Will doesn’t want a relationship. Blain isn’t looking for a boyfriend. But with an old lady playing Cupid, how can they ignore a chance at love?
Will Brewer is a shy artist living with only his cat for company. He’s not good with people and even worse with relationships. He isn’t looking for a boyfriend. He just wants to paint. In fact, he would happily be living the life of a hermit if his eighty-year-old neighbor, Mrs. O’Grady, wasn’t constantly roping him into tasks around her house.
And he isn’t the only one she’s preying on.
The new and gorgeous mechanic Blain Stewart has just moved in next door. Where Will feels like an awkward fool around Blain, the mechanic finds him adorable.
Blain has just ended a bad long-term relationship with a high-maintenance man who didn’t understand him. He feels like he’s starting all over again and he’s hesitant for his fresh start to include the talented and charming Will.
But when Mrs. O’Grady asks them to plant some flowers in her garden, the tension between them skyrockets.
They both think friendship would be safer than a new romance. But when attraction, connection and an enthusiastic old lady are pushing them together, can they resist?
General Release Date: 6th April 2021
If you asked most people, they would tell you that everyone can be divided into one of two personality types—introverts or extroverts.
Introverts prefer to be alone, are shy and awkward around new people and don’t like large, loud parties. Extroverts, by comparison, are confident, talkative and cheerful. They’re the life of the party.
Will Brewer was the classic example of an introvert. If anyone needed a dictionary definition of the term, his face should be cited as reference source number one—pale from lack of sunlight, shoulder-length brown hair that he preferred to have fall in front of his face, prone to stuttering and always ready with a lame excuse for why he couldn’t attend the latest night out.
Will would rather stay at home and associate with people solely by social media. If his career as an artist didn’t require him to leave the house for showings and promotional parties, he’d probably have long ago become a hermit.
Well, his career and one exceptionally persistent neighbor.
Will had knocked on her lilac front door and was enthusiastically welcomed inside. Martha O’Grady was an eighty-year-old widow with grandmotherly affection and too much time on her hands. She lived to the south of him in a modest three-bedroom home. When her husband had retired fifteen years before, they’d sold the family house and moved into the neighborhood. Will had bought the house next door to her two years prior. She often showed up with apple pies and homemade quiches, along with the soft complaint that he was too skinny and didn’t eat enough.
He’d invite her in for coffee and they’d share a slice of her latest offering as she asked about his art and patted his calico cat Pollock. It would take a few minutes of polite small talk before she would absently mention something bothering her about her house.
The unusual choice of purple for her door was his work, something he had spent a day doing over a year ago. Mrs. O’Grady had gossiped next to him, offering him refreshments and complimenting his skill with a paint brush. The azaleas that stood on either side of the door were also thanks to him. Will had replanted them into larger pots six months before. Mrs. O’Grady never asked for help, but she always spoke in a way that was guaranteed to activate Will’s manners.
Today, it was her closet door that was creaking.
‘If only I was tall enough to reach those high hinges, Will,’ she’d said, ‘but with my balance, I really can’t risk a ladder these days.’
It resulted in Will offering to help, like he always did.
He’d been hustled through the house and was now standing on a stepladder in her guest room, oiling her closet hinges. Mrs. O’Grady was busy in the kitchen making fresh lemonade. Will didn’t mind doing the occasional chore for her. He just didn’t like her using it as an opportunity to broaden his social horizons.
Will had met all four of her children, as well as their children and a few other family members. Sometimes, Will felt like the adopted stray cat she was trying to coax even further into her family. She’d even tried to set him up with one of her granddaughters. When he’d explained that he was gay, she’d been apologetic and had stopped trying to foist the date on him.
She did bake him a rainbow cake in the week that followed and even watched Brokeback Mountain. He didn’t think he’d ever felt so mortified as when she’d enthusiastically complimented the kissing scenes and asked him which actor was more attractive. The answer being Jake Gyllenhaal, obviously—not that he’d been game enough to admit that to a woman who was too much like a grandmother for him to feel comfortable.
That had been six months ago, and while he was grateful that she was accepting of his sexuality, he was equally relieved that it hadn’t come up since. He was single for a reason—mainly, his inability to be suave or sophisticated on a date. He could pull off a one-night stand if he’d had a few doses of liquid courage, but dating left him uncomfortable and yearning to be back at home with Pollock. He didn’t have to be interesting or charming around his cat. He just had to give up his lap and offer her unlimited ear scratches. Will was already looking forward to getting back to Pollock and his latest canvas.
He was just moving the door to check if the oil had done its job when he heard knocking from the front of the house. He stilled.
“Oh, that will just be Blain!” Mrs. O’Grady called, sounding excited. “I’ll go get the door!”
A ball of lead formed in the pit of Will’s stomach. Let me guess. He’s the second cousin twice removed who happens to be gay. Leaning his head against the wood of the closet, Will groaned softly. He wanted to put down the oil and beat a hasty retreat, but the job was only half done. He’d feel guilty if he left without fixing it for her.
He could hear a male voice but not make out either his or Mrs. O’Grady’s words. Will heard them getting closer and he lifted his head and looked over his shoulder at the door. Anxiousness made his hands clammy. Mrs. O’Grady soon appeared in the doorway. She always dressed immaculately and in bright colors. Her white hair was short and didn’t hide her triangular orange earrings.
“Will,” Mrs. O’Grady said, “Blain Stewart has just moved in next door. I thought it would be nice to share tea with him.”
The man stepped into view and immediately stole Will’s breath.
He’d always liked a man with muscles, and Blain’s short-sleeved shirt and baggy jeans couldn’t hide his solid, taut physique. His right arm had tattoos from the wrist up and Will’s fingers itched to trace the artwork and get a closer look at the design. While a crew cut would usually turn him away, Blain’s hair was long enough on top to make it look stylish rather than like Blain had just walked out of a bootcamp. He didn’t have a full beard, but the lengthy stubble was neat and trimmed. It followed the line of his jaw and circled his full lips. Stormy gray eyes completed the package and left Will completely lost for words.
I could get used to being set up if the guys look like this.
“This is Will Brewer,” Mrs. O’Grady continued. “He lives on my other side and is a very talented artist.”
“Nice to meet you,” Blain said, stepping into the room and holding out his hand.
The ladder put them at a distinct height difference, but Will guessed Blain would be eye to eye with him if they were on equal footing.
Swallowing nervously, Will fumbled as he put down the oiling can. He took Blain’s hand and shook it, feeling a little weak in the knees at the man’s warm, firm grip.
He has nice hands. What else would he be good at gripping with them?
“Nice to meet you too,” Will managed to say.
Blain smiled. It was a light-hearted, charming expression that made Will give an immediate, if small, smile back. Blain let his hand go and it forced Will to do the same. He felt uncertain about what to do or say. This was usually the part where he grabbed a drink to settle his nerves. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go looking for alcohol in the middle of the day with Mrs. O’Grady only a few feet away.
“So, you, uh, just moved into the neighborhood?” Will asked.
You sound so stupid. Will wanted to hit his head on the closet or climb inside. Maybe he could come out of it as a more confident homosexual rather than the shy, awkward mess he’d always been.
“Yeah,” Blain said, his gaze drifting to a point behind Will. “They say it’s good to have a fresh start.”
Although they’d just met, Will could hear a strain to the man’s voice. He might be imagining things, but Will had been awkward all his life. He could tell when someone was faking enthusiasm in a conversation.
Five seconds in and I’m already blowing it. Great job, Will.
“That’s right, dear,” Mrs. O’Grady said, stepping into the room.
She made a beeline for Blain and touched his arm. Her expression was sympathetic and had she been taller, she probably would have patted his cheek. As it was, she didn’t even reach his shoulders.
“You’ve picked the right time,” she continued. “Why, spring is the season for things to grow anew.”
Will felt left out of the loop, but Blain gave her a wry smile.
“I’ll keep that in mind, Mrs. O’Grady,” he replied.
She patted his arm before smiling at Will.
“I’ll leave you boys to finish the closet.” She was halfway out of the room before she paused to inform them, “Tea will be ready in ten minutes.”
The order was clear, and Will knew that tardiness would not be tolerated. She didn’t wait for their reply and left them alone. She didn’t wink or try to exaggerate their best qualities. It wasn’t what Will had learned to expect from a setup by Mrs. O’Grady.
“Formidable woman,” Blain said. “I hadn’t known her fifteen minutes before she’d learned my life story, got me looking at the oil in her car then made me promise to stop by today.”
Will smiled. “She did the same to me, but, uh, my first task was repainting the wooden bench in the backyard.”
“It seems she played to our strengths,” Blain said, but, at Will’s confused look, he added, “I’m a mechanic.”
A vivid image of Blain stripped down to overalls and covered in sweat and grease flashed through his mind. He felt a stirring of arousal but resolutely ignored it. Will focused on the closet door. He moved it, feeling relieved when it didn’t squeak.
He grabbed the oil can and climbed down the ladder. He turned and almost ran into Blain. Will got a whiff of the man’s aftershave. It was woody yet fresh and he wanted to lean in to get even more. He swallowed again, feeling like a hormonal teenager shoved into a room with the star of the football team.
God, I need to get laid.