Nick Gregorio took a stand against his ambitious ex-lover’s plans for a reunion. If Al wants them to get back together, then he has to give up the double life he’s been living and move to Vegas.
In INDEPENDENCE DAY 2
By Christiane France
Nick Gregorio is at a crossroads in his life. When his former lover, Al Martinsen, came to Vegas wanting to make up, Nick was prepared to listen. For Nick, however, returning to their hometown to resume playing second fiddle to Al’s ambitions was not an option, and he suggested Al move to Vegas permanently.
Six weeks have passed with no word from Al, and Nick doesn’t know what to think. Is Al still considering moving to Vegas, or does his silence say it all? When Nick finally receives news about Al, it sends him reeling with shock, anger and total despair. He knew Al had allowed ambition to dominate his life, but even he found it hard to believe Al would go so far as to commit the ultimate betrayal. There’s no going back for either of them now.
In desperation, Nick looks for temporary oblivion in the form of a night out that turns nasty and violent. Fortunately for Nick, his new friend and boss, Trip Browning, comes to his aid. With Trip’s support, Nick is able to resume work planning the gala opening of The Neapolitan’s newest restaurant. That is, until Trip delivers a surprise of his own and sends Nick’s world spinning in a whole different direction…
Nick had been literally holding his breath, praying for Silvia’s approval. If she’d given thumbs down on all or any of the three dishes, he’d have been hard-pressed to come up with replacements at this late stage. Instead, to his relief, she’d loved them all!
As the door closed behind Silvia, Nick let out his breath in a rush, grabbed Trip and waltzed him around the room. “She liked them. In fact, I think she loved them. This is so totally fantastic because I was terrified she would hate them all, and in that case I would have been totally screwed because I—”
Nick’s flow of words ceased abruptly as Trip’s arms tightened around his body and then the hot, moist heat of Trip’s mouth brushed softly against his lips. Unable to move, Nick closed his eyes, savoring the magic of Trip’s embrace. He could feel his heart thudding against his ribs and the blood pulsing in his veins. He could also feel Trip’s heat and smell his scent, but he didn’t know what to do or even what to think. Okay, so it was something he’d secretly wondered about and hoped for. Now, it appeared what he’d suspected about Trip was true.
But why hadn’t Trip made a move before now? Nick tried to pull free to ask, but Trip held firm, one hand cupping the back of Nick’s head, while his tongue slipped into Nick’s mouth, gently at first, seeking, exploring. As the kiss became more passionate, Nick knew he didn’t want it to stop. He wanted—
As suddenly as it had begun, the moment was over. Trip released his hold on Nick and stepped back, his face flushed and his expression confused. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. I had no right. It’s too soon. You need time to recover, time to heal and put the past behind you. Forgive me, I—”
Before Nick could collect his thoughts and say he didn’t want or need an apology, Trip had abruptly stopped speaking, wrenched opened the door and rushed out, leaving Nick on his own.
Nick took a deep breath and touched his mouth with the tips of his fingers. He let the breath out slowly. Oh, man! Trip had kissed him. A real, honest-to-goodness, lots of tongue involved, French kiss. It had been so damned good, he hadn’t wanted it to end. He’d wanted it to continue on all the way to its natural conclusion. He’d been ready to rip off his clothes, go down on his knees…
Trouble was it had all happened too fast, and ended much too quickly. Now, he could hardly believe it had happened at all. But it had. Trip had kissed him. It hadn’t been a dream or his imagination. It had happened. He closed his eyes, trying to relive the moment. He wanted to chase after Trip, ask him why he’d rushed off like that. He wanted to feel Trip’s arms around him again. He wanted to feel his mouth, his hands…
He hit Trip’s desk with his closed fist. The best thing that had happened to him in months and then to have it snatched away like that. He wondered where Trip was and what his chances were of finding him. Except Nick knew, wherever Trip had gone, chasing after him was the worst possible idea. Trip had mostly likely acted in the heat of the moment, and now he needed a little time and space to get his head together. He’d be back when he was ready.
The good thing was even before that kiss, he and Trip were close. Trip had interviewed him for a job at The Neapolitan within a few days of Nick arriving in Vegas, and they’d clicked right away. In fact, Nick knew he wouldn’t have settled into his new life as easily without Trip’s help. Still, there were limits beyond which he couldn’t go. Until now, he hadn’t been quite sure of Trip’s sexual orientation, and perhaps Trip hadn’t been either. It wasn’t the kind of thing he could just come out and ask.
For all Nick knew, Trip was one of those guys who’d been teetering on the edge all his life, unwilling or unable to declare himself. But then Nick’s moment of triumph had given him the shot of courage he’d needed to just close his eyes and jump. And ended up scaring the hell out of himself?
Whatever the reason behind that kiss, Nick knew it had left Trip feeling confused and embarrassed. He wanted to go to him, hold him and tell him everything was okay, but right now, he knew Trip needed to be left alone to work things out for himself. He didn’t need Nick hounding him for answers he most likely didn’t have, or probing for motives of which he was unsure.
When Trip was ready to talk, he’d be back in touch. Nick glanced at his watch and made a mental note of the time. If that didn’t happen within the next few hours, then it would be up to him to make the next move…
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