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Robert circled the spoon inside his coffee cup, watching the cream swirl. Depression sat like a heavy stone on his chest. How had his life been reduced to this? By all standards, people would consider him successful. Why couldnâ€™t he find the perfect guy? Hell, his imaginary partner didnâ€™t even have to be perfectâ€”he just had to not want Robertâ€™s money. The few times he thought heâ€™d found a keeper had turned out to be giant fiascos. One guy had tried to leave Robertâ€™s house with Robertâ€™s new laptop and another had tried to sweet talk him into financing a play.
He must have a broken 'loser alert' sensor.
Now, at thirty years old, he lived alone and didnâ€™t have any romantic prospects in sight since two months ago, when the last gay man heâ€™d liked had hooked up with a sexy cowboy. Sadly, from what Robert had observed, they were ridiculously happy together.
"Hey Robert, did you like the new quiche recipe?" Tyler Remington approached Robertâ€™s table, wiping his hands on his chefâ€™s apron.
"It was amazing as usual." He mustered up a smile for Tyler. It wasnâ€™t Tylerâ€™s fault the man had let a cowboy sweep him off his feet.
Tyler settled into the chair opposite him. "Whatâ€™s wrong? Youâ€™ve been moping for days."
Robert propped his chin on his hand. "Iâ€™m lonely," he confessed.
Tyler gave him a startled look. "Why? Youâ€™re handsome, rich and when youâ€™re not trying too hard to impress someone, youâ€™re a nice guy."
Although he knew he would sound like a pouting teenager, Robert couldnâ€™t help himself. "I canâ€™t believe you fell for Cody."
Tyler laughed. "Robert, we wouldâ€™ve never been compatible. Iâ€™m not butch enough for you. Iâ€™ve seen you watching the cowboys when you come out to the ranch. You can barely keep your drool from forming a puddle on the ground."
"Being attracted to someone and finding someone to share your life with arenâ€™t necessarily the same thing. And other than Cody, the rest of the guys at your ranch are straighter than a board."
"Maybe not." A crafty expression filled Tylerâ€™s bright blue eyes. "Weâ€™re getting another hand next week. Jeffreyâ€™s cousin, Glen, is coming to work for us. The ranch he worked on before was sold to some developer to build a bunch of condos or something. Jeff told me he prefers men."
Robert shook his head. "If heâ€™s just moved here, I doubt he wants to get involved with someone right away." He held up his hand to stop Tylerâ€™s protest. "And you know as well as I do it takes more than being gay to be compatible."
"True, but donâ€™t rule him out without meeting him."
"Fine. Iâ€™ll meet him but Iâ€™m not making any promises."
"Iâ€™m not asking you to have sex. Iâ€™m talking about coffee, maybe a muffin if you want to get wild."
Robert laughed. "Okay, I can do that."
"Good. Besides, if you donâ€™t find someone soon, Joe is going to start getting some ideas." Tyler tilted his head to the right and Robertâ€™s gaze traced where Tyler indicated.
Joe Walker stood beside the divider that shielded the serversâ€™ area from the diners. His arms were crossed and a scowl creased his forehead as he watched the two men talk. Although Robert knew his waiter was gay, Joe didnâ€™t make the eligible list.
"You know I donâ€™t mess around with my employees. Thatâ€™s why I didnâ€™t ask you to be my chef until I was certain it wasnâ€™t going to work out."
"Does Joe know that?" Tylerâ€™s blue eyes reflected concern.
"He should." Robert bit his bottom lip as he considered the situation. Joe had flirted with him in the past. Robert had put it down as harmless and never flirted back. He didnâ€™t want to show any sign of favouritism to his employees. "Iâ€™ll talk to him if it gets out of hand."
"Good." Tyler patted Robertâ€™s hand. "I donâ€™t want you to get put in a bad situation, especially if he tries to get you for sexual harassment. Make sure you talk to him with at least one witness around."