Authors: T.A. Webb
The Broken Road Café (Broken Road Café #1) is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by T.A. Webb
Cover photograph from iStock.com Cover Art by Laura E. Harner
Edited by Jae Ashley
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This book wouldn’t exist without Laura Harner. She asked me one day, what would you do if you could do anything you wanted? I always wanted to own a restaurant, and this series was born in ten minutes. Thank you, my friend. I love you.
What would I do without Will Parkinson? He’s simply the best, and I owe him so much. Thank you, my friend. I love you too.
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Table of Contents
Jasper’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (The Not Neiman
Marcus $250 Cookie)
About the Author
Also by the Author
…Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars. Pointing me on my way into your loving arms…
It may have been the coffee that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The meeting had been going on since eight o’clock that morning, and Daniel O’Leary was doing his best to stay focused. The law firm had taken on a new large corporate client, and the team assigned to their care and feeding was strategizing how to maximize services and doling out assignments. Dan had been with the firm since graduating from law school ten years earlier, had just made partner, and was used to the on-and-on nature of these kinds of meetings. Since there were new associates, though, Greg Simkins, the managing partner was at his most talkative.
Breakfast was coffee and assorted pastries, and they were fucking excellent. The flavor of the coffee was so very different than the standard little green bags they had stored in the break room freezer, and Dan wondered if it was just his imagination. Then he noticed the outfits of the two young men setting up lunch, and didn’t recognize the name. Must be a new caterer, he thought idly, and stood to get away from a boring conversation being held across him by two of the shiny new legal-ettes, as he thought of them, and made his way over to the table where trays of food were being laid out.
Croissants, fresh and flaky, were heaped on a tray with slices of what looked and smelled like fresh baked multi-grain bread. Piles of roast beef and turkey and ham, cheeses and fresh lettuces and tomatoes were stacked high on platters, and a delicious looking pasta salad sat to the side. Funny that the food in the room caught his attention more than the work at hand. There was a time when the prospect of a new client would have him practically bouncing in his seat. But now…not so much.
What did you do when you had it all, and it wasn’t what you’d pictured it to be? Dan had everything he dreamed about—partner before forty in a top law firm, a lover, great friends. And…it was all okay. But wasn’t it supposed to be more than just okay? There was something restless about him lately. Something that made him crabby. He had trouble focusing on his work, and any time he had to work with the managing partner, it was all he could do to keep the snark factor below a four. At least today, the food was amazing. He’d start a conversation with the guy finishing up setting the table, but it might get the young man in trouble with his boss if Greggie-boy saw or heard him, so he just settled for a nod of appreciation.
After making a sandwich and grabbing another mug of that coffee—damn, but he couldn’t remember having any better in ages—Dan made his way back to his seat at the table and dug into the food. Impressed, he made a note in his binder of the name of the catering company. He was so wrapped up in enjoying the meal that he almost didn’t hear Greg Simkins when he started handing out assignments.
“Whoa, wait a minute,” Dan choked out. “What did you say?”
The immaculately dressed man raised an eyebrow and the corner of his mouth quirked up. “If you can tear yourself away from your lunch, Dan, I wouldn’t have to repeat myself. You are assigned to represent Carlos Delgado, Randolph and Mays’s Assistant COO, in front of Judge Hayes next week. The details are in your folio. Now, moving along—”
Dan didn’t know what got into him, but he stopped the arrogant managing partner in his tracks. “Don’t be an ass, Greg. I don’t report to you, so you can stop the bulldozer treatment right now. I want to hear why we’re taking on a criminal defense, which is
my specialty, for a new client, and I’m the assigned attorney?” He flipped open his folio and scanned through the files until he saw the summary of the case. Ignoring the silence and the cold stare from Simkins, who Dan considered a jerk anyway, he read the case, growing more and more furious.
Closing his eyes and drawing in a breath, Dan counted to ten, then another ten before he opened his eyes and stared up at the ceiling. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Now, Dan, we can take this conversation private and move on with the briefing.”
“No. We are talking about it now. I want to know two things. One. Why is the firm representing a drug trafficking case for a new client, one I was
given the common courtesy of being asked to take on before this meeting? And two, and more importantly, are you out of your fucking mind?” Impressed that he managed to keep from screaming, Dan finally turned his gaze to Simkins. Seeing the condescension on his face, Dan did something he usually didn’t do. He gave in to his irritation and called it quits before his temper boiled over. “Never mind. I’m taking the rest of the day off. I’ll be in tomorrow. Hold my calls.” He’d use the time to try to figure out why he was so on edge, and why this case, in particular, set him off.
Dan reached for his briefcase, shoved his folio in and rose to leave. Stopping at the lunch spread, he grabbed a croissant and looked back over his shoulder. “One thing you
do right today is the caterer. Kudos.”
He could hear Simkins clear his throat and resume the weekly briefing before the door closed. It felt like a ten ton weight off his chest, and he savored the taste of the buttery bread as he waited for the elevator to take him to his car. The whole morning pissed him off—what a waste of fucking time and energy. When he got back in to the office tomorrow, he’d have a meeting with Greg and the other partners and straighten this mess out. Dan was baffled as to why the partners’ had assigned him a criminal case, and a little—no, a lot—off his game about why the case hadn’t been brought up at all in the partners’ meeting.
As the elevator reached the parking deck, Dan heard his phone buzz. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled it out and checked it, snorting as he saw it was one of the other partners. A text,
Come back and we’ll discuss it
. He hesitated, then texted back quickly,
Tomorrow, okay? I can’t take any more of Greg today
. Dan thumbed the volume off, then turned his phone to vibrate after considering powering it off completely. It wasn’t like he didn’t put in sixty plus hours most weeks. They could damn well do without him for part of one day, but he left it on anyway.
Smiling, Dan stepped off the elevator into the parking deck and yanked his tie loose. Unbuttoning the top button with one hand, he fished out the keys to his ’68 Mustang convertible and unlocked the door. Throwing his jacket and briefcase into the passenger seat, he unlocked the top—
ah, the joys of pre-electronic gadgets
—and settled in. He sat, taking in a few deep breaths while he wondered what to do next. It was lunchtime, the sun was out, and the top was down. Stone Mountain was a good choice if he wanted to drive around for a while. He could take in a movie. Or…
The thought of Abe at home, in his boxers and not much else, working on his book, really appealed to Dan. His partner for a little over a year, Abe Goldenburg was the perfect offset for Dan’s workaholic suit-and-tie mentality. They’d met at a party, and a friend of a friend introduced the two. Abe was working on a story about the changing face of the big law firms in Atlanta—how more and more gay partners were out, and the stereotypical discrimination-based law wasn’t all they focused on. He framed it as post
law, and it was a great article.
While he was just starting to gain some traction with his freelancing, Abe was working on a full length novel about a gay spy during the cold war. Dan had been glad to work the extra hours and kiss all the ass he’d been able to stomach to make partner so he could afford the townhouse
let Abe work from home. Hell, if the book—and Abe’s writing career—took off, he could sit at home in his Jockeys, eat ice cream, and watch Judge Judy once in a while too.
His mind made up, Dan turned the car toward home. He would’ve grabbed lunch for them, but damn, the spread had been terrific and it wasn’t more food he wanted. What he wanted was Abe, but holy shit, if food didn’t run a close second to sex sometimes. What Dan should have done was bring a plate home and eat it in bed. Off of Abe’s abs. He’d better focus on the road. *
He thought he’d surprise Abe. Dan knew how hard Abe was working on the manuscript, so he let himself into the condo quietly. All the downstairs lights were out, and he could hear what he figured was the television on upstairs in the loft area. The two story condo opened up on the second level to a bedroom with a wraparound patio that gave great early afternoon shade. The space was large, and Abe had made his office along one wall of the second bedroom up there.
Dan threw his briefcase and suit jacket over the armchair at the base of the stairs and toed off his shoes. Climbing up the stairs, he tugged his tie completely off and started unbuttoning his shirt. Grinning in anticipation, he heard moans and wet sounds that could only be fucking.
Damn, Abe must have the porn started up
. Perfect. Rounding the corner, Dan could feel his cock stirring in his slacks and imagined Abe spread out and jacking off. He reached for his belt buckle, and…
Stretched out across their bed, Abe was taking it at both ends from two guys. Guys he knew and trusted.
“What. In. The.
Dan stood frozen, but Gary, his best friend, had the grace to look surprised. Of course, that didn’t last long when Abe pulled his mouth off Gary’s cock and groaned, “Come on, man, fuck my mouth. That’s so good.” When Gary didn’t move, Abe reached back and turned to Kerry, Gary’s partner, probably to beg him to fuck a little harder, when he caught sight of Dan. Kerry must have noticed then, and he turned.
“Well, isn’t it times like this you wish you had a camera? Oh wait, I do.” Numbly, Dan pulled his iPhone out and started flicking pictures. That seemed to break the tableau, and the three guys started talking all at once, sputtering excuses and grabbing for clothes. Dan looked at the pictures, a little sick. “At least you were wearing rubbers. I…”
Abe was the first to reach him. “Baby, it’s not what it looks like.”
Dan was incredulous. “Are you fucking
me? You have a cock in your mouth and one in your ass, and it’s not what it looks like?” He stepped back, not wanting Abe to touch him. “Okay, thrill me. What is it, then? Did you all trip onto the bed and your clothes fell off? And then both of their cocks just happened to slip into you? Because if it isn’t something like that, then I don’t know what the fuck it is.”
All three men stood there blank in the face of his anger, Abe naked and Gary and Kerry pulling up their shorts. From his place blocking the door, Dan had an epiphany.
was what ten years of hard work, then a year of loving and supporting your lover got you. It got you being thirty-five fucking years old, worked half to death in a job that you were starting to realize you hate, and a best friend who cuts your heart out with blunt scissors. Oh, and a lover who betrays you in the worst way possible.
What a fucking fool I’ve been. And how they must have laughed their asses off at me.
Abe stood there for a minute, looking like he was going to reach for Dan, then dropped his hands. “I’m sorry.”
The silence seemed to go on forever. Dan waited for more, but it never seemed to come. “Sorry? That’s all I get?
? You know what?
sorry. And fuck you all. I’m going for a drive. When I get back, I want you all out of here. Gary, I can’t even think right now. Twenty years we’ve been friends? What a fucking idiot I am, man. And, Abe, take your shit and go.” He heard the clamor start, but raised a hand to silence it. “I don’t care. All of you. Go. Now.”
Before any of them could try to stop him, he was down the stairs, in his shoes, and out the door. Skipping the elevator, Dan took the stairs and was in his car and halfway to the interstate before his brain registered anything. He wasn’t sure where he wanted to go, but the farther he got from home and, now that he stopped to think about it, from the office, the better. He needed to clear his head, do some thinking.
Stone Mountain sounded like a winner. The park around the mountain was huge, and he could dump the car and hike up the largest single piece of granite in the country. There were plenty of places he could stop and buy a pair of shorts, a tee shirt, and boots, because there was no way in hell he was going to go back home to get anything.
Ignoring the vibration of his phone, Dan let the sun beat down on him and the fresh air clear his clouded mind. The highway stretched out in front of him, and he could let his worries go and just focus on the blacktop. There would be time enough for thinking when he got there.