Sometimes, all it takes to find what you need is to look closely at what has been there all along.
Roommates Jed and Doyle have been best friends since meeting in college. They have supported each other through all their ups and downs. Now that they’ve graduated and are starting new jobs, they have no intention of letting that change anything. Doyle is everything Jed isn’t—smart, cute and active at the LGBT center. Jed has always looked out for his friend and been there for him. They have plans and an amazing friendship, everything planned out to the smallest degree.
Any changes could make it all go off the rails. So why can’t Jed get over how annoying he finds Doyle’s ex, turned friend, who seems to be around way too often? Why can’t he stop noticing Doyle in new ways?
If Jed doesn’t take a risk, he could miss what’s been there all along.
|Publisher:||Totally Entwined Group Ltd|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||814 KB|
About the Author
T.K. Paige picked up her first book to read around the age of four and hasn’t stopped since. She discovered the M/M genre in August of 2012 and an addict was hooked.
If you see her and she is not reading, then she is thinking about the books that live in her head. It doesn’t matter what else she is doing, it is guaranteed half her brain has a plot running through it.
A stay at home mom for more years than she would like to think about, she is lucky enough to be married to a wonderful guy who encouraged her to write throughout their years together. Then when she finally did it and she told him what she was writing, he turned only slightly green and asked “Do I have to read it?” Apparently, he had dreams of her being the next Urban Fantasy sensation with her taste in movies… We won’t tell him what she watches when she is alone all day folding laundry.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © T.K. Paige 2016. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Pride Publishing.
I moved to stand next to my best friend Doyle, appreciating once again how he was the perfect height—shorter than me just enough that I could comfortably rest my arm across his shoulders. Then I waved the other one in a wide sweep at our—finally, thank all the gods—completely unpacked living room.
“Well, roomie,” I said, pitching my voice to sound like a game show host—albeit, one that sounded more campy than professional. Or was that smarmy?—”with enough sound financial planning and penny-pinching, all of this will never be ours.”
Doyle rolled his brown eyes at me. “Well, thank God for that. If I thought for even one moment, that all we had to look forward to was ending up trapped in cheap apartment hell for the rest of our miserable lives, I’d…I’d”—he paused briefly, his roundish face scrunching up as if the thought was too horrible for even him to find the words—“probably order two of those jumbo-sized, meat monstrosity pizzas you love so much and eat all of them in one sitting. Go out in a blaze of gastric and coronary glory.”
I clutched at my chest, miming horror and disbelief. “You? Poison yourself with one of those gastric biohazards?” I grinned widely at him. “I still say you don’t know what you’re missing. Those things are the bomb.”
Doyle snorted. “Exactly my point. You try walking into an innocent-looking room and getting hit with a stench that could rival three roadkill skunks because you don’t have the decency to go into the bathroom and turn on the fan!”
“That just proves my point. You can’t defeat my addiction,” I said in an entirely serious voice. “You should give in to the dark side.” I waggled my eyebrows at him. “We have sausage.”
His thin lips twitched at the corners, but he kept the irate expression pasted on his face, mostly anyway. I was pretty sure he was biting his cheek to keep from smiling.
“Jed, if I joined you in the most drawn-out, culinary suicide known to mankind, the Environmental Protection Agency would be on us like a military operation. This place would be immediately condemned as unsafe for at least twenty years, and we’d lose every penny we’d shelled out for it.”
I started to deny it, but when he cocked one eyebrow at me, I shrugged. “More like thirty.” What else could I say? He had a valid point.
Doyle’s voice softened. “Do you believe we’re as crazy as the guys think we are?” He turned his face to me, lifting his chin slightly as if he were bracing himself for bad news. His chocolate brown eyes—just a shade lighter than his hair—darted off to the side just slightly. “All of them are enjoying having their own places now that we’re all out of the dorms. They’re looking forward to no curfews, clubs all the time and being able to have anybody over at all hours, not planning on scrimping for their first down payment on a house.”
I dropped all humor immediately. “No, not for even one fraction of a second.” Admittedly, my first reaction when he’d told me his idea a few months before graduation hadn’t been my finest hour. No, the chuckles and jokes about cramping my single lifestyle had been outright juvenile, but, in my defense, I hadn’t realized he’d been serious. I’d kept yammering on, trying to draw out that laugh of his that always caused a warm glow to spread through me. It had taken me a few minutes to realize he hadn’t just been trying to keep a straight face as usual. But, finally, I’d caught the flash of pain in his eyes, the way his face had tightened.
Sometimes I could be the world’s blindest asshole.
“I think it’s brilliant. Buy a run-down house in a decent neighborhood. Fix it up and rent it out, then start over on a new one,” I said.
My dad was a general contractor. From the time I could hold a hammer, I’d spent every moment I wasn’t in school learning everything I could. I loved it—as a hobby, that is, or a second income. I’d be forever grateful that my dad understood. He had just been thrilled I enjoyed it enough that I’d spend time with him, pitching in when possible. Of course, it helped that my twenty-year-old sister, Katie, was just like him and was planning on joining him in his business and eventually taking over.
“Neither one of us is going to get rich in our careers, at least not me.” I grimaced. Unfortunately, business majors littered the ground wherever you went these days. I had been lucky enough to have gotten into a manager training program for a local convenience store chain. It would teach me what I needed to know to eventually do my own thing. No, not the least bit glamorous, but they had great benefits, including a profit-sharing plan for management. “You, on the other hand, will probably be raking in a fortune in under ten years.”
I didn’t think I was exaggerating, either. Doyle was like a computer savant. While I was just good enough with them to find porn and, hopefully, hide my browsing history from my mother, Doyle could make them sing and dance, outperforming any Broadway cast.
The man wrote his own video games for fun. I still had the one he’d made me for my birthday three years ago. It had knights and dragons, swords and sorcery. My favorite part was the end, when the knight saved the princess and broke the evil spell the dragon was under. The dragon shifted to a very large, handsome man and laid a kiss on him so hot I swore my laptop screen was smoking. The dragon and knight flew off into the sunset together, leaving behind a very bewildered princess.
He’d based the game on a picture I’d posted once on Facebook.
He gave me updates for the game every birthday, chronicling the dragon and his knight’s next adventure. I’d even asked for extra ones.
I put the backup copies in my safety deposit box, along with my birth certificate and other important papers.
He blushed now. The slight pink of his cheeks had me grinning as I listened to his usual protests.
“Yeah, yeah, you only think that because computers are not your friend.”
He was so right on that note. It was a given that I’d make backups for the backup’s backup. If I had a dollar for every time I’d hit the wrong damned key when working on a college paper… Well, I’d have enough to buy a new technological monstrosity that might not be so twitchy.
Doyle had proven he was truly a saint among our dorm troglodytes countless times, never once cussing me out when he heard my panicked yell, ‘It ate it again!’
Even at two in the morning.
“I don’t think that is a strong enough way to put it. That computer is more like my arch nemesis—or maybe some kind of weird temporal anomaly.” I widened my eyes as I whispered at him, “Maybe I’m like that guy from the book series you got me to read. It could be an electrical field of some sort that I generate.”
“You? A wizard?” Doyle shook a menacing finger at me in warning. “So help me God, if you start waving a staff around and yelling ‘fuego’, I’ll kick your ass!”
I gave him my best wounded look. “You don’t think I’m special enough to be chosen for such a gift?”
Something sparked in his dark eyes, a glimpse of vulnerability that had me hesitating for a moment. Was I missing something yet again? But it vanished as quickly as it had appeared, if it had ever been there in the first place.
“Yes, yes, Jed. You’re special.” Doyle rolled his eyes as he said it. Giving a long-suffering sigh, he continued, “I should probably check the smoke detectors, just in case the powers-that-be decide you are the chosen one. Maybe you should remind me to call our insurance agent tomorrow and see if our renter’s insurance covers fire spells that go horribly, horribly wrong.”
“Hell, the spells would be the least of your worries. It’s the vampires that you have to watch out for. Those bastards are always causing Harry problems,” I said seriously.
“If they look like Luke Evans in that Dracula movie, I’ll do more than watch out for them.” Doyle’s face went a little dreamy. “I’d be willing to risk my life to lick him from head to toe.”
I gave him an affronted look. “Hey, dude, I called dibs on him. You can’t have him.”
Doyle scoffed. “As if you have a chance with him. That man looks like a top to me.” Doyle walked off to his room, shaking his tight little ass the whole way. “He can have a piece of this anytime.”
“You never know,” I called out after him. “He might be a switch.”
A twinkling laugh drifted out of Doyle’s room. “Okay. If he is, I’ll be more than willing to share him.”
I about choked when a vivid image of the three of us exploded into my mind at his words. Doyle being fucked by the hunky vampire while I joined them. The ball of possessive anger that formed in the pit of my stomach was surprising.
That’s weird. Why would I get jealous over an actor I’ll never meet?
I shrugged. The last two days of moving our stuff here and assembling the inexpensive furniture we’d bought must have been messing with me and making me too tired to properly enjoy a hot little fantasy.
A month after Doyle and I settled into our apartment, I sat in my car after another day of work, my head about to explode from the sheer amount of information I was supposed to retain about ordering systems, inventory logs and health inspection guidelines. I’d been at work for a total of three weeks and I swore they were trying to cause my neural pathways to short out.
And I’ll deny to my dying day that I’d whimpered when Adam, the manager training me, had said that note-taking wasn’t allowed.
Adam had given me a sympathetic look. “Yeah, their theory is that you’ll do better long-term if you don’t rely on notes.” He was a decent man. Around forty with only a little paunch, he had a loud voice and tended to pepper his speech with so much profanity that it’d had me looking at him in fear the first few days. But I’d quickly realized that it was his humor-filled green eyes that showed the real man. He wasn’t mean… Well, maybe a little. He tended to be harsh with employees standing around doing nothing with—and I quote—‘their thumbs up their ass’.
And God help the person who he caught using their cell phone while on the clock.
I’d looked at him in frustration. “So I’m not supposed to take notes, and they don’t have some kind of instruction book I can take home to review?”
Clapping me on the back, he’d smirked. “Welcome to the wonderful world of corporate idiocy, where common sense gets left at the door.” He’d made a show of looking to one side then the other, as if to check for someone watching us, then he’d grinned at me. “But you go ahead and write down whatever you need to. I’m a big believer that writing helps you remember. We’ll call them ‘sanity savers’ instead of notes. You just won’t be able to keep bringing them to help you out after a while.”
I was about to bang my head on my steering wheel, hoping that it would knock me out so I could get rid of my headache, but I had another idea. I pulled out my phone, then swiped twice. I listened as it rang.
Doyle’s voice came over the line. “Hello.”
“Hey, have you started anything for dinner yet?”
“No, I’m not home. I thought you’d be there by now.” There was a slight pause before he continued, “Oh, wait, was this the night you had a date? Why are calling me, then?” I heard him say something else, not clearly enough to understand it but enough to know his day hadn’t gone much better than mine.
“Hey, you okay, Doyle?” My stress was forgotten.
“Huh? Oh, yes, I’m fine.” He sighed.
Nope, that bullshit wasn’t flying. “No, you don’t sound like it. I didn’t understand the last thing you said. What’s wrong?”
“Oh, that. Sorry. I wasn’t talking to you,” Doyle squeaked.
Uh-huh. Still wasn’t buying it. “Who were you talking to, then?”
“Umm, Cam. I was talking to Cam. I went over to the rainbow room after work.”
The rainbow room was what he called the LGBT Alliance headquarters by Oklahoma University, our old campus. I chuckled to myself. The room looked like a Crayola factory had blown up in there.
“Why did you go back there?” I never understood why he was so into that. I mean, I got why he cared about what they did but not why he spent so much of his free time there. I wasn’t that much of a joiner. After a ten-hour work day, all of my desire for social interactions had been stomped into oblivion. It hadn’t been any better when I’d been in college, either.
In my free time, I wanted a beer, pizza and a movie, while parking my ass on my own couch.
Well, I did like to go cruise a club for a blow job or maybe a more intense hook-up if I hadn’t met anyone recently. But it’d been weeks—no, make that almost two months—since I’d had anything around my dick except for my own hand. No wonder I was going stir-crazy.
“Because I like hanging out with Cam and the others,” Doyle said dryly.
“Cam’s an asshole. I don’t understand what you see in him.” I meant it, too. I’d never liked that guy. He’d treated Doyle like crap while they’d been together.
“It’s my nine inches of thick cock, asshole!” Cam’s voice came snarling through my phone.
I rolled my eyes at the sound. I’d seen him naked. Accidently, because I did have standards on who I ogled—some, anyway. The only way Cam would measure at nine inches would be if he taped a dildo to his pencil stick. “Am I on speaker, Doyle?”
“Oops?” Doyle apologized. “I’m trying to fix whatever somebody did to fuck up one of the computers here.” He paused then asked suspiciously, “You weren’t over here standing near it, were you?”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed. “No, I swear to God it wasn’t me this time.” I got back to the reason I called. “Do you want me to pick up tacos or something for dinner? I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like cooking or doing dishes tonight.” And I really didn’t feel up to whatever healthy food concoction he tried next in his never-ending mission to change my eating habits. “I can meet you at home in about thirty.”
“It’ll take me a little longer to get home, but go ahead. Tacos sound good,” he said. “I have to catch the bus.”
That had me snapping to attention. “Why? What’s wrong with your car?”
“How the hell should I know?” Doyle’s incredulous voice sounded in my ear. “I’d have about as much luck figuring that out as you would writing software.”
I admitted that it had been a stupid question. “I’ll come get you, then we can stop somewhere and grab a bite before heading home.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind? That would give me a few more minutes to finish this up.” Doyle sighed. “I know you’ve had a hard day, too.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” I protested.
“How bad is your headache?” he asked knowingly.
Oddly enough, it had gone away since I’d started talking to him, so I ignored the question. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”