Book IV in the Reckless series
Cast out of the family home for being gay, Milo Santiago considers himself lucky to have a soft place to land. However, crashing with his older brother isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Desperate for an escape from his dismal reality, he turns to work and casual hookups to take his mind off his troubles.
He isn’t prepared for Campbell Brooks or being rejected in front of all his coworkers. Another run in with the older, enigmatic man is serendipitous, but not entirely unwelcome once he gets a gander at Cam in a pair of tiny swim shorts. One hot night leads to a weekend of debauchery. Long before the weekend is through, Milo finds himself falling for the enigmatic man who insists on keeping things casual. Milo doesn’t want to let Campbell go, but there doesn’t seem to be any other option.
Afterward, Milo isn’t sure if they’ve parted ways as friends or lovers. Cam’s eventual return leaves Milo with a hard choice. A little persistence could go a long way toward landing the man of his dreams. Or it could alienate Cam and send him running right back to New York for good.
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“I don’t know about this.” Milo Santiago peered around the edge of the servers’ station and stole a peek at the enigmatic brunet seated at table four. “What if I hit on the dude and he’s a raging, homophobic prick who complains to the manager? This job sucks ass, but I don’t want to lose it over something stupid.” His older brother, Dante, would skin him alive if he was fired. Ever since Milo had moved in the previous April, Dante seemed to feel like it was his life’s mission to make sure Milo was walking a straight and narrow path — however that translated for a bent eighteen-year-old.
Fellow waiter Danny Noonan shook the foam off the rim of a glass of soda he was pouring from the drink fountain and grinned at Milo. “The dude’s a pillow biter; I’d bet my ass on it.”
Milo let his gaze travel down to Danny’s khaki-covered ass, then gave his coworker the best sleazy leer he could manage. “Oh you would, would you?”
“Shut up.” Danny used his free hand to lightly shove Milo’s shoulder. “You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Milo rolled his eyes. Just because Danny was straight didn’t mean Milo had to quit dreaming. With his spiky blond hair and pretty cornflower blue eyes, Danny would have made the perfect little twink. If only he was willing to bend over…”All right.” Milo leaned against the counter and crossed his arms over his chest. “If I go over there and make an ass of myself, what’s in it for me?”
“How about pride and a sense of accomplishment? Or a hot date — not that I actually think you’ll manage to get anywhere.”
Milo snorted. The guy sitting alone at table four was so far out of his league. It wasn’t as if Milo didn’t know his own worth — after all, he was young, fit, and hung. However, he was also bright enough to recognize money, whether it was folded in his pocket or striding in the door of the little mom-and-pop-style restaurant where he slung drinks and chow for minimum wage plus tips. Milo’s entire wardrobe, from birth until that very moment, probably hadn’t cost as much as the swanky clothes on the customer’s back. Heads had turned when the man entered the restaurant, but Milo felt sure none of them were as captivated by the man as he was.
Dressed in solid black, the stranger exuded poise and grace in a way Milo feared he’d never be able to pull off without looking like a little kid trying to play grown-up. The cut of his shirt and slacks was impeccable; the black dress shirt gaped open at the man’s throat and hung just right off his wide shoulders, while the slacks hugged trim hips and thick thighs like they were made specifically for him.
For all Milo knew, they had been.
He might not have been able to name a single designer label, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t recognize quality when he saw it.
Danny filled a second glass with clear, fizzy liquid and set it on a serving tray. “So what do you want?”
Milo peeked around the corner again, watched Mr. Moneybags sip his sweet tea, then returned his attention to Danny. Why would such a handsome man have to dine alone? Milo would have remembered someone so attractive if he’d seen him before. Surely the man was either new in town or just passing through. Given Milo’s luck, it was probably the latter. For the last six months, it had seemed as if everything he wanted was just out of his reach.
He glanced back at Danny. “I’ll take a fifth.”
“Of the good stuff,” Milo clarified. There was no way he was doing this for some nasty, cheap-ass liquor.
“You’ve got it.” Danny paused. “If he says yes…”
“No problem.” Milo scratched his head where the plain plastic band held his thick, shoulder-length hair secure at the base of his neck. This wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought. Maybe if he got really lucky, the hot brunet would not only be bent, but in the mood to go slumming as well. Stranger things had been known to happen.
Danny’s lips twisted into a wicked, lopsided smile. “Go on then, hotshot. Show me what you’ve got. In fact” — he waved table four’s check under Milo’s nose and then set it on the counter — “you can deliver the guy’s check for me. In the meantime, I need to deliver these drinks to table six.” He picked up his tray, carefully balancing the weight of all four glasses.
“Go on.” Milo grabbed the bill and waved Danny ahead of him. “I’m right behind you.” He might get his ass handed to him, but he wasn’t going to back down. The worst Mr. Moneybags could do was say no, right? Sure, rejection probably wasn’t the most horrible thing that could happen, but Milo wasn’t going to dwell on what might go down.
If he was the sort of person who cowered in fear of the unknown, he’d still be back home, hiding his sexuality and pretending he liked girls in order to make his papa proud of him. Instead he’d manned up, come out to his parents when they’d confronted him about his sexuality, and been kicked to the curb for his efforts. Thank goodness Dante had taken him in, even if his older brother was an overbearing pain in the ass more often than not; otherwise, Milo would probably be sleeping on the street and hustling for his dinner like some misfortunate character out of an after-school special.
Now, however, wasn’t the time to dwell on the negative. Men could smell fear approaching from a mile away.
In the last few months since he’d moved in with Dante and begun to explore his sexuality, Milo had discovered the trick to picking up men was to pretend like you were doing them a favor. Confidence with a little touch of arrogance thrown in for good measure would usually do the job, unless the person he was hitting on really wasn’t attracted to him.
Contrary to what Milo had let Danny believe, he was interested in the man dining alone at table four. From the moment he’d entered the restaurant, Milo’s gaze had been drawn to the stranger again and again, as if invisible filaments connected them. Although he’d been tempted to beg Danny to swap tables with him so he could wait on the man, he’d chosen to keep quiet and observe first.
He hadn’t expected Danny to catch him gawking, much less dare him to hit on the stranger. However, if he got shot down, the dare might allow Milo to save a little face. Maybe.
With that thought in mind, Milo headed for table four with a little extra swagger in his step. Not a single doubt crept into his mind as he approached his target. He wouldn’t allow it. The fact that he’d scored with younger men who were twice as good-looking boosted his confidence. Landing a phone number from this dude would be a piece of cake.
Milo could be charming when the situation called for it. There was no reason to believe he couldn’t get exactly what he wanted, whether it was scoring digits or sweet-talking cops out of speeding tickets.
A little voice that sounded suspiciously like his father whispered through his mind. “You’re worthless, muchacho. A dirty little queer like you isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans.”
Milo’s steps faltered.
Rather than second-guess himself, he shook off the contrary thought and kept walking, his head held high. His old man was wrong — dead wrong — and Milo would prove it. All he needed was a little time. School took money. Something he didn’t have at the moment. Otherwise he wouldn’t be busting his ass waiting tables.
Someday soon, I’m going to prove him wrong about me. I’m going to show him that I didn’t need his help or his damn approval to make something of myself. Then he’ll have to eat every fucking word he said about me.
Danny gave Milo a wink as he walked by on his way back to the servers’ station. Milo swallowed down a smile, his gaze casually taking in the nearly empty dining room. Only three of the twenty-four tables were occupied, including the gentleman at table four. Even for a Thursday night, they were slow. Milo’s three-to-nine shift was already halfway over, and he’d barely earned more than his hourly wage.
Fuck, I really need a different job. If only Cody had been able to talk his uncle into hiring me at the club. God knew Dante wasn’t going to budge an inch about hiring Milo to shake his ass for all the rich old men who frequented the Casbah, the private men’s club Dante managed for Cody’s uncle, Beau.
As he moved closer, tiny details about the man grew clearer, things Milo hadn’t noticed from across the room. The other occupants in the restaurant, as well as the chintzy, down-home decor, faded in comparison to the man’s potent allure. The noise of silverware tinkling and low conversation dimmed beneath Milo’s pulse racing in his ears. A heady mixture of lust and nervous energy streamed through him, strengthening his resolve to strike up a rapport with the gentleman dining alone at a booth meant for four.
The check crinkled in Milo’s hand as he stepped up to the table. He took in the man’s appearance, trying hard not to stare. Beneath the lights, a red tint clung to the thick and wavy hair brushed away from the man’s high forehead. The auburn hue deepened closer to the sides and back, where the hair was shorn close to the scalp. His skin was clear and reminded Milo of sweet summer peaches dipped into heavy cream.
Milo’s mouth watered, wondering if the man’s skin would taste nearly as satisfying.
He laid the check facedown. “Here’s your check, sir. Is there anything else you need this evening?”
“No. I’m good. Thank you.”
“All right.” Feeling brash, Milo slid into the seat opposite the man. If he didn’t take his chances and hit on the guy now, he might never get the chance. “In that case, maybe there’s something else I can do for you.”
A smirk twisted the man’s full lips. “Oh really?” the man asked in a deep baritone that flipped every one of Milo’s triggers. “What exactly do you think you can do for me?”
Milo leaned forward, resting his forearms on the table, and beckoned the man closer with a come-hither motion. He waited, not saying anything as the man reacted just as Milo had hoped, moving in closer over the red linen-covered tabletop. Seeing his opening, Milo grinned and whispered, “Well, I just made you come with one finger; imagine what I could do with the rest of my body.”
“Ms. Young is a master at writing erotic moments between her characters. Not only are the sex scenes intense and beautifully written, the emotional bond between Milo and Cam jumped off of the pages and into my heart.”
-Reviewed by Daisiemae/Night Owl Reviews
“Reckless Heart is a truly heartwarming experience.”
-Reviewed by Samhain Queene/Dark Diva Reviews
“The final book in the Reckless series sees bratty Milo being brought to his knees by the serious Cam, and a HEA that will appeal greatly to the fans of this series.”
-Reviewed by Jenre/Reviews by Jessewave
“I really enjoyed Reckless Heart; as I said before it’s a great end to the series, but even better is that it’s a wonderful story on its own.”
-Reviewed by Kathy/Ebook Addict Reviews
“Reckless Heart by Amanda Young was a well-written and captivating story. Ms. Young delivered a solid romance with a cast of lovable and memorable characters.”
-Reviewed by Anna/Blackraven’s Reviews
“This is a story of attraction that can’t be denied leading to unexpected love. On the surface, Milo is not what Cam needs, and vice versa, but the heart wants what the heart wants. You will enjoy the intricate twists of this unlikely relationship.”
-Reviewed by Carole/Rainbow Reviews
“Reckless Heart is a quick, hot read with a nice shot of emotion.”
-Reviewed by Cassie/Joyfully Reviewed