Authors: Carol Lynne
Tags: #Gay MM/ Contemporary/ erotic romance
A Total-E-Bound Publication
©Copyright Carol Lynne 2
Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright August 2011
Edited by Claire Siemaszkiewicz
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2011 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.
This story has a
It was nice to revisit my old friends on campus, but it was even nicer to meet the new ones. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in these men’s lives.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Toyota: Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha TA Toyota Motor Corporation
Speedo: Speedo International Limited
Playgirl: Playgirl Key Club, Inc
Disneyland: Disney Enterprises, Inc.
VertiMax: Genetic Potential, Inc.
Mercedes-Benz: DAIMLER-BENZ AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT CORPORATION
Cessna: TEXTRON INNOVATIONS INC.
San Diego Chargers: Chargers Football Company
North Central Idaho University football coach Chet Sloan dropped the sheet of paper like it was on fire. “No,” he whispered, tapping his fingers on the table. He felt like every inappropriate fantasy was coming back to haunt him.
Swallowing around the lump in his throat, Chet picked up the phone and called Justin Nelson.
“Nelson,” Justin answered.
“Hey, Coach, it’s Chet. Just read the note you left.”
“Great news, huh? I couldn’t believe it when Sikes called and said he wanted to transfer to NCIU. Do you have any idea how many colleges would love to get their hands on him?”
“Why’d he call you instead of me?” Chet asked. Although Justin was once the head coach at NCIU, he’d taken a position as a junior high school coach after his stroke two years earlier. Unfortunately Chet was beginning to regret his decision to ask Justin to recruit for him in the off-season. Justin had already made a huge impact on the quality of players agreeing to play at NCIU, but the newest transfer could spell big trouble for Chet.
“I guess because my name’s listed on the website for recruiting. Hell, I didn’t even have to talk the kid into it. He asked me to check on credit transfers from the University of Arizona and the possibility of a scholarship and that was that. I thought you’d be thrilled. Bobby Ray Sikes is the best running back in college football. It’s an absolute miracle he wants to transfer here.”
“Not such a miracle. I recruited him out of high school for UA,” Chet informed his former boss.
“So you know him? That’s fantastic. He must think a lot of you to transfer before his senior year. If I’d have known, I would’ve transferred the call instead of just leaving you the note.”
Chet leaned back in his chair and rubbed his forehead. The older he got, the more forehead there was for him to rub. It was all his father’s fault he was starting to lose his hair at the age of thirty-two.
“Why do I get the feeling you’re less than happy about this?” Justin asked.
Chet dropped his hand. He knew he should tell Justin the truth, but confessing to your mentor that you’d fallen for an eighteen-year-old while recruiting him was just plain embarrassing. It was downright perverse that he’d begun to have dreams about Bobby Ray before the boy had even graduated high school. To top off Chet’s shame, Bobby’s family had invited him into their home on many occasions, treating him more like family than anyone ever had.
“What aren’t you telling me?” Justin prompted.
“There’s history there. He didn’t take it well when he heard I was leaving UA. Guess I’m not sure how I’ll handle seeing him again, but I know it’s good for the school.”
“It’s great for the school, but if you don’t think you can coach him, maybe we need to discuss it before he makes the move.”
Chet had no doubt he could coach Bobby. Although he’d run to Idaho to put distance between them, he’d still kept close tabs on Bobby’s career. Bobby was one of those players meant for greatness. Chet had seen it years earlier when Bobby’s high school football coach had sent him videos of the young man as a freshman.
He’d made his first visit to the family when Bobby was a junior. Sitting in the stands for the first time watching Bobby Ray Sikes play, Chet’s skin had broken out in gooseflesh. At the time it was the talent he’d yearned to get his hands on and not the young man’s body, but things had changed by the time Bobby turned eighteen. For some reason that was the magic number as far as Chet’s libido was concerned. It was soon after Bobby signed the letter of intent to play for the UA that Chet knew he was in trouble.
Afraid that the NCIU would replace him as head coach in favour of getting a big name player like Bobby Ray, Chet had little choice. “I can coach him. As a matter-of-fact, I’ve got a few ideas of how to improve his game.”
Justin chuckled. “I didn’t think it was possible to improve his game. The kid’s by far the best college player I’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah,” Chet agreed. “When’s he due to arrive?”
“Thursday.” Justin cleared his throat. “He’s…umm…requested placement at BK House.”
“Ahh, shit.” Chet thought of the ramifications of Bobby’s decision. Although Chet knew Bobby’s secret, the rest of the world didn’t. Living in the privately owned dormitory for gay college students would be headline news. “Did you try to talk him out of it?”
“Of course I did, but he’s adamant that he wants to set things right before his career goes any further.”
“What career? If he goes through with this, it could very well be career suicide.” Chet knew he had to talk Bobby out of making the biggest mistake of his life. “You got a number where I can reach him?”
“Yeah.” Justin read off a number Chet didn’t recognise.
“Is that a cell?” Chet asked.
“No. He’s home with his mom right now, but if you’re hoping to reach him, you’d better do it now. I think he’s planning to head this way later today.”
Of course he’d be with Ellen. Along with his guilt over the way he’d handled things with Bobby, Chet carried the knowledge that he hadn’t had the balls to attend Martin’s funeral the previous year. Sure he’d sent a large bouquet of flowers to the funeral home, but he hadn’t attended or sent a personal note. Chet had known it was the coward’s way, but it was the only way he could guarantee Bobby’s future success.
“Does Ellen know where her son plans to live?” Chet doubted it.
“No idea. I mean she knows where he’s moving, but whether or not she knows what BK House is I don’t have a clue.”
“Okay.” Chet had a sinking feeling about the call he was about to make. “Let me talk to him and let you know how it goes.”
“I’ll be here all afternoon. Unlike you, junior high coaches don’t have to start school before the term begins.”
“Don’t rub it in,” Chet said before ending the call. He stared at the name scratched onto the piece of paper. It hadn’t taken long after he’d run to Idaho to start thinking of Bobby Ray as just Bobby, the name the young man had asked to be called. At the time he’d refused, knowing it would blur the lines between coach and…something more. A quick glance at the clock and he decided to go have some lunch before talking to Bobby. Sure he was putting off the conversation, but, hell, he’d put it off for three years, what was another hour?
* * * *
Bobby was winding down from his afternoon exercises when the phone rang. “I’ll get it,” he told his mom. “Hello?”
From his reclined position on the sofa, Bobby bolted upright. “Chet?”
There was a moment of silence before Chet spoke again. “Justin Nelson just told me you’re interested in transferring to Idaho.”
Bobby detected unease in Chet’s normally smooth voice. “It’s a done deal. The only question is whether or not you’ll let me play ball?”
“We both know that’s not an option. The college would have my head if I refused to let you play, Bobby Ray, and you know it.”
It wasn’t the response Bobby had hoped for. Maybe he’d been naïve to think Chet would welcome him now that he was a few years older. “I’ve asked you more than once to please call me Bobby.”
“I know,” Chet replied. “But Bobby Ray helps me to remember who you are.”
Bobby rolled his eyes. Growing up with two first names had been okay. Actually, he still enjoyed hearing all three names when he ran out onto the football field, but hearing the names from Chet didn’t feel right, and while others continued to call him Bobby Ray, he couldn’t imagine a lover calling him that. “You’re not planning to quit before I get there this time, are you?”
Chet sighed into the phone. “We both know why I left AU.”
“I’m not eighteen anymore,” Bobby mumbled.
“I understand that, but you’re a shoe-in for a first round draft pick. Actually, that’s one of the reasons I called. I think you should reconsider moving into BK House.”
“Why, because you think it’ll ruin my career? I’ve already been over all this with Coach Nelson and my mom. I’ve lived a lie for long enough. There’s no way I’m going to spend the rest of my life pretending to be something I’m not.”
“No one’s asking you to, but throwing your sexuality at the press by living in BK House is career suicide.” Chet went quiet for just a moment. “Wait a minute. Your mom knows?”
“Yeah and she’s okay with it, so don’t bring her into it.”
“Does she know about…?”
Bobby heard the shame in Chet’s voice. No, he wasn’t about to travel down that road over the phone. This was his decision, and no one was going to talk him out of it. “Dammit, Chet. Listen to what I’m telling you. I won’t live in one of the campus dorms. I’ve just spent three years trying to live under the watchful eyes of football fans, and I’m sick of it.”
“What if I can find you an alternative? Would you at least consider it?”
Bobby didn’t understand why it was so important to Chet where he lived, as long as it wasn’t with him. “I can’t afford to live off campus. Unless, of course, you’re offering up your place?” He knew it was just wishful thinking and all that.
“No, but I may be able to find you a room with a like-minded individual or two. Let me work on it, and I’ll call you back. What time are you leaving today?”
“I’m not. I’m going with Mom to a doctor’s appointment.”
“Nothing serious, I hope.”
Bobby scrambled for something to say. “Not really, but after what happened to Dad…well, I’d just feel better leaving knowing she’s okay.” His dad’s death the previous year had been the hardest thing he’d ever had to deal with, Chet’s abandonment being the second, and the realisation that he’d probably never make it to pro ball being the third. He’d somehow managed to come to grips with the second and third items, but his feelings for Chet hadn’t dissipated in the least. He still wanted the man more than he’d ever wanted anything in his life.
“Okay. I’ll try to call back before you leave. Do you have a cell phone in case I miss you?”
Bobby glanced at the cell phone sitting on the coffee table. “Yeah, but it’s one of those puny prepaid kind. Mom bought it for the trip out. She hates the thought of me driving that far by myself, but she’s just not up to the trip.”
“I understand. Here, let me give you my number in case you run into any problems on the way,” Chet began.
“Don’t need it.” Bobby rattled off Chet’s old cell number. “That one still good?”
There was a moment of silence. “Yes. I can’t believe you still remember it.”
“I remember everything,” Bobby said before hanging up.
The memories of the best night of his life thrust him back into the past. It had been a month after his high school graduation. He’d travelled to Arizona from Arkansas to look at the AU campus for the first time and get expert coaching on what he needed to work on over the summer. The trip had meant even more to Bobby because the plane ticket had been a graduation present from his mom and dad.
Bobby Ray stepped off the plane and made his way with the other passengers to the baggage claim area. He hadn’t bothered checking his duffle bag, but had arranged to meet Coach Sloan there.
Rounding the corner, Bobby Ray smiled when he spotted the handsome man. “Hey.” He was happily surprised when his soon-to-be coach pulled him in for a quick hug. Bobby Ray’s eyes drifted shut at the contact, but before he could sink deeper into Chet’s touch, his coach pulled back.
“Is that all you brought?” Chet asked, pointing at Bobby Ray’s duffle.
“Yeah. Mom found out it costs twenty-five bucks to check one and repacked for me.” Bobby Ray glanced around at the passengers huddled around the luggage carousel. Fools, he thought.
“Well, in that case, I’m parked out this way,” Chet said, leading the way towards one of the big doors. “How was your flight?”
“Okay. Long. They gave me a seat in one of the exit rows, though, so that helped.” Bobby Ray purposely let Chet walk a few paces in front of him in an effort to study the muscled butt he’d fantasised a lot about lately. He’d known for years that his sexual preferences weren’t in line with the other guys in his high school, so he’d always used his focus on football as an excuse to get out of dating girls. Now that he was about to embark on a different chapter in his life, he wanted to drop some of his walls and let his true personality shine through.
When Chet suddenly stopped walking, Bobby Ray was so busy staring at his ass he didn’t have time to stop his forward momentum. “Ooomph,” he grunted, running into Chet’s chest.
“You okay?” Chet asked,setting a hand on Bobby Ray’s shoulder.
Bobby Ray froze, wondering if his coach had caught him staring. “Yeah. Just clumsy today, I guess.”
Chet gave Bobby Ray’s shoulder a slight squeeze before releasing him. “This is it,” he gestured towards a maroon Toyota Highlander. He took Bobby Ray’s bag and tossed it into the backseat.
Buckling his seatbelt, Bobby Ray thought about the days ahead. He would only be in town for two more days and wanted to try and bridge the gap between friends and lovers. Naïve, maybe, but he had a goal and he wasn’t known for doing anything half-assed.
For the next ten days Bobby Ray hung on every word Chet uttered. He’d never met a man who was so much fun while being so down to earth. There wasn’t a single thing about Chet that Bobby Ray didn’t find fascinating. Heck the man’s hands doing something as simple as turning the knob on the radio turned Bobby on.
It seemed that every night of Bobby Ray’s stay Chet had something special planned. So he was more than happy when Chet announced they were due for a break on Bobby Ray’s last night in town. His plan was to grill steaks and swim, maybe watch a movie before turning in early. Bobby Ray was secretly thrilled they’d be staying at Chet’s small adobe-style house.
Bobby Ray followed Chet outside to the small backyard. “I love it here but it’s so different.” The small backyard was all cement and pool with a wide cloth awning that shaded the majority of the patio. He was used to his portion of Arkansas where the landscape was green and lush.
Chet lit the gas grill and stepped back. “Yeah, I imagine it’ll take some getting used to, but you’ll fit in soon enough.” Chet glanced at Bobby Ray and once again their eyes met in a heated stare for several moments before Chet turned away. “Why don’t you go ahead and change into your swimsuit.”