The Librarian’s Rake Blurb

Opposites might attract, but is acting on that attraction wise?

Librarian Tristan Cooper can’t steer clear of sexy, motorcycle-riding bad boy Phillip—the man is hot—but Phillip is bound to and quiet, bookish Tristan boring, like all Tristan’s boyfriends. Tristan yearns to explore his wild side, the part of himself he’s only allowed into his fantasies, and maybe rakish Phillip is just what he needs to feel free.

Sexperienced hairdresser Phillip is more of a believer in happy endings than happily ever afters. Experience has taught him not to hope for more— until he meets sweet, vulnerable Tristan, who seems genuinely interested in his heart. But Phillip can’t trust enough to see himself as a man Tristan might want for more than a night.

With the help of a pair of matchmaking grandfathers, Tristan and Phillip might and the courage to step beyond their comfort zones and discover what has been missing from their lives....



Z. Allora


Excerpt: Chapter 1

ANOTHER RED light—sure seemed that was all life had been giving Phillip Valentine. Eh, what could he do? He focused on the positive and rolled his Ninja to a stop.

Damn, he loved the responsiveness of his new bike. Granted, this ride had been an indulgence he’d saved five years to afford, but totally worth the cost.

A low purr caught his attention and drew his gaze to the car in the next lane. He flipped his helmet’s visor out of his face and whistled. Wow, nothing like a Huracán Spyder. “Oh wow! A fucking Lamborghini!”

Shit! Either the guy had a tiny dick or he was good burning $275K on transportation. Either way, that bit of Italian auto erotica deserved appreciation. Phillip gave the driver a sparkling grin. “Hey, great car!”

The guy pushed his glasses farther up his nose, tightened his hands on the wheel, and didn’t even look in Phillip’s direction.

Maybe Mr. Italian Car Stud with dimples didn’t hear him. He walked his bike a little closer to the car’s open window and shouted louder this time. “Hey.”

No response.

What the fuck? People might not always react positively to Phillip, but no one ignored him! He articulated the words again. “Nice car.”

The classic boy next door in need of an updated haircut and new glasses glared in Phillip’s direction. The wind blew his sun-kissed sandy-brown hair back from his face, showing a good strong chin and a jawline begging to be licked. A frown marred his plump lips—lips that didn’t take much of Phillip’s imagination to visualize wrapped around a cock… his cock. The guy’s gray eyes couldn’t be hidden behind the owlish glasses he wore. His high cheekbones gave him an elegant, if haughty, look.

Occupational hazard—Phillip gave the guy a mental makeover. He would be a gorgeous man, if Phillip got his hands on him. Turning, the guy faced the road in front of him. Maybe Phillip was the one in need of a makeover of an emotional kind.

Who in the great pumpkin patch did this prick think he was? “What? You can’t give me anything other than a dirty look?”

The Lamborghini’s window slid shut.

Son of a bitch! Fuck him. He isn’t that good-looking.

Down, cock, down! Okay, the guy was… after the makeover Phillip would give him. Still, assholeic behavior drained sexy away to where even Phillip wouldn’t want to blow him… much.

Maybe Mr. Sexy behind the wheel was in the closet or not heteroflexible like some men tended to become when a blowjob was involved. Shame. But life was full of assholes, and if the asshole wasn’t the kind into fucking him, Phillip counted them as irrelevant.

When the light flashed green, Phillip slapped his visor shut and zoomed down the road. Wind rushed against him, and he left the fancy sports car in his exhaust. The cloudless sky was the color of the Mediterranean Sea; he’d see his granddaddy in a bit, so the world was good.

He loved that his grandfather was finally living life on his own terms. Though looking back, his grandparents probably always had an arrangement of sorts. His grandmother had done everything with her very best gal pal, and she had never questioned why her husband came home late or sometimes not at all.

Five years ago, his grandmother and grandfather amicably divorced, confusing most of the family because they remained close friends. His grandma even bought a house with her friend in the same over-fifty-five community where his grandfather had purchased a place.

Somehow most of the Valentine clan refused to fill in the blanks with the only letters that would fit, apparently finding it difficult to apply anything other than hetero to the strong patriarch and matriarch of the family. But Phillip had counted himself lucky to have such solid allies in his corner while growing up.

His own parents weren’t homophobic. They just hadn’t given a shit about him. Maybe that was why they hadn’t encouraged him to study.

Phillip parked his bike and meandered through the pristine grounds. This adult community reminded him more of a resort than a place catering to the retired. He passed the bulletin board crowded with club meeting times, class descriptions, and trips.

Earlier in the day, his grandfather had texted him to go directly to the pool, so he sauntered in that direction. He spotted his grandfather sitting close to another man at an umbrella-covered table.

His granddaddy hissed at the woman stabbing a finger in his direction. “Ellen, please lower your voice.”

The woman, decked out in the best sailing outfit Macy’s had put on the sales rack, shouted, “I will not! You’ll get the AIDS!” Ah, his grandfather’s orientation had made it through the community’s grapevine.

Doris—another woman of excellent taste and intelligence, who believed Phillip to be a charming young man—strolled over to his grandfather’s table with her three cats on their sparkly leashes, and said, “Ellen, it’s okay to be loud, and it’s okay to be stupid, but, dear, it’s truly not appropriate to be loud and stupid.”

The Ellen woman huffed and then hurried off, grumbling as she went.

His granddaddy chuckled.

Doris growled, “Some people.”

His grandfather shrugged. The man sitting with him took a long sip of his umbrellaed drink.

Doris waved. “See you two tomorrow morning for pickle ball.”

“We’ll be there.” His grandfather caught him lurking. “Phillip, there you are!”

“Phillip!” Doris turned, squealed, and rushed over to him. She gave Phillip a warm hug. “Why are you hiding behind the bushes, handsome? Tell me, did some lucky man sweep you off your feet yet?”

Like that would ever happen. “Miss Doris, don’t curse me! Besides, I’m the one who does the sweeping… up.”

“Oh, using a broom at the salon doesn’t count. Besides, you’ll have your own shop soon enough. I’m on your schedule for next week. Time for a trim.” She patted his cheek, and he wished he had her confidence that he’d get his act together. Currently he was at the same salon where he started washing hair during cosmetology school.

She waved. Her kitties marched over to the walking path, taking their owner with them.

Phillip zigzagged around the tables and hugged his granddaddy. “Looking good.”

His granddaddy clapped him on the back and gestured to the seated man. “Phillip, this is Thomas Cooper.”

The handsome man with salt-and-pepper hair rose to well over six feet and shook his hand, making Phillip feel shorter than usual. “Nice to meet you.”

“And you. Your grandfather has told me all about you.” Thomas looked between the two of them. “Well, I’ll let you two visit.”

“No!” His grandfather reacted stronger than Phillip had ever seen. “No, stay. I want you to get to know Phillip. Besides, I want to introduce Phillip to Tristan.”

“Oh, um, okay. If I’m not intruding.” Mr. Cooper eased back down into his chair.

“Never.” His grandfather patted Mr. Cooper on the knee.

Hmm, interesting. Are they…?

Phillip took a seat and decided to get to know his grandfather’s friend. “Mr. Cooper—”

“Please call me Thomas or Tom.”

“Nice to meet you, Thomas.” Phillip smiled, then pulled a postcard from his pocket. “Looks like Grandma and Sylvia are heading to Santa Fe.”

His granddaddy smiled as he studied the picture. “Did you read her blog on this section of Route 66?” He passed the postcard to Thomas.

Phillip nodded.

Thomas tilted his head and smiled. “Those two are adventuresome. If my knee—” He glanced past Phillip and waved a gorgeous guy over. “Tristan! Ah, my grandson is here now too.”

Shit! Small world. It was the sexy asshole in the fancy car who had ignored him.

This Tristan dropped his head down and moped over. He kissed his grandfather’s cheek and shook Phillip’s grandfather’s hand. “Nice to see you again, sir.”

“Please, Tristan. It’s Conrad, remember?”

“Of course… Conrad.” Tristan’s deep voice did things to Phillip he really wished it didn’t. Why did assholes possess an alpha voice that made Phillip want to drop to his knees?

His granddaddy gestured to Phillip. “I’d like you to meet my grandson, Phillip Valentine.”

Damn. The man’s stare invaded and captured Phillip’s soul, holding it for ransom. Ha! Or would have, if he had one.

“Hey. Great car you have.” Phillip couldn’t help himself. He’d get a fucking answer and rub the guy’s face in the snub.

Recognition registered, and Tristan’s cheeks stained pink. “It’s my grandfather’s. I just picked it up from the shop for him.”

The deep voice’s softer edges ricocheted through Phillip’s insides, heating places within his body. Fuck, he didn’t want to give points for being a good grandson. Just be the jackass I know you are!

“Thanks, Tristan. You take good care of me. I appreciate it.”

“Anytime, Pop-Pop.” Tristan squinted, pushed his glasses higher on his nose, and kept his attention fixed on anything but Phillip.

Phillip kicked out a chair so Tristan could sit down and stop being tall. His height made Phillip want to tuck himself under the guy’s arm.

“Let me get you something to drink,” Thomas said.

“No. Sit, Pop-Pop. I’m up. I’ll grab something and put your keys on the counter.” Tristan darted toward the cookie-cutter single villas that were all a tone of the beige-white rainbow.

“Sure, sure.” Thomas nodded and collapsed back into his chair.

Phillip’s grandfather narrowed his eyes at his friend. “Your knee okay?”

Thomas shrugged. “It’s sore.”

“No pickle ball tomorrow.” Granddaddy used his firm voice.

A whining groan ended in words. “What? Come on. I love watching you play.”

The complaint must have gotten Granddaddy to relent. “Fine, you can be my cheerleader, but you’re staying seated.”

Thomas’s cheeks tinted the same way his grandson’s had.

Phillip made sure he didn’t stare at Tristan’s ass as the man retreated to one of the dwellings around the pool. It would be rude to do in front of one’s grandfather, and also the ew factor of getting hard in this setting was off-putting.

Granddaddy smiled. Then he turned his attention to Phillip with an arched eyebrow. “Your grandson is such a nice boy, Thomas.”

Why look at me?

After a slight pause, Thomas nodded. “He is. Tristan’s smart, funny, and very charming.”

Hard sell much?

“He deserves to find some happiness. I just wish he’d allow himself to cut loose and live while he’s still young enough.” It was impossible to miss the projection in Thomas’s words.

“Life is meant to be lived at every age… no regrets or what-ifs.” His granddaddy stared at Thomas a moment longer than proper.

“I don’t know about that.” Thomas shook his head. “Tristan is determined not to repeat history.”

“How so?”

“My son, may he rest in peace, was a jackass. I loved him, but he was a terrible father. He cheated on all three of his wives. He gambled away every dime he had… not that he could ever hold a job for long.”

Phillip’s granddaddy leaned toward Thomas. He reached out but stopped short of touching him. “You’ve never told me. I’m sorry to hear that, Tom.” He dropped his hand.

Thomas took another long sip of his drink. “Not a pleasant story. He killed himself while drinking and driving… and he took a family of four with him.”

“Oh God!” slipped out of Phillip’s big mouth before he could stop his reaction. That had to fuck with your mind.

Thomas directed his gaze to where Tristan had disappeared. “My poor Tristan has done everything in his life to be the exact opposite of his father.”

“Well, from what I’ve seen, he’s done well for himself.” Granddaddy tried to console Thomas. “Is Tristan seeing anyone?”

Argh, ever the matchmaker! Why the hell did Phillip give a damn about the answer? Was the guy even gay? He hated that he held his breath. It didn’t matter to him.

“No. The man he’d been seeing… well, they parted ways a few months ago.” Thomas shook his head. “No loss there.”

Granddaddy leaned forward. “My Phillip’s not seeing anyone either.”

Relief was exchanged for what the fuck in record time. “I’m sitting right here, Granddaddy.”

Granddaddy chuckled. “I’m not senile. I do see you.” He directed his attention to Thomas. “They’d make a good match. Phillip knows all about having fun but could use some direction.”

I have direction! Granted, he wasn’t sure which way he should be going, but yeah, he knew how to find his way to fun.

Thomas gave him an appraising look and then grinned. “You’re nothing like my grandson’s usual type. You’d be perfect!”

Good to know—damn! Phillip threw his hands in front of him to hold back the grandfather shuffle. “I’m sure your grandson has better options—”

Speaking of him appeared to conjure the hotness in glasses. Fuck! Tristan had a sexy strut, and he was exactly Phillip’s type. The sex would be phenomenal. Unlacing the uptight was one of Phillip’s specialties, but history had shown him that didn’t matter.

Grandfather matchmaking fantasies aside, a quick round of sex was all there could ever be between them, and something told Phillip that Tristan wasn’t that kind of guy. Whereas Phillip was. He was strictly catch and release… usually in his mouth, and he was gone before he swallowed.

Tristan rejoined the group and pushed a bottle of water at Phillip.

Phillip muttered, “Thanks.”

“You must have forgotten to put on your brace, Pop-Pop.” Tristan kneeled at his grandfather’s feet with the device.

“Yeah.” Thomas’s yeah was anything but agreement.

Tristan fastened the support on Thomas’s leg, his hands efficient but gentle. Phillip hated that he couldn’t help wondering what they would feel like on him.

Thomas grumbled, “Thank you.”

Tristan stood. He shifted from foot to foot, but he kept his gaze away from Phillip’s direction. It was a dare too great for Phillip not to take.

The weight of two grandfathers’ stares was a bit much. When in doubt, play the lout. “So, Tristan… what do you do? Wait….” He tapped a finger to his lips. “Let me guess. Stripper? Rent boy? Paid companion?”

Tristan frowned. “Librarian.”

“Ah, yeah. That would have been my next guess.”

Grimacing, Tristan pushed his glasses back to the bridge of his nose and squinted at Phillip. Though it could have been mistaken for a glare.

Shit, when had disapproval served as Viagra? Phillip crossed his legs. Good or bad, he was driven to get any kind of reaction out of the man. Why did he sink to every challenge?

His grandfather and Thomas grinned at him. Not the response he was going for….

Tristan burned a stare into him that screamed “you are so far beneath me I’d file you behind zyzzyva.” Maybe Phillip was no better than a tiny beetle that was the very last word in most dictionaries….

Thomas readjusted his legs and winced.

Tristan was all care and concern. “Your knee, Pop-Pop? When do you see the doctor?”

Thomas waved him off. “I’ve got another appointment next week.”

“What day? I can take—”

“No need, Tristan. I can take him,” Phillip’s grandfather offered all too quickly, suggesting that was the plan all along.

Shaking his head, Tristan said, “I can—”

“Conrad can get me there and back. We might even see a movie or something.”

“Or something….” Phillip’s grandfather had a wolfish grin that took away any doubt he wasn’t putting the moves on Thomas.

Thomas didn’t comment but turned toward the ladies doing water aerobics in the pool.

Tristan’s glance darted between the two grandfathers, then landed on Phillip.

What?

After clearing his throat, Tristan announced, “Um, I guess I should be going. I’ve got an event at the library tonight.”

“You work too much. You should have some fun.” Thomas hissed when he stood straight. “Let me get the car keys. I’ll take you back to the library.”

“Nonsense, Pop-Pop. You shouldn’t be driving. Stay off your knee. I’ll call Uber.” Tristan started tapping his phone.

“I can give you a ride.” Phillip found himself volunteering without thinking. Shit! He certainly would give Tristan any kind of ride he wanted, but what scared Phillip was he actually wanted to get a little more time with Tristan.

When had he wanted to spend even a moment beyond the time it took to get off? The answer was never.

“That’s okay. I don’t have a helmet.” Tristan didn’t even peek away from his phone.

Phillip’s grandfather jumped out of his chair. “You can borrow mine.”

“Yes, that’s good. Thank you, Conrad,” Thomas said as Phillip’s grandfather headed off on a mission. He gestured at Tristan’s phone. “Cancel the Uber.”

“But—”

“Tristan, you don’t want to insult Phillip.”

Sighing, Tristan asked, “Are you sure?”

“Very.” And Phillip was. “I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”

“Just to the library…. Um, that’s where my car is. The garage that worked on the car is just down the street, and—”

Phillip’s granddaddy returned. “Here you are.”

Tristan stared but didn’t reach for the helmet he held out.

Stepping in between his granddaddy and Tristan, Phillip took the helmet. “I got it.” He set the helmet on Tristan’s head and adjusted the strap, allowing his fingers to graze Tristan’s stubble on his strong jawline.

Smiling at Thomas, Phillip shook his hand. “Nice meeting you. I’ll take good care of your grandson.”

“I’ve no doubt.” Thomas grinned over at Tristan.

Tristan exhaled hard and seemed to study the cracks in the concrete under the table.

Phillip hugged his granddaddy.

Tristan fussed with the helmet like it offended him. “Pop-Pop, please use your brace and call me if you need anything.”

“I’ll make sure he has everything he wants,” Granddaddy promised with a grin.

Thomas cocked his head and stared at Granddaddy with his mouth open. Phillip couldn’t be sure whether Thomas’s expression was confusion or his considering the offer.

Tristan shook hands with Granddaddy and then hugged his own.

Biting back a smile at the helmet that looked out of place on Tristan’s head, Phillip tugged him toward the parking lot.

Tristan eyed Phillip’s bike with suspicion.

“What’s the matter?”

He shrugged. “I’ve never… been on a motorcycle before.”

Phillip wasn’t surprised. “Really? What else haven’t you done?”

“A lot.”

Well, fuck!