Brand New Flavor (Delectable #1)
Gay Erotic Romance
144 pages/37,000 words
Released November 2012
Available from B&N
4.5 Stars from Reviews by Jessewave
4.5 Stars from Joyfully Jay
4 Stars from MMGood Book Reviews
A Delectable novella
When artisan ice cream maker Jay Brown first meets food writer Cameron Clay at a charity tasting event, they get along like strawberries and chocolate sauce. Jay’s unique flavors thrill more than Cameron’s jaded palate, but after a delicious encounter in Jay’s delivery truck, where extra-creamy frozen treats are not the only delights sampled, Cameron loses Jay’s contact info—and any hope of a real date.
Desperate, Cameron convinces his editor to host an artisanal ice cream contest in hopes of drawing out the elusive genius. But more complications threaten to intervene. Will Jay even enter the contest? Or will the chance of a happily ever after melt away?
On Monday Jay descended the stairway from his apartment over Glace’s industrial kitchen, making sure he had his cell phone and that it was fully charged. He even brought the charger with him, just in case. He didn’t want to miss the call from Cameron Clay. Jay believed Cameron’s promise to call, and even if it didn’t turn out to be anything more than the one casual encounter for them, Cameron had enjoyed Jay’s ice cream almost as much as he’d enjoyed Jay. Hadn’t he?
Jay never had very good judgment when it came to guys. He’d made the mistake of jumping right in with both feet before. Best to take it slow, and not get burned again. He still hadn’t recovered from the last time. One thing to want to get a guy’s clothes off, but it was never a good idea to fall in love too easily. Not that Jay had fallen in love with Cameron or anything. He hadn’t. How could he? Cameron had said “mmmm” and “oh yeah” and a few other things along those lines. Certainly flattering to Jay and his ice cream, but not enough to base a relationship on; even Jay understood that.
But Cameron Clay did know how to speak—or at least write—coherently and use words with multiple syllables. The guy even knew when to use semicolons, which impressed Jay. He’d Googled Cameron Clay as soon as he’d gotten home from his deliveries. He’d read a few of Cameron’s articles and columns and ordered two of his books from Amazon. Real paper and two-day delivery and everything—not just Kindle versions. Fuck, maybe I am in love already.
He certainly was in love with the way Cameron thought and wrote about food. Jay had never read anything quite like it and it practically gave him a hard-on just reading Cameron’s words. Okay, it actually had turned him on if he was going to be honest about it. Cameron was a mixture of James Beard, Julia Child, MFK Fisher and Ruth Reichl all in one extremely sexy package. A sexy gay package—even better.
For the next thirty minutes, Jay forced himself to concentrate on ice cream and not on Cameron. He went to the big walk-in cooler to see what fruit was ripe. He’d used up nearly everything on hand making the product for the tasting event. He’d use up what he had on hand and then call his suppliers and see what was ripe and when he should go to their farms to collect his orders.
He glanced around the cooler and selected several baskets of berries. He loaded them into a wide plastic tub, shut the cooler door, and strolled over to the ripening room to see what looked and smelled best. He picked up and sniffed a series of melons, choosing three varieties that were approaching perfection. The heady, sweet scent and just the right give under his thumb. He rinsed everything under warm water in the sink, and then brought his bounty over to the cutting boards. Within a few minutes, he had a pile of delicious chunks of three kinds of melon. He pureed each separately, pouring the thick sweet-smelling result into wide beakers. He did the same with the berries, sieving the ones with seeds, until he had a little rainbow of beakers. From the blue-black of blackberries to the celadon of Persian melon.
What were Cam’s favorite flavors? That did it. Jay’s concentration broke, and he lost the battle to ignore the phone after only twenty minutes of work. He pulled his cell out of his pocket just to make sure he had a signal: four out of five bars. What the fuck am I doing?
“Whatcha working on this morning?” Maya’s voice shattered the silence and Jay nearly dropped his phone into a beaker of bright watermelon puree. He hadn’t heard her unlock the door. Had he locked up properly the night before? Probably too distracted with fantasies of Cameron Clay. Maybe he needed to increase security.
“Looks like something. Trying a new combo?”
“Yeah. Maybe some sweet melons contrasting with a tart berry. Or just layering the melons. I’m gonna play with the proportions for a while before I prepare a full batch.”
“I’ll help taste test once I’ve made the calls, okay?”
“Sure.” Jay pushed the phone into his apron pocket and grabbed a stack of small Pyrex dishes where he’d mix flavors, like an artist combining shades on his palette.
“Oh, do you want to start selling any of the flavors we handed out yesterday?”
“No. Not ready.”
“What do you mean ‘not ready’? We had people lining up three, four times to get samples. Our clients are always asking for new stuff.”
“Jay….” Maya let her voice drop into the lower register. “What’s wrong?”
Like he was going to admit Cameron Clay hadn’t called yet. “They’re not ready.”
“They why aren’t you working with them? Why are you playing with new stuff? Are you just giving up on those flavors?”
“They’ve gone public. I can’t risk it.”
“Come on, Jay. Don’t you think you’re carrying this stealth thing a bit too far? No one’s spying on you.”
“I won’t risk it. Not after….”
“Jay, that was almost two years ago. You can’t keep hiding in here like it’s some sort of Batcave because you think someone’s going to steal your flavors and your ideas. The way to avoid that is to actually start selling them, get them into the market so everyone knows you created them. The longer you wait, the more chance you do have of being scooped.” She clapped a hand over her mouth to suppress a giggle. “Sorry.” She dropped the hand and her expression turned serious again. “I mean it. You’re not helping yourself. You’re letting that asshole win if you keep this up.”
Jay took a deep breath and pulled himself up to his full height. He exhaled and watched Maya’s face. His pulse skyrocketed and he heard the sound of glass shattering. He’d dropped the bowl he’d been holding. “Crap.” He bent to clean up the shards, nearly bumping his head against Maya’s.
“I’ll clean this up.” She knelt and pushed at his shoulder. “I shouldn’t have mentioned him. I’m sorry.”
Jay stood and watched as Maya swiped a damp towel across the floor, and fought to get his breath under control. Thinking about Paul Rhodes always did this to him. He went over to the sink and washed his hands, lathering up the anti-bacterial scrub and letting the hot water scald away the memories and distract him from the knot in his stomach.