Hi guys, we have Cass Lennox popping in today with her debut release Blank Spaces, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant giveaway, so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~
Absence is as crucial as presence.
The decision to stop dating has made Vaughn Hargrave’s life infinitely simpler: he has friends, an excellent wardrobe, and a job in the industry he loves. That’s all he really needs, especially since sex isn’t his forte anyway and no one else seems interested in a purely romantic connection. But when a piece is stolen from his art gallery and insurance investigator Jonah Sondern shows up, Vaughn finds himself struggling with that decision.
Jonah wants his men like his coffee: hot, intense, and daily. But Vaughn seems to be the one gay guy in Toronto who doesn’t do hookups, which is all Jonah can offer. No way can Jonah give Vaughn what he really wants, not when Jonah barely understands what love is.
When another painting goes missing, tension ramps up both on and off the clock. Vaughn and Jonah find themselves grappling not just with stolen art, but with their own differences. Because a guy who wants nothing but romance and a guy who wants nothing but sex will never work—right? Not unless they find a way to fill in the spaces between them.
They paused in front of the door, which had a big sign saying Closed Due to Unforeseen Circumstances in nice lettering. Through the door and the glass windows beside it, they could see a young man sitting at a desk with a laptop. Garrett rapped on the door, and the man looked up.
Jonah’s breath caught. Holy shit. The guy was hot. Tall and lean, in a form-fitting blazer over a patterned, collarless dark-blue shirt, cheekbones you could slice cheese with, and curly dark hair around his face. Grey eyes. Clear pale skin. Mmm. Jonah would bet money he looked even better without the expensive clothes. He could just picture it: a hairless chest; thin, hard torso; long cock—
The guy moved out from behind the desk, and Jonah saw he was wearing deck shoes and green pants. The shirt’s pattern was light-blue tulips. Lust careened to an abrupt halt. Who the fuck wore green pants? Willingly? And deck shoes in winter? Rich boys who don’t have to worry about wet feet or walking in snow, that’s who. This guy probably took taxis everywhere.
He shook his head to clear it. This was work, not a bar. Focus.
Gorgeous opened the door. “Can I help you?”
“We’re from Laigh and Sanders,” Garrett said.
“Please come in.” He opened the door wide for them. Jonah followed Garrett in, making sure to stamp the excess slush off his boots on the way. A place like this, dirt stains would show up like mud on snow. In fact, he and Garrett probably stood out like sore thumbs in their cheap suits and bright snow jackets.
“You may hang your coats up there,” Gorgeous (but badly dressed) said, indicating coat hooks on one wall. “I’ll inform my colleagues that you’re here.”
“And you are?” Garrett asked.
Gorgeous paused on his way into the gallery. “I’m Vaughn Hargrave, the gallery assistant. Please excuse me for a moment.”
If the shoes, clothes, and job weren’t enough, the name sealed it. Hargrave was the name on a shiny plaque on a very shiny building near Jonah’s office, one that he walked past every day. Gorgeous was Money. Jonah almost bristled at the way he sauntered off, not least because those pants showed off a mouth-watering ass. It was better than his, which wasn’t fair, as he had to spend two hours a day at the gym for his and Hargrave looked like his idea of heavy lifting was a latte instead of a cappuccino.
“You okay?” Garrett asked, shrugging off his jacket. “You look like you drank cold coffee.”
“I hate places like this.”
“Art galleries?” Garrett glanced around. “Not my favourite kind of place, but good for a date. Girls seem to like staring at random shit on walls.”
Jonah wasn’t about to tell him that he wasn’t into girls, or dates to galleries, or dating at all. His ideal date was a drink before being fucked against a wall. Definitely couldn’t tell his boss that. “I don’t get art.”
“Me either, bud.” Garrett picked up a pamphlet on the front desk. “Oh hey, a Christmas exhibition. That’s fun.” He frowned as he thumbed through the pamphlet. “Oh. None of this looks very Christmassy.”
Jonah glanced over his shoulder in time to see a picture of a naked woman on a cross, bleeding from places he’d rather not think about. That was art? He’d rather stick with insurance.
Hargrave returned. “My manager says he’ll meet you upstairs. Please follow me.”
They were being shunted out of the way already. Jonah glanced at Garrett, then decided to push back. “Do you mind if we see where the piece was?”
Vaughn smiled apologetically, smooth and practiced. “Unfortunately, the police are still surveying it.”
Garrett stepped forward. “I’ll meet with your manager while my colleague looks at the scene.”
Jonah shot him a grateful glance. He definitely wanted that spot scoped out for their own peace of mind.
Vaughn glanced between the two of them, his rich-boy good looks tugging at Jonah’s dick. Ugh, he was cute from allthe angles. “If that’s how you’d prefer to do things, Mr. . . .?”
“Garrett Barlow. This is Jonah Sondern.”
Vaughn nodded. “The space where the piece was is through there, Mr. Sondern. Please follow me, Mr. Barlow.” He led Garrett to a door in the next room, punched a key code in, then ushered Garett through it.
Jonah moved in the direction Vaughn had indicated, behind the desk into the next room, which was a large clear space with paintings and random shit on the walls. Columns with stuff on top of them or pinned to them were dotted around the room, and there were two police officers talking to a fierce-looking woman in heels and a long skirt. She had to be Angeline, the owner, who he’d “spoken” to on the phone earlier.
They stood in front of an empty section of wall. There was a plaque on it, presumably for the stolen piece, and the police officers were taking pictures and notes. Jonah stepped forward, hoping to see for himself if there were any cracks or obvious smudges or scrapes in the paint on the wall.
There wasn’t anything.
So he, the police, and the gallery owner were all staring at a wall featuring a grand sum of nothing on it. What kind of information could be had from that?
Talk about feeling like a chump.
Angeline caught sight of him. “Who are you?”
“Jonah Sondern, claims investigator from Laigh and Sanders.” He had the full intro down by now.
Her lip curled. “Ah. You. Vaughn should have taken you to see Maurice.”
“My colleague’s with him. I’m here to survey the site.” He nodded at the police officers, who were giving him that steady, expectant look law enforcement seemed to do so well. “Officers, we’re here from the insurance company to investigate the legitimacy of the claim. I wanted to ensure we’re all seeing the same thing.”
The officers glanced at each other, then at Angeline. She looked ready to throw something.
“We’ve searched the building and the piece is not here,” one of the officers said. “How it happened is the real question.”
Yeah, the million-dollar question for his company.
Jonah scanned the room. There was some crazy shit in here. One piece looked like someone had scrawled black pen on a canvas, but the pen marks were actually black threads. One painting was of mangled shapes in shades of yellow and orange. Another painting was literally a huge wall’s worth of white paint and one smear of red. And one of the columns had a gigantic Q hanging from it. What is that even supposed to be? Hopefully the stolen piece wasn’t as nutty as the rest of the art here. He had no way of judging how valuable any of this stuff was, not beyond I wouldn’t pay a dime for it.
“No break-in?” he asked.
“We’ll provide details in our report,” the officer said smoothly.
Vaughn appeared beside Jonah, startling him. Shit, he was tall—Jonah’s eyes were level with Vaughn’s chin. Damn it, not only was the guy loaded and a clothes freak, Jonah also had to look up at him? Nope, seriously not fair.
“I have the security log here.” Vaughn held up papers in one hand, then gave them to the police officers.
“We’ll need that,” Jonah said to him.
“I left a copy with my manager to give to your colleague.”
Jonah tried not to glare (up) at him. For someone who willingly wore tulips on his shirt, Money was organized.
And really handsome up close, which meant he was leaving unfair and travelling into downright unjust territory.
“We’re done here,” the officers said to Angeline. “You’re free to open the gallery to visitors; we’re not going to get any more information.”
Angeline walked the officers to the door, which meant Jonah found himself in front of an empty wall with Vaughn. He took his phone out and snapped a few pictures, then put it away, feeling silly. This wasn’t exactly a straightforward burglary; there wasn’t a sign of breaking in and none of the other pieces seemed to have been touched.
Also, standing next to what had to be the son of the guy who ran that expensive-looking company near Laigh and Sanders was awkward. Jonah eyed him and wondered what he was thinking. He didn’t look at ease; his arms were crossed and he had the slightest frown on his face as he gazed at the wall. Jonah half wanted to sigh; he even looked hot frowning. Just how beautiful was a guy allowed to be?
Read more at: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/blank-spaces (just click the excerpt tab)
Cass Lennox is a permanent expat who has lived in more countries than she cares to admit to and suffers from a chronic case of wanderlust as a result. She started writing stories at the tender age of eleven, but would be the first to say that the early years are best left forgotten and unread. A great believer in happy endings, she arrived at queer romance via fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, and manga, and she can’t believe it took her that long. Her specialties are diverse characters, gooey happy ever afters, and brownies. She’s currently sequestered in a valley in southeast England.
Connect with Cass:
- Blog: casslennox.wordpress.com/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/Cass-Lennox-1704635609768647/
- Twitter: twitter.com/CassLennox