Wildly successful entrepreneur, Thane Walker is stubbornly set in his ways.
Adamantly resistant the shackles of commitment, he’s seen enough unhappy endings to learn the best way to play is by keeping his men on the payroll.
Levi Silva’s dream of graduating from one of the country’s top medical schools is in his grasp, until news from home changes everything.
Now, he’s raising his two teenage brothers and trying to keep everyone’s head above water, emotionally and financially.
When Levi’s new job puts him in Thane’s path, their chemistry explodes, but their fear of being involved in relationships keeps them apart.
Unfortunately, despite the intense desire drawing them together, neither man can move forward until they get past their own…Reservations.
His mouth watered thinking about that vinegar coleslaw, and his stomach growled a little louder. Damn, he was starving. He should go out there and fix himself a plate, but he wouldn’t. That would only open a line of personal communication, and this restaurant had too much of that going on. Everyone but the customers were friends.
Instead of doing that, Thane buckled down and opened an email from Arik Layne. The email was to both him and Chef Ferico. The subject line read, “Whole Foods and HSN, Bitches!!!!” That instantly had Thane smiling. Arik had become a force in his life. The guy didn’t seem to understand the value of hesitancy. Arik was a mover and shaker. Their joint venture of infused olive oils had taken off like lightning. Arik had secured sales on thousands of bottles before manufacturing had started. Now that they had production underway, they were blowing and going like wildfire. All Arik had to do was pick up the phone, and he secured another sale.
Thane scanned the message, reading how Whole Foods planned to add them in a test market now, with mass distribution the beginning of October. That was all great news. Arik had also secured a spot on HSN in November, about two weeks before Thanksgiving. Somehow he’d managed to squeeze them into an already set schedule on foods for the holidays. They’d also be given time on the sales floor. The anticipated sales were around twenty-five thousand bottles.
The last lines on the email made Thane squelch the urge to laugh out loud, not wanting to undermine the stern tone he’d taken with his staff, but, man, Arik was hilarious. He listed ten reasons why he’d be a better choice than Thane to go on the HSN broadcast with Chef Ferico. Every single bullet point ended with “because I really want to sample all the foods made that day.”
Literally, a man after his own heart.
Out of nothing more than the need to make Arik squirm, he decided to tease him. Thane quickly typed how glad he was for Arik’s effort, along with a note that they should at least flip a coin for the TV slot. He chose tails. Grinning, he pushed send as his cell phone began to vibrate in his pocket. With a glance at the screen, he saw Julian’s name and swiped to accept the call.
“Hey,” he said, putting the call on speaker before fishing his Bluetooth out of the computer bag and hooking it around his ear.
“Hey, yourself. You still coming here?”
“I am. It’ll be a few weeks though. Everything okay?”
“Of course, you know I run a tight ship, but I might have to break protocol.”
Thane began shaking his head no as if Julian could see him.
“I can almost hear you shaking your head no.”
“That’s because that’s what I’m doing. Absolutely no rule breakage, Julian. You do it one time and that opens the door…”
“Hang tight, Papi Chulo. Don’t get all bent. I’m telling you before I do it. That should count.”
The happy place he’d found after reading Arik’s hilarious message was on the fast track to crashing and burning as Thane sat back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Why?” he asked, instead of giving Julian the same dressing-down he’d just given this management team on the failures of flouting established protocol.
“Remember that kid I told you about months ago. My PT assistant, the one who got me into free counseling?”
Thane had to really think which was kind of funny. Julian’s care had been grossly expensive. He’d have thought he’d remember someone who’d saved him so much money in free counseling. He shrugged, lifting his brows, giving himself a break. He could vaguely recall the key components. “Maybe…”
“He needs a job.”
“We don’t hire our staff like that, Julian. Remember your training. Your guys…”
“Boss, slow your roll. He’s a med student taking care of his family, and he’s hot as hell. His body alone’ll make the customers very happy. Happy customers equal more money.”
“Is he in your previous line of work?” Thane asked, completely confused and trying to catch up.
“No. I want him for waitstaff at the club. I saw him last night, and he’s losing his job. He’s coming to the club tonight to take a look around. I’ll send his info off for a background check, but I’ll probably put him on the floor as early as tomorrow,” Julian stated matter-of-factly.
That was another huge issue he was having with Julian. The guy was a beast at work. He kept sticking his nose in every other manager’s responsibilities, causing all sorts of ill will. Julian was a man on a mission. He governed that club with an iron fist, all to try and repay Thane for the expensive care. “Have you talked with Dave about whether he needs more waitstaff?”
“Dave-the-douchebag quit today. You didn’t hear?” Julian said casually.
“What?” Thane pushed his fingers through his hair. Why was he just now hearing about this?
“Don’t worry. I got this. I’ll fill in until you figure out what to do. I, of course, think you just need to let me handle all personnel…”
“Stop, Julian. First, no one’s hired without passing a background check. I’m not watching anyone go through what you did again. And second, you better stop pissing off all my people. Until I talk to Dave and see if I can get him back, you can handle the waitstaff scheduling, but you aren’t…”
“Equipped to handle personnel issues,” Julian said, finishing his sentence. “Are you getting laid regularly? Because I’m pretty sure you’re not. You need to come on over here and bend me over this desk—”
“We have rules. I’m not having sex on that property, and I better not catch you having sex on that property!” Thane shot out, cutting Julian off.
“You’re a very difficult man, Thane Walker,”