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In Nick’s perfect world, Valentine’s Day would be struck from the calendar.
Nick’s dreams of a Happily Ever After were shredded long ago and the last thing he and his customers need is a bunch of happy loving couples rubbing it in their faces.
Bouncer Fat Boy Newman is willing to bet he knows Nick’s heart better than he does. He has just six days to change Nick’s mind about romance and the holiday and the perfect man to do it.
Too bad it’s not him.
Too bad Nick’s not going down without a fight.
Too bad he cheats.
THE DAY AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE
The man on the floor was hard to ignore. If I got up now, I’d be stepping on him—not that I planned on leaving anytime soon. It wasn’t every day a man fell at your feet, much less one of the pretty ones. I wasn’t complaining—I could use the distraction. February with its faux-holiday was always my own personal hell, and this week, with the tidal wave of red and pink already threatening to swamp me, things kept getting worse. Maybe my luck was finally changing. I hoped so.
I squinted in the dim light of the bar to get a better look. His strawberry blond hair was disheveled, uncovered now that the ball cap he’d worn into the bar was resting against the chrome leg of my barstool. He stared up at me with eyes like some cartoon character from a Looney Tunes classic. Comically huge saucers of Arctic blue overwhelmed a nose too pert for a man; his rosy lips forming a perfect O of shock and surprise completed the picture as he lay stunned.
I’d watched the cap spin merrily away as he landed face-first onto the industrial-grade carpet, and winced—not in sympathy for the blow to his face, per se. No, it was due to the knowledge that FatBoy Newman had thrown up on that exact spot the previous day. I groaned as unwelcome memories of FatBoy and the events of last night flooded my mind, distracting me from the blond.
FatBoy was the newest addition to our little Frisson bar family. He’d been working the door for a couple of months, doing his job by lurking in the background and monitoring the crowds stirring each other up on weekends. One minute, he would be wallpaper, and the next, he’d be hanging out at my end of the bar, playing a nightly game of twenty questions.
Last night it was a string of questions like “Marie Claire or Vogue?” and “Barbeque Beans or Pork & Beans” or, more disturbing, “Brad Pitt or Yoda?”
Normally, I would have blown FatBoy off as I do every other asshole annoying me while I’m working; even the bouncers who like to lean on the bar and steal olives and fruit don’t linger if I’m there. FatBoy was different. He might look like a giant hick with the brains the size of a pea and a case of ’roid rage, but for all I knew, he had balls the size of an elephant. He’d need them. He’d been pressuring me for weeks to date his cousin, ever since he figured out that I’m gay, and I’d been equally absolute in my refusal. I don’t date, no matter how smoky blue your eyes are when you ask.
Not that I tried to hide my orientation—it’s just none of your damn business and not a topic of conversation I usually led with. At six two with brown hair, green eyes, and a naturally muscled build, bar patrons just assumed I was straight; keeping things pleasant and light with our mixed crowd of tourists and local party boys and girls kept the mood fun and—most importantly—the tips pouring in.
I also wasn’t such a megalomaniac that I thought everyone wanted to sleep with me—though working the bar, I got plenty of come-ons and come-hithers. Despite the occasional tumble with Juan, I hadn’t met anyone who inspired me to make the effort. If you want to know the truth, in my heart of hearts, I was a romantic; I dreamed of being swept off my feet by the “one”. In the meantime, I kept my head down, mixing my drinks and keeping my dreams and hands mostly to myself.
Despite the nightly grilling, FatBoy wouldn’t have known any different if he hadn’t walked in on my attempt to bareback Juan, our bar-back, during a very slow Saturday afternoon. I’m kidding about the barebacking. Juan is a good kid, and I’d never risk him or myself that way, and our relationship was more about convenience than romance, but FatBoy did walk into the cold room just seconds after a collision had wrapped me around Juan’s wiry body, forcing our lips together. Fortunately, our tongues took the brunt of the accident, ensuring no lasting damage to our libidos.
No, Mr. Newman can take the blame for that particular injury and the subsequent ‘failure to launch’ sequence that resulted from it. Instead of backing out like a normal person, he stayed—leaning against the frame of the door and watching us quietly until I pulled away from Juan.
“Why the fuck are you still here? Can’t you see we’re busy?” I snapped in frustration.
FatBoy didn’t respond beyond a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth—though he did lean slightly out of the way as Juan slipped past him, buttoning his jeans as he went. I reached down and readjusted my own cock, sighing deeply and glaring at him while I waited.
“Soooo, Nick. Boys, huh?” he drawled, settling back into his lean.
“Not boys, men. I’m not a pedophile, asshole.” As I stomped back to the bar, I was running through a list of unpleasant scenarios I could subject the prick to before I had to see him again. I was contemplating his fall into an active volcano when I felt his eyes on my back, the same silent force field I’d felt ever since he started working here.
I whirled around. “What? What! What? Did you need something, or did your calendar say it was ‘Be a dick at work day?’ ’Cuz I have to tell you, I’ve got a serious case of blue balls going on here, and unless you plan on dropping and giving me head right here and now, I’m pretty sure there is nothing you can say or do that I’m interested in.”
I might have caught a slight glimmer in his eyes when I said that—but really, who cared? It was going to be long days of skittish looks before Juan settled down enough to overcome his exaggerated fear of discovery and be willing to risk spending more time with me in the back. Something about losing his job and making his disabled mother homeless if he got caught screwing around at work—like that would ever happen…
“Blake was asking for you. I figured you’d rather I tracked you down myself instead of sending him into the icebox after you.” FatBoy smirked and pivoted, leaving me alone with the unhappy thought that I owed him one. With a silent apology to Juan’s fears, I wound my way back to the office to check on the latest from the boss.
So best efforts of ignoring the new bouncer aside, we were now out to the six five former linebacker from Tennessee—a Vol who’d majored in French poets of the seventeenth century. You haven’t lived until you’ve listened to FatBoy recite Molière in the original French, drunk off his ass, at four in the morning, in a thick southern drawl. Despite all of that, or maybe because of it, FatBoy was a bit of a prick—a trait I usually found entertaining when directed toward someone else, but after my fobbing off all the gentle nudges and hints about his cousin, he must have decided it was time to bring out the heavy artillery and press the issue once and for all.
In this case, he used his prickdom to force me into the drinking contest. He was, after all, he said, a gentleman of the South and therefore felt obliged to offer me a game of chance rather than the outright blackmail he originally had in mind—not that I believed he’d actually risk anyone’s job. But it did make me curious.
I still wasn’t sure what was so important about finding his cousin a date. I’d said no enough times that any other musclehead would have gotten a clue and dropped it long ago. FatBoy’s cousin must have been horribly disfigured or suffering from some social disease or on parole for unspeakable acts as a minor for him to be this relentlessly annoying.
More likely, his aunt was nagging him to death—afraid her baby was going to meet a big bad leather daddy now that he liked cock; I’d heard stories. I was just lucky to be the first gay he’d met. Not that I ever had that problem with my own family—I’m not sure they noticed the last time the door hit me on my way out.
All in all, I wasn’t surprised when he finally cornered me.
Terms of the bet were simple. We would each drink at the same time until we stopped. First one to pass out or throw up lost. Winner named his prize.
The reason I thought FatBoy might have been juicing—beyond the imposing build and lack of neck—was he’d overlooked the fact that I had total control over the very medium that would determine the outcome of the bet.
6 Days to Valentines is Available for purchase at Wilde City Press
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