‘A View” by Brandon M. Long from Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press, 2009).

This is flat-out the most romantic story I’ve read in a long time, and I’ve read a lot of stories in the past couple of years. Chris is a botanist running a lab at a cosmetics firm. Will is one of the suits being given a tour of the facility, as part of a campaign to attract new investors for the company. While he’s saying a few words about the work he does in the lab, Chris notices Will in the crowd. He finds him very handsome.

Half an hour later Will re-appears, alone. He tells Chris how impressed he was by his presentation. He extends an offer to do some research for the firm on an island owned by his family, and asks for his business card. It’s all very above-board. Chris has no idea if the other was thinking what he was, or merely about business. After Will is gone, he does his best to put any such thoughts out of his mind.

Or he tries to, anyway. He consults his friends, and we learn that he has a habit of sabotaging potential relationships as a way to keep from getting hurt. Knowing something intellectually and being able to navigate it emotionally are two different things, though, and Chris keeps looking for reasons to not get hung up on Will, even as Will does his best to draw them together. He suggests they go for drinks, and then flips that into dinner, and then into a drive to his office. It becomes too much for Chris, who says something that hurts the other man’s feelings and causes him to pull away. Only then does Chris realize the truth of what his friends have been trying to tell him. But is it too late? Can he convince Will to give him another chance?

The initial setup was s a teensy bit slow but after that the story progresses at an exhilarating pace, and the main character moves through a satisfying emotional arc. I would love to read more work from this author. Finally, while Will has his work cut out for him wooing Chris, I can’t imagine he has any difficulty sweeping readers off their feet.