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Adrian's Librarian

Adrian's Librarian

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Adrian's Librarian

Length:
100 pages
1 hour
Released:
Jun 16, 2021
ISBN:
9798201879204
Format:
Book

Description

One night at a masquerade party, rakish Adrian Knowles kisses the wrong man by mistake and meets Oliver Windham. Feisty yet wary and broken, Ollie desperately needs a friend. Almost against his will, Adrian finds himself playing the hero… and falling in love.

 

Adrian hires Ollie to set his library to rights—after having his servants put all the books out of order. He promises himself he'll treat Ollie only as a friend, but Ollie quickly becomes the only man he wants.

 

 

Originally published by Dreamspinner Press in 2013. This is the 2nd edition, which has not been altered.

Released:
Jun 16, 2021
ISBN:
9798201879204
Format:
Book

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Adrian's Librarian - Hollis Shiloh

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Adrian's Librarian

by Hollis Shiloh

About the story:

One night at a masquerade party, rakish Adrian Knowles kisses the wrong man by mistake and meets Oliver Windham. Feisty yet wary and broken, Ollie desperately needs a friend. Almost against his will, Adrian finds himself playing the hero... and falling in love.

Adrian hires Ollie to set his library to rights—after having his servants put all the books out of order. He promises himself he’ll treat Ollie only as a friend, but Ollie quickly becomes the only man he wants.

Chapter 1

The dark, domino-masked figure crept from the ballroom with a secret smile. He passed loverly and gigglish trysts, teasing and playful shouts, women smacking men with fans, and a great deal of kissing. He paid them barely any mind, intent on his destination, his own appointment. Down a quieter path he went and drew nigh the gazebo at its end.

There. Ahead, the unmistakable figure of a man, also in a domino, waiting. He stood looking out over the railing, his back to the path. To all appearances, he was waiting for someone, at his ease and casual. Not at all as if he were about to engage in something clandestine, and quite illegal, in a near-public place.

Adrian’s steps lengthened, and his smile spread broadly across his face. He spread his arms, took the steps in a single leap, and wrapped the other man in his embrace, muffled and close.

The figure stiffened and twisted around in his arms—just as if they really were strangers—his mouth opening to protest. Adrian bent and kissed him, a very encompassing kiss that left both men without breath for a moment. Soft curls brushed against his face. The slender body was firm and so very alive in his arms.

But the kiss was a strange one: tingling with pleasure, and at the same time, tasting of a mouth completely foreign, an inexperienced and utterly surprised mouth. After a moment, Adrian drew back, his body singing with pleasure but his mind overruling it for the moment.

I’m afraid I don’t perfectly understand. Who are you?

I might ask, ‘Who are you?’ croaked an affronted, scared-sounding young man, pushing against Adrian. I’ve never seen so much nerve! He sounded perilously close to tears, his voice cracking.

Realizing he was definitely not the intended man, and was in fact quite younger than Adrian had expected, he released the young man immediately. I was supposed to meet— He stopped, realizing the inadvisability of naming names in such a situation. —a friend, he finished awkwardly.

Well, you haven’t! This was followed by a loud sniff, and Adrian realized even in the dim moonlight that the young man’s hand trembled as he reached for his pocket.

Here, said Adrian, never at a loss, kindly extending his own handkerchief. I am very sorry. You needn’t be upset. I can’t imagine what happened to—

Your ‘friend’, yes, said the young man bitterly. He yanked off his mask irritably, stuffed it in his pocket, and blew his nose vehemently. Adrian blinked at the noise. Even without the mask, it was too dark to see the young man very clearly. If one must engage in such k-kisses, I cannot think your friends are particularly blessed.

Ah, but that’s not all they engage in! said Adrian, giving in to a burst of wickedness. Indeed not!

The young man had stiffened, and now he straightened to his full, slim height—about the same as Adrian’s. I shall take my leave of you, sir. I shan’t wish you good day or g-good evening. And in a rush, he started past him and from the gazebo.

Wait. Adrian caught his arm and swung him round, then released him immediately. The iron tension in that slim arm warned him of danger and the young man’s fear. I shan’t hurt you. May I have my handkerchief back? he asked meekly.

This was handed over with a pugnacious reluctance. The young man maintained a dignified, offended silence.

I am sorry, said Adrian. What a mix-up! Some men... that is to say, it was not at all your fault.

Oh no, indeed! he said bitterly. He gave a hoarse, angry-sounding laugh. Never my fault, is it? And yet somehow I keep— He cut off with a bitter, hopeless laugh.

Adrian blinked, attuned to something in that voice: hopelessness, despair, something that transcended the awkwardness of the moment and the young man’s offended dignity. Are you in trouble?

He peered closer. In the moonlight, it was difficult to see features. The young man was slim and straight of build, with a narrow waist and broad shoulders. His limbs were slender but well muscled. His curly hair, slightly longer than the usual, looked soft in the moonlight. Adrian stood very still, not moving toward him. You can tell me, if you wish. I have been on the town long enough—I might give you some good advice.

If only someone could. The young man plopped to one of the gazebo’s seats with every sign of dejected lethargy.

Come, that’s doing it too brown! Adrian sat beside him, not too close. He was aware of long, slender legs and that fascinating soft hair. In this light, he could not see his companion’s face well, but the shadows that made up the face were fascinating. How can you know I can’t help if you don’t give me the chance to try? I certainly owe you the attempt—to make up for my abominable kiss. He said this last with a teasing, rather flirting laugh beneath his words, but the young man did not appear to notice.

Yes, that’s true, he said thoughtfully, still sunk in gloom.

I thank you.

What? Oh no. You see, m-my guardian—

This was as far as he got. Up the stairs trotted another domino-clad figure saying Oh, hello! Have I kept you waiting lo— He stopped, abruptly, and looked down at them both, stiffening. I see I have not, he said in quite another voice. Excuse me! So saying, he whirled and strode back down the path, anger and offended dignity in his every step.

Wait! It’s not—! called Adrian after him. Oh damn, he said beneath his breath.

He heard a hoarse gurgle of laughter beside him and turned in astonishment to see a bright, shining white grin, easily reflecting what little moonlight there was. Your ‘friend’? asked the young man.

Well, he was, said Adrian ruefully. I suppose I had better go after him?

I suppose you had.

There was silence. They both remained seated. Nearby, they heard the sound of insects; voices raised in teasing; a rather drunken laugh; horse’s hooves on a street somewhere not far away, and in the distance, laughter, tinkling glasses, and the faint strains of music.

I don’t suppose you’d care to dance? asked Adrian. An inelegant snort greeted him. No, I thought not, he said ruefully. Very well. Tell me your problem, and I shall be a learned uncle to you, all sympathy and good advice. He stretched one elegant leg over the other and turned toward his companion with a patient air. I shall be terribly well behaved!

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