- Carina Press
- Release Date
- March 2019
- Book 1 of Dreamers
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ
No one ever said big dreams come easy
For Nesto Vasquez, moving his Afro-Caribbean food truck from New York City to the wilds of Upstate New York is a huge gamble. If it works? He'll be a big fish in a little pond. If it doesn't? He'll have to give up the hustle and return to the day job he hates. He's got six months to make it happen—the last thing he needs is a distraction.
Jude Fuller is proud of the life he's built on the banks of Cayuga Lake. He has a job he loves and good friends. It's safe. It's quiet. And it's damn lonely. Until he tries Ithaca's most-talked-about new lunch spot and works up the courage to flirt with the handsome owner. Soon he can't get enough—of Nesto's food or of Nesto. For the first time in his life, Jude can finally taste the kind of happiness that's always been just out of reach.
An opportunity too good to pass up could mean a way to stay together and an incredible future for them both…if Nesto can remember happiness isn't always measured by business success. And if Jude can overcome his past and trust his man will never let him down.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you're looking for with an HEA/HFN. It's a promise!
BOOK INTERVIEW on April 2020
Enjoy this excerpt!
After high school I lived in Honduras for a year and my Spanish got pretty good while I was there. Over the years I made an effort to practice it as often as I could, so I still could speak and understand it pretty well. I was too far away to make out what they were saying, but was loving the music coming over the little speakers they'd set up at the counter. Some of my favorite artists were Latinx singers, so when a song I loved came on, I bobbed my head along with the music. I must have gotten distracted by the song, because when I looked up, I came face-to-face with "gas station guy."
My heart almost leaped out of my chest when I saw him grinning at someone inside the truck. If possible, he looked even better than the first time I'd seen him.
I felt a nudge on my shoulder as I stood there gaping.
"Oh shit, that's the guy."
I was having trouble making words, so I didn't answer Carmen. It seemed like he was taking over for the other guy, who I saw walking away from the truck with a backpack on his shoulder. When I stepped up to the counter he didn't see me right away, but as soon as he turned around, his eyes lit up with recognition.
"Wow, three times in less than twenty-four hours. I had a feeling I'd see you again, Mr. NPR."
He gave me another once-over as he took a pencil out of his apron pocket and held his pad up, ready to take my order. Like I wasn't going to ask about the supposed second time he'd seen me. "Three times? When did you see me a second time? Also, it's pretty rude to laugh at people for no reason. Creepy, actually."
He threw his head back and laughed, then winked at me like that could fix it.
"I did say I was sorry. I wasn't laughing at you, it was just, when I saw your shirt, it sort of sunk in I was in Ithaca."
"Sure, that makes total sense," I said with an eye roll.
He pointed in the direction of the library. "I saw you walking in there this morning, while I was setting up."
The grin he was flashing in my direction was activating all sorts of feelings in my body.
"I'm a librarian."
His eyes twinkled at my incredibly vague answer, then gave me an appreciative look. "I wondered."
I was not totally sure what was happening, but I wasn't going to hold up the line to continue awkwardly flirting with him, even if he was a smoking hot, very tall man.
"Never mind." I waved my finger in the direction of the menu and tried to give him a businesslike look. "Could you please tell me about these? There are a lot of things I love happening here, but I've never had them in a burrito."
He flashed me a devastating smile and said, "I thought you'd never ask." He rubbed his hands together as he talked, making the muscles in his arms bulge.
"All our burritos are inspired on Afro-Caribbean flavors. El Mayimbe, I named after Fernando Villalona, my mom's favorite merengue singer."
Getting the rundown of a burrito menu should not be this erotic.
"On that one we hit you with white rice, Dominican style red beans, beefsteak Criollo with sautéed onions, caramelized sweet plantains, Mi Abuelita's slaw and avocado slices."
Carmen let out a squeal from behind me at his description.
"If you want to go with Cuba, you want La Lupe, which is named after my favorite Latina singer." He preened at that. "It's comes with killer Cuban black beans, Cuban shredded beef, caramelized sweet plantains, and hot and spicy pickled onions."
He smiled again and leaned on the counter a little bit when he was done. I was already sweating and hadn't even ordered my food. "We also have the tostones topped with queso crema, cilantro pesto and sweet-and-sour pickled shallots."
This time I could not help myself and a moan escaped my mouth. "I love tostones."
That rakish smile he kept flashing at me was going to be my undoing.
"That's what I like to hear. We also have a sweet corn pudding with a passion fruit glaze for dessert. It's a small offering, but these are some of our most popular items and a great intro to our food."
He lifted an eyebrow at me in question. "So, did I tempt you with anything?"
If only you knew, "gas station guy."
I nodded and tried once again to sound unaffected. "Definitely, everything sounds delicious. I'll have the Lupe and an order of tostones. Oh, and the Yerbabuena lemonade."
He kept staring at me with a weird smirk on his face, like he found me infinitely entertaining. After a second he started jotting down my order.
"Excellent. Can I get your name so we can call you when the order's ready?"
I widened my eyes at his perfectly reasonable question. This elicited yet another semi-filthy smile.
I had no idea what he found so damn amusing. "It's Jude."
Carmen stepped up to give her order after shooting me an amused look, and immediately asked, "Can we do this in español or what?"
"Claro, aquí se habla español."
I was starting to wonder if he had a condition.
"¡Excelente!" Carmen gave him a big smile and proceeded to tell him what she wanted in rapid fire Spanish. When she was done she jerked her thumb over her shoulder, "Just put my order under Jude's name." She held up her phone at him. "I need to make a call, so he'll get mine too."
He beamed at her, and gave me a thumbs-up.
"It'll be ready in a few, guys."
With that he turned his attention to the next people in line.
Once we were out of earshot Carmen started talking excitedly, her hands all over the place. "See! I told you he was Dominican! I knew a man so fine could only be produced in the DR. He sure was staring you up and down too. You're so funny." She cackled and shook my arm. "And of course he thought you were adorable. Oh man, if the food's good we're making this a regular stop."
Copyright © 2019 by Adriana Herrera