Love Me Tomorrow
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Event planner Levi Goode is positioned to inherit the newly vacated throne, becoming the in-demand party planner for Wilde City’s elite. Years of hard work and perseverance are finally paying off as Levi lands his next big fish, working with socialite Julia Freeman-Kingsley. Distracted by work and dealing with his head strong mother, an ex-Vegas-showgirl suffering from debilitating health issues, Levi has his hands full. Time for love or even the occasional one-night stand, is one aspect of life Levi hasn’t been able to master.
Sparks of interest fly during a chance meeting with a paramedic called to the aid of his mother, and thanks to Ruby’s meddling, Levi finds himself on a movie-date with the handsome Paramedic Jake. Personal and professional worlds collide when Levi realizes his new love interest is actually Jake Freeman, estranged brother to his brand new client. Discovering the man of his dreams already has a boyfriend, leaves Levi stunned realizing any hopes he had for something more with Jake were never going to be anything more than wishful thinking.
Struggling to downshift his expectations and remain friends with Jake while continuing to work closely with Julia quickly consumes all of his time and attention. Wondering if there will ever be a special someone to love him, is where Levi’s love story begins.
A Big Honkin’ Excerpt:
“Momma!” he called out, rushing back out to the foyer and past the dining room. It wasn’t until he rounded the corner into the small kitchen that Levi spotted the paramedics standing in the living area at the back of the house.
His heart sank as the two men looked his direction.
“She’s okay, sir,” one of the men said, making eye contact with him, further reassuring Levi that all was well. Or as well as they could be considering there was an ambulance parked outside the house.
Levi nodded, acknowledging he’d heard the man while scooching past him so he could get to Ruby.
She pulled the oxygen mask from her face and rolled her eyes. “I’m fine, darling, just had a dizzy spell.”
She placed the mask back over her mouth and nose and took several deep breaths. Levi shut his eyes, trying to calm his nerves, only to feel Ruby grab his hand and give it a squeeze of reassurance.
He could hear the paramedics talking in low voices behind him and Levi struggled to listen as they discussed that the chief complaint was pain noted from the contusion in the temporal area of the skull from where Ruby had fallen and bumped her head on the floor.
“Are you bleeding anywhere?” Levi asked Ruby, who shook her head that she was not.
Levi went back to eavesdropping long enough to hear that her breathing had begun to normalize but her lungs sounded wheezy, bilaterally.
No big surprise there.
Her pulse was also strong, but seemed to be a little fast and her blood pressure was slightly elevated.
“But that is a normal reaction to the stress of all this, isn’t it?” Levi asked, finally tearing his gaze away from his mother in order to turn around and face them.
The second EMT looked at Levi and for a moment, Levi thought he might be having a cardiac event all his own. The oddest sensation came over him, one he’d never experienced before and he immediately felt a light layer of sweat flush across the surface of his skin.
He smiled through the light-headed, slightly intoxicated feeling.
The paramedic eyed him somewhat suspiciously which registered that whatever was happening to Levi was evident to those around him. Since the EMT decided not to mention it, Levi saw no reason he shouldn’t breeze right on past the tingles and mild case of nausea that continued to plague him.
“Hey…there, you.” Levi smiled weakly while inappropriately staring into the bluest pair of eyes the world had no doubt ever known. They were arresting, those eyes—even the deepest, most crystal clear tropical waters of the Caribbean suffered in comparison.
Watching intently as the man came back around the coffee table and crouched down next to Ruby, Levi inventoried his dark, black hair and sexy stubble-covered masculine jawline which were softened by the warm smile as the man stared up at Levi from the floor where he knelt, attending to Ruby.
Levi felt it, like a fist in the gut.
“Say, you okay?” the guy asked. “You don’t look so good.”
“So-whoa-kay,” Levi muttered, taking note that Ruby had also picked up on the fact something was up with her baby boy. “Though insulting me by noting my inadequate allure seems slightly uncalled for."
The guy’s forehead crinkled up, visibly confused for a few moments before the dimples and perfect leading man smile spread across his face. “My apologies, sir. I wasn’t referencing to your physique so much as the slightly pained expression you were exhibiting.”
Levi sat down on the other side of Ruby and did his level best to concentrate on the man’s condescending tone as it irritated Levi and counteracted the dream-like spell he’d been under since laying eyes on him.
“What the hell happened here?” Levi began looking around for the nurse he was over-paying to watch after his mother. “And where the hell is Carrie?”
“Carrie?” Sexy, blue-eyes asked. “I’m Jake by the way… this is my partner, Craig.”
“There was no one else here when we arrived on the scene,” Craig said from behind him.
“Mom, where is your nurse?” He was staring at Jake again, but managed to tear his gaze away from the hypnotizing twin pools of mind-numbing sexiness long enough to turn his attention back to his mother. “She’s supposed to have a nurse. I’m certainly still paying for a nurse.”
Ruby plastered on her best, wide-eyed, innocent-of-any-wrong-doing expression and shrugged, clutching the mask to her mouth as if her very existence now depended upon each gulp of life-giving oxygen.
“You have got to stop firing the nurses I hire, Mom. Eventually we’ll have run through all the nurses in the world and then where will we be?”
Ruby scowled, pulling the mask away. “This one prayed constantly, it was annoying and she refused to stop doing it when I asked her to.”
Levi sighed, brushing a few strands of her platinum-dyed blonde hair off her forehead. He was trying to count to ten so he didn’t come off like a monster-child by yelling at Ruby in front of complete strangers. He was also attempting to keep his focus on his mother and avoid getting lost in Paramedic Jake’s dangerous Bermuda Triangle-like gaze once again.
“I asked nicely,” Ruby muttered, “but she completely ignored me.”
“I’m sure you did, Momma.” Levi looked at Jake, but focused on his forehead. “Is she really all right?”
“She has a nasty bump on her head from where she fell and though she was conscious when we arrived on the scene, she was disoriented. She now appears to be lucid—doesn’t seem to have any trouble communicating, either.” Jake winked at Ruby.
“Every time I said a curse word the woman would bow her head and pray,” Ruby said, as if to further justify Nurse Carrie’s dismissal.
Levi scowled at her. “She must have been praying a lot.”
Jake and his partner both started chuckling when Ruby reached up and smacked Levi in the arm. He straightened out the hem of her floor length pink silk nightgown and tucked in the throw currently covering her legs.
“Momma, please, you’re gonna have to start making some allowances for—”
“I shouldn’t have to, not in my own home,” she interrupted.
She started coughing and Levi sighed, already backing down, not wanting to send her into a coughing jag. She took his hand in hers, squeezing it—fully aware that was the closest to an apology he was going to get.
“How’s my face, kiddo?” she asked, looking sweet and innocent once again.
Aside from the exhaustion, which was quite apparent, she looked no worse for the wear. She was made up from head to red-nail polished toe, thank goodness. Otherwise that would be all Ruby would be worried about. She was the vainest creature the world had ever known—Levi had the in-home hair care and mani-pedi bills to prove it.
“You look great, Mom.” Levi turned to Jake. “Who called you?”
“A neighbor happened to be looking through the window there.” Craig pointed to the window that looked out across the side yard into nosy Mrs. Miller’s kitchen. “Noticed your mother fall. Called 911 when they never saw Miss Ruby here get back up.”
For the first time ever, Levi was grateful their busy-body neighbor had a penchant for peeping Tom-like behavior.
“Though we’d typically consider this a lift-assist as she seems alert and stable now, I am still recommending we get her to the hospital due to the contusion, let them run a CT scan and a few other tests—make sure everything checks out.”
“That isn’t necessary,” Ruby said.
“They may want to keep her under observation overnight due to the head injury.”
“I’m perfectly fine,” she insisted.
“Thank you for that assessment, Mother, however, I think we’ll follow the recommendations from the people with the actual medical training, just to be on the safe side.”
“Does she have a history of respiratory issues?”
“She used to smoke like a fiend,” he said accusingly, which garnered an eye roll from Ruby.
He barely got the entire spiel out, highlighting her pertinent medical history including that particularly nasty case of pneumonia, before Ruby cut him off.
“Killed my glorious career!”
“And we almost lost her,” Levi said, shaking his head at her, still amazed that after all these years it was still all about her.
“Never fully recovered after,” she added, completely ignoring Levi at this point.
Levi sighed, hoping to cut her off on the path to where she was no doubt heading. “She was a showgirl in Vegas back in the day.”
“I was THE Vegas showgirl, damn it. I had legs for days and I knew how to use ’em. I set the city that never sleeps on fire throughout most of the eighties. It was fabulous. No one could touch me. I was fabulous.”
She started coughing and Levi placed the oxygen mask back over her mouth. “She’s a humble sorta gal.”
“Lots of coke and loads of sex,” Ruby said, pushing the oxygen mask away once again. “The music, the lights, the gorgeous, glittery costumes—”
“Which explains the tacky I Dream of Jeannie design scheme,” Levi pointed around at the tone on tone pink paint and fabrics covered with lace and fringe.
“Don’t interrupt your mother when she’s reminiscing, child. I knew Sinatra, damn it.”
He sighed, wondering why the hell she still thought knowing Sinatra back in the day meant she automatically garnered some sort of reverential respect.
“I’m guessing that when she said coke she wasn’t referring to the refreshing beverage?” Jake asked, scribbling down notes into a wallet-sized booklet.
“Unfortunately, no.” Levi strained his neck, trying to get a peek at what the man was writing. He glanced down at Ruby to see she wasn’t real happy about Jake’s documentation tactics either.
“Don’t knock the cocaine, kiddo, you may not have ever been born without it.”
Levi sighed. “And here we go.”
“I’m… not going to ask.” Jake pointed out, attempting to reassure Levi.
“Thank you,” Levi said, trying not to smile back at the man.
“It was a fabulous orgy, Dr. Jake,” Ruby said, ignoring Levi’s plea and the fact Jake just stated he neither needed nor wanted any of the gory details.
Craig dramatically cleared his throat behind them, reminding Levi there were multiple witnesses to his humiliation. “The nice men don’t want to hear about orgies, Momma,” Levi pointed out, while gently petting her arm.
“I’m not a doctor, ma’am,” Jake reminded her.
“You shouldn’t be ashamed of where you come from,” Ruby said, ignoring Jake’s disclaimer while shooing Levi’s hand away. “It’s not a very becoming quality in a man.”
“Forgive me, Mother, I’ll be sure to bring that up at my next children-of-orgies support group meeting.”
Ruby rolled her eyes. “So sarcastic this one—it’s no wonder you’re still single.”
“You musta been one helluva party girl,” Jake said, smiling at her without any sort of discernible judgment on his face.
Just like that he’d managed to snake charm Ruby, who had forgotten all about Levi’s smart mouth. It was one of the single sexiest things Levi had ever witnessed and made him feel better that Ruby seemed to also be susceptible to Jake’s super-human charms.
A little hinky, perhaps, considering they were parent and child, but sometimes strange company was better than no company at all.
It was a special brand of man who wasn’t put off by Ruby’s brazenness. Her behavior tended to work as a litmus test for most mortals—often revealing the ugly, pretentious side most people attempted to conceal from people they were trying to impress. Even the guys who liked to crystal up and fuck their brains out every weekend could be a little judgey when it came to Ruby’s tales of drunken debauchery. Totally hypocritical, mind you, though Levi wasn’t into that type of guy anyway, and truth be told, he was usually way more embarrassed by his mother than anyone else ever had been, so he tried not to pass judgment when he could help it.
Parental introductions had been the thing he’d passionately avoided for as long as possible when dating a new guy—back when he actually had time to date. Levi had lost more than one man due to his mother over the years, but on some level, he had self-justified those experiences in her favor. Any guy who would leave him because his mother was a total crackpot was likely not the kind that would end up sticking around long-term regardless.
In that sense, she had done him a solid.
He and Ruby were polar opposites—Ruby had no filter and Levi was nothing but filter.
Levi was a lot like the parties he planned, on the exterior all seemed calm, collected and always appeared to be completely under control. Each event was like an opera, a production for the masses who never witnessed the inevitable chaos—the by-product of all the moving parts running behind the scenes. Levi was the great and powerful Oz and he liked keeping all his shit tucked safely behind the curtain. Needless to say, that often included Ruby.
It didn’t mean he didn’t love her. There had been times when he was younger when he’d allowed his resentment of Ruby and his completely insane upbringing to cast a cloud over their relationship. But the older he got the more protective he became, and Levi had developed some semblance of respect and genuine admiration for her. Much like her name, Ruby was unique and precious, a rare jewel. Levi didn’t necessarily enjoy putting his Ruby on display all the time, yet he was also terrified of losing her.
Attempting to take care of her was frustrating as she was more than a handful. You couldn’t make her do anything she didn’t want to do. Their relationship had become Levi attempting to find ways to work around her wants, in order to ensure he managed to meet all her needs.
All that glitters isn’t gold.
“For the record, I like a guy with a smart mouth.” Jake smiled at Levi before glancing back at Ruby.
Ruby was grinning and Levi realized he was as well, something his mother unfortunately took note of.
“I’ll go grab the gurney.” Craig thumbed toward the front of the house and Jake nodded. He grabbed the handheld radio on his collar and began speaking to whoever was on the other end as he left the room.
Levi was too distracted by Jake to pay attention to what Craig was saying.
There was something about him—Jake seemed familiar to Levi in some odd way. There was a genuineness that came off the man in waves, like he was completely comfortable in his own skin—allowing him the luxury of accepting everyone else for who they were. It was as if Jake had this blanketed, face-value respect for those who were different than he was, like each individual made up a new thread that wove itself into the tapestry of Jake’s life, enriching and strengthening him from within.
Levi shook loose all the romantic nonsense that was bouncing around inside his head, reminding himself to get a fucking grip already. The man was fucking gorgeous and all, but the delusions of grandeur were a little much and very un-Levi-like.
One thing was certain, Jake appeared to be sincerely interested in and amused by anything Ruby had to say. Unfortunately, Ruby had also picked up on that fact.
“That’s how my Levi got his name, remember, sweetie?” Ruby smiled up at him, forever ignorant to the fact Levi didn’t find his orgy-origin-story the least bit charming. “I never caught his father’s name, but I do recall he was a beautiful hunk of man… wore the tightest pair of hip and ass hugging Levis I’d ever seen on a man.”
Levi groaned, desperately wishing she would stop already. “Feel free to give her a sedative if you think it appropriate.”
“Like they were painted on, those jeans,” Ruby added, staring off in space.
Jake laughed while continually checking her vitals.
“Your daddy had the most beautiful thighs I’ve ever seen on any man, I do remember that much.”
“Dear God,” Levi muttered.
Jake stood, placing a hand on Levi’s shoulder, appearing to be amused by it all. “If it makes you feel any better, I can’t say the same about my father.”
The squeeze of reassurance he gave went straight to Levi’s crotch and he had to fight to maintain any sort of composure. He managed to forget about his mother for several moments while staring up at the paramedic, admiring the way his hair was styled—neatly parted to the side and sleekly combed over like he’d walked off of the set of Mad Men. His stubble was well-groomed so Levi could tell it was intentional and not due to the fact he’d neglected to shave the last few days. He also had totally suckable, thick, light-pink lips that practically called out to Levi, as if begging to be kissed.
A man like that he’d be willing… hell, eager to make time for… busy schedule be damned. And that was merely Levi’s reaction from the neck up.
“Hey, she’s going to be all right,” Jake squeezed his shoulder again.
He immediately felt like a shit-heel considering Jake had mistaken Levi’s lusting over him for concern over his mother’s well-being.
“Thanks.” Levi forced a smile.
He gave Levi another pat, before Jake’s hand slid down to his bicep, offering Levi two more quick squeezes before awkwardly pulling his hand away.
“Apologies for the inappropriate… fondling there.” He shook his head like he might be confused by his own behavior.
“I don’t mind.” Levi felt his eyes widening, realizing the way that sounded. “The inappropriate fondling… I didn’t take it that way, is what I meant to say there.”
Jake laughed, glancing down at Ruby, making Levi fear he’d embarrassed Jake.
“I see crackles,” Ruby said, looking back and forth between the two of them.
“Crackles?” Jake looked confused, likely thinking she was experiencing issues with her vision.
“For the record, my son is single.” Ruby smiled sweetly at Jake, avoiding any eye contact with Levi. “He goes down to the Cinema Paradise every Thursday night for their Classic Film festival. You should meet him there.”
Jake grinned, winking at her as he began to put the pieces together.
“Mother, please,” Levi pleaded. “I’m sure Jake has better things to do with his time.”
“I like movies,” Jake said, nodding.
“Yeah, sure, but you don’t have to, I mean, she’ll be heavily medicated at some point, and won’t remember this anyway.”
“I heard that,” Ruby muttered, sounding calmer. “Sparks are rare, baby boy. You should never ignore the crackles.”
Jake grinned, flashing those pearly whites. “What movie is playing this week?”
Levi felt his face flush with heat once again and found it momentarily difficult to swallow. “Some Like It… Hot.”
“I’ve heard some people do,” Jake said.
Levi couldn’t tell for sure whether Jake was actually flirting or if he was merely attempting to help Levi out by giving him props in front of Ruby. Obviously, the whole flirting scenario was preferable, but either way Levi considered it a kindness, though the latter made him feel slightly losery.
“I don’t think I have any plans this Thursday, assuming you wouldn’t mind the company?” Jake asked.
Levi had to fight hard in order to maintain control over himself, but he did a celebratory, mental fist-pump.
“No, that’s… seven o’clock… that’s when it starts… the movie, I mean,” Levi said, tripping over his own words.
Please stop speaking freak-a-zoid.
“That’s good,” Ruby muttered, grinning at the two of them, visibly pleased with herself. “My Levi needs more friends, I worry he won’t have enough people to take care of him.”
“She’s quite a character.” Jake smirked as Ruby pretended like she’d stopped listening. “And very sweet.”
“For an ex-gangster’s-gun-moll slash Vegas showgirl, yeah… she’s kinda sweet… in her own way.”
Jake took a few steps back, signaling for Levi to follow. “She was pretty frightened and confused before you showed up.”
Levi nodded, looking down at her and feeling terrible that he hadn’t been there for her.
“I think all is clear, but getting her to the hospital for some tests will confirm we didn’t miss anything. My real concern is whether she fell or fainted.”
“Okay, sure, though she does suffer occasional bouts of vertigo, which is why we have the nurse in the first place.”
“She goes through a lot of them, huh?” Jake asked.
“Unfortunately, yes.” Levi glanced down, catching her doing a horrible job pretending not to eavesdrop. “She can be a handful.”