Genre: Gay Contemporary
Publisher: All Romance eBooks
Date of Publication: 12/1/2016
Word Count: 22000
Cover Artist: Erin Dameron Hill
Dirk Thompson thought he found his one and only…then his husband cheats on him. Heartsick, lonely, and full of anger, Dirk can’t find the courage to move on until he meets Ken.
It’s not like Dirk to take a wild ride with a stranger, but Ken strips him bare and turns his world upside down.
Two huge guys cramped in a tiny studio wasn’t the most ideal situation, Dirk knew. But he couldn’t bear to live in and wake up to an empty apartment. Without realizing it, Dirk had gotten used to Warren’s scent.
Oh, he’d seen evidence of Warren’s infidelity—a man’s unfamiliar shirt or boxers left behind under their bed, or a pack of cigarettes on the living room coffee table when neither Warren nor he smoked. The signs had all been there, yet Dirk had chosen to ignore them.
Now, Dirk shot Luther a glare and sighed. There was no use arguing with him. Sometimes Dirk knew he didn’t deserve such a loyal friend. “Don’t take this too badly, but I’ve relied on you my entire life. I need to do this myself, to prove to myself I can be strong, too.”
Luther gave his arm a squeeze. “Don’t believe for a fucking second you aren’t. You’re the strongest, kindest, and most stubborn guy I know.”
“Remind me again why we aren’t dating?” Dirk teased to lighten the mood.
“Because I’m a man whore and you’re a slob? Jokes notwithstanding, I get it, I think.” Luther turned to leave, but paused. “If you’re ready to move on, I know a good-looking, down-on-his-luck, underwear model who’s recently broken up.”
“I don’t think I can handle a new relationship right now,” Dirk confessed.
Besides, he’d stopped agreeing to blind dates set up by Luther a long time ago, and not because the guys Luther picked were duds. Hell, they were perfect in their own way, all viable matches. No, the reason he’d stopped agreeing to blind dates of any kind is because he—awkward and shy Dirk—was the one who always ruined everything.
“Who said anything about relationships? Those take work.” Luther shook his head. “If you’re up for some wild and dirty sex—sex and nothing else—tell me and I’ll set it up.”
With those parting words, Luther left Dirk alone to his thoughts and his self-inflicted misery.
The office emptied out. With a heavy heart, Dirk pulled the black garbage bag from his drawer. Could he really dump those photos?
“Should I?” he asked, feeling foolish talking to himself.
His fingertip lingered on the nearest frame, a photo of his first date with Warren. Warren had taken him downtown, to a Mexican restaurant and then to a club. Even convinced him to dance, and it took all of Dirk’s courage to join Warren on the floor. Dirk ended up looking like a fish out of water, but Warren had only laughed, kissing him. Dirk remembered Warren had tasted like beer and something spicy, and something else…life. Warren had blown his mind, and every date after that, Dirk had wondered why Warren hung around.
Dirk was the sort of guy who preferred quiet dates, watching movies at home, and snuggling. They never really belonged together—or had their differences made them click?
Think about the last time you saw Warren. Not hard to conjure up the image of him walking in on Warren and Harlan in their marital bed, He remembered thinking how much they looked like animals in heat. Warren had never showed that much passion whenever Dirk rode him. But Warren and Harlan had never stopped fucking, didn’t even notice Dirk standing there, staring, until rage tinted his vision red and he snapped. Dirk tore Harlan and Warren apart. Power surged through him then, the promise of more violence. Dirk would have happily beaten Harlan to a pulp, until Warren’s sharp and hysterical voice froze him in place—“Stop! If you don’t, I’ll leave you.”
Anger issues. His therapist said he’d always had them, but now, Dirk had the body strength to use all that anger against another person.
Warren had left anyway, and Dirk felt like a monster for having lost control like that. For a pacifist who swore to never hurt anyone or to use his strength for his self-serving selfishness, Dirk easily turned sides without blinking.
Now, when Dirk looked back at the frame in his hands, he realized he’d broke it. Tossing the memento into the garbage bag hurt like hell, like someone had shoved a knife into his heart and twisted it for good measure. Getting rid of the second photo went easier. The rest followed.
Clutching the garbage bag, Dirk rose to his feet. Throwing away the bag in the workplace was no good. Dirk knew himself. He’d crawl through the damn garbage chute to retrieve the damn thing in the middle of the night. Heading out of the office instead, he glanced at the time. Still another thirty-minutes to waste. He could have done this anytime, after work maybe, but having a time limit helped.
Entering the elevator and pushing the button for the ground floor, Dirk thought he was alone until he noticed the lean young man watching him from the corner. Surprised, Dirk nearly jumped.
“What the fuck?” he growled.
“I didn’t mean to scare you, handsome. I just noticed you seemed a little down.”
Dirk blinked. No one had ever called him “handsome.” Studying the young man a little closer, Dirk swallowed and immediately regretted his earlier words. The guy didn’t look intimidated or scared. If anything, he appeared more interested and began eyeing Dirk up and down.
Things like this didn’t happen to Dirk. Did throwing away the last reminders of his time with Warren manage to induce delusions? Worse, did someone pay this young man to play some kind of elaborate joke on him?
Since the stranger seemed unembarrassed to ogle Dirk like he was some kind of steak, Dirk stared rudely, too.
This stranger was damn gorgeous, and a little out of place in a corporate office. Lean, but taut with muscle, the stranger had a runner’s build and looked easy on the eyes. He wore tight skinny jeans, leather shoes, and a battered leather jacket and nothing else underneath. No shirt or anything. Bits of something metallic shone on his chest.
Was that glitter?
The guy kept his dark-hair short, making it hard to glance away from the most amazing pair of brown eyes—amber, nearly gold in the elevator’s light.
The stranger winked at Dirk. Brave little guy.
Wait. He winked at me?
“Bad day?” he asked.
“The fucking worst.” How Dirk managed to keep a straight face, let alone answer, he didn’t know. He was usually uncomfortable with guys he was attracted to. Better yet, he applauded himself on not scaring off the stranger with awkward words.
“Tell me about it. My day went from bad to horrible, too.” When Dirk raised one eyebrow, the stranger shrugged. “I forget corporate types don’t tip well.”
“Tip well? What are you, a waiter?”
The guy seemed delighted by the question. Shit. Dirk didn’t want this conversation to end, but the elevator finally reached the ground floor.
“Even better—” The guy didn’t finish explaining because someone called to him.
“I hope we’ll meet again, handsome,” the guy said to Dirk. With another wink, he broke into a sprint.
Dirk got out of the elevator to see the building’s forty-something security guard chase after him, panting. The urge to chase after the stranger rose in Dirk also. Being in tip-top shape, catching up would be no problem. Telling off that silly security guard wouldn’t be a problem either.
Wait. Why get so protective over some handsome stranger he’d just met?
Dirk breathed in and out, leashing his anger. Once the notion died and he calmed down, Dirk stared at the bag in his hand a couple of seconds, uncomprehending, forgetting what he had set out to do in the first place.
“Disposal. Right,” he muttered.
Dirk walked through the lobby, still abuzz with the chase. Judging by the dejected look of the security guard returning to his post, the dark-haired stranger had obviously escaped.
So why did Dirk care about some stranger who didn’t wear a shirt? Was shirt out of fashion with kids these days? Well, the guy was certainly an adult, but nineteen or early twenties still felt too young to Dirk, himself pushing thirty and still a mess. No wonder Warren had left him.
I’ve got to stop thinking negative thoughts.
At least the gossiping crowd in the lobby was proof Dirk hadn’t imagined the whole thing in his head. Going back to his therapist after she’d signed him off—after his latest anger debacle at nearly strangling Harlan to death—was a huge no-no.
“Let’s get on with this,” he muttered, exiting the office building and heading for the park. If he hurried, he might be able to buy a sandwich on his way back.
Angelique Voisen is a bisexual, twenty-something, type-2 diabetic writer who favors GLBT pairings. She likes experimenting with different sub-genres and her stories may include cogs, fangs, space battles, kinky magic systems and happily-ever-afters.
Author website: http://angelvoisen.blogspot.com/
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