Blurb: Tyler should know; as an ad executive, the packaging is what sells. And Jake is quite a package. So what if neither long-time friend Marty nor his landlady think much of Jake. Tyler is determined not to see the dark side of his lover, but when the truth becomes undeniable, not even an evening soaked in martinis will let him hide from it.
Weathering Jake's lies and secrets gets easier under the sheltering support of new friends, Libby and Steven. In fact, Tyler figures a lot of things might get easier with gorgeous, attentive Steven around.
Tyler should have known better. Again. Not even someone as seemingly perfect as Steven Jessop comes completely as advertised. This time, though, Tyler has to make a decision. After all, even if what you see is not what you get, Steven's imperfections might just be what he's always wanted, if only he can sell Steven on giving love another chance.
Tyler blinked at him. "Is there some reason I shouldn't want to go to a party?"
"Because it is a party." Jake perched on the arm of Tyler's couch and looked down on him. "You don't do parties. You're the one told me that."
"I know, but Maynard mentioned it. It sounds decent."
Jake studied the label on his beer, picking at the corner of it. "Now you go to parties because your boss tells you to."
"He didn't tell me to. He just mentioned it."
"Is he going to be there? That why he mentioned it to you?"
"Oh my god. You've got to be kidding me," Tyler chuckled and sipped his beer.
Jake just looked at him.
"Seriously? Are you jealous?" Tyler asked.
Still Jake said nothing.
Tyler grabbed Jake's arm and yanked him down. "Come here."
For an instant, Jake resisted, but Tyler licked his lips, lifted his eyebrows and pulled a little harder. Jake slid down, squeezed his cheeks into the crack between Tyler and the arm of the couch and took Tyler's chin in a loose grip. "Doesn't it bother you?" he asked after another swig, keeping his searching gaze on Tyler.
"What?" Tyler frowned.
"That he uses the fact you like dick to scope out new clients."
"What?" Tyler hitched back a few inches, putting some space between them.
"Think about it. You do know who's throwing this party?"
"Jessop. I don't know his first name. I don't even know what he does. Maybe Maynard just mentioned it because he thinks I've been working too hard lately. Unlike someone I know, who gets all the easy clients and the padded expense account." Tyler set his beer down and wiggled closer, hooking his finger into Jake's tie and prying it loose.
"If you think those clients are easy, my dear, you've got another think coming. I just have a knack for handling self-absorbed, insane people. You, though. Maynard's working you to the bone and not giving you enough credit. Jessop is a dream account. If he doesn't give it to you…." A hard edge visible just in the shadows of Jake’s expression told Tyler there was something he wasn’t saying, though what it could be, he had no idea.
"Anyway." Tyler gravitated a little toward Jake, touched his face, ran his fingers over the angles. "Not talking about work right now. It's a party. We never go anywhere. It's time, don't you think?"
Jake grinned, leaned close so everything blurred together. so that The sullenness turned to lust, and defensiveness to desire. "You never complained about that before."
The bass rhythm of Marty's music reverberated through the apartment. Tyler's heart sank. He did so much better when he slept.
Jake nearly growled as he grabbed hold of Tyler's chin and forced his attention away from the shared wall and Marty's insomnia. His face darkened, and his fingers tightened around the neck of his beer bottle. "You need to move."
"Come on." Jake took his hand and stood. "Let's go into the other room." He shot a glare at the wall.
Without letting go, Tyler pulled him back down. "If it bothers you so much, we could just go to yours."
"I told you. They're renovating. The whole building is a mess." Jake cast a venomous glower at the far wall.
"Right." Still, Tyler didn't get up, and Jake sat back down next to him. Tyler was tired of his attitude towards Marty, his insistence they stay in all the time—everything. In four months, Tyler still hadn't seen Jake’s apartment. He was determined to get his way about something. He fixed his gaze on Jake. "About the party, then?"
"You just want to show me off, admit it." Jake puffed out his chest slightly and tilted his head.
The edges of his mood seemed to smooth over with the motion, though they didn't disappear completely.
Tyler had yet to find whatever it would take to get Jake to really, truly relax.
"Come on." Jake trailed a few experimental kisses along Tyler's jaw. "Say it: 'I admit I want to show off my hunky new boyfriend.' You know it's true."
A slow smile spread across Tyler's face. "Maybe."
"Tell you what." Jake set down his beer and slid closer, fingering Tyler's collar, and undoing the buttons of his shirt at a slow but steady pace. "You let me have my way with you tonight, and I'll take you to this party tomorrow. You can schmooze Jessop to your little heart's content." He ended with fingers on Tyler's nipple and gave a sharp squeeze and tug.
Tyler gasped and jerked, hardening in a rush of hot blood. "You drive such a hard bargain."
The words rasped over a sudden need, and he licked his lips in anticipation. Jake might be a demanding lover, but he was also an attentive one, and he knew exactly how Tyler liked things. His heart sped up at the thought of Jake taking over and being in control for an evening.
"And yet…." Jake ran his tongue tantalizingly over Tyler's lips. "You’re such an easy sell."
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