After five years with his live-in boyfriend, Lucas, he still hasn’t said it.
When Lucas calls it quits, it’s not a surprise, but it couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time —
Nikola was still standing at the table, finishing his coffee, when his eyes met a pair of intense green ones. The man they belonged to was a giant with sandy-blond hair and a ruggedly handsome face. When the man realized he’d been looking into Nikola’s eyes a bit too long, he dropped his gaze. Nikola could feel those eyes traveling over his body from his feet up and found it interesting that the look on the other man’s face seemed to be one of admiration—the way a guy looks at a steak after he’s fasted for a week.
Nikola couldn’t help but smile a bit at the guy, but when his eyes found Nikola’s face again, the man turned quickly away in search of something. That something turned out to be Amel, holding the sign that said Mr. Gage Hoffman. Oh, holy hell, he’s my charge for the next month.
Nikola waited until the man walked up to Amel, shook his hand, and exchanged greetings. After swallowing the last dregs of his coffee, he sauntered over to them. When the blond man turned to look at who had come up behind him, his face flushed, and wasn’t that just about the hottest thing Nikola had ever seen?
Nikola stuck out his hand to his new charge. “Hi there, I’m Nikola. You must be Mr. Hoffman. Welcome to Sarajevo.”
Mr. Hoffman’s flush deepened as he shook Nikola’s hand. “You can call me Gage. It’s nice to meet you, Nikola.”
Gage’s handshake was firm but not too hard. Nikola was already sizing Gage up for his uncle, and his first opinion was a good one. He realized—just from the man’s handshake—Gage was a man who knew his strength and held it back instead of showing it off. Nikola liked him immediately.
Nikola’s hand brushed Gage’s as he took the strap of his carry-on from him, sending a strange, almost electric, sensation through Nikola’s arm. Nikola watched the other man’s face, but it didn’t seem as though he had the same reaction to Nikola’s touch, so he chalked it up to the dry air and static electricity even though he knew it wasn’t the same thing. Amel took his suitcases, leaving him to carry only his laptop messenger bag, and Gage didn’t put up any resistance to the assistance. Nikola knew Gage had set up branches for his company in Serbia, Croatia, and Hungary, so he was probably already used to the culture and had given up trying to refuse the offered help.
“You go get the car and pull it up front. We’ll wait here inside, out of the cold,” Nikola instructed Amel, who started out the door, and Gage followed. “We can wait in here where it’s warm. He’ll bring the car.” Without thinking, Nikola reached out and grabbed Gage’s arm to stop him, once again getting that unexplained tickle running up his arm.
Gage looked down at the point of contact, and Nikola released his grip when Gage’s eyes flicked back up to his face. “We can just go to the car. I’m no stranger to the cold,”
Gage said with a reassuring smile.
Nikola looked him over, noticing that he was in just a suit coat with his winter jacket tucked under his arm. “Maybe you should put your coat on. It’s below freezing out there.”
This got a chuckle from Gage, and he seemed to relax, the strain of embarrassment from his earlier perusal of Nikola’s body seemingly forgotten. “Where I come from, this is shirtsleeve weather. I’ll be fine. Let’s go.”
Shrugging, Nikola led him out to the black BMW SUV Nedim provided him during jobs. Nikola popped the back open to stow Gage’s bags and motioned for him to sit in the front—he was just too damn big to sit anywhere else—as Amel climbed into the back seat.
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Meet the Author
CL Mustafic is a born and bred American mid-westerner who mysteriously ended up living in one of those countries nobody can ever find on the map of Europe. Left with too much time on her hands—let’s be honest here: it was the lack of television channels in her native language–and too many voices in her head trying to fill the silence, she decided to give her life-long dream of writing a novel a shot. So now, between shuttling kids back and forth from various activities and risking her life on the insanely narrow, busy streets of her new hometown, she loses herself in her own made-up world where love always wins.