Cover image for The night we met
The night we met
Byrnes, Rob.
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Publication Information:
New York, NY : Kensington Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
309 pages ; 24 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Library

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Bob Byrne's wickedly funny debut is a thoroughly contemporary and completely off-the-wall variation on classic screwball comedy: Boy gets gorgeous Mafia boyfriend, boy loses Mafia boyfriend and nearly gets whacked by most of New York, boy gets Mafia boyfriend back - and gets more than he bargained for.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Andrew toils in a Manhattan publisher's office, struggling to find both recognition as a Major Author and Mr. Right. He discovers both in a single package, hunky Frank DeBenedetto, who has influence with bookstores and talk show hosts. Of course, the road to true love and success is never without its little bumps, like the fact that Frank is straight and engaged to Anna, daughter of "Crazy Tommy" Franco, a Mafioso. Then too, Frank thinks Andrew's a woman. Mere details! Passionately attracted to each other, the two come together--as man and man--only to be discovered by Anna, who's not pleased. Byrnes' charming debut romance romps through a few beatings and assaults, a police investigation, and chases by "Big Paulie." Anna's father escalates the tension between the two Mafia factions with a whack here or there to prove his point, and Andrew must be whisked across the continent on a book tour for his own safety while Frank stays in New York "to take care of things." A crowd-pleasing delight. Whitney Scott

Publisher's Weekly Review

After 30-something author/editorial assistant Andrew Westlake, a self-proclaimed romantic, gets dumped by his boyfriend, Ted, a well-deserved wild night on the town throws him headlong into treacherous terrain in Byrnes's clever, compulsively readable first novel. Dismissing a broken heart and the bleak sales of his debut novel, Andrew attends a trendy gay nightclub opening on Halloween night in drag (as "Belle Bacall") and accidentally meets (and falls for) owner Frank DiBenedetto, a sexy, closeted gay man who is not only engaged to be married, but is an "underboss" in the Stendardi organized crime family. Despite warnings from friends, Andrew can't seem to tear himself away from Frank, even when Ted is mysteriously beaten up and Andrew becomes the prime suspect. Bad turns to worse when fiance Anna Franco catches her husband-to-be and Andrew in a hot postcoital embrace. Paranoia clouds the relationship as mob henchmen (and police detectives) stake out Andrew's apartment and keep watch over Frank's nightclub. A few close calls force Andrew to flee New York on a rather dramatic West Coast book tour, and upon his return he reconsiders his relationship with Frank. A rousing conclusion powered by mistaken identity, car chases, guns and narrow escapes sets the icing on this confection. The supporting cast-spicy best friend Denise; cocky, flamboyant co-worker David; and a host of murky mafiosi-is strong and the breezy dialogue exchanges are as authentic as they are hilarious. Byrnes adroitly combines a twist-filled plot, solid characterization, humor and steamy sex to create a nicely crafted, delightful debut that readers of any orientation will enjoy. (Sept.) Forecast: Byrnes's first novel is a romp of the first order, but its cheesy, Sears shirt-ad jacket art may limit its readership. Still, strong genre sales are to be expected. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Life Before Frank ... And Why I Particularly Hate Nicholas Hafner The first thing you should know is that I'm a romantic. I've tried to become another jaded, cynical New Yorker, but I've failed. Yes, I live in the real world and have all the problems that come with it, but that's never seemed to dampen the visions of romance that live in my head, where Bogie and Bergman always have Paris, Fred and Ginger sweep across my cerebellum, and, if I'm not dating Mr. Right, he's waiting around the corner, just as the cliché promises. And I like the trappings of romance: cards and flowers; champagne and strawberries; long walks with a lover on warm beaches under blue, cloudless skies as our Golden Lab romps in the surf ... Reality has tried but failed to beat the saccharine out of me. Those illusions of romance live deep inside me. The second thing you should know is that Webster's offers several definitions of the word romantic , including "having no basis in fact," which is sort of the yin to the yang of passionate love. But that's an easy definition to overlook when Fred and Ginger are distracting you. And I've had my share of distractions. Take Ted Langhorne, for example. I had already lived in Manhattan for fifteen years before I met Ted, after moving from Allentown, Pennsylvania, to realize my dreams of going to New York University, finding a pack of cool homosexual friends to run with, and becoming one of the preeminent literary voices of my generation. Of course, those were dreams. In reality, I did manage to graduate from NYU, and I did manage to befriend a number of homosexuals, although no one who was known far and wide as "cool." But the closest I came to becoming the literary voice of my generation was when my bosses at Palmer/Midkiff/Carlyle Publishing, Inc., let me dip into the slush pile-that's what we in the business call the heaps of unsolicited and largely unreadable manuscripts that arrive in our offices, day in and day out-to see if I could find the literary needle in the haystack that would launch me as the Maxwell Perkins of the 1990s. That needle didn't exist, of course, because if it did, someone else with more ambition and a sharper eye for talent would have found it long before I did. But still, I could dream ... And then came Ted. Ted was an accountant, and he acted like I expected an accountant to act, which doesn't mean that he was boring, but ... Well, let's just say that he was more adult than any of my other friends. More mature . More ... well, yes, boring ; but boring in a good way. And after fifteen years in New York City-years that spanned the end of my teens, all of my twenties, my early thirties, Reagan and Clinton, AIDS and Mad Cow Disease, disco and house music, cocaine and Ecstasy, and about eighty-nine managers of the New York Yankees-I was ready for boring in a good way. And, of course, we met cute. "Hey," he said, approaching me as I stood alone, back to the wall of a Greenwich Village bar late one Friday night. "Aren't you a friend of John's?" "I know a lot of Johns," I replied dryly. "I thought so," he said and flashed a dazzling, inviting smile. "Can I buy you a beer?" Okay, I know ... not exactly Love Story . But, since it did work out at the time, it still sort of counts as a romantic, love-at-first-sight kind of meeting. In my mind, at least. He was tall and handsome, thick chestnut brown hair framing a wholesome face that belied his true age, which I later learned was forty. I didn't have to touch him to know his body was taut and muscular, although I discreetly did, anyway. And those eyes-piercing green, flecked with brown. I instinctively knew their color, even though I defy anyone to ascertain the color of someone's eyes in a dimly lit bar. "I love your eyes," I told him a few beers later. "Contacts," he replied. In retrospect, I know that was the moment I should have run away. That was the moment when Ted Langhorne had first shown me his basic lack of understanding of the illusions of romance. That was the moment when Ted Langhorne had revealed that deep inside the soul of this accountant was ... another accountant. But the moment passed. For those of us who still believe in the illusions of romance, they always do. That night we went back to his apartment in Chelsea. He showed me his view-the apartment building across the street-and, after some idle conversation, he showed me that taut and muscular body. I put it to good use. "So, what do you do?" he asked later as we lay entwined on his bed. "Editorial assistant at Palmer/Midkiff/Carlyle. Ever hear of them?" He hadn't. Given PMC's relatively small size in the era of increasingly large publishing houses, that wasn't especially surprising. "It doesn't matter. It's probably time for me to move on with my life. I'm not getting anywhere." "Is that what you want to do for a career?" "No," I confessed, a bit embarrassed, because he was about to become one of the few people in the world to know my dream. "I want to be a writer. But ... no luck so far." "Why?" "Writer's block. A decade's worth of writer's block." Ted persisted, and I finally confessed to ninety-seven pages of an uncompleted semiautobiographical manuscript about a young man's coming of age in Allentown hidden in a desk drawer back at my apartment. He said he wanted to read it. "You don't have to do that," I said. "I'll have sex with you again even if you don't read it." And I did. But late the next morning, while we were still in bed wrapped in each other's arms, my hand gently caressing his broad, smooth chest, he asked, "So, when do I get to read your novel?" "Are you serious?" "Yeah. I want to read it. You said that it's semiautobiographical, right? Well, I want to see what you're all about." And if I was already starting to fall in love, that pushed me over the edge. Ted, too, seemed to accept the inevitability of our relationship. We'd only known each other for hours, but we both seemed to instinctively know we were meant to be together forever. We didn't need to discuss whether or not he'd follow me home the next morning. Of course he did. Together Forever had its roots in Together the Next Day, after all, so there'd been no question about it. We took the subway to West Eighty-sixth Street, then walked the short block to Amsterdam Avenue, where my bland building anchored one corner of the intersection. We passed under a weathered green canopy jutting from the grimy brick facade and entered the lobby. The elderly doorman nodded vacantly as we passed. "Top-notch security here, huh?" said Ted as we walked into the tiny elevator. I pushed the button for my floor. "Nothing but the best for me." We reached the seventh floor and I ushered him into my apartment, slightly embarrassed when I realized I'd left newspapers and dirty laundry strewn throughout the room that served jointly as living room, dining room, and, for the most part, kitchen. "Sorry for the mess," I apologized, hurriedly collecting an armful of the previous week's discarded clothes from the faded couch angled in the middle of the room. I opened the door to the bedsized bedroom and tossed them out of sight. "Nice place," he said, looking around and choosing to ignore the disarrayed bookshelves, fraying furniture, dying plants, and worn hardwood floors. "A little cramped, but livable. Which is more than you can say for most apartments in Manhattan." I hunted through the refrigerator for a couple of Cokes. "I used to have an apartment in the Village, but I got fired of living in a rabbit warren. This place might be small, but it's a palace compared to that place." "There are just too many people in this city," he called back. When I returned with the Cokes, Ted was gazing out the window. "Not much of a view, I'm afraid," I said. "One of the paradoxes of living in New York City. There are a lot of great views, but you need a lot of money to get one. The rest of us get to look at other apartment buildings." I handed him his Coke. "Sometimes you sound like you don't like it here." "I survive. But one of these days, Iowa, here I come." "Iowa?" "Or Ohio ... Utah ..." "Why?" I asked. "Do you want to get back to the land? Or do you just want to live in a state with four letters?" He smiled and waited for a blaring car horn to stop. "I wouldn't mind a little peace and quiet in my life." "But you can't leave New York," I told him. "I don't think there are any gay people in Iowa." Still framed in the window, Ted leaned forward slightly. "I can see the entrance to your subway station down on Broadway." "Really?" I already knew that and didn't care, but I used it as an excuse to press up against him in the window. He felt my body rub against his and turned slightly to kiss me. When he did, his striking green eyes-and, to me, they would always be his eyes , not his contact lenses-narrowed to slits, and he moaned softly. We stood there, framed in the window, for several long minutes. "I think you've got something to show me," he finally said softly. "Mmm-hmmm," I purred. I took a step back and, in one swift and very practiced motion, unsnapped my top button, unzipped my fly, and slid down my briefs. My semierection spilled out. He laughed. "That isn't exactly what I meant. I was talking about your book." "Oh ..." I said, embarrassed. "But ..." He trailed off as his mouth moved down my torso. "This is good, too." Half an hour later we were both sprawled on the couch, naked, sweaty, and more than a little sticky. That's when he said, "Now, about that book ..." Without disentangling myself from him, I blindly reached behind me and patted my hand around until I felt my desk. Then, still operating through sense of touch, I moved my hand around until I felt a drawer handle, slid it open, and pulled out the too-thin manila envelope. "Voilà," I said. " Allentown Blues , Chapters one through seven. And please don't laugh at me." Ted took the envelope from me and slid the ninety-seven neatly printed pages of manuscript out of it along with the title page, which simply read " Allentown Blues by Andrew Westlake"-before tossing the envelope to the floor. Then he started reading. He was on page twelve or so when I felt myself starting to nod off. I decided to let myself go, exhausted from our lovemaking, and delighted my body was entwined with his. And when I woke up, he was done. "So?" I craned my neck to see his face. "What did you think?" He smiled. "Why don't you finish it?" "First, tell me what you think." He started stroking my hair. "Well, it's very funny. I love your dialogue." "Uh-oh. I feel a `but' coming on." "The only `but' is that you left me hanging. I want to know what happens to Grant. Does he come out of the closet in Allentown? Does he escape to New York?" "I don't know," I answered truthfully. "Grant hasn't decided yet." "What do you mean?" "I mean that, when I started writing, I had everything plotted out. But the more I wrote, the more the characters started taking on lives of their own. That's why I put the book away. I don't know what should happen next. They haven't decided." "I don't get it," he said with a self-conscious laugh. "Maybe I don't understand how the creative mind works." There. I had a second warning. I had another chance to run away, screaming. Sure, he was intelligent and beautiful and sexy and gave a great blow job. But he didn't understand the illusions of romance and he didn't understand why I couldn't just force my literary creations to follow a one-dimensional plot outline. But, like the first warning, I ignored it. Just as I would ignore all the subsequent warnings. Hundreds of them. Intellectually, of course, I knew I was in love. But the intensity of the emotion caught me by surprise. I realized that I was beginning to formulate my thoughts using a "What would Ted do?" construct, and his verbal distinctions found their way into my words. Some days, I would catch myself staring into the cracked bathroom mirror, wondering what there was about the person staring back that an incredibly beautiful and fascinating man like Ted could possibly find to love. I forced myself to confess that, yes, I was a good-looking man. The wear and tear I had put on my body hadn't caught up with it yet. I still had a full head of naturally brown hair with occasional golden highlights, and my skin still had a healthy glow, although admittedly, Oil of Olay played its part. Good fortune and good genetics had provided me with a healthy physique while sparing me the rigors of the gym. But still, I was no Ted. Ted's love should have made me feel good about myself, but instead it consumed me in self-doubt. I felt unworthy of his attention and affection. That irony didn't escape me. I got over it. Mostly. Three months later, when his lease was up, Ted moved into my apartment on the Upper West Side at Eighty-sixth and Amsterdam, which consequently became a lot more cramped. But I didn't mind, because I was in love and we were acting out the ritual of domestic bliss. Six days after Ted moved in, I presented him with a carefully wrapped final draft of the manuscript for Allentown Blues . "You did it!" "I did it," I replied, quite proud of myself and thrilled I'd made him proud of me. "Grant finally told me what he wanted to do with his life." "And what's that?" My finger softly traced a line from his forehead down the bridge of his nose. "He decided to move to Manhattan and meet a nice accountant.'' On the following Monday, I walked into the offices of David R. Carlyle IV, who was the black sheep son of David R. Carlyle III, who was one of the founders of Palmer/Midkiff/Carlyle. That was enough to keep him in a lot of money and entitle him to the position of senior editor, which in David's case was more or less a part-time position. Although he was quite a bit older, David was the closest thing I had to a social acquaintance at PMC for many of the same reasons that he was the black sheep of his family. He was unapologetically-sometimes flamboyantly-gay, he loved to spend money, and he often acted as if he considered PMC little more than a place to hang out between parties and pick up a paycheck. In short, he was my kind of guy ... but with more money. A lot more money. "Andrew," he gushed when he saw me. His wide, pink face broke into a smile. "Good to see you. And how are things with you and your accountant? Ted, isn't it?" "I'm in love," I replied without thinking twice. Continue... Excerpted from The Night We Met by Rob Byrnes Copyright © 2002 by Rob Byrnes Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.