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Axlan “Ax” Barney is a lovable teddy bear. He’s big, broad, and loving. All he wants is someone to see past his stuffing to the man underneath.

Isao “Issy” Hideo is brilliant and beautiful. He’s running away from his family, who refused to accept him for who he is and who he wants to love.

While Ax tries to help a friend through hardship, Issy works to show he’s strong enough to stand through any pain his man could face.


Loathe to waste the fifteen dollars, Ax raised the glass and gulped it down, feeling the burn and the rush of the alcohol. He flagged down the bartender and got a bottle of water, equally as overpriced as the whiskey. As he sipped a thin body worked its way in next to him. Figuring it was one of the many party boys looking to get more liquor in his system, Ax kept his head down.

Cher, no one so pretty should look so unhappy.” Soft lips and hot breath pressed against his ear made him startle as much as the smooth southern accent he remembered from earlier.

Ax turned his head and looked into the chocolate eyes of the cab driver he’d ogled before spilling his best friend into the back of the man’s cab. The man was even more beautiful up close. “Sorry, what?”

A seductive smile curved those tempting lips. He pulled back only a few inches and spoke loudly to be heard over the pounding music. “Ax, oui?”

“We what?” Ax felt like an owl as he blinked at the god deigning to speak to him.

The man tipped his head back and laughed. Ax felt his cheeks heat. Of course the man wasn’t suggesting they do anything together. The deep accent suddenly triggered in Ax’s head a memory of a trip to New Orleans. Yes, not we, dummy. “Um, yes, I’m Ax. How did you know my name?”

“Your friend,” he replied, his face still split in a wide grin.

“Pete? Is he okay?” Suddenly anxious, Ax stood and started for the door. If that little shit did anything to hurt Pete, Ax would find him and kick his scrawny ass.

A slim hand curled around his bicep and pulled him to a stop in the relatively quieter lobby. Ax looked down and shivered. The man had gorgeous hands with long slender fingers tipped in short opalescent-polished nails. “He’s fine, Ax. Last I left him he was humpin’ that bitch up against his door. I’m not here because of him. I’m here because of you, cher.”

Ax frowned in confusion. “Why?”

The man’s smile went from amused to sultry. He pressed his trim body, accentuated in a tight red thermal and tighter black jeans, along Ax’s side. His free hand slid around his hip and up to rest in the small of Ax’s back and bring him in closer. He rose onto his toes, rubbing his body along Ax’s and once again spoke into Ax’s ear. “Because, cher, I’m off duty and I want to spend a little time.”

“With me?” Ax couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice.

Mais oui.”

Ax gulped again. He couldn’t believe this gorgeous man wanted him. As he pulled away, the smaller man’s hand slid down and fleetingly caressed Ax’s ass. Ax felt his cock, already half hard, surge against his zipper. By the widening of the man’s grin, he felt Ax’s reaction, too. Cocking one black brow, he nodded toward the door. “Shall we?”