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It started raining just as Cody Walker parked his Jeep Wrangler behind someone’s shiny new BMW. Thank God, he had put the top up before he’d left his apartment. It wasn’t raining hard, just an annoying drizzle that made the July night even muggier. The afternoon high today had reached the 99-degree mark. Gotta love this Houston weather. Fortunately, the walk to the front door was short. He tucked the birthday present he was carrying under one arm and reached out to ring the doorbell with his other.
"Cody! So glad you could make it!"
"Aw, you know I wouldn’t miss your birthday party, Karen," replied Cody, handing her the package. "I hope you like it," he added a little shyly, following her into the crowded living room.
"I’m sure it’s fabulous," she said with a wink.
He shook his head, grinning. "Not all gay men use that word, you know."
She laughed at that. "Especially not you, right, Mr. Cowboy?"
"My Mama would have a stroke if she heard me talking like some of the guys around here." Of course, she’d also have a stroke if she knew I was gay. As would everyone else in his hometown. Just becoming a nurse had been enough to provoke a certain amount of alarm.
He spent the next half hour or so milling around, talking with the other guests. Everyone here seemed to be in the medical field. Talking shop got old, but at least it was common ground with these folks, since he didn’t have a spouse or kids to converse about. Or even a boyfriend.
Sex was easy to find in this city. Love, he hadn’t been able to find yet. His last relationship had been a disaster. It had started out great. Then he found out that Brett was married-
He made his way into the kitchen to refill his mug at the beer keg. Ice cold Bud – hit the spot.
"How can you drink that poor excuse for beer?"
Cody jerked his head up at the voice then nearly dropped his mug on the floor.
Butt up against the counter, a glass of red wine in one hand, was a vision out of Cody’s fantasies. Tall. Muscular without bulk. Thick light brown hair cut short. And the most intense green eyes Cody had ever seen. He was so fixated on the man’s appearance it took a while for Cody to register the fact he had an accent of some kind.
"Uh, well sir, I guess it’s just what I’m used to drinking." He cringed. What a dumbass answer.
"I think you are a victim of aggressive marketing," replied the man with conviction.
Cody couldn’t help but nod his head in agreement. Hell, at this point he’d agree with just about anything that came out of this man’s mouth. He gathered up his courage and took a few steps forward, hand extended.
"Markus Poletti." They shook hands briefly.
"So, I’m guessing you’re not from around here," said Cody in a friendly tone.
"That is correct."
Markus had an accent unlike any Cody had ever heard before, almost lilting. He took a gamble. "Germany?"
"No. I am from Bern, Switzerland."
"Ah," replied Cody, nodding his head and mentally reviewing everything he knew about Switzerland. Watches. Banks. Chocolate. Yep, that’s about it. "How’d you end up in Houston?"