Blurb: Rhett had a huge crush on Darren McKissick back in elementary school and on Valentine’s Day, he gave him a special valentine. Despite their obvious attraction, Darren rejected it, making everyone in the class laugh at Rhett and cause a rift between the two friends.
Now as adults the two of them have found one another again through an internet dating site. Rhett only wants a one-nighter but Darren is looking for something long lasting.
Will this new meeting mean love for two men who haven’t seen one another in over a decade?
“In your room−” Rhett mouthed the words of his suddenly favorite Depeche Mode tune blasting through his ear buds. Although the volume was at its highest, it didn’t deter him from correcting a couple of glitches in this latest program the company was implementing for its consultants. He was very good at his job and knew he could do it with a hand tied behind his back. And since he made pretty good money at Silverstein, he hadn’t made any plans to change jobs or companies; never in the three years since he’d been working there.
When he walked into the office a little over an hour ago, one of the other technical specialists flashed him a smile but didn’t say a word. Rhett wondered if she might’ve noticed the glow on his face or the smirky grin he wore. He’d never been late by more than ten minutes and that was usually due to the weather. Today, he truly didn’t give a damn about being almost an hour tardy, because he had a better reason than any kind of snow or train delay.
Yeah, Darren McKissick who’d managed to sweep Rhett off his feet just as he’d done back in elementary school. If only Rhett had the same kind of spunk he did back then to tell Darren what he truly wanted. A relationship. “No, no, am I ready for that?” Rhett leaned back in the chair while he hit the save button on his keyboard. “Matt says I am, but is Darren really into me like he says he is?” Rhett couldn’t help but overthink the possibilities. He plucked the buds from his ears and ran his hands through his damp locks he decided not to pull into a ponytail this morning. They were still wet from the shower, or was it from the heat blowing from the vents over his head? He couldn’t tell, knowing how flush he’d been ever since Darren dropped him back at his place late last night. And if he didn’t have projects to do this morning at work, he might’ve called off. Rhett sighed inwardly and glanced at the keyboard on his desk. The words love and Darren jumped out at him; L-O-V-E. “I’m losing my freaking mind. I can’t handle a relationship, can I? I’m acting like a little school girl and besides, he’s got to prove to me that he really is−” Rhett stopped short and turned his head to make sure no one else was looking over their cubicle. If anyone caught him fretting over something, surely they’d ask and because of the mood he was in right now, he might just blabber it all without giving a second thought.
“Rhett?” A mousy female voice sounded from over the noise of people tapping on keyboards, phones ringing, and the heat blowing from the vents up above. “Rhett, I have something for you.”
Rhett cleared his throat and straightened his tie, attempting to not look like he was perspiring or losing his cookies. “Yeah, Delilah, what is it?” Rhett pressed the stop button on his iPod.
“Just a little something someone had delivered for you. Who’s the lucky one?” Delilah, a short, stout, Asian lady with light purple highlights in her bangs came around the corner, flashing a cheeky grin. Dressed in her usual long, dark colored dresses with combat boots donning her feet, she leaned against the cubicle panel. Delilah was his best friend working at the firm and had been ever since they were hired together. “You or…” She placed the red vase full of flowers in front of him.
“Shhh.” Rhett put his fingers to his lips and eyed the bouquet she sat on his desk; red roses, a dozen, with baby’s breath, and a card on the left. They were gorgeous, and he already knew who sent them. They must be a gift to tell him thanks for a great weekend and request to hang out again. Rhett picked the card off and read the short message:
I had a great time this weekend. Let’s get together again really soon and make it a permanent commitment. Hope you’ll say yes.
“Well?” Delilah plopped in the chair in front of Rhett with widened eyes.
Heat rushed to Rhett’s cheeks, and he smiled wryly. “It’s flowers from my friend. You know the one I told you about?”
“Oooh, that friend.” Delilah crossed one leg over the other and brushed her kneecap. “The flowers are really gorgeous. H−the person must mean business, hmm? They really want you to make a decision on a relationship.” She sighed heavily and put her hands together. “That’s so romantic, Rhett. You need to go for it.”
In his heart, Rhett agreed, but his mind told him to wait and ask more questions. After all, this was the same guy who broke his heart back at Rosner Elementary years ago. Yeah, they were kids, but Rhett had put so much into that valentine. His mother even helped him make it.
Remembering the rejection, Rhett twirled his curls between his fingers and continued to stare at the roses. They were rich in color, vibrant, and looked awfully expensive. He’d told Darren he was a big fan of red roses the first night they reunited almost two weeks ago. Darren made good on his promise to send some to him for that wretched occasion known as Valentine’s Day.
“Well, Rhett? What’s your answer? I know you’re not going to say no, not when the two of you met again after all these years. You were destined to be together, Rhett.” Delilah glanced at the flowers then back at him. “I know you’re scared, but−”
“I am; and, you know.” Rhett’s eyes darted from left to right again. “I’m wondering…”
Delilah’s eyebrows fused together. “I know you are, and dangit, I’m really tired of speaking in code. You think anybody gives a rat’s ass about that, man? We’re little peons in this company, Rhett. No one cares about the geeks in IT!”
Rhett cocked an eyebrow. “Well they might if I continue to act like a little school girl and come in late for work.” Rhett clicked his teeth and raked the stray hairs from his face. “I haven’t felt like this in such a long time, Delilah. Not since Rosner.”
“Which means it’s time you jumped at the chance with your one and only true love, Rhett. Obviously he means a lot to you, just as you do to him. Why else do you think you’ve never even tried to go out with anyone else after all these years?”
Delilah had a point, but Rhett also knew there was another reason. Rhett inhaled sharply and blinked back tears. “Because I’ve never been so crushed in my life, Delilah, and when I got my heart handed back to me that first time, I kind of closed it off to anyone else.”