Love’s Gamble Series, Book 2
Zane Four years ago, I met Liam Holdsworthy. Hot, snarky, and hiding behind a sadness I couldn’t place. I wanted him, even back then. There were only two problems. One, I was deeply closeted. And two, he was dating my best friend. Now I’m retired from the NFL and openly out, there’s nothing to stop me from getting my gay on. When Liam comes back into my life, and I find out he’s single, I’ll find any reason to spend time with him. That’s how I created a list of gay first experiences I coax him into helping me with. But I don’t just want his help. I still want him.
Liam After leaving a long-term relationship with a closeted NFL player, I went through a string of guys trying to find the one. None of them were boyfriend material, let alone the forever type. I’m looking for a guy to come home to. Someone serious and down to earth. I’m definitely not looking for Cooper Zane. Yet, I can’t shake him, and not only because I’m helping him with his big bi bucket list. Every time I see him is like a shot of adrenaline to my system, and I’m always left wanting more. I need Mr. Serious, and Cooper’s the least serious person I’ve met. He’s newly out. He’s never had a relationship. And most importantly, he may be retired, but he’s not done with football. He’ll do anything to get it all back. And I’m not prepared to be relegated to the sidelines ever again.
“I’m done with fun.” Liam drains his drink. “I’m ready to find someone I can settle down with.” I groan. “A whole life without fun? Kill me now.” He shoves me. “Well, you’re out now. You can get started on all the fun you like.” “That’s the thing, though. I don’t know where to start.” “Grindr?” He snorts. “I’ve definitely considered that option.” I shrug. “Not sure I want a random hookup to be my first gay experience.” “I don’t think it matters. You’ll probably be disappointed either way.”
“Wow.” I lay a hand over my heart. “You have not been sleeping with the right guys.” But as soon as the words leave my mouth, I realize I’m talking about Taryn here, and the whole conversation feels cringey. “Maybe Mr. Strong and Silent upstairs might break the streak.” Liam laughs. My eyebrows jump up. “You’re going to sleep with him?” Liam shrugs and sets down his glass before lying back on the deck. “Probably not.” I really shouldn’t be as relieved by that as I am. Yeah, Liam is gorgeous, and my crush on him used to be enormous, but he’s definitely not the guy I’m going to get my gay on with. No matter how Taryn feels about it, I’d feel too much like I was betraying him. I flop back beside Liam, staring up at the black sky.
We make our way through the drinks, talking and laughing and jumping from topic to topic like it’s an Olympic sport. I make the occasional trip upstairs to get more vodka, and by the time we’ve finished, there are two large stacks of glasses between us.
When I finally check the time, I realize we’ve been out here for hours, even though it barely feels like five minutes, and I wish I had endless five-minute periods to spend with him like this. As… friends. Or something like that. “I think we’d better head back up.” “What?” His eyes look a little glazed. “Why?” “Because that’s the shore.” I sit up and point toward the cluster of lights we’re heading for. “And if I remember correctly, you’ve got a date here somewhere.” His eyes widen, and he quickly scrambles to his feet. “Fuck. Patrick.” He curls a fist into his hair as he stares blankly at the deck above. I collect all the glasses and reluctantly stand up too. “Come on.” My balance is a little off as I follow Liam back to the stairs.
I hope no one has noticed us missing, though I’m sure Peter or Parker or whatever the fuck his name is has. And it gives me a sick sense of satisfaction that I held Liam’s attention so completely he totally forgot all about the other guy. Does that make me an asshole? Probably. Do I care? I look over at Liam and realize that damnit, I definitely don’t. Liam starts up the stairs ahead of me, and I remind myself that staring at his ass is not polite yet my gaze drops to it anyway. And god it’s just as round and perky as I remember. Which is not something I’m going to let myself think about too much. Liam abruptly turns, and I find myself face-to-face with his groin. My cheeks heat, and when I glance up, he’s smirking at me. “It’s not polite to stare,” he whispers. I climb the stairs between us until I’m on the one directly below him. Surprisingly, he doesn’t step back or make any attempt to put more distance between us. With him a step higher, it brings us eye to eye. “Not staring,” I reply. “Just appreciating the view.” He leans in a little and points over my shoulder. “View’s out there.” “Agree to disagree.” His mouth twists with humor. “Well, thanks for the distraction.” Ah, goodbye time. I manage to keep my groan to myself. It had to happen eventually, but now that the moment’s here, I wish we could skip over this part.
Every instinct I have is urging me to ask for his number, but even if he’s still cute and funny and I’m drawn to him like I can’t explain, we’re both on two totally different paths. “Anytime.” It’s scary how much I mean that. “It was fun.” A small smile tugs at his pink lips as his gaze slides over my face. Damn, he’s hot. Would it really be such a huge deal to kiss him? My heartbeat kicks up at the thought. At imagining finally getting to kiss the lips that starred in way too many of my jerk-off sessions back in the day. Just one kiss. Then he’ll find Mr. Serious, and I’ll find some guys to fuck around with. “Well, I’m sure I’ll see you around.” He goes to turn, then hesitates. I can practically read the indecision on his face, and I’m trying hard not to wonder if it’s the same thought I’m turning over too. Except then he starts to lean forward. My hands are full of glasses so I can’t grab him and pull him closer. But he turns his head at the last moment and his lips land on my cheek. My nose floods with the smell of vanilla, and apparently my cock likes it because it gives a little twitch. His scent, his proximity, his lips on my cheek. “Less germs than shaking hands I’m told.” His husky voice is right by my ear. When he pulls back a little, his eyes meet mine, and something heavy passes between us for a moment before he drops his face. Whatever it was is gone by the time he looks up again. “Night.” “Night, Liam.” Then he turns on his heel and walks away. And I have to force myself to let him go.
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Saxon James is an author from Australia who’s obsessed with writing queer characters. She has a range of books from YA to adult and they all have one thing in common: swoony, sweet love. When not writing, Saxon exists on a diet of coffee and chocolate while putting her KU subscription to the test.
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