Raising the Bar

Release Date: March 5, 2013
Series:
Book 3 in series
Genre: ,
Type:
Raising the Bar
As Samhain Publishing has closed, the rights to this story have reverted to me. This book will be re-released, details to come.

Followup to the bestselling Enjoying the Show and Closing the Deal

One plus one plus one equals love.

Dr. Dylan Warren is too old to be swapping places with his twin, but to save a career-making deal, he’ll play his part. He hadn’t counted on a sexy, nosy contractor being able to tell the difference between them. In order to protect his brother’s reputation and explain his side of things, Dylan agrees to meet with Harper for dinner—in an upscale Victorian which turns out to be a high-class club catering to their patrons’ every need.

Dylan has never made any bones about being bi, but he’s never experienced two lovers in his bed before. Suddenly, he’s in lust with not only Harper, but the hot bartender serving him more than drinks. Between Freddy, a beautiful woman who seems to know him better than he knows himself, and Harper, a man who won’t take no for an answer, Dylan finds himself in that most uncomfortable of places—falling in love and not sure what to do about it…with two people. 

  • Release Date: March 5, 2013
  • ISBN: 978-1-61921-383-8
  • Length: Novel
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Dylan Warren paced outside the government complex and shivered in the cold December wind. Even in Augusta, Georgia, winters could get a bit chilly.

I can do this. It’s nothing but a thing. No one has to know.

After taking a deep breath, he let it out and entered the building, all the while cursing himself for letting Derrick take advantage of his generosity. How could he have forgotten for even a second that his twin was the Warren brother who never lost a bet?

Because of Derrick, the freakin’ Bears—who couldn’t seem to win a game—and his own stupidity, Dylan found himself doing something he hadn’t done in twenty years. God, I am too old for this sh*t. As he entered the narrow corridor leading to professional suicide, he tugged at the raggedy sweater that passed for Derrick’s Sunday best and swore again, clutching the handful of papers he’d memorized last night.

A gift for total recall was the only thing going in his favor today. He had a meeting with his mother later that he’d been dreading. As he waited in the quiet lobby of the planner’s office, he tried not to dwell on what might go wrong with Derrick’s stupid scheme. He had a hard enough time living up to his mother’s estimable reputation without getting caught playing dress-up. Christ, if Dr. Barbara Ann Warren got wind of this, he’d never hear the end of it. But then, that might be preferable to hearing about—

“Derrick Warren?” A prim older woman who looked like she walked with a stick up her ass stood in the doorway to his left and stared down her nose at him. The dreaded secretary, Marly Bennett. Derrick had warned him that the woman ate contractors like candy.

“Yes, ma’am?” He gave her his best grin, and her frown turned into a tight-lipped line.

“Ms. Wielder will see you now.”

“Thank you.” As he drew closer, he stopped and sniffed. “I hope you don’t think this too forward, but you smell wonderful. You’re wearing Vintage, aren’t you?”

She blinked at him. “Why yes, I am.” The woman looked old enough to be his grandmother, but the warm smile she gave him told him she appreciated his noticing. At least the old Warren charm hadn’t disappeared along with his good sense.

He entered the office and found the city planner, Natalie Wielder, waiting impatiently at her desk. He stepped forward and held out a hand. “Ms. Wielder.”

She shook it and gestured for him to sit. “Mr. Warren.” She blew out a breath. “Cut the crap, Derrick. You’re late.” Apparently she and Derrick were on a first-name basis. One more thing his idiot brother hadn’t told him.

He frowned. “I was told the appointment was for noon.”

“Try eleven forty-five. You’re lucky you’re good-looking or Marly would have tossed you out on your ass. She has a thing for younger men, you know,” Natalie added with a smirk.

Friggin’ Derrick and his suck-ass ability to remember details—like what time the meeting started. “Sorry. I must have written it down wrong.”

“Whatever.” Natalie waved aside his apology. “You know Harper.”

No, he didn’t. Dylan forced himself to hold it together as he glanced over his shoulder at the man leaning against the wall, his thick forearms crossed over a broad chest. He had sandy hair and dark brown eyes and was dressed in a flannel shirt, jeans and work boots. A faint reference to Harper somebody came to mind. Derrick had been bitching about something…blah, blah, blah, and Harper fixed it.

Dylan nodded to the man. “Harper.” The guy had long eyelashes, a tanned complexion and really large biceps. He was handsome, ruggedly so. And not someone Derrick would ever find sexually attractive. Dylan, on the other hand…

“Derrick.” Harper’s eyes narrowed as he looked Dylan over, but he said nothing more.

“Give me the papers, Derrick. Derrick?” Natalie raised her voice.

Dylan turned away from Harper and his chocolaty brown eyes and handed her the report he’d been carrying. “Sorry. Been a long day.”

“And it’s only noon,” Natalie jeered. She studied the notes, reading through Derrick’s presentation, giving him a moment to compose himself.

A good thing, because Dylan found himself rattled. Derrick had given him the bare bones about today’s meeting. A necessary evil to clinch the new city development deal. Derrick had already been given the green light. He saw today as a mere formality. Yet Dylan considered the meeting anything but.

Natalie Wielder treated him with barely concealed disdain. He’d already been late. And holy shit, but this Harper guy stunned him. Dylan had particular tastes in his sexual partners. He was a professional, dated professionals, and liked men and women equally. He cared less about pedigree and looks than about a person’s inner character, probably because he’d grown up trying to figure out what made people tick.

But his reaction to Harper alarmed him, because he didn’t normally grow breathless around…well, anyone. He chalked up his nerves to the threat of being exposed as a fraud and did his best to focus.

Natalie asked Dylan questions about the bid, and he answered them easily enough. He concentrated on being Derrick, aware his brother was counting on him. Sydney had finally put his brother out of his misery and moved in with him, and Derrick planned to capitalize on his good fortune with a weekend of unbridled sex. The lucky bastard.

If only the Bears had made that final field goal, Dylan wouldn’t have lost that stupid bet. Then Derrick would have had to postpone his trip to Charleston. Derrick would have answered all of Natalie’s questions. And Derrick wouldn’t have to ignore an unwelcome attraction to the tall, brooding Harper.

Natalie asked Dylan a few more questions before turning her attention to the hunky guy in flannel.

She said his name twice, and Dylan belatedly realized Harper had been watching him instead of paying attention to her. Hell.

Harper blinked. “Sorry, Nat. What’s that?”

She gave him an odd look. “You sure you got enough sleep last night? You’re as off as Derrick today.”

“Thanks a lot,” Dylan muttered.

Harper shook his head. “Just… Nothing.”

“Good. These figures are the same ones we discussed two weeks ago, so I’m glad we’re still tracking on budget. But what about the additional buildings near the new civic center? How are we on that project?” She included Dylan in her question, and he didn’t know what to say. Derrick hadn’t mentioned anything about some civic center buildings. What the hell had happened to Answer questions from the report, accept the job, and shake the barracuda’s hand for me. It’s all just a lot of red tape. I’ve already got the job?

“Hmm, the civic center. Let me think.” How to bluff his way out of this one?

Harper spoke. “I can’t answer for Derrick, but I’d say we’re square. No issues on our initial groundwork for the new government offices.”

Dylan coughed. “Yeah, what he said.” That sounded like something Derrick would say.

Natalie nodded. “Okay. Then, Derrick? We’re good. You’ve got the project. I’ll see you in two weeks for an update. Friday at eleven forty-five.”

He smiled, relieved this farce was over. “Sure thing. Great. Thanks.” He stood to leave.

“So has Sydney found me a house yet? I like her. I’m still not sure how you ended up with her, though.” Natalie gave him a baleful once-over, and had Dylan not been playing a part, he’d have enjoyed her seeming immunity to Derrick’s allure.

“Sydney’s great.” She made his brother happy, and for that, Dylan loved her. It didn’t hurt that she also happened to be as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. Yet another great future sister-in-law to add to the family. “I don’t know about your house. She tells me to keep my big nose out of her business.” He’d overheard her tell Derrick to butt out several times. No lie there.

Natalie chuckled, and now that the stress of the meeting had faded, Dylan could see the woman had nice eyes. She was a little too businesslike for his taste, but he appreciated her quick mind and wide smile.

“I like your girlfriend. Tell her I’ll call her soon.”

“I will.” He turned, only to bump into Harper, and his entire body locked up.

“I’ll walk you out,” Harper said smoothly, his voice deeper than Dylan’s. Husky, sexy. And totally off limits for heterosexual Derrick.

Dylan took a step back and quirked a grin. “Sure thing, man. See you, Natalie.” Shit. He had to get away from this place and back to his office to change. He checked his watch. He had less than an hour before he had to meet his mother. It wouldn’t be good form to be late to lunch, dressed in Derrick’s attempt at business casual. Besides, he needed to don some metaphorical armor—his business dress and sports coat—because he had a bad feeling he knew what she wanted to tell him.

They left the office, and Dylan waved to Marly, who winked back at him.

He exited the building and had nearly reached his brother’s green SUV when Harper put a hand on his arm.

“Yeah?” Dylan asked gruffly as he turned and nearly bumped into Harper again. The man stood too close, caging Dylan between the vehicle and his body.

Harper smiled, and a sly expression passed over his face as he gave Dylan a less-than-subtle once-over. “You must be Dylan. Uncanny. You guys are identical.”

“Dude, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Dylan snorted and ignored the sweat beading on his brow despite the cold. Hell, he had a few patients who worked in the mayor’s office. If word of today got out, his reputation would take a serious hit. Grown men didn’t swap places with their sex-obsessed twins. “Gotta go. I’ll see you—”

“Tell you what. Why don’t we go back inside and ask Natalie what she thinks? Maybe you could tell her all about the faculties project we didn’t get to in the meeting.” Harper folded his arms across his chest and waited. He didn’t look amused.

“Oh, uh, that project.” Dylan shrugged. “I agree with you. We’re on the same page, man. Don’t sweat it.”

Harper raised a brow. “That’s odd, because the faculties project doesn’t exist. I just made that up.”

“I knew that. I was messing with you.” Dylan needed to leave. Now. “You going to move or what, Harper?”

“What’s my last name?”

“Dumbass?”

Harper chuckled and stepped closer. They stood practically on top of each other, and Dylan swallowed hard. “Yeah, and there’s that,” Harper murmured with what sounded like satisfaction.

“What?”

Harper licked his lips. “That. In all the time I’ve known Derrick, he’s never looked at my mouth like he wants to f*ck it.”

 

Warning!

Losing a bet may lead to sex clubs, threesomes, and spankings. One sexy psychiatrist, one giant hunk of a contractor, and one cute blond bartender combine in all imaginable configurations…and then some.

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