Manhattan Men

Humiliating. That was what it was. To be laughed at by the man of your dreams - especially after presenting him with your proposition. As usual, I should have known better than to have trusted Francis Joseph Ricci with this.

"I just love this! Wait a minute, let me get this right." Casually folding his beefy arms across the expanse of his broad chest, Frank stood still for a moment and flashed a singularly sinister grin at me. As if trying to understand what I had said, he slowly gestured to himself and then to me. "You need me. You, Michael Wu, you need me."

"Shut up!"

So it was one of the most bubbleheaded plans that I had ever come up with. Give me a break. It was not my best plan as yet but it was the best that I could come up within the space of six hours. Which was roughly about the time I had taken yelling, panicking and generally freaking out after I received the fateful message from my parents telling me about their imminent arrival. As usual my spontaneous parents - who had obviously never heard of an invention called a telephone - didn't bother in the least to give me a week's preparation in advance but had sent an sms just before boarding their flight at the airport. Had it ever occurred to them that I could have had other plans?

I doubted it. It certainly never occurred to them that their son, the dutiful Michael Wu, could have any other priorities in life apart from his work. Sure, they knew that their younger son was a scandalous homosexual who practised deviant, unspeakable acts - though I certainly hadn't been doing any of those for an unspecified amount of time - but that certainly didn't mean that I couldn't provide them with a grandson to please the ancestors. For some odd reason, my parents simply couldn't fathom the revolutionary idea that being openly gay and getting married to a woman didn't exactly mesh well. The fact that my elder brother had already done his duty by providing a son - therefore relieving me of that particular role - was also lost to them. Ever since their retirement, it seemed as if the two insane workaholics had pooled their relentless ambition into a single goal - trying to get me settled down - with or without my consent.

Despite my protests and fervent reminders that I was gay, they persisted in inviting this and that lovely girl into my life. Somehow Mrs X's daughter would be travelling by and stopping over in town, desperately in need of some obscure Chinese delicacy that only I could find. Could I possibly...? Before they could wave their list of single available Chinese women in my face again, I blurted out the closest excuse I could find. Asking Frank to be my pretend boyfriend was not my primary intention. The intention was just to get them off my back - and let me get back to my own life. At that moment, it certainly had never occurred to me that my parents would want to come over to inspect their prospective son-in-law.

"Don't make it more than it is." The man hadn't stopped smirking and I glared at him. "It is just for a day. At the most for three days."

"This certainly messes up your plans, doesn't it?" he grinned evilly. "Sweetheart. Baby. Hot stud."

"Fuck you."

"From what I've heard, we've done that before."

God, Frank Ricci as a boyfriend. Not that any red blooded gay male - or het female for that matter- wouldn't have hot fantasies of having Frank Ricci for a partner. A lover. A very hot one-night-stand. A quick, hasty ten-minute fuck in a stalled elevator. One look at the man was evidence that God might possibly lean our deviant way.

How else did a man look so sinfully good? Shoulder-length jet black hair framed a face that would drive a sculptor scrambling for his tools. High cheekbones, thickly lashed eyes the colour of a clear blue sky, a finely carved nose, thick, sensual lips that were now curved in a teasing half-smile as he looked at me. Add that to the incredible hard muscled, zero-fat body that had graced the covers of International Male not too long ago and you had quite a package. Six feet and more of unadulterated testosterone-splashed male. Hard torso. Heaving pecs. Tight abs. Bubble-butt. Big dick. The works. Yeah, the man was a definite winner in the gene pool stakes.

Even right now with that smug smile on his face - that I was frankly more than tempted to plant my fist in, I still felt the irresistible urge to throw him down on the nearest flat surface and have my way with that hard, tight body. Life certainly was unfair at times. Why did he have to be that beautiful? Though beautiful wasn't the word for him. It smacked of feminity and that was one thing Frank wasn't. He was all Man with a capital M. Ever since the first time we met, I'd been battling the insane need to drag him into a dark corner and find out if the rumours about his... burgeoning assets were true.

After all, what did I possibly have in common with the reputed richest, most sought-after gay bachelor in New York? He certainly wouldn't have had anything to do with a struggling lawyer just starting out his own two-bit firm - like me. My whole life was carefully, meticulously planned - with the firm ruthlessness of a lil general, my friend Amy once said - and I liked it that way. For me, planning was key and I hated surprises.

But nothing could have prepared me for the man that fate dropped in my lap. Our paths wouldn't even have crossed if it hadn't been for that faulty elevator in my office building that fateful evening almost six months ago. From the moment he first offered me a lewd proposition in that elevator, we had clicked. Funny how that happens, the moment when you knew that someone was a kindred spirit. In that short time, he'd grown to become one of my best friends, if not the closest. Plainly platonic due to my insistence.

Of course that certainly didn't stop Mr Ricci from throwing out his tempting lures. From the moment we met, he had poured on his considerable charm trying to get me in the sack and I continued refusing him. It had become almost a game with us and my stubborn refusal had become almost a instinctive, knee-jerk reaction. Though God only knows, I had to bite my tongue from moaning out a surrender each time. All my friends wondered at my turning him down since it seemed as if half of New York was lining up at his door waiting. Even saintly Amy had admitted a need to fuck him just to get over the need - who cares if he was gay?

How could I possibly explain? It definitely wasn't from any lack of feeling. If anything, it was from way too much feeling. God knows the man was wonderful and it would be damned easy to fall for him - a disastrous sin that I feared that I already had committed. After all it wasn't only his looks, his smile, his shiny, rippling muscles that drew me. In time, I grew to realize that there was much more to that shiny facade that Frank showed to the world. The world saw a sexy, charming playboy, a ne'er-do-well who jaunted from one high society party to another, carelessly spending his inheritance. But I realized that his image only hid the brilliant mind and the hard-working ethic behind the flashy smiles, that savvy business acumen that had managed to increase the personal wealth he had inherited more than three-fold at last count. No one saw the sweet man who volunteered at the orphanage each week, who played hide-and-seek with the children. Nobody knew of the immense amount of money that he gave away to charity. No one saw the man who visited a crochety aunt in Central Park West each week with a basket of Godivas and torrid bodicerippers. All they saw was a fucking sex machine with lots of dole to throw around which was a pity since underneath it all, he was something wonderful.

And that terrified me even more. Without a doubt, I knew that if I started on that first step towards a relationship with him, I'd end up with a broken heart. The man was a heartbreaker and even before I'd met him, I'd heard of his reputation. Who hadn't? Everyone in the building, heck, half of Manhattan had heard of the charming, sexy owner's reputation. Love 'em and leave 'em. Although I'd never really spoken to any of his ex-lovers since they were notoriously tight-lipped about Frank, everyone I knew knew someone who knew someone who knew one of his ex-lovers. And from all the rumours, it seemed that the streets of New York were literally strewn with the wrecks of his former lovers. I had no intention of becoming another notch on his extremely battered bedpost.

My curious gaze crept up to his rooms upstairs as I wondered about the state of his boudoir. It wouldn't have surprised me at all if the man had to add another bedpost just to accomodate newcomers. For convenience, his bedroom probably had a revolving door.

After the space of five minutes, the man still hadn't stopped laughing and it started to get annoying. Giving him a quelling frown, I pointed out, "Well, since you find it so damned funny, I'll ask Dec then."

"What?" His laughter came to an abrupt stop and for a moment the man looked almost insulted, his blue eyes flashing. "Ask Dec the weenie to play me?"

Knowing that a blow to his ego was something that he couldn't withstand, I shrugged. "Since you don't want it, I don't have much of a choice."

"I never said I wouldn't do it," he hedged.

"So you will do it?" I asked.

"I never said that either," he answered non-committally.

Turning his back on me, he walked by the floor-length windows and looked out in contemplation. It afforded me a spectacular view of New York - and his aforementioned bubble-butt encased in tight jeans and the fact that I was more interested in the curves of his ass than the gleaming spires of New York irritated me. "Tell me quick, Frank. I don't have all day to play around with this. I've got to get a pretend boyfriend fast. ASAP. My parents are dropping by tonight!"

Rocking back on his heels, he looked across his shoulder and frowned. "Tell me again why you're doing this."

Leaving the drink he'd shoved at me earlier on the kitchen counter, I stalked over to where he was standing. The scent of his cologne wafted to me and I was immediately intrigued. Spice. Heat. Male. What was it with this man? At times, he could irritate me like hell but he could still arouse me at the same time. The sexy pest, I could call him. "Listen close, Ricci, cause this is the last time I'm gonna explain." I said patiently. "You know Amy, my best friend -"

"Good God." He leaned back and eyed me with horror. "You mean, I am not your best friend?"


The man laughed. "Okay."

"You know how my parents are always after me to get attached. Even after I'd told them I'm gay," I reminded him. It was the story of my life. Months ago after agonizing about telling them, I'd finally come out to my parents and my family. Surprisingly, they took it quite well especially since I'd half expected tearful recriminations and threats of leaping from the nearest tall building. To my utmost surprise, my mother had just nodded knowingly and my father had given me a short warning on safe sex. To be on the safe side, I'd escaped before he'd started giving out a pack of Trojans. "Well, they are starting think that it might be a phase. You know about the infamous matchmaking scheme. Well, they've gone overboard, they are giving Amy hints that we should get attached. Amy and me."

"You know, your parents might be on to something." Eyes narrowing, he looked closely at me. "I am starting to think that too. You haven't dated anyone - as in someone with a Y chromosome - in months." he commented with a grin. "Are you sure you're gay? Maybe it really was a phase."

"Knock it off, asshole," I said dryly and gave him a gentle, playful shove. Under the white cotton shirt he'd pulled on earlier, warm, hard muscles came alive under my fingers and I reluctantly pulled away. "Well, anyway, after months of nagging, I finally gave in and told them I had a live-in boyfriend."

"Aha, you lied," he pointed out with a gleeful smile. "Lil boy scout Michael Wu finally told a lie. Didn't know I'd live to see the fucking day."

"Can it, Ricci." Restraining my urge to hit him again, I shoved my hands in my pockets. Not that it would do any good if I did sock him one since I only reached up to his shoulder. Were all assholes tall? "Damn it. Yes, I lied."

"And you picked me," he gestured to himself with his thumb.

The wide smile on his face was extremely suspicious but I continued hurriedly. "Yes, I picked you. It was the first name that popped into my head. After all, you were my closest friend in town, you're gay and you were not seeing anyone at that time. After all, you'd dated plenty of guys, slept with plenty and ..You were.." I had to face the truth. He was the man I'd chosen first and what a Godawful mistake that would be. Tall, dark, oversexed Italians with dicks the size of Long Island and the libido of an alley cat certainly didn't fit into my plans of a thriving firm, charming suburbia and happily ever-after. Trying to imagine Frank in domestic repose boggled my mind. Sure, his apartment looked like something out of a homemaker's dream but I suspected that the IKEA-inspired dream was the combined effort of his super-efficient housekeeper, Rosa and his interior designer.

Sensing my growing discomfort, he stopped me. "Don't spoil it, Wu."

Taking a quick rest, I breathed a sigh of relief. God knows, I couldn't tell him the real reason why I picked him. Did big dick and a body made for sex count as a valid reason? "I never expected them to drop by so I never really thought that lie would come out. Until this morning."

"When they told you they were planning a visit. And they spoilt all your pretty plans," he nodded knowingly. "There goes your busy schedule for the week, Mike. Did you write them down in your PDA?"

"Yes. And stop smirking, Frank," I warned him. "So I need a fake boyfriend pronto or they'll sic another good, virtuous Chinese girl on me again." The note of panic in my voice was all too real and I knew Frank would understand. Especially since he'd had to rescue me from at least two of those unfortunate 'dates'. Remembering the last incident, I had to smile as I thought of the outlandish story he'd spun to get me out of that predicament.

"So that's your newest plan." Taking a quick stroll around the living room expanse, he returned to his chair and sat down with his head thrown back. Closing his eyes, he pretended to give it some consideration for a moment before nodding his acquiescence. "Fine, I'll do it."

"You will?" His easy acquiescence should have made me happy but it made me suspicious instead. After all, I knew this man far too well to believe that he'd do anything out of the sweetness of his heart. That bright, helpful smile didn't fool me any. Francis Ricci didn't do anything for free - not for me anyway. What was going on in that gorgeous head of his?

"Yeah, for one day, I'll be your hot Italian lover, your toy-boy, your trophy husband, your -"

"Frank!" I felt however that I should warn him. "My parents aren't gonna be pushovers, you know. You will be interrogated to hell."

"Don't worry about that, Mike." He smiled, the slow, sexy smile that always caused my temperature to rise, a fact that he probably knew. "After all, sweetheart, I managed to charm you into my arms, didn't I?"

"You wish." Still amazed at his quick compliance, I had to make sure. "So you'll do it?"

"You know I do have my conditions," he said quietly.

Aha, that clinched it. I knew Frank wouldn't agree to my proposition that easily. But I certainly hadn't prepared anything as a barter so I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind. "I'll wash your cars."

Frank's left brow went up. "I have a mechanic who does that."

"I know. I will.." What the hell did you give the man who had everything? A sudden inspiration came to me. The man never could resist it. "I'll cook for you. Your favourite lasagna. Promise!"

"I.. " He closed his eyes in homage - my lasagna was my best bargaining chip with him - and he remained silent for a moment. Then shaking his dark head vehemently, he replied, "You almost clinched the deal but no."

"Then what do you want?" Some dark, perverted part of me had already weaved some explicit X-rated ideas that involved the both of us and a flat surface but I prayed that he wouldn't ask that of me. Not only would that blow up in both our faces, I doubt our friendship could survive that encounter. One quick slip between the sheets and it would be bon voyage for me.

"I haven't thought about it yet actually," he admitted ruefully, biting his full lower lip. Resting on the arm of the settee, he leaned back and his jacket flung wide open to reveal his tight white T-shirt. My gaze was immediately drawn to the dark, chocolate coloured male nipples perched on his hard swell of his pecs.

Giving myself a hard shake, I reluctantly pulled my gaze away from his delicious torso and looked back up at his face. There was a knowing smile on his face that I tried hard to disregard. "Won't you do it just for old time's sake?"

"Old times?" His eyebrow went up again. I hated that trick of his. "When did we have .. any times.."

Looking at that all too earnest face, I started having doubts. "Actually, I think I-"

As I fumbled over my words, he suddenly stood and moved towards me. Leaning forward so that his face was barely inches from mine, Frank growled. "Come on, do you want me to do this or not?"

His warm breath burnt my cheeks and he was close enough that I could practically breathe him in. The scent of Ricci and sex started tantalizing me. If he'd just come closer, I could just bite on that pouty lower lip. "Y-yeah, but I know you, Frank Ricci. And there's something brewing in your head!"

Obviously taking pity on me, he pulled back a little and grinned innocently at me, blinking his deliciously thick lashes with seeming innocence. "Moi?"


"My lips are sealed." Seeing my doubtful expression, he smiled reassuringly. "But you can always interrogate me. The cuffs and whips are in the store room."

That was a vision that I didn't want in my head. Whips, chains and a naked, writhing Italian hunk was something my pounding heart probably couldn't take. Even now, I could imagine his torso, the sleek, finely muscled proportions, the smooth, golden tan, the lightly furred male nipples capping his firm pecs. The quick slash of the whip across his rippling back. My breath caught and I could barely make a sound. Was that a whimper?

Guessing the direction of my thoughts, his voice dropped to a low, sexy purr. It was his fuck-me voice, the voice that haunted me during the night. "Yeah, just think about it. Make me scream, Wu."

An alarm bell started ringing in my head. Hot man alert! At some other time with any other man, I'd probably have shed all inhibitions - and my clothes too - and had a wonderful fucking time. But not with this man. He meant too much. And it'd probably last until just after he comes. So before I gave in to what would be a huge mistake, I quickly made my exit with the flimsiest of excuses after pushing Mr God-damned-Irresistible away. Picking up my jacket and downing my drink, I was out his door in a New York minute before he could even recover from his surprise to stop me.

But not before I caught a glance at Frank Ricci standing at his doorway, his eyes burning with desire and a burgeoning erection snaking down his blue jeans. Oh God. As usual, part of me was pleading to stay and have at least a quick bite. Just one good taste to ease the hunger that had been burning in me ever since Ricci first dropped into my life. Even with only thoughts of him in my head, my cock was already hot, hard and trying to break free from my pants. But I was a practical man and that practical side forced me to ignore my darker, X-rated desires. "D-dinner. Be early or face my wrath. Come at 6."

"Will you promise to punish me if I'm late?" he whispered, his voice still husky with desire.

"In your sick lil dreams, Ricci."

His teeth flashed in the dark of the hallway. "See you tonight, Wu."

His rich laughter followed me out into the streets and I knew that I'd be spending at least half an hour alone in the bathroom with my own sick lil fantasies.

Checking on my shirt, I made sure that it was crease-free. Didn't want my mother muttering silently about the state of disrepair that I'd lived in ever since I'd moved out. Adjusting the collar in the hall mirror, I smiled at my reflection. I didn't look too bad for a man of 29. Preening for a while, I noted that I still had my full head of black hair. My body was still trim, I had my fair share of muscles and filled out my clothes very well indeed. Although I certainly couldn't aspire to the realm of stud godhood like Ricci, I wouldn't have - how did the saying go again - thrown myself out of bed for eating crackers. Sexy, adorable, I'd been called. It would have to do.

My shirt was neatly tucked in, my pants perfectly creased. The fragrant red wine chicken was already done, the pork legs and yam sliced up and ready to be served, the herbal soup was being kept warm in the slow cooker. Perfectly timed. Just as I was about to turn around to check out my butt, the doorbell rang. My dark eyes narrowed until I heard the deep voice calling my name.

The man was always right on time. That was one thing I liked about him. Okay, one of the many things I liked about him. As I swung open the door, he stood there at the foyer and struck a playful GQ pose, all the time grinning at me. "Reporting for duty, General Wu. How do I look?"

Tall, dark, handsome and grinning cockily at me, he looked incredible. On any other man, black jeans and that tight turtleneck sweater would look great. On him, it looked positively sinful. For once, I saw no use in trying to hide my admiration. "You look good enough to eat and you know it, Ricci."

"Really?" He flashed his wicked grin. "Then, why aren't you taking a bite?"

"Get back, tiger." Giving him a nudge as he came closer, I answered back flippantly. His scent tickled my nostrils again and I could feel the beginnings of an erection pressing down my thigh. It seemed to be an occupational hazard whenever he was near. "You'll break my diet."

"Fuck that." Flicking my hand aside easily, Frank pressed forward, pushing me against the closet door. "That's not a diet. You've been having a self-imposed starvation with meagre sprinklings of boring, unattractive men."

Which was miserably true. How could I date anyone when I kept on coming back to Mr Wonderful himself - who for some twisted, perverted reason known only to him - insisted on waiting for me when I came home from a date! How could any ordinary man possibly hold up to Frank Ricci? Ricci was a sinfully rich, devastatingly sweet, orgasm-inducing chocolate mudpie, the kind that could only do you good and definitely the kind you'd regret the morning after. After years of denial, I certainly wasn't going to break my diet for that.

I made a half-hearted protest for form's sake. "They weren't so bad, Ricci."

"Please." Giving a disgusted snort, he sneered, his lips quirking up in a damn sexy sneer. "That jerk Robert and that weenie Dec. That limp dick, Steven. When are you ever gonna date a real man?"

Not one to be intimidated, I countered stare for stare. "You see any around, Ricci?"

It was a direct challenge and I knew he wouldn't back down. Eyes flashing, he moved forward and cornered me against the door. The length of his hard, sculpted physique pressed against mine and my breath caught. A different glow had come into his eyes, a glow that I could only describe as predatory. I'd seen it used on other men before and I always thought that I'd be immune to it. I was wrong. One look from those devil eyes and I was all ready for some hot man-lovin'.

"You want me to show you how much of a man I am?" he whispered, his firm lips barely a hairsbreadth away.

I knew how much of a man he was. He didn't have to show it to me because it was pressing down my hip, hot, pulsing and... thrillingly large. Faced with the reality of a hard piece of meat burning down my hip, I was about to throw my diet out the window and devour the feast of masculinity being offered to me when the doorbell rang. And my sanity returned.

"Ricci. The doorbell." My voice practically croaked when I spoke. For the first time, I was glad that my parents had the knack of coming at an inopportune time. The times that they had interrupted me from achieving the big O were legend.

His lips quirked up a little. "Fuck that."

"It's my parents."

The look in his eyes changed and he took a step back, releasing his hold on me. What I always termed as his devil-smile returned. "Your parents won't always be around, little man."

For old time's sake, I invited Amy over. Not only was she the apparent victim of my parent's matchmaking attempt, she was also my best friend. A slim, petite 5'4", Amy Chang perpetuated the myth of the gentle, submissive Chinese beauty, her delicate features and thickly lashed sloe eyes charming the hell out of the gullible men in New York before they realized that behind the silky white skin and the gentle manners was the original Dragon Empress who fully intended to rule the roost. As a result of her inability to find a suitable mate who could withstand her, she remained resolutely single.

It took barely minutes to explain before Amy fully understood what was going on between us. A few minutes before the fallout, I'd called her to brief her on what's happening. Loyal friend though she was, Amy Chang couldn't resist a few juvenile jokes at my expense. "Frank and Michael sittin' on a tree."

"Nothing's going on between us so stop it," I complained in a furious whisper.

The meeting with my parents had gone on without a hitch. Seeing that Frank was keeping my parents well entertained in the living room, Amy pulled me aside into the hallway. "I couldn't help it. You two look so great together. And here I thought you'd finally got the balls to leap into the sack with Mr Hubba-hubba Ricci."

"Well, try helping it. He's only doing this as a favour to me. A huge one at that." Angry at myself, I shoved my hands in my pants in frustration. "And knowing him, I bet I'm gonna pay in spades."

A sly smile lit up Amy's delicate features. "You sure Frank doesn't want to remain in that role forever?"

"Stop that." Looking to see if Frank had heard, I confirmed for myself that he was still telling one of his many amusing anecdotes and started hurrying Amy down to the kitchen.

"Hey, what's the hurry!" Amy giggled. "The hunk's behind us."

"Amy!" Running my hands through my hair, I sighed. "C'mon, Amy, you and I know it's never gonna happen. Me and Ricci, we're a disaster waiting to happen. One, I don't want it to ever happen. Two, the man only wants a satisfying romp in the hay, the sink or the next flat surface he finds. Heck, he'd fuck anything in pants if he could. Once the deed's done, we'll be over and I don't want that. I bet the word relationship would have him screaming out of the house."

"You're such a liar! 'I don't want it to happen'," she mimicked my voice and gave in to another fit of giggles. "C'mon, we're talking about Frank Ricci. Even knowing he's gay, I'd jump his sexy bones in a sec. Any woman in New York probably would."

Seeing that she wasn't going to stop, I tugged her into the kitchen. That's for telling your friend your secrets. Since we were kids, we had been friends but ever since she found out about my ... feelings for Frank, I'd seriously reconsidered having her as a friend. Putting on my fierce face, I growled at her. "Stop it, Amy."

Wiping her eyes, Amy let out a gurgle. "Oh, you love the man so much it's driving you totally daft."

"Shut up," I gritted out.

Sensing that I was in earnest, she subsided. "Why don't you just admit it to him? I bet he already knows. Frank's not stupid, you know. Big dick and cute ass aside, he strikes me as a highly intelligent creature."

"Stop it." My best friend ogling the man I loved certainly wasn't an edifying thought and stupid me, I couldn't help feeling jealous. Since Frank had popped into my life, I had been plagued by the demon of jealousy almost daily. With his meltingly good looks, Frank drew the attention of women - and men everywhere he went and I'd be standing beside him, slowly eaten up with jealousy. Each time a pretty girl batted her eyes at him, each time a cute guy gave him his number, I felt like pissing all over Frank Ricci, pinning my name on his chest, marking my territory. The man was slowly, inexorably pushing me towards madness and there was nothing I could do about it.

Leaping up onto the counter, Amy made herself comfortable. "You should just go tell him."

Eyes narrowed, I leaned back onto the kitchen counter. "Tell him what? That I've been secretly in love and lust for him since we first met? That I want to tear his clothes off and fuck him on the kitchen table? That I have been dreaming of stripping him and licking him from head to toe?"

"Hmmm.." Biting her lip, she tilted her head in serious consideration. "You could rephrase that but the gist of it is fine."

"You know why I can't tell him," I said quietly.

"And you know how absolutely stupid those reasons are. How could a guy as smart as you be such a moron about this!" Shaking her dark head in frustration, she gave me a quick bump on my head with her palm. "Wake up, Wu. Stop your God-damned planning and take a chance on the man. He obviously cares for you more than a bit. Why don't you give him a chance?"

"Because I don't want a quick fuck in some dark doorway. I don't want to be Mr September or whatever the month I'm being fucked in. I'm not your typical gay man who just wants multiple orgasms with multiple men. I want him to stay, Amy. And I know damned well he won't." We'd gone over this same issue time and again. And each time, I found myself wanting to give in. After all, having him for a month or so was better than never having him at all - and my willpower could only last that long.

"Stop putting yourself down, Wu." She caught my face in her hands and gave me a soft peck on the cheek. "You're a wonderful man - a little wacky at times not to mention a crazy planner - toss that damned diary away, by the way - but still wonderful and I bet Frank can see that too. Don't sell yourself short."

I gave her a warm hug. "Nothing like my own cheerleader."

I should have known that no one could resist Ricci. Although the first meeting had been less than auspicious, I knew that I shouldn't have underestimated him. It took barely minutes for the renowned Ricci charm to work its magic.

For myself, I thought I'd never see it happen but within minutes, Frank had managed to charm my father into submission, wrangling a trip for the both of us to the family beach house. For a man whom my parents thought of as a deviant pervert who tried to seduce their darling son, it was amazing how easily he managed to change their perception of him. At one time, it looked as if my father was ready to sign adoption papers. It took another five to ten to persuade my mother to part with one of her recipes, something I thought I'd never see in my lifetime. And here, I thought my tough, no-nonsense mother was immune to charm and flattery. Her familiar laughter filled the air as she gave Frank a quick, fond pat on the cheek.

As if sensing my frustration, he glanced back at me and tossed me a teasing wink. I glowered in return but as he immediately went back to his obviously riveting conversation with my mother, I kept my nasty comments to myself and stared daggers at his broad back instead.

Sitting at my other side, Amy grinned cheekily. "Must be frustrating to see, huh."

Obviously I couldn't hide my annoyance but I schooled my features into a calm smile. "What?"

"You don't have to lie to me." Leaning over, she whispered to me, "Seems like Frank's managed to charm both your parents. In barely seconds. My, my, my, the man certainly licked the damned Blarney Stone."

"Lying snake," I muttered grumpily.

Giving me a gentle nudge under the table, Amy raised a questioning brow. "What is it? I thought you'd be happy that your parents obviously love him."

"Not too much!" I replied in a stage whisper. Picking up my glass of wine to hide my expression of displeasure, I turned to Amy again. "I mean, talking about cooking? C'mon, since I've known him, I have never seen the man even light a fire, much less cook! What is he going to do with her rice-wine chicken recipe anyway?"

"You're just jealous 'cause he's got your mom wrapped around his finger," she remarked wisely.

"Damn right I am." I glared balefully at him. As far as I know, the only cooking Frank Ricci did was in the bedroom and it certainly didn't need any homemade recipes that I knew of. Certainly none of my mother's.

The man was a veritable monster and had to be stopped. Pasting a fake adoring smile on my face, I moved my attention back to him and said as sweetly as possible. "Frank."

Turning away from his conversation with my mother, he smiled at me. If he could patent that look on his face, Frank could make another million easy. It looked almost like love and I was staggered. How could any man possibly look that sincere?

"Yes, darlin'?" That deep voice was positively dripping with love of the sweaty, bodice-ripping type. The man was obviously a better actor than I thought. And where had he stolen that slight 'Gone With The Wind' Southern drawl from?

My voice finally returned and I managed a croak. "Frank, could I have a word with you in the kitchen?"

Giving a helpless shrug and a nod to my parents, he shifted in his chair. "Sure, if I get a kiss in return."

While I wavered over my answer and had my parents looking curiously, the man took action in a way I'd never expected. Before I could open my mouth to respond, he'd managed to find a sure way to shut me up. The feelings that coursed through me as Frank's strong arms closed around me and his lips pressed tentatively against mine were indescribable.

Once he was certain that I wouldn't bite his tongue off, the man really got into his work. Good God, was that his tongue? If so, I wanted to have it bronzed. It was our first kiss and from the man that I loved. Though I knew it wouldn't last, I wanted it for that moment and greedily clutched his black hair to pull him close. Some men kiss like butterflies, barely a brush of the lips. Some men kiss like they want to swallow you whole, practically sucking the breath out of you while their tongues invaded with military precision. They all should have taken lessons from the master.

But while I was still busy enjoying his masterpiece, the man pulled abruptly away. Still unsatisfied, my hands reached to catch ahold of him and he grinned wickedly at me, waving a minatory finger at me. "We've got company, darlin'."

Oh My God! Even without seeing anyone's expression, my ears turned red and I heard Amy's shocked giggle. I could hardly bear to look at my parents' reaction. What was I thinking? Making out with Frank during dinner with my parents! Eyeing the man himself balefully, I muttered in a voice only he could hear, "Asshole."

"You love me anyway," he quipped with a ready smile. As if suddenly noticing my severe embarassment, Frank took over the situation with aplomb. All the while there was a glitter of unholy humour in those dancing blue eyes. "Uhh.. excuse us, would you? I think dessert's about ready."

The smooth excuse he'd blathered out managed to clear our way as we made our escape into the kitchen. All the while I kept my hand perched on his as he dragged me out of the dining room.

As soon as we were out of earshot, I caught his sleeve and pushed him against the kitchen cabinet. My anger managed to surprise him as I'm sure I'd have never have managed to push him around. "What the hell was that?" I said sotto voce.

"Huh?" The puzzled expression on his face only infuriated me.

"You know what I mean."

"I see." The light of understanding came into his eyes and he nodded knowingly. Leaning over to take out the spoons, he smiled and whispered back to me. "I see what you mean. You may have forgotten what that was but that was actually a kiss. Very pleasurable actually. Two lips meet at a certain pressure and..."

"Shut up." Those lips so close to mine were far too tempting and I gave him another quick shove. "Why?"

"Why?" Carefully folding the spoons into the cloth napkins, he paused as if in thought. Then Frank suddenly turned on me and caught ahold of me, his large hands gripping my forearms tightly. "Because if you were mine, Michael, I don't think I'd be able to stop. And frankly, at that moment, I couldn't resist."

The sudden serious tone in his voice stunned me for a moment but then I shook my head. Evidently, Frank took the things that he did seriously and he'd obviously decided to give his all to this play-acting. "OK."

"Anyway, I love kisses." he kidded.

Another thought that I didn't want in my head especially since I could easily imagine kissing my way down Frank's naked body. Pressing wet kisses down the broad expanse of his back, following the smooth curve of his spine down to his impressive gluteals. "Whatever. But no tongue."

He grinned in response.

After the dishes were cleared and my parents had gone for a late-night show with Amy, I finally made it back upstairs to my apartment after sending them off. It was easy enough to say that dinner had been a smashing success. After all, my parents had hit it off with Frank - heck, they clearly adored Frank Ricci and he'd readily offered to show them around the city starting tomorrow. It should have made me feel guilty at my deception but all I felt was an overwhelming sense of relief. All I had to do right now was to find an excuse for Frank to miss his appointment with them. After all, I doubted very much that he'd want to continue in this charade for more than a day.

Quietly opening my front door, I walked down the hallway to the living room and saw Frank standing alone by the windows, next to the window seats. My own apartment certainly didn't have the spectacular view that he had but at least it wasn't directly facing another block of apartments. He was looking more serious that I'd ever seen him, his handsome face sober and stern as he stared out the window at the streets in front of my apartment building. A glass of wine in his hand completed his ensemble and I had to admit that he looked quite a sight standing there brooding to himself. A dark, sexy modern Heathcliff.

It was times like this when I wondered whether I really knew him at all. The laughing, flirting man that I knew certainly wasn't this sober, serious guy, the man who was known in Wall Street as the man with the Midas Touch. The man who wheeled and dealed successfully with the sharks of commerce.

Hearing my approach, he looked up, the stern look fading away, replaced by a soft smile. "Are they gone?"

Since I had arranged for the late-nght show and confirmed the arrival of the taxi, I could confirm the fact that they wouldn't be returning. "Yeah, they loved you. I doubt they could ask for a better son-in-law. If they could, they'd exchange their own son for you. Thanks."

"No problem." Lifting his glass of wine, he took a quick sip. "Your parents are great."

That was something that I'd never doubted. They might be as spontaneous and reckless as they come but they were wonderful parents. Although they had been disapproving of my alternative lifestyle previously, they had warmed quickly when they had met my supposed life partner. Of course I seriously doubted anyone else would have managed to gain their approval in such a short time. "Yeah, I know."

Gently placing his glass on the window sill, he turned to face me with a sharp glint in his eye. "But it's time to pay the piper."

I knew that time was here and I steeled myself. What humiliating thing did he have planned?

Seeing the defensive look on my face, he laughed. "Don't worry. It won't hurt. Much."

"What do you have in that diabolical mind, Ricci?" I was aprehensive now and it probably showed. Deciding to sit while he told me of his diabolical plan, I made myself comfortable on the seat facing the windows. "Nothing illegal in fifty states, okay."

That quick charming smile flashed for a moment before he turned serious again. Turning away from me, he stood up and paced up and down along the windows. "Mike, we've known each other for almost six months now."

That sudden comment threw me off and I wondered where he was going with that. "Yeah, what about it?"

Stopping his slow pacing around the room, he paused and looked at me closely, his deep blue eyes pinning me to the seat. "Do you find me at all attractive?"

It was the question I never seriously thought he would ever ask. Was the answer ever in doubt? The windows were behind him and they made the perfect backdrop for him, standing there looking strong, handsome and incredibly earnest. My heart stuttered. "Yes, of course I do. Everyone does. What does all that have to do with.."

"I'm getting to that." He waved me off. For the first time since I'd known him, Frank Ricci looked almost unsure of himself. Filled with nervous energy as unlike the calm, confident man I thought I knew.

Evidently deciding to take another stroll around my room, he started moving, talking to me all the while. "We've known each other for six months. Ever since that first day, we've clicked. I know we have. Perhaps it is different for you but I don't think I've been as close to anyone as I have with you. I've shared with you some things that I've never even told anyone. Shared feelings that I've never thought I had. You wonder what I'm getting to? It's simple, Frank, I am very interested in you."

The last words echoed in the stillness of the room. I didn't even want to think about that. Was he going to make another pass at me tonight? After all that had happened, I doubt I could resist him tonight. Just one lascivious wink and I'd have leapt at him like a lust-crazed nympho.

In his relentless journey around my room, he came to another stop, this time just a few feet in front of me. Going down on one knee, he met me at eye-level, his blue eyes searching mine. "Look, all I'm asking for is this. Give me a chance, Wu." he said softly. "Just one chance."

"A chance?"

My innocent look didn't exactly fool him. He looked at me quietly. "Don't pretend you don't understand me."

The man knew me far too well. My hands were starting to tremble and I hid it under a pillow. "This is very sudden."

"It is not and you know it," he answered matter-of-factly. "If I'd had my way, we'd have been busy these past six months banging each other's brains out."

The vision had my pulse leaping. "Get real."

Sensing my own nervousness, he leaned forward and gave me his 1000-watt smile. "Don't you find me attractive?"

"I think you already know that answer, stud boy." He was so close that I could just stick my tongue out and lick his full bottom lip. As I didn't want to face such temptation, I leaned farther back into the sofa.

The smile didn't fade. "I do know that you find me attractive. That's why I find it hard to understand why you keep telling me no. I knew my reputation scared you off so I decided to give you time to know me first. To see that I wasn't quite the bastard I was reputed to be. I think you should know me well enough by now."

For a moment I stared in surprise. While I'd always thought of him as a pretty intelligent man, I never really expected him to notice that I'd had a crush on him as wide as Nebraska. It was clear that he'd known all along so I didn't find it hard to speak plainly. "You aren't a bastard but your reputation doesn't lie all that much. I don't want to be another notch on your bed, Ricci. Your Mr Monday or Mr-Weekend-Fling or something. The man you dump the morning after."

"It's not going to be that way," he said in protest.

"Bill. Andrew. John. Steven. TJ." From memory, I rattled off several names I'd heard linked to his. Funny, come to think about it. It wasn't that long a list but then again, I couldn't name all the nameless men he'd probably fucked before. And according to the rumours, the numbers were legion.

It certainly wasn't a point that he would ever admit. "Fine. I admit that I haven't been very good at relationships. For the record though, I dated all five men and only slept with three of them." Frank confessed, spreading his hands wide as if showing me he had nothing to hide.

"Only three in the past few months?" I said skeptically.

His blue eyes flashed. "Contrary to popular belief, I am not the playboy man-slut you guys think I am. If I fucked around with that many men, I'd be dead exhausted and worn down to a nubbin in no time."

"How should I know? I certainly haven't seen it." The words left my mouth before I realized I'd put the thoughts into words and my face flamed.

Seeing that I hadn't stopped him yet, he decided to take the advantage and pressed forward. "I've given you plenty of opportunities to find out. I assure you though, it ain't no nubbin."

Even now, there was activity going down in his ample crotch and I could definitely see that it wasn't a nubbin. Not that I could help it, the man's jeans were so tight, I could already trace the outline of his hard cock snaking down his left leg, backed up by a pretty hefty package of balls. My mouth watered and I could already picture myself down on my knees freeing his package with my teeth on his button-fly.

Oh God, this wasn't going well. This wasn't supposed to happen. At the end of this farce, I was just supposed to shake his hand farewell and let him leave footloose and fancy-free as he always did... certainly not indulge in fantasies about Frank's ample endowments. Shaking my head to dispell his charm, I looked back at him and promised to maintain my gaze above his neck at the least.

He had noticed the direction of my gaze earlier and flashed me a ready grin, his eyes dancing. "Do I meet your rigid standards, Michael?"

His smug smile pricked my ready temper. "Yes, I know you've got a big dick, Ricci. I have always known - and so do half the male population of New York."

"You know that's not true." As calmly as possible, he flatly denied it though I could see the heated sparks of the Ricci temper flaring behind his heavy-lidded eyes. Usually extremely cool-headed, he kept a bubbling pot of emotions seething just underneath the surface. Since I'd known him, I'd seen the Ricci temper explode at least twice. Each time, I had been within the disaster area but I had thankfully remained unscathed since I had not been the recipient.

"I've seen the men you date." And died of jealousy each time they came by, all slicked up, gorgeous and oozing with sex appeal. Determined to rattle him, I decided to go for broke. "When was the last time you had sex?"

"Define sex," he challenged me.

I let out a groan.

Seeing my predicament, Frank decided to take pity on me. "Six months ago."

"Six months? You're joking." It had to be a lie. Hadn't I see him with that hunky heartthrob not too long ago? And not too far back, with the blond Swede with the biceps? "But you dated that model, Marcus barely a month ago!"

"I'm glad you noticed but it wasn't a date. It was business. He's endorsing some of my products and I took him out to finalize our deal. We had dinner. He offered more. I refused. We went home. In separate vehicles, I might add." Seeing my surprise, Frank leaned back on his haunches and raised a dark brow. "Why are you surprised? As I said, I don't exactly have sex on a daily basis, or several times a day like you guys would like to think. I'm not some inexhaustible sexual animal, Michael."

His proper, dignified speech ended with a wolfish smile and the now familiar flash of heat in his blue eyes. "Though I could be. With the right man."

His sweet words had me melting and I shook my head. "It's not that simple."

Letting out a sigh, he dragged his hand carelessly through his glossy black curls. "Look, all those men - not that there were all that many - it's all in the past. You can't throw my past affairs at me. I wouldn't say they don't mean a thing to me but I will say that they're definitely behind me. In the past six months, I've looked at no other man but you. That's the truth, Michael."

The sincerity in his voice was something that I couldn't dispute. Since I'd known him too, I'd never seen him lie outright to my face either. Sure, the man might be a shark in the business but he could never tell a straight lie to his friends since he had never felt the need to lie. Racking my brains to recall, I suddenly realized that it just might be true that he had't seen any one else and I felt my heart constrict.

"Trust me?" His big blue eyes pleaded with me and he held out a hand to me.

Leaning forward, I caught hold of one of his large hands. Though his hand was larger and stronger than mine, my hand fit in perfectly. "Frank, I do trust you - or at least I am trying to. But it's not only that. What would happen to us?"

"You worry too much," he remarked, giving my hand a warm squeeze.

"What if we didn't work out? I don't.."

My stammering only led to him laughing at me. "What if the world were to end tomorrow? What if my stocks were to go tumbling down and leave me penniless? What if you turned straight? What if my hair were to fall out?" Gently mocking me, Frank replied in a sing-song manner. "What if!"

The teasing failed to make me smile. "But I-"

Without warning, he suddenly pulled me into his arms. And though I put up an initial struggle, he held tight and those steel-like bands he called arms didn't budge even a little. I decided to let him have his way - for the moment at least. My acquiescence made him smile. "Look, there are too many what ifs in the world for us to worry over, my lil worrywart. I know my track record with my relationships hasn't exactly been the best but then, I've never felt as much for them as I do you. I'm willing to give us a chance. Why won't you? I thought you wanted to be more of a risk-taker like me."

A moment ago, I'd put my hands up to at least maintain a distance between us but now they were pressed tight against the solid wall of his pecs. And I found that I didn't want him to stay far anymore. "I don't want to risk something as important as our relationship, Frank."

The answer evidently pleased him and he ran one hand up my spine, making me shiver. "It's not a risk, I promise you. I'm not asking for your hand in marriage, a house in the suburbs with white picket fences and a dog named Boo. Not yet anyway. I just want us to have more than friendship. We've come this far, isn't it time to see if we might have something more?"


"Let me finish," he said in his low, commanding voice which I'm sure had his various lowly minions in Ricci & Co. leaping to obey. Contrary as I was, I was tempted to do just the opposite but the gentle look on his face stopped me. That look of love had come back into his face, the look I'd seen earlier during dinner. Oh God, it wasn't an act. "Let me raise the stakes for you. I've waited so long to say this but maybe it's time you heard it from me. Michael, I -"

It was the words that I'd wanted to hear but I stopped him, pressing my finger on his lips. Having the words spoken would change everything between us. "Don't."

Gently pushing my hands aside, he spoke firmly and quietly, his gaze intent on mine. "No, you listen. I love you, Michael."

The words hung in the air, almost palpable between us. If I could reach out and hold those words for eternity, I would have. It was more than I'd ever dreamed of. And so unbelievable I expected to awaken from this weird dream. "Y-You don't."

"Arguing even now. Stubborn bastard," he muttered with a shake of his head. Seeing my mulish expression, he sighed and pulled his hands away to shove them in his pockets. "Look, Michael, we've been living in each other's pocket for the past few months. We're practically living together. If you're not in my apartment, I'm in yours. It was calculated on my part since I do want to be with you and I want people to know we're together. Everyone can see it. All our friends can see it. Why can't you see? Is it so hard to believe that Frank Ricci could have a heart after all?"

The sudden sadness in his eyes was more than I could bear and I laid a hand on his brawny forearm. "Frank.."

He turned to look at me. "Just say yes. Try it. It's not that difficult. Forget all the worries, all the doubts. Don't think with that damned logical brain of yours. It's very simple. I love you. I want us to be together."

And I realized that it wasn't all that difficult. A flash of realization came to me. The man of my dreams was mine for the asking. Just like that. A man who'd planned for the past six months, who'd even dreamt of a house in the suburbs and a pet. There was still the niggling worry about the future but I pushed it aside for now. Since when had I ever failed in one of my plans? Damn it, like everything else, I'd make it work! I'd make this relationship work.

So for the first time in my life, I decided to let fate have its way. After all, fate had gotten me this man. "You do realize that if you ever stray, I'd come after you and that big dick of yours with a very sharp machete?"

His blue eyes widened with surprise at my answer but he rose to the occasion with remarkable calm, even grinning foolishly at me. "Planning to keep an eye on me?"

My eyes narrowed in warning. "Under lock and key if need be."

It was obvious that I was giving in and he couldn't help smiling. It was the best smile yet. "I wouldn't take any less."

"It's not that easy, Ricci." My conditions weren't over yet and slowly, I went down on my knees next to him and rested my hands on his broad shoulders. "The white picket fences scare me to hell and the dog has to change its name. I couldn't live with a dog called Boo."

"When you make up your mind, you're scary." Tilting his head to look at me, he shook his dark head. "Anything else?"

"That's it. And Frank? Yes."


My arms went around him and this time, I pulled him close. All 6 feet plus of sweet, wonderful manhood. My hands roamed the large, firm expanse of his back assuring myself that this was real. "Yes, dummy. Let's take a chance. I want to see where this leads. By the way, you're still on probation though."

"Spank me hard if I go bad," he murmured as he leaned closer. His dimples sprang to life, bracketing his wicked smile.

His male scent filled me and I drank in deeply, sighing as I did so. Sure of their destination, my hands crept down the curve of his spine to rest on the perfection of his tight glutes. They were just as incredible as I'd imagined. "You bet your sweet ass I will, Ricci."

"I'm counting on that." His whispered words sent a thrill to me even as his lips did a number on my earlobe. "You're trying to fit me into your plans now, aren't you?"

It was my turn to smile. He knew me well. "I love you, Frank."

Pulling away to look at me, he nodded quietly. "I know."

"And you'd better live up to my expectations tonight."

He smiled, the devil in his eyes. "You bet your sweet ass I will."

And that was the last thing we said for the next little while.

1 comment: