A Tea or Consequences Birthday
Riley flipped to yet another television station and sighed. Thirty-one hadn’t been as bad as he’d expected. After all, he’d solved a murder and gotten a boyfriend, the delicious Tadeo Martin, homicide detective. Tad had been his high school crush, despite having been a bit of a jackass, but he’d turned into a sexy, soft-hearted man who had an awe-inspiring job.
Riley, on the other hand, was an executive assistant temp. As proud as he was about doing his job well, it didn’t exactly stack up to homicide detective. This particular job placement was boring as hell, and he’d been restless almost from day one. A far cry from his last job, where he’d first been considered a potential suspect before tangling with the real killer and finding evidence the police needed to convict. Almost getting murdered himself was excitement he could do without, but there was no denying a regular job assisting yet another executive was just a trifle… dull.
Then again, maybe it was his relationship that had been chafing. He and Tad had been having a great time falling in love and enjoying themselves. Tad got along well with Riley’s friends, and Riley had met and been welcomed by Tad’s large family. Today, Riley turned thirty-two, and Tad hadn’t said a word about it. Riley had dropped a couple of subtle hints, but for a detective, Tad had been incredibly oblivious.
As of now, he had no plans, hoping to celebrate with Tad, but perhaps he’d be celebrating all by himself.
A key turned in the lock, startling Riley, even though it really shouldn’t. Tad had a key to his place so they could more easily spend time together with his odd hours, and were practically living together, but he’d expected Tad home last night, and it was almost noon. Aside from his birthday woes, he’d also been worried but it wasn’t the first time Tad hadn’t managed to make it home when he’d expected.
Tad burst into the apartment, looking disheveled and worn out. “I’m sorry I’m late. But we were able to wrap this case up, finally.”
“Good. I, uh, you probably want a nap, eh?” Not the most exciting birthday celebration, but at least Tad was safe, they’d be together, and there’d be plenty of time for Tad to nail him through the mattress later on. Riley had no complaints about sexy times with Tad, that was for sure. Riley got off the couch to give his boyfriend a welcome home kiss.
“Nap? Nope. No time, birthday boy.”
Riley rocked to a stop. “Birthday boy?”
Tad smiled at him and closed the distance between them, curling an arm around his waist. “Happy birthday.” The kiss was simultaneously carnal and sweet, and over far too soon. “You thought I forgot, didn’t you?”
“Nope. I didn’t want to get your hopes up, though. You know I can’t always predict my work schedule. Just let me take a quick shower.”
“Do you want some company?” Riley wiggled against his boyfriend.
“Always, but we don’t have time for that today.” Tad kissed him on the nose.
“We don’t? Where are we going? Should I change?” He was wearing worn, faded jeans and a T-shirt.
“Nope. We’re doing an escape room with your friends.” Tad pulled a promotional postcard out of his pocket and handed it over.
Can you escape the House on the Hill? The question was posed in lurid red serial-killer font.
“What is this?”
“You, me, and your friends are gonna get locked in a room for an hour. We have to solve puzzles to figure out how to escape, and I thought you might like the haunted house theme. It’s supposed to be a bit spooky.”
Riley blinked at his boyfriend. Wrapping his mind around Tad planning a birthday event with his friends was a far cry from the complete nothing he’d been trying to make peace with.
Tad gave him a little smile. “I know you’ve been a bit restless, and it’s maybe not as thrilling as participating on a homicide case, but I thought it would be right up your alley. I’m going to be relying on you to get us out of that room.”
“You’re the best.”
Tad winked. “That’s what all the boys tell me.”
Riley rolled his eyes. “Okay, okay. When do we have to be there?”
“An hour? Go shower! I don’t want to be late!”
“I’m going, I’m going.” Tad laughed. “We’ll have an early dinner after with the group, then head back here. I want to make sure to get you naked and satisfied before I crash.”
“Mmm. Romantic.” Riley kissed Tad’s throat. “But I love it.”
“I love you.” Tad squeezed him tight.
“Me too.” Riley stared into the warm brown eyes of the love of his life. “But hurry up, or we’re going to be late.” No way was he missing out on the birthday Tad had planned.
Tad laughed. “You got it, boss.” He dashed down the hall toward the shower.
Riley stood there and admired Tad’s perfect butt before sighing and dropping back down on the couch to pull out his phone. He wanted to be prepared for this escape room. With his love of games and mysteries, and his intense dislike of almost getting murdered for real, this might become a brand-new hobby. Thirty-two was definitely looking up.
Riley Parker: temp, twink, geek… sleuth?
Maybe Riley isn’t living up to his full potential, but being a temp executive assistant suits him. He’s never bored at work, he’s got friends who let him geek out, and he’s got a carefully crafted twink exterior… which might be getting constrictive now that he’s on the other side of thirty. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s comfortable.
It all unravels when he takes a job working for a tea-obsessed cosmetics queen, the owner of Gautier Cosmetics. During the launch party for a new product, Riley finds his boss dead under suspicious circumstances, and the homicide detective is none other than Tadeo Martin, Riley’s high school obsession who never knew he was alive.
Tad drafts Riley to get the scoop on the inner workings of Gautier, and for Riley, it’s like a drug. His natural inquisitiveness is rewarded with more and more Tad. Unfortunately, his snooping puts him in the running for two other roles: suspect and victim. The killer doesn’t care which.
KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds). After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own — getting published. After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she’s had in a long time, and she hopes you’ll enjoy them as much as she does.
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