Page 17 of Make You Mine

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God. He was close.

“I hope this is okay.” Adriano’s voice was a deep rumble, a bit lighter than his videos, and he knew a lot of that was the mics and the affect. But it was so much the same that Noah’s cheeks flamed, and he just barely fought back a moan.

“You…Of course,” he managed to get out. Then he shook his head and lifted his hands. ‘I didn’t know you were serious. It’s, like, a thirty-hour drive from LA!’

Adriano laughed, and Noah’s dick throbbed, ready to spill. ‘I had a bad day. A…very bad day.’ His emphasis on the word bad was enough to at least pull back on Noah’s raging want—the weariness in his eyes, the way his lips turned down at the corners. It must have been damn near torture if Adriano had gotten into his car and driven two thousand miles.

To seehim?

He was too terrified to assume.

‘Where are you staying?’

‘An Airbnb up the street,’ Adriano signed. ‘Nice place. Very cozy.’

Noah’s lip twitched at the corner, and he watched Adriano’s eyes trace the movement. He swallowed thickly. ‘Have you eaten?’

Adriano shook his head, then gestured at the door before turning back. ‘I have my dog outside.’

Noah’s eyes widened. He became aware that for as much as they talked, they didn’t know hardly anything about each other, and yet, there Adriano was. ‘I’m about to close. We can have dinner at my place, and you can bring the dog.’

‘Jude,’ Adriano spelled, and Noah froze, a frown marring his brow. ‘My dog,’ Adriano clarified, then offered him the sign name for the animal.

A slow smile crept across Noah’s face. His erection had calmed enough that it wasn’t visible under his apron, so he walked around the counter and beckoned Adriano to follow. Just outside, he saw the little thing—a small, orange ball of fluff like a round little marshmallow tied to one of the benches just outside the shop.

He heard an involuntary coo rip from his chest as he knelt down, and the small thing trotted over to sniff his fingers. He wasn’t entirely sure he believed this was a dog. It seemed like a science experiment to create a living ball of fur rather than an animal, but a wet tongue laved across his knuckles, and he sighed as he sank fingers into the soft fur.

‘Cute,’ he signed when he turned back to see Adriano watching him with heavy eyes.

Adriano chuckled, then walked over and unlatched the leash, scooping the thing into his arms and giving it a nuzzle. Noah’s heart beat rapidly against his ribs at the sight of a man Adriano’s size holding something so small and so delicate. And Noah knew the power in Adriano’s hands. He had been watching them for years.

‘He’s spoiled,’ Adriano signed with one hand.

Noah laughed as he realized that for as down to earth as Adriano seemed, he was spoiled himself. He had no doubt everything Adriano wore was designer, that his shoes probably cost more than Noah’s monthly loan payment on the shop. And it made him a little bitter, but he also knew Adriano worked hard in an industry that usually didn’t make room for men like him.

‘My door’s around here,’ Noah told him, and they walked around the side of the building to the second entrance he never used. The key stuck in the latch for a second, but it eventually opened, and he propped the door with his foot. ‘It won’t be locked. Help yourself, and I’ll be up after I close the shop.’

Adriano looked a little bit startled at how readily Noah had accepted him into his space, but he didn’t complain. He just signed a quick thanks, then took the steps two at a time with a heavy thud. Noah let the door shut, refusing to watch the flex in his thighs and ass any longer, and he rushed back into the shop and turned the deadbolt.

Before he could reach for the closed sign, someone gave the door a shove, and he looked up to see Will’s other boyfriend, Isaac, staring at him with frantic eyes as he tried to get it open. Noah heaved an annoyed sigh but undid the latch. “Please God, tell me you have those fudgy cupcake things,” Isaac said in a rush.

Noah’s brows lifted. “Uh. I might? Not a full batch.”

“That’s fine. I’ll pay you double. Triple,” Isaac said in a halting staccato.

Noah beckoned him over with a shake of his head. “Calm down. What happened?”

“Well…I’m the worst boyfriend in the world. I’m just stressed, you know? Because of this damn cat café, and Liam is struggling to keep up, and I know I’m not the easiest person to get along with, and…”

Noah held up his hand to calm Isaac’s ranting. “You upset Liam?” He knew a little about their dynamic—how Isaac was fussy and spoiled, and Liam was quick to temper. Will was an easy sort of guy, but fighting and drama usually sent him into hiding, usually at Noah’s shop. It was a strange dynamic, and Noah didn’t quite understand it, but he was also a forty-year-old virgin, so he was in no position to judge.

Still, he liked that it worked for them, and he felt for the way Isaac looked genuinely afraid. “Go lock the door. I have company for dinner, so I can’t take any more customers, but I have cupcakes for you.”

Isaac groaned. “Oh my God, I am so sorry. I’msucha dick.”

“You are no such thing.” In truth, Noah thought he was sweet, and it was no trouble to pull out the remaining cupcakes from the fridge and box them up. Adam had made them anyway—an experiment before he added them to the truck. They were never really a cupcake shop, but the demand for sweets like that from tourists was beyond his rugelach and hamantaschen and babka, and it was a perfect avenue for his brother. For him, however, he knew the place was closing and there just wasn’t any point anymore.

He put a little tape on the box, and when Isaac tried to hand over his card, Noah shook his head. “Let me pay,” Isaac demanded.