Michael adjusted his bag on his shoulder and tried to keep his umbrella from poking the lady’s in front of him. Fleishman Funeral Home only had gigantic golf umbrellas for services, and he was glad for it when the rain picked up and a gust blew mist onto his glasses. He shoved them into his front shirt pocket, knowing there would be no use keeping them clean until he was inside.
“Shit, I thought this rain was supposed to let up this afternoon,” a deep masculine voice from behind him said.
Michael turned and drew up short.
“Whoa there, pal. You could take an eye out with that thing.”
For a heartbeat Michael froze and stared. The man had a long face and wheat-colored hair swept back from a low brow and into a ponytail. Eyes the color of cognac had just enough sparkle to make Michael smile and conjure thoughts of mischief and long summer romances.
And you’re staring at him like a ninny!
Michael hastily stepped back to avoid poking the gorgeous man in the eye with his umbrella. “Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Hey, watch it,” the lady in front of him snapped. “You’re soaking me!”
Michael jumped when he realized his big umbrella had slipped beneath hers and was funneling water right onto her.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” he said at once, stepping back the other way.
“Whoa, whoa,” Ponytail Guy said again, reaching up to take hold of the eye-level pin on Michael’s umbrella. “How about I just join you?” And then he stepped under the huge umbrella with Michael.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Michael managed, squirming a little. “There’s plenty of room.”
The man used both hands to brush a few wayward strands of blond hair off his face, his tanned skin glistening from the rain. He wore a ring on a long well-manicured index finger. Smiling, he held out a hand. “I’m Jazz Dilworth.”
What a strange name. Sounds like something in a mystery novel.
He quickly shook the proffered hand. “Michael Fleishman.”
Jazz flipped a thumb behind him. “I work across the street at Misty’s Makeover Palace.” He furrowed tidy brows. “Fleishman, like the funeral parlor?”
“Yes, the same.”
“Eew,” the lady in front of him said with a distinct Valley girl attitude.
Michael maintained his polite mortician smile. Sadly, he was used to the reaction. Hence his lackluster love life.
Expecting Jazz to make some equally grossed-out remark and leave the shelter of the umbrella, Michael looked back at him.
But Jazz was smiling, his white teeth radiant and even. “That explains the planet-sized umbrella. Only ever see those at funerals and on golf courses.”
Michael’s facial muscles softened, and the smile he gave Jazz was more genuine, relaxed. “Yes, they come in handy.”
Jazz grinned. “I bet they do.”
This man was gorgeous. He had to be younger than Michael. But more importantly, he had the potential for being gay since he was a hairdresser. Well aware of his stereotyping, Michael was nonetheless hopeful. He wasn’t the best flirt, but sharing an umbrella with an attractive man in front of a bar acting as a makeshift bookstore felt like the opening of a romcom, so he was ready to give it the ol’ college try.
“Are you a fan of the Brock Hammer novels too?” he asked, glad his glasses were in his pocket. Jazz stood so close, Michael didn’t even need them to clearly see his handsome face.
Jazz scoffed. “Used to be.”
“Oh.” Michael’s heart fell. So much for common interests. “Did you know this line is to meet the author?”
“I know, all right. The fucker’s been ducking my calls for weeks.”
Michael flinched at the man’s crass remark. “You know Russell Withingham?”
“Married to him,” Jazz said. “Separated.”
So he is gay…. Michael shook his head. “Wait, what?”
Those warm brown eyes met his, and Jazz smiled. “Separated,” he said again. “Permanently. He’s supposed to still be making my car payment, and I just got a call from the bank. He hasn’t made the last two payments.”
Michael didn’t know if he was more disappointed to find out his favorite author was a jerk, or excited to know the man under his umbrella was gay and single.
Well, possibly single.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Michael offered.
Jazz shrugged. “Nothing for you to be sorry for,” he quipped. “In fact, I should be thanking you for sharing your umbrella with me. Nothing worse than running into an ex with your hair all soaking wet, looking like a hot mess. I wanna be a vision when I tell him off. You know, make him regret losing me.”
Michael couldn’t help his involuntary head-to-toe sweep of Jazz’s body. He was a vision. Jazz carried some extra weight on him, but Michael liked men of a husky build. They seemed more solid and down-to-earth. Any man who would give up all the hunkiness Jazz had to offer had to be nuts.