(#1 of Joy Universe)
Author: Louisa Masters
Genre: M/M Romance
Publication date: February 27th, 2020
Dimi Weston has always loved the theater—just not as much as loves managing things. His job at Joy Universe lets him manage to his heart’s content, and he fills his free time with community theater. Now, though, he’s being offered a promotion to his dream job: managing Joy Universe’s brand-new theater production company. JU really does make dreams come true—or so he thinks until he meets the ex-Broadway director he’ll have to work with.
Jason Philips is shocked to discover the hot younger guy he was trying to impress at a community theater is going to be managing the production company that just hired him. Scarred by the bad breakup of a long-term relationship, Jase is already nervous about getting back into dating… and now he’s accidentally offended the first guy he tried to flirt with and now has to work with.
As Dimi and Jason get stuck into the craziness of the theater, they have to contend with family, exes, and the nosiness of their colleagues, but nothing will stop them from making this venture a success.
Excerpt . . .
People stop me to say hello and congratulate me on the show, and I make sure I talk
to each for a few minutes. A community theater is dependent entirely on community
goodwill—local businesses sponsor us, and we get free labor from volunteers. Not to mention all our amateur performers and crew. It’s important to keep interest and engagement high. We won’t begin work on the winter/spring season until next year, so it’s especially vital to leave a strong impression tonight.
I thank the elderly couple I’ve been talking to again for their generous contribution,
and they drift away with smiles on their faces. I’m about to go looking for my friends from JU who were in the audience tonight when a hand touches my arm and a smooth, deep voice says, “Hi.”
I turn, and oh my God, Jason Philips is talking to me. He’s smiling at me. His sherry-
brown eyes are warm, the corners crinkling attractively. The silver at his temples and scattered amongst his thick chestnut hair gives him that air of distinction some older men get.
“Hi,” I breathe, then mentally slap myself and offer a hand for him to shake. I am a
respected professional, damn it. “Hello.”
He takes my hand and shakes it but doesn’t immediately let go. “I’m Jason.”
Would it be totally unprofessional to say “Yeah, I know” and make heart eyes at him?
I mean, I’ve seen his picture, so I knew he was attractive, but nobody warned me that in person his attractiveness becomes devastating.
“Dimi,” I manage, pulling back my hand before it gets weird. “Nice to meet you. Did
you enjoy the show?” I try not to sound too eager to hear his opinion.
He shrugs. “It was charming. Nothing like what I’m used to in New York, of course.”
Did he really just say that?
Does he not know how rude it was? The words were… fine, not great but not overtly offensive, but his tone…. That dismissive shrug. I’m the producer of the show he just flippantly blew off, so how can his comment be considered anything but rude?
Don’t get me wrong, I know the show doesn’t compare to anything he’s used to in
New York. Or even to anything we’ll be doing with the new production company.
This is community theater, and while we have some talented amateurs on cast, none of them has had formal acting training.
Nobody’s a professional actor. Nobody’s even worked on a professional show before.
But they worked hard and did a great job—I did a great job. Our performances are always entertaining and sold out.
I still don’t know what to say. I have to work with this guy, so calling him a dick and
storming off is probably a bad idea, as much as I want to. But I can’t just let him think his
behavior is okay. Joyville is the only town anywhere near Joy Universe, which means he’ll be living here and a part of the community.
“I don’t think anyone involved aspired to reach the lofty standard set by New York.
They did, however, work hard to provide entertainment in a community space that’s
accessible to everyone. Enjoy the rest of your evening.” I shoot him a cool smile to match my cool tone, then turn and stroll away as though I’ve already forgotten all about him. Inside, I’m leaping in the air and high-fiving myself.
I look in the direction of the shout and see my boss—ex-boss—Derek waving at me.
Grinning, I head in his direction.
“Great show,” he declares. “Those kids at the end were super cute.”
“Thanks.” He’s right about the kids, but oh my God, it was absolute murder getting
them to cooperate. Five-year-olds are way too distractible.
“I saw you talking to Jason. He’s a nice guy, yeah?”
I hesitate, because if I say Jason was a huge douchemonkey and that working with
him is going to be a nightmare, is that too much like complaining to my boss that my job’s too hard? But Derek’s my colleague now, not my boss, and lately we’ve been becoming friends, too.
In the end, I settle on, “We might have rubbed each other the wrong way, but I think
he’ll be great at the job.”
Derek raises an eyebrow and looks over my shoulder in the direction I’ve just come
from. I look too, and see Jason talking to Trav, Derek’s boyfriend and the person who put us in contact with Jason in the first place. They’ve worked together before, are friendly, and Trav heard a rumor that Jason was looking to get away from the city for personal reasons, so it wasn’t a huge leap.
Trav sees us watching and waves, then says something to Jason and gestures in our
direction. Jason turns, scanning the crowd, and I know when he sees Derek because he smiles and waves. Then his gaze moves to me, and his jaw drops.
Suddenly I get it. He didn’t know who I was. I thought he’d come over to introduce
himself because Derek and Trav had told him we’d be working together, but the expression of horror on his face as Trav talks is pretty indicative that he had no idea.
I lift my hand and give him a little finger wiggle, smirking. It’s a dick move, but he
called my production “charming” in that smug voice. I’m entitled to a little petty revenge.
“Why do I get this feeling I need to install spy cameras in your office?” Derek asks, a thread of laughter in his voice.
I give him my best innocent look. “I have no idea what you mean.”
About the Author . . .
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