Some of you may know, but I struggled a lot writing Deke. It started when I had the plan to hook Jet up with Ollie, but they didn’t like that very much. Then I got about 1/4 into Ollie and Lennon’s story, and they were JUST SO MEAN to each other! I deleted it and started for a THIRD time, where they finally found their groove.
This is a scene from that first Ollie and Lennon draft. It’s after they became friends and post all the meanness. The reason it’s labelled Alternate Universe and not a deleted scene is because in the end of Deke, Ollie visits a gay bar for the first time. So technically, this scene never happened, but I found it in my saved drafts and wanted to share anyway. ENJOY 🙂
We find a high table with three stools free, and when Jet goes to buy us drinks, Lennon leans in. “If you start to feel it’s too much, I can distract Jet while you run. I haven’t been living with him long, but I already know he can be pushy.”
Even though we don’t exactly agree on everything, it’s nice to know this guy has my back. It makes the whole trusting him thing a bit easier. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t checking his magazine and other online outlets every day to make sure he didn’t say something or hint something, but the more time that goes past, the more I begin to believe him instead of just wishing to.
“Thanks, but I’m good for now. If I get uncomfortable, I’ll let you know. Or if I get bored. I’d really like to see what you come up with as a distraction so I can run away.”
“Trust me, all I’d have to do is go out on that dance floor.”
“Pretty good, are ya?”
Lennon laughs, and it lights up his whole damn Clark Kent, gorgeous face. “Fuck no. The opposite. Everyone would be looking at the completely drunk-looking guy having some sort of seizure.”
“Okay, that I have to see.”
“No thanks. You already don’t respect me. Can’t get much lower, but I’m sure my dancing will somehow do it.”
I purse my lips. “You really think I don’t respect you?”
“Huh?” he yells over the music.
“Nothing. Never mind.” I shake my head. I owe Lennon another apology. Or did I not really apologize in the first place? I meant to. And then we started snipping at each other. I don’t even know what it is about this guy that makes me … antsy. I don’t know how else to describe it.
I want to see him but I don’t.
I want to talk to him, but I always get defensive.
I want to sit with him in this gay bar and have an actual conversation with the guy.
And I don’t know why.
Jet returns with our drinks, and I take a sip of the strong liquor.
“Is this a double?” I ask. “I can’t turn up for tomorrow’s practice hungover. Coach will kill me.”
“It is a double, but it can be your last if you’re worried.”
“How did you get them to serve you alcohol when you look twelve?” Lennon asks.
Jet flips him off. “Fuck you. I do not look twelve. Plus, the cute bartender likes me.” He turns to the bar and winks.
“So …” Lennon turns to me. “What do you think?”
“I think I’ve been let down by every TV show, movie, and anything else that’s had a gay club in it. Where’s all the half-naked people getting sweaty and hooking up in dark corners?”
Jet laughs. “Oh, I didn’t realize you wanted one of those clubs. This one’s more low-key. But there’s always the dance floor if you want to go grind on some hot boy.”
Genuine fear, or maybe it’s excitement, fills my veins, because I want that. Fuck, I really want it. But, just like I’ve done so many times with Ash, I don’t risk it. Being here is enough of one. Drawing attention to myself is just asking for it.
“I’m good. Thanks.”
Jet’s eyes glow with trouble. “I saw that hesitation. You want to do it. Will it help if it’s just me you’re dancing with?”
“I’m not scared of dancing with a guy. It’s …” My head swivels, looking around at everyone else in the club. “It’s them. If one of them—”
“It’s cool. I get it. No peer pressure here.” Then Jet sets his sights on Lennon. “That means you’re all mine, roomie.”
Lennon shakes his head. “No. Nuh-uh. Not happening.”
“Lennon was just telling me how great a dancer he is.” I smirk.
He sends me the biggest scowl he’s ever pulled, and that’s saying something.
I raise my glass to toast him as Jet pulls him away. “Have fun.”
Lennon sure wasn’t lying. He’s as coordinated as my parents trying to win a three-legged race. Jet doesn’t seem to care though, and they laugh and act silly as they dance around each other. The laugh that takes over me slows down when I realize I’m jealous.
Not just of Jet because he’s dancing with Lennon—which is apparently something else I want to do—but because of their freedom to go out there without any hesitation.
I sip my drink and look around the club. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing that it’s busy. The more people, the more chance of being recognized, but then it’s also harder for me to stand out if there’s a lot of people.
When my eyes gravitate back to the dance floor, my cock twitches at the sight of Lennon and Jet grinding together. Jet’s back is to Lennon’s front, and even though I’m bigger than Lennon, he looks strong against Jet’s smaller frame. I wonder what his arms would feel like around me.
Apparently, my brain has gone from telling myself I hate Lennon to imagining about ten different scenarios where we end up entwined like pretzels.
I can’t even figure out what has me on edge about him. He’s nothing like Ash, and I thought Ash was the pinnacle of my type. Then again, Ash is the only guy I’ve ever been with so maybe he’s my type because I have no comparison. As a tattoo artist, he’s arty, which is kinda like Lennon. Then again, journalism isn’t really arty. It’s all about facts and reporting.
So why am I attracted to Lennon, and why do I feel the urge to go join him on the dance floor?
I get my chance when he sees me blatantly staring at him, and he begs for me to help him. At least, that’s what it looks like he’s mouthing.
I want to go for it and take this step that I never did with Ash. He took all my firsts from me. First kiss, first love, first fuck, first broken heart. I want someone new to take my first dance.
And how hard could dancing be anyway?
I down the rest of my drink and make my way over to them. Jet sees me coming and grins while crooking his finger at me. When I’m close enough, Jet grabs me around my waist and brings me against him so he’s in the middle between Lennon and me.
His hands trail down to my hips and guide me through the rhythm so I’m in sync with them.
I can totally see how Lennon finds this awkward. It is awkward.
“Now you’ve got this handled, I’m gonna—” Lennon tries to walk off, but I reach out and grab him.
“Nuh-uh. This wasn’t a ‘I’ll come rescue you’ kind of thing. If I have to be out here, then you have to be as well.”
He scowls but relents and goes back to moving behind Jet.
I kinda find some rhythm—I think—and soon, we’re three guys grinding in a sea of hot men.
It’s the first time I’ve felt myself in a really long time. At least since Ash left me. The thought of doing this a year ago with him to try to salvage any part of our relationship wouldn’t have even occurred to me.
It’s just a fucking dance for crying out loud.
And I don’t know what it is about these two guys that make me want to venture out of my comfort zone for the sake of my sanity, but I’m thankful for it.
It is a risk being here? Still yes. But for some reason, being here with them means more to me than hockey in this very instance.
Lennon’s arm brushes up against mine on Jet’s side. We lock eyes, and I suddenly can’t look away. His blue eyes aren’t the bright cerulean color of the ocean but that of a deep and pure glacier. Like the ice I skate on.
A shiver runs through me, and when I pull Jet closer so I can get to Lennon, I feel Jet’s breath on my chest as he chuckles against me.
“As much as I’d love to be the meat in this sandwich, the meat is usually the main attraction, not the third wheel. I’m gonna go talk to hot bartender guy. Laters!”
Part of me feels like I’ve walked into a set up, but a bigger part of me just wants to forget the shit between me and Lennon and do what I’ve really wanted to do since the night I met him.
I want to be Oliver Strömberg, gay man hanging out with friends in an environment where my sexuality won’t be scrutinized, not number eighteen and left wing for the New York Dragons.
Lennon’s hands go to my hips, and his mouth lands next to my ear. The smell of his cologne transports me back to the night I was drunk and smelled Jet wishing the attractive scent had come from him, but nope. It’s all Lennon. Fresh with a hint of man sweat.
“How exactly did we end up dancing together?” he asks.
“I swear that guy has super powers of manipulation.”
I laugh. “I’m beginning to think so too.”
Lennon stays against me, and I can’t help noticing how awesome we fit together. I’ve wanted this since the moment we met, and each time I’ve interacted with him, the less I keep asking myself Why did he have to be Lennon Hawkins? Why couldn’t he be Jet or some random guy or anyone else but the one reporter who makes me question my talent.
I do have to wonder if it has to do with the fact that I used to respect Lennon as a reporter. I’ll never admit it, but he writes great articles and I’d followed him for a while online before he wrote that article about me. He boosted Damon’s profile in the agent world, and he’s highlighted a lot of issues in the sporting industry but has the talent to make the stories interesting and fresh.
Until that article about me, I admired him—wanted to meet him, even. So to find out he thought I wasn’t good enough for the NHL, it not only crushed me, but it reiterated what I’ve been telling myself for all those years I played for the AHL—that I needed to step up my game or I’d never make it. I sacrificed Ash to make my career goals come true, and Lennon basically said I still wasn’t good enough.
It all felt like it was for nothing.
I know now the article didn’t mean it the way I interpreted it, but self-doubt is an athlete’s worst enemy. It’s not the opponents, the psyching out, the physical strain. It’s all mental.
And his article fucked up my Zen. It threw me off kilter, but I’m back now. Stronger than ever.
When I say he and Jet are my lucky charms, I don’t want to admit to myself that it’s all Lennon. Adding Jet to the end is just for me, because I don’t think I’m ready to acknowledge that Lennon is actually good for me.
I pull him closer, even though we’re already pressed against one another. We’re not exactly dancing anymore, just kinda swaying like at a high school dance.
His breathing is calm and even, although I can feel a frantic heartbeat against my chest, I don’t know whether it’s his or mine.
“Ollie?” he murmurs.
“What are we—”
Someone over Lennon’s head catches my eye, but he’s gone before I even get the chance to drop my arms from Lennon’s waist.
“Shit,” I hiss.
“I thought I saw …” I shake my head. “I thought I recognized someone, but I don’t know who or from where. He just … looked familiar. He left before I could get a good look.”
Lennon looks around. “It’s probably just paranoia, but if you want to get outta here …”
I nod. “Can we … can we go outside and talk?”
“Talk? About what?”
I lean in. “About how much of an ass I’ve been and how sorry I am.”
Lennon smiles. “I’m never one to pass up a good groveling.”
I scowl, which only makes him laugh.
“We should tell Jet we’re going,” he says.
When we turn toward the bar, though, Jet’s nowhere to be seen. With a furrowed brow, Lennon gets out his phone. He chuckles and then holds it up to my face.
I squint as I read the text.
Jet: Going home with hot bartender guy.
I laugh, but before Lennon pulls it back, another message pops up.
Jet: Going back to ours, so you may want to stay out awhile. Maybe you should get over yourself and finally jump Ollie.
My face must give something away, because Lennon pulls his hand away and looks at the screen.
“What does he mean by that?”
Lennon cocks his head and stares at me as if I’m dumb. “Jet’s crazy. He thinks it’s only a matter of time before we sleep together.”
“But we hate each other.” Except, that’s not true. Not true at all.
“Hmm, nope. Still only you who hates me.”
Shit. I’ve been like … the biggest asshole of all assholes. “My place is close by. Want to go there for our … talk?”
Lennon’s eyes narrow. “Do you really want to apologize, or am I going to walk into a kill room covered with plastic sheets?”
“My kill room was in my Boston apartment. My New York one is pretty bare.”
“That makes me feel somewhat safer. Lead the way.”