Brilliant graphic designer Ravi Tandel is ahead of the game—he’s just been asked to present a top secret project at a huge conference in Seattle. All systems are go…until he learns his buttoned-up office nemesis is coming along for the ride.
Tristan Jones isn’t really the gamer type, but he knows the back end of the video game business inside out. Together, he and Ravi will give an awesome presentation. If they survive the cross-country trip first.
Tossed together in close quarters, Ravi’s shocked to see Tristan’s sexy, softer side emerge from such a conservative shell. He’s less shocked to learn his handsome colleague’s prominent family would never support an out-and-proud son. But Ravi didn’t struggle through his own coming out to hide who he is now. To be together, Tristan will have to push past his fear and ultimately decide: Does he want a future with Ravi? Or is it game over before they’ve even begun?
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A sexy first kiss excerpt from Beta Test by Annabeth Albert
Knock. Knock. A knock came from the connecting door, startling Ravi into hopping off the bed.
“Tristan?” he called before unlocking the door.
“Yeah,” came the muffled reply.
“What’s up?” As he opened the door, he realized that he didn’t even have a shirt on. After his shower, he’d pulled on a pair of Star Wars lounge pants that Avani had given him on his last birthday. He wasn’t a modest guy, but this was a bit…exposed for a late-night encounter.
“Um. Not much.” Tristan stood there in ridiculous blue plaid pajamas and bare feet, hair still damp and sticking up at weird angles. The overall effect should have been one of Tristan escaping from whatever retirement compound Elmer called home, but instead Ravi found it endearing.
You’re so screwed, man.
“Not much?” Ravi raised an eyebrow. “But you knocked?”
“Um. Yeah.” Tristan scratched his neck and shuffled one foot. “My room stinks.”
“Your room stinks?” Ravi had to stop himself from laughing. As far as pretexts went, that was pretty darn lame, high-school-campout-worthy stuff.
“It really does.” Tristan gestured, and Ravi followed him in and took a deep sniff. Yeah, the room did smell pretty funky.
“O-kay.” Ravi drew the word out. “Why don’t you call the front desk? This is a pretty big place, and it’s the middle of the week. I’m sure they can find you a different room.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you.” Tristan did the shuffle thing with his foot again. “Never mind.”
“Tris.” Ravi grabbed Tristan’s shoulders when he tried to turn away, forced him to look at him. “What’s really up?”
“Nothing. I was thinking we could watch a movie in your room, but you’re right, I should call for a new room.”
“That’s what you want? To hang out with me?” Ravi took a step forward, not dropping his hands from Tristan’s shoulders. He could feel his warmth even through the soft blue cotton. Their bodies were mere inches apart now. Tristan’s gaze went straight to Ravi’s mouth before he licked his own lips.
Oh fuck. Killing me, Tris, you really are.
“I’ve got a movie on,” Ravi said softly, making no move toward his room or to step away from Tristan. There were a thousand reasons why he needed to step away, get Tristan to call for a new room, and stop the energy arcing between them, yet he couldn’t seem to find the one that would get his feet to move.
“Yeah.” Tristan’s exhale ghosted across Ravi’s face. His eyes continued to look as though they had a tractor beam on Ravi’s mouth. “That’s good.”
“I’ve got no clue what the movie is.” Ravi laughed shakily.
“That’s okay.” Tristan moved, subtly leaning forward before retreating a millimeter, like he wasn’t quite sure how to close the gap between them.
Ravi knew, but there were a whole host of reasons why he should retreat and lock the door behind him, put a hotel’s worth of distance between himself and temptation. But he didn’t move back, instead doing what Tristan was shuffling toward and closed the distance between them, claiming Tristan’s mouth like he’d been obsessing about for two days now.
Okay, okay, perhaps a bit longer than that, if he were honest with himself. Tristan was fussy and prissy and so not Ravi’s type, except he was cute and endearing and eager to please and…
Oh fuck it. They were so doing this thing.
Ravi’s lips slid softly over Tristan’s, hands coming up to cup Tristan’s face. His skin was smooth and slightly slippery, as if he’d shaved earlier. Tristan gave a little sigh as their lips collided, a happy noise that went straight to Ravi’s dick. Tristan tasted like a minty memory from Ravi’s teen years, a simple, classic taste that totally fit with the rest of Tristan’s persona.
And the way they fit together felt like a different kind of memory—like they’d done this before and yet never before in the same instant. Brand-new and achingly familiar. And far, far too sweet for Ravi’s blood.
Man I loved these characters right from the start…both geeks but Ravi is an outgoing, flamboyant, hip geek where Tristan is a reserved, nerdy, shy geek. Together they just work and balance each other nicely. Their family issues are real and challenging and bonding over those issues is a great way for these unlikely enemies to become friends.
Ravi is frustrated by Tristan’s perfection. He thinks he’s uptight and just needs to lighten up. As he spends time with Tristan he realizes that all Tristan’s quirks are actually adorable and endearing and the only thing Tristan really has control over in his life. As Tristan uncovers the real Ravi, he discovers that Ravi hides his insecurities and frustrations with his family behind his flamboyance and arrogance.
I loved the slow build of their relationship. There was nothing new here but it was still really good. The supporting cast was great. We got to see Noah and Adrian quite a bit which was nice. I’m betting book 3 is about Josiah…but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
Overall this is a great read with little angst and lots of sweetness!
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.