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Designs of Desire
Series: Desires Entwined, Book #1
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel / 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Published: July 29th 2013
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,” Seth said, placing his other hand on James’s lower back. Exerting gentle pressure, he steered James away from the front doors, toward the office. He was desperate to leave, but couldn’t bring himself to pull away from the warmth and strength of Seth’s hands.
“Take a deep breath.” Seth’s soft command offered shelter. He found himself doing just that as Seth guided him into a chair. Seth took his crutches from him and leaned them against the desk.
James struggled to calm down and not do anything else to embarrass himself. His gaze flicked repeatedly to the door, as he was afraid Victor might follow like Seth had. In his mind he knew he was safe, but he’d be damned if the rest of him wanted to listen.
Seth placed a cold bottle of water in James’s hand, giving him something to clutch other than his own fingers. “Drink, slowly,” he instructed.
Without thinking, he followed Seth’s directions, grateful for the sanctuary and care. He wasn’t sure why, but Seth’s take-control way of handling him soothed his frayed psyche in a way he hadn’t expected—and wasn’t sure he wanted to like.
Seth didn’t say anything for a long time. He just continued to keep physical contact with James, his hand on his shoulder. He didn’t exert pressure or move in any way but left it there for comfort and support.
“Feel better?” Seth asked once James’s breathing had returned to almost normal.
With a nod, James replied, “Yes. Sorry about that. Um, is he—why is he here?” James knew it was probably a stupid question, but he didn’t care. Moving away from that warm, strong hand would hurt too, though.
“Vic? I don’t know what your problem is with each other, but he’s the assistant foreman for the construction crew working here. He’s an ass, but I’ve never seen him look like that, nor have I seen anyone react to him as you did.” He waited but didn’t ask why James had panicked, although James was sure he was dying to.
“I need to get my things and leave, Mr. Burns. If this is his workplace then it’s me that needs to go. I will be happy to meet you at your office or mine, if you’d rather. I apologize for my behavior and hope you won’t hold it against me or Skye Designs,” James said. He sat up straight and tried to regain at least a little of his lost dignity.
“I will agree, for now, with moving this to my office. Are you up for an afternoon meeting and presentation?” Seth inquired.
“Yes, sir,” James said, sounding a bit more calm and like his usual self.
“I expect to see you at three o’clock sharp.” They spoke for a few more minutes, until he was able to convince Seth it was safe to allow him to drive. Seth returned his crutches and walked him to his car, then insisted he would have one of his people transfer the presentation materials to his office for their meeting. Seth only stepped away from James as James settled into his car.
After a quick call to Chase to let him know he’d be out of the office the rest of the day, James went home, lay down on the couch, curled his knees up to his chest, and tried to get through the rest of his panic and pain. He hadn’t seen Victor since the cops removed him from James’s old apartment, two years ago, having gone so far as to change many of the places he frequented in the hopes of never seeing the man again. And now? Now he may have lost the best account he’d ever had because of that damn man.