Griffith has spent two of the most amazing years with his boyfriend Mark, who is undoubtedly The One. Mark is everything Griffith could want in a man. Sexy, kind, always there for him, showering him with gifts and anticipating his needs.
Until one wrong turn sends them crashing into Mark’s past, and suddenly Griff doesn’t even know who his boyfriend is anymore. A spy? A mafioso?
Or a ruthless criminal who has lied to Griff about his identity all along, hiding his brutality under charming smiles.
Is there room for love in a relationship based on lies?
One thing is certain: Griff can’t know what the future holds for him and Mark until he discovers the truth. Too bad the truth is soaked in blood.
Themes: mafia, organized crime, family ties, secrets, European setting, dance, deception, violence, fish out of water, established couple, lies, trust
Genre: M/M romance, suspense
Length: ~70,000 words (Book 10 in the series)
WARNING: Adult content. Violence, scorching hot, explicit love scenes. Dark humor.
This was it. The day that would change everything while also—potentially, hopefully—not changing anything at all. Griffith had planned every single detail and had his friends on standby, but if it weren’t for copious amounts of antiperspirant, he’d be sweating buckets into the sleek red suit he’d chosen for the Halloween party. He’d only need to add the cloak, and the outfit of a gender bent Red Riding Hood would be complete.
But now that he was approaching the edge of the woods—metaphorically speaking—his confidence dwindled at a pace so rapid he had to excuse himself from the table when the deer head hung on the wall of the cozy country pub stared at him mockingly.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, rising to his feet so fast he almost knocked over his own tea.
Instead of reassuring him, the smile Mark offered heightened Griff’s stress levels. Was it the sharp teeth on the wolf mask that now lay on the table next to Mark’s dessert, or his man’s usual charm that affected him so? Impossible to tell.
All Griff knew was that if he spent one more minute at the table, he’d be blurting out his plans just hours before they were due to come to fruition. Mark’s way of reading his thoughts bordered on magic, and if they hadn’t been here with Nisha and her boyfriend, Griff wouldn’t have lasted under the scrutiny of that chocolate-brown eye.
He spun around and walked through the busy space full of people enjoying the start of the Halloween weekend. Some were already dressed for the parties they were about to attend while others had come for a nice meal out under the low ceiling overshadowed by thick wooden beams and cozied up with an array of cushions and blankets that created the illusion of a home. Griff maneuvered around a waiter carrying a huge tray of finger foods, rushed past a crackling fireplace and then outside, into the cool air of late October.
The gravel crunched under his feet as he stopped in front of a vehicle leaving the car park. His head was on fire by the time he darted down a small footpath to the garden behind the inn. He felt so nervous the cheesecake he’d eaten for dessert was rising in his throat.
“Damn it,” he whimpered, rubbing his face as thoughts spiraled through his head, presenting all the ways in which his plan could backfire. Mark was a private person, so maybe he wouldn’t like the elaborate setup Griff had come up with, but Griffith had engaged the help of so many people he couldn’t just call everything off.
It might all end in a disaster!
The hand on his back made him flinch, but he knew it was Nisha as soon as she spoke.
“Are you freaking out? It’s gonna be fine. And if Mark says no, you can always find a new, richer, smarter, more handsome boyfriend.” She laughed because the joke was that Griff would never find anyone better than Mark.
Mark was perfect, and at times, Griffith still couldn’t believe that he’d met a guy so mature and serious, yet close in age. His personal Holy Grail, which he’d refuse to let go of even if Mark ended up rejecting his proposal, for whatever reason.
“Do you think he knows?” Griffith asked, resting his hands on his hips and raising his face toward the starry sky.
Nisha covered the bottom half of her face before she remembered the whiskers painted on her cheeks to compliment her sexy Catwoman outfit. “Oh my God! What if he’s planning the same thing? I’ve seen a video like this online. A girl proposed to another, and her girlfriend pulled out a ring she had with her for the same reason!”
Griffith’s heart squeezed, as if it were about to fall into a sinkhole. “Really? Did he say something?”
Nisha looked away. “Well… no. But it’s not like he confides in me, and you’ve been together for what? Two years? He’s bought you two an apartment in London. That’s more than a proposal, in my book.”
Griffith hugged himself and rubbed his arms when the cold started really getting to him. “I’m just wondering if I haven’t overdone it. It’s practically a small play, and he doesn’t like being the center of attention. What if he hates it and thinks that I don’t know him at all, or that I’m thinking only about what I want? I just wanted to make it special,” he said and pulled out the little jewelry box.
Nisha rolled her eyes. “You could pee on Mark’s leg and he’d say it’s a particularly liquid honey. He loves you. You’ll be fine.”
Griffith scowled at that image but opened the box and glanced at the simple elegant band made of white gold. He didn’t want it to be overwhelming, but the single diamond embedded at the top made it look special, and if Mark agreed, he’d have it engraved on the inside too.
Maybe Nisha was right. Maybe he was overreacting?
Nisha’s whiskers tickled his cheek when she hugged him. “I’m so happy for you. Don’t freak out. It’s Mark. You know him.”
Griffith laughed and tightened his arms around her as tension slowly eased in his shoulders. “Thanks. I really needed that.”
Griff turned at the sound of footsteps and pocketed the box in panic when he spotted his hopefully-soon-to-be-fiancé. Nisha was right. Mark was so utterly perfect. Tonight, he was playing the wolf to Griff’s Red Riding Hood, a classy monster with a pedigree, his black suit as sharp as the teeth on his mask. Griff already imagined the perfection their engagement photos would be. He low-key expected to end up on Buzzfeed.
This Gay Red Riding Hood Wants to Be Eaten!
He smiled at Mark and met him halfway, sliding his fingers between his lover’s warm digits. He was not at all surprised when Mark offered him the red cloak Griff had left inside.
“I already paid,” Mark said and unfolded the garment, letting Griff push both his arms into the sleeves. His gaze met Nisha’s when Mark adjusted the cloak for him as if it were nothing.
He’d indeed found himself a perfect man.