the intro adds the main love interest, Ryan, which I think is much more yummy!
He was breathing hard from his Pilates floor routine. No reformer in the hotel, but he relished the feeling of unmachined training. It raised memories of USC days on the parallel bars in the broad yellow light of Southern California. He made a big, luxurious cat stretch and rolled to his feet. He sauntered into the hotel bathroom, loving the way his hips rolled, and his belly muscles all felt alive after the workout.
As soon as he padded onto the black-grouted white diamonds of the bathroom tile, the gnawing at the back of his head roused and ground its teeth. He sighed and rubbed his temples. Probably have a headache by the time he got to the restaurant. Alone, as usual. He’d have to make sure to get a massage before his Working tomorrow. Somewhere in the back of his head, the grinding of fear, doubt and… something else.
Bare feet on the gold-trimmed Persian rug – the only color in the room. He drank water straight from the graceful silver neck of the tap, gulping until he ran out of air.
He looked at the ruffled raven of his hair in the vertical eye of the mirror, the Irish-white skin he had burned over and over again on the Chicago Lakeshores of his youth, trying to coax melanin out of a colorless ancestry. He confirmed with his hands the mounded excellence of his torso, kept long years after college training ended. As though he was seeing himself with another’s eyes, he enjoyed the way the black silk workout pants framed even the assets he wasn’t baring. The black grinding in his head rolled quieter and became silent.
Behind him was the accustomed comfort of his kind of hotel room. Massive white towels hung on heated spindles over the claw-foot tub. The center of the back wall was frosted fists of glass, their soft internal light filling the bathroom with something that in that moment felt like a distant kindness. He imagined a hot bath, the letting go of floating.
He kept snatching unpremeditated glances of himself and a narcissistic desire like a warm opening aroused and disturbed him. He ought to leave the bathroom, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. There was something in the corner of his eye.
He blinked, but instead of flushing an eyelash, it clarified an image. There was a face showing in his eye, as though someone else were back in the cool darkness of the bathroom, watching.
He shivered, and looked closer. He knew there could be nothing in the hotel with him, not after the Banishing he had done earlier. He leaned forward, breathing in, focusing his will. In the gold-flecked blue of his eyes, she was there: about his age with auburn hair and skin that gloamed with a power like sunset.
There was the shock of eye contact. Her mouth was the ‘o’ of surprise. He felt her feeling him, the arousal in him was hers. Excitement and alarm, familiarity and strangeness. There was a mirror-maze reflection between them, feeling and sensing back and forth through the silvered glass. Something came undone, and he shook, white knuckles on the white porcelain.
The darkness of pupils cracked open, and there were derricks drawing something up from the earth that was not oil, and rivers running in stone, and fire in dry hills that singed the sky.
This was not the messenger he had asked Gabriel to send.
He leaned in as the world broke open between them, the gold of her hair the only color in the room. “Who the hell are you?”