Love is Scary by Cheryl Dragon
m/m erotic contemporary romance
length: short novella
Ryan’s brain child of an adults only haunted house with club attached is big risk…he needs Wes’s genius to make it real. But when the men meet, it goes way beyond business.
Off relationships, Wes can't handle another high maintenance man half in the closet. Ryan has so much in his work life that se only sounds good to him. When passion overflows into their common goals, love has a way of sneaking through.
Starting a new business was one of the scariest things a person could do in any economy. But for Ryan Elliott, the hot guy helping him gets things off the ground was even scarier. Ryan had been emailing and trading phone calls with Wes Taylor for months in the hope that this venture would materialize. One of Wes’ creations, a haunted house in New Orleans, had blown Ryan away in California, so Ryan had tracked the man down. He’d never seen a picture of Wes and never imagined the creative genius would turn out to be so unassumingly sexy.
In the building Ryan had recently bought on the cheap, thanks to the crippling real estate bust, he tried not to stare at Wes’ hard body encased in worn dark blue jeans and a T-shirt about Cajuns. Wes was from New Orleans and had traveled here for this job. He’d leave Vegas once the haunted house was up and running. Ryan had to remember this visit was temporary. But the hard muscles on Wes’s six-foot–four-inch frame made Ryan forget everything. Wes’s green eyes caught Ryan’s and the sizzle hit him.
Clutching his travel mug, Ryan sipped his coffee despite the heat of a Vegas summer and the sparks with Wes. Caffeine and work were his addictions. Men he could avoid—most of the time.
“Look okay?” Ryan gestured to the big empty club area.
Wes turned to him and smiled. “Looks great. You’ve got room for the bar in back and plenty to work with in the front club section. The place looks laid out already.”
“It was a bar before with a huge dance club in front. The former owner couldn’t handle the mortgage anymore so it was a steal. Needs a little work.” Ryan looked around the unfinished space and tried not to stare at Wes. Wearing black dress pants and gray striped shirt for a meeting that afternoon, Ryan felt overdressed. Juggling his day job in advertising and a new small business venture sounded crazy, even to him. His family back home thought he was nuts. Keep your day job and stay safe. They all wanted security but then again, so did everyone else.
Ryan needed to try. His idea was solid, if he could make it happen. Wes had the experience.
“We’ll add on a little in front, make it more of a maze feel. Go through several rooms and themes and the end will dump them into the bar area.” Wes nodded.
“You have people who can do this?” Ryan asked.
“I brought the key members of my team. Don’t worry.” Wes patted Ryan’s shoulder. “Your idea is great. An adults only haunted house with a bar and club at the end.”
“Horror movies are huge hits year round now. Why not have a year round attraction in Vegas?” Ryan smiled. Wes’ approval meant a lot. He’d been in the haunted house business for years. His designs were elaborate and innovative.
“The adults only part might help or hurt. I haven’t decided yet.” Wes measured the front door, leaning over to read the tape.
Ryan tried not to look at Wes’s tight jean-covered ass. “Well, its Vegas. T&A sells. Plus, if you look at all the DVD sales of horror movies, it’s the unrated versions that do the best. Producers film stuff they know will get cut for the theaters just to put it in the unrated DVDs. If this takes off, we can always do a PG version for kids. No bar, but food and stuff. That’d be phase two. One step at a time.”
“Sounds good to me. I appreciate the work and the confidence.”
“I’ve seen your work. It’s excellent. New Orleans still slow?” Ryan asked.
Wes nodded. “Not everyone moved back. A lot of crime and poverty still. Nothing like the tourism we used to have. I travel around to do haunted houses so this is nothing new. But I used to do my own unique one in New Orleans every year. However, the last few years, it hasn’t paid off.”
“That’s too bad. It’s pretty down there.” Ryan took another drink of coffee. “I definitely want to update the theme here every year. So I’ll be calling you back in if that works.”
“First let’s get you opened. I’m not qualified to set up the bar but I’ll get the building permits, a small construction crew together and start work soon.”
The control freak in Ryan took over. “You’ll show me the plans before you start anything major. I want to be involved even if my schedule doesn’t really let me.”
Wes moved in closer and, to Ryan, made the huge club feel like a tiny closet.
“Don’t worry, I’ll keep you advised. I’ll have sketches done tonight. I’m a night owl and do my best creative work after dark. We could meet in the morning to go over them if that works.” Wes looked him in the eye.
“I can’t tomorrow. I have a meeting in the morning and conference calls in the afternoon. I can swing the club but I’d like to keep the steady cash flow of my day job. I might be leaning on you more than your other clients.” Ryan hoped that he didn’t sound as sexual as his mind played it.
“No worries, Ryan. I don’t blame you. A constant income to fall back on makes it easier to go after your dreams. I’m behind you.” Wes stood only inches away.
The sexy smell of wood and leather came from Wes. It had to be a tool belt. Ryan wanted to lean in and get more, but he’d always kept his private life out of business. It made things so much easier in the Vegas advertising world that revolved around sex. He spent so much time working that it left him with no social life. “Thanks. My family thinks this is all crazy. They think I should just keep my job and forget about the club.”
“You want a tip?” Wes leaned in.