To Micah Truveen, raw, vegan food is his religion. So when his devoted customers show up with white flour cupcakes, Micah could kill. Then Micah comes home to find his boyfriend, Dharamaram, in bed with someone else. He throws the rat out and agrees to go to his friend’s orgiastic anti-Valentines party where he meets a gorgeous cross-dressing guy who gives him a night to remember.
Southerner Quentin Darby wishes he could stop wearing women’s clothes. He so wants to live up to his grandmother’s glowing opinion of him, he’s never even told her he’s gay. And now there’s Micah who makes him wish he could just be who he is. But Micah finds out that Quentin is the baker responsible for the plague of cupcakes afflicting the community! And Dharmaram adds a little blackmail to the mix. Can two hearts rise above the flour?
Physical Description: OK, so Micah kind of knew that people thought he was good looking. He couldn’t see it himself. He was tall enough, but kind of skinny and mangy looking. His dark, almost black hair would not stay out of his eyes. His lips were too full and cheeks too lean. Using his bike as transportation made him fit—hell, he even had a six-pack—but altogether he looked like a survivor from a desert island.
Attitude Description: He felt like someone just hit him in the head with a baseball bat. Good nutrition wasn’t about most of the time. Jesus. The body constantly produced new cells. Give them one excuse to alter that DNA negatively and you were on your way to disintegration. Annie knew that. He’d taught her in classes and conversations over kale and spinach juice. You are what you f***ing eat. It was just that simple. Cupcakes weren’t food! God, kill me now.
Quote: Yes, he believed in the benefit of organic, raw food. But he also wanted to believe in being happy. In falling in love. And if he didn’t get the organic, biodegradable stick out of his ass, he was going to lose the best thing that had ever happened to him. Quentin did it for him. No explaining it, but there it was.
Quentin Darby III aka Queen
Physical Description: Queen — “Queen” was clearly the correct title. His pale blonde hair hung around his shoulders, decorating the lacey blouse that opened over delicate collarbones and the slight swell of his imaginary breasts. That face. Wow. He wore maybe a little mascara and a touch of pink lipstick, but that was all. Amazing. Even without the eyeliner and brilliant red lips, the illusion of Queen’s femininity was complete.
Quentin — He dropped the blouse on the chair beside the bed then reached back and unfastened his bra. When it came off, Micah’s eyes widened. “Beautiful.”
Quentin grinned. “Why? There’s not much to see.”
“Your chest is very masculine. Well-muscled but boyish. So pretty.” Micah reached up and ran his hands over Quentin’s nipples. “Oh my.” The buds tightened in anticipation. Micah smiled and pulled back his hands. “What’s next?”
Quentin giggled. “You’re enjoying this I think.”
“Oh my, yes, as you would say.”
“OK.” Quentin reached up and slipped his thumbs under the edge of his wig.
Micah gasped. “Wait. I thought that was your hair.”
“No. It’s just a very good wig. Shall I leave it on?”
He shook his head. “No. No, I want to see.” Quentin glanced at him sideways.
“You could be disappointed.”
“No. I want to see.”
Quentin pulled the wig off. His own hair was so light, he didn’t have to cover it to wear the wig. As the wig came off, he shook his head like a dog in the water and his curls flew around his head.
Micah smiled. “I’ll be damned. How could you be prettier with your own hair? But you are.”
Quote: He turned to her. “Dharmaram is his boyfriend, Mary Beth. He’s gay. He came to see his gay boyfriend. Not you. Not me. This is not South Carolina where gay men pretend they’re ‘just not the marrying kind.’ You have to get used to that, dear. We both have to get used to that.”
Excerpt: HEARTS AND FLOUR by Tara Lain; MM Contemporary; The Vegan and the Cupcake Baker
Gasping for breath, he stopped outside the store. Locked. Of course. It was only eight thirty in the morning. At least Dharmaram’s class didn’t start until nine. If only Quentin would come here to the shop right after he dropped off his grandmother. Or maybe even before. Oh God. What if he went in and Dharmaram confronted them together? No warning. Just a smack in the face. Maybe he should run to the yoga studio? He took two steps down the pavement—
He turned back to see that beautiful face. A beautiful face and body—dressed in men’s clothes. He’d seen Quentin as Queen. He’d seen Quentin naked. But this was the first time seeing him as a man.
Of course, that masculine image was slightly compromised by the fact that Quentin wore an apron over his jeans and T-shirt. An apron covered in flour and dough. Micah wanted to lick it off. The first processed food he’d had in years.
Quentin wiped his hands. “What did you want?”
His eyes wouldn’t focus. He just wanted to keep staring at that loveliness.
“Maybe I could get one of your raw cupcakes?”
“You came here before opening for a cupcake?”
Micah shook his head. “No. I have something to tell you. Something pretty awful.”
Quentin frowned. “Something more awful than you going back to your yoga teacher a few hours after we had sex?”
Micah breathed out hard. “It’s related to that. Where can we talk?”
“There’s people baking in the kitchen. You know, baking that poison I make and force on people?” He stood very upright.
“I’m truly sorry for that. Just, please, let me tell you what’s happened.”
“OK.” Quentin stepped aside and pointed to the back. Micah walked into the shop, assailed again by the sweetest of smells. No second sweetest, after Quentin.
Quentin walked through the door that led to the kitchen and Micah followed. He turned right and stepped into a small office with a desk, computer, and a filing cabinet. Quentin pointed to a straight-back chair across from the desk. He took the desk chair. “So what did you want to tell me?”
Whew. Face-to-face, this was tough duty. His heart beat so hard he could feel it in his toes. “I, uh, I really care about you.”
Who knew Quentin’s face could get that angry. “You sure have a unique way of showing it, sugah.”
“Wait. I’ve done a bunch of dumb things, and I’m not sure which is dumbest. First, I did that whole priggish song and dance about the cupcakes being poison when I should have been telling you how much I admire you and appreciate how you take care of your grandmother. And I really want to know why you created those raw cupcakes—” he held up a hand “—but first I have to tell you about my other idiot moves. The reason you saw me with Dharmaram is because he was blackmailing me. He figured out that the beautiful woman he saw me with is the grandson of his most proper southern lady student, and he threatened to tell Mary Beth about you if I didn’t take him back in. What you saw was him moving his stuff into my guest room. That’s guest room.”
Quentin’s mouth literally hung open. “But why did you do that? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Micah shrugged. “I knew if I told you, you’d immediately come out to your grandmother, and I didn’t want to force you to do something you didn’t want to do.”
“So you’ve been hosting that snake in the grass on account of me?” The blue eyes widened to saucer expanse.
Micah shifted in the chair. “I was. But that’s why I ran here so fast this morning. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I woke up this morning and he was climbing in bed with me. I threw him out again.”
“Not good, because he’s going to go straight to Mary Beth and—”
“Who’s going straight to me, darling?”
The soft southern voice came around the partly closed door followed by a curly head and blue eyes that sparkled just like her grandson’s.
He would have smiled but fear seemed to have frozen him solid. What could they say? All he could do was follow Quentin’s lead.
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Note: All graphics used in this post are in the public domain and/or the author, Tara Lain, has the right to use them.