Diedre couldn’t wait to introduce her best friend, Casey, to her new contractor. Casey was an aspiring writer who spent most of his days locked away in his apartment desperate to write the next great American novel. He was cute by anyone’s standards, but he didn’t believe it. At 5’10” with short brown hair and big hazel eyes, his slender build and coy smile could win the heart of the savviest player.
Deidre eagerly entered Casey’s apartment bursting with the “exciting” news. “My landscape architect just finished some work for me; his name is Raphael, he’s sexy, amazing, and… Latin! You HAVE to meet him! I knew you’d say, “No, if I asked you first, so I didn’t. He said he was definitely interested in going out with a cute, brilliant writer.”
As Casey sat back down in front of his laptop computer, he responded without missing a beat, “Sounds like he’s doing his employer a favor. Nothing like going on a date with someone who feels obligated to spend an evening with the boss’s friend.”
Deidre pulled up a chair and focused her attention on Casey. “You’re going. He’s the hottest man alive and whether he’s doing me a favor or not, consider this man my gift to you. He’s insanely sexy and YOU need to get laid!”
He knew that there was no getting out of this date. Deidre was a force of nature and too excited about this arrangement for him to back out of it.
Although he would never admit it, Casey wasn’t too upset about being forced out on a date with a sexy Latin man. He hadn’t been on a date in a very long time and the idea of a romantic evening sounded like just the adventure he needed. “Fine. I’m in. When?”
Deidre was shocked Casey didn’t put up a fight, as was expected.
It was the day of the big date. Casey had lost track of the time while writing and had no clue how far the Laguna Beach was from downtown Los Angeles. The map on his phone indicated that it was a two-hour ride. WHAT THE HELL? Casey starred at the route in disbelief. What did I get myself into? If he left immediately, he would just be acceptably late. With no time to primp and properly groom, he jumped in the car.
As Casey pulled into the small coastal community of Laguna Beach, he was mesmerized by the pristine beach and the gorgeous ocean view. This doesn’t look like a real place; it’s too perfect! If I didn’t know better, I’d think I just arrived on a movie set from a 1950s California beach movie!
Turn by turn he inched his way up to the top of the hill. He arrived five minutes early and parked in front of a spectacular Spanish-style villa. The heavy wooden door was half-open, seemingly awaiting his arrival. “Hello?” he called cautiously. “Is anyone home?” From a distance, a deep male voice replied, “Yes! Casey? Come in. I apologize for running late. I’ll be down in a minute.”
Casey entered and was instantly impressed. It was certainly a grand sight. The home was furnished like a photograph in a magazine. The curtains across the room billowed from the warm wind gusting off the ocean. The windows were open, yet a fire blazed in the fireplace.
Who is this guy? Who lives like this? The picturesque view took Casey’s breath away. If this guy was trying to impress someone, congratulations. Mission accomplished.
As he made himself familiar with the grand room, he breezed through the thick coffee table books on art and architecture. Footsteps from the stairs eventually revealed Raphael, his host and date. He greeted Casey with an apology, “I’m so sorry, a client kept me forever, and I had to jump in the shower before you got here.”
Casey tried to speak, but words wouldn’t come to him. He was far too distracted by Rafael and his casually unfastened jeans. He wore a crisp, linen white shirt, opened to reveal a dozen perfectly sculpted ab muscles. He sported tousled, thick, wet, black hair. He looked like a young Antonio Banderas.
Casey’s heart thumped as panic gripped him. This guy is so out of my league! What the hell was Diedre thinking?!
Raphael’s sultry smile did very little to reassure Casey that this was a reasonable pairing.
He leaned into Casey with a charismatic smile, “Deidre spoke so highly of you that I thought it would be nice to meet. I will admit, she did mislead me a bit in her description of you.” Casey’s insecurities got the best of him as he felt his stomach drop. Raphael continued, “She certainly undersold how adorable you were. I hope you don’t mind dinner on the veranda. I’ve got an amazing meal prepared for us. I’ll make you a drink, and then join you outside.”
Raphael grabbed a bucket of ice and escorted Casey through the large white curtains to the veranda that overlooked a perfectly manicured hillside and majestic view of the Pacific Ocean.
“I had no idea people actually lived like this. Your life is like a soap opera star.” Casey immediately blushed after making the silly statement.
“You flatter me. I just try to enjoy nice things, and to share them with others.” Raphael didn’t miss a beat before handing him a perfectly muddled mojito.
Casey deeply breathed in the warm fresh ocean air in an attempt to calm his nerves and lower his heart rate. The majestic home, the ridiculously hot man, the ocean view, and craft cocktails. Was he dreaming?
Raphael headed for the kitchen. Within seconds he returned with an impressive cheese spread with fresh fruit and home-baked crackers. Casey’s insecurities once again got the best of him.
I’m a broke, wannabe writer who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in the bad part of downtown LA and eats ravioli out of a can. What am I doing here?!
Casey attempted to start a clever conversation, but the words, “What an amazing view. I’ve never seen the ocean from this high up,” slipped out of his mouth. He was instantly embarrassed at his silly statement.
Raphael smiled and took the drink from Casey’s hand. “Here, let me show you an even better view.” He escorted Casey up the large winding stairs and through the hall to a large, lush bedroom with giant French doors that opened to a patio. “The view of the ocean from up here is even nicer.” He smiled and casually sat on the edge of his bed.
Casey’s heart thumped as if it were going to explode out of his chest. His breathing became shallow and his head dizzy. I can’t do this; this stud is way out of my league! He couldn’t think of a good excuse to get out of there. Instead, he just blurted out, “I’m so sorry, I’ve got to go! I forgot; I need to get back home!”
Raphael thought he was joking, but Casey’s flustered expression told him that he was serious. “You’ve only been here a half-hour?” He replied, baffled at the situation.
“I have a deadline, and I have to get an email out. Really, I’ve got to go!” Casey practically sprinted down the hall and towards the door. He called back to Raphael as he reached the stairs, “You’re really nice, and I’m sorry about dinner but I need to leave…” Once out the front door and safely inside his car he attempted to catch his breath. What was he doing? Was he nuts? This guy was the catch of the century. Every gay man’s wet dream. Once he was a few blocks away and on his way home, he’d feel better.
Casey quickly turned the key in the ignition. The car cranked and cranked, but the engine wouldn’t engage. “SHIT, SHIT, SHIT! This damn crap car!”
Try as he did, the car just wasn’t going to whisk him away from this place. It was dead and he was stuck. He buried his heads in his hands and pondered what his next move was. It wasn’t more than a minute before he could see Raphael standing outside with a cold compress and glass of ice water and a big warm smile. Casey knew he would eventually have to open the car door.
“I’ve got a great mechanic; I can call him if you’d like.” The setting sun lit Raphael as if he were a Greek god. Casey took the ice pack for his head and the cold water to soothe his nerves. “Come in. I’ll put dinner on the table and call the garage. I know the mechanic very well. I’m sure he’ll come over very soon and look at your car.” Casey’s options were limited. He attempted a calming breath.
Once inside, Raphael looked suddenly vulnerable. It was an obvious change from his earlier confident demeanor. He addressed Casey almost bashfully, “I’m sorry about your car, but I’m happy that I was given an opportunity to apologize to you. I didn’t mean to come on so strong before. When I’m nervous, I do ridiculous things. Meeting you with that silly, half-naked grand entrance was embarrassing, not to mention bringing you up to the bedroom to look at the view.” Casey was confused as he sipped his ice water and applied the cold compress to his neck. Raphael continued, “When I saw you arrive from the window upstairs, I was so desperate to impress you that I behaved like a fool.”
Casey attempted to make sense of this curious confession. He assured Raphael that he didn’t need to apologize. “No, please, you were the perfect host. I just freaked out because… well because your place is so amazing and you’re, quite frankly, so hot.” Raphael chuckled modestly. “ME? YOU. I’m so insecure that I spend hours at the gym and starve myself to the point that my abdominal muscles are visible through my skin.” Casey laughed heartily, instantly diffusing the situation.
“Well, congratulations it worked. I was so impressed by you that I was terrified.” The two men felt instantly at ease with each other as they looked into each other’s eyes.
Raphael gestured towards the kitchen, his tone casual and sincere, “Are you sure I can’t get you some of my mom’s mole sauce? it’s pretty incredible and made from scratch. She made the whole dinner for us. I can’t even make toast.”
“I’m starving and that actually sounds incredible. Plus, I really would love to take in more of that amazing view.” Raphael smiled, then admitted this was his uncle’s home. He explained that his uncle had no children. When he died, he left it to him.
Casey really enjoyed the new Raphael. Suddenly the suave stud seemed approachable. “Good for you. It’s always great to hear when good things happen to nice people.”
Raphael’s big brown eyes seemed to swell up at the thought of his good fortune and the generosity of his family, “So kind of you to say. Let me get you some dinner. I’ll also get on the phone to call the mechanic.” Raphael began dialing the phone. “The sooner he gets here, the sooner he can fix your car and you can get back to work.”
Casey got up and walked over to Raphael. He took the phone out of his hands and placed it on a nearby bookshelf.
“No need to bother about the car just yet. We’ll get to it eventually. Let’s just enjoy that delicious dinner your mom made us. And then after, maybe you can show me the view from upstairs again?” They fell into a passionate kiss.
Raphael was surprised by this sudden turn of events. They never got around to the view upstairs. They made their way towards the couch in front of the fireplace. That suited them just fine that evening. As far as calling the mechanic to fix the car, they finally made that call after breakfast the next morning.