There are enough skeletons in Felix’s closet to fill up an entire calendar.
Felix Apostolou is a rising star in the art world. His murals are quickly gaining him fame in the San Antonio art scene, and when he’s featured in the Calendar Men charity calendar, he’ll draw in even more attention. As it is, he’s getting commission offers faster than he can process them.
He takes on one mural that holds special meaning for him—one for Ezra Harrington, owner of Quantum, Inc., and close friend to the injured original photographer of the Calendar Men shoot.
What Felix didn’t count on was meeting a man who turned his world around and brought something other than art to focus for him. Tse Soto is intriguing, passionate, and open in ways Felix quickly comes to appreciate.
But Felix’s past isn’t what he believed it to be, and what he learns about it could be more than he can handle.
General Release Date: 3rd July 2018
There was no sense in trying to tame the cowlicks on either side of Felix Apostolou’s head. Which didn’t mean he didn’t try. Still. After twenty-six years, I should know better than to waste my time…
Each cowlick was right above his temple, and the hair there curled much like his horns did when he was in his shifted shape. Not many people knew what a Cyprus mouflon was and when he was in his animal form, almost everyone who saw him thought he was a goat.
But he was a wild sheep, the only animal type of which were found in Cyprus and nowhere else. Having moved from Cyprus to the United States at less than a year old, Felix had never seen a real Cyprus mouflon. Returning to Cyprus someday was on his bucket list, but for now, he just wanted his stupid hair to look decent.
That meant he was going to have to wear the now much-maligned manbun, at least for the longer part of his hair. The shaved sides and back wouldn’t need any messing with.
Felix brushed the longer strands and pulled them tight. He kept a hold of them with one hand and picked up the brown hairband with the other. In a matter of seconds, he had his hair up.
“I look like a damned hipster.” He tugged at the hem of his flannel shirt. “Who am I fooling? I am a damned hipster.” He loved his flannel, although with the south Texas temperatures, he didn’t get to wear it often. If his vision had been the slightest bit off, he’d have gladly worn a pair of black-framed glasses.
His vision was perfect, as were the rest of his senses. In fact, they were sharper than a regular human’s, what with him being a shifter and all.
“Are you done primping, princess?” His brother, Deo, jerked the bathroom door open without giving Felix the chance to answer. Deo’s dark brown eyes and model-perfect looks should have gotten him a month in the charity calendar Felix had been asked to participate in. For whatever reason, when he and Deo had arrived at the open call for models, the man in charge of the shoot, Marco, had taken one look at Deo and told him to go home.
“I’m not primping. I’m nervous. This is my first time performing poetry at the Coffee Can.” He exhaled and shook his hands out. “If I were painting a mural in front of a crowd, no big deal. But this is…” He didn’t even know what it was other than nerve-racking.
Deo tutted and strolled right into the bathroom. “Well, bro, you’re the one who wanted to try something new again. You got the calendar gig because of your craving for adventure, same reason you took salsa lessons and did that weird-ass camping in the raw at Lost Maples—and you had a systemic reaction to poison ivy. There were the cooking classes—and I am so glad you gave up on those.”
“More like got kicked out of the class.” Felix’s cheeks stung with embarrassment. “I mean, I get it. As a painter, I should have known not to toss water on an oil fire, but I panicked.”
“Maybe you should reconsider all your future plans when it comes to trying new things.” Deo frowned. “Even the calendar thing was fucked up, with you getting sick because of Evan. She is one crazy woman. Then there were all the other delays. I’m glad I didn’t get picked.”
“So you’ve said. Repeatedly.” Felix turned to face his brother fully. “What’s the line about protesting too much?”
Deo shook his head. “I might have been jealous at first, but there was entirely too much drama at the calendar shoot. And it was only supposed to take a few days but ended up being, what? Months. Nope, I don’t wish I’d have been picked at all. Besides.” He smiled his fake, cheesy smile that always made Felix want to smack him. “The only thing I’d want to do for months is fuck.”
“You’re gross, Deo,” Ava, their sister, called out before joining them in the bathroom. “And you are hogging this bathroom. You want to gossip like old hens, use the half-bath downstairs. I want to shower. And, Deo, I doubt you have the stamina to fuck for an hour, much less months.” She grabbed him by the back of his collar. “Out. I have to get ready for work. You too, Fe. Beat it.”
Ava was not one to be argued with. A decade older than Deo, and twelve years older than Felix, she’d often been more of a mother than a sister to the boys when both their parents had worked long hours to support the family.
And when their parents had passed away within six months of each other, Ava had stepped up, even though Deo had been eighteen by then and Felix, sixteen.
“I thought you were off tonight.” Felix slipped past Ava but stopped in the doorway. Deo was waiting in the hall.
“Yeah, did you volunteer to work to get out of having to listen to poetry?” Deo smirked.
Ava glared at him. “Stop being a dick. I got called in because the flu is going around, and three nurses called in sick. I don’t mind taking a shift, and I am sorry I’ll miss poetry night at the Can. I was looking forward to watching Felix blow everyone away. Because you will, baby brother. You’ll be just as amazing an artist with words as you are with paints.”
“Aw, geez. Now I feel like a jerk. Give me five minutes and I’ll go with you, Fe.” Deo headed toward his bedroom. “Just five minutes, I promise.”
“Crap. Well, that was not the result I’d intended.” Ava sighed and picked up her toothbrush, some fancy copper one she’d ordered online. “Now you’re going to have Deo there.”
“He’s not so bad, Ava. He likes to make jokes all the time, and he hits on every good-looking man and woman he sees, but he’s got a good heart when it comes to family. Just like you do.” He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “I hope your shift goes well. Are you at least off tomorrow?”
“Doubt it, but we’ll see how the schedule shakes out with so many people sick right now. Gotta get ready. Have fun tonight and remember”—she patted his chest—“you’ve got more talent than anyone else in this town.”
“Thanks.” Felix knew she was exaggerating. He was an up-and-coming mural artist in San Antonio, but he wasn’t the best, although being chosen to paint the mural at Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital had certainly gotten his name out there in the right circles. He had four new murals to design and paint and almost a dozen possible clients wanting to meet with him over the next few months.
Not bad for a high school dropout who’d been told he’d never amount to anything. Felix pushed aside those old feelings of inadequacy and went downstairs to wait for Deo. The poems Felix planned to share were originals, ones he’d put lots of sweat and fears into—fears of failing, of being laughed at, of making a fool of himself.
But the words had been twisting and tumbling inside him for months and he’d finally had to put them down on paper. Whether anyone else liked them or not, he had to speak them.
“Ready to go.” Deo trotted down the stairs with a huge grin on his face. “Do I look sexy? Think I can pick up a stud tonight? I’m in the mood for a man.”
“One of these days, you’re going to pick up someone just for sex and find yourself head over heels for them,” Felix vowed. He could see it happening.
Deo’s grin vanished. “You better not have jinxed me. I have no desire to settle down. I’m not even thirty and you know our family always finds love late. Look at Ava. She’s thirty-eight and hasn’t been in love yet.”
“Maybe because she’s been too busy trying to take care of us.” Felix had had issues after their parents’ deaths.
“Uh, we’ve been adults for over a decade, bro. She’s not taking care of us. We do our own laundry, take turns cooking and cleaning, and we all support ourselves financially. We live together because this house belongs to all of us, and we love each other.” Deo shrugged. “So, stop feeling like we’ve held Ava back. No one could stop her from doing anything. Ava does what she wants and if she wanted to be in love, she’d be in love. I read this article about how you can make yourself love someone…”
Felix tuned Deo out. His brother had always been dead-set against love and commitment outside of his family. Romantic love didn’t appeal to Deo.
And Felix supposed it didn’t appeal to Ava, either, since she’d never had any long-term relationships that he’d known about.
It seemed like he was the only one who wanted to find true love and settle down.
Well, he always had been the odd man out amongst the siblings.