When professional turns personal, it’s too late to step back. . .
Smart, young and ambitious, the future’s bright for Jake Stafford—except for his addiction to a man he should have turned his back on years before. When he receives news that forces him to re-evaluate his life, Jake has to kick his habit and go cold turkey for good.
When Oliver Lester walks out on his life in New York and returns to London after an absence of more than twenty years, the biggest piece of baggage he brings back is a broken heart. Powerful and sought after, Oliver is a man whose corporate reputation goes before him but as he stares into his future he sees nothing but work-filled days and empty, lonely nights.
Free of long-term relationships which have left them disillusioned and cynical, neither man is looking to risk his heart. But an invitation to dinner leads to more, and Jake and Oliver find themselves swept up in an affair neither is seeking. Crossing the line and breaking all the rules, both men come to learn what it is to feel whole and complete as they begin to fall in love.
But the past has one final trick up its sleeve. An uninvited guest, a violent confrontation and the fear history is repeating itself leaves them reeling.
As the future they promised each other hangs in the balance, Jake and Oliver are faced with a stark question: can they find the strength to destroy the past before the past destroys them?
Corporate Bodies is the third and final book in the Urban Love series, but it can be read as true stand-alone – there is no need to read the books in order.
Word count: 86,500 approx., a full-length novel.
Jake turned back to the bookshelf. Oliver licked his paper-dry lips.
“I’ve read this, it’s my all-time favourite. Seriously, I must have read it at least twenty times.”
Oliver smiled, he couldn’t help it, the delight and enthusiasm in Jake’s voice genuine and unrestrained. Oliver moved closer, and stood behind Jake, who pulled the book from the shelf.
“Oh, wow, your copy is even more beaten up than mine.”
Oliver looked down at the book in Jake’s hand. A book he’d had since he was a teenager, read over and over again throughout the years, pages turned so often they had started to fall out only to be stuck back in, the tape that reattached them now brittle and yellow.
Oliver reached for the book, his hand brushing Jake’s, all his awareness and focus on the man standing just inches from him. Every draw of Jake’s breath, every pore of his skin, every strand of auburn hair, the deep, rich colour of chestnuts. And the heat of him, Oliver could feel the heat from Jake’s skin, he swore he could.
Silence wrapped itself around them. Jake turned his head and Oliver stared into grey eyes turned black, the pupils blown so wide they devoured the irises, leaving only the merest hint of colour. Unnoticed, the book slipped from their hands, and fell to the floor. As their lips joined in a long, slow kiss Oliver had no idea who it was who made the first move, only glad that the move had been made.
An eternity passed before Oliver dragged his lips from Jake’s.
“This is—God, I don’t know what this is.” Resting his forehead against Jake’s, Oliver closed his eyes. What was he doing? Ever cautious, ever careful, what he was doing and what he so desperately wanted to do with Jake was as far from cautious and careful as it was possible to get. He was out of his depth, engulfed suddenly in a world where he had no control. It scared him, but by Christ it thrilled him even more.
Oliver’s heart skipped a beat as Jake’s arms coiled around his waist, pulled him in hard to his body and kept him steady. How long had it been since somebody had been his support, taken his weight, the way Jake was doing those things now? Too long, too damn long. The arms that held him tight, and the body that was solid and strong against his own felt so good. Oliver wanted to stay like this forever and just be held, but he couldn’t do that because like this, in Jake’s arms, they were breaking all the rules. Oliver made to pull away, but Jake tightened his hold.
“I kissed you, Oliver. I’ve wanted to kiss you since I saw you across the floor of that restaurant. I wanted to kiss you then and I want to kiss you now.” Jake shifted his head, seeking and finding Oliver’s lips again.
Hunger clawed at Oliver. Hunger for the man who pressed hard against him, Jake’s need and want matching his own. A man who wanted him for him, not an escort with a wide smile and a willing body only because it was a transaction, business, a sale and with about as much heart and soul.
Little strangled moans escaped from Jake when Oliver pushed back against him. He shouldn’t be doing this, he shouldn’t be kissing with a fervour that matched Jake’s, he shouldn’t be crushing his body against Jake’s and feeling every inch of his arousal meet his own. He shouldn’t be doing any of this because the man he wanted so much it burned was Jake. Twenty years younger, a junior colleague, a man whose career he could make or break, to do this was wrong but wrong had never, ever felt so right.
A E Ryecart (or Ali as her readers know her) writes contemporary MM romance and gay fiction laced with angst and high emotion. Her main men are complex, multi-faceted characters facing tough decisions – the problem is, they don’t always make the right choices. So they suffer, big time. After all, it’s a rocky, uphill road to a happy ever after, but the guys get there in the end. So far, Ali’s stories have been set in and around London, the city she was born and raised in, providing a thrilling, metropolitan back-drop to the main action, but she’s hatching plans to travel further afield.
Ali spends a lot of time writing in cafés as she likes to be within reach of a good coffee! The murmur of conversation, the hissing of the espresso machines and the whirl of the milk frother all provide a welcome background hum to the men in her head, who all shout for her attention.