A swoony new grumpy/sunshine romance between a retired baseball player who doesn’t believe in striking out on or off the field and an uptight divorced man who’s not interested in being played, again, is out this week from author Felice Stevens, and I’m so excited to share with you the first chapter.
There was nothing more embarrassing than watching a drunk person lose control.
And his shorts.
Colin Brightman sipped his drink and averted his eyes from the man gyrating on the dance floor in his tiny Speedo, although he couldn’t help taking a peek at him from behind the pink umbrella of his fruity cocktail. His cheeks burned at the sight of the man’s hefty bulge. Wasn’t he embarrassed? The way that bathing suit clung to every curve and ripple of skin, he might as well be naked. Colin would rather die than embarrass himself like that. And yet…all that power and strength momentarily made him weak, and his blood burned as he imagined that heavy dick inside him.
Colin blinked and gazed around as if he’d spoken his dirty fantasy out loud. What the hell was he thinking? He gulped more of his drink and wiped his lips, ashamed his hands shook slightly.
Obviously, he wasn’t the only one enjoying the show, as whistles, laughter, and clapping rose from the crowd. The man appeared to revel in it, and his dancing grew wilder. Colin grimaced. If he stripped naked, Colin would demand a refund for this whole godforsaken experience.
Colin knew he shouldn’t have accepted the trip, but leave it to his sneaky best friends to give him as few details as possible. He would’ve never agreed to go to an all-inclusive singles resort—they only attracted people like this man. Guys who drank all day and partied all night. But he’d mistakenly allowed Alan and his husband, Dustin, who were also his business partners, to talk him into taking time off from the company—his first in years—and gift him a weekend away.
“You’ve been working way too hard, and your doctor told you stress is a killer. You don’t want to have to go on blood pressure meds or have a heart attack, do you? Now that you’ve decided to make Iris your assistant, you can afford some time off. She can use the experience. It’s just a weekend—what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll sit in the sun, have a drink with an umbrella, and listen to the waves. Maybe someone will catch your eye.”
Too busy with demanding clients to pay attention to the details, Colin hadn’t bothered to check the resort and didn’t have a clue it was for gay singles, or he would’ve canceled. Alan and Dustin must’ve taken that into account and deliberately left out that most salient fact, knowing he’d have bailed.
Now Colin realized what he hadn’t been missing. It wasn’t an atmosphere he enjoyed—he’d never been into the bars and clubs. He’d met his ex-husband, Brad, at an event-planning convention, and was immediately drawn to his warmth, sense of humor, and what he’d thought were their similar outlooks on life. Brad had been embarrassed that he was only part-timing as a waiter and that he didn’t know what he wanted to do in the future, but Colin didn’t care about that. He understood sometimes it was hard to find your place in the world.
His fingers tightened around his glass. Dammit. It had been three years since the divorce. Why couldn’t he forget? He was content with his conference calls, spreadsheets, and planners. He was the only one in the business who didn’t mind speaking at all hours with nervous clients who called on a whim, and he relished working on multiple projects over the weekends. Burying his head in work gave him little time to dwell on the fact that he had nothing else.
He was going to kill Alan and Dustin, but that would have to wait until he came home. He took another sip of his fruity cocktail.
“Not your kind of scene?” A shirtless, sweaty blond man collapsed in a chair at the neighboring table and drank his beer. “I haven’t seen you on the dance floor yet.”
And you won’t.
Colin allowed a faint smile. “Not my scene.”
The man raised a negligent shoulder. “Eh. Gotta live a little. Otherwise you become a tree, stuck in the ground. Wanna dance?” He gulped down the beer and rose to his feet, hips swaying to the music. Bodies ground against one another on the dance floor, and shirts had come off. It was a sea of flesh, ripe for the picking.
Colin was about to answer, when his gaze was drawn to a limbo contest. The man in the Speedo was halfway under the pole, powerful thighs shimmying, hips pumping in a manner that indicated he’d never be told he was a boring old fuck. His husband wouldn’t cheat on him and bring his lover into their home and bedroom.
The man made it out from under the limbo pole and caught his eye. He winked and blew him a kiss. For a split second Colin wondered what being with someone so…physical would be like. He’d be demanding in bed, no doubt, probably ask him to do things he’d never imagined. Maybe his mind rebelled at the thought of a pickup, but his body sure as hell didn’t. His breathing kicked up, and his dick hardened. Colin wanted that big body on his, pinning him down. He wanted those lips kissing him, sucking him.
This can’t be happening. I’m not like this.
Panicking, Colin set his drink on the table and rose from his seat. Belatedly, he answered the still-waiting guy. “No thank you. I’m gonna go.”
Hands clapping above his head, the man joined the Speedo guy, gyrating his hips in front of him, and was rewarded with a blinding smile. They held each other around the waist and began to kiss.
“I knew it,” Colin muttered to himself in disgust. “He doesn’t care who he dances with. All he wants is action; any dick will do.”
Colin left and returned to his room, where he showered and dressed in boxers and a T-shirt, lay in bed, and tried to read, but the words blurred together. All he could see were those two men kissing. Soon their faces morphed into his ex-husband, Brad, and his lover, Anthony.
He’d come home at seven—early for him—suffering from a bad sore throat. Brad, who’d left bartending to work as his assistant, had woken up ill that morning and said he was taking the day to stay in bed. They’d likely caught the same bug.
With a cup of tea in hand, he headed straight for the bedroom. Strange noises came from behind their half-closed bedroom door, and he chuckled, imagining that Brad had fallen asleep with the television on, waiting for him. He pushed the door open, and his happiness died.
Instead of a sleeping husband, he was greeted by Brad, naked in their bed with Anthony, their usual server from their favorite Italian restaurant. Only the night before, they’d been there for dinner, and Anthony had greeted them each with a hug. And now Brad was facedown, biting the pillow, having his ass eaten out, and from his writhing and shaking, along with the squealing noises, loving every second of it. He’d never sounded like that in all the years they’d been together. Their lovemaking had been filled with tenderness, not this raw, animalistic power that filled the room with heat.
Frozen, Colin couldn’t tear his eyes away from the scene in front of him. All those groping hands and naked, slick skin. So much moaning.
“God, Brad. Every time it’s better and better.”
“Baby, you’re amazing. Fuck me now. Hard. Need you. Love you so much.”
“Love you too. Mmm. My poor baby needs some real loving. Stuck with that old fart. Lemme make you feel better.”
“God, you make me feel alive. Never have to fake it with you.”
Anthony replaced his tongue with his cock and began to fuck Brad. Bare.
That final outrage shocked him into movement. The cup of tea fell to the floor, and Anthony caught sight of him. His jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out.
“Oh, shit. Colin.” He pulled out, and Brad whined.
“What the hell. Fuck Colin and his boring old ass.”
Colin had turned around and walked out.
The last time he’d seen Brad was across the table at his divorce attorney’s office.
From that moment on, Colin buried himself even deeper in work and building Pinnacle, his event-planning business, into one of the top-tier companies in the Tri-state area. He was the attention-to-detail person, the one to deal with the contracts and make sure not a single aspect of an event was overlooked, while his college friend, Alan, along with Dustin, were the meet-and-greet front men. Colin was more than happy to let them be the face of Pinnacle and bring in the clients. With Alan’s exuberant, go-getter personality, plus Dustin’s family’s connections to the entertainment world, they had a steady stream of high-end clients, and Pinnacle was constantly featured on national and local news shows.
His phone buzzed with a FaceTime request.
“Are you still talking to us?” Alan’s and Dustin’s faces appeared on his screen. “And where are you?”
“Barely, and I’m in my hotel room. Where did you think I’d be?” If he sounded growly, he didn’t care. He and Alan might be close as brothers, but this was a step too far, even for his pain-in-the-butt, nosy ass.
“I thought you’d meet people…hang out and have a few drinks. Maybe find someone and have a fling.” Alan’s hopeful smile wasn’t going to guilt him. “You know why we did this, right?”
“Because you love to torture me?”
Imagine him having a fling. He hadn’t had sex in three years; his libido had died that evening in his bedroom along with his marriage.
“Because we love you, idiot. You’re wasting away emotionally and physically. Your butt is glued to that chair and you never leave the office before eight or nine at night. Plus, if you think I miss the time stamps of your emails—one or two in the morning—you’re wrong.”
“I’ll up my gym workouts. And I enjoy working hard. Why is that a problem?” He huffed out his impatience.
“That’s bullshit. There’s working hard, and then there’s working yourself into the ground. You’re punishing yourself for a bastard who isn’t worth it. Life is fucking short, Colin. You have to enjoy the time you get.”
“I’m fine, except for the fact that my friends thought it would be fun to send me to a singles’ resort when I am happy being by myself.”
“If I didn’t know you for over twenty years, I’d believe that. I know you loved being married.”
He refused to be swayed by Alan’s sad face and pleading. “Sure I did. Until I walked in and watched my husband having sex in our bed with someone else, and found out it had been going on for years.” He’d never told Alan that Brad had called him boring and old, or that he’d had to fake enjoyment of sex. “That’s when I realized it’s all bullshit. Marriage, monogamy, all this happily-ever-after crap we deal with every day. I’m glad to give it to our clients, but I know better. No offense to you two. I know you’re disgustingly in love.”
“Just because Brad was a lying, cheating bastard doesn’t mean you can’t take another chance on love. Hearing you so bitter makes me sad.”
“Well, being forced to watch drunk grown men act like horny teenagers makes me sad, so we’re even. If I wanted to go to a strip club, I would. But I don’t.”
Dustin held up a hand. “But, Colin, think of it this way: it might be good for you to meet someone you’d never see again. Even have a crazy, one-night stand because there’s no expectation of anything permanent, but it can get you to start feeling good about yourself again.”
Dustin was a sweetheart, who Colin was convinced existed on quad espressos and M&M’s, as he never saw him in the office without one or the other. He and Alan had met walking their dogs on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and Colin loved him almost as much as he did Alan. He was never judgmental, and when it all went down with Brad, Dustin had offered to find someone to “make Brad disappear” if Colin desired. The man was enthusiastic about everything and was one of the few people who could make him laugh even in his darkest hour.
Except for now, when he wanted to strangle them both for sending him to this fresh hell.
“I do feel damn good about myself,” he snapped. “I’m fucking awesome. I just don’t want to fuck some random guy. I don’t want to fuck anyone. And that doesn’t make me a freak or a weirdo. Now I’m going to bed, and when I come to the office on Monday morning, don’t ask me about it, because I don’t plan on ever discussing it again. Good night.”
He cut the connection on Alan’s openmouthed protest, and paced the bedroom. As much as he loved Alan and Dustin and was appreciative that he had friends who cared, it was both humiliating and galling that they’d gone to this length.
A dull knocking sound stopped his internal raging, and when he cocked his head to listen, he heard laughter followed by a squeaking bed frame.
“High-class resort, my ass,” he muttered to himself, narrowing his eyes as low-pitched groans replaced the laughter, growing louder by the second. “I can’t believe this shit.”
Wired up with annoyance and the unmistakable sound of someone having sex in the room next to his, he turned up the television, but when the rhythmic banging against the wall behind his bed began, Colin knew he’d had enough.
There was no way he could sit in this room and be bombarded with this noise. The fact that he was a little turned-on didn’t help, so Colin slipped on a bathing suit, shoved his feet into flip-flops, and left.
He wandered outside, the dark shape of the palm trees rising up high above him with their feathery fronds stirring in the light breeze. The water called to him, and he left the flip-flops behind, sinking his toes into the cool damp sand of the shoreline.
There was nothing like standing at the edge of the ocean to make you feel insignificant. Colin waded to midcalf, wondering who would care if he kept on walking until it covered his head and he disappeared.