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“Hey,” he said, startled at how raspy he sounded.
Dei spun and grinned. “Hey there, sunshine. How you feeling?”
Felix shrugged, rubbing away a bit more sleep from his eyes. “I’ve been a lot worse. Thanks for staying.”
“Sugar, you couldn’t have pay me to keep away,” Dei told him, winking before jerking his chin toward the small kitchen table in the corner. “Get yourself a seat. I made street tacos.”
Felix tried to peer over his shoulder, but the bigger man waved the spatula at him, so he held up his hands in surrender and took a seat. He could barely see over the counter from the low chair, but he had a great view of Dei bobbing around the stove, humming to himself in his low, low baritone.
It was goddamn delicious.
“Were you in a choir?”
Dei glanced up, his blush only just visible under his dark beard. “Yeah. I, uh…I was in chamber choir in high school.”
Felix smiled, shaking his head. “Sorry. I’m an uncultured fuck who grew up on DIY punk music. I don’t even know what a chamber choir is.”
Dei laughed softly as he stooped low, and when he stood back up again, he had one plate balanced on his forearm, the other in his hand. He set them both down on the table with a little shimmy, and Felix was impressed by the look of the food.
“God, it’s no wonder Jeremiah said he’d sell his soul to keep you in his kitchen.”
Dei blinked at him. “That fucker. He could do a lot better than some washed up, one-armed geezer like me.”
“Washed-up geezer?” Felix scoffed as Dei went to the fridge and came back with a couple bottles of sparkling lemonade. Felix tried not to stare, but it was impossible to look away as Dei sat, holding the bottles between his impressive thighs so he could twist off the caps. His mouth felt oddly dry, and he took a long drink before speaking again. “You and I both know you’re young and amazing. False humility is boring.”
Dei studied him for a beat. “Humility, huh? You sayin’ you’re willing to brag up your talent as an artist.”
Felix took a big bite of the first taco, the carne asada all-but melting in his mouth. He was pretty sure none of that had come from his kitchen, but he was too afraid to ask how Dei had just made magic in his home. “I’m saying that I have more money than I know what to do with, and it all comes from my hands putting my art on people’s skin. So…yeah. Maybe I am.”
Dei’s eyes gleamed as he pulled his plate close and swept one taco into his massive grip. It was dwarfed by his palm and Felix found himself getting lost in a new sort of hunger. “I like you, darlin’. You’re somthin’ special.”
“You keep saying that, but I’m really not,” Felix muttered.
Dei just shook his head and took down the taco in two bites before taking a long drink. “Honey, do not get me started. I might never stop, and then where would we be?”
Felix has a major problem.
Well, pining might not be the right word for how he feels about the absurdly hot, one-armed chef who works next door, but it’s close enough.
Felix doesn’t have high hopes for romance, though. Not with the fact that his face blindness means every time he looks at Deimos, it’s like he’s seeing him for the first time. After all, who would want a relationship with a man who couldn’t pick him out of a crowd?
But that’s not his actual problem. Felix learns he needs to see his terrible family for his grammy’s funeral, and Dei has offered to go along to act like his boyfriend.
And God help him, but Felix can’t bring himself to say no.
But hey, what’s a little emotional torture when he gets to pretend Dei is his for a little while?
When they get there, however, it seems that Dei has softer, kinder plans for Felix’s heart than to torture it—and Felix quickly learns there’s no way to cover up being in love. Dei’s words of affection are powerful, and Felix realizes the only thing in the world he wants is to let Dei in.
Cover-Up is a slow burn, friends to lovers romance featuring fake boyfriends, tattoos as a love language, gratuitous use of adorable pet names, pining, heavy praise, steamy nights, and the most satisfying happily ever after.