Ryan spent Saturday afternoon dropping off flyers for that night's show at every shop and restaurant within a five-block radius, then rushed back to help Cameron with final preparations behind the bar. Business started to pick up around seven. By eight thirty, there was a line trailing out the door. He and Cam could barely keep up with all the drink orders.
"What the hell happened?" he wondered aloud, shooting Cam a bewildered glance as he topped off the fifth pitcher of beer he'd sold in as many minutes. "I didn't think we'd get this kind of a turnout."
"Word's probably gotten out about last night's floor show. I'll bet they're hoping for a repeat performance."
"Something tells me they're gonna be disappointed."
Cameron grinned. "Not when they see what Mike's wearing tonight. It might just cause another riot."
His curiosity now cranked into overdrive, Ryan slipped away a few minutes before show time and poked his head in the office door. He couldn't see Mike's face from this angle, but he caught a glimpse of something white and billowy in the bathroom mirror. Something making a soft, rustling sound.
It was too damn tantalizing. He couldn't resist. Ducking inside, he tiptoed a few steps closer until the mirror came into view. One peek, then he'd go.
But he hadn't counted on his breath being stolen away. He had no idea who that was standing not five feet away from him, but it wasn't Mike. It couldn't be. It was a woman. The most gorgeous woman he'd ever seen.
She wore a white halter dress and strappy white sandals with bright red polish on her toes. Matching lipstick. Platinum blonde wig. The dress ended right below the knee, showing off nice, shapely calves. Really nice. So nice Ryan couldn't stop staring.
The skirt flared out as she twirled from side to side, inspecting herself. She adjusted a bra strap, smoothed down an imaginary bulge. Then she swung all the way around-and stopped short the moment she saw Ryan, letting out a gasp.
"God, sugar, don't sneak up on me like that! You just took five years off my life!"
"Sorry, sorry, I didn't mean to-" Jesus, now he was out of breath-or rather, he was still out of breath. It was starting to make him light-headed. "I-I just wanted to get a sneak preview of your new outfit."
"You like it?" She did a pirouette, giving him the full effect. Once Ryan came closer, he could see she'd dabbed makeup on her arms to cover all the scratches left over from last night's brawl. The bruise on her jaw was barely detectable under a skillful application of foundation and blush. The audience would never even know it was there.
"You look amazing. But what made you decide to go blonde all of a sudden?"
"Oh, I figured it was time to trade in my Rita Hayworth for something a little more Marilyn Monroe. I've had this dress in my closet for ages. High time for it to come out, no pun intended." She turned back to the mirror to fuss with her hair and give her makeup the once-over. "It's as perfect as it's gonna get, I'm afraid. Better go give our customers their money's worth."
Ryan had just turned toward the door when her red-nailed fingers closed over his wrist. A hot little zing! surged through him. "You might want to wait a couple minutes before you go back out there, sweetheart." Then her gaze dropped to his crotch, and he realized why.
"O-Oh." Immediate, crushing humiliation washed over him, making him sway on his feet. He stared at the floor, wishing it would swallow him up. What the hell was the matter with him? "Sorry, I-I don't know what-"
"No need for apologies, sugar. In fact, I consider it a compliment." She reached out to stroke his cheek, tipping his face up to meet her eyes. No, Mike's eyes. This was Mike, and yet it wasn't. A change took place when he put on the wig and the dress. Ryan's brain understood the distinction, even if his body was still struggling to catch up.
"You really are too adorable," she murmured, leaning in closer, those ripe red lips barely an inch from his. She was going to kiss him-and surprisingly, he actually wanted her to. He closed his eyes and waited for it.
© Cat Grant
Author: Cat Grant
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Buy Link: RELEASE 15 December
You can call me Mike—or Diva Michelle on the weekends. But just because I strut onstage in an evening gown and high heels doesn’t make me a sissy. I’ve still got a man’s body, feelings and desires. I’m also a man who knows what he wants—and that would be Ryan.
One look at our new employee with his hot physique and boy-next-door face and I was lost—falling hard and fast. It broke my heart each time he rejected me… Until the night he finally fell into my arms, desperate for the comfort only I could provide.
Each night our passion burns up the sheets, but Ryan’s holding something back. He’s been hurt in the past—leaving him scarred both inside and out. He won’t let me reach that secret part of him. I’d be willing to give him anything, but if he can’t trust me with the pain of his past, is there hope for a future?