After spending the first part of my life trapped in a small town where it wasn’t okay to be a makeup-wearing boy who liked boys, I swore I’d leave and never be anything but loud, proud, and unapologetically me. I’ve kept that promise. I’m following my dreams, have an apartment with my bestie, and get to dance my nights away at one of the hottest gay bars in Portland.
The only downfall is Dane, the sexy bartender with a perma-scowl always aimed my way. The tension between us is so strong that even the clubgoers notice, and they eat that stuff up. Our boss makes us dance on the bar together every Friday night. I might shake my booty a little more with Dane just because I love getting under his skin. It’s not my fault he doesn’t know how to have any fun…but I kind of want to teach him.
I got burned bad by my last boyfriend. Thankfully, my sister, Bree, and my niece, Hailey, make my days a whole lot brighter. I’m getting back on my feet, including a decent job as a bartender. But working in a gay club makes it harder to keep to myself. No way do I want to get reeled in by another charming, pretty face and get hurt again, and definitely not by someone like Jesse, whose audacity frustrates me to no end.
So why do I want to shove him against the wall and screw that boldness right out of him?
Only…sometimes he’s pretty sweet, especially with Hailey. As we go from enemies to angry hookups to friends, our feelings are changing and moving into uncharted territory. This can’t go anywhere. Jesse and I are like oil and water; we just don’t mix…right?
Portland was supposed to be my fresh start, my chance to live for myself. Unfortunately, it’s not working out that way. I stay in the apartment Mom chose and major in finance like she wants. I let bad memories keep me from hooking up. I wouldn’t know the first thing about finding a guy who gets me, who’s okay with my need to be held and feel safe.
When I befriend a worker at the assisted living facility where I volunteer, I don’t expect to get invited to dinner, only to realize her son is Jake, a guy I met through friends last fall. Jake’s not only hot, he’s also sweet, a caretaker, and attracted to me too. Since he’s never been with a guy, and I’m a virgin, we’re setting the pace together, learning what we like, one bone-melting touch at a time.
My childhood was rocky, with an abusive father and a mother I needed to protect. The first thing I did after high school graduation was get us out of there so we could finally breathe. And start living. For me that means managing the garage I own with my best friend and enjoying the modest house I call my own.
Then Seth enters my life. Our connection is palpable. He’s shy, innocent, and sets my blood on fire. He makes it impossible to ignore my attraction to men. The trust he puts in me is more potent than any desire. I get as much from talking to or holding him as when we let our inhibitions go.
Seth and I fulfill each other’s needs—in and out of the bedroom. But our struggles aren’t easy to shake. With my urge to protect and Seth’s desire to fly, we’ll have to strike the right balance, but when we do, the results will be pretty sweet.