by Clare London
Release Date: November 1 2016
How tangled can a romantic web get?
When gruff mountaineer Dominic Hartington-George seeks sponsorship for his latest expedition, his London PA insists on a more media-friendly profile—like dating celebrity supermodel Zeb Z.
Zeb can’t make the date, so he asks his identical twin, Aidan, to stand in for just one evening. Aidan, a struggling playwright, shuns the limelight to the extent people don’t even know Zeb has a sibling, but he reluctantly agrees.
When the deception has to continue beyond the first date, Aidan fights to keep up the pretense. Dominic likes his sassy, intelligent companion, and Aidan starts falling for the forthright explorer. But how long can Aidan’s conscience cope as confusion abounds? Will coming clean as “the other twin” destroy the trust they’ve built?
The pretty young woman who met Aidan at the door smiled warmly. “I’m Tanya, Mr. Hartington-George’s personal assistant. I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Z. I’m quite a fan.”
“Zeb,” Aidan said, hoping he hadn’t hesitated for too long. “Please just call me Zeb. And… yes. Thanks.”
“Come on through.” She gestured him into the hallway. “You’re on time.”
Aidan wondered why she sounded surprised at that. He repitched his natural voice a little higher to Zeb’s teasing tone and smiled brightly in return. “Of course.”
A sneaked look in the hallway mirror had him rolling his eyes. Mission accomplished, Zeb! He barely recognized himself. Usually he was most comfortable in a sweatshirt and jeans, but now he was dressed in what Zeb Z would wear on a daily basis: a pair of skintight, distressed-denim jeans with inexplicable splits across the knees; high-top boots in soft purple leather that screamed expensive yet were surprisingly comfortable; and two lightweight T-shirts under an off-the-shoulder, electric blue sweater. Admittedly the blue brought out the color of his eyes—no one ever said Zeb didn’t have a well-developed sense of personal style—but the rest of it made him look like an overaged member of a boy band.
A younger man darted out from what must have been the living room, clutching a leather jacket to his chest as if in protection. He saw Aidan, glanced at Tanya with widening eyes, then back at Aidan. Then he thrust out his hand and said perfectly cheerily, “I’m Eric. He threatens to kill me on a daily basis.”
Aidan just shook hands and nodded. He had no idea what to say to that, or even what it meant.
Tanya frowned at Eric. “Whatever. We’re just going. The car will come for you at seven. In the meantime, if you’d like a drink?”
But Eric took her arm and guided her toward the front door. “They can cope with that themselves, Tanya. Come on.”
And Aidan was left on his own in the hallway.
He took a deep breath to center himself. The house wasn’t huge, but it was in a very fashionable area of Ladbroke Grove and far more luxurious than his own small flat. That said, there wasn’t much furniture and the decoration wasn’t modern. The hallway walls were painted in plain, cool colors. No pictures hung on the walls, and there was only a single bureau and hat stand, albeit in quality wood. Eric had left the living room door ajar behind him, and Aidan took a quick peek inside before announcing himself. From what he could see, again the walls were plain and the furniture sparse. It was as if the owner was in the process of moving out—or had never really settled in.
A male figure paused in front of the half-open door. He was distracted by something on the other side of the room, so Aidan got a first secret glimpse of the man he’d been told so much about.
He was much more handsome in real life than on TV, though in most of the documentaries, H-G was wrapped up in furry parkas or oilskins with his face more than half-hidden with a scarf and balaclava. Today he was wearing a very smart pair of dark trousers, a startlingly white dress shirt—which had to be brand-new to still have that sheen—and a well-cut suit jacket that settled comfortably across an impressive set of shoulders. H-G’s hair was a fabulous thatch of dark curls, and he had a dark beard and mustache to match. Guiltily Aidan recalled Zeb’s mischievous nickname: Hairy Guy. But that conjured up a Wild Man of Borneo kind of image, and H-G was far from that. The hair was naturally unruly but had been styled to a level just off his shoulders, and the beard was well trimmed.
Aidan had never been attracted to hairy bears, not that he’d ever had much of a choice. As Zeb had gleefully pointed out more than once, Aidan seemed to attract needy and spiteful wankers who got off on bleeding him dry of any compassion and care. Oh, and his money too.
Okay. Self-pity over, right now. I’m not Loser Aidan now. I’m the charismatic and disgustingly fascinating Zeb Z.
For the first time in this bizarre performance, Aidan felt the tickle of mischief. This just might be fun after all. He pushed the door fully open, walked into the room, and cleared his throat.
H-G turned slowly around to face Aidan fully. His gaze ranged over Aidan’s body, and his eyes widened. “Well. They didn’t lie.”
“Who didn’t? What about?”
H-G raised his eyebrows. “Well, firstly, they said you were a bit feisty.”
Feisty? Aidan hadn’t heard that word outside of romance-novel blurbs.
“And you wouldn’t be fazed by… you know.”
“No, I don’t know. By what?” Aidan bit his lip to stop a laugh escaping.
Jesus. Zeb was right. The man was one big blob of arrogance. “No,” Aidan said coolly. “I’m not.”
“That’s from working in the business, I suppose.”
“Business?” Oh, right, he was meant to be Zeb. “Yes, of course. When you’ve seen so many guys without the spray tan and makeup,” he gabbled without thinking first, “you soon realize they’ve got the same equipment under it all.”
H-G blinked twice, hard. And then he laughed—a loud, bold sound, echoing warmly in the bleak room.
Aidan wanted to laugh with him, but maintained his cool stare. “What’s so funny?” Had he blown it already? He hadn’t even left the house with the man yet.
“They didn’t tell me you were witty, Zeb. I may call you Zeb?”
Why? “Oh yes, right. Of course.”
Dom’s language was quaintly old-fashioned, but Aidan found it rather charming, especially after the theatrical bickering of the Dreamweavers and his brother’s exuberant and affected chatter.
“And secondly?” Aidan prompted.
“I’m sorry?” H-G frowned at him.
God, what a scowl he has. “You said they didn’t lie, and then you gave the first reason.”
H-G raised his eyebrows. “You have a good memory.”
Yes, he does have lovely eyes. “Yes, I do. Especially when I’m listening.”
H-G’s mouth twisted as if he were trying not to smirk. “Secondly, they didn’t lie about your looks, and that you were even better-looking in real life. I concur. You’re bloody gorgeous.”
Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.
She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind... she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her here: