Authors: Roni Loren
Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance, #Gay, #Adult
Titles by Roni Loren
Crash into You
Melt into You
Fall into You
Caught Up in You
Need You Tonight
Not Until You
Nothing Between Us
Call on Me [7/15]
Still into You
Forever Starts Tonight
Yours All Along
Yours All Along
InterMix Books, New York
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
YOURS ALL ALONG
An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2015 by Roni Loren.
Call on Me
copyright © 2015 by Roni Loren.
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-41103-6
InterMix eBook edition / June 2015
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Penguin Random House is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the author’s alone.
Love is a friendship that has caught fire.
If Hunter had to eat one more bite of cake, he was going to fucking lose it.
Macy held another forkful up to his mouth. “This one has cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream. I think I like the other one better, but maybe you should try it. It may go better with the strawberry layer. Or maybe we could go with fondant . . .”
He opened his mouth to cut her off, but the iced confection hit his tongue instead, and he inhaled crumbs right into his windpipe. He gagged, choking on his words and the cake.
“Oh, honey,” Macy said, reaching for a glass of water and handing it to him. “I’m sorry. I thought you were ready for it.”
He coughed hard, the water sloshing over the rim of the glass, and hitting his chinos.
Ready for it? Ha. Wasn’t that the assumption of the day—of the year.
Macy patted his back as he tried to clear the last of the blockage. The cake lady, or pastry chef as Macy had insisted he call the woman, stared at him, her lips in a disapproving line—as if his choking was some statement on her baking.
He took a sip of water, his eyes tearing up, and finally swallowed down the last of the cake.
“You okay?” Macy asked, her hand now rubbing his back in gentle circles.
He nodded and then managed a hoarse, “Fine. I’m good.”
Macy gave him one last concerned look and then shifted her focus back to the tray of samples on the table. “Okay, so let’s go with the buttercream.”
Cake Lady nodded, made a note, and motioned for her assistant with a flick of her wrist. The younger girl who’d brought in the original tray of samples removed them and came back a minute later with another silver platter full. The girl eyed Hunter in that starstruck way he’d grown used to . . . and tired of. He much preferred the old days when it was only his dad people recognized on the street.
He mustered up a smile since it wasn’t the girl’s fault he was in such a foul mood, but her shift in expression said his smile must’ve come across more as a grimace than friendly.
Madame Pastry Chef waved a hand over the new tray. “Now it’s time to pick out the groom’s cake. Typically, it’s chocolate, but there are some less traditional options as well . . .”
Macy straightened in her chair, her hands folding primly around one of Hunter’s. “Let’s look at the chocolate options.” She sent him a smile. “We like traditional.”
The words, Macy’s always-sweet smile, and the smell of more cake had his skin feeling clammy, the room too small. Another half hour of this and. . . . he launched himself out of his chair, knocking the table with his knee and rattling the platter. “I’m fine with whatever you choose, sweetheart. You pick the rest. I need some air.”
Her brows disappeared beneath her bangs. “Everything all right?”
“Absolutely.” He leaned down and kissed the top of her blond head. “Take your time. I’ll be outside when you’re ready.”
There was that word again. Like a cymbal smashing against his head, reverberating.
The wedding was three months away. He loved Macy. Shouldn’t he feel ready by now?
Would he ever?
He headed out of the bakery, trying to slow his racing thoughts and climbing anxiety. Cold feet. That’s what they called it, right? But he was far from cold. Hot all over was more like it.
The word whispered through his head like a siren call. He climbed into his Audi and stared at the speedometer, wondering, not for the first time, what would happen if he just floored the pedal and didn’t look back.
Would the local media hunt him like a fugitive? Would his father send his congressional district out in a search party? Would Macy be more upset about losing him or about canceling the wedding she’d worked so hard to plan? Would he miss this life?
He put his hand on the gearshift, flexed his fingers, thought about where he would go.
Macy pulled open the passenger door and slid inside, her ponytail swinging. “Hey there, planning to leave without me?”
His grin was too quick, too bright. “Course not.”
She eyed him in that don’t-you-lie-to-me way women seemed to perfect by age seven. “What’s going on with you? You forgot your last tux fitting, you still haven’t picked a best man, and Brent said you turned down his offer for a bachelor party.”
He sniffed. Bachelor party. Right. He didn’t drink anymore, he didn’t party, and the thought of a strip club held about as much appeal as choking down more cake. Plus, wouldn’t the press have a field day over that? Straitlaced Astros pitcher and son of conservative congressman Tom Riley sighted stuffing dollar bills in G-strings at Tops Off before he married the former Miss Houston. “I’m sorry, Mace. I think I’m just exhausted after the end of the season. I’m used to getting a nice, solid break in the winter. With all the wedding stuff and the media buzzing around me after the back injury, I feel like I haven’t had a day to breathe.”
Macy tilted her head, her expression softening. “You do look tired, baby.”
Boy, was he. Only he wasn’t sure it was the kind of tired he could sleep away.
She stared at him for a moment more, wrinkle between her brows, and then her finger went to her lips, tapped. “Hmm.”
Uh-oh. Her idea face.
She turned in her seat, squaring her shoulders to him. “How about this? What if in lieu of a bachelor party, you take a little solo vacation?”
He blinked, the words sounding foreign to his ears. “A solo vacation?”
Was this his fiancée, the woman who’d insisted he attend ten different auditions for a wedding singer?
“Yes. You don’t need a night with the guys. You need downtime. I don’t want you getting to our wedding burnt out and grumpy.” She dug through her purse, pulling out her phone. “I have an old friend who runs a private spa and resort. You could take some time away from all the wedding stuff, get off of the local media’s radar for a while.”
“You’re being serious right now? This isn’t one of those tests for the husband-to-be, is it?” The suggestion sounded like angels singing, but he’d learned Macy was into those little tests—setting up seemingly innocuous situations that held biting traps beneath the surface, ones that asked,
How much do you really love me? How far will you go for me?
He knew she didn’t do it with malice. It was her version of insurance. She’d grown up with parents who had made a mess of their marriage, and Macy wanted her relationship with him to be a sure thing.
He was trying to be her sure thing. But he’d stepped in those traps too many times along the way not to be wary.
She waved her hand. “No, nothing like that. I can take care of the last-minute wedding stuff. You know I love it. And”—her tone went wistful—“it could be kind of romantic to spend some time away from each other as the big day gets closer. You know . . . build up the anticipation.”
For the wedding night. She didn’t have to say it. The honeymoon loomed for the both of them—the true test of whether they were going to have chemistry in the bedroom as well as they did out of it. God, he hoped they did. He’d lived the last two years celibate. She’d lived the last twenty-three. That’d be a long time for her to wait to end up disappointed.
The crushing pressure he’d felt moments earlier, that trapped feeling, eased up a notch. “Sweetheart, I’d hate to be away from you, but I can’t say that a break doesn’t sound about perfect.”
She beamed. “Who’s the best fiancée ever?”
He smiled, a genuine one this time. “So, where is this place?”
His mind conjured images of some seaside resort in Mexico, or maybe the Bahamas . . .
The bottom fell out of his peaceful thoughts, crashed into a fiery mess beneath him.
She looked down at her phone, already scrolling through her numbers. “It’ll work out great. You’ll only be a few hours from Houston if I need you. And you can finally take care of your best man issue.”
She looked up, narrowed her eyes. “Don’t give me the lost look. I ran into one of your old frat brothers a few weeks ago at an event, and I was telling him you hadn’t picked a best man yet. He seemed surprised, told me how close you were with your old roommate Devon Crowe in college and was shocked that y’all hadn’t kept in touch. I can’t believe you’ve never mentioned him.”
Hunter swallowed hard. That was because he made a point
to talk about Devon. Or think about Devon. Or . . . anything about Devon.
“Did you know he lives in Dallas now?” Macy added.
Dev was in
? That close? Hunter tugged at his collar. “Really?”
She smiled. “Yep, I Googled him for you.”
She waved a hand. “Look, I get that you probably lost touch after the accident when you moved back to Houston to finish school or whatever, but you know how many friends I’ve reconnected with when I reached out to invite people to the engagement party? Old friends are the best friends and when you meet up again, it’s like no time has passed. I’m sure it’d be the same for you. You’ve got to have someone besides one of my brothers you want standing next to you at the wedding. One of your old college buddies would be perfect.”
His palm went damp against the gearshift. Old college buddy.
That wasn’t exactly how he’d label things with Devon. Complete and total college fuckups maybe.
“Mace . . .”
She put her fingers to his lips as she raised the phone to her ear. “Thank me later. Just bring me back a well-rested groom and a best man, so we can finish planning the wedding of our dreams.”
He closed his eyes, dread prickling his skin.
Dread and something else altogether . . .
Which told him he needed to stay far, far away from Dallas.
But when Macy got on the phone to set up things with her friend, he didn’t say a damn word. And when she hung up and declared everything set, he kept his mouth shut. And when they drove home, he did nothing but pack his bag.
He was so fucking screwed.