Bow ties are awesome. Nowadays men scarcely option to primp themselves, as males of so many species do to attract females. Bow ties are one of the few. Once I saw a gentlemen on the subway sporting a bow tie and a pointy, waxed mustache—I just wanted to give him a hug.

Simon is a shy academic but his bow ties hint at something more beneath the Mr. Rogers sweaters.

Dylan wears bow ties because they're part of his work uniform. A uniform that clings to him like a second skin.

Simon is quiet and reserved. Dylan is everything but. Opposites attract.

Can the beauty and the nerd find common ground in neckwear?

Will Dylan come to his senses before it's too late?

Will the author stop asking stupid questions?



“You can’t always get what you want,” Teag said over the rattle of ice cubes. The cocktail shaker was but a silver blur in his hands.

Dylan snorted. “But if I try, I might find what I need?” He and Teag were in the middle of one of their recurring disagreements about men of advanced age and wealth. Dylan wanted one. Teag thought it was a bad idea.

“Sometimes,” Teag agreed wryly. He had a few inches and years on Dylan, but they could’ve been brothers. They had the same brown hair and eyes, and sinuous young bodies that any rich old man would’ve been lucky to worship. At least, Dylan thought so. However, their tempers couldn’t be less similar.

Dylan knew arguing with Teag was pointless. “Right now all I need is an espresso martini. Quick, before my customer nods off. It’s past his bedtime,” he added, glimpsing toward the table. Alas, the gold-Rolex-adorned bald guy showed no sign of drowsiness.

Teag’s hands stilled. He twisted the cap off the shaker and poured the frothy brown liquid into a cocktail glass. “Espresso martini and fuzzless navel, as you asked,” he said, placing the glass next to the other already on Dylan’s tray.

“Merci,” Dylan dipped his head with royal flair, picked up the tray and sailed away from the bar. On his way, he caught a distorted glimpse of himself in a mirror-tiled wall, but kept walking like the professional he affected to be. He already knew he looked fine, but so did the other waiters in Purlieux. They were all young, trim, and hawt—part of the package that made Purlieux one of the hottest places of West Hollywood.

Black trousers and white shirt wrapped around his body like a second skin—so much so the bumps of his nipples were clearly visible through the ultrathin fabric. Dylan speculated that the management might have kept the temperature of the restaurant low to keep the waitstaff’s nipples continuously erect. One floor up, the nightclub was warmer, but the staff there didn’t wear shirts at all, only a black bow tie around their necks. And pants, naturally. The black bow tie was part of Dylan’s uniform too.

Dylan set the drinks in front of his customers with grace befitting a Playboy bunny, but it was a wasted effort. Baldy and his date—blond, barely legal—had eyes only for each other. Recognizing a lost cause, Dylan sailed on.

The nightclub part of Purlieux drew crowds, especially on the weekends, but the restaurant was more than an afterthought. It did good business even during the daylight hours, thanks to Chef Walenty’s culinary mastery. The decor here was more restrained as well, with dark tones and splashes of red and yellow. Carefully calibrated lighting provided an intimate atmosphere without being too dark. People in general liked to see the food they were eating.

Saturday nights were the busiest, and Dylan saw a trio being seated in his section, just as he turned from Baldy and Co. He took a detour to snatch up the menus and sashayed out to his new customers, swinging his hips like a snake—if snakes had hips. Appreciative gazes caressed him as he moved, and he took them as his due.

He gave the new guests a sultrier version of a thousand-watt smile. “Good evening, ladies and gentleman. I’m Dylan, and I’ll be serving you tonight,” he said with more than a hint of suggestion as he handed out the menus. Innuendo was part of the service at Purlieux—the easiest part, as far as Dylan was concerned. At once, he pegged two of his new customers as power lesbians, but he didn’t treat them any differently. It would’ve been rude, and they didn’t seem to mind his flirtation.

The third person in the group was an odd duck, and Dylan gave him a thorough once-over. The thirty-ish guy had an unfortunate haircut, wore a gingham shirt with a burgundy bow tie, and glasses that were totally wrong for his face. Nerd-o-rama.

Presently, he was staring at Dylan’s chest. Right nipple, to be exact. As his gaze fluttered up to Dylan’s face, Dylan gave him a playful half smile, but instead of the usual naughty exchange, the guy snapped his gaze away and hid behind his menu. Though not before Dylan caught the convulsive bobbing of his Adam’s apple. The guy was nervous, Dylan registered with astonishment.

Tucking his surprise away, Dylan turned his attention to the ladies. “Let me tell you about our specials tonight. We have a succulent roast duck breast on a bed of red rice and topped with a luscious sauce of red wine and raspberry.” Dylan kept his tone to a velvety purr and went on describing a few more dishes, frequently using adjectives like finger-licking, tender and juicy. He made sure to make eye contact with his entire audience. At least he tried. Nerdglasses barely glanced up, though Dylan noticed the spreading color on the guy’s cheeks. Adorbs.

Finally, the guy put his menu down to agree with the ladies that they needed a few more minutes to decide. They chose to get drinks first, though.

“Two very dirty martinis for the ladies,” Dylan repeated. “And you, sir?”

Nerdglasses had to look up. Behind the lenses, his eyes blinked pale blue. “Ehrm, something nonalcoholic, please. Water’s fine.”

The women protested, and Dylan suggested a lip-smacking blend of cranberry and orange juice.

“I don’t want to be trouble,” Nerdglasses objected.

“Oh, no trouble at all. It’ll be my pleasure,” Dylan assured the guy with double dose of sultry.

Nerdglasses swallowed and nodded. “Okay.”

Dylan walked away, hips swaying—just in case anyone was looking—and another guest gesturing for a bill caught his eye. He acknowledged the request, dropped off the drink orders and slipped behind the register to ring up table five. He was about to beeline for said table when one of the power lesbians blocked his way. “Can I help you?” he asked with a practiced smile.

She pursed her lips and gave him an appreciative once-over. “You sure can. I’m Audra, by the way. I’ll be straight,” she added with a self-pleased snicker. “I’d like you to flirt with Simon. I mean really, really flirt. More than you already do. Make him feel special.”

“Simon is your four-eyed friend?” Dylan asked, though it was pretty obvious.

“Yeah. It’s his birthday. Lindsay and I had to twist his arm to make him come out and celebrate. As you probably guessed, he’s not exactly a social butterfly. We’d like him to have a good time, build up his self-confidence.” She winked. “There’s a nice tip in it for you.”

Dylan gave a lewd smile and bowed. “I live to serve. Leave it to me; by the dessert, your friend will cream his pants. Speaking of dessert, would you like to arrange something special? We don’t sing happy birthday here, but Chef Walenty’s gooey chocolate cake is simply sinful, and we have a wide selection of obscene candles to decorate it with. Would you like to see them?”

She laughed and shook her head. “Yes to the cake. I leave the candle selection in your undoubtedly capable hands.” She walked away with a smirk.

A few minutes later, Dylan was at their table again with the drinks. He put the martinis down first. “And a virgin sex on the beach for the gentleman,” he announced, placing the tall glass in front of Simon. Simon’s head shot up and their eyes met. Dylan smiled to demonstrate he wasn’t making fun of Simon. “You ready for me?” he purred. If he had an order pad, he would’ve whipped it out right then, but he didn’t carry one—nowhere to put it.

Dylan turned his charm up to eleven, and Operation Simon was underway. He felt a shade disadvantaged not having boobs to brandish, but he had his own bumps and curves and the skill to display them. And anyway, boobs wouldn’t have had much effect on Simon, while Dylan’s manly bits did, Dylan could tell.

Copyright © 2015 Lou Harper
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. Publication