Breath catching, Sam could only stare at the beautiful man carefully picking up pieces of a broken plate off the tile floor. His body instantly reacted to the jean-clad long-legged, lean physique and muscular upper body. Dark auburn hair cut in a neat, slicked back style and light blue eyes made his cock sit up and take notice. Down boy, he mentally demanded, trying to force a smile for the stranger.
When he’d finally shaken himself from his stupor, the man’s eyes danced merrily as he dumped the fragments of glass into the nearby trash can, seemingly knowing his impact on Sam. Sam cleared his throat and said, “I’m Sam. Sam Evans. I live next door and heard the glass as I was leaving.”
The man walked towards Sam, his hand held out. “Maxwell Shaw. Max for short.”
Hesitantly, Sam set his hand in Max’s, swallowing hard at the rough palm against his. He quickly pulled his hand back, praying he could keep his erection down long enough to make his escape. Damn, it had been too long. “I didn’t realize anyone had moved in here. It’s been empty for a while now.”
A gorgeous smile broke out across the firm, full lips and Sam shifted uncomfortably. “I just bought the place about two days ago. The movers brought in most of the boxes and furniture.”
“I uh… I was actually on my way out for a run. So I’ll let you get to it. It was nice to meet you.” Sam started to back up, but Max stopped him.
“What do you do for a living, Sam?”
“Freelance graphic design work mostly,” he lied. He wrote under a pen name for a reason. Sam Evans had nothing to connect him to John Hawkes.
Something flashed through Max’s eyes, but it disappeared before Sam could figure out what it meant. “Maybe I could enlist your services for my company then. I have a huge project coming up in the near future and could use a graphic designer. Do you have a portfolio?”
Coldness ran through Sam and his stomach clenched. “I’m afraid that I’m booked until the end of the year. I actually only intended to be gone for a little while. Needed a small break. I should get back to it.”
“If you change your mind, let me know,” Max replied quietly.
Sam spun on his heel and darted down the hallway to his apartment, but changed his mind and headed for the elevator. It dinged open just as he reached it and he sighed gratefully. As the doors slid closed, he caught sight of Max standing in the doorway of the apartment. Fear slivered down his spine and he tried to laugh it off. Something felt off about Max. He worked at convincing himself it was nothing more than his overactive imagination as he hit the sidewalk and started running. His agent’s words the other day rang in his head. “Be careful, Sam. This guy seems pretty persistent.”
It was a well known fact in the literary world that John Hawkes preferred men. The last few months his agent, Harrison Jacobs, had been receiving stalker-type letters addressed to John Hawkes. From the first day of his writing career eight years ago, Sam insisted on anonymity. He refused to do public appearances, interviews, or even have his picture featured on the flaps of his book like most authors. He’d seen one too many lives destroyed by the paparazzi and didn’t want to be subjected to having no privacy. The letters didn’t concern him because he figured no one could ever know he was in fact John Hawkes.
He shivered in the cool night air as he remembered the look in Maxwell Shaw’s eye and the strange intensity he’d given off. He mentally examined every detail about John Hawkes, trying to remember if there were anything at all that could tie them together. A sound behind him caused his steps to falter and he stopped completely, turning around to look for the source of the noise. Car horns blared in the distance and the heavy bass of some car with the music too loud boomed in the night, but he saw nothing there.
Sam laughed at himself under his breath and began running again. His own books were starting to get to him. The latest scene a gory, brutal murder of a gay man picked up at a bar by a serial killer. Although the scene wasn’t going so well. He had exactly five sentences written and nothing worth a damn either.
He turned into the park, making his usual path back to his building. The doorman greeted him as he opened the door for Sam. “Nice night for a run, eh Sam?”
“Definitely, Joe. Needed the break,” he panted, smiling at the man who’d known him for the six years he’d lived in the building. They sometimes sat down for coffee together and talked about a recent football game or Joe’s daughter and her new baby. “How’s Sara?”
“She’s doing good! I have a new picture of the baby!” Joe whipped out his wallet and Sam chuckled, accepting the picture willingly. A beautiful doe-eyed baby girl looked back him.
“She’s getting so big,” Sam commented softly, lightly tracing the baby’s features. He’d thought about having a family more than once. Of course, not the old fashioned way, but he would love to have a baby girl or boy. He handed the picture back to Joe. “She’s gorgeous, Joe. Definitely going to be a looker like her mother.”
Joe gave the usual doting grandfather expression, staring down at the picture lovingly. “She’s just like her mother.”
Sam clapped Joe on the back lightly and nodded. “Good luck with that one, Joe. She’s going to be a handful. Coffee tomorrow?”
“Sure thing, Sam. See you at eight.” Joe never looked away from the photo as Sam walked away.