was rife in the news industry. Even in the small world of weather broadcasting. Most of the guys didn't take it too seriously but some, like Rick, were real pricks. It didn't matter that his forecasting skills were absolute shit and that he wasn't a board-certified meteorologist. The station managers and the public loved the way he looked on camera.

"Geek boy David, that new intern, had better step up." Rick pulled his sport coat tighter over his rather paunchy gut. Grant smirked as he realized just why Rick had started doing his broadcast sitting down instead of standing in front of the chroma-key, the blue screen all the weather graphics were projected on. It almost made up for the memory of Robert.

"Yeah?" Grant allowed himself to relax back in his chair. He was confident there was no excess body fat to roll over his beltline. It might be petty, but he also had Rick Steel to thank for the stupid handle "Weather Guy Grant," and he wasn't going to miss a chance for payback, however slight.

"My accuracy figures are going down the toilet," Rick complained. "If he can't get it right then I'll have management find someone who can. This is supposed to be a team effort, you know."

It took a real effort for Grant not to suggest that Rick try running his own projections for a change. He almost laughed out loud at that thought. That would really send Rick's figures down the toilet. He knew what Rick was angling for, but Grant had refused to take on Rick's work as well as his own and threatened to bring it to management if Rick persisted.

"Uh-huh." Grant thought he wouldn't mention that David the intern, while not the most focused of the interns that had passed through the weather lab, was also the grandson of one of the station owners. Some things Rick needed to find out for himself.

* * * *

There was something familiar about one of the guys sitting at the back table of his section, but as busy as the lunch rush was, Craig hadn't had time to really think about it. He had no clue why most of downtown Grand Rapids had decided to eat here today, but at least the tips had been good. Craig swiped his arm over his forehead and continued putting together his salad order.

"He's back! He's back!" Amy crowded up behind him in the narrow space, her plump breasts bumping into Craig's back and knocking him forward. "And he's in your section."

"Who's back?" Craig demanded. He looked down at the stain on his apron with disgust. Trust Amy to shove him right into the beets. He had no clue why she always picked his busiest days to want to chat.

He was tired today, his own fault for staying up so late, but it seemed like Craig kept getting more homework, not less. He would be happy when the term was over. Spring would arrive and he would have time to spend doing what he wanted. He had a brand new kayak just sitting in the middle of his apartment he hadn't yet had a chance to try.

"Weather Guy Grant!" Amy clutched at his arm, sending the croutons he had scooped up flying across the salad bar. "Didn't you see him?"

"What table?" Craig stalled as he tried turning his apron around to see if that would hide the stain.

"Table eight, back by the windows." Amy looked behind her dramatically. "I can't say much for the guy he's with, but Mr. Grant Singer is just as much of a cutie as he was before."

"Good to hear that he didn't change too much in an entire week." Craig tried to remember which one of the women at table six had wanted ranch dressing. Or was it light ranch?

"You have no sense of carpet diem." Amy sniffed. "I don't know why I bother."

"I don't either, Amy." Craig replied honestly. "And by the way, it's carpe diem, not carpet."

"Order up." The call from the kitchen took Amy away before she could answer and gave Craig a chance to get back to his own tables.

"It's practice that really makes perfect. Education will give you the credentials to get in the door but you can't beat the day-to-day experience of actually preparing your own forecast reports." Craig circled around the table just in time to catch the last part of the sentence. Whoever this guy was, he had a great voice.

"More iced tea?" Craig offered with a slight cough to disguise his sudden nervousness. Now he recognized the man Amy was talking about. Not for his abilities as a weather forecaster but for his current starring role in Craig's nocturnal adventures. Craig definitely remembered that muscle and exactly what he had imagined doing to it, or actually, with it.

"Please." Grant held his glass out and Craig took it from him to refill from the jug in his hand. Usually this was a simple task Craig managed without incident every day. This time, Craig fumbled the glass and Grant reached up to catch it as it slipped from his hand. Their fingers caught, tangling for just a moment on the wet glass.

Warm hands, warm heart. Craig couldn't remember where he had heard that. But it seemed to fit. The man had a great smile and the green polo he was wearing lightened his eyes. Craig thought he was the nicest-looking guy he'd seen in a while. Too bad his companion was slightly on the scrawny side.

Of course, that was Craig making an automatic assumption that the two of them were sharing more than a business lunch. Sometimes he needed to remember that the world didn't always swing in his direction.

Grant watched as the curly-haired waiter from the other week walked away from the table after refilling their drinks. He was even more attractive up close than he had been from a distance and even though his tan was faded it was obvious the man spent time outdoors for him to still have one in February.

It was very different from the obvious pallor of his lunch date. Grant was wondering how much mountain biking Mark actually did. Of course, it was rude to stare after one man while you were sitting with another, or think about how his warm hands might feel on your skin. Grant forced an interested expression on his face and looked back at his companion.

"Can you tell me about Rick Steel?" The voice was practically hushed as Grant's lunch date said the name in awe. "What's it like to work for him?"


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