Rarer Than Rubies (Precious Gems #1)
M/M Contemporary Erotic Romance Action-Adventure Novel
From Dreamspinner Press, March 2012
E-book and in print, 214 pages
Winner 2011 Rainbow Award for LGBT Mystery/Thriller (3rd place)
Available from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon/Kindle, All Romance eBooks and more.
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When Trent Copeland runs into Reed Acton at a Bangkok airport, he thinks the handsome American is too good to be true. Why would someone like Reed be interested in a quiet, introverted gay-romance writer? After all, even an obvious tourist like Trent can see that there is more to Reed’s constant unexplained appearances in his path than meets the eye.
Reed Acton has one mission and one mission only: he needs to get the map that was accidentally slipped into Trent’s bag and keep the mobsters who want the priceless artifact from taking deadly revenge. Trent Copeland is a delicious and damned near irresistible diversion, but Reed can’t afford distractions right now, especially if he wants to keep Trent safe.
From Bangkok’s seediest back alleys to the sacred north, the two men will fight to stay one step ahead of the bad guys and learn that the only treasure worth finding is… each other.
This is a second edition, completely re-edited and expanded from an earlier e-book release, and containing several scenes not in the e-book originally published by Ravenous Romance, titled Thief of Hearts: Tempted in Thailand.
“Are you following me around?” Trent put his backpack on again, this time putting both arms through the straps. Obviously he wasn’t taking any more chances. Reed knew he wouldn’t get another chance to get into the pack, but where could the map be? Had Trent found it in his pack and knowing it wasn’t his, already thrown it away? Or was he working for a competitor and had already passed it off. Reed hadn’t let him out of his sight for very long, but there might have been someone waiting in his room at the Pink Tiger.
But this guy appeared too clueless to be part of any underworld organization. No one was that good an actor. The only explanation was Trent somehow realized the map was valuable and hidden it hoping to sell it to someone who would pay big money for the information.
“No, man. Bangkok’s really kind of a small place for farangs, you know? I run into the same people all the time. I’m Reed Acton, by the way.” He started to put a hand out but Trent didn’t look to be in a trusting, hand-shaking mood yet. He also didn’t volunteer an introduction.
“Farangs?” Trent rolled the word around on his tongue and squinted in puzzlement.
“Foreigners.Westerners. It’s kind of an insult, but if you spend enough time here you get used to it.”
“But you speak Thai. You said you live here?”
“Yeah, for work.” Fuck. This conversation was getting into dangerous territory for Reed. But he didn’t want to just walk off on his own and suddenly it had nothing to do with the map. He wanted to get closer to Trent Dallas and breathe in the beautiful scent of him — probably courtesy of that fancy body wash Reed had watched him apply earlier — and lick along the curve of his jaw, and then maybe rip off that shirt Trent was wearing and trace around every muscle on his chest and abs. Reed had seen what was under there and this time he wanted more than to look. He wanted to touch, and taste and —
“Well, thanks for getting my bag back. Do you want a reward or something?” Trent’s voice jolted Reed back to reality and with difficulty he pulled his mind out of Trent’s pants. Which was too bad, because he was just starting to plan out what he wanted to do with that ass.
“No, no.” Reed shook his head. “I don’t want money. If that’s what you’re thinking, that I’m trying to scam you or something, you’re dead wrong.”
“Well…” Trent looked at Reed out of the corner of his eye and Reed knew he wasn’t convinced Reed was harmless.
“Look, let’s sit down for a few minutes and grab something to drink. The heat is getting to me.” Reed wiped the back of his hand across his sweaty brow and smiled up at Trent, getting another suspicious look in return. But Trent looked hot and sweaty, too — ”though it just made him look even sexier — and let Reed lead him to table set up under a canvas canopy near half a dozen street vendors.
Reed ordered cool coconut drinks for them. Trent eyed the drink warily at first, but when he saw Reed slurp down half the glass in one long pull he cautiously sipped and smiled in delighted surprise. The coconut drinks were one of Reed’s favorites, though some vendors made them too sweet. He loved the soft fresh coconut flesh that floated in the glass and he’d usually save a few pieces to suck on and savor the taste after he’d drained the liquid contents. From the look on Trent’s face he seemed to be relaxing and Reed decided to take a time out here and put him at ease.
“I admit I saw you in the airport and thought it might be fun to hang out. I know a lot of places to go in the city, if this is your first time here.” Reed smiled hoping Trent would trust him, no matter how suspicious Reed’s behavior might have been up till now. He wished he could forget about the map and enjoy a few fun-filled days with Trent Dallas–preferably in a bed in Reed’s air-conditioned apartment where they ordered in food and didn’t get dressed the entire time.
“How do I know I can trust you? I mean, what were you doing in the airport anyway?” Trent repeatedly poked his straw at the pieces of coconut at the bottom of his glass.
“I had to pick up a package for my boss.” Thankfully Reed could tell the truth. “It got misdirected so I have to get it from a different location later today.” He paused for a moment. “You can eat that. It’s coconut flesh.” Reed took a bite from a piece he pulled from his own glass, to demonstrate it was safe.
“Really? I’ve never seen it so soft.”
“It’s from young coconuts. I guess they don’t leave them on the trees long enough to get really hard. They’re much easier to open when they’re young, too.”
Trent fished a piece out and took a tiny bite. He quickly ate the rest of it. “Mmm.”
“See? You can trust me.” Reed laughed. He enjoyed watching Trent consume the rest of the coconut pieces, picking each up and licking it to catch the last drops of the drink before sucking it into his mouth with a tiny slurp.
“Eating coconut and going somewhere with you are two entirely different things.” Trent tilted his head slightly then licked his lips and Reed had to keep from jumping across the table and kissing him. Did Trent know how he was torturing Reed as he imagined what else those lips and tongue could be doing. The smile on Trent’s face led Reed to believe that maybe he did. Damn tease! But Reed was enjoying the game. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt a spark like this for anyone.
They chatted casually for another ten minutes, where Reed kept the conversation mainly about Thai food–deftly avoiding personal topics–until Trent seemed to have relaxed and become less suspicious. Reed noticed Trent’s appraising glances and grinned, hoping his dimples might be extra convincing. God, he hated doing it this way but he was on a short timetable and he didn’t have the luxury of being smooth about it.
“Have you decided you can lower the threat level on me to blue or green?”
Trent laughed and Reed’s spirits picked up. He liked the sound of Trent’s laugh.
“Well, I might go as low yellow, with an option for blue.”
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