All the Way to ShoreBy: CJane Elliott
Jonathan Vallen has never felt good enough. A gentle musician who loves to garden, he’s woefully unsuited to running Vallen Industries, the family business. When his father hires a hotshot executive, Marco Pellegrini, to save the company, Jonathan moves away and leaves his humiliation behind. A year later and forty pounds lighter, Jonathan runs into Marco on an LGBT cruise. Marco doesn’t recognize him, the sparks fly, and Jonathan pretends to be someone else for the week—Jonah Rutledge—someone good enough to be loved.
Marco Pellegrini has always been driven. He rose from poverty to the pinnacle of business success, and he’ll do anything to protect his reputation—including hiding his bisexuality. Having saved Vallen Industries, he’s weary of the rat race and ready for a more meaningful life. When Marco meets his soul mate for that new life—Jonah Rutledge—on an LGBT cruise, he prepares to stop hiding and start living.
Back on land, the romance crashes when Marco discovers his perfect man is not only a lie but the son of his boss, Frederick Vallen. Jonathan resolves to win Marco back, but Frederick takes vengeful action. Jonathan and Marco must battle their own fears as well as Frederick’s challenge to get to the future that awaits them on the horizon.
BIG THANKS to Dreamspinner Press for creating the Dreamspun Desires line. The call to write a trope-tastic romance sparked my creativity and I had the best time writing this story. Thank you to Lynn West for letting me publish this novella way earlier than if I’d waited for my Dreamspun Desires slot! Thank you to Ione, my fantastic senior editor, and to L.C. Chase, my extraordinary cover artist.
As always, thanks to my guys, Michael and Nathan, who keep me sane and fed and loved.
CAPE COD—January 2016
JANUARY IN Cape Cod could chill a man’s soul.
And other parts, Jonathan thought, gazing at the stormy ocean while Cantata chased the waves back and forth. He kicked sand into a listless arc that quickly thudded back to earth. Just like he had—from enchanting dream to grim reality in one week. At least the enchantment part had lasted a few days. Because when reality struck, it was like a karate chop—quick and ruthless. One evening he’d been in Marco Pellegrini’s arms, floating on kisses and champagne in the warm tropical breezes, and the next morning….
Jonathan winced and turned back toward the house, calling for Cantata, who bounded up to him. No use reliving it for the hundredth time. He’d been graced with a chance at love, and in true Jonathan Vallen fashion, he’d blown it.
“Come on, girl.” He ran a hand over Cantata’s shaggy fur. “Time for lunch.”
Get over it and move on.
SO REMIND me not to drink Courvoisier while listening to Debussy. Turns me into a complete wreck. I should have known better. He and I drank Courvoisier while listening to Debussy. That was the night we…. Yeah. Like I said, no more of that. It’s time to decide what to do with the rest of my life. I’m ready to make some major changes. Maybe I’ll buy some of that art I’ve been considering. That abstract piece would be great on the living room wall. Jonah’s right—I need more color in my life. Wait. Stop thinking about what Jonah—no, Jonathan—thinks. And what he looks like. And how he felt, and smelled, and… fuck. Need another Courvoisier.
“I’M HAPPY to introduce to you our new acting CEO, Marco Pellegrini.”
Father actually tried to crack a smile as he surveyed the Vallen Industries staff crowded into the conference room. At age fifty-six, he still cut a commanding figure with his height and handsome features, his body kept in reasonable shape by regular exercise. But forcing a face perpetually set on “fuck you” to look pleasant was beyond even his abilities. He managed a weird grimace, after making sure to scowl in Jonathan’s direction to let him know he was still in the doghouse.
Message received, sir, Jonathan thought, pushing his Coke-bottle-thick glasses up his nose and acting politely enthusiastic as Father and Pellegrini bumped fists.