Read an Excerpt
'Making the Pass' by Cheryl Dragon
<span style="line-height: 1.6em;">Aiden Brewer kept his eye on the ball and the field. The last summer wind blew over his arms as the evening brought cooler temps to the New England football field. It was just a practice so the stands were empty and after heâ€™d bruised his ribs in the last game, Aiden wasnâ€™t pushing too hard. Looking over at Jack Allman eased the pain with a jolt of lust. A field full of hot men and Aiden had to want the one who showed no real interest. They were friends but not really that close.</span>
It made Aiden nuts. Especially when he had to target Jack with the ball. The wide receiver had good hands and fast feet. He also had sexy boy-next-door looks on an athletically muscled body with buzzed reddish brown hair. His chest hair tempted Aiden even more. Those deep brown eyes of his never missed a thing in the locker room.
Aiden had to lead and shook off the fantasy of tackling Jack naked. Facing the same direction, Jack squatted a few feet away. Aiden was always aware of where Jack was since passing the football to Jack was Aidenâ€™s job. As he reached for the ball, Aiden swore Jack was looking at him.
Ignoring Jack, Aiden took off and ran the play. He found Jack down the field and hurled the ball with precision. His ribs screamed and Aiden held his side. His teammates didnâ€™t tackle him and Paul came over. Aiden watched Jackâ€™s strong body power down the field and make a touchdown. His ass looked so good in that uniform, Aiden wondered if heâ€™d ever get over the friend who seemed oblivious.
"You okay?" Paul asked.
"Just the ribs. Damn, still sore." He tried to shake it off.
"Youâ€™re thirty. Youâ€™re not going to bounce back like those wild twenties anymore." Paul patted him on the back.
"I just didnâ€™t want to sit it out." Aiden shrugged.
"Why not? You wonâ€™t turn rusty in a week." Despite Paul being a good friend, Aiden didnâ€™t want to hear it.
Aiden nodded to the other end of the field. "Jack as usual. Being a dick."
"He said something?" Paul asked.
"In the locker room. Heâ€™s two years older but no sympathy." Aiden knew Jackâ€™s job was more physical. The advantage of having more muscle was all with Jack, at least for muscle and power. The perfect throws were Aiden. The engineer had to hit his mark.
"You should just freak him out. Kiss him or something. I bet thatâ€™d solve a lot of problems," Paul teased.
Aiden shook his head. "Iâ€™m not being the butt of more of his jokes. The guy has it in for me."
"Not how you think," Paul said.
That train of thought would only get Aiden into trouble. Jack could take the teasing if Aiden chose to dish it back.
The assistant coach blew his whistle and the team headed in. "Good job. Hit the showers. Aiden, donâ€™t push it next practice. Rest the ribs so youâ€™re good for the game. Sitting out one wonâ€™t kill you."
"Sure." Aiden pulled off his helmet.
"But hit the gym so you stay loose." Jack grinned as they walked towards the showers.
"Youâ€™re the coach now too? Why donâ€™t you just pass yourself the ball?" Aiden shot back.
The team laughed and headed for the showers. Aiden knew his banter with Jack was expected. Theduo always delivered. He found Jack and Jack somehow managed to outrun the tight end and nab the pass. They were connected and the team counted on them. Plenty of guys gave them crap about being a couple. Practising at home and on the sideâ€”Aiden wished!
He was last in the steam-filled college locker room. The facilities were updated and well-maintained. He sat on the extra-wide bench down the middle of the rows of lockers. There was no rush. As annoying as Jack could be, Aiden hated leaving the games and practices.
Paul helped him get the pads off to spare his ribs. When the material cleared his head, Aiden caught Jack watching. The man was nuts! Running his mouth and then acting jealous. Paul was a friend and had eyes for that kicker on the Griffinsâ€™ rival team. Aiden hated to turn the tables of teasing on Paul, but itâ€™d work.
'Crossing the Line' by Megan Slayer
How come the right fit is never there when you want it?
Ryan Malone sighed and pressed the last glazing point into place. He wished he was working on one of his paintings rather than framing artwork for the local high school. The man in the painting stirred something deep within him, something exciting and unattainable. He tapped the point into the frame, double-checked the fit.
The man in the painting wasnâ€™t just any guy. No, Paul Toth surpassed most men. Gifted in the art classroom and smooth in social situations, he turned heads with his effortless style. Ryan flipped the painting over. Staring at Paul for the last two months had seared his visage into Ryanâ€™s memory. The guy had grace and damn was he cute. Brown eyes with just a hint of wonder. Thick, dark brown hair combed like heâ€™d just walked out of a salon...and that body...Muscles where a man should be sculpted, but not boxy or bulky.
Thank God Ryan had closed his office door. Anyone passing by wouldâ€™ve seen the bulge in his pants. On the outside, Paul embodied everything Ryan wanted in a man.
"But he plays for the other team," Ryan said to himself. His phone beeped, reminding him of his appointment with the principal. "I havenâ€™t met with a principal since I was in school." He chuckled. Thinking about school didnâ€™t make him feel much better.
He wrapped the artwork in butcher paper, then grabbed his keys. Thirty minutes later he stood outside Northwood High School. He pressed the button to lock his Jeep.
Just take the painting in, he probably wonâ€™t be there. Ryan gripped the painting and strode into the foyer. Northwood happened to be the home of the soon-to-be-named Teacher of the Year, aka Paul Toth. He pushed the second door handle, but nothing happened.
"We need to buzz you in," came a voice over the loudspeaker.
Ryan cringed. He hated being caught off guard. "Iâ€™m Ryan Malone, here with the Teacher of the Year painting."
"Very good," the woman said. "Doorâ€™s open."
Ryan headed to the office. The quicker he made his delivery, the sooner heâ€™d be able to leave. Seeing Paul wouldnâ€™t help things.
Ryan grinned at the principal. "Hello, Mr Laubenthal. I have the painting."
"Perfect." George Laubenthal rubbed his meaty hands together. His salt-and-pepper eyebrows bobbed and his moustache twitched. "Itâ€™s been eating Toth alive not to be doing this for us this year."
"The painting?" He handed the principal the package. "I know he teaches art, but I wasnâ€™t sure if he created the portraits."
"Yes. Mr Toth has painted the last four winners. I couldnâ€™t exactly have him paint himself. Letâ€™s show the girls in the office." Laubenthal led the way to the main office. "Girls, youâ€™re going to love this."
"Well, we can only hope," Ryan muttered.
"Nan, see if the work room is empty. Donâ€™t want wandering eyes." Laubenthal placed the painting on the nearest desk. His eyes sparkled behind his thick glasses. "Iâ€™m excited to see it."
When the secretary came back grinning, George unveiled the painting. He picked at the tape holding the paper closed, then gasped. "This is fantastic." George stepped back from the painting and pulled an envelope from his coat pocket. He handed Ryan the envelope. "Thatâ€™s for you. Board approved. We truly appreciate it."
Ryan stared at the image of Paul and suppressed a sigh. In the bright light, the highlights in Paulâ€™s dark hair stood out. His brown eyes sparkled with poise and mischief. Heâ€™d folded his arms in the photo and Ryan had taken the opportunity to define his biceps a bit more. When heâ€™d created the painting, he hadnâ€™t been able to tear his gaze from Paulâ€™s. Now, seeing the image with others around, Paul took his breath away. Paul embodied control and strength. Ryan forced himself to look away from the image that had haunted his dreams.
"Iâ€™m glad youâ€™re happy." Ryan nodded and placed the folded envelope in his back pocket. "Iâ€™d love to hang around and gawk at the painting, but Iâ€™ve got some other things to attend to so Iâ€™ll be going. Thank you for asking me to do this for you."
"Iâ€™m glad Professor Pride suggested you." George Laubenthal offered his hand. "Iâ€™ve seen your work down at the NEU Galleries. Weâ€™re honoured to have a piece here, as well. Thank you."
Ryan shook hands with the principal, then made his way out of the office. Only a few more steps and heâ€™d be back outside in the safety of his Jeep and the seclusion of his office.
'In the Red Zone' by Stephanie Burke
"Twenty-seven! Thirty-six! Fifteenâ€”hike!"
In the back of his mind, Dolton heard the words. His blood jumped at the sound of the snap, but his eyes were focused in on his goal.
The quarterback from his rival team, the Rockville Rocs, was going down.
He watched as the quarterback stepped back, looking for a receiver, and Dolton thought to himself, Not today.
He dodged to his left, avoiding the defensive lineman who was attempting to keep the pocket, the grouping of men using their bodies as a wall to protect the quarterback, and neatly slipped in between two of them. He caught a glimpse of movement off to his right, but instead of slowing down, he hunkered lower and kept moving, ploughing everything out of his path. Dolton was not the tallest man on the team but he made his low centre of gravity and his ability to slide through tight spots work for him.
The quarterback never saw what hit him.
"That is a sack, folks, and the end of this game! The play clock has run out and the Griffins have tossed back the Rocs like so much cheap beer!"
Dolton didnâ€™t pay much attention to the announcers or the quarterback who was crushed beneath his weight. His new focus was on a glorious head of blond hair trailing down the back of a gold and black jersey.
Dean Majors, right tackle, all-around good guy and of late, the star of his masturbation fantasies, placed his hands on the ground, his head low and his ass high in the air before he gave up and rolled himself onto his back. Huffing in exhaustion, he extended his right hand up towards Dolton for assistance.
Feeling his heartbeat beginning to race, Dolton reached for the hand, gripping it tightly just as the rest of the team enveloped them, tossing Dolton in the air and yanking his hands from Deanâ€™s grasp.
The disconnection was almost painful.
"Dolton! Dol-ton! Dol-ton!" His name was being chanted as he was carried triumphantly off the field, but Dolton couldnâ€™t resist turning back one more time to stare at the mass of blond hair now revealed fully as Dean pulled off his helmet.
Sparkling blue eyes met his and for a moment, Dolton felt like he had been punched in the chest. But that feeling passed quickly as a brown-haired man enveloped him in a massive hug, lifting him off his feet and spinning him around.
Dolton lost sight of Dean and Robbie as the team carried him into the locker rooms and to the grinning face of their manager Tina Edmonson.
"I am so proud of you," the portly Asian woman chuckled. "So very proud. The Rocs are no pushovers, but you guys handed them their collective asses!"
She paused as more cheering echoed around the state-of-the-art locker room. Dolton was grateful that his university had such a modern place for them to practise and recover. Of course the local weekend league only used the field when the college team wasnâ€™t bent on killing each other to impress the scouts during the season, but it was a privilege for them to be able to use the same equipment and facilities.
"And because you guys did so well, next game we face our rivals the Dragons."
There was good-natured booing and hissing which was more amusing than threatening. If anybody sounded like a bunch of overgrown lizards at the moment, it had to be them.
"So rest up and avail yourselves of the Jacuzzi and steam room if need be, and I will see you all next week to go over strategy and look at film."
There was one final cheer for their totally badass performance on the field and then Tina was slipping out so they could get on with the business of getting clean and comfortable.
And for Dolton that meant looking for Dean and getting as close to him as he could in the showers to get more fodder for his spank bank.
Yes, he was a healthy twenty-nine-year-old and masturbated frequently. He was never ashamed of that particular bodily function and loved to share in the joys of self-love with whomever he was seeing at the time, though right now he wasnâ€™t seeing anyone.
He desired to change that real soon, he reminded himself, as he moved towards his locker and his waiting toiletry kit.