Book Title: Inhale
Author: D.P. Denman
Cover Artist: AJ Corza
Release Date: July 20, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Tropes: damaged lead finds love, professional model, learning to love again, blackmail, voyeur, private investigator stories
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 75 000 words/ 300 pages
It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger
Cole Rinne is a model with an impossible problem. An invasion of his privacy ends up in the hands of a blackmailer and the details could go public any day. His only hope is to ditch the spotlight and hide in the shadows. Then he meets someone with a solution.
Gage Marx is a PI who specializes in impossible problems. He's used to solving the unsolvable. The only thing he's ever declared a lost cause is himself.
From the start, Cole's case holds more surprises than Gage expects. The most shocking is that for the first time in over a year, Gage’s broken heart is showing signs of life.
Their plan to wade slowly into love comes apart when an unexpected opportunity threatens to turn it all into a long-distance relationship. Will occasional reunions be enough to keep them together or will their separate careers tear them apart?
Gage woke to the jostling of his mattress. The shadowed figure at the end of the bed had him up from his pillow in an instant. He fumbled for the light on the nightstand, his heart hammering. One hundred watts burst into the room and Gage dropped his head back, breathing to the ceiling.
Cole sat at the end of the bed, still in his rumpled clothes.
"You scared the shit out of me," Gage told him.
"Sorry." Cole slumped.
The misery on his face silenced the rest of Gage's lecture. "It's okay."
"I couldn't sleep. I keep thinking about everything. I feel so…." Cole's face twisted into a smudge of anger and sadness.
"Violated?" Gage supplied when it was apparent Cole couldn't come up with the words.
"That." Cole nodded.
Cole kept nodding until the last word. "Oh, I passed pissed an hour ago. I'm whatever you are when you reach the molten lava stage. If I thought it would make me feel any better, I'd ask for a meeting so I could spit in his face."
"I don't blame you." Gage leaned against the headboard.
"I also don't want to be alone." Cole looked at him, sad green eyes and crooked eyebrows asking permission.
Gage stared back, searching Cole's face for a lust-inspired ploy to get into his bed. He didn't find one.
"Why don't you sleep in here?" Gage offered.
It was a mistake, and he knew it. There would be no way to maintain any kind of boundary after a night together, even if all they did was sleep. The alternative was to send Cole back to the couch alone, where he would sit in the dark, ruminating over the betrayal. Gage would stare at the ceiling over his bed, imagining him doing it. He'd end up back on the couch, holding Cole and watching infomercials until one of them fell asleep again.
"Thank you." Cole climbed under the covers and nestled into the empty pillow.
Gage turned off the light and settled back where he'd been, pretending he could see Cole on the other half of the bed until his eyes adjusted and Cole returned to a shadowed form beside him.
They stared at each other for a moment.
"I know you have your rules," Cole said quietly, "and I still want you working my case. I also think I want you as something more than that."
"Are you sure it's not because you're feeling vulnerable? I don't want to take advantage of you not having anyone else to talk to."
Cole reached out and rested a hand on his arm. "I'm not sure of anything, but I know what I'm starting to feel, and I'm pretty sure I know why. It's more than the case."
Gage covered Cole's hand, caressing his knuckles, using touch to mask the silence. It was more than the goal of maintaining a professional distance. He didn't think he was ready for a physical relationship. Not yet. Not in that house with a room full of similar memories right across the hall.
"Is there a way to make that happen?" Cole asked. "Assuming you want to."
The question wasn't new. Gage had already wasted hours thinking about what he would do if Cole kissed him again, digging for loopholes he could bend his ethics around. His only solution was to hand the investigation off to someone who would let him stick his nose back in it at will. No one could fault him for keeping an eye on a situation that affected a man he was dating.
"I could let the law firm take over. They'll be doing most of the work on it from now on, anyway."
"I don't want to take money away from you just so I can date you."
"I have other clients."
"People put lawyers on retainer, right? What if I do that with you?"
"I would hope you don't have things like this happening often enough to be worth that."
"This would be so much easier if you were a bodyguard or something."
"They aren't supposed to get involved with clients either."
"Sure, if you didn't mind me hauling you in for skipping bail anyway. Otherwise, I'd be aiding a fugitive."
"This is much sexier in the movies."
Gage smiled. "That's why they call it fiction."
About the Author
Award-winning author DP Denman wrote her first short story when she was eight and has been crafting fictional adventures ever since! You can usually find her with a cup of coffee in hand, contemplating her next story.
A covert romantic, she writes addictive, character-driven gay romance about damaged people who find the strength to put their lives back together. Her stories are gripping and dramatic -- guaranteed to hold you hostage to the last word!
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