Title: Redeeming the Stepbrother
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: Standalone (Currently)
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 10 2018
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Family can be a blessing and a curse, but for artist Florian, it’s a nightmare he longs to escape.
As chief designer for Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, Florian specializes in painting birds. He also watches them in the wild to distract himself from his short-tempered mother, at least temporarily. Florian’s heart is too soft to leave his stepsister, Ella, to suffer alone. Still, he can’t help dreaming about one day finding happiness and love.
When Count Dieter von Hollenbach arrives in town to visit a friend and present an award, he isn’t looking for romance. Then again, he doesn’t expect someone as perfect as Florian to come into his life. To make sure Florian is all he seems and that their connection is genuine, Dieter keeps his title to himself.
But he isn’t the only one with a secret.
At a masquerade ball to celebrate the award, some of the masks fall away, but those that remain in place could destroy the love beginning to grow between them.
Barnes and Noble
I crouched in the reeds, finding a dry spot and using the tall grasses as cover to watch, listening and filling my camera with images. There was almost too much activity to take in all at once.
An engine sound grew near, and I turned but didn’t see the car. I didn’t want to scare any of the birds away, so I stayed where I was until slurpy footsteps came closer.
“Florian,” Dieter said with his deep voice and German accent.
“Right here. Stay low and move slowly. There is a lot of activity today.” I waited until Dieter got nearer and moved over to share my firm, dry patch of ground. I pointed. “Look over there. The baby egrets are learning from their mother to hunt for food.” Dieter leaned in the direction I had pointed, and I inhaled his sweet, slightly musky scent. Dang, he smelled good. I inched a little closer, just so I could get another whiff of him. Too bad I’d never learned how to add scent to a painting—other than the smell of paint, that is.
“Look over there.” Dieter pointed to a sandpiper as it scampered over the sand, poking its long beak down every now and then.
A motor sounded in the distance and grew louder and louder. It was one of those large cabin cruisers going full speed, motors rumbling throatily as it approached. The birds scampered for cover or took to the air, flying off for safety.
“I hate that. They’re supposed to slow down in this section of the Bay, but they don’t always do it. Danged tourists.” This was a known birding area and most locals left it alone or stayed clear when they were on the water.
There was no use sitting here any longer. The birds were gone, and while they’d return eventually, they were scattered now. Besides, it was getting late.
I stood, stretching my back and legs. “Sorry about that.”
“It’s not your fault.” Dieter was wearing the same sort of clothes as he had the last time I saw him. Definitely something out of another era. His gaze traveled downward as I smiled. “My clothes?”
I nodded. “Where did you get them? At an antique store?”
Dieter shrugged. “They were my father’s. He used to take me bird-watching in Bavaria when I was a little boy. It was one of the few things he and I did together.” He slowly and carefully made his way back toward the cars, and I followed him, enjoying the view. “My father was a difficult man.” Dieter opened the trunk, took off his binoculars, and set them inside their case. “He didn’t seem to have a lot of time for me, but we used to go hiking in the Alps and to lakes, where we watched birds. My father used to take me hunting, but I was miserable at it.”
I shivered. “I hate hunting. I could never get the hang of shooting.” I opened the trunk to my car and starting taking off my gear, getting out my sneakers. “My stepfather took me once and I nearly shot my foot off and then dropped the gun. It almost disappeared into the mud. After that, I decided that watching birds was a lot more interesting than trying to shoot them. I can buy chicken in the store when I want poultry.” I smiled, and Dieter grinned in return.
“I can shoot very well. I just don’t think hunting is very sporting. Not when my father’s version was standing in a field while the gamekeepers released captured birds and he shot them as they tried to get away.” Dieter looked downward once again. “But these were what he wore when we went bird-watching, and I kept them after he passed away.” He changed his shoes, and I did the same.
I wasn’t sure what to do or talk about now that we were done watching the birds. I needed to get some dinner and was about to ask if Dieter wanted to join me, but his phone rang before I could.
Dieter answered it and spoke softly in German before ending the call. “I must go. It was very nice bird-watching with you.” He nodded once, sort of a small bow. I didn’t understand what it meant, but I did the same in return. “I hope to see you again.” Dieter got into his car and hurried away. I watched him go and for a second wondered if I suddenly smelled bad.
With nothing more I could do, I packed up my things and headed to town. I wasn’t particularly interested in going home, so I figured I’d get something to eat and read for a while. I had my Kindle in my bag, and some quiet time away from family chaos was probably a good thing.
As I passed through town, I noticed the dark Mercedes parked outside the café. I thought it was Dieter’s and debated eating there. It was my favorite place in town, and Betty, the owner and hostess, usually gave me a table by the window so I could watch people and relax. I didn’t want Dieter to think I was following him, though, and nearly drove past before deciding to park and go anyway.
“Hi, honey,” Betty said as I stepped inside. “Your usual table?”
I nodded. “Thanks.” I sat down, and she brought me a cup of tea and took my order for a chicken salad sandwich. One of these days I really needed to work on becoming less predictable. Even I thought my life was a bit boring and a little redundant.
“How are things going at the studio?” Betty asked after she put in the order.
“Good,” I answered, glancing over at the tables on the other side of the café. Dieter sat with Dante, talking quietly. I didn’t want to appear to be eavesdropping on my boss, but I had to confess that I barely saw Dante, my gaze only for Dieter. Dieter leaned over the table, his hair falling slightly forward, framing his profile, and I might have sighed slightly.
“I see,” Betty said, and I looked up at her. “You know Mr. Dante is taken.”
I must have looked askance at her because she nodded.
“Honey, the other man is a business associate of Dante’s. He’s dreamy, if you ask me, but I don’t know how long he’s going to be staying, so don’t get your heart set on that one.” Betty and husband had run the diner for three decades or so, and due to diner gossip, had a pretty good idea of everything that went on in town. “There haven’t been any rumors as to why he’s here, but there have been various ladies who’d like to take him for a spin.”
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
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