Designs of Desire
Desires Entwined Book 1
by Tempeste O'Riley
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Artist James Bryant has forearm crutches in every color from rainbow for fun to sleek black for business. He even has a pair with more paint splatters than metal. After his family’s rejection and abuse from a man he thought loved him, James only just gets through the day by painting. He lives in constant fear that he’s not worthy of anything, let alone love.
As CEO of his company, Carrington Enterprises, Seth Burns is a take-charge kind of guy, and he is instantly smitten by the artist helping with his newest project. When he witnesses James suffer a panic attack, a protective instinct he never knew he had kicks in. He truly believes nothing is unobtainable—including James—if he’s willing to put in the time and effort.
James is shy and confused by Seth’s interest in him as a person. With Seth’s support, can he work through his fears to finally find the true love he deserves, or will someone finally land the crushing blow he won’t survive?
James gestured to the chair across the conference table and hoped Seth would sit. He hated to be stood over. Seth smiled and settled into the chair indicated. “Now, what can I do for you, sir?” “We, Carrington Enterprises, are beginning a new venture and hope you can help with designs. Companies I can manage; design and draw, not so much.”
James nodded at Seth’s pause. “Let me start by explaining the project you will brand. We’re opening a new hotel chain. This will be a little different than your usual hotel, though. Each site will be more like a large bed and breakfast, but they will cater to the GLBT community. It’s often an issue when a couple wants to vacation. They have to consider the area, the hotel, the other patrons even if they want to do something as simple as hold hands. That is, if they don’t want to be met with hate or possible violence.” James wasn’t sure which impressed him more, the wonderful idea behind the hotel or the deep, commanding voice that instilled confidence in everything he said.
Obviously unaware of James’s internal dialog, Seth continued his spiel. “With our liberal policies and views, we have decided to make a place where judgment doesn’t exist. At least, that’s the theory.” God, that voice! He shivered. “Also, each site will have a club, bar, or restaurant attached. So, this will be an ongoing project, not a one-shot deal.” When finished with his little speech, Seth seemed inordinately pleased with the idea. No wonder Brian gave me the account. He didn’t realize he had spoken aloud until Seth glowered at him. “Excuse me?” Seth snapped. “I was assured you have no personal issues or biases that might hinder your ability to provide the needed work. Was I incorrectly informed?” “No. No, sir. I apologize for my comment. It was out of line,” James said in a rush, trying to smooth over the obvious irritation his thoughtless words had caused. “Are you able to do the branding or should I continue elsewhere?” Seth demanded. “You misunderstand, Mr. Burns. I had wondered why I was given your account, considering I’m not one of the senior designers and your account would normally be reserved for one of them. Now that I hear what the project is, I understand why I was chosen.” He knew he was babbling but he couldn’t help it. “You see, I’m the only openly gay designer here and my family runs a small bed and breakfast. This project is perfect. In fact, once we have the branding set up, I’m sure I can point you in the right direction for some specialized marketing. Magazines, newspapers, websites, etcetera. We will help you with all of that, as well.” James tried to restrain the extent of his excitement over the project, but was unsure how successful he was. He didn’t want to seem flippant or inexperienced after admitting he was a junior designer with Skye Designs. Seth raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Excited, are we? Carl said you were the man for the job. I guess he was right if enthusiasm counts. I have a full write-up of what we need and what we do and do not want to incorporate into the brand.” His smile fell and he became all business again. “This is an upscale getaway, not a high-priced bathhouse.” “Understood, sir. I think the idea will work in areas with a large enough population of GLBT and open-minded people.” His hands itched to begin sketching and planning. “Good. Once you’ve read over everything and start your designing, I want you to visit the site we chose for the first hotel. It’s here in Milwaukee, so it shouldn’t be too far for you. Would you be ready by Friday?” At James’s accord, Seth opened his briefcase and began pulling out folders and large manila envelopes and setting them in front of James. He paused, peered up at James, and blinked hard. “I should call someone to carry these things for you,” he mumbled, glancing at the items and toward James’s crutches. “You can’t fit all this in your bag.” James pinched the bridge of his nose while counting to ten in his head. Why do they always see the sticks instead of me? “Mr. Burns.” “Seth, please,” he interrupted, giving James a soft smile. “Seth, Chase acts as my assistant when needed. He will tend to anything I can’t transfer up to my office personally. There is no need to be concerned.” A strange look flashed across Seth’s face, but his expression quickly returned to his previous in-command smile. “Very good then.” They chatted a bit about ideas and plans before Seth shifted his coat sleeve back to check his watch. With a slight frown, he said, “Well, I need to head back to the office. I will leave this all in your fine hands, James. Please call me here.” He pulled out his business card and wrote something on the back. “I look forward to our next meeting.” Seth held out his hand. James flexed his fingers and clasped the offering. He knew this was for work, but somehow it felt different this time. Warm and strong, the grip shot tingles up his arm. Seth seemed to hold on a little longer than necessary for business needs. It had been so long since a man touched him, at least without violence or pain. James shook off the thought he might be interested. Beautiful men like Seth didn’t waste their time on guys like him. Besides, he wasn’t certain he wanted to go down such a painful road again. James stood in the doorway, watching Seth saunter out the main doors, wishing for something, though not really sure what.
Bound by Desire
Desires Entwined Book 1.75
A Spin-off of Designs of Desire
Desires Entwined: Book 1.75
**Get it FREE!!**
Desires Entwined Book 2
Most people see Chase Manning as the party-boy twink he seems on the surface. Only James, Chase's BFF, knows the depth of his loyalty and the extent of the wounds Chase carries inside. When Chase meets Rhys Sayer, things don’t go well, but he can’t shake his attraction to the huge, sexy man.
Rhys is a man of contradictions and fear—a strange combination for a PI and bodyguard. He's in a bad place emotionally when he sets eyes on Chase for the first time. When Chase puts the moves on him, Rhys insults him, thwarting any possibility of a relationship. Rhys doesn’t see himself as a complicated man, but he dreads the very kind of connection he desires.
Just as they’re trying to overcome their uncertainties, Chase is put in harm’s way. Luckily Rhys and their friends have all the right talents to help Rhys save the man of his dreams.
PLEASE, GOD, make it stop.
The loud ringing next to his head had Chase debating between smashing the phone and burying his head until the demonic thing went quiet on its own. When the ringing stopped but immediately started up again, he gave up on Option B. Why? Even mentally whining made his head hurt worse. Chase lay sprawled across his bed on top of the covers. The only part of him not exposed was his head; he’d burrowed under a pillow when the sunshine pushed its way into his bedroom. Sitting up without moving the pillow from over his head, Chase slowly scooped up his cell. “’Lo,” he croaked. “Chase?” “Um, yeah. Who is—wait, James?” Chase’s thoughts refused to clear as he fought his way past the alcohol struggling to drag him back into unconsciousness. The taste of stale beer and liquor was almost enough to make him puke. He vaguely wondered where his trash can was and whether he could get there if needed. “You forgot, didn’t you?” The loud chuckle that followed the question did not help with his headache. However, with everything that had happened recently—the stalking and threats against his best friend— he would have gladly suffered in silence to make James happy. A soft moan escaped his dry lips. He tried to wet them with his tongue, but it felt dry and thick. “Sorry, Jamie. What did I forget?” “You went out to the club again, didn’t you?” “Yes,” he whimpered. “Dale and Simon wanted to go out for some fun. But I know you’re not calling to see if I went home with anyone. So again I ask, why am I awake?” “My art show tonight.” He was certain he could hear a smirk in James’s voice. “It’s”— Chase paused to check his clock—“not even noon yet, Jamie.” He loved his best friend dearly, but why did he have to be so damned perky first thing in the morning? “Lunch. Remember?” Lunch? Eating? He so didn’t want to think about food right then. “Right. Let me get up and get dressed. I’ll swing by your place soon.” “Go ahead and meet me at the restaurant, please. We have reservations at Zarletti’s downtown. I’m out and about right now. Okay?” “Uh, sure, hun.” After a few more pleasantries, he hung up and slowly dragged his groggy self out of bed, stopping to down a couple of Tylenol and a full bottle of water before taking his shower. Chase took his time getting dressed, and not simply because his head still hurt, the dull ache grating but livable. He never went out without dressing for the occasion, though it was nothing compared to how he would look later that night when he accompanied his best friend to his first gallery show. It would be James’s debut as the featured artist. God, means I’ll have to deal with Rhys too. He knew Rhys wouldn’t miss the show. He rolled his eyes for thinking about the damn man. Rhys was sex on legs, but his attitude was crap! Still, dressing to kill might not be a bad idea … Chase finished buttoning the deep green silk shirt over his slight frame as he walked to the fridge in his small but well-appointed kitchen. Grabbing a bottle of Mountain Dew, he took a gulp before he put the cap back on, grabbed his backpack, and headed out the front door. He was usually a cappuccino kind of guy, but sometimes one needed an extra kick of sugar and caffeine, fast. Yawning, Chase got into his car and started over to James’s before he remembered they were meeting at the restaurant instead. At some point, he knew he would have to change his thinking and acknowledge that the little cottage was James and Seth’s now, especially since they were not only living together but would be married in just over a month. Chase turned the corner to pull up in front of Zarletti’s. A moment later, a motorcycle passed him. He paused a moment to take in the eye candy: the black and chrome Harley Softail and the tall, wide-shouldered man atop it. When he parked, he realized to whom the bike belonged and groaned, cursing his luck and his reaction. There Rhys stood, peering at him from beside the motorcycle. Too bad the bike and those looks belong to such an ass hat. Since the man was staring at him so blatantly, Chase decided to return the favor. He took a moment to let his gaze wander from the man’s deep auburn hair and perpetual five o’clock shadow to his delicious athletic build, wide shoulders, and the defined pecs his black T-shirt served to accentuate, not hide, even with the leather coat half covering him. Rhys was huge at close to six and a half feet. He continued his perusal down Rhys to his thick, muscled legs and his chunky black leather boots. Chase allowed himself a soft sigh. He took just as long on the return trip, making a true production of it. When his gaze finally landed on Rhys’s deep green eyes again, he smirked, turned, and made sure to put a little extra swish into his hips as he sauntered up the sidewalk to the front doors.
He reached to open one but paused when he heard the crunching of boots on the path behind him. He groaned to himself quietly and then stepped inside, hoping Rhys was there to meet someone else, not James. Please let it not be us! Chase had managed to avoid Rhys for the last few months, ever since James’s first gallery show. It was a lot harder to stay away from him than he had expected. He hated how Rhys had befriended James, making avoiding him all the more complicated. “Good afternoon, welcome to Zarletti’s. Table for two?” the brighteyed hostess asked as Chase approached her stand. “No. I’m meeting someone. James Bryant? He should be here already.” “Very good, sir. And you?” the hostess asked, gazing past Chase to Rhys. “The same, thank you.” Rhys’s deep, rumbling voice sent a jolt through his system, as always.
Desires Entwined Book 2.5
A Companion to Desires' Guardian
**Get it FREE!!**
Temptations of Desire
Desires Entwined Book 3
Alexander James Noble is a gender fluid gay man who gave up on finding Mister Right a long time ago. He’s not asking for much, though. He just wants a guy who loves all of him and appreciates his feminine form too.
At the local LGBTQ center where Alex regularly volunteers, he meets Dal Sayer, an officer of the Milwaukee PD. Because he’s been rejected one too many times, Alex doesn’t trust the huge cop and the interest he shows in him, but once Dal sets his mind on something, he goes all out. Pushing aside his preconceived notions, Alex opens up just a little and soon caves.
From their first date—while dealing with his father’s failing health and his parents’ demands for him to settle down and have children—Dal never takes his eyes off his goal of making Alex his. But proving to Alex he isn’t like all the men who couldn’t see him for who he truly was and only wanted to hide him away is harder than he thought.
“DAMMIT, DAL, what’s up with you today?” Rhys snapped at him. “You’ve lost count. Again.” They were at the gym, and he knew he was supposed to be counting his reps while his big brother spotted him, but the most beautiful amber—flecked with small chips of gold and green—eyes he’d ever seen kept floating in front of him. Dal had always liked guys that were shorter, though he didn’t usually go for the more waif-like twinks like his brother. But then, he liked the delicate curves of a woman too—something his brother had never been interested in. Still, he needed to concentrate! “Sorry. Maybe we should move on. I’m just not feeling it today.” Rhys stared at him for a long moment. Dal knew he was being examined, but there was no way, he hoped, Rhys could know who had his mind and libido so distracted. “How ’bout we call it a day and go grab a couple a beers?” “Sure.” He flashed a grin as he sat up, grabbed his towel, and began wiping down the bench before standing and heading to clean up and change. “Then you can tell me who’s got you all in a twist,” Rhys added once they were in the shower area, smirking as he dodged the towel Dal snapped at him. “You know, you’re worse than mom with the gossip and busybody routine.” Dal grabbed his shower kit and walked off before Rhys could retaliate, as he was apt to do. Once both men were clean and dressed, they headed to where their bikes were parked. Rhys’s black and chrome Harley Softail and his red Ducati Diavel stood out in a sea of generic cars and trucks in the parking lot. “Meet me at Flanagan’s?” Dal knew this was going to be unpleasant, but nodded and dutifully straddled his bike before heading out to their favorite pub on this side of town—probably in the entire metro area if he were honest. By the time he arrived and got up the courage to go inside, Rhys had already grabbed two mugs of beer—Guinness for himself and a Murphy’s Stout for Dal—and snagged a corner booth. The grin he flashed told Dal just how serious his brother was about him spilling what was on his mind. He rolled his eyes, making sure Rhys saw him, and huffed as he flopped down on the other side of the booth. “So dignified, Dal,” Rhys grumbled but smiled. “Now, take a couple a good pulls on your beer and tell me what’s got you so out of sorts. I haven’t seen you like this since….” Rhys bit the cuticle of his right thumb, seemingly lost in thought. Taking a hearty gulp of his stout, Dal tried to think of a way to distract Rhys. “Ha, you just want to play yenta since your love life is so wonky right now. How is Chase, anyhow?” Rhys’s green slit-eyed stare landed on him with a near-physical push. “I have no idea how Chase is. He works for me. Period.” Flexing his left hand repeatedly, Rhys stared down at his drink with what Dal knew was confusion and hurt. He shouldn’t have asked that. He knew better. “Sorry, Rhys. That was low, even for me.” Rhys looked up. His eyes seemed to clear as a small smile tugged at his lips. “It’s okay. But seriously. What’s really going on with you? Who is she? Or is it a he?” The last question came out so softly Dal barely heard it over the noise of the other patrons. Dal looked his brother over a moment but decided that fighting with him over it wasn’t worth the headache, and well, he could use some advice. Maybe. Dal lowered his gaze to the tabletop and breathed a deep sigh before he met Rhys’s eyes again. “His name is Alex. We’ve had roughly five minutes worth of conversation, most of which was about the upcoming dance you and I offered to bounce for. He’s, well, I don’t know what he is to the center. He was cooking when I was there, so I guess a cook or chef of some kind.” “And by the soft tone of your voice and the glassy eyes, I’d say you’re smitten with him.” Rhys waited until Dal gave one tight nod to continue. “So, do you know anything about him? What’s he like? Do you want me to check him out?” Dal’s head snapped up, glowering, or he hoped it was a death glare anyway. “You have enough man trouble, don’t you dare go hitting on Alex.” Dal could hear the growl in his voice but couldn’t care less. “He’s sweet and shy and has the most captivating amber eyes I’ve ever seen. His skin is so smooth it begs to be touched and is the most beautiful creamy cappuccino-like color.” One side of Rhys’s lips turned up into a smirk. “So, he’s a pretty boy?” “Yes. No. Ugh! Yes, he’s pretty, almost feminine in a way, yet all man at the same time. He’s the kind of person who would be beautiful and sexy either way, but he’s not like the kind of guys you usually go for and, just, you leave him alone.” At that, Rhys let out a belly laugh the likes of which Dal hadn’t heard from his brother in a while. Not in a year or more, probably. “Don’t worry, I would never try to poach. You know better than that, little brother. But, what are you going to do about this Alex of yours?” Dal couldn’t tell whether Rhys’s tone or the Cheshire cat grin plastered across his face annoyed him more, but he had no freakin’ clue what to do, so he settled for scowling at his brother. Not that it seemed to have any effect. Criminals, troubled teens, guys sitting in interrogation…. Sure, his “look” worked fine on them, but his brother? Nope! Besides, he hated the self-righteous look he was getting right then. Finally, Rhys stopped grinning at him. “Fine, Dal, but I haven’t seen you interested in much of anyone in a long time. Not girl or guy, so yeah, if this guy is able to bring out your protective side like this after only five minutes, I’m going to say ‘hell yeah,’ go for it!” “Rhys, I know nothing about him. I don’t think he likes cops much, considering he was initially hostile. I think that was more fear than anything, though, really, but no—” he grabbed Rhys’s free hand “—I do notwant you to investigate him. Promise me, Rhys.” Rhys waited a moment before grumbling but nodded his agreement.
Truth in Lace
Desires Entwined Book 3.5
A spin-off of Temptations of Desire
Desires Entwined: Book 3.5
**Get it FREE!!**
Signs of Desire
Desires Entwined Book 4
Simon Tyler knows his job as a gay romance author makes his lack of faith in love more than a little ironic, but he’s tired of being used for his wallet. When a night out turns into a matchmaking scheme orchestrated by his best friends, Simon’s not thrilled, but since he’s not the target and he’s sworn off happily-ever-after anyway, he goes along with it… until he meets Adrian, the object of their efforts, and finds perhaps he hasn’t given up on love after all.
Professor Adrian Keys has tried to date Hearing men before, but being Deaf himself, he’s never had any success at making a connection. After his friends con him into going out and Adrian realizes it’s all an elaborate plan to set him up, he braces for yet another failure, only to discover there is a spark—except it’s not with the man his friends had in mind, but with Simon Tyler instead.
Not all their friends have found a way past their romantic failures, but Simon and Adrian might be on the path to happily-ever-after.
Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what they couldn’t—defy the hate and come out. He has been their hero ever since.
Tempe is a hopeless romantic who loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. Though new to writing M/M, they has done many things in their life, yet writing has always drawn them back—no matter what else life has thrown their way. They counts her friends, family, and Muse as their greatest blessings in life. They live in Wisconsin with their children, reading, writing, and enjoying life.
Tempe is also a proud PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, WisRWA, and Rainbow Romance Writers. Tempe’s preferred pronouns are they/them/their/theirs/themselves. To learn more about Tempeste and their writing, visit http://tempesteoriley.com.
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