Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Long Pass Chronicles by Tara Lain


Outing the Quarterback #1
Summary:
Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he's gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.

In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will's problems seem like nothing compared to Noah's. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it since the teacher of his class has designs on him, a plan Will isn't happy about.

When a gossipmonger with a popular YouTube channel finds evidence that Will is gay, the quarterback’s closet doors begin to crumble. Hounded by the press and harassed by other players, Will has to choose. Stay in the closet and keep his family’s wealth, or let the doors fall off and walk out with nothing. Nothing but Noah.

Canning the Center #2
Summary:
Six foot seven inch, 300 pound Jamal Jones loves football, so when he finds out the ultra-conservative owner of his new pro football team fired their current center because he’s gay, bisexual Jamal decides to stay in the closet and hang with the females. Then, at a small drag show, he comes face-to-face with his sexual fantasy in the form of Trixie LaRue, a drag queen so exquisitely convincing she scrambles Jamal’s hormones -- and his resolve to nurse his straight side.

Trevor Landry, aka Trixie LaRue, hides more than his genitals. A mathematician so brilliant he can’t be measured, Trevor disguises his astronomical IQ and his quirk for women’s clothes behind his act as a gay activist undergrad at Southern California University.

To Trevor, Jamal is the answer to a dream -- a man who can love and accept both his personas. When he discovers Jamal’s future is threatened if he’s seen with a guy, Trevor becomes Trixie to let Jamal pass as straight. But Trevor risks his position every time he puts on a dress. Is there a closet big enough to hold a football pro and a drag queen?

Tackling the Tight End #3
Summary:
Everyone wants the best for SCU student and tight end Raven Nez—and they know exactly what that is. Enter the NFL draft, become a big football hero, promote his tribe’s casino, and make a lot of money to help people on the reservation. Just one problem.

Raven’s gay and he really wants to work with gay kids. Plus he figures a gay Native tight end will get flattened in the NFL. Then the casino board hires a talented student filmmaker to create ads for the tribal business and asks Raven to work with him. But the filmmaker is Dennis Hascomb, a guy with so much to hide and a life so ugly it’s beyond Raven’s understanding. Still he’s drawn to Dennis's pain and incredible ability to survive.

Captivated by Raven’s stories of the two-spirited and by the amazing joy of finally having a friend, Dennis knows he has to break free from everything he’s ever been taught was good—but that’s a struggle that could kill him and Raven too. Is there a chance for “the great red hope” and the “whitest guy on earth”? A future for the serpent and the raven?


Outing the Quarterback #1
Chapter 1
SHIT, HE was late. Will drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, stared at the light, and tried to ignore his throbbing cock. He toggled his feet back and forth between the gas and the clutch on the Ferrari. The brake was for amateurs. Damn Orange County summer traffic. Come on! Rainbow wouldn’t wait long.

The red light shone steadily. He should take this as a sign. Forget Rainbow and get to class. No way he wanted to be late. That class could mean everything, including the scholarship. But sticking his dick into Tiffany Baxter didn’t do it for him a lot of the time, and it had been two fucking weeks since he’d gotten off worth a damn.

The light changed. Yes! His brakes squealed and three seconds later he pulled into the nearly vacant lot at the park. No kids playing soccer, no moms supervising rug rats on the swings. Perfect. Tuesday morning between runners and playground a.m. He didn’t recognize that old Civic two spaces down.

He pulled down the mirror and ran a hand through his blond curls. The curls that made the cheerleaders scream, the press liked to say. You don’t need this. Cock throb. You can leave and go to class. Cock throb. Shit! This wouldn’t take long. One touch of Rainbow’s talented tongue and he’d be off. At least he’d be able to concentrate. He threw open the door, slammed it behind him, and clicked the remote as he ran toward the cement block bathroom.

No stopping. No thinking. Breathing hard, he rounded the block wall that provided privacy to the men’s room. Nobody. He leaned down and looked under the beige metal dividers. A pair of sequined tennies moved slowly out of the back stall.

OMG. An overly made-up, sharp-boned, but still pretty young transvestite’s face surrounded by phony red hair stared back at him.

What the—? “Who the fuck are you?”

The guy leaned his skintight-denim-clad hip against the opposite wall. “Think of me as Rainbow Two.”

Will didn’t know this guy. What was going on? “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Rainbow’s sick. She sent me.”

Breath caught somewhere between his sick belly and his throbbing cock. Rainbow Two wore bright red lipstick. Man, what that color would look like ringing Will’s prick.

The guy stared at Will with a smile, showing crooked white teeth. “You sure are pretty. Rainbow said I’d enjoy the fuck out of this one.”

Will’s hands trembled. Stay or go? Shit, those lips could get him off in five seconds. He’d be fifty bucks poorer and several ounces of cum lighter. And he needed to come! Damn, too risky. “I’ve got no idea what you mean. Sorry, lady.” His feet ran while his cock tried to stay behind.

The guy’s slightly accented voice called out, “Hey, baby, don’t go. I’ll make you feel good.”

Feel good. Shit. Out of here. The car door beeped. He slammed his butt on the seat and had the Ferrari moving before the door was fully closed. Racing through gears, he screeched out of the residential area and roared onto the ramp for the freeway.

Where was Rainbow? What had he been thinking sending a stranger? Shakedown time? Didn’t Will pay the guy enough? He took a breath. Chill. Rainbow has no idea who you are or who your parents are. He knows nothing about football. He shuddered. When it came to SCU, everybody knew a little about football.

He couldn’t stop shaking.

Wasn’t fear supposed to get rid of a hard-on? But the damned thing just kept throbbing. Hate this! He slapped the steering wheel. His whole life balanced on a pack of lies. With one big confession, he could blow the whole thing away—no more lies. Yeah, and no more life.

He sucked in air. Work the plan. He hated plans. Work the plan.

He pulled off the six-lane freeway onto the off-ramp for Laguna.

Resolution. This was it. The last time. He was done. No more risks. Nothing but females from now on. If Tiffany didn’t do it for him, he’d find some girl who did.

That dumbass idea got rid of the boner real fast.

The Laguna Canyon Road looked like a parking lot. It took a full half hour to get out of Irvine and down to Laguna College of Art. Twenty minutes late for his summer class with no orgasm and one near heart attack to show for it. Shit.

He parked, pulled his art supplies out of the trunk, and carefully extracted the large wrapped package from his passenger seat. He had to be careful. His fucking future was in that brown paper. Balancing his precious cargo, he walked down the pathway to the office of the college. He had to set down the package to let himself in, then picked it up and crossed to the counter.

The lady behind the desk smiled. “Is that a Milton scholarship application?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Lovely. You brought it to the right place. Let me take it off your hands.” She reached over and he handed her the package.

He must have looked worried. She smiled. “Don’t fret. I’ll take good care of it. You’re Will Smith, aren’t you?”

He nodded. “Yes.”

“I always remember since it’s like the movie star.”

He cringed. Why had he used that stupid name?

“I’m Cora Johnson. I’m so glad you’re entering. I saw some of your work and it’s very effective.”

He flashed his expensively straightened teeth. “Thank you. I think you just made my day.”

“Most welcome. Of course, final recommendations from staff will be added to the entries at the last minute.”

That made his stomach flip. “Thanks again.”

She smiled, and he left the office and headed for the studio. He’d had a class there before so he knew right where to go. But this class was with Masterson. It made him sweat just to think about studying with the guy. Masterson was the right name, because the artist was a master. He only taught one or two classes a year. A few other hours a year, he made a lot of money painting giant portraits for rich people. The rest of the time he did what he wanted. Wild, surrealistic, haunting, edgy, ass-dropping art. Will wanted to paint like that. Yeah, and his folks wanted Will to paint not at all. But if he could get the scholarship, he wouldn’t need their money. Masterson’s name on a recommendation would be a big fucking deal.

He ran up the stairs and paused outside the door to the life class. Swag, man. Stay cool.

He pushed open the door.

There was Masterson, just like his pictures. Longish brown hair, thin face, thin body. Good looking in a Cassius-lean-and-hungry kind of way.

Will’s eyes moved past the teacher. Lots of easels, students already working, supplies all over the place and—holy shit.

The artist’s model sat naked on a small platform in the middle of the room. But not just no-clothes-on naked. We were talking gleaming, pale beige skin, shining hair, and hard-as-stone butt-cheeks naked.

Will’s deprived cock did a happy dance.

The model’s back—read, bare ass—faced Will while his graceful spine curved away.

The beast in Will’s pants started to grow.

The guy’s long brown hair flowed over his shoulders and outlined his profile, perfectly presented to Will’s artist eye. High-bridged nose, prominent cheekbones, pointed chin.

The damned traitor prick pushed so hard against Will’s zipper he probably had teeth marks on his cockhead. Why was it every time he decided to go straight, some cosmic joker had to twiddle his fucking finger and prove beyond a shadow that William Elliott Ashford III was as gay as a circus tent? Shit!

“Are you in this class?”

Will focused his eyes back on Masterson and clasped his hands in front of his crotch, still holding his tackle box. “Yes, sir. Sorry I’m late. Traffic.”

Masterson glanced at Will’s folded hands and sucked on his cheek like he was trying not to laugh. “Name?”

Will shifted to get the animal to go back in its cave, but no matter how hard Masterson stared at Will, the model still sat there in all his fucking glory. “Will Smith, sir.”

Masterson glanced at a paper on his desk, made a check mark, and pointed toward an empty easel with a folding table beside it and a rickety chair. “There’s a place in the back, William.”

“Will.”

The man smiled and the lean, almost harsh face softened. “Will. Made any good movies lately?”

Oh my, so very original. Will smiled. “Yeah.”

Masterson waved his hand toward the easel and looked at the model. “You can move, Noah.”

Will walked back to the empty place. Do not stare at that guy. Don’t stare. His name is Noah. Noah.

Weird. Usually life models were “interesting” looking, for lack of a better word. Fat or craggy, old, and character-filled. Not perfect, smooth beauties like this guy.

Will set his tackle box on the floor, opened it, and pulled out brushes. Masterson walked up beside him with a canvas. “This is gessoed already so you won’t have to waste any time.”

Will set it on the easel. “Thanks.”

Masterson crossed his arms. “I’ve seen the work you submitted when you applied for the master class. Promising.”

Wow. Music to his ears. “Thank you, sir.”

Masterson grinned. Who knew dimples could live in cheeks that thin? “Try Dwight so I don’t feel so old.”

Will smiled. “Thanks, Dwight. I wouldn’t want to suggest something that’s not true.”

The instructor winked at him and walked back to the beat-up desk in the corner. Winked. Will had read that Masterson was gay. Had the teacher just been flirting with him? Or shit, maybe he’d been coming on to Masterson. When you spent your life in the closet, every interaction was a fucking minefield.

Will sat in the chair and looked up at the model. His breath caught. No way. The beautiful guy had repositioned himself and now sat facing Will, his legs crossed, leaning forward with his arm resting on his thigh. Everything shimmery and perfect—if you didn’t count the six-inch scar that ran from the right corner of his mouth up to the edge of his very blue eye. It skipped the eye miraculously and continued above it on his forehead, disappearing into his hair. The puckered skin pulled that eye closed a slight bit more than the other. Funny. Without it, the kid would have looked almost too angelic. As it was, the eye gave him a permanent touch of cynicism. Yeah, anybody who’d picked up that badge of courage in his life deserved to be a cynic.

That must be why Masterson had chosen the guy as a model. What a challenge to capture that strange mix of beauty and ugliness, innocence and wisdom. Truth. The model’s face had to be pretty damned captivating to keep Will from staring at his prick, which managed to peek up like some engraved invitation between his crossed legs.

Will leaned down to grab some paint. He’d need a lot of Caucasian flesh tone for this, with a little yellow ochre and maybe some warm gray. He stared at the tubes. God, he loved to paint. Some days, living the next year in a double closet made him want to puke. But if he could just get through it, he’d be free, living his life like a fucking bird. He had to hang on. He had to.

When he straightened, the guy had moved again. Now he looked over his shoulder with his eyes downcast and the brown hair covering the scar. Too pretty. Will grabbed some charcoal and started outlining the forms and shapes on the canvas. Damn. He wanted to see that scar.

He got up and walked to the platform. The boy’s eyes flipped up to look at him like a deer that wasn’t allowed to move. Cosmic blue, baby. Will smiled, slowly reached out a hand, and curved the guy’s hair behind his ear. Do not even think about how that silky stuff feels.

The model’s eyes shifted toward his ear. He glanced up, then frowned. Shit. Did he think Will was dissing him? Showing how ugly he was?

Will smiled again. He tried to keep his voice soft. “You’re beautiful.”

That got his attention. Those eyes flashed back to Will’s and the connection sailed straight to Will’s balls. And guess what? That bare cock stretched up another inch from the model’s lap. Mutual admiration?

A voice came from Will’s left. “Hey buddy, move, okay? I can’t see the model.”

He dragged his eyes away and looked toward the complainer. “Sorry.” Another glance down found the boy still looking at him with an unreadable expression. Will twisted his mouth. “Sorry, Noah.”

He walked back to his easel and started to lay on paint.

No more thinking. Not about his unsatisfied cock or how he’d better not be late for football practice even though driving to SCU on a summer afternoon was hell on wheels, literally. It didn’t matter if your car could do zero to sixty in one point five seconds if you could only go ten feet at a time. Shit.

He needed painting therapy. Yeah, that’s what they did with crazy people, right? Well, he was wacked and painting was his therapy. No, painting was his life.

He stared at the beautiful model. He’s not a man, he’s a form. Paint. Dark first. Capture the shadows, all the tones of parts in hiding. The belly, cock, the scarred side of his face. Then, bam. Light exploded on the tip of a knee or the flash of his forehead. Will sucked in breath to keep his hand from shaking. So great. Time dissolved. He could paint forever. Maybe an hour passed. Maybe a minute. He just kept on painting.

“I like where you’re going with that.” The voice came from behind him. Masterson.

Will shook his head a little. Back to the world. “Thanks.”

“Take some photos to finish from. This will be Noah’s only session.”

He wouldn’t think about how disappointed he felt. “Oh?”

“Yeah. I explained before you came in. Noah’s actually a student in this class. When our life model cancelled, I pressed him into service. But next session, he’ll be painting, not posing.”

A student. “He’s a great subject.” Will pulled out his phone and started taking photos.

“Yes, beauty ruined.”

Will frowned. “Ruined?” He shook his head. “Perfected.”

Masterson raised his eyebrows. “How so?”

Will looked at Masterson’s lean face. “No light without dark. He makes his own contrast. The scar reminds you of just how perfect the rest is.”

Masterson turned his lips up just a little, but a tiny crease popped out between his eyebrows. “Glad you see that.”

Will nodded once. What had he said?

“Keep going.” Masterson slapped Will’s shoulder and walked over to another student.

Shit. Had he seemed to be correcting Masterson? He should learn to keep his fucking philosophy to himself.

After another few minutes, Masterson walked back to the center of the large room. “Please finish and clean up for the day. Noah, thanks so much for your help. You can get dressed.”

A few students clapped and the guy looked embarrassed. He grabbed a robe that was thrown over the edge of the platform and pulled it on before standing up. No use mentioning how disappointing that was either. Yeah, you’re all about girls, remember?

Will loaded paints into his tackle box, covered his paint palette with plastic wrap to keep it moist until the next class, and took his canvas to a picture rail to get it out of the way of whatever group of students came in next.

He glanced over at the platform where Noah stood, wearing the robe. The guy was tall. Probably only a couple inches shorter than Will. His brown hair fell down his back in a shiny curtain. Wonder how old he is? That sweet face looked really young, but there was an old quality about him. Like he’d seen too much.

Will started to close his paint box, but stopped as Masterson walked over to Noah and spoke in a low voice. The hand he placed on Noah’s shoulder had a damned proprietary air. Masterson smiled, and the model looked up at him from under his lashes with a little grin that promised one fuck of a lot.

Well, damn. That little interaction spoke a Wikipedia of shit. Noah was gay. Masterson either already ass-fucked the guy or was angling for some action, which could mean that Noah was not on the market. Real fact, Will shouldn’t care about that at all. But Masterson might already have a favorite in this class. A favorite he could recommend for the Milton scholarship. That Will cared about for sure.

Canning the Center #2
Chapter 1
“THREE FIFTY-ONE. Three fifty-one. On two. Hut. Hut.”

The backup quarterback’s voice triggered Jamal Jones’s action. Jamal turned the ball and rifled it directly into the guy’s hands in slingshot position. The ball slid like butter, baby.

The offensive line coach’s whistle stopped the play, and Jamal trotted to the bench, grabbed a water, and poured it down his throat, sucking the liquid into his mouth and inhaling the smell of sweat, leather, and synthetic grass deep into his lungs. Training camp for the Los Angeles Diablos might not be everything he’d expected, but man, talk about your dreams come true.

“Jones.”

He turned toward Izzy Perez, the offensive line coach. “Yes, sir.”

Perez smiled. “They want you down there.” He pointed toward the other end of the field where the first-string offensive squad was scrimmaging.

Jamal swallowed. “Uh, sure. Yes, sir.” Tossing the water bottle, he took off at a trot up the field, tingles of excitement running up his arms. Maybe Ray Shields was going to give him some hands-on training. Finally he’d get to learn from the best center in the NFL. Weird that the Diablos had drafted Jamal in the first round to play second-string center and train with Shields so he could take over for the big blond next year—but Shields had hardly talked to Jamal in the nearly two weeks they’d both been at camp.

Jamal ran up to where the head coach sat on the bench watching the practice. “Wanted to see me, sir?”

Manny Hartford reminded him more of a basketball coach, slim and slick. A political animal. So different from Jamal’s coach at SCU. Still, he liked the guy okay.

Hartford nodded. “Yes. Go in for Shields.”

“In, sir?”

“Yeah. At center. The position you play, right?” He gave Jamal a tight smile.

Well, shit, talk about ass sex with no lube. They hadn’t given him any training with the first string and now they were throwing him in the deep end. He pulled his shoulder blades together. Okay, fuck. Show ’em why you were a first-round draft pick.

Jamal trotted out to midfield. Ray Shields jogged toward him, and Jamal smiled inside his helmet, but the big man ran past like he wasn’t there. No attaboys from that department.

Jamal looked at the assembled line. Don’t fuck it up. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he approached the men waiting for him on the field. The guards, especially Brian “Boogaloo” Johnson, almost made him feel small. At about three fifty, Boogaloo outweighed Jamal by fifty pounds. Glad he’s on my side.

Jamal nodded. Be cool. “Gentlemen.”

One of the tackles, Adolphus Winston, stuck out a hand and gave Jamal a low five. Nice to be welcomed by somebody.

The legendary quarterback, Jet West, stood with his hip cocked. Did that face say Show me something?

Jamal nodded and took his place in the line. He dropped into stance, ball in hand. The defensive line took position against them. Jamal scoped the defense. “OG twenty-four, T thirty-one.” Winston’s head snapped up at Jamal’s audible for a reposition on him and the guard since centers rarely did audibles, but he moved along with Matoa.

West generally liked shotgun position for the snap, but he stuck his hands under Jamal’s butt. “Flash thirty. Flash thirty.” Adrenaline rising, Jamal ticked the running back position off in his mind.

West called, “F-stop two.” Fullback pass. “Hut. Hut.” Jamal snapped on two, his hands acting on instinct. No time to look. He felt West run backward. Jamal took three steps toward him to fill the hole and braced like a rhino for two linebackers coming at him. With a grunt, he locked a shoulder under one giant guy and pushed him toward the other one. Some luck and some skill caught the man off-balance, and his attackers wound up in a linebacker pile as Jamal opened a path for the fullback to run through for first down.

Whistle. Wow. Blood pumped like joy juice. Hard-on city. They reformed the line and started another play, with no breather. This time West slid back into shotgun, Jamal snapped directly into that soft right hand, took a step, and—oof—got sacked by three hundred pounds of linebacker. Shit! His shoulder hit the ground like he’d jumped off a two-story building, and he memorized the smell of the synthetic turf. Jesus, these guys sure hit harder than college, even just in practice. Imagine what a game will be like. No wonder Shields needed to retire; the guy was no spring chicken. Still, excitement tingled up Jamal’s spine, and every hair stood on end. He’d waited for this chance his whole life and he was up for it.

Hartford waved. “That’s it for today. Hit the showers.”

A hand like a vise clamped his shoulder. “Good going, my man.”

He looked over at Boogaloo Johnson. The guard was about an inch shorter than Jamal’s six feet seven, but that solid muscle covered by fat strained his jersey. “Thanks.”

Johnson fell in beside him as they walked toward the locker room. Johnson and Jones. Sounded liked a course in fake IDs. But this Johnson wielded power that exceeded his weight. Boogaloo was good at his job. Jamal had heard a couple guys say that Boogie, as they called him, scored as a favorite of the team owner, Arondel, which was weird since the owner made the Tea Party look left wing while Boogie still had some ghetto showing.

Johnson patted him again. “Good to see new blood on the line.”

“Happy to be there, even if it’s just for today.”

“Yeah, well, you can be full-time anytime, if they ax me, brother.”

“Thanks.” Strange.

Inside the huge locker room, Johnson gave him a shoulder punch and walked over to his group of gigantic homeboys. Being rich, famous, black, and over three hundred pounds seemed to be the requirements of the club. Three of them wrapped huge towels around themselves that still barely covered their asses and headed toward the therapy tubs.

Jamal peeled off his practice uniform and grabbed a towel for the shower. His phone buzzed in the pocket of his jeans hanging on the hook. He pulled it out, smiled, and clicked. “Hey, man. I’m standing in the middle of the locker room bare-assed.”

Will Ashford, Jamal’s best friend, chuckled. “That must be a sight. You notice any of the guys scoping you out?”

Jamal glanced around at the players rapping in the middle of the big room, many still in their jocks. He half smiled. “Never, man. This is the NFL.”

“Hmm. There are rumors that NFL stands for No-tell Fag League.”

“For sure nobody’s telling.”

“Even you, buddy?”

Jamal frowned. “Yeah. Me too.”

“Noah wants to talk to you about that.”

Noah, Will’s boyfriend, had been out and proud since he was born. Jamal glanced around again. “It’s a tough situation.”

“So let’s talk, okay? Noah and I want to take you out to celebrate your contract and getting your dream.”

Jamal turned toward the locker. “That would be great. I haven’t seen anybody who wasn’t connected to the team for almost two weeks—since they moved us into the training hotel.” He lowered his voice. “Going a little stir.”

“So I know it’s short notice, but any chance you could come tonight?”

Hell, his only alternative was sitting on the bed watching movies with three other guys too big to fit in a hotel room. “Sure, I’d love to. I can’t stay out late, though.”

“Aw, poor baby. No problem. I’ll text you an address.” His voice sounded excited.

“What are we going to do?”

Will called out, “Noah, Jamal wants to know what we’re going to do.”

The voice in the background yelled, “It’s a surprise!”

Will laughed. “Did you hear that?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, see you at eight. Eat first.”

He hung up. He loved talking to his friends, but it split him in half, like having a foot in two really different worlds. It gave him a spacey feeling. He wrapped the towel tight and headed for the showers.

As he walked into the wet tiled area, Jet West came toward him. The man was great looking. The face that launched a thousand magazine covers. As they passed, West nodded. “Good job, rook.”

“Thanks.” No use pretending that wasn’t a thrill.

The steamy heat from the showers surrounded him as he waited outside the stalls for one to free up. Men walked around him bare-assed, cocks dangling, some of the equipment hard to find in the fat and some of it as big as the men who sported it.

Roone Curry, the rookie second-string running back, walked over wearing only his jock. The straps surrounded his tight buttocks like a caress, and his runner’s body came closer to Jamal’s style than most of these giants. Not pretty enough, thank God. Do not be staring at his cock. He forced his eyes up and looked into Roone’s.

Roone nodded. “Want to get a beer, Jones?”

“Uh, thanks, Roone. Some friends are taking me out. Kind of a celebration.”

“We’ll do it another time.”

Jamal nodded and watched that tight, bare ass flex away from him as his own equipment started to harden. Damn. One of the showers freed up, and he jumped into it. He flipped on the hot water and stepped under. The shoulder he’d fallen on throbbed, but not as much as his deprived dick. Two weeks since he’d had his cock in anyone, female or male, and he was feeling the strain. Sure, he’d been around bare male bodies since he was a kid, and he’d always managed it, but he’d been able to have sex when he needed it. Right now, he needed it.

He reached down and grabbed his rod, which at nine inches scared the hell out of some women, to say nothing of the heart attack it gave a lot of men. He stroked while he let the hot water run on his shoulder. Waiting until later was wise, but damn, that felt good. He squeezed harder and picked up the pace.

Maybe he should find a woman. There were always football groupies at the clubs and women who liked what he had. Truth, though he said he enjoyed men and women equally, he preferred men. Pretty, twinky, slender, graceful, beautiful men. He leaned against the wall, his hands both doing good work. He liked pretty guys who had a streak of spunk, beautiful lips, didn’t mind that his cock was the size of a walrus, and might like to give as well as receive—yes! His balls squeezed and the cum shot out of his cock, hot as the water flowing over him. Oh man, good.

He took two deep breaths. The noise of the players leaving the locker room crept in over the sounds of the water. Right. He’d find that kind of guy when he had the guts to tell Lex Arondel and Manny Hartford he liked to fuck men. When he got balls big enough to come out as a bisexual pro football player. In other words, he’d have that perfect man right after pigs launched their own airline.

JAMAL FOLLOWED the GPS on the black Cadillac his family had surprised him with when he got drafted by the NFL. It was used, but still shiny, and big enough to hold him comfortably. He turned onto the side street in Van Nuys. The area was a little seedy. Did he get the address right? Ahead on the left, a lighted sign said the Cellar. Okay, that must be it. Nothing else around here looked open, much less fun. Of course, The Cellar didn’t scream excitement. Hell, he didn’t care. He just wanted to see Will and Noah.

He turned into a dirt lot and parked toward the back. Avoid door dings. As he crawled out, he saw the old Toyota Will had traded in his Ferrari for pull in behind him. Good timing.

Will climbed out of the driver’s seat, and Noah opened the passenger door with a squeak. He waved. “Hey, man. Good to see you.” For a second, Jamal just looked at them and smiled—Will with his cover-of-Sports-Illustrated handsomeness, and sleek Noah with the beautiful, scarred face. Jamal and Will had been the power duo for Southern California University football. Though he’d been a great quarterback, Will gave it up for his dream—to paint and to have the man he loved. Tough to argue with dreams.

Jamal grinned. “Been missing you.”

Will walked over and hugged Jamal. He hugged back, but the shoulder he’d landed on protested, and he cringed.

Will patted him. “Those giants been beating you up?”

“Yeah. Some of ’em make me look like a flyweight.”

Will slipped his arm through Jamal’s on one side, and Noah copied him on the other. “Come with us.”

They walked around the corner and, sure enough, found a line to the Cellar. As they got closer, a big man stepped out of the shadows. A real bear type with leather and chains. “Evening, gentlemen. The next show’s in fifteen minutes. Twenty dollar cover per person.”

Show? Jamal looked at Will. “Let me get it.”

“No way, man. This is our treat.”

“But you’re starving artists.” He smiled.

“Nope. We’re paying.”

Will pulled three twenties from his pocket like he had them ready to go.

The leather bear held the door open and in they went to a small vestibule with a curtain pulled between it and the club beyond. Photos of outrageously costumed men with names like Ultra Violent and Ida Atehim lined the walls. Holy crap. Jamal looked up. “It’s a drag show.”

Will grinned. “Yep. Noah and I found this place by accident, and after seeing the show a couple times, we knew we had to share it with you.”

Jamal glanced toward the door. Not the best place to be seen. “Why? I mean, I like drag as much as the next guy.” He shrugged. “Maybe it’d be more fun to just sit and talk.”

Noah glanced at Will. “You’ll love it. Wait and see.”

There was no host, so they pushed through the curtain. The room beyond might have been a local restaurant at one time. Booths lined the walls, and tables crowded the center of the room. One wall was dominated by a stage that seemed kind of shoehorned into the space, curtains drawn. The lights were up, and a room full of people turned to stare at them as they came through. Made sense. Will looked like a golden god, Noah was pretty as a picture if you didn’t count the six-inch scar on his face, and Jamal was a black giant. Sort of a new take on Lord of the Rings. He looked down at the floor. Jesus, if he planned to stick with women, this was a rotten way to start.

Will glanced at him. “You okay?”

“Don’t really want anyone to recognize me.”

“Hey, sorry, man. I didn’t think.” He pointed toward a booth that two guys were leaving about midway back from the stage. “Let’s go over there and get away from the crowd.”

They threaded through tables occupied by a lot of guys and a few women until they were able to slide into the semicircular booth. A slim man wearing a flowered dress and red wig hurried over and batted his false lashes at them. “Hi. What can I get you?”

Will grinned. “Have you got root beer?”

The waiter put a hand on his/her narrow hip. “Root-beer-flavored vodka, maybe, but no root beer.”

Jamal shrugged. “I’ll just have a Coke.”

The queen leaned over Jamal. “Oh come now, you can’t maintain that expanse of gorgeousness on mere soft drinks.”

Jamal laughed. The guy was funny. Under the dress, not his type, but still cute. “I’ll have to try my best. Just Coke.”

Will and Noah ordered beer. When the waiter left, Will raised an eyebrow. “So what have you done about the whole ‘coming out’ issue with the team? You seem pretty uneasy.”

Jamal shook his head. “Tabled it. I figured I could hack it with females for a few years like I did in college, so I didn’t make any declarations when I signed the contract. I imagine if I had, it would’ve been the shortest contract on record. Arondel’s not known for his love of rainbow flags.”

Noah leaned against the phony leather seat. “Hell, man, how can you do that? I mean, I know you’re bi, but that’s becoming straight without a license.”

Jamal sighed. “It’s harder than I thought. In college, I went with girls, but I could always sneak some dick on the side. Now, I’m a Diablo.” He looked around and lowered his voice. “If somebody sees me with a guy looking, you know, romantic, and I didn’t choose to come out to coach, I doubt I’ll be a Diablo for long.” He leaned back and sighed. “Of course, there’s not much chance of being recognized yet. I’m so new.”

Noah frowned. “Why don’t you tell your coach? He can decide what he wants to do about it. But at least you’re clean and no one can accuse you of lying.”

“Oh man, I wish.”

“They’ve got you under contract now. You don’t have to be a poster boy for gay athletes, but at least it’s honest.”

Hell, maybe he could. The whole idea gave him a little hope. “I probably should. Hartford’s not a bad guy.” He stole a look around and whispered, “Arondel’s another matter, though. I’ve met him a few times. Eyes like a snake.”

Will squeezed his forearm. “Your coach has to want to protect his players. He’s not going to do anything to jeopardize his team. Hell, man, like Noah says, it’s your life. You get to say how you live it. I had to learn that the hard way.” He leaned over and kissed Noah gently. A couple of guys two tables away gave them a sappy smile. Jamal tamped down the envy—and the pride. They’d given up a lot to live their lives the way they wanted, but he wasn’t Will. His dream revolved around football, helping his family, and making his dad proud. All that was spelled D-I-A-B-L-O. Still, it would be nice. He muffled the sigh.

The drag queen waiter brought their drinks and shuffled them out fast as the lights started to dim. Jamal moved quick and whipped three twenties onto the table to keep the guys from paying for the drinks. He waved his hand for the waiter to keep it and got a big smile.

Will leaned in. “Thanks, Daddy Warbucks.”

Jamal grinned. It was nice to have enough money to help friends too.

A raucous voice exploded over the PA system. “Laaaadies and—ladies. Gentlemen and gentlemen, and all stops between and beyond, welcome to the Cellar. A quiet little name for a noisy little place. And now, here’s your mistress of ceremonies, she who puts the ass in astute, the cock in cocktail, and the homo in homo sapiens, Lucretia Lorenz.”

A queen almost the size of Jamal strutted onto the stage wearing a feathered headdress and red sequins, the stage lights shining off every excessive ornament. “Her” biceps bulged below the spaghetti straps holding the dress up over a substantial bosom. “Hello, my lovelies.” For a huge man, the queen’s voice trilled high and falsetto with occasional trips to the basement for a snatch of baritone. She peered out through the bright lights. “Oh my, you are lovely aren’t you? Are you ready for a display of high-culture nasty?”

The audience shouted.

“Okay, a man walks into a bar and asks the bartender for ten shots of whiskey. ‘Wow,’ says the bartender, ‘what’s wrong?’ ‘I found out my brother is gay and marrying my best friend.’ So the bartender gives him the drinks. The next day, the guy comes in again and asks for twelve shots. ‘What’s wrong this time?’ the bartender asks. ‘I found out my son is gay.’ So the bartender serves ’em up. The next day, in comes the man. ‘Fifteen shots, please.’ The bartender shakes his head. ‘Man, doesn’t anyone in your family like women?’ The guy looks at him and says, ‘Apparently my wife does.’”

The drummer did a rim shot, and the audience laughed.

“Okay lovelies, you didn’t come to see an old queen like me. On with the show. Heerrre’s Blue Angel.”

Blue Angel turned out to be a stripping pole dancer. Wildly athletic, she spun and twirled in her G-string and bikini top with a very convincing bulge on top and none on the bottom. She finally ripped off her bra to reveal a flat chest, then turned her back, did some adjustment, and pirouetted to show off her family jewels barely hidden by the scrap of blue metallic fabric. The guy was fun, artistic, if not the best Jamal had ever seen, and moderately sexy. If Jamal hadn’t done his shower massage, his cock might have been a lot more interested, even though the guy was too butch for his taste.

Following Blue Angel came a performance of the Cellar Whores, the chorus line of the club. The five guys attempted precision high kicks that weren’t too precise and seemed to be having a pretty good time lip-syncing to songs from Cabaret. Jamal glanced at his watch. The show was fun, but he kind of wished they’d just gone to dinner and talked.

The mistress of ceremonies told another joke, then glanced offstage. She grinned. “And now my lovelies, just to reward you, I have a special treat for you. I’ve been told we have a visit from you-know-who.” At least half the place went nuts, including enthusiastic applause from Will and Noah. Jamal leaned toward Will. “What’s happening?”

He got that wicked grin again. “You’ll see.”

The lights on the stage started to dim. Lucretia’s red sequins glittered a little in the fading glow as she said, “And now, my lovelies, Trixie LaRuuuuuue.”

The stage went black.

The voice that came across the PA was husky and sensual, and if he didn’t know better, Jamal would have thought it was a woman singing an a cappella version of an old song. Live. No lip syncing here.

“I fell in love when I didn’t want to, what am I to do? Can’t help it.”

A single spotlight crept up, illuminating a girl in the middle of the stage. Her pale, smooth blonde hair fell to her shoulders and, in the light, it shone almost as much as her fair, fair skin. Sweet, holy mother. Beautiful. Drag queens usually liked to be called “she,” and it wasn’t hard to think of her that way.

A single piano started behind her, not as good as her voice, but okay.

“Love wraps me in its arms. What else can I say? I was made that way. Can’t help it.”

Not a sound—no cough, snort, or giggle—interfered with the music. That might mean that every person in the room could hear Jamal’s cock screaming for release from his pants.

Had he ever seen anyone so gorgeous?

She walked a few steps, the dull shimmer of the simple dress hugging hard thighs and showing an expanse of well-shaped calf. “How can I help it if men can’t get enough?”

Pale, fragile, she looked slim as a model, but her bare arms in the long ice-blue gown showed a pattern of musculature under the smooth skin. She stood about five ten, so she’d have been a tall female had she been one.

She lifted her lips the tiniest bit in a smile. His heart hammered. “I may look like an angel, but made from mortal stuff.”

Angel was right.

Oddly, though she could have passed for a woman pretty much anywhere, Jamal’s dick knew she wasn’t. What was it? Some quality of maleness, or maybe of not-femaleness. He liked women, but he liked Trixie more. Much more.

She stared straight out at the audience for the first time. The guy at the next table actually sighed.

“I fell in love when I didn’t want to. Whatever can I do?” She raised a hand and pulled a tendril of hair away from her face, then tickled her lips with it. There were laws against that kind of sexy. Manslaughter laws.

“Can’t help it.”

The light went out. Silence. Then the place went nuts. People cheered, stomped, and screamed. The spotlight came back up on Lucretia. Trixie LaRue was gone.

Jamal looked at Will, who was staring at him with a little smile. “Will she come back?”

Will shook his head.

Jamal turned back to the stage and watched the queen do her big finale—jokes and interaction with the audience. He couldn’t focus. He felt like someone had kicked him in the stomach. Or lower. Finally the cast took their bows—but with no appearance by Trixie. The lights came up and the waitresses began circulating.

Noah grinned, his long brown hair falling over the scarred half of his face. “Did you like your present?”

Jamal’s head kind of moved in a circle. “Yeah. But where’s she from?” He couldn’t believe a talent like that hung out in an obscure club. Hell, she could be the biggest thing to ever hit drag. She could walk the runways.

Will shook his head. “No idea. We asked some questions when we first saw her but never got any real answers. They never publicize her appearances, so people show up and take their chances.”

“We lucked out.”

Noah sipped the last of his beer. “Not completely. We noticed that she does seem to come fairly often on Thursdays. I think others here probably figured out the same thing. That’s why the audience is so full.”

“She’s amazing.”

Will put a hand on Noah’s arm. “We thought you’d like. She’s totally your type.”

Jamal shook his head. “She’s not a type, man. She’s one of a kind. She’s gotta be transsexual, right?”

“Maybe. But trans people and drag queens don’t always mix, so I’m not so sure.”

“Wouldn’t you love to know her story?”

Will chuckled. “Not as much as you would, I bet.”

Tackling the Tight End #3
Chapter One
“I’M A weird, perverted, piece-of-shit fag.”

Raven stared at Hick, who was perched on the narrow cot. He wanted so badly to pet that scraggly mane of black hair and tell him he’d be okay. No way. The kid would hate it. “Who told you that shit?”

Hick shrugged.

“Your father?”

One nod.

“Mother?”

He shrugged.

“So they threw you out?”

“Minister said they had to.”

“Fuck him to hell.”

That got a tiny curve of a smile.

“You know what my people would call you?”

“You Injun?”

“Yep.” Raven pulled his braid over his shoulder and shook it like a feather duster. Bigger curve on that smile. “They’d call you two-spirited.”

Hick frowned. “Like too much spirit?”

“No, like having two spirits. Double. In a lot of tribes, you might have been a shaman. Like a wizard, you know? The chief would have come to you for advice.”

His dark eyes met Raven’s dead-on. “No shit?”

“Look it up. Ever heard of Crazy Horse?”

“Sure. Saw a movie about him and Custer. Badass.”

“Yeah. Well, guess who he went to bed with?”

“Mrs. Horse?” That actually got a full grin.

“A guy.”

“No.”

“Yeah.”

“He was gay? Crazy Horse?”

“Not exactly. He had sex with women too. The Lakota didn’t think about people who slept with the two-spirited as gay. They were just men. The two-spirit were special.”

Hick picked at the rough material of the sheet. “Wish I belonged to that tribe, man.”

“You do. The human tribe. Just like Crazy Horse, you’re a man.” He gazed at Hick’s strong features. “Anyone ever say you had Native blood?”

“You mean like me being an Indian?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t think so. My dad’s, like, English or something, and my mom’s Italian.”

“That’s where you got the hair?”

“Yeah.” Tears welled in his eyes, and he swiped at them fiercely. “Wish I was Indian.”

Raven glanced up at the clock on the wall outside Hick’s door. Shit, he needed to go. “The people here at the Youth Center are good, and they’re smart. Trust them. Take advantage of what’s here. They can help you.”

“Will I see you again?”

“Yes. For sure. I volunteer here a lot.” He stood.

“Heard you’re some big football star.”

“Heard wrong. I’m just a tight end. No big.”

“Wrong, man. You’re huge.”

Raven laughed. “You should see the guards.” He slicked the hair that liked to fall out of his braid. “Study, go to school. You can end up in college too.”

“Don’t like school.”

“How do you know?”

Hick laughed. He licked a finger and made a mark in the air. One for Raven.

Raven crossed to the door of the room Hick shared with two other boys. They’d given him some privacy to talk. “See you.”

“Raven?”

“Yeah.”

“You two-spirited?”

“Yep.”

“Your folks don’t mind?”

How did he answer that? “They’re okay with it.” He touched his forehead with two fingers and walked out the door.

In the hall, Fritzie practically ran into him in her usual headlong forward movement. “Hey, Raven. Want a cuppa?”

“No time. Sorry. I’m already late for a giant family event.”

“At the casino?”

“Yeah.”

“For your birthday?”

He nodded.

“Have fun. Eat some cake for me.”

“Uh, right.”

She smiled, which made her plain, almost aggressively unadorned face look kind of pretty. “They want the best for you, Rave.”

He flipped his braid. “Yep, and they know exactly what the best is.”

“Yeah, well, at least they love you.”

He took a big breath. “Way to make a guy feel like a selfish asshole.”

She grinned. “That’s my job. See you later in the week?”

“Yeah. I’ve got crap to do, but I’ll make time.”

“You always do.” She put a strong hand on his wrist. “And it’s really appreciated. You give these kids a perspective none of us can duplicate. It makes a difference.”

He nodded but had trouble looking up. “Thank you.”

“Now get home before they send the tribe to burn down the shelter.”

He raised a hand and wrote in the air. “Indian Raid Takes Out Gay Youth Shelter. Where Did They Get All Those Tomahawks?” He gave her a pat. “See you soon.”

After a fast sprint to his apartment to change into his suit, and a faster-than-the-cops-would-like drive out of LA into San Bernardino County, he piloted the ancient piece-of-shit Toyota into the employee parking lot of the Mesa Manos Indian Casino. He turned off the ignition and swung out of the car. Ready for an evening of all his least favorite shit. Happy birthday to me.

“Hey, Rave.”

Raven smiled as he approached the entrance. “Hi, Jimmy. How’s the family?”

“Good, thanks for asking. There’s about a gazillion people in there waiting for you.”

Shit. “Thanks for the warning.”

Inside the place was jumping. Friday night at the most popular Indian casino in southern California. The sound of slots whirring and ringing created a sense of excitement—the background music to his life. He waved at a couple of dealers and passed the long line for the big Italian eatery as he headed toward the quiet back hall where the small, elegant restaurant simply called Native entertained only the very discerning—and those with fat wallets.

As he entered the narrow hall, a young woman jumped out in front of him. Her large breasts bounced in a skintight silver lamé dress. “Hi, Raven. I hoped I’d catch you here. I’m such a big fan.”

The heat scorched his cheeks. “Thank you, you’re very kind.”

He tried to walk past her, but she cut him off again. “Would you give me an autograph?”

“I’d be happy to, but I don’t have anything to sign.”

“Oh, I can find something.” She opened a jeweled purse on her arm, barely large enough to hold a lipstick, and pulled out a black marker. “Here.”

He took the pen and glanced around. The entrance to Native beckoned only steps ahead. The maître d’ looked out at Raven, grinning.

She leaned forward, her cleavage straining the low neckline of the dress. “Sign here, handsome.”

Hell no. He looked toward the maître d’. “Jack, can you hand me one of the restaurant postcards?”

“Yes, sir.” Jack stepped behind the reservation desk, pulled out a card, and, walking forward, handed it to Raven.

“Thank you.” Raven signed the card and gave it to the girl.

“Awww.” She pouted with a smile.

His smile cooled his blush a little. “They’re just too much for a gay guy.”

She popped a hand on her hip. “Are you really gay?”

“Yes, I really am.”

“Such a waste.”

“Not to me.”

She batted her lashes. “Thank you for the autograph. If you ever change your mind about the gay thing, find me.” She waggled her fingers and then waggled her hips, walking back toward the banks of slot machines.

Raven hurried over to Jack. “I’m really late, aren’t I?”

The maître d’ smiled. “You’re the last to arrive, but since you’re the guest of honor, I’d say it’s your prerogative.”

“I wish I thought my father would share your view.” He patted Jack’s shoulder and threaded through the quiet but crowded restaurant to the private dining room in back. At the double doors, he took a big breath and opened one side, slipped in behind the crowd of people—mostly members of the tribe—and looked for a face that would make him feel more comfortable.

As if pulled by an invisible string—a connection they’d had since childhood—Walter glanced up, smiled, said something to the group he was with, and walked toward Raven. Raven smiled back, then caught a glimpse of his father in the corner of his eye. He extended his hands to Walter and leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek. “Hey, my friend.”

Walter crinkled his laughing eyes. “Hi. Is somebody watching?”

“Yep.”

“Shall I throw my arms round you and sweep you to the ground?”

“As if you could, puny critter.” Walter stood about five-eleven to Raven’s six-five, but where Raven had to eat piles of food to maintain two twenty-five, Walter dieted to stay under three hundred. Raven whispered, “Could we just leave and go to the movies?” Since they’d been old enough to sneak away, the movie theater had been their escape.

“Yeah right. This is your command performance, baby, so let’s go give ’em a good show.” He took Raven’s hand and led him back to the people he’d been speaking with. “Rave, you know Mr. and Mrs. Garcia and their daughter, Tiffany.”

Raven smiled. Leave it to Walt to guide him through the hopeless boulders of tribal politics. “Of course, delighted to see you again.”

“We’re so excited about your game tomorrow.” Mr. Garcia slapped his shoulder.

“Thank you, sir.”

Mrs. Garcia had a pinched look around the mouth. “Can’t you get them to stop using those insulting tom-toms?”

Raven took a breath, but Walter tightened his hand and said, “They don’t mean anything by it, Mrs. G.”

Tiffany grinned. “I think it’s pretty strong. Nobody ever recognizes us at all. Better a tom-tom than no tom.”

Walt laughed, so Raven did too, but a strong hand on his shoulder turned him around. “Hi, Dad.”

His father nodded to the Garcias and pulled Raven away. “It took you a while to get here.”

“I had a lot to do. Sorry.” His father never loved that Raven hung out with a bunch of gay white kids when he could be working for the glory of the tribe—preferably on the football field. Raven dragged Walt behind him as he followed his father toward the dais.

His dad’s formidable hawk profile turned back toward him. “Priorities, Raven.”

“Yes, sir.” He had plenty of priorities. They just didn’t include large gatherings of tribal dignitaries.

“These people are starving.”

No. He’d seen starving, and this wasn’t it.

His father took a step up the dais, then turned. “Walt, please wait here.”

Reluctantly Raven let go of Walt’s hand and followed his father, who took the microphone. “Good evening. I’m honored to be with you tonight. I know everyone’s ready for dinner, but first I simply wanted to say happy birthday to my son.”

Everyone applauded, and Walt whistled.

His dad raised a hand, and the noise died down. “As you know, Raven turns twenty-one today, so we’ll celebrate with some champagne tonight. I also have a surprise. The tribal advisory board has suggested Raven as our new apprentice casino manager.”

More applause. Raven plastered on a smile.

“Raven will work a few hours a week around his school and football schedule to begin to learn the business. The council believes his high profile will bring honor to the tribe and—” He smiled broadly. “—business to the casino. Of course, if he happens to be playing football somewhere else next year, it will still bring business to the casino.”

Everyone laughed, and people stomped and whistled. Oh crap.

“Now I’ll hand this to Raven for a few words.”

Shit, he hated this. He took the mic and stared at Walt for moral support. “I hope my new job won’t have too many moments like this.” He waggled the microphone. “I’m not much for speaking in groups, as you know, but that’s good because it means we all get to eat faster.” Everyone laughed. “Thank you for coming to my party. I’m really honored.”

Somebody yelled, “Go Lions!”

He grinned. “I can get behind that, no problem. Thanks again.” He walked off the dais, and Walt took his hand tightly as people filed into the next room, where a buffet dinner was about to be served. “Was I awful?”

“You were adorbs, baby.”

“Why can’t you do the dumb fucking internship?”

“Because I’m not the great red hope.” He said it lightly but with a tiny edge to his voice.

“You’re my hope, my friend.”

Walt smiled softly. “Thank you. Back atcha.”

His father grasped Raven’s arm. “Walt, may I borrow Raven for a minute?”

“He’s all yours, sir.”

Walt walked away and started talking to another group of people—so easy and comfortable. Raven just felt antsy. His dad led the way into a room off to the side of the banquet room. They used it for smaller gatherings or, as for this party, a bar. Standing against the wall, holding what looked like a whiskey and water, was a tall, well-dressed white man. As they approached, the man smiled and walked forward with his free hand extended. “Raven, I’m so glad to meet you at last.”

Raven glanced at his father but shook the man’s hand.

His father said, “Raven, I’d like you to meet Mickey Mortimor.”

Holy shit. “How do you do, sir? I’m honored.” Only one of the biggest sports agents in the business.

“I happened to be in LA on business and heard about this being your birthday. I contacted your father, and he kindly invited me to join in the festivities. As it turns out, I can’t stay for dinner, but I wanted to meet you.” He grinned. “You know, in case there should be things we have to talk about.” His grin turned into a laugh.

“Thank you for taking the time.”

“I’m led to believe you haven’t signed with an agent yet, is that right?”

“Yes, sir. I’m not sure there’s any reason to.”

His father slapped a hand on his arm. “He’s a modest boy, Mickey.”

“So I understand. But I am going to ask you to not make a decision on an agent without talking to me first. I can’t officially ask for a first right of refusal, but I think you understand my meaning.”

His stomach churned. “I appreciate your interest, sir.”

Mortimor slapped Raven’s bicep. “I like it. Clean-cut, polite, humble—”

“Gay.” Raven gazed at Mortimor’s face and caught the slight wince. His father frowned.

Mortimor smiled. “Well, the times they are a changin’, right? And your image is anything but pansy-assed, so I think we can get past the issue. Hell, it could mean a lot of good publicity in the long run.”

Raven nodded. The whole idea made him a little sick.

“I’d better get back to LA and onto my plane. Thank you for spending some time with me, Raven, on your special day. Here’s to a great life.” He shook his hand. “And I hope to play a role in making it that way.” He turned to Raven’s dad. “Thank you again, Marcus. Delighted to meet you.” Mortimor strode out of the bar and into the room beyond.

Raven’s father turned and grasped his hands. “Are you excited? What an incredible vote of confidence. I looked it up. That man is one of the most influential agents in football. With him behind you, you’re on your way.”

Raven frowned. “My so-called talent is at least fifty percent bullshit, Dad. Razzle-dazzle. It’s the Native thing. The hair, the mystique. If I’m not good enough to back up the hype, I’ll get killed in the NFL.”

“What are you talking about? You’re a great player. As good as any tight end in the business.”

Shit, what was the point of arguing? “I’m happy you think so.”

Author Bio:
Read the Beautiful Boys of Romance Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Erotic Romance, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!


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Outing the Quarterback #1
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Canning the Center #2
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Tackling the Tight End #3
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Pre-Order Tour: Relationship Resuscitation by Jennifer Theriot

Title: Relationship Resuscitation
Author: Jennifer Theriot
Series: Juniper Court #1
Genre: Mature Romantic Comedy
Expected Release Date: February 28, 2018
Summary:
Meet Phillip & Jayne Miller, original homeowners on Juniper Court. He's a successful attorney; she's a flourishing blogger. Head over heels in love and approaching 50, their relationship needs a little jump start. With the Miller's twin girls married and moved away from Sunview, Phillip and Jayne decide it's time to focus on resuscitating their relationship, complete with spicing up their neglected sex life. When competition between the two sets in, it becomes a full out game to see who can one-up the other trying new things. Ah, yes. Life on Juniper Court gets interesting... and sometimes embarrassing. Be careful what you wish for and where you stick your nose. Sometimes keeping up with the Joneses--or in this case, the Sullivans can have consequences.


Armed with a box of our favorite cheese danishes, I arrived on my neighbor’s doorstep at precisely seven-thirtyin the morning for our ritual Hump Day Hangout, and rang the doorbell. Nina Sullivan peered through the leaded glass door and smiled, but when she opened it, Max, her mammoth German shepherd, charged out, all but knocking me down. His nose went to my nether regions, and it was all Nina could do to yank his collar and get him to step back while admonishing him.“Max! Stop that.” Her belly gushing laugh did little to get Max to obey. “What the hell is wrong with him? I thought you took him to obedience school? Geez.”

Nina chuckled. “Maybe he smells something he likes down there.”

“Any normal dog would have gone straight for the danish.”

“I never said Max was normal, did I?”






Jennifer Theriot
USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Theriot (pronounced Terrio) hails from the Great State of Texas. She is a career woman, working as CFO of a Texas based real estate investment firm. She felt something was missing and discovered her passion for writing--mostly at night and on weekends. In her limited spare time Jennifer enjoys being outdoors; preferably somewhere on a beach curled up with a good book. Spending time with family and friends, watching a baseball game and enjoying a good bottle of wine are usually on her to-do lists. Jennifer has three grown children and is also 'MiMi' to four beautiful grandkids - all of whom she adores.


JD Frettier/Jennifer Theriot
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Book Blitz: Italian Billionaire's Stubborn Lover by Leslie North

Title: Italian Billionaire's Stubborn Lover
Author: Leslie North
Series: Romano Brothers #1
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 29, 2018
Summary:
Luxury real estate agent Adeline Peluso came to Italy in search of adventure. Inheriting an apartment with a view of the coast in Sicily sounded like something out of a movie, but after two years watching a resort she’d always loved fall to pieces she’s ready to throw in the proverbial towel…that is until one of the owners finally walked into her office. Tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome, the man would drive her crazy with his arguments if he didn’t set her aflame with his kisses.

Billionaire Nicolo Romano is a global citizen. He’s the kind of guy who skis in the Alps, snorkels in the caribbean, and enjoys the lights of the Vegas strip on a whim. He has no desire to be tied down anytime soon. So when he and his brothers inherit the family resort, Nicolo has one goal: Sell it and sell it fast. But coming back to the place he loved as a child to find a woman who feels just as passionately about the crumbling hotel throws him. Instead of using his business savvy to sell fast, Nicolo is wooing this woman with his island, slowly falling back in love with the place himself.

When whip smart arguments turn into stolen kisses and stolen kisses turn into steamy nights, Adeline and Nicolo will realize that they’re fighting for more than the fate of a historic hotel. They’re fighting for the chance of life’s greatest adventure: True Love.


Adeline Peluso tapped her stiletto heel nervously on the rust colored terracotta tile floor as she traced her perfectly manicured fingernail over her plump bottom lip. Blinking, she contemplated the choice before her. She could stay in Sicily or let go of her dreams and move on.

“Poo,” she said, frowning at her laptop where it lay open atop an ancient walnut desk that was large enough and heavy enough to double as a raft on choppy seas. Between her eyes was a small, pinched crease of consternation that had plagued her with compliments of “adorable” and “sweet” ever since she’d been a young girl. Now at twenty-nine it was no less cute, but in truth, she was actually quite frustrated.

The beauty of her surroundings, which normally worked wonders to lighten her mood, did nothing for her today. From outside the tall, open windows of her real estate office, the calming sound of waves lapping against the Sicilian shore reached her ears. But instead of making her thankful for the life she lived as it usually did, it made her wistful for the adventures she was missing by remaining on the island of Sicily.

Moving to Sicily had been a dream come true for Adeline. Its history and heritage were more diverse than even the home she’d left behind in America. It was in Sicily that she had learned how to live with gusto and verve, and she had treasured the summers she’d spent there with her grandparents. Though they were gone now, it was through their happy marriage in this beautiful place that she’d learned what life-long love looked like.

She had thought that she could capture some of the magic of their lives by moving to Sicily. It had been her childhood dream. She’d thought that she would find love and adventure. Instead, she had an empty apartment to go home to at night and her life was filled with the same bored routine that she’d left behind in America.

She needed adventure. She needed more from life. It was too amazing to sleepwalk through.

“I could find love in Spain,” she said. Crossing her legs, she tapped her toe silently in the air as she contemplated her choices.

Author Bio:
Leslie North is the pen name for a critically-acclaimed author of women's contemporary romance and fiction. The anonymity gives her the perfect opportunity to paint with her full artistic palette, especially in the romance and erotic fantasy genres.

The truth of the matter is she loves her fictional persona, Leslie North, more than her normal, day-to-day persona! Her bestselling books focus on strong characters and particularly women who aren't afraid to challenge an alpha male. Inspired after years of travel, her stories are set all over the world, from the tough streets of Russia to the beautiful beaches of the middle east.

Leslie fell in love with romance when she first picked up a scrappy, dog-eared romance book from her local library. She began writing soon after and the rest, as they say, was history. She now lives in a cozy cottage on the British coast and enjoys taking long walks with her two Dalmatians, George and Fergie.

She LOVES reader feedback, and if you have any comments, don't hesitate to contact her via e-mail: leslie@leslienorthbooks.com.


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EMAIL: leslie@leslienorthbooks.com







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