The ache she’d left in his heart had eased; it wasn’t the breath-stealing stab of a broadsword now. But it lingered, felt permanent—a constant reminder that she was not coming back.
Rowe sipped his drink, his eyes slowly sliding over the occupants of the second floor. The music wasn’t as loud up there, allowing the little groups of people to talk without needing to shout. Of course, that wasn’t stopping Lucas from using sign language with his assistant, Candace. Rowe had watched the woman working with Lucas for more than three years now. Lucas claimed he signed with her only in his clubs so he didn’t have to yell. But Rowe took a special pleasure in pointing out that Lucas had started signing with Candace when they were in his quiet office.
A loud, easy laugh pulled Rowe’s attention from Lucas and his eyes snagged on a man his friend had briefly pointed out as the architect for The Warehouse. He was talking to another of Lucas’s business partners and Rowe found that he suddenly couldn’t look away from the man’s mouth. He had full lips that were pulled into a half smile. His front teeth pressed into his lush lower lip, tugging at it as if he were begging someone to come along and suck on it.
Rowe jumped at Andrei’s voice, splashing his drink across his hand. He didn’t even hear his employee approach and Rowe had been sure that he was the only person Andrei Hadeon couldn’t surprise. Fuck, what was wrong with him? Rowe put his glass down on the table and wiped his hand on his pants, carefully schooling his features for a second while trying to get his frantically pounding heart under control. There was no point in trying to hide that he’d been surprised. Andrei wouldn’t have bought it for a second.
“Who’s cute?” he asked, looking up at Andrei. The younger man was standing right beside him leaning against the wall while he sipped water from the bottle in his hand. Seriously? He’d gotten this fucking close and Rowe hadn’t noticed it?
A slow smile spread across Andrei’s mouth and his dark eyes absolutely sparkled with mischief. Yeah, the architect was cute—not that Rowe was at all willing to admit that aloud to anyone—but Andrei was gorgeous with his dark hair, high cheekbones, and dark complexion. There was a rumor floating around the office that he’d once been offered a modeling contract, but the whispers had largely died down after Andrei pulled the last person to utter those words into an intense and painful sparring match.
“I think Harrison is single,” Andrei continued. He paused, screwing the cap back onto his bottle before putting it on the table. “I could introduce you if you’d like.”
“You’re not funny,” Rowe grumbled.
Andrei shrugged, a smile playing on his lips, but if he had anything else to say, the man kept it to himself. He just stood there with Rowe, watching the crowd. If anything, the silence seemed to pull at Rowe, wearing him down despite his best intentions. The fact was, the architect wasn’t the first man he’d caught himself staring at, and not the “I think he’s going to kill someone” staring. More of the “I wonder what he tastes like” staring. It had cropped up a lot over the years, but more often the last couple of months. And every time, it reminded him of one man in particular.
“How…” Rowe paused and licked his lips. His voice was barely audible over the music, nearly drowned out by his own pounding heart. “How did you know for sure that you were interested in more than women?”
If Andrei was at all surprised by Rowe’s question, his face gave nothing away. He continued to stare straight ahead, watching the crowd. “I think I’ve been bi almost as long as I’ve been sexually active, which would be since I was sixteen, but it was easier to pretend it wasn’t there. I didn’t fit in too well as a kid, and I didn’t see any reason to make it worse. But to actually know it…to face it…Lucas did that for me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Before him, it was just about getting off.” Andrei’s smirk turned a little self-deprecating. “A guy’s mouth could do that just as easily as a woman’s. Matters even less when your eyes are closed. Not that I’m proud of it.” Rowe watched that smile change to something softer when Andrei’s eyes landed on the man in question. “With Lucas, it was always about more than just getting off. Things changed. My eyes were wide open every second with him. I wanted to know him, spend time with him, make him happy.” He looked at Rowe. “I take it you’re questioning some new…inclinations?”
“I don’t know what I’m feeling—but it isn’t new.” Rowe frowned. “Don’t say anything to them.”