Lucas & Andrei at Rialto-Excerpt!

How about a little of Lucas and Andrei out at Rialto? Shiver is out now! Order links below.

Candels on the restaurant table

The early theater diners were clearing out when Lucas and Andrei arrived at Rialto. The restaurant was less than a block from the Aronoff Center, which was currently running Wicked, the Cincinnati Arts Center, and Fountain Square. The Taft Theater was less than two blocks away. The restaurant couldn’t have been better placed to capture the vibrant Cincinnati nightlife. It was already paying off. Rialto was packed, making Lucas grateful he’d had the presence of mind to text both Ian and the general manager, James Dunkle, ahead of time. Otherwise, it was likely they would have been dining in the manager’s office.

When they were seated at a secluded table that gave Lucas a good view of the dining room while still affording him some privacy, Lucas caught Andrei’s amused look and his heart skipped. In the soft lighting, the man was stunning. His dark eyes were nearly black and Lucas longed to reach across and touch the hair brushing against the collar of his navy suit jacket.

“I’m a good friend?” Andrei murmured in a low voice as soon as the hostess left them alone. When the general manager had rushed out to glad hand Lucas on his arrival, he’d introduced Andrei as his “good friend,” surprising Andrei when he’d expected to be overlooked and brushed aside.

Lucas gave a little smirk. “Yes, well, bodyguard just sounds so damn pretentious.”

Andrei chuckled, looking down at his menu. “Never you.”

Lucas stared at the man for a moment, surprised by the unexpected teasing and the fluttering it caused in his stomach. But it also felt familiar, right in a strange way. Had Andrei teased him that first night? Maybe. He knew there were things he wasn’t remembering correctly. Had he seen the beautiful smile before and couldn’t remember it?
He started to comment when a tall, lanky man dressed all in black appeared at their table and filled their water goblets with sparkling water. He began to rattle off the specials of the night, but Lucas waved him off, just requesting that Ian come to their table. The man visibly paled and hurried away without another word.

“You were going to say something,” Andrei prompted, his eyes still lowered to the menu.

“How would you know?”

Andrei looked up and his grin grew so that amusement lit his eyes. “Because there’s no way you could let a comment like that go without offering a rebuttal.”

Lucas struggled to hold back his own answering smile, keeping his frosty exterior in place. “And to what do I owe this new outspoken attitude?”

“Maybe it’s because I’m a ‘good friend’ tonight.”

Lucas sat back in his chair, letting his gaze slide over the other man in open appreciation. His smile slipped free and his eyes became hooded. “And what would I get if I’d introduced you as a lover?” he asked, his voice barely more than a rough purr.

Andrei held his gaze. His only reaction was a slight widening of his eyes and a faint flush to his cheeks that left Lucas wondering. Lucas’s heart pounded as he waited to hear how Andrei would either answer or evade his question. The seconds stretched and the world around them faded away so that the clink of silverware and crystal over the soft murmur of conversation went unnoticed.

Finally, Andrei lifted one eyebrow. “Lover?” He paused, still smiling.

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