Flawless by Cat Grant
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Apr 22, 2013
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This title is part of the Irresistible Attraction universe.

This title is part of the Irresistible Attraction: The Complete Collection collection. Check out the collection discount!

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Steve Campbell used to be a player, until a mid-life crisis opened his eyes to his long-repressed love for Connor, his soon-to-be-married best friend and business partner. Coming out at thirty-eight means learning how to date all over again, and this time, Steve’s not willing to settle for empty one-night stands. He wants the real thing.

Gil Alvarez has never had it easy, struggling through childhood and rejected by his family for a body that didn’t match who he was inside. A skilled driver and mechanic, he’s working hard to make his auto shop a success. The last thing he needs is a rich white guy in a candy-apple-red Ferrari tempting him, but Steve’s ready smile and easygoing manner prove irresistible.

One brief, intimate encounter leaves them both hungry for more. Gil’s not ashamed of who he is, but he’s terrified that Steve will reject him—or worse—when he discovers what Gil can’t find the courage to tell him.

This title comes with no special warnings.

Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.

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Chapter One

October 2012

"Oof!" Steve made a mad dive for Connor’s latest spike, grazing the ball with his fingertips before sprawling hard in the sand.

"You all right?" Connor called, concern and a hint of bemusement in his tone. "That's the third time you've face-planted this morning."

As if you haven't been driving it hard to the right on purpose, you jerk. Steve spat out a gritty mouthful and climbed to his feet, grimacing at the throbbing in his right shoulder. Shit. Must've tweaked his rotator cuff. "I'm done for today, Conn. Sorry."

He snagged his gym bag and water bottle and limped to a nearby bench. The ankle he'd twisted a month ago was still giving him trouble, too. He should've known it was too soon to get out playing again, but there wouldn't be many of these warm, sunny days left. Two, three weeks at the outside before this last gasp of summer gave way to six months of the usual San Francisco rain and fog.

There was already a prickly chill in the breeze wafting over Ocean Beach, enough to make Steve shiver and pull on his sweatshirt, grunting as he worked it carefully over his sore arm.

"You sure you're okay?" Connor plopped down beside him, eyebrows lifting over the wire rims of his glasses. Except for a pair of bright pink spots on his cheeks and some sweat dampening his ginger curls, he looked none the worse for an hour and a half of vigorous exercise. Damn him. "I should've taken it easy on those last couple of volleys."

"Don't worry about it. Nothing a shower and a heating pad can't fix." And a handful of ibuprofen washed down with scotch, followed by conking out to whatever game he had on his DVR. A typical Saturday night for him these days; not that he was complaining. His newfound solitude was much more satisfying than another empty pickup at the Hyatt Regency bar.

Throat parched from the sand and salt air, he downed a long sip of water and slouched against the bench, smothering another grunt.

"You should see a doctor about that shoulder." Connor shot him a crooked grin. "You know what they say about old men and their brittle bones."

"Oh, fuck you," Steve retorted. "I've only got a couple years on you. Even if you are in better shape."

And no wonder, with Steve spending most of his days stuck behind a desk, tackling paperwork and fielding calls from clients. Over the summer, he'd managed to drag himself to the gym on a semi-regular basis, but since the fall semester at Berkeley had started — and deadlines on their new projects loomed — he and Connor had gone back to working through lunch, and often well into the evening. Running a busy lab didn't leave time for much else.

"Only because Wes lets me chase him around the bed," Connor said, his grin widening.

Steve smiled. It'd been ages since they'd kidded around like this. Only a little while ago, he would've found it too painful, for . . . well, any number of reasons.

Two tanned, twentyish guys came up to the net he and Connor had just abandoned and started hitting their ball back and forth with a fluid, coltish grace. The ball flew out of bounds, rolling to the sand a few inches from Steve's feet. He picked it up with his non-gimpy hand and tossed it to the closest guy, a cute blond with a smile that belonged in an ad for whitening strips. "Thanks," the guy chirped with a wink, then went back to playing.

"I think he likes you," Connor said. "Why don't you go say hello?"

Steve rolled his eyes. "Give me a break. They're still playing."

"Never stopped you before."

Well, that was then. "You don't need to help find me dates. I do fine on my own."

"Really? When was the last time you went out?"

"It'll happen when it happens." He shrugged. "I'll know when I meet the right person."

Connor laughed. "I recall someone telling me I'd never meet the right person sitting home alone all the time."

Remind me never to give you advice again.

"Sitting home alone won't kill me." He stood and picked up his gym bag, wincing at his aching body. "I've had my fill of one-night stands."

Connor made a show of adjusting his glasses. "Who are you, and what have you done with my best friend?"

Steve flipped him off. Connor laughed and punched him on his good arm as they headed off toward the parking lot.

Connor's shiny white Lexus was parked closest. He threw his bag in the trunk before turning back to Steve, his forehead crinkling. "Listen, about those defense contracts . . ."

Steve stifled a sigh. Couldn't they get through one lousy morning without that subject rearing up? Bad enough they'd already had a number of strained — hell, well-nigh heated — discussions about it at the office. Now it was invading their off-work hours, too?

"Let's table it 'til next week, okay?" Connor opened his mouth as if to press the issue, but Steve shook his head. "See you Monday. Say hi to Wes for me."

He headed for his own car, a candy-apple red Ferrari parked in the far right corner of the lot. He fished out his remote to unlock the door. Then, with a huge, goofy grin spreading across his lips — God, he loved this part — he hit the remote's "engine start" button.

Except the engine didn't start. Didn't sputter and conk out. Didn't make a damn sound.

He hit the button again, and again. Still nothing.

"Shit." He climbed inside and punched the starter button on the steering wheel, which didn't work either. He peered at the collection of gauges on the dash, none of them giving him the slightest clue to the problem.

So what was it? Spark plugs? The damn fuel injector?

He kept pressing buttons and flipping switches. Still no luck. Cold sweat prickling through his pores, he popped the hood and got out to take a look. He stared blankly at the convertible's innards, encased in sleek red-enameled chrome emblazoned with the Ferrari logo. Couldn't smell anything burning. No apparent leaks. Great. Now he'd be stuck cooling his heels here for another hour or two waiting for a tow truck.

Kicking the fender made him feel a little better — until a hot bullet of agony shot up his leg. "Overpriced piece of shit! I should trade you in for a fucking Volkswagen — "

"Can I help?" A low-pitched voice startled him. Steve swung around, his gaze falling on a slender, dark-haired guy in jeans and a black muscle shirt.

"You know anything about Ferraris?"

He cracked a smile. "Just enough to be dangerous." A cute smile, too — soft, with a hint of humor. He jerked his chin toward the driver's seat. "Mind if I give it a try?"

What did he have to lose? Nodding, Steve limped to the driver's side as the guy climbed in, gave the gauges a quick glance, and reached for a pair of chrome flippers behind the wheel. He pulled the flippers forward for a couple of seconds, until the "N" on the gear indicator lit up. Then he turned the mode switch on the right-hand side of the wheel from "sport" to "CST" and hit the starter.

The engine roared to life.

"Jesus Christ," Steve breathed. "How'd you know what to do?"

"Experience." Grinning, he rolled to his feet — all five-foot-seven or eight of him — and pulled a card from his back pocket.

Alvarez Automotive. Gil Alvarez, Proprietor. Italian cars a specialty.

"You're Gil, I take it?"

"Guilty." He had a spark in his dark eyes that complemented his flirty demeanor, and a tempting hint of scruff on his chin. Steve's knuckles itched to brush across it — maybe even slide the tip of his thumb between those soft pink lips.

Easy, tiger. You don't even know if he's gay.

"Well, um, thanks, Gil. I appreciate your help. Here, let me give you something for your trouble…." But when he went for his wallet, Gil shook his head.

"No charge. Just keep me in mind if you need anything in the future. My shop's an authorized Ferrari service center."

"Sure thing." With those sleek, muscular arms and shoulders, Steve would've never pegged him for a mechanic. He'd obviously done some powerlifting in the past. There was a tattoo on his right shoulder and biceps. Looked like a dragon — no, a bird rising from the flames, framed by Japanese kanji characters. "Beautiful tattoo. What's it mean?"

Gil just smiled and stepped toward the sidewalk. "Lots of things."

from The Romance Reviews

Cat Grant's treatment of the subject matter in this book is done with great of finesse and loving care.

from Top 2 Bottom Reviews

[A] beautifully told story that lived in my heart and mind long after I finished reading . . . Highly Recommended!

from Delighted Reader

I loved getting to know both characters . . . 

from Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

[I] highly recommend Flawless, it is a great read and one that shouldn’t be missed.

from LeAnn's Book Reviews

Flawless was packed-full of emotions . . . [I] found myself cheering . . .