Craig is terrible at relationships. They have all been mistakes. No strings attached hookups are where it is at for him. Then he picks Damian up at a club, and later finds him working at the coffee house near his office. Their coffee order code evolves into everything sexual Craig needs and wants, with no commitment.
Craig is hiding behind all of his secrets and Damian is not asking any questions. When someone from the past tracks Craig down, the mistake that altered the course of Craig’s life forever is dragged into the daylight. Faced with a past Craig has no interest or intention of confronting, Craig turns to Damian and their relationship may turn out to be not as casual as Craig thought.
This story opens in a unique way and immediately drew me in. It reads like the script of a play: Ten past six in the evening. Tuesday. Little independent coffee shop Lucy’s is quiet. The business district is closing down for the evening, and the bell above the door jangles in the hush. And so the story alternates at times with a narrative feel mixed in with being in Craig’s head. The style is descriptive with an edge at times with passages such as: Craig doesn’t say a word; he simply tangles a hand in that drenched hair and kisses him. It’s not a gentle kiss. It’s teeth and tongue and taste, it’s the theft of air and the threat of something more intense. The style is different from what I have been reading, and it stuck with me and made me take notice.
We don’t know what is going on at first. We are not supposed to. But, quickly we learn that Craig visits Damian in the coffee shop where he works and places an order. They have worked out a code where the order coincides with the sexual activity for the evening. While this is great fun upfront, at times, Craig and Damian were the only two let in on the joke of what the order actually entailed and it lost a bit of impact. And, that is the extent of their relationship, other than the times Craig picks Damian up at their Friday night club. Craig likes to dominate, he has to be in control at all times, and Damian will consensually go along with what Craig is asking for. And, if Craig perhaps seems out of line at times, Damian doesn’t think so, and will certainly tell Craig when he is.
Now, the description above, is not all of what the story is about at all. Craig is hiding. He is hiding a secret; he is also just plain, literally, hiding. He has tried to shut himself off from the pain inflicted on him by his family. One careless word years ago and Craig’s life is forever and dramatically changed. Most of the story is Craig coming to terms with how his life has been altered. It does not take long to learn his secrets, but it carries the full impact of the story.
Interwoven with Craig dealing with his past is his relationship with Damian. Damian who is described as walking sex and being fluid in motion. They are both alone and both filled with hurt. There is way more to Damian than we are initially shown and the way their relationship evolves is exactly what they both need. At times erotic, at times full of emotion, at times playful, and at times even a bit too slow, but the story of the two of them unfolds to reveal all of the layers between them.
The person who comes to find Craig wants to make amends, but remains naive and it does not ever seem that he catches on to exactly what Craig has lived through. Also, mixed in through the story is a recurring conversation about Damian’s name. The story is set in England and when the full reveal is offered on that matter, the full impact was a bit lost as a result of the international dialect translation.
Craig has so much to deal with and his journey is finding his way and his revelations come to him about his life and about Damian. Damian is waiting for him at the end of the journey with a HFN and there is no glimpse into their future to see how things will work out for them. (sigh) An intense read at times, with two different men who seek shelter from life’s storms within each other, and learn that not everything has to be a mistake.