Alternate Universe Deke Scene

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 🙂

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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.

“Jet.”

“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.

“Yeah?”

“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.

“Shit what?”

“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.

“Oh, fuck.”

“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.”

Deke Deleted Scene

Despite my better judgment, when Jet invites me to watch the Boston versus Ottawa game, I take him up on the offer. It’s game seven, and whoever wins this will face us next.

The thought of facing Tommy and my old teammates doesn’t sit well with me, so I’m kinda hoping Boston loses.

Jet lets me in, and I try not to glance around, hoping to see Lennon, but I must not be subtle about it, because Jet smiles.

“Lennon, game’s starting,” he yells and then turns to me. “Ready for ourgame?”

“I dunno. It seems mean.”

Jet gets a mischievous glint in his eyes,and I don’t like it. We stupidly bet a hundred bucks for whoever can casually slip in more Beatles song titles into a single conversation with Lennon.

“Come on, Lennon. We need you down here like …‘Yesterday.’” Jet winks at me.

Before I can ditch the idea, a door upstairs opens, and Lennon bounds down the steps, skidding to a stop in front of me.

“Hi.” He sounds confused.

Damn my smile I can’t contain. “Hey.”

He keeps walking, and I follow him.

“I thought you would’ve gone to see Tommy play,” he says.

“Early practice tomorrow,” I say. “But I’m glad we could ‘Come Together’ here.”

Jet snorts as he takes the chair to the right of me, and I scowl at him.

Lennon looks at the spot on the ground between the couch and the coffee table but ends up sitting off to the side and opening his laptop in front of him.

“What, worried I’m going to read over your shoulder?” I’m only half-serious.

“Yup.”

“Don’t trust me?”

“Don’t want you to read it wrong and get offended.”

It’s hard to tell if he’s fucking with me or calling me on my shit.

Finally, he breaks. “Your dad’s not the only one with a dry sense of humor.”

“His dad?” Jet asks. “How do you know his dad?”

Lennon and I stare at each other, but he merely looks at me as if to say This ain’t my story.

“I told him about him,” I lie and then ask myself why I think I need to do that. What happened between us six months ago would make a funny anecdote one day, but right now, it’s just ours, and for some reason, I want to keep it that way.

“Apparently, he’s even less funny than I am. Somehow,” Lennon says.

“How is that possible?” Jet asks.

Lennon throws up a finger in Jet’s direction.

“So, living together is going well?” I quip.

“Brilliantly.” Jet says dryly. “Now, let’s ‘Let It Be’ and watch the game.” He turns to the TV.

Damn it, he’s one up on me now.

“Guess we’re rooting for Boston,” Jet says.

I shake my head. “Nah, come on, Ottawa. ‘Don’t Let Me Down.’”

When Jet stares at me, I don’t know if it’s because of the song title or confusion over why I’m not cheering for Boston.

“I don’t want to have to play my old team,” I say.

“Ottawa it is. Go …” It’s obvious Jet has no idea what the mascot is. “Canada!”

Lennon and I share amused glances.

The game is close, and during the whole thing, I steal glances at Lennon as he takes down notes.

“Okay, that was slashing, right?” Jet asks.

“Hooking,” Lennon and I say at the same time.

“You’ll get there,” Lennon says.

Jet scoffs. “Yeah, just in time for the season to end. What I wouldn’t give to live ‘A Day in the Life’ of you guys.”

“‘We Can Work It Out,’” I add and try not to gloat.

“Yeah, maybe ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ from being neglected.”

Damn, he’s good at this game.

Jet’s proving to be a great DJ—original with his song choices but still picking songs that make the crowd go wild.

The thing he does struggle with though is penalties. He’s been known to play a happy song when the home team gets sent to the sin bin, because he doesn’t know what we’ve been carded for.

By the end of the third period, I’m not sure my heart can take watching anymore. Or playing the stupid Beatles game. The sentences coming out of Jet’s and my mouths now barely make sense. I randomly said about five minutes ago that I want a pet “Blackbird” because they’re cute.

“We should start a ‘Revolution,’” Jet says, bringing us back up to even.

Lennon sighs as if Jet’s randomness is normal behavior.

Ottawa get up by two at one stage, and I shout out, “Yes! ‘Here Comes the Sun’!”

But then they take a penalty, and Boston dominates during a power play. Tommy, the smartass, pulls a fucking hat trick for the night.

I get out my phone and send him a message for him to read later: Show off.

When the clock ticks down, and Boston takes the lead, I know that, deep in my gut, there’s no way Ottawa is winning this game.

Damn it.

Lennon closes his laptop and stands from the floor. “Hope you guys have had your fun. And by the way, in case you lost the score, Ollie won. Little pathetic. I was at least hoping one of you could’ve tried to slip a ‘Yellow Submarine’ or ‘Penny Lane’ in there. You couldn’t even give me an ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand.’”

He knew what we were doing this whole time?

“‘Yellow Submarine’ is totally the name of my cock,” Jet says. “There. That counts. Now we’re even.”

“No way. Game over, man. Lennon called us on our shit.” I turn to him. “When did you work it out?”

“I can’t give away all my superpowers, but let’s just say growing up with my name hasn’t been fun. I’ve seen some shit and learned a few tricks.”

“Jet told you before we began, huh?”

“He did no such thing,” Lennon says while nodding. “He did not ask me to keep score to make sure you didn’t cheat.”

“And you went along with it?”

“If I got hung up over every time someone wanted to mock my name, I’d go insane.”

“So, you have to laugh or you’d cry?”

“Exactly. Now you should run along home to bed. A few nights from now you’re gonna have to kick your best friend’s ass.”

My shoulders slump, because Lennon’s right. I’m so not looking forward to this next series.

COVER REVEAL Unwritten Law

Coming September 5

Being an identical twin doesn’t come without issues.

No one can tell us apart, not even our parents sometimes. We don’t usually use that to our advantage, but it comes in handy when my brother needs help breaking up with his boyfriends—which happens more than I’d care to admit. I know it’s enabling him, but I can’t say no to Anders. I will do anything for my brother. The breakups always go the same; they’re swift and simple.

Until Reed.

He’s everything I’ve fantasised about but never allowed myself to have. When I give in to temptation and begin to freak out, it’s not because he’s a guy. It’s because he thinks I’m my brother, and I can’t bring myself to tell him the truth.

******

Now feast your eyes on the hotness that is Lawson and Reed.

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Trick Play DELETED scene.

So, amongst the many edits Trick Play went through, it was decided that Stacy and Jared did not belong in Matt and Noah’s book. They got reduced to ‘mandatory appearances only’, and I hope to write them their own short story at some point so you get to see what happened there. But here is a deleted scene that will give you more insight as to what really happened with them three years ago. We also get a little more Damon and Maddox, while Matt and Noah are still getting to know each other.

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MATT ~ DAY TWO OF THE CRUISE

Dressed in suits again, we head for the bar as soon as we enter the cigar lounge.

“They’re sickening, aren’t they?” Noah says and nods toward Maddox and Damon.

They’re holding hands and laughing at Damon’s sister Stacy as she sits on the lap of that Jared guy.

“All of them or Maddox and Damon?” I ask. Maddox looks unbelievably … in love. Ugh.

“I’ve never seen Damon that happy.”

I can’t be sure, but I swear I hear a slight tone of jealousy in Noah’s voice. Over Damon or over Maddox I’m not sure.

“Maddox has a way of lighting up lives without even trying,” I say.

“Wait, are you still into Maddox?”

I laugh. “Fuck no. I just remember him being the best thing about freshman year. He’d walk into our room and say something stupid. Made all the bullshit tolerable. Then when everything turned to shit a few weeks back, he turned up on my doorstep and did it again. He’s a good guy and deserves”—I nod in their direction—“that.” My eye catches on that Jared guy again. “Hey, what’s the deal with Stacy and Jared?”

Noah leans in. “All I know is Damon invited Jared as payback because he and Stacy hooked up in college, and it ended awkwardly. Don’t think he expected them to get along.”

“She’s been hanging off him all day.”

“Sibling rivalry, man. I don’t get it.”

“Neither do I,” I say.

“You have five brothers and sisters.”

“Yeah, but I’m the oldest. I spent most of my childhood breaking up their fights. I felt like that parent who’s always yelling Why can’t you all get along?

Noah’s lips form into a thin line. “We should get over there.”

Drinks in hand, we make our way to the table and take the two available armchairs next to each other.

Damon lifts his chin toward us. “Well, you haven’t killed each other, so you’ve done something on the list I told you to.”

“That’s not all,” Noah says. “Check this out. Matt has three sisters and two brothers. He’s from Tennessee and hides his accent because he thinks he sounds like trash otherwise.”

I tense, and suddenly I’m worried he’s going to divulge more than I’m willing to share—like about my crappy parents. That was for his ears only, but I didn’t say that aloud. Noah senses my tension and gives me a reassuring smile.

“He also loves football more than anything else.”

“That last one is a given,” Damon says.

Noah shrugs. “But I’m learning things. Look at me, paying attention and shit.”

“Why do I feel like he’s fishing for a doggy treat?” Stacy asks.

“Don’t be mean,” Noah says to her.

“What’s his favorite food?” Maddox asks.

“Umm …” Noah hesitates. “Thai food.”

I try not to wince. “Yup. Love that, uh, curry stuff.”

Damon turns to me. “You hate Thai, don’t you?”

“Uh, yeah.” I turn to Noah. “Sorry.”

“You guys have some work to do before your interview tomorrow,” Damon says. “What did you two study in college?”

“Ha,” I say. “He was a political science major.” Boom. Suck on that, Damon.

“And what did Matt study?” Damon asks.

“Umm … football?” Noah says.

We all laugh.

“Generic business major,” I say, “but I never graduated. My dream has always been football.”

“He was drafted sophomore year,” Noah adds.

“Ooh, I have a great idea,” Stacy says and stands. “I’ll be right back.”

“I think we should be scared,” Damon says.

“I know we should be scared,” Maddox says. “Her ideas are always scary.”

Stacy comes back with a bunch of napkins, a pen, and an empty cocktail glass. “We each write an embarrassing fact about us, and then we’ll put them in the glass and then guess who wrote what.”

Five male groans fill the space.

“We have to do it,” Maddox says. “She won’t let it go otherwise.”

Stacy writes hers down first, and then hands the pen and a napkin to Jared. Meanwhile, I try to come up with an embarrassing fact that’s not I got photographed mid-blowjob and outed by a tabloid, because that one’s too obvious. It is hard to top though.

“I don’t think this is going to work,” Maddox says. “Stacy, Damon, and Jared know all of my embarrassing stories.”

“Pick one from when we were kids,” Jared says. “I won’t out you.” His eyes flick to me. “Sorry. Bad choice of words. Didn’t mean—”

I hold up my hand to stop him from talking. “All good.”

When it comes to my turn with the pen, I write the only thing I can think of and throw my napkin in the glass.

Noah goes next, and then Damon is the last to put his in. Stacy reaches into the glass and shuffles the napkins in her hands.

“Okay, first one,” she says. “I was once caught jerking off by my younger sister.”

Fuck. Of course, mine comes out first. I try to look stoic.

“By power of deduction,” Stacy says. “It can’t be Maddox, Damon, or Noah. Well, or me, because I don’t have a penis. Maddox’s sister is older, Noah is an only child, and I, thank God, have never walked in on Damon doing that.” She shudders.

I think I like Damon’s sister. We apparently went to college together, but I don’t remember her. We might’ve spoken if she was in our dorm room, but I tried not to be there when Maddox had girls over.

“So, it’s either Matt or Jared,” she says.

Jared and I glance at each other.

“It sounds like something that’d happen to poor Cassidy,” Maddox says.

Jared finally gives in and throws his hands up. “Wasn’t me.”

“Guilty,” I say.

They don’t have time to rib me about it, because Stacy’s pulling out the next one. “My friends tricked me into skinny dipping and then stole my clothes.”

Jared laughs.

“Has to be Maddox,” I say.

Maddox takes the napkin and throws it at Jared. “You said you wouldn’t give it away.”

“I couldn’t help it. It was frickin’ hilarious making you walk home naked.”

I was arrested for stealing my own boat,” Stacy says. “Noah, you have to at least try. You’re the only one in this room who can afford to have their own boat.”

“Really?” I ask him. “You stole your own boat?”

“I borrowed my parents’ boat. They reported it stolen, not realizing I’d taken it, and then the Coastguard didn’t believe me when I said the boat was mine. Dad had to come to the Hampton’s police station, and then I got yelled at for being irresponsible, even though he was the one who had me arrested. But it worked out okay, because Dad had a reason to jump on the crooked cop bandwagon after that. Cleaning up cities of corruption.” Noah’s tone is upbeat, but that’s completely messed up.

I once got hit in the nuts with a baseball bat,” Stacy says. “Again, can’t be me, because of the lack of balls.”

“I dunno,” Noah says. “I think you have balls of steel.”

“Aww, that’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me, Noah.”

“I’m going to go with the obvious here and say Damon,” Maddox says. “It could be Jared, but I think I would’ve heard of it if it was him.”

“Yeah, it was me,” Damon says. “Freshman year at Newport. Wasn’t watching where I was going when I hit the stadium for the first time—too busy looking at the lights and the stands. Walked right into a guy swinging a bat.”

Stacy reads the next one with a blush on her cheeks. “I’ve yelled out the wrong name during sex.”

My guess is it’s her, but then again, it could be Jared. He’s trying to hide a smile again.

“It’s one of these two,” I say and point between Jared and Stacy. “And I ain’t just saying that because they’re the only two left. They both look guilty.”

“Pull out the last one,” Jared says.

Stacy reads it and chuckles. “I’ve been called Harry in the middle of sex.”

A pained noise comes from Damon. “That’s something I didn’t need to know about my sister.”

“Hey, I see it,” Noah says to Jared. “You look like that prince dude.”

“That’s taking your royal obsession too far, Stace,” Maddox says. “But now I know why both of you get weirded out whenever the other is mentioned.”

They all start bickering between them, and I become completely lost with their dynamic and who knows who and how, but I don’t care. Watching them is making me forget my issues, and being around people—friends—who are talking about something other than me? I’m in heaven.

Noah reaches over and grabs a hold of my hand and speaks through the side of his mouth quietly. “Assholes with cell phones taking photos. Nine o’clock.”

Knew it was too good to last.

Trick Play Bonus Scene

TRICK PLAY BONUS SCENE FROM JET’S POV.

**Please note, it is recommended to have read Trick Play before reading this as it does contain spoilers to Matt and Noah’s story.**

 

Deep breaths. It’s just another gig.

Sure, it’s for my brother-in-law’s LGBTQ charity, they need to raise money, and there’s a lot of important people here, but it’s just another gig.

No pressure.

Fuck, I need another deep breath.

I steal Freya’s drumsticks off her and start tapping away on the bench inside our makeshift dressing room. The hotel gave us their employee lounge to change out of our penguin suits and grunge up. I’m way more comfortable in my ripped skinny jeans and plain gray T-shirt than the tailored suit Noah made me wear for the red carpet.

Yep, this benefit is a big enough deal to have a red carpet.

I’m probably going to start hyperventilating with the heavy breathes, but I need another one.

I bang the sticks against the bench harder.

“Heeey,” Freya complains at the assault on her drumsticks. “Don’t hurt my babies.”

I throw one in the air and catch it and give her a wink. The playful goofball is a role I can play well, but I reckon my bandmates can tell it’s all a front tonight.

Benji throws his bass strap over his shoulder. “Put a sock in it, you two. We doing this or what?”

I sigh. It’s a complete travesty that accent and muscular body is attached to someone who’s straight, but even his hot Australianism ain’t enough of a distraction for my nerves tonight.

I throw the sticks back to Freya and shake out my hands. “Ready.”

“You look like you’re gonna chunder,” Benji says.

I flip him off, but not because he doesn’t have a point. The fancy-ass bite-sized appetizers I ate earlier threaten to come back up.

“What’s with the stage jitters? We’ve done this a billion times.”

It’s not my first experience with stage fright, but it’s usually caused by adrenaline pumping through me at a rate my body can’t handle. Tonight’s anxiety is because of a completely different reason.

Once I’m out there in front of the crowd, I’ll be fine. It’s the place where I belong, and I live for this shit. Being on stage is the only thing I’ve ever cared about. Everyone has their dream; music is mine.

“It’s the song, isn’t it?” Benji asks.

My non-answer is everything he needs to know. It’s our new song’s debut tonight, and it’s one of those projects I wrote for myself. I’m not sure if it’s ready to be released into the world. I’m not sure if it ever will be.

My brother Matt and his husband, Noah, saved me eight months ago when I had nowhere to go. After getting kicked out for being gay, I jumped a bus from Tennessee to New York and found Matt, who’d suffered the same fate a few years ago.

The song encompasses everything we went through growing up in a house full of hate and Matt’s fight to keep his career in the NFL, but the main theme is about his relationship with Noah. It’s the most personal piece I’ve ever written, and I dunno how they’ll react to the song.

Worse yet, I’m dreading how our fans will react.

Every artist faces scrutiny, and since joining Fallout, I’ve had my fair share. Fallout has a few thousand followers—not many in the big scheme of things—but are well-known for gigging at Club Soho. Their original lead singer signed with a label, ditching Freya and Benji. Then I came along. Opinions were mixed when I took over. A lot were supportive, but there were some comments online telling me to cut my vocal chords out. My favorite, though, would be the one which said my voice sounded like a group of cats choking on gravel.

Now that’s talent.

I can handle all that, but I don’t know how I’ll handle negative reactions to this song. I’m too close to it. I’m about to go on stage and bare my soul more than I ever have, and that’s fuckin’ scary.

“Maybe we shouldn’t set it free tonight.”

“Jet, it’s the perfect night to do it,” Freya says. “And it’s a great song.”

“It’s the best one you’ve written,” Benji says.

I scoff. “That doesn’t mean a whole lot to me considering you tell me all my other songs are shit.”

Benji laughs. “They all have potential, but this one? It’s gonna be our first single on our multiplatinum album.”

“Someone’s optimistic,” I say.

He claps my shoulder. “We’ve got this. Just do that trick where you pick one person in the crowd and focus on them. Block the rest of the noise out.”

“At least in this crowd I might be able to find someone who bats for my team.”

“There’s the spirit,” Benji says. “Let’s get out there.” He turns to leave but catches his reflection in the mirror.  He assesses his dark faux hawk, and I shove him.

“You look badass and hot as usual.”

“Gay approved?”

I roll my eyes. “Gay approved.”

Even though I’ve repeatedly told him I’m not into trends and fashion labels, he still takes my word as gay gospel. I’m tempted to make him dress like an idiot purely for my entertainment. He should tell by my wardrobe I know shit all about style. The only difference between my onstage presence and what I wear every day is the guyliner.

One of the volunteers from the Rainbow Beds event leads us into the ballroom and onto the stage.

The lights aren’t as harsh in this room as they are in the club we usually play, which means I can see nearly every face staring in our direction. I can’t make out expressions, but I know their gazes are glued to us.

Fuck.

With one last deep breath, I stare out into the crowd, and my eyes find him immediately. He’s toward the back of the ballroom, standing right near the exit. He’s a tall, giant of a guy. I can’t make out features or what color hair he has in the darkness, but his silhouette shows wide shoulders and a stocky frame. Like the build of an athlete.

Most likely he’s one of my brother’s teammates, but he’ll do for what I need him for. I just need a focal point to channel my energy and distract from everything else.

Noah talks to the crowd about this project—an idea he came up with after meeting me—and his love for the charity is obvious in the way he speaks. The inflection in his voice is as if he’s talking about his child. I guess the knowledge of being the one responsible for pulling homeless youth off the street will do that to a guy.

When he finally introduces us, my hands tremble with anticipation and nerves. While I’d normally try to warm up the crowd with a joke or at least say hi, this isn’t like our usual gig in a crowded and rowdy bar.

I open with the chords of an acoustic version of Queen’s “I Want to Break Free.” I try to focus but I start to wish we’d decided to open with The Song so I can get it over with. When I start to sing, my voice is shaky at best.

My gaze finds my brother’s teammate at the back, and I focus everything I have on that guy instead of the lyrics falling from my mouth. He folds his arms across his impressively large chest.

As far as types go, I generally don’t find meatheads attractive. In spite of that, I’ve hooked up with my fair share. But that’s not what this stare-off is about. I need to switch my brain off and do what comes naturally to me which is music.

Somehow I make it through the set, and I only have Benji and Matt’s teammate to thank. They’re the only people I concentrate on. But when it comes to doing The Song, my hand shakes.

My eyes dart to Benji’s, and he gives a chin lift out into the audience. We’ve only been playing together for about seven months, but I know him well enough to read him.

Focus on your target.

First I have to get Matt’s attention. I’m still nervous about how he’s going to take the song, and maybe I should’ve spoken to him sooner instead of showing it off for the world, but I don’t think I’d have the nerve to do this to his face.

“Yo, Matt.” My voice cracks into the microphone. He doesn’t hear me anyway. Matt’s too busy talking to his friend Maddox. “Matt,” I try again. “Brother.” Still nothing. “Matt Curtis Jackson!”

Finally he turns, and his eyes widen as he sees the majority of the audience staring at him.

“Geez, just like when we were kids,” I say and the crowd laughs.

The tension in my shoulders eases with a joke thrown in, but I don’t push my luck by staring at them. The nerves threaten to come back full force, so I turn back to the guy I’m pretending to sing to and force my fingers to strum the right chords and my voice to hit the right notes.

The shake in my voice that disappeared in the middle of “I Want to Break Free” is back, but I push through it.

 

You don’t see me,

what I am,

Your ignorance is blind

 

The world ain’t ready,

But I don’t care

You can’t get rid of me now

 

‘Cause,

He sees the light inside me,

Every part that’s good,

 

He loves me,

Even apart,

He’s still there,

 

He waited for a number,

A number that never came,

He wanted me out of his system,

But now I’ll never leave

 

He’s my soul

And I am his.

 

I find my groove when I get to the bridge and close my eyes as I belt out the words. The song is edgy and emotional, but when I get towards the end where I sing about Matt and Noah, I don’t have to concentrate so hard. They’re easy to sing about.

When I get the courage to open my eyes again and stare at my focal point, he’s gone. He left in the middle of the song.

My fingers continue to strum the right chords, and my voice manages not to waver, but that doesn’t stop the crippling disappointment that someone walked out. After standing there for my entire set, he walked out during the most important song. It might be a coincidence, but it’s definitely not the response I was hoping for. Serves me right for picking one of Matt’s teammates. Probably don’t even understand what I’m singing about.

Just like Benji’s put me in the gay and fabulous box, I’ve put all of Matt’s jock friends into the meathead box.

It’s better to think that right now instead of focus on the fact my song could be shit.

My gaze goes to the bar to see if he went there to get a drink, but my eyes catch on Matt and Noah. The awe in their expressions and glimmering eyes is enough for me to channel my focus to them instead. I want to see them as I sing about their life and how they’re better together than apart.

I experienced both of their shitty attitudes while they were broken up, and I wanted to slap them both upside the head. They couldn’t see what they had was the real deal, but I could.

They have something that some people search their entire lives for.

I swallow hard and push myself to block everything out as I finish the song. I pull my shit together, because I’m a professional after all, and sing my ass off. After the torturous song is over, it’s easy to get into the act, but the rest of the set feels like days, and by the time we’re done, I’m sweaty, edgy, and in need of a drink. Or a fuck.

The illuminated bar calls to me. Jumping off the stage, I head straight for my awesome brother-in-law who hands me a tumbler with dark liquid in it.

“Good job, brother.”

“Thanks,” I say breathlessly and throw back the glass.  The liquor burns, but I welcome it.

“That better have been just Coke,” Matt says behind me.

“Of course, babe,” Noah says and winks at me.

“Hello, I have eyes,” Matt says. “I can see when you wink, dumbass.”

“Calm down. It was one drink,” I say.

Matt nudges his husband. “You’re a bad influence.”

“You’re only just realizing this?” Noah asks.

Matt pinches Noah’s ass, and I groan.

I love my brother. I love Noah. But their whole playful, lovey dovey crap drives me crazy. Not to mention my noise canceling headphones have been getting a work out now the happy couple is back in New York for a while since the football season is over. They go at it every damn night.

If the sounds were coming from roommates, that would be one thing—I could handle that—but one of them is my brother. Eww, eww, and no thank you. I don’t need to know what’s going on in that room.

Watching Matt and Noah makes me hopeful I’ll find what they have one day. Not that I’m in a rush—I’m twenty so fuck that—but what they have is fairytale shit.

Matt turns to me, suddenly serious. His mouth hangs open, and his eyes are soft, but I can tell he’s struggling for words. “Jet …” Then he glances away. He never calls me Jet. It’s always JJ.

Noah smiles. “What he’s trying to say is your song was awesome.”

“Really?” My voice is quiet, and I hate that I crave approval from Matt. Everything I’ve ever done in my life has been for me. Our parents certainly never earned our respect, and I’ve always known they’d never approve of me. Matt’s different. He’s always been the dependable big brother. He raised me more than our parents did, and I want him to be proud of me.

Instead of answering, Matt takes me in a crushing hug. Considering he’s a tight end, I’m pretty sure I have cracked ribs now. Holy shit, it’s hard to breathe.

“I’m so proud of you,” he whispers, and fuck, I might be on the verge of crying.

As far as brothers go, we have similar hair and features, but our physique? His muscles are insane. I’m not skinny, but I’m not ripped by any means. A pitiful little six pack where you need a magnifying glass to make out the shallow divots in my stomach and my unimpressive biceps are the extent of my muscles. Noah calls me a twunk. Whatever that is. Matt argues I’m a pup. Whenever it’s brought up, I flip them both off and walk out and then remind myself to read up on gay terms. There really should be a manual for this shit.

Coming from a small town in Tennessee where the shared local closet is filled with a hell of a lot more people than one would think, I learned everything from the closeted guys I hooked up with.

Needless to say, my experience has been limited to quick blowjobs, awkward sex, and not a whole lot of anything else. Since moving to New York eight months ago, I’ve certainly learned some stuff, but I still feel like a noob.

Matt finally pulls back and lets me breathe again. He does the uncomfortable guy nod—a single nod while avoiding eye contact—and as easy as that, the moment is gone, but the sentiment means everything to me.

Certain meatheads may not get my song and walk out halfway through, but my meathead brother understands, and that’s all that matters.

I know one day I’ll find my own Noah to dedicate songs to, but on my list of priorities, it’s right below get a record deal, become a famous rock star, and fuck my way through six continents.

Why dream small?

 

Trick Play Cover Reveal and Excerpt!

Trick Play will be here soon on June 27! To celebrate, I’m posting an excerpt and showing off the cover <3

EXCERPT:

With a nod, I plant my ass on the small sofa in the room, and then Noah takes the seat next to me.

The sound of water crashing over the bow still reaches the room from the black abyss that is the Atlantic Ocean. It’s peaceful until Noah opens his mouth again.

“We should make out.”

I choke and splutter on my beer. “Why in the hell should we do that?”

“I’m not hitting on you, you jackass.”

“Pretty sure askin’ me to kiss you contradicts that statement.”

“Hear me out. You’re uncomfortable in public, and we don’t know each other. The way to make it look natural is if we are natural. Therefore, if we make out, you’ll loosen up.”

I hate that he has a point, but we can’t cross those lines. “We should make this a purely platonic arrangement so there’s no confusion.”

“There will be no confusion on my part. I understand why you’d be hesitant, because, well, look at me. You’re worried about liking it too much.” Noah gestures to himself, and I force myself not to look.

“Yeah, you’re lucky I haven’t jumped you already.” Even though he does have a great body. Damn him.

“I could goad you into doing it, but I don’t think I have to. You know this is a good idea.”

“It’s really not.”

“Scared you’re going to fall for me?” he taunts. “All the boys do.”

“Fall for your wallet, maybe,” I mumble.

His eyes turn a stormy gray as they narrow, and if looks could kill—

“Fall for you after one kiss?” I scoff. “Not possible.” It’s not possible after multiple kisses. I reckon I’m incapable of love, because I don’t know what the fuck it is.

Noah moves closer.

“Noah …” I shift on the seat.

“You’re way too uptight. I promise I’m not trying to fuck you. Although, that could definitely be fun.”

A tentative hand skims up my side and around my back.

My body freezes, and if Noah thought I was uptight thirty seconds ago, it’s nothing compared to how tense I am right now.

“We have a photoshoot in two days.” His breath tickles my cheek. “You’re going to have to be relaxed and pretend that you like me.”

“So, we can do this then.” My voice cracks and I clear my throat. “I don’t understand the point of it now.”

“You look about as comfortable as I did when my housekeeper walked in on me balls deep inside my boyfriend senior year of high school. That was a fun way to come out to the parents.”

“You … wha … how?”

If he said that as a distraction, it’s working.

“Breathe,” Noah says. “And just let me kiss you.”

This is a stupid idea. Really stupid. Even so, there’s a part of me that not only wants it but hopes he has a point, because there’s no way I can pretend to be in love with a guy I don’t know and am nervous around.

“Fine.” I lean forward and put my beer on the coffee table in front of us.

He stares at me dumbfounded, as if he wasn’t expecting me to give in. Maybe this is a game to him. If it is, he’s winning.

That doesn’t stop either of us from moving closer to one another.

My lips inch toward his but before I kiss him, I add in a low voice, “This is an experiment only. A one-time thing.”

“Matt—”

“This isn’t going to work, and when it doesn’t, I will gladly rub it in your face every day we have to play this stupid charade.”

Noah laughs, as if he knows I’m trying to convince myself and not him, but I cut him off with my lips on his. Unlike earlier today where I didn’t react—didn’t do anything—this time, I take charge. My tongue pushes past his lips, and I refuse to let out the groan that tries to escape when it meets his. Two seconds into the kiss, I know this is a huge mistake.

I ignore the tightening in my pants and the shiver that runs through me as his hands trail down my spine. Then, suddenly, I’m on my back as he pins me to the sofa that’s way too small to fit both of us.

That doesn’t stop us, though.

His cock lines up with mine, and even through two layers of suit pants, I know he’s long and thick.

Shit, don’t think about his dick.

Noah’s lips break away from mine and skim my bearded cheek. “Thought you said you weren’t going to enjoy this,” he says in my ear.

“I’m not.” Hmm, probably would’ve been more convincing if my voice didn’t crack like a twelve-year-old seeing his first dirty magazine … or in my case a football magazine. Boys in tight pants and pads? It’s no wonder I loved the sport when Dad first forced me to play.

Noah rotates his hips slowly, grinding his hard body against my even harder cock. “Pretty sure this says otherwise.”

“I’m a gay man with a hot guy’s tongue down my throat. It’s simple chemistry. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“You’re wrong. This is anything but simple.” Noah’s mouth comes back down on mine again, and this time, I can’t hold back the moan.

I’m no longer on the ship. I’ve fallen overboard and am drowning in Noah, and I don’t want to come up for air.

“Matt,” he murmurs against my mouth, and his voice may as well have been a bucket of ice.

I push him off me and sit up, straightening my shirt in the process. “See. Didn’t work.”

I reach for my beer to wash the taste of Noah down.

He wipes his mouth and breaks into a cocky-ass smile. “So, you felt nothing, huh?”

“Right.” More beer goes down my throat.

“Keep telling yourself that.”

***************************

COVER:

FAKE OUT COVER REVEAL

~**FAKE OUT**~ COMING MARCH 19

Cover Reveal!

Who’s ready?

BLURB:

Maddox

The reason I rarely go home is three simple words: I’m a liar.

When the pressure to marry my childhood sweetheart became too much, I told her I was gay and then fled to New York like my ass was on fire.

Now, five years later and after a drunken encounter, I find myself invited to her wedding. And I have to bring my boyfriend—the boyfriend who doesn’t exist because I’m straight.

At least, I think I am. Meeting the guy I’m bribing to be my boyfriend for the weekend makes me question everything about myself.

Damon

When my sister asks me to pretend to be some straight guy’s boyfriend, my automatic response is to say no. It’s because of guys like him people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m gay.

But Maddox has something I need.

After an injury that cost me my baseball career, I’m trying to leave my playing days behind and focus on being the best sports agent I can be. Forty-eight hours with my sister’s best friend in exchange for a meeting with a possible client. I can do this.

I just wish he wasn’t so hot. Or that he didn’t kiss like he means it.

Wait … why is the straight guy kissing me?

*Fake Out is a full-length MM novel with a HEA/HFN and no cliffhanger.*

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