Title: Designs of Desire
Author: Tempeste O’Riley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Series: Desires Entwined, #1
Release Date: July 29th 2013
Genre: M/M Erotic Contemporary Romance
Length: 200 pgs
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Artist James Bryant has forearm crutches in every color from rainbow for fun to sleek black for business. He even has a pair with more paint splatters than metal. After his family’s rejection and abuse from a man he thought loved him, James only just gets through the day by painting. He lives in constant fear that he’s not worthy of anything, let alone love.
As CEO of his company, Carrington Enterprises, Seth Burns is a take-charge kind of guy, and he is instantly smitten by the artist helping with his newest project. When he witnesses James suffer a panic attack, a protective instinct he never knew he had kicks in. He truly believes nothing is unobtainable—including James—if he’s willing to put in the time and effort.
James is shy and confused by Seth’s interest in him as a person. With Seth’s support, can he work through his fears to finally find the true love he deserves, or will someone finally land the crushing blow he won’t survive?
James allowed his gaze to wander around the entryway, taking in the welcoming setting. Noticing a worker passing through, he asked, “Excuse me. Do you know where I can find Mr. Burns?”
“Yeah, he’s in the manager’s office over there.” The man was covered in dust. He gestured toward a closed door near a large desk, then continued on his way. James couldn’t help looking around once more to admire the rich wood tones, marble tiled floors, and beautiful crown molding, before he headed off in the right direction.
Before he could knock, the door swung open and a harried looking woman stormed out, slamming it so hard it popped back open. Maybe now isn’t the best time, he thought and started to turn away when Mr. Burns appeared in the doorway.
“James,” he said. “Thank God you’re here. Please tell me you brought some ideas, before Stacey drives me to drink. She wants to start painting but can’t until we have everything settled with the designs.”
The way Seth’s eyes pierced him made James feel both nervous and ten feet tall at the same time. “If you have some place I can set up, sure. I have a few designs for you to look over.” He kept wondering why they had waited so long to employ Skye Designs. Normally you do all the branding much earlier in the project.
Motioning down the hallway, Seth led him into a large room—probably meant to be a conference or reception room, considering the carpet and acoustic tiles in the ceiling. “Come in. What can I do to help?” he asked, watching James settle into a comfortable chair before unloading his pack.
James was nervous. He’d never had such a significant or large account before, but he was excited as well. “We normally have the designs approved before getting to this point, but I’ll do my best to catch up. Give me just a minute to set up, then you can see what I have.”
“We’ll get to that in a few. I want you to finish setting up then come with me.”
James stopped midmotion and looked up, confused. “I thought—” He shook his head. “Never mind. Okay.”
Seth led James out of the room, into a wide hallway with large windows spilling filtered sunlight onto the veined marble floor, and began showing him around. Seth stayed close, so close James occasionally caught a whiff of his intoxicating scent, something bright yet deep—cardamom and cedar with a light musk. He wasn’t sure, but he was beginning to think just being near Seth could become a delicious addiction.
As they exited the elevator on the second floor, James stopped dead in his tracks. His heart beat so fast and loud he felt certain Seth would hear it slamming into his ribs. He stared ahead and prayed he was having a terrible nightmare. Those he could wake up from. Please!
Standing there, looking him up and down, was a phantom from his past. Victor d’Leone was even more powerfully built than the last time he had seen him. He stood in the hall, his arms crossed over his barrel chest, scowling. The sea-foam green eyes James once thought so beautiful and loving now bored holes through him. The ghosts of the last time Vic had been near him shot pain-filled shards of memory through him. Away. Yes, he had to get away.
“I… I… I…,” James stammered. He scrambled back into the elevator and almost fell when his left crutch slipped on the metal edging. He punched the close door button repeatedly while fighting the panic attack threatening to destroy his job and sanity. “No, no, no. Not happening,” he mumbled.
He hadn’t waited for Seth to react, nor had he explained anything; he’d just bolted. James headed toward the exit as soon as the elevator doors opened—forget the damn presentation. He scrambled for the steps, desperate to reach the car before he completely lost it.
Life was never that easy.
Seth appeared out of nowhere, sprinting after him in his expensive Armani suit and custom leather shoes. “James! Stop!” he commanded.
Fighting the panic, James tried to get a hold of himself. Stop? Is he nuts? “I can’t be here. I—I’ll come back later.” With protection!
A powerful hand grasped his right arm. Startled, he stopped. Staring at the hand that bound him to his worst nightmare, he begged, “Please, let me go.”
Try as he might, he couldn’t stop the panic and fear as it suffocated him.
Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud omnisexual / bi-woman whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what she couldn’t–defy the hate and come out. He has been her hero ever since.
Tempe is a hopeless romantic that loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. Though new to writing M/M, she has done many things in her life, though writing has always drawn her back–no matter what else life has thrown her way. She counts her friends, family, and Muse as her greatest blessings in life. She lives in Wisconsin with her children, reading, writing, and enjoying life.