by Ann Marie James
Series: Everyone’s Mechanic
What happens when a man who is always alone meets a man who never is?
Sergei is the leader within the Russian immigrant community in Raleigh and the head of his family. He is a successful businessman who has carefully cultivated his intimidating persona, not correcting people when they believe him to be the head of the area’s Russian mob. Everyone comes to him if they have a problem. His problem is that he doesn’t know how to tell them no, especially his sister.
Stuart spends a lot of time alone, working from home as a graphic and website designer. He doesn’t want to be alone, but it’s simply how things have worked out. Stuart was devastated when his mother let his stepfather kick him out of the house as soon as he graduated high school. Working two—and sometimes three—jobs to put himself through college didn’t leave him a lot of time to socialize. He has had to look out for himself for a long time now and finds it hard to let anyone in. Becoming friends with Lee Clark at Everyone’s Mechanic is one of the best things that has ever happened to him and it leads to him meeting Sergei.
Sergei has to break through Stuart’s protective shell and give him a home and family. Stuart needs to teach Sergei that it’s okay to have boundaries, even with loved ones.
Stuart turned toward him, and Sergei found himself staring into his deep chocolate brown eyes for a moment before Stuart turned his back and got busy cleaning up the cake mess.
“You don’t have to stay. There’s not much left to do. I’m sure you’re very busy.”
Sergei came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Stuart. “I am not too busy for you. In case I did not make my intentions clear, I am very interested in you. I deeply regret that I failed to get your number before I left the wedding those weeks ago. I also deeply regret that I did not search you out sooner, since now you doubt our connection.”
Sergei felt a shudder go through Stuart then had to strain to hear the whispered, “Why?”
“Why would you be interested in me? I am so not in your league.”
“Do you not feel our connection too?”
Sergei tightened his arms around Stuart. “The connection is what is important. The people involved are who are important. I don’t even know this ‘league’ you speak about.”
Stuart turned his head to look at Sergei, staring into his eyes and obviously trying to decide how sincere he was. “That’s easy for you to say. You’re the star player in the league. I’m the kid nobody picks who is sitting on the sideline.”
Sergei grabbed Stuart’s shoulder and turned him around so they were face to face. Leaning in, he pressed some of his weight into Stuart, holding him against the counter. “And yet I see you, and I am picking you.” Sergei watched Stuart furrow his eyebrows and bite his lip. “Say what it is you want to say.”
“How long what?”
“How long will you pick me? One night? Is that what you’re looking for?”
“No. I’m not looking for just one night. As I said, we have a connection. I would really like to see where this connection takes us.”
“Why? Are you dating others?” Sergei growled the question, not liking the idea of anyone else dating Stuart at all.
Stuart barked out a laugh. “Hardly. You’re the one photographed with a different person on your arm every week.”
“I am told you didn’t know who I was at the wedding. Did you google me?” Sergei was charmed by the blush rising up Stuart’s face. “Ah-h.” Sergei relaxed, putting more of his weight against Stuart. “To answer your question, I will only date you and you will only date me, until such time as we decide differently together.” Sergei held up his hand to stop Stuart from speaking. “So that you are aware, I don’t plan on that being any time soon, if ever. I am a man who knows what I want when I see it, and I am rarely wrong in my instincts.
Ann Marie James is fluent in two languages, English and sarcasm. She believes that you will never learn anything new if you don’t read as much as you can, and/or talk to every stranger you meet. She always looks for the best in people and to treat people the way she wants to be treated. Above all Ann Marie believes in love, whatever form it takes. Relationships are hard, love is the glue that keeps it together.
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Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/annmariejames