Dreaming of You
Restaurateur Aden Ingle has been in love with the perfect man since his fourteenth birthday. Unfortunately, his perfect boyfriend only exists in his dreams. But Aden’s always believed it was his destiny to meet his dream man, and he’s perfectly content to wait around for him to walk into his real life.
When he meets Logan Price at a Hotel/Restaurant Trade Show, he finds himself drawn to this man who shakes him out of his dream world. Pretty soon, the flesh and blood reality is becoming more appealing than the fantasy. The only problem is Logan lives half way across the country in California.
Aden’s going to have to choose whether to give up everything he’s built for himself professionally and uproot his whole life for Logan, or wait for the man from his dreams to become a reality.
NOTE: Second Edition – This is a previously published work.
Release date: 7 October 2015, Second Edition
Category: Gay Romance
Sub-Genre: Comedy, Contemporary, Erotic
Number of words: 63,459
Formats available: ebook and print
Heat level: 4 out of 5
Well-written and plotted with smart, snappy, witty dialog, it reminded me in some ways of a romantic screwball comedy from the 30s and 40s.
Ever sit back and wonder how it is you’d gotten to a certain place in your life? I do that all the time. I’m never quite sure what the point of doing it is, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I’m what my mother liked to call a muller, always chewing over something in the back of my mind. When she wasn’t getting onto me for mulling, she was usually after me for daydreaming. It seemed my family wasn’t much in the way of imagination. I’d either hogged up every bit of it that had been allotted us when I was born, or I’d been adopted… perhaps switched at birth in the hospital?
The limousine began to pull away from my little English Tudor-style house, and I caught my reflection staring back at me through the tinted window. I cringed a bit, wishing my features were a little less delicate and a little more butch. My thin nose and high cheekbones would look more masculine with a stronger jawline, though the perpetual stubble I maintained helped.
I jumped at hearing a pop as the cork flew out of the bottle of Dom Perignon Nathan had pulled out of a small refrigerated compartment. Finn squealed, and we held out our glasses as the champagne began to bubble up out of the bottle. We all laughed while Nathan filled the flutes before placing the bottle back down.
“You guys didn’t have to do all this.” I couldn’t help but admire my two very best friends.
Finn was absolutely stunning in a vintage floor-length black velvet spaghetti strap dress that made an X across the low scoop back showing off her soft white skin. She had tiny silver clips in her blonde hair, which opened up her face and brought her eyes into focus. Nathan was incredibly handsome in his black tux with his pale white skin and black hair.
“A toast.” Nathan held up his glass as Finn and I followed suit. “To my best friend and the best business partner a man could ask for. May you achieve the bliss you so deserve as you embark upon your new adventure.”
“Thank you, Nathan.” I shook my head and began to take a drink.
“Wait!” Finn screamed, placing her hand on my arm. “I would like to add to those exquisite words.” Nathan and I watched as she scooted up in her seat and cleared her throat. “Up your butts, boys!” Finn raised her glass before taking a sip.
Nathan and I looked at one another and smiled. I leaned over and gave Finn a peck on the cheek. “I’m going to miss you most of all, scarecrow.”
“Uh-huh. How about kissing this one?” she asked, leaning to one side and rubbing her ass.
“And when you’re done with hers…” Nathan added, doing the same.
“Yeah, sure… You can both do me a favor and hold your breath till it happens.” We all reached out, clinking our glasses before sucking down the champagne.
I leaned back into the seat and smiled, watching the two of them swap naughty toasts. It was weird to imagine my life without each of them in it. For so long, I’d spent almost all my time with one or the other, or both. It really wasn’t all that long ago when my life, which up until that point had been very simple and extremely predictable, became a bit more complicated.
Nathan and I had decided to take a week off for the first time in the three and a half years since we opened our restaurant. There was a large service industry and trade convention in Atlanta, which we used to justify our taking a “vacation.” The kitchen pretty much ran itself by this point, leaving Nathan to play, as he called it, with new dishes. Finn, who’d worked for us while she’d been going to college was now working for an interior design firm and had reluctantly agreed to come in at night to make sure the customers were, as she put it, “sucked up to, sufficiently.”
Our hotel was located next to the conference center, and I was looking forward to having a week where people were going to wait on me for a change. We walked up to the front desk, waiting patiently while two other couples registered for their rooms.
“I still don’t understand why we can’t share a damn room,” I said. “All of a sudden you think you’re a fucking Hilton.”
“Aden, I’d rather have the skin flayed off my body than share a room with your chipper-morning-person ass.”
I scowled at him. “Well, excuse me, Crabetha.”
One of the couples finished their business and took off for the elevators. We walked up to the smiling girl behind the desk.
“Reservations, please,” she said in her Southern-belle accent. She was smiling, showing off her white horse-like teeth.
Nathan smiled back as he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. “Somers and Ingle.”
I opened my leather briefcase and fumbled for my wallet. “I think you’re just hoping to pick yourself up a gaggle of hot Atlanta boys to drag back up to your room while we’re here.”
The girl behind the counter looked as though she was trying not to grin as she tapped on the keys of her computer. Nathan’s face turned a bright shade of red, which always looked worse taking into account how pale his skin was.
“Considering how long it’s been since I’ve been laid,” he said under his breath, turning to his left to see if the people next to us heard, “I am certainly hoping for more than a release from work while I’m here.”
The girl took our credit cards to run them through for authorization, and the man and woman to our left started to leave. As they passed behind us, the man, who was about six feet tall with a football player’s build, dark hair, and a dark complexion, stopped and handed Nathan a business card.
“I would certainly love to help you with any type of release you had in mind.” He fired off a wink and then turned to make his way toward the elevators.
My mouth fell open with surprise and disgust, and I noticed Nathan was smiling from ear to ear. “Well, I hope you take into consideration that a guy like that has probably screwed half the free world, being that forward.” I placed my elbows on the cold marble of the desk.
“Then he should probably be really good at it by now, huh?” Nathan smiled and shoved the card into the pocket of his jeans. “You’re just jealous that he didn’t give that card to you.”
“Ew,” I said, taking the key and credit card back from the girl. Like I’d be jealous of that big, beefy wall of muscles… ripping my clothes off… forcefully grabbing my wrists… twisting me around… bending me over and feeling the head of his cock pressing against my…
“Are you coming?” Nathan asked.
I stopped chewing on my lower lip and reluctantly moved toward the elevators, maneuvering my briefcase in front of my crotch to hide the hard-on that had sprung up.
I met Nathan when I was in college. I was a Hotel-Restaurant Administration major and had gotten a job as a server in a fine-dining restaurant. Nathan was fresh out of culinary school and had just started as one of the sous chefs.
We clicked instantly and flirted shamelessly. He looked so hot in those black-and-white-checked chef pants, and I loved the contrast of his inky black hair and pale skin. His cheeks would turn a light shade of pink from the heat in the kitchen, which always reminded me of the way a tight ass looked right after you spanked it.
It took about a week and a half before we wound up at his apartment after work, unable to get out of our clothes fast enough. For a month and a half we couldn’t get enough of each other. It ended amicably, and while we made a shitty couple in a relationship sense, when it came to business, we were a perfect fit.
With a killer business plan and some financial help from our parents, we got a loan to open our restaurant. Nathan was never really interested in the business and public aspect of restaurants; his passion was in the kitchen. He loved creating the food. My infatuation was for the front of the house. I loved working with the wait-staff, dealing with the bar and wine list, and schmoozing the clientele. It was pretty much a perfect situation, and we both knew it.
After getting settled into our rooms, we went down to the bar in the hotel and made a plan for the next day. He wanted to hit the trade floors to see the latest in kitchen design and cooking innovations, and I wanted to attend a few of the seminars. We made a list of restaurants we wanted to check out while in Atlanta, hoping to see some new ideas we could steal and take back home to use for ourselves. We settled on one for that evening, and I’d already asked the concierge to make us reservations.
Sufficiently cocktailed from the hotel bar, we climbed into a cab and headed off for the restaurant, taking in the sights of Atlanta from the cab. Once in the restaurant, we followed the hostess to our table, giggling from the effects of our cocktails. We took our seats and looked around, discussing the interior of the restaurant. The tobacco-colored walls created a warm atmosphere, and a horseshoe-shaped copper bar, separating the kitchen from the dining room, was centered in the back of the restaurant against the wall. There was a door on each side of the bar with waiters going in one and out the other. One large wall was painted with an antiqued plantation-style mural of people in tuxedos and evening gowns. The tables and floors were wood, and the table settings were immaculate with oversize, almost clunky, heavy pieces of silverware. The lighting was kept warm and intimate, which gave me a cozy, fuzzy feeling.
Nathan began assessing the menu, and I started perusing the wine list. A somewhat round and rather flamboyant waiter came to the table to greet us. He had that sort of coarse fluffy-looking red hair, which was brushed back and stood several inches off the top of his head. His face was peppered with freckles. He rattled off the specials, and I ordered a bottle of wine for the two of us. He smiled sweetly and took off toward the bar.
“He was a bit of a nell.” Nathan had that mischievous grin that typically accompanied two or three Maker’s Marks on the rocks.
“Shh!” I attempted a disapproving look but was unable to suppress a laugh. “He might hear you.”
“He’s a good twenty feet away, Aden. You’re drunk,” he added accusingly. “You always get supersensitive about hurting people’s feelings after a couple martinis.”
“I can’t help it.” I was continually flipping my knife over as he stared back at me with those big brown eyes.
“I know.” He took a sip of water. “You’re such a mommy.”
The waiter came back with the bottle of wine and proceeded to open it while Nathan asked questions about particular items on the menu. The waiter poured me a taste. I took a sip and waved my hand to signal it was good to go. While Nathan ordered for the two of us, something he could do knowing my likes and dislikes when it came to all that was culinary, I looked around the dining room. My gaze settled on a man sitting a couple of tables behind Nathan. He was looking at me, and a little smile spread across his face, showing off his dimples. With his dirty blond hair, unkempt in that on-purpose way, he looked like a modern-day, beefed-up version of Tab Hunter. I guessed him to be in his mid to late twenties. He had one elbow on the edge of the table with a large hand folded into a fist underneath his well-defined jawline. I smiled back, a little too widely, unable to stop myself after the martinis. Not my dream man, mind you, but he’d do in a pinch.
When I turned to look back at Nathan, too embarrassed to maintain eye contact with the beefy, blond Adonis, Nathan gave me a suspicious look.
“What are you grinning about?” he asked, setting down his wineglass.
“Don’t turn around and look, but I think the guy sitting a couple of tables back is cruising me.”
“That doesn’t surprise me one bit. You’re one of the most stunning-looking men I’ve ever laid eyes on.”
I felt my face burn, surely turning as red as the pinot noir in my wineglass. “Damn, that’s one of the nicest compliments anyone’s ever given me.”
“It’s true.” Nathan leaned back into his chair. “I’m getting a hard-on just looking at you.”
I busted out laughing and grabbed hold of the table to steady myself. “You are such a pervert.”
“Getting hard over a hot man does not make me pervy. To be perfectly honest, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to stay in the same room with you. I knew we’d be drinking and having a good time; I didn’t want anything to happen that we might come to regret later.”
I raised my eyebrows at him, surprised by his candor.
“Just because we aren’t together anymore doesn’t mean I still don’t think about bending you over a prep table in the kitchen from time to time.” Nathan picked up his wineglass and locked eyes with me. “We had some of the hottest sex I’ve ever had. There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of your body. I craved you.”
I gave him a little wink and felt the tiniest bit of melancholy take me. “Well, in case you didn’t know, the feeling is completely mutual.”
“The bedroom was never where we had any of our problems,” he said with a smirk. “Our relationship is so much different now than it was then. We depend upon one another for our livelihood, and I would certainly never want to do anything to jeopardize that. It doesn’t mean that I no longer care for you or desire you.”
I let out a sigh. “I know, but it still makes me sad sometimes.”
“Me too, but it’s not like I’m that guy you dream about,” he added with a teasing expression.
“Okay, I am officially declaring it ‘unacceptable to make fun of Aden week.’”
“I’ll do what I can,” he said with a sigh. “But I make no promises.”
The waiter brought us our salads, and we spent the rest of the meal discussing the business of our restaurant, congratulating one another for the things we had accomplished, and talking about the things we still wanted to achieve. My gaze periodically made its way back to Mr. Chiseled Jaw sitting alone at his table, being careful to not get caught by either him or Nathan.
After dinner, Nathan and I returned to the hotel. As we rode the elevator to our floor, I turned and looked at him. He had those sexy, sleepy, half-closed eyes from the wine, and his body was relaxed and at ease. Once on our floor, we arrived at my door first. He stopped as I slid my key card into the door. After it popped open, I turned to say good night, half wishing he would come inside and make love to me. He leaned forward and placed his lips on mine for a few seconds longer than normal. A jolt of electricity shot through my body with a force that made me realize exactly how long it had been since I’d had sex. He pulled away, said good night, and turned to head for his room. I watched him saunter down the hall to his room before going into mine, quickly shutting the door to prevent myself from doing anything to convince him to come back.
The room was dark, but the view was nice, with all the twinkly lights of Atlanta stretching out before me. Too nice to not be able to share. I began to pull off my clothes as I walked across the empty hotel room. It was too damn quiet. I noticed my iPod on the dresser, but that wasn’t exactly what I needed to fill up the sudden loneliness that crept over me.
I thought about the man from my dreams… literally. It wasn’t so odd that Nathan had mentioned him during dinner. Nathan loved to poke fun at what he perceived to be my more “out there” personality quirks. I really hadn’t seen that much of Dreamy lately. I mean, he was still there. Hell, it felt as if he’d always been with me, more so during the times when I was at my loneliest, but also around for the good times, showing up to check on me, I supposed.
My dream man began visiting me when I was about fourteen years old. As a teenager, I’d been a real loner. I’m pretty sure he was just some type of romantic archetype I’d invented to keep myself from feeling so alone.
Over the years though, Dreamy continued to return to me at night, and our relationship grew—taking on many forms and going down many roads—sometimes more than once. That’s the beauty of having a man from your dreams as a boyfriend: do-overs. We met anew many times and many ways over the years… at spring breaks, at grocery stores, at bars, at gyms, at work. He always came on to me, and I always resisted, to differing degrees, before falling under his spell. We’d been married several times, gone on multiple honeymoons, and had multiple orgasms.
My dream man had several different occupations as a doctor, cowboy, fireman, veterinarian. He never had a name, though. I always called him honey, sweetie, babe, or love. We even had a kid for a while. Her name was Sarah, and she appeared much the same way Buffy’s sister, Dawn, did in season five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer… just there all of a sudden. She hung around for a while, but like a character in a David E. Kelley television show, she vanished at some point with no explanation—as if she’d never even existed.
While he didn’t visit my dreams every night, he always came back to me eventually, like a long-running TV series. He sometimes went on hiatus but never seemed to get canceled.
It was this man from my dreams who I’d always secretly believed it was my destiny to meet and spend the rest of my life with. Six months away from my thirtieth birthday, and I’d spent my entire adult life looking for him in every crowd.
When I was in high school, I thought maybe he’d be a foreign exchange student. I’ve always had a thing for accents. Maybe he’d be a substitute teacher, an extremely hot fantasy, if I do say so myself. In college, I thought possibly a dorm roommate or the person sitting next to me on the very first day of every class I’d ever taken.
While I always hoped and dreamed that he’d come into my life and turn it upside down and turn me inside out, I didn’t necessarily sit around waiting for it to happen. My mother always told me, “Aden, don’t go putting all your eggs in one basket.” So I didn’t. I’d always dated, and I’d even had a few long-term relationships. At least what’s considered long-term in gay years. It never bothered me too much when my relationships didn’t work out, because in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t meant to be. The man in my dreams was out there somewhere… waiting.
5 Stars from Aunt Lynn @ Reviews by Jessewave
“Well-written and plotted with smart, snappy, witty dialog, it reminded me in some ways of a romantic screwball comedy from the 30s and 40s”
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The fabulous Elisa Rolle says
“Dreaming of You, even from the title, is the perfect example of a romantic comedy.”
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5 Lips from Two Lips Reviews
“Ethan Day has given us a comedic tale with unforgettable characters in Dreaming of You”
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4.75 Stars and A Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
“Well written, it captures your attention and your heart strings— a must have for your library.”
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4.5 Stars from Rainbow Reviews
“Dreaming of You is a delightful romance – While this is my first Ethan Day story, it won’t be my last.”
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4.25 Stars from The Book Wenches
“This story is whimsical and well-written, with characters who will capture your affection while at the same time spurring your laughter.”
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4 Nymphs from The Literary Nymphs
“The plot of this contemporary M/M romance is well-written and fast paced, with snappy dialogue that had me chuckling.”
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4 Stars from Whipped Cream Reviews
“the perfect summer story for fans of romantic comedies”
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4 Stars from MM Good Book Reviews
“It is a story that will have you laughing your ass off, and wanting to smack them a bit. It was a fun story and I would definitely recommend it.”
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Reviews by Amos Lassen
“We can always expect a good read from Ethan Day and he has never disappointed. This is a sweet romance with cute and well-developed characters—a sort gay fairy tale.”
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3.75 Stars from Joyfully Jay
“Overall, it wasn’t my most favorite Ethan Day novel, but I will admit it is still going in my read-over-and-over list as Aden’s thoughts cracked me up. If you are a fan of Ethan Day, you don’t want to miss this one!”
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