Came Upon a Midnight Clear
RT Reviewers’ Choice Nominee for Best Romance of 2012
RT Reviewers’ Choice Nominee for Best Erotic Romance Ebook of 2012
RT BookReviews December 2012 Seal of Excellence Winner
Born to old Virginia money, film producer Kyle Wakefield’s conservative upbringing kept him in the closet. Only once did he venture outside: for a tempestuous teenage affair with Nathan Carnes. When Nathan’s self-destructive streak landed him in prison, Kyle slammed the door on youthful hopes. Despite Hollywood successes, he still hides his true self.
He thought he’d moved on, until his production company hires Nathan and his Second Chances stunt crew to work on the London set of a big-budget action flick. Watching Nathan risk life and limb with fellow ex-cons looking for a fresh start makes it tough for Kyle to keep his desires hidden.
Thirteen years have passed since Nathan’s teenage self-doubt led him to sabotage any chance of a future with Kyle. He’s come a long way since then, but despite their explosive sexual chemistry, Kyle treats their attraction like a deep dark secret.
Their matched Hollywood ambitions and a pain-in-the-ass director make cooperation essential. As the London holiday season casts its spell, the two men find themselves on the verge of falling in love again—even as old secrets and pain keep them shackled. The only hope of unlocking their hearts is a Christmas miracle.
Warning: This book features a snowy London Christmas, sex on a pool table, a hot-and-dirty gay nightclub, and naughty references to candy canes.
“Porter does a masterful job.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“This is the perfect piece of erotica: nuanced, complex, dirty, loving and intimate. The sex is scorchingly hot, but it’s made infinitely sexier by layers of emotion. Their explosive re-connection and their mutual exploration are sweet, tough and believable and their chemistry is extraordinary. …[A]s delightfully packaged as any Christmas present.” ~ RT BookReviews 4½ Star TOP PICK
“…a complex gift, portraying the rebuilding of a damaged relationship against the backdrop of English holiday spirit. While some raw sex scenes and emotional banter may be too frank for some, readers who enjoy two strong personalities engaged in rediscovering love will find this book intriguing.” ~ Library Journal
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
The minute the words left Nate’s mouth, he knew how goddamned rude they sounded. It’d be pretty hard to miss. But Kyle Wakefield was more than a ghost from Nate’s past. He was a demon. Someone he’d thought himself well quit of.
Second Chances needed this gig. Doing stunts for a Peter Upton picture would make them. Once and for all. There was no other reason Nate would drag his crew all the way to merry-fucking-England.
Kyle smiled. He’d never been exactly handsome. His features were bluntly rounded, with lines carving around his mouth. Those full lips though. Enough to plant dirty ideas in a man’s mind. Especially when he knew what Kyle was capable of achieving.
“Nice to see you too, Nathan.”
Stephanie’s eyes narrowed. She was an attractive woman, if one went in for the over-done look. And vaginas. “You two know each other?”
“Well now, that’s a matter of interpretation,” Nate drawled. He flicked his jacket back, which was rapidly becoming too warm in the closely-packed pub. The fireplace at the far end didn’t help. “I used to know someone named Kyle Wakefield. Turned out I knew someone entirely different than the rest of the world.”
Kyle’s eyes were brown. Just brown. Not rich or deep. But once, they’d been so special. Nate couldn’t look away. “Is that really at issue right now?”
Nate ground his teeth. “You tell me. Does Ms. Penn know you like dropping to your knees and—”
“That’s more than enough,” Kyle said, interrupting. “If you don’t mind, Steph, apparently we need to adjourn to my office and discuss a few things.”
The blonde nodded, looking a little stunned. “Apparently you do. I’ll fix things with Richard and wardrobe.”
Kyle nodded, then wrapped his hand around Nate’s upper arm.
Through the dark-paneled pub, up a narrow stairwell, and down to a single door, Nate let himself be herded. Upstairs, the large multi-use space stretched the entire length of the narrow building. A pool table at one end contrasted with three tables pushed together, piled with papers and half a dozen computers. Mid-way along the room was a grouping of couches that faced a seven-foot screen, probably for running dailies.
Most of all, it was private. Quiet. Through the wooden floorboards and scattered rugs came the muted thump of patrons downstairs. But up here, there was no one. Except him and Kyle. No sound but their breathing.
Nate curled his fingers into fists at the small of his back. “Your partner. In business?”
Edgy, still stunned, Nate ranged toward the front of the room. Two slender windows looked out on the hotel where he’d agreed to stay for the next month. Most importantly, he wasn’t looking at Kyle. That moment to recover his bearings was priceless. But he could feel the weight of the other man’s gaze on his nape.
“Have you broadened your horizons, then? Used to be you had very narrow tastes.”
“Still do.” Kyle’s voice was so hoarse. Almost as if he gave a shit.
Nate had been with plenty of guys over the years—only one in the joint, despite prison’s reputation. Didn’t mean he’d ever forgotten Kyle’s mouth. Those lips. The wet heat. More than that, though. The way he’d made Nate feel like the center of the world.
“I need this job,” he found himself saying. Almost unwillingly. “I’ve got five of my best drivers, our parkour specialists, and Jimmy, our pyro guy. We turned down two other jobs. The outlay in time alone…”
“You’ve got it.”
“Then why the hiding?”
There were a few quiet footsteps. The shifting of cloth and fine wool. “Would you have taken it if you knew I was involved?”
Nate turned. A punch to the gut all over again. Kyle had stripped his jacket. The slim grey vest hugged his trim waist. His shoulders had filled out, even wider and thicker. The crisp white dress shirt gleamed in the low light.
Out of Nate’s league. Always had been, even when they were in school. That had been a hard lesson learned, but he’d never thought himself dumb. Slow, maybe. Stupidly deluded by Kyle’s insistence that so long as they were together, everything would be fine.
“I don’t much care for working with two-faced assholes,” Nate said quietly.
Kyle lifted his chin. He never smelled like anything so simple as soap. Expensive cologne made of musk and spice. “Ten years is a long time.”
“You’re right.” Nate nodded with mock understanding. He was close enough that the small movement brought his mouth in line with Kyle’s. At least they’d burned up the sheets. Always had. “So maybe I should just check in first. Downstairs, did you cut me off because I was rude as fuck? Or does everyone else think the pretty blonde bounces on your dick every night?”
“Stephanie has her own partners.”
“That’s not an answer.”
Kyle licked his lips. Pink tongue, pink lips. Brown eyes, however, remained steady. “I keep my private life private.”
Nate understood keeping things quiet sometimes. When necessary. But when a man had a trust fund, a Yale education and all the privileges available in life…not so much. His top lip peeled back from his teeth. “Yeah,” Nate said. “If that’s what you want to call it.”
“I’m trying to do you a favor here, to make the right impression.” Kyle’s wide shoulders were tense beneath the pristine cloth. “Don’t be like this.”
“You led me around by the dick in high school, but I’m not your little bitch.” He framed Kyle’s jaw. The sharp bristle of evening growth abraded his palm. The tender flesh under Kyle’s chin was meant for the press of a man’s fingers. “Or maybe you can convince me that your financial beneficence is completely unlike your parents’ methods of buying the world.”
Kyle’s tendons twitched. But he didn’t pull away. “We each have a job to do here.”
“You’re always playing an angle.”
“It’s called being a professional. And you’re doing really good work with your company.”
Nate locked down against the greedy impulse to take that as a real compliment. He’d learned after three years on the inside that ex-cons didn’t always get good breaks. Not only did future employers look on a record with disdain, it was a different kind of life. Freer. No regimen to keep the restlessness at bay. Adjustment was slow. People who didn’t understand failed to provide the necessary help, which meant more men back behind bars.
So Nate had combined the adrenaline he used to get off boosting cars with a better purpose. Stunts. Then he’d set out to hire as many cons as he could reasonably train. They turned out to be excellent stuntmen.
Having little to lose helped. Just like Nate had very little to lose now. Second Chances was all he had, which meant pushing hard made no sense. He couldn’t risk this gig.
Well, shouldn’t risk it. Kyle went to his head. His cock too.
“That’s not an answer.”
“I need a Maserati to barrel past Big Ben. It’s not a bullshit stunt, and neither are the others. They’re big. The whole project is big. I need the best.” Kyle’s dark eyes narrowed. “Steph thought you were it, too. It wasn’t just me. If we were wrong, just say the word. We’ll find someone new.”
“Don’t you dare.”
Kyle lifted his eyebrows, carving lines across his forehead. “Or what?”
Jesus, Nate knew that look. That challenge. They’d spent two years hiding in Kyle’s fancy, so-huge bedroom. Sweaty and sticky, wrapped up in each other’s bodies. All because of challenges thrown down and picked up again. Seeing it repeated, now all grown up, punched Nate in the small of his back. Tense pleasure.
He took Kyle’s mouth. Those lips he’d missed were soft under his. He couldn’t even call it a kiss because it was all explosion. Tongues stroking together and teeth and taste. Kyle was bitter beer and memories. Kissing him was like taking back a piece of his youth, when Nate still thought he could be everything Kyle had hoped.
Before Nate had figured out he had a hard-on for self sabotage.