Love is the journey of a lifetime.
As head chef of The Falls, Asheville's finest four-star restaurant, Chris Tucker lives by one rule: presentation is everything. That means it's imperative that he always looks as well-put-together as his complicated recipes.
When it comes to relationships, though, nothing throws a wrinkle in his well-tailored suits quicker than Matt Gallagher.
Matt is the master of his own domain, the Dragon's Den--the most popular tattoo shop in Asheville. On the outside, his flavor-of-the-month hair color and Prince Albert piercing scream wild child, but on the inside he's all business. He's just as serious about his fun, though, and nothing's more fun than throwing the buttoned-down Chris off his well-ordered game.
Not exactly the pair anyone would expect to become a couple, but sparks fly from their first hello. Yet Chris wonders, as their relationship navigates the rocky path of petty jealousies, sexual experimentation and Matt's penchant for taking crazy chances, if their love is written in permanent ink, or destined to fall like a failed souffle.
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November 12, 2010
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Excerpt from Love's Evolution by Ally Blue
At nine-thirty, Chris tossed his chef's jacket in the laundry hamper and headed into the bathroom to change back into his suit. When he emerged, Laurie was leaning against the wall outside, grinning.
"You lucky bastard," she said. "Where'd you find that one?"
Chris raised his eyebrows at her. "Pardon me?"
"That hot piece of tail you're going out with tonight. God, he's _gorgeous!_"
Warmth bloomed in Chris's groin. "He's here?"
"Mm-hm. Waiting for you at the bar. He swing both ways?"
"I don't know yet," Chris said, smoothing a hand through his short black hair. "Why?"
"Jasmine's making a play. Better go get him before she does."
Chris hurried out into the restaurant and looked over at the bar. Sure enough, Jasmine, the bartender, was flirting with impressive determination. Matt was sitting so that Chris could only see the side of his face, but his body language said he didn't mind her flirting. He was perched on the edge of a barstool, leaning both elbows on the bar and gesturing as he talked. Then he turned his head and caught sight of Chris, and Chris's uneasy feeling evaporated in the heat of Matt's gaze.
"Wow," Laurie breathed as Matt hopped off the barstool and came toward them. "Never mind. I don't think you have anything to worry about."
Chris wanted to agree, but he couldn't get his mouth to work. The way Matt looked at him promised all sorts of sinful pleasures.
"Hi, Chris," Matt said, walking up and standing close enough to make Chris's knees weak. "You don't mind me coming on over do you? My last customer canceled."
Chris swallowed. "No, of course I don't mind. Matt, this is Laurie McGhee, she owns The Falls. Laurie, Matt Gallagher."
Matt smiled and shook Laurie's hand. "Nice to meet you, Laurie."
"You too, Matt."
"Cool place you got here." Matt turned his mega-watt grin to Chris. "I like the chef."
"Yes. Well. Are you ready to go, Matt?" Chris wished his voice wouldn't shake so much.
"Sure am." Matt laid a hand on Laurie's shoulder. "Laurie, I promise not to wear him out."
Laurie raised an amused eyebrow at Chris. "I like this one."
Chris felt his cheeks going pink under two teasing gazes. He started edging toward the door. "Goodnight, Laurie. I'll see you tomorrow."
"'Night, guys. Have fun." Laurie waved at them as they left.
Outside, Chris took a deep breath of cool night air, trying to calm his nerves. He hadn't been on a date in several months, and he had never been with anyone who attracted him as strongly as Matt did.
"So, Chris." Matt bumped his shoulder against Chris's. "Where'd you want to go?"
"Let's see." Chris thought for a minute. "How about The Alley Kat? It's just around the corner from here, and they have some excellent live music."
They strolled along in silence. Matt's arm brushed Chris's as they walked. When they reached the corner, Matt grabbed Chris's elbow and pulled him into the shadow of a nearby doorway. He was so close Chris could feel the heat of his skin.
"Matt? Is anything wrong?"
Matt stared at him with fiery eyes. "There's something I have to do."
Chris frowned. "What is it?"
Instead of answering, Matt slid a hand around the back of Chris's head and kissed him. Sheer surprise held Chris frozen for a second. Matt's tongue against his lips broke his paralysis. He wound his arms around Matt's waist and pulled him close, letting the kiss deepen.
By the time they broke apart, Chris was hard enough to pound nails. Matt was clearly just as aroused as Chris, his erection pressing against Chris's thigh through jeans and dress slacks. Chris's head was swimming. He felt drunk and dazed. And it was just a kiss, he thought.