Avery Hextall, a junior architect at a prestigious firm, is thrilled when his design is chosen for a new performing-arts center—even if it means working closely with his insufferably uptight project manager, Malin Lacroix. When a chance encounter in the boss’s office proves that Lacroix is anything but cold, Avery is determined to learn more about the real man beneath the aloof veneer.
Despite their growing attraction and their increasingly kinky encounters, the enigmatic Malin remains as emotionally distant as ever. Worse, Avery’s friends are convinced Malin thinks of Avery as a dirty secret and nothing more—a secret that might destroy both of their careers.
But the real secret is a single moment in time that haunts Malin and keeps him from committing to the life he wants with Avery. In order to move on, Avery must help Malin come to terms with the tragedy in his past before they can work on building a future together.
THE PROBLEM with barging into Lacroix’s office, Avery quickly discovers, is the reality is far more anticlimactic than he imagined. It starts out promisingly enough. He storms in without knocking, and that’s pretty great. Then he yells for five minutes and even pounds his fist on Lacroix’s desk for added dramatic effect.
Lacroix just looks at him. “Is there a problem, Mr. Hextall?”
Avery gives his desk a cursory glance, looking for the red pen. Fuck that red pen, man. And fuck Lacroix. Fuck him and his classy suits, his icy eyes, his hands that look more like a violinist’s than a project manager’s. They’re nice hands, actually… and wait, what is he doing? He’s here to yell at Lacroix, not think about his hands.
“Yeah, there’s a problem,” Avery huffs, ready to shout so loud that the glass panes in the window behind Lacroix will shatter into pieces. Maybe the son of a bitch will get sucked outside—à la every action movie Avery’s ever seen. “The problem is you’re a prick with no soul.”
“Please have a seat.” Lacroix waves at the chair in front of his desk, the chair Avery is holding on to with both hands. He’s thinking about swinging it at Lacroix’s head.
Avery yanks the chair out and sits down, realizes he’s just obeyed Lacroix, and then stands up again. “No.”
Lacroix shrugs, in that effortless, annoying way of his that’s number sixty-five on Avery’s “Reasons I Irrationally Hate Malin Lacroix” list. He has another list of rational reasons. Avery is a believer in the power of lists.
(Release date: September 25th)
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and when she’s not writing you can find her at the salon, making her clients look and feel fabulous. She never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.