With more money than he could spend in ten lifetimes, Darwin Kincade still couldn’t keep death from stealing his lover. A little older and a whole lot wiser, flirting with his twice-a-week waiter is the perfect no-risk substitute for a real relationship. Until the night his routine is upended by the restaurant’s newest employee.
Ricky Donnelly loves people. While being a server isn’t his dream, he’s good at it. When a grumpy man is seated in his station, Ricky sees there’s more to him than he lets on, and when the man relaxes, he’s actually sweet.
As the two men bond over a discussion about corn dogs—something Darwin’s never heard of—he realizes how much he’s missed out on in his life. He vows to open himself to new experiences—including, perhaps, a chance at finding love again.
Not wanting anything to muddy their blooming relationship, Darwin hides part of himself from Ricky. He likes the look in Ricky’s eyes, unclouded by Darwin’s notoriety. Unfortunately, the truth can never stay hidden, and when it comes out, Darwin may lose any hope of holding onto the future they’ve begun to build.
Darwin sat at his usual table and scanned the restaurant, anxious to see Roy, his favorite server. From the soft lighting of the candelabras that dotted the walls and the gleaming hardwood bar to the deep, rich brown carpeting, everything about Asiago screamed class. As the only five-star restaurant in the area, everything had to be the best. But Roy outshone all the glitz of the dining room. While Darwin knew Roy saw him as a customer, he secretly hoped that one day the waiter might realize he hadn’t been coming for the food all these months.
He frowned when the young man who approached the table looked nothing like the raven-haired beauty Darwin had grown accustomed to seeing twice a week for the last six months. He tried to school his features to hide his disappointment, not wanting to hurt the slender blond with the wide smile who drew near.
“Good evening, Mr. Kincade. My name is Richard, and I’ll be your server for this evening. Would you like to start with a drink?”
“Where’s Roy?” Darwin growled. His cheeks heated when Richard stepped back, looking every bit the kicked puppy. Darwin winced. He knew better than to snap at people. He scratched his cheek before he glanced up. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long day. Please forgive me. I assume Roy isn’t working tonight?”
“Roy quit a couple days ago,” came the hesitant answer.
Darwin’s gut clenched. He’d been coming to Asiago simply for Roy. Truthfully, the merely palatable food hadn’t been a drawing point. Seeing Roy had become the highlight of his week, and now he was gone.
“Did he say where he was going?” A hint of whine escaped, but goddamn it, he’d been in lust with Roy.
“He and his wife moved to be closer to her parents.”
Nausea rolled through Darwin. He hadn’t even considered Roy might not have been gay. Such a fool he was.
“Would you like that drink?” Richard asked hesitantly.
Darwin knew Asiago was one of the few places in the United States that had the drink he loved most. “Yes, please. A shot of Macallan M. Neat.”
Richard gasped and then covered his mouth. “Sir, that costs—”
“I damn well know the cost,” he snapped. “Bring me my drink.”
Once more Darwin’s anger had gotten the better of him. Green eyes shimmered in the dim lighting, and Darwin worried the young man might break into tears.
“Again, please accept my apologies. It’s been a rough day, and I should probably just go home.” He reached over and grabbed his briefcase, ready to stand, when Richard held out a hand and graced Darwin with a genuine and disarming smile.
“No, please. Stay. Let me get you that drink, okay? I’ll let you know the dinner special when I come back. My grandma always said any day can be made better with a good meal.” Richard hurried off in the direction of the bar without waiting for a reply.
Darwin fumed at his lack of self-control. Not only had he made a fool of himself tonight, but he’d also hurt the feelings of someone he didn’t know. Though Richard would be right to refuse service to Darwin, he’d run to get a drink. As much as he wanted to believe the attentive attitude came down to getting a decent tip, Richard seemed too genuine for that. Darwin sighed and put his briefcase back on the leather seat. His mother would be so disappointed in him.
A crystal glass thunked against the table, startling Darwin. The amber liquid rippled gently. Darwin picked it up and gazed into the glass. He’d thought about downing it in one go, relishing the burn that would inevitably follow, but he hated losing control. He took a deep, steadying breath.
“Most people call me Ricky. You can, if you want.”
How sweet this story was….
First we have Darwin; being seated in a specific section at a restaurant he visits every week to check out a hot guy only to find out the hot guy isn’t there anymore. He’s a bit grouchy about it but quickly apologizes when he sees the new waiter and feels guilty for taking out his disappointment on him.
Ricky is a new server at Asiago and he’s just met Darwin. I’ve got to say, Darwin doesn’t make a good first impression but he more than makes up for it. He’s so sweet and charming and even though I thought the whole thing was kind of unbelievable, the whole Ricky and losing his job and the deal with his boss; it was a little bit ridiculous….. at least Darwin was trying to help.
Another problem I had was the way in which Darwin told Ricky who he was and how much he was worth… why not, instead of the way he done it… just been like, listen this is who I am, this is why I was hesitant to bring it up and I really like you and didn’t want to make things awkward… or something like that. I understand completely why he just wanted to be a normal guy liking a normal guy and they’d only been out a couple times, I didn’t blame him. Although I also think Ricky’s reaction was also understandable when he initially found out, I thought he was being a little bratty when he got to experience the whole thing at Darwin’s home. Again, I can understand how overwhelming it would be and his reaction to that was also understandable… but his reasonings and the way he justified it to himself as well as Darwin and anyone else, just made me want to shake some sense into him lol
What I loved about this story was how romantic and sweet and charming Darwin is… I love how independent Ricky is even if it makes his stubborn to the point I wanted to punch him a time or two…. I loved how Darwin treated the people in his life, how they became family and he respected them all and cared about them; especially Hensley. When Ricky said that Hensley was in love with Darwin that kind of threw me off because I didn’t get that feeling at all…. He was like a brother to him and wanted him to be happy, especially with Ricky because he saw how happy Ricky made him. I love how Ricky was so close to his mom and sister; the banter between them all was hilarious. I heard a lot about Darwin’s parents and how great they were and I know that Darwin’s father had passed but I don’t remember ever meeting his mother… did I overlook that part or did it just not happen?
Either way… this was an incredibly sweet, light read. It wasn’t too fluffy and although a couple parts were a little frustrating or unbelievable; I adored these two together and I wouldn’t mind getting to read more about them or even Hensley and Jeff. Super cute.
4 pieces of eye candy
Parker Williams believes that true love exists, but it always comes with a price. No happily ever after can ever be had without work, sweat, and tears that come with melding lives together.
Living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his husband of nearly 26 years, Parker continues to believe and writes stories where there is (almost) always a happy ending.
Connect with Parker on:
Or you can visit his website: http://www.ParkerWilliamsAuthor.com