After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective—but fabulously shiny—outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project—as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.
Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.
Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content—not presentation—that matters.
How Big is the Electrical Code
My Curmudgeonly Husband is a home inspector. He spends his days poking through houses (and under houses and on top of houses) for the benefit of homebuyers. In order to be effective at his job, he needs a broad knowledge of construction, systems, even appliances, so he can give his clients what they need to make an informed decision about their purchase.
Of course, CH, being the sort of person he is, becomes fascinated by different parts of the inspection process and its knowledge base, which sometimes can be rather alarming.
In the early days of his business, for instance, if he found any unusual insects during his inspection, he’d collect one and pop it into a glass tube filled with alcohol to preserve it for later study. Unfortunately, many of those tubes never found their way beyond our kitchen. I’d come down in the morning, bleary-eyed, and find myself staring at some six-legged specimen and utter a very unprepossessing shriek. I had to leave him a stern message on the family whiteboard:
Please remove all preserved insects from the kitchen.
Since CH is also a bit of a hoarder, I’m not certain whether the preserved insects in question were ever disposed of, or simply moved to some undisclosed location in his office. I don’t ask—there are some things it’s better that I don’t know.
Possibly also in his hoarder persona, CH has an entire shelf devoted to the National Electrical Code, with editions going back to 1901(although he says disdainfully of that one, “It’s a reprint.”). Does he really need all those old code books? I mean, the point of the inspection is to compare a house’s systems to the current code—no pun intended. But he keeps ordering these things from eBay:
Finally, I asked him why. He says part of it is from interest—to see how the code has evolved over time (he has a similar shelf devoted to building codes). Another part, though, is so when he calls something out as a code violation, he can smack down any contractor who says “Ah, that used to be allowed.” CH can come back with, “Show me the section in the code and I’ll believe you, but I’m warning you—it was never there and I know because I’ve looked.”
In Clickbait, Alex, an electrician, gives Gideon grief about assuming that lack of a college education equals lack of intelligence, and asks “have you seen the size of the electrical code?”
Well, now we know. We know its size in 1901…in 1953…in 1971…in 1990…in 2008 and many points in between. Apparently there was one version of the code before 1901, but CH doesn’t have that one.
Beware eBay—you’ll not be safe until he finds it. Even if it’s only a reprint.
Definition: Junk; superfluous, outdated, or dysfunctional elements in computer software; bad code.
When the furious man burst into the room, Alex instinctively took a step back—Jesus, never back up in drywall stilts—and lost his balance. He dropped his mudding knife and managed to save himself by bracing one hand on the ceiling and another on the scaffolding next to the wall.
Once his heart was convinced he wasn’t about to fall on his ass, it slowed down enough for him to get royally pissed and ready to tell the asshole off. Because who the hell charged into a place uninvited like that?
He glared down at the guy, and—
Holy fucking shit. Gideon Wallace.
Although he’d never officially met his sister’s roommate, Alex had seen Gideon once at Lin’s twenty-first birthday party while she was still in college in Eugene. The guy was exactly the type that Alex always made a fool of himself over: Gideon had that extra spark, that gleam in his eyes, the flirty wiggle in his ass that said You know you want to tap this.
They’d stood next to each other in the kitchen for about ten seconds. Alex had been loading the last of the beer into the fridge before he took off to let Lin enjoy her party with her friends. Gideon had excused himself and grabbed two beers, hardly glancing at Alex, but their arms had brushed. There’d been a definite tingle, at least on Alex’s part. He’d almost broken his resolution never to interfere with his sister’s life in order to follow Gideon across the room.
Then Gideon had handed one of the beers to a guy who could have been his double, going by size and clothing, and Alex had given it up as a no-chance-in-hell thing.
Gideon was way out of his league.
Not long after that party, Ned had been diagnosed, Lindsay had left school to get a job in Portland, and their lives had become all about their dad’s illness.
Even though Gideon had moved in with Lin after he’d graduated, she’d kept her life with him and Charlie compartmentalized, careful to shield their dad, and by extension the rest of the family, from any contact that might go south. But Alex had never forgotten that tingle. Whenever he’d had an errand to run at the Pettygrove house—a minor repair or something to drop off for Lin—he’d hoped for another glimpse. Nada. Not in four fricking years. What were the odds of that?
Lin had a ton of pictures of the guy, though, and she’d shared them—not with him, for some reason, but with their mom, who’d shared them with Alex.
From the pictures, he’d been able to tell that Gideon still had that wicked glint in his eyes, that don’t-shit-with-me attitude with an overtone of princess that had made Alex laugh at the same time it’d tightened his groin.
Face-to-face with Gideon now, it was clear the pictures hadn’t done him justice. He’d put on a little more muscle through the shoulders and arms since that long-ago party. Not that he was beefy or anything. More like . . . matured. Back then, he’d been barely twenty-one. At twenty-five? Hot damn, Skippy.
“Hey.” He gave Gideon his best grin, the one his first boyfriend had claimed was his finest above-the-waist feature.
Gideon glared at him over the top of glasses with frames the color of basketballs. “It’s barely seven o’clock. Do I need to remind you of tenants’ rights?”
“You’re required to notify us twenty-four hours in advance before engaging in . . .” He flicked his fingers at the stilts. “Death-metal role-playing. My roommate happens to be the daughter of the landlord, and if you don’t desist, we will report you and you’ll never work for him again.”
Alex’s grin faded. Gideon didn’t remember him.
Granted, it had only been ten seconds at a noisy party, and they hadn’t been introduced. For all he knew, Lin had never told her roommates that she had a brother. Not like anyone could tell by looking at them, given Lindsay’s blue-eyed blonde cuteness, and his own dark skin, broad cheekbones, and skull trim. Oh, yeah. Twins.
“I’m sure.” Gideon turned around and zoomed out of the room as fast as he’d entered it.
Alex stared after him for a full minute, the back of his throat burning. Why did it bother him so much that he didn’t rate at least a shard of Gideon’s memory? By now, he was a fucking expert at being forgotten.
Anger welled up from his belly to his chest like lava about to blow. He slammed his hand against the scaffold frame, and a box of drywall screws skittered to the edge of the staging plank and fell, exploding all over the floor.
He sat on the plank to take off the stilts so he could sweep up before he slipped and broke his neck.
No matter what his mom said, decompressing—if she meant letting his temper loose like this—never made him feel better. It only gave him more shit to clean up.
Read more at: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/clickbait (just click the excerpt tab)
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
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