Sometimes gifts are unexpected and sometimes they come at you from out of the blue and knock you over. Those are the ones you don’t see coming. In The gift, neither character is looking for love or expects to find it in any way. They both have issue, either inherited or based upon the decisions they made in life, that make them feel as though love, true love (The Princess Bride just flashed in my mind) is not something that is in the cards for them. This story was difficult to write the premise put a lot of restrictions on what I could and couldn’t do while remaining true to the characters. I really hope you love this story as much as I did writing it.
Ember is a drop-dead gorgeous Las Vegas escort. He notices Alejandro in some of the classes he teaches at his side business—a yoga studio. Then, color-blind Alejandro further captures Ember’s attention when he’s blinded by a quick change in light and needs Ember’s help at a club. What Ember doesn’t expect is the way Alejandro touches his heart.
Alejandro never intended to develop feelings for Ember. He’s in Las Vegas for a year to sow some wild oats. But Alejandro quickly sees more in Ember when he sets out to make some of Alejandro’s dreams come true—including a trip to the Grand Canyon and the beaches of LA. Alejandro’s wild oats could turn into something memorable.
Ember knows keeping his escort job from Alejandro isn’t the right thing to do, but he wants to be liked for who he is. Alejandro keeps his own secrets for the same reason. But Alejandro’s family obligations, along with Ember’s profession, could make it impossible for the two of them to stay together—unless they can figure out how to make the most of the gifts they’ve been given.
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“Thank you for the drink,” Ember said, turning to him.
“You’re welcome.” Alejandro smiled slightly and watched Jimmy and Ember step around the table. The other guys all said good-bye, exchanging hugs and talking quietly.
“Is that the guy from the yoga studio?” Christo whispered, and Alejandro nodded slightly.
“For God’s sake,” Christo said. “You’ve been sitting here chatting him up and you’re just going to let him go? Have I taught you nothing? Before he leaves, ask him out, get his number, something.”
“How do I know he’s interested?”
“How do you know he’s not? Someone has to make the first move, so get up out of that seat and go ask him out. If you want something, you need to make it happen.”
“You sound like my father.”
“Maybe he’d be right, in this case.” Christo paused. “Do I have to do what I did to get you that date to the Christmas ball?”
Alejandro stood. “If you do, so help me, I’ll….”
Christo stepped back and folded his arms over his chest. “You have ten seconds.”
“I wonder why I’m friends with you,” Alejandro muttered as he stood up and walked to the end of the table. Christo could be such a pain in the ass at times.
Jimmy and Ember were getting ready to leave, and Alejandro wondered how he should broach the subject. Back home, he’d… hell, back home he’d never in a million years have the guts to approach another guy like this. Maybe that was the problem? He kept thinking like he was back home, and he wasn’t… at least for now. He was here, in Las Vegas—what did he have to lose?
“Ember,” Alejandro said when they turned away from the table.
“Go on out to the car, I’ll be right there,” Ember said to Jimmy.
“Umm, I wanted to thank you for helping me earlier, and I enjoyed meeting your friends. They seem really nice.” He was beginning to sweat something fierce and figured he might as well get this over with. Ember could tell him he wasn’t interested, and Alejandro could go back to the table and proceed to drink a few more martinis before heading home for the night.
“Is there something you wanted?”
Alejandro nodded and rubbed the back of his neck. If he got any more nervous, he was going to puke, and that would be so attractive. “I was wondering if you’d like to have dinner with me? I’m a terrible cook, but we could go someplace, then maybe a show.” He knew he sounded like a schoolboy, but he’d at least gotten the words out.
Ember looked like he wasn’t sure how to respond. He blinked a few times, and Alejandro actually wondered for a second if this was the first time anyone had asked him out, but that seemed doubtful. Alejandro prepared himself for rejection. He figured Ember had to be thinking of a way to “let him down easy,” like they said on television.
“I’d love to,” Ember finally answered, and it took Alejandro a second to register Ember had said yes. “Let me give you my phone number so we can talk and arrange an evening.”
Alejandro’s heart began working again and he smiled hugely. “That would be great.” Alejandro reached into his pockets for something to write on, but came up empty. Christo pressed a card into his hand, and he peered at it and then gave it to Ember with a smile. Ember handed him a card from the yoga studio.
“I put my number on the back. I really have to go. But we’ll talk tomorrow afternoon.” Ember waved and then turned and threaded his way through the people toward the front of the club.