Designs of Desire
Desires Entwined Book 1
by Tempeste O'Riley Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Artist James Bryant has forearm crutches in every color from rainbow for fun to sleek black for business. He even has a pair with more paint splatters than metal. After his family’s rejection and abuse from a man he thought loved him, James only just gets through the day by painting. He lives in constant fear that he’s not worthy of anything, let alone love.
As CEO of his company, Carrington Enterprises, Seth Burns is a take-charge kind of guy, and he is instantly smitten by the artist helping with his newest project. When he witnesses James suffer a panic attack, a protective instinct he never knew he had kicks in. He truly believes nothing is unobtainable—including James—if he’s willing to put in the time and effort.
James is shy and confused by Seth’s interest in him as a person. With Seth’s support, can he work through his fears to finally find the true love he deserves, or will someone finally land the crushing blow he won’t survive?
James allowed his gaze to wander around the entryway, taking in the welcoming setting. Noticing a worker passing through, he asked, “Excuse me. Do you know where I can find Mr. Burns?”
“Yeah, he’s in the manager’s office over there.” The man was covered in dust. He gestured toward a closed door near a large desk, then continued on his way. James couldn’t help looking around once more to admire the rich wood tones, marble tiled floors, and beautiful crown molding, before he headed off in the right direction.
Before he could knock, the door swung open and a harried looking woman stormed out, slamming it so hard it popped back open. Maybe now isn’t the best time, he thought and started to turn away when Mr. Burns appeared in the doorway.
“James,” he said. “Thank God you’re here. Please tell me you brought some ideas, before Stacey drives me to drink. She wants to start painting but can’t until we have everything settled with the designs.”
The way Seth’s eyes pierced him made James feel both nervous and ten feet tall at the same time. “If you have some place I can set up, sure. I have a few designs for you to look over.” He kept wondering why they had waited so long to employ Skye Designs. Normally you do all the branding much earlier in the project.
Motioning down the hallway, Seth led him into a large room—probably meant to be a conference or reception room, considering the carpet and acoustic tiles in the ceiling. “Come in. What can I do to help?” he asked, watching James settle into a comfortable chair before unloading his pack.
James was nervous. He’d never had such a significant or large account before, but he was excited as well. “We normally have the designs approved before getting to this point, but I’ll do my best to catch up. Give me just a minute to set up, then you can see what I have.”
“We’ll get to that in a few. I want you to finish setting up then come with me.”
James stopped midmotion and looked up, confused. “I thought—” He shook his head. “Never mind. Okay.”
Seth led James out of the room, into a wide hallway with large windows spilling filtered sunlight onto the veined marble floor, and began showing him around. Seth stayed close, so close James occasionally caught a whiff of his intoxicating scent, something bright yet deep—cardamom and cedar with a light musk. He wasn’t sure, but he was beginning to think just being near Seth could become a delicious addiction.
As they exited the elevator on the second floor, James stopped dead in his tracks. His heart beat so fast and loud he felt certain Seth would hear it slamming into his ribs. He stared ahead and prayed he was having a terrible nightmare. Those he could wake up from. Please!
Standing there, looking him up and down, was a phantom from his past. Victor d’Leone was even more powerfully built than the last time he had seen him. He stood in the hall, his arms crossed over his barrel chest, scowling. The sea-foam green eyes James once thought so beautiful and loving now bored holes through him. The ghosts of the last time Vic had been near him shot pain-filled shards of memory through him. Away. Yes, he had to get away.
“I… I… I…,” James stammered. He scrambled back into the elevator and almost fell when his left crutch slipped on the metal edging. He punched the close door button repeatedly while fighting the panic attack threatening to destroy his job and sanity. “No, no, no. Not happening,” he mumbled.
He hadn’t waited for Seth to react, nor had he explained anything; he’d just bolted. James headed toward the exit as soon as the elevator doors opened--forget the damn presentation. He scrambled for the steps, desperate to reach the car before he completely lost it.
Life was never that easy.
Seth appeared out of nowhere, sprinting after him in his expensive Armani suit and custom leather shoes. “James! Stop!” he commanded.
Fighting the panic, James tried to get a hold of himself. Stop? Is he nuts? “I can’t be here. I—I’ll come back later.” With protection!
A powerful hand grasped his right arm. Startled, he stopped. Staring at the hand that bound him to his worst nightmare, he begged, “Please, let me go.”
Try as he might, he couldn’t stop the panic and fear as it suffocated him.
Bound by Desire Desires Entwined Book 1.75
A Spin-off of Designs of Desire
Desires Entwined: Book 1.75
Despite his past abuse, James has come to terms with his relationship with his Dom and lover Seth. Seth treats James with all the trust and love his sub desires. There is only one thing left to do to make it all complete: Seth needs to put a collar on James.
Most people see Chase Manning as the party-boy twink he seems on the surface. Only James, Chase's BFF, knows the depth of his loyalty and the extent of the wounds Chase carries inside. When Chase meets Rhys Sayer, things don’t go well, but he can’t shake his attraction to the huge, sexy man.
Rhys is a man of contradictions and fear—a strange combination for a PI and bodyguard. He's in a bad place emotionally when he sets eyes on Chase for the first time. When Chase puts the moves on him, Rhys insults him, thwarting any possibility of a relationship. Rhys doesn’t see himself as a complicated man, but he dreads the very kind of connection he desires.
Just as they’re trying to overcome their uncertainties, Chase is put in harm’s way. Luckily Rhys and their friends have all the right talents to help Rhys save the man of his dreams.
PLEASE,GOD,make it stop.
The loud ringing next to his head had Chase debating between smashing the phone and burying his head until the demonic thing went quiet on its own. When the ringing stopped but immediately started up again, he gave up on Option B. Why?
Even mentally whining made his head hurt worse. Chase lay sprawled across his bed on top of the covers. The only part of him not exposed was his head; he’d burrowed under a pillow when the sunshine pushed its way into his bedroom. Sitting up without moving the pillow from over his head, Chase slowly scooped up his cell. “’Lo,” he croaked.
“Um, yeah. Who is—wait, James?” Chase’s thoughts refused to clear as he fought his way past the alcohol struggling to drag him back into unconsciousness. The taste of stale beer and liquor was almost enough to make him puke. He vaguely wondered where his trash can was and whether he could get there if needed.
“You forgot, didn’t you?” The loud chuckle that followed the question did not help with his headache. However, with everything that had happened recently—the stalking and threats against his best friend— he would have gladly suffered in silence to make James happy.
A soft moan escaped his dry lips. He tried to wet them with his tongue, but it felt dry and thick. “Sorry, Jamie. What did I forget?”
“You went out to the club again, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” he whimpered. “Dale and Simon wanted to go out for some fun. But I know you’re not calling to see if I went home with anyone. So again I ask, why am I awake?”
“My art show tonight.”
He was certain he could hear a smirk in James’s voice. “It’s”— Chase paused to check his clock—“not even noon yet, Jamie.” He loved his best friend dearly, but why did he have to be so damned perky first thing in the morning?
“Lunch. Remember?” Lunch? Eating? He so didn’t want to think about food right then.
“Right. Let me get up and get dressed. I’ll swing by your place soon.”
“Go ahead and meet me at the restaurant, please. We have reservations at Zarletti’s downtown. I’m out and about right now. Okay?”
“Uh, sure, hun.” After a few more pleasantries, he hung up and slowly dragged his groggy self out of bed, stopping to down a couple of Tylenol and a full bottle of water before taking his shower.
Chase took his time getting dressed, and not simply because his head still hurt, the dull ache grating but livable. He never went out without dressing for the occasion, though it was nothing compared to how he would look later that night when he accompanied his best friend to his first gallery show. It would be James’s debut as the featured artist. God,meansI’ll have to deal with Rhys too. He knew Rhys wouldn’t miss the show. He rolled his eyes for thinking about the damn man. Rhys was sex on legs, but his attitude was crap! Still, dressing to kill might not be a bad idea….
Chase finished buttoning the deep green silk shirt over his slight frame as he walked to the fridge in his small but well-appointed kitchen. Grabbing a bottle of Mountain Dew, he took a gulp before he put the cap back on, grabbed his backpack, and headed out the front door. He was usually a cappuccino kind of guy, but sometimes one needed an extra kick of sugar and caffeine, fast.
Yawning, Chase got into his car and started over to James’s before he remembered they were meeting at the restaurant instead. At some point, he knew he would have to change his thinking and acknowledge that the little cottage was James and Seth’s now, especially since they were not only living together but would be married in just over a month.
Chase turned the corner to pull up in front of Zarletti’s. A moment later, a motorcycle passed him. He paused a moment to take in the eye candy: the black and chrome Harley Softail and the tall, wide-shouldered man atop it. When he parked, he realized to whom the bike belonged and groaned, cursing his luck and his reaction.
There Rhys stood, peering at him from beside the motorcycle. Too bad the bike and those looks belong to such an ass hat. Since the man was staring at him so blatantly, Chase decided to return the favor. He took a moment to let his gaze wander from the man’s deep auburn hair and perpetual five o’clock shadow to his delicious athletic build, wide shoulders, and the defined pecs his black T-shirt served to accentuate, not hide, even with the leather coat half covering him. Rhys was huge at close to six and a half feet. He continued his perusal down Rhys to his thick, muscled legs and his chunky black leather boots. Chase allowed himself a soft sigh. He took just as long on the return trip, making a true production of it. When his gaze finally landed on Rhys’s deep green eyes again, he smirked, turned, and made sure to put a little extra swish into his hips as he sauntered up the sidewalk to the front doors.
He reached to open one but paused when he heard the crunching of boots on the path behind him. He groaned to himself quietly and then stepped inside, hoping Rhys was there to meet someone else, not James. Please let it not be us! Chase had managed to avoid Rhys for the last few months, ever since James’s first gallery show. It was a lot harder to stay away from him than he had expected. He hated how Rhys had befriended James, making avoiding him all the more complicated.
“Good afternoon, welcome to Zarletti’s. Table for two?” the brighteyed hostess asked as Chase approached her stand.
“No. I’m meeting someone. James Bryant? He should be here
“Very good, sir. And you?” the hostess asked, gazing past Chase to Rhys.
“The same, thank you.” Rhys’s deep, rumbling voice sent a jolt through his system, as always.
Desires Entwined Book 2.5
A Companion to Desires' Guardian
When Chase Manning wakes up on the first morning of PrideFest, the last thing he expects to find is his lover and life partner, Rhys Sayer, on bended knee. But the news that marriage has been legalized in the state is a game changer for both of them.
After a mad dash to the courts, all they want is to find their friends at PrideFest to celebrate. However, what happens when they arrive will bond them together forever—if their friends don’t have a collective meltdown about their sudden disappearance first.
Alexander James Noble is a gender fluid gay man who gave up on finding Mister Right a long time ago. He’s not asking for much, though. He just wants a guy who loves all of him and appreciates his feminine form too.
At the local LGBTQ center where Alex regularly volunteers, he meets Dal Sayer, an officer of the Milwaukee PD. Because he’s been rejected one too many times, Alex doesn’t trust the huge cop and the interest he shows in him, but once Dal sets his mind on something, he goes all out. Pushing aside his preconceived notions, Alex opens up just a little and soon caves.
From their first date—while dealing with his father’s failing health and his parents’ demands for him to settle down and have children—Dal never takes his eyes off his goal of making Alex his. But proving to Alex he isn’t like all the men who couldn’t see him for who he truly was and only wanted to hide him away is harder than he thought.
ALEX NOBLE stared out his windshield as he pulled around to the back of the center and frowned. He hated not having help for deliveries like this, but since this was a personal donation, not a work-related one, he had to get along without. Of course, if his employer knew what he did every Saturday, Alex was certain he would support him, if not actually assist in some way. However, this was his gift to the center—a place he wished had existed when he was younger. Despite prejudice and the threat of limited funds, he hoped the center Cynthia Jazz and Kyle Corbin fought to build would make it.
Alex hopped out of the van, noting the teens over on the court playing three-on-three. Deciding not to interrupt their game, he opened the van’s sliding side door and started unloading items for the kitchen in the shelter part of the center. On his third trip, he was startled when a police cruiser pulled up next to his van. He hadn’t noticed any commotion, so he wondered what a cop was doing there, especially on an otherwise quiet Saturday morning.
With a shrug, Alex decided to brush off the cop’s presence and finish moving his supplies into the kitchen. Then he would begin the colossal task of creating a “home-cooked meal” for all the teens, young adults, and adults that would flow into the dining hall later that day. Gathering up the last few bags, Alex turned and shoved the sliding door shut with a nudge of one slender hip.
Again hip checking the button that would open the door without the use of his hands, Alex heard the thud and jingling of someone running up behind him. Tensing—the instinctive fear of who it was and what they wanted unnerving him completely—Alex spun around to confront the unknown person coming up on him fast. Instead of an attacker or one of the teens he had seen playing ball, it was the most gorgeous man, cop, Alex had ever laid eyes on. The stranger came to a halt in front of him.
Alex gasped, both frightened and entranced. His heart raced as he tried not to stare or shrink back. Neither option seemed wise right then.
The handsome man took a quick step backward, though, raising his hands up in a gesture Alex assumed was meant to calm. A small smile touched his lips, and what luscious lips they were. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you, but I think you’re who I’m supposed to be meeting here today.”
Alex tilted his head to the side as he took in the man before him. The sea-green eyes held such sincerity that he was intrigued, though the beefy arms, nearly half a foot in height he had on Alex, dark auburn hair, and adorable freckles dusted across his nose and upper cheeks nearly distracted him from what the man said.
“Why are you hunting for me?” Alex straightened up, trying not to let his lust show through in tone or stance. He knew most male cops were not appreciative of being hit on by other men, and he didn’t need any problems, though he was sure he could just stand there and stare for days and not get tired of gazing at the one before him.
“Are you Alex?”
An odd look passed over the cop’s chiseled face as he continued to stare. “Um, Alexander James Noble?”
“Yes, but I don’t know why I need a cop,” Alex snapped. Being rude usually wasn’t his thing, but cops worried him. In his experience, they always seemed to back the wrong people. Unbidden, his thoughts flashed back to the last time he was attacked for being gay—they let the attackers go and took him in instead. They’d released him immediately, but still….
“My name is Dal Sayer, and Mrs. Jazz wanted me to speak with you about the big dance next month. My brother and I are volunteering as security. She said you had keys and could show me the layout and such,” the cop explained, his words rushing out, his cheeks flushing lightly. Too freaking adorable!
“Oh, um, sure. Here, let me set this stuff down inside, and I’ll show you around a little.”
Alex turned and led Dal into the large stainless steel kitchen. “Cops as security? Here? What is she thinking?” he groused under his breath as he sat the last of the bags on one of the long wooden counters.
“Take it you don’t like cops much,” Dal said, an odd note in his deep, yet gentle, voice. He almost sounded sad, or maybe disappointed.
“Sorry,” Alex said, hating how easily his face flushed. Being a light-skinned black person meant it was always very obvious. “I. It. Um, never mind. Please forget I said that.” Giving Dal his best smile, he cleared his throat and tried again. “I’m glad they’re going to have security for the dance. Chaperones are great, but someone a little more butch and beefy might do well to stop any potential problems before they can even start.”
Dal’s booming laugh startled him out of his daydreams of winning such a man’s interest.
Alex realized that not only was he flirting, but he had been staring again. Quickly averting his eyes, he focused on where the keys sat and on not stumbling.
“Give me a min, ’kay?” He put the cold things away in the large industrial fridge before wiping his hands down the thighs of his dark jeans as he fought a serious case of nerves. Alex looked back up to face Dal, swallowing hard as he struggled to keep his voice even and firm. “Officer, let me show you the main areas, and then I’ll leave you to do whatever it is you need to do for party planning and security things while I get ready for later.”
“Dal, please. I’m not here in an official capacity.” The gentle curve of his sensual lips drew Alex’s eyes and held him captive until Dal cleared his throat.
He simply nodded, not trusting himself not to make a fool of himself right then.
Showing Dal around didn’t take long. The large gym area they intended to use for the dance already held some of the decorations—they were all set to one side. The area had wood floors and high ceilings. Once decorated and with the music going, Alex was certain the kids would have a blast.
“The restrooms are down the hall here. You might have issues with smoking and, well, kids getting a little too friendly in there or out back. All the side rooms will be locked, so you won’t have to worry about those. Cynthia and Kyle are very strict about the kids respecting not only each other, but themselves too, so I doubt you should have too much trouble to handle.”
“Yes, she explained that, but something as simple as an ex trying to interfere with a new relationship can cause more than just hurt feelings. But don’t worry, we’re not here to cause problems or pass judgment. Rhys and I will only step in if it’s truly needed. All right?”
Alex nodded slowly. “Oh, okay.”
“I’ll have a look around and stop back by on my way out, if that works for you.”
“Cool. I’ll be, um, cooking. Bye.” Alex fled back to the kitchen, desperate to calm his heart and steady his nerves.
Once he put in his favorite mix and turned on the CD player, he got to work. Cooking always calmed him. Alex pulled out the pots, pans, and trays he would need. Setting the large mixing bowls down in his chosen baking area, he started measuring the ingredients for both cheddar-garlic biscuits and the crusty herbed garlic bread to go with the salad, pork and pot roasts, and various veggie dishes he planned for the day’s meal. After placing the tea towels over the bowls and setting them aside to rise, Alex cleaned up and headed toward the fridge to pull out the roasts. Each one got a dry rub before he put them back in the refrigerator to wait. He then danced over to the sink, washing his hands again, before heading for the baskets of fresh carrots, asparagus, onions, potatoes, greens, apples, and portabellas he’d brought.
A deep chuckle brought Alex out of his dancing and chopping. He spun around with a soft gasp, dropping the knife on the counter in the process, to find Dal, arms folded across his chest, resting against the doorframe, smirking at him. “Oh, no-no. Please don’t hold back on my account!”
Confused by the mix of lust and mortification running through him, Alex gaped at Dal. Snapping his mouth shut, he squinted his eyes, hands going to his slender hips. He huffed. “It’s my kitchen, and I can dance if I wanna.”
“Yes, you certainly may.” Dal winked and chuckled again. “I didn’t mean to disturb you. Just wanted to let you know I was done and heading out.”
“Oh,” Alex sighed, completely captivated by the sweet smile Dal was giving him. “Thank you. Did you find everything you needed?” Alex smiled, hoping it appeared flirtatious instead of nervous.
“I think I just might have,” Dal replied, voice deepening, eyes not moving from Alex’s.
Somehow the heat in that green stare made Alex wonder if there might be more to the simple statement than the specific words implied.
“Good. I’m glad, Officer.”
“Dal, please. And thank you, Alex.”
“Dal,” he barely got out. It sounded more like a whisper than anything. “You, you’re welcome.”
Dal opened his mouth to speak again, but the radio on his shoulder crackled to life, effectively cutting him off. He motioned Alex to keep quiet while he answered. Alex watched, fascinated at the change from shy, possibly flirting man to towering powerhouse as Dal became Officer Sayer in front of him. Alex bit his bottom lip, thinking unsexy thoughts to try to stave off his erection thanks to how hot Dal, both as a sexy man and delicious officer, made him.
Pulled out of his thoughts when Dal cleared this throat, Alex watched the sexy cop again. “I’ve got to go for now, Alex, but thanks for the tour. I hope to see you again. Soon,” Dal called to Alex as he looked back at him before hustling out the door.
Alex stood there staring at the spot where his fantasy man had just been, wishing he knew the man better or had some way to know how to run into him again. Well, he thought, there’s always the dance….
Truth in Lace
Desires Entwined Book 3.5
A spin-off of Temptations of Desire
Desires Entwined: Book 3.5
When Alexander James Noble looks in the mirror, he sees a freak looking back at him. Despite his high grades and plans for culinary arts school after graduation, his parents would hate him if they really knew him.
Forced on a shopping trip with his twin sister, Lyric, and her friends, Alex eyes the girls jealously, longing to be able to dress like them—to be them. The constant struggle of being “gender fluid,” wrestling with an identity that seems to change daily, begins to wear on Alex. But all those questions and fears seem more manageable when his sister gives him his first skirt and lace panties
Simon Tyler knows his job as a gay romance author makes his lack of faith in love more than a little ironic, but he’s tired of being used for his wallet. When a night out turns into a matchmaking scheme orchestrated by his best friends, Simon’s not thrilled, but since he’s not the target and he’s sworn off happily-ever-after anyway, he goes along with it… until he meets Adrian, the object of their efforts, and finds perhaps he hasn’t given up on love after all.
Professor Adrian Keys has tried to date Hearing men before, but being Deaf himself, he’s never had any success at making a connection. After his friends con him into going out and Adrian realizes it’s all an elaborate plan to set him up, he braces for yet another failure, only to discover there is a spark—except it’s not with the man his friends had in mind, but with Simon Tyler instead.
Not all their friends have found a way past their romantic failures, but Simon and Adrian might be on the path to happily-ever-after.
Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what they couldn’t—defy the hate and come out. He has been their hero ever since.
Tempe is a hopeless romantic who loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. Though new to writing M/M, they has done many things in their life, yet writing has always drawn them back—no matter what else life has thrown their way. They counts her friends, family, and Muse as their greatest blessings in life. They live in Wisconsin with their children, reading, writing, and enjoying life.
Tempe is also a proud PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, WisRWA, and Rainbow Romance Writers. Tempe’s preferred pronouns are they/them/their/theirs/themselves. To learn more about Tempeste and their writing, visit http://tempesteoriley.com.
Top Five Places James Loves To Go In Milwaukee
When I sat down to write Designs of Desire I started with the characters and story, but I quickly ran into the problem of needing places in “town” for things like dates or meetings. I didn’t want everything to be “real” but did want some reality for my guys, so where did I pick to set DoD? Milwaukee, WI, of course!
So here are James’s top 5 favorite (inspirational to simply look at…) places in Milwaukee that are real (but in no particular order):
Milwaukee Art Museum
Highlights of the building are the magnificent cathedral-like space of Windhover Hall, with a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling; the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily; and the Reiman Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge that connects the Museum to the city. Seriously, what’s not to love? Just watching it from outside is awe inspiring, much less the great works inside!
Milwaukee City Hall
The German Renaissance Revival styled building, with a soaring clock tower, held the tallest building title until 1899. It was among the opening scenes of the television sitcom “Laverne and Shirley.” The Milwaukee City Hall is now a National Historic Landmark and was used as the symbol Milwaukee.
Allen-Bradley Clock Tower
It has the distinction of being the world’s largest four-faced clock according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The tower made an appearance on the NASCAR Busch Series race car of Mike Bliss in 2004.
Miller Park is a baseball park that is home to the Milwaukee Brewers and features a fan-shaped convertible roof that can be opened or closed as conditions dictate. It’s fascinating to view as you pass by on I-94.
Basilica of St. Josaphat
The Basilica of St. Josaphat is an opulent minor basilica located in the Lincoln Village section of Milwaukee. The church has one of the largest copper domes in the world.
Sadly, none of these sites made it into the story, but they still inspire and make proud those that live there.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!