Part of the Coda Series Zach Mitchell is stuck in a rut. His college boyfriend left him ten years ago, but Zach still lives in the same apartment, drives the same car, and feeds his ex-boyfriend’s ungrateful cat. His Denver business, A to Z Video Rental, is struggling. He has annoying customers, eccentric neighbors, and an unfulfilling romance with his landlord, Tom. A combat boot-wearing punk with an attitude, Angelo Green was raised in foster homes and has been on his own since he was sixteen; he has never learned to trust or to love. He doesn’t do relationships, so when Angelo takes a job at A to Z Video, he decides Zach is strictly off-limits. Despite their differences, Zach and Angelo quickly become friends, and when Zach’s break-up with Tom puts his business on the line, it’s Angelo who comes up with a solution. Together with Jared and Matt, their friends from Coda, Colorado, Zach and Angelo will find a way to save A to Z, but will they be able to save each other too? Read Jared and Matt's story in Promises.
I OWN a video store, but I hate movies. I know. It’s completely ridiculous.
It just sort of happened. I guess it started after college. I went to the University of Colorado. My parents wanted me to go to Colorado State, in Fort Collins, but I insisted on CU. I argued that it was a better school, but that wasn’t the real reason. CSU was for veterinary, forestry, and agriculture students; CU was for partying. In hindsight it was a pretty shitty thing to do to my parents. The tuition was a lot higher than at CSU, and I spent all five years drunk or high or both. I barely managed to graduate with a degree in business management. I think my GPA was somewhere around a two. Pitiful.
Of course I did more than just get drunk and high. I also had sex a lot. My senior year I dated Jonathan, and after graduation, I followed him to Arvada, a suburb on the west side of Denver. He was an accountant. I was a bum. I got a job at the movie rental place down the street and continued to spend my time drunk and high and having sex—sometimes not with Jonathan.
The day arrived when I came home, and he was gone. On the bright side, that was my wake up call. After that I managed to get my shit together—for the most part, at least. But I never did get another apartment or another job. And when my boss, Mr. Murray, decided to retire, I took out a loan and bought the video rental store.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
So now here I am: thirty-four, single, and the not-so-proud owner of A to Z Video Rental. Did I mention that I hate movies?
Late spring in Colorado, and the weather was stereotypically perfect: sunny, with the temperature hovering around eighty. I had finally broken down and turned on the air conditioner in the store.
A to Z Video occupied one of four spots in the building. Three of the spots were downstairs—my store in the middle, flanked by a holistic bookstore and a head shop. Between the two of them, my store always smelled like sandalwood incense. The entire upstairs was taken up by a martial arts studio, owned by Nero Sensei. I wasn’t sure if Nero was his first or last name, but mostly we just called him Sensei. Today, the parking lot in front of our building was filled with martial arts students, all wearing those white pajamas they favor, doing some type of forms in unison and sweating their asses off.
It was Friday afternoon, and I had one customer. He had been in several times lately. He was skinny, with dark skin and thick, black hair that hung in his face, and he looked like he barely had to shave. I’m not good at ethnicity. Maybe Latino, maybe not. He was walking along the shelves, looking at movies. Sometimes he would stop and look at me and shake his head. I had no idea what his problem was.
He had just returned a movie called Blue Velvet. I was staring at that stupid movie, trying to decide where it was supposed to go on my cluttered shelves. On the one hand, it had Dennis Hopper in it, which to me said Action. On the other hand, the pictures on the box made it look like it was in black and white, which meant Classic. I gave up and stuck it in the first empty spot I saw, on a shelf labeled Special Interest. That seemed good enough.
That was when Mr. Right walked in. He was my height, just under six feet, but built heavier than me. He obviously worked out. He had blonde hair and blue eyes. He was wearing dark gray slacks and a white dress shirt, open at the collar. I quickly checked my own shirt and was relieved to see that it was still relatively clean. I hadn’t dropped any of my lunch on it for once.
“I’m Tom Sanderson,” he said, holding his hand out to me. “I’m your new landlord.” I had read about people with rich baritone voices. He actually had one. There was a dimple in his chin. He was incredibly hot, and even better than that, he was looking me up and down with obvious curiosity.
Work was suddenly getting a lot more interesting.
“Nice to meet you,” I said as I shook his hand. “Zach Mitchell.”
“Zach.” He hung on to my hand a bit longer than he needed to, before letting go and glancing around. “Nice place.” He actually managed to not sound sarcastic when he said that. I hadn’t done anything with the store in years. The movie posters on the walls were faded and dusty, and showed new releases that were several years out of date. “How’s business?”
“Not bad.” That was a lie. It was bad. Not nonexistent, but certainly not great. In fact the punk with the attitude was practically rush hour, in and of himself. I looked back at Tom. “I survive.” That much at least was true. “You’re my landlord now?”
“Sure am. Don’t let that fool you, though. I’m not a bad guy.” He gave me a killer smile.
“I’m sure that’s true,” I said.
He looked at me for a minute, like he was sizing me up, then smiled again, and said, “Let me take you to dinner tonight and I’ll prove it.”
I couldn’t believe that a guy as attractive as him would ask me out. I’m pretty average: five-eleven, brown hair, blue eyes, average build. Average, average, average. I know I’m not bad looking, but I’ve never been one of those guys that people notice, lust after, or are immediately attracted to. You know—those guys. Guys like him. “That sounds great,” I said, hoping that I didn’t sound overenthusiastic.
“I’ll stop by here and pick you up at six.”
I hadn’t had a date in months. I was definitely counting the hours.
Later that afternoon Ruby stopped in. Ruby owned the holistic bookstore next door to my shop. She was in her sixties, at least. She was barely five feet tall and probably weighed less than a hundred pounds. Her hair was silver, cut short and well styled, and she always wore smart-looking pantsuits. Today’s suit was charcoal gray, with a sky blue scarf around her neck that matched her eyes. She looked like somebody’s rich grandmother.
That illusion was always shattered the minute she opened her mouth. That was when you realized she wasn’t quite playing with a full deck.
“Hey, Ruby,” I said. “Did you meet the new landlord?”
“Of course I did,” she said in disgust. “What a terrible man.”
“Oh?” She was so serious, and I was trying not laugh. “Why do you say that?”
“He had no soul,” she said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Couldn’t you tell? Just dark, all around.” She shuddered. “He’s going to be trouble, Zach.” She shook her finger at me. “You mark my words.”
“Okay.” What else could I say?
“That’s not what I came to talk to you about, though. I want you to know I had a vision about you last night.”
Ruby claimed to be psychic. She was always having “visions.” I’m not much of a believer in that kind of thing, but I never had the heart to tell Ruby that. “Is that right?” I asked casually.
“It’s the truth. I saw you. You were standing with an angel. You were in an auto-parts store, and you were handing out plates of chicken Alfredo.” She looked at me expectantly.
I never knew what to do or say after hearing her “visions.” Was I supposed to clap? Or be astounded? Or look frightened? “Ummm….” I stammered, instead. “That sounds very interesting.”
“I thought so too.” She was still looking at me with anticipation, like I might suddenly break down and admit that I had indeed been serving pasta at Checker just the other night with Gabriel himself at my side.
“An angel?” I asked dumbly.
“Why, yes!” She beamed at me. “Isn’t it wonderful? I keep hoping you’ll meet a nice girl, and now I know you will!” Never mind that I had no interest whatsoever in meeting a “nice girl.” I had told Ruby at least twenty times that I was gay, but she always acted like she hadn’t heard me. I was pretty sure she thought it was just a phase and eventually I’d grow out of it. “I just had to tell you. I thought you would want to know.”
“Of course, Ruby. Thanks.” I managed to keep a straight face when I said it too. “I appreciate that.” She nodded sagely, then turned and headed out the door. She was just pushing it open when a thought crossed my mind. “Ruby,” I had to ask, “was I dead?”
She looked back at me in surprise. “Of course not, dear. Why would you be dead?”
“Well….” I felt silly, but now that the thought was in my head, I really wanted to know. “If there was an angel there, then I must have been in heaven, right?”
She shook her finger at me. “Don’t be a smartass, Zach. There aren’t any cars in heaven.”
After her came Jeremy. Jeremy’s head shop was on the opposite side of Ruby’s bookstore, but Jeremy was no long-hair, sandal-wearing hippy. He was the father of three teenagers, he wore a tie every day, and he was an active member of the PTA as well as the city council. In addition to all that, he was a staunch supporter of the Libertarian party. Most of the time that didn’t matter, but this was an election year, which meant that Jeremy was in full-blown campaign mode.
“Zach, I want to know if you’ve thought about who you’re going to vote for in the presidential election.”
I was woefully uneducated when it came to politics. “Do we even know who the candidates are yet?” I asked. Weren’t there primaries or caucuses or something first?
He shook his head at me in disgust. “Zach, it doesn’t matter which talking heads the Republicrats put up as their candidates. Either way you’re voting to maintain the status quo. Is that what you want?”
“Are you pro-choice?”
“Sure, I guess.” Abortion’s not something a gay man has to think about often.
“And you must be in favor of allowing gays to marry?”
“Of course.” But I’d have to actually date somebody first, right?
“And you believe in the decriminalization of marijuana?”
“I suppose.” There was no way I was going to argue with a man who sold bongs for a living on that one.
“Don’t you think you should be able to vote against our out-of-control welfare state without having to vote against those basic rights? Basic rights which should be protected by our constitution?”
“Have you even read the constitution, Zach?”
I had to stop and think about that. I didn’t remember having read it. How could I get through twelve years of public education and five years at a major university, without ever reading the constitution? “I don’t think so,” I admitted in surprise.
He shook his head at me. “Neither has the president, Zach. Think about that.”
He left a stack of pamphlets on the counter and headed for Ruby’s. It was going to be a long campaign season.
Since it was Friday, all of my regular customers came by as the afternoon wore on. First there was the punk, who had left shortly after Tom, but before Ruby’s disclosure of her angel and pasta vision. Then came Jimmy Buffett. I couldn’t remember his real name, but he was a dead ringer for the “Margaritaville”-man himself. He always seemed to be embarrassed when he brought his movies up, and I could only assume it was over the terrible Hawaiian print shirts he wore. Next was Eddie. That wasn’t his real name, but he always had on an Iron Maiden T-shirt with the ghoulish Eddie on the front, and he sported the same hairdo as the lead singer. He always seemed pissed at me. I blamed the music. Last, there was Goth Girl. Black hair, thick black eyeliner that always made it look like she had been crying, and three piercings in her bottom lip. She glared at me challengingly as she paid for her movie, and then it was time to lock the doors.
I had worried through the last hour of the day that Tom wouldn’t show, but he arrived promptly at six. He took me to a fabulous restaurant. We drank a bottle of Chianti and made small talk. There was no doubt that he was flirting with me. Afterward he drove me back to A to Z, then walked me to my car.
“The previous owner was facing bankruptcy, so I got the building at a good price. He wasn’t much of a landlord. Do you realize you don’t even have a lease at the moment?”
“Yeah, Mr. McBride wasn’t that big on contracts. I paid the rent, and that was enough for him.” I realized that also meant I could now be evicted at the drop of a hat.
“I’ll be writing up new lease contracts soon. The bad news is, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep the rent the same. The building needs a lot of work and I am, in the end, a businessman.”
That was definitely bad news for me. I barely managed to make ends meet now. If he raised my rent, it could be a problem. “How much of an increase am I looking at?”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t worked through everything yet.” He stepped up close to me, and my heart started to race. “Can you afford a rent increase?” Somehow he made that question sound unbelievably sexy.
“Not really,” I managed to say. He put his hand up and brushed my cheek.
“I don’t want to run you out of business,” he said as he stepped closer. He was now almost pressing against me.
“That makes two of us.”
He smiled, and I thought my knees would give out. He pushed closer and brushed his lips over mine. He smelled amazing. I leaned into him, and then he really kissed me. His tongue pushed into my mouth. I felt both of his hands grab my ass, and he pulled me hard against him. Even fully clothed I could feel how firm and muscular his body was. The kiss ended much too soon and left me breathless. “Maybe,” he said in that low, sexy voice as he pulled back, “we can work something out. Would you like that?” he asked.
“Good.” He smiled and stepped back. “I can’t wait to see you again.”
As I drove home in my old Mustang—the same one I’d owned since college—I couldn’t help but wish that I had invited him over. The lingering excitement from that one kiss wasn’t quite enough to alleviate the loneliness I felt as I climbed the steps to my apartment. At least I only had a couple of hours to kill before I could go to bed.
I poured myself a glass of wine and turned on some music. I had a half-finished jigsaw puzzle spread across the dining room table, and I sat down to work on it. A lot of my evenings were spent working some kind of puzzle—crosswords, Sudoku, whatever would pass the time.
Jonathan’s cat, Geisha, wandered in. I still thought of her as Jon’s cat, even though he hadn’t been there to take care of her for almost ten years. She had long silver hair and green eyes. He was the one who had left her behind, but she had never forgiven me for not being him. She eyed me with open contempt, as only a cat can, and then disappeared through the cat flap in the living room window.
I remembered how excited Jonathan and I had been when we brought her home. We’d had so many plans.
It was all such a long time ago.
How had I come to this—still living in the same apartment, working at the same video store? I had managed to survive the DVD revolution but for what? I had no love for my business, and yet I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I knew it was only a matter of time before I was forced to close. I should have done it years ago. And yet I had no idea what else I could do.
I was just drifting along, like a man in a life raft, waiting for the next storm to sink me. It was too depressing to contemplate. I finished my wine and went to bed.
TOM called me the day after our date to tell me he’d had a good time and to assure me that I would be seeing him again, although he didn’t say when. A couple of days passed, and I didn’t hear from him, but I wasn’t worried. I was actually too busy to be worried. I had exactly one employee, a twenty-two-year-old named Tracy. Or maybe it was Tammy. I had a hard time remembering. She was always high and practically bathed in patchouli. She had just no-showed for her fourth shift in a row. I decided it was safe to consider that her resignation.
The problem was, it had actually been a pretty busy day, and I really could have used some help. The rush had finally ended. The skinny punk with the attitude was back. Today he had returned Blade Runner. I’d never seen it, but at least I knew it went in Sci-Fi. I watched the punk. He stopped and picked up a movie. He looked over at me, shook his head a little, then walked over and put it on a different shelf. Was he moving stuff around? I couldn’t find anything to begin with. I didn’t need him making things worse.
I was about to say something to him when Tom walked in. Like before, he was wearing dress slacks and a crisp white shirt with the top buttons undone. He looked amazing.
He leaned on the counter and looked into my eyes, and I knew I had the most ridiculous smile in the world plastered across my face.
“Hey,” he said in that smooth sexy voice. “I’ve been thinking about you.”
“Glad to hear it.”
He looked around the shop and saw the punk, then turned back to me and whispered, “Will he be long?”
I shrugged. “Maybe.” But right then, the punk grabbed a movie off the shelf and brought it up to the counter. Mad Max. Good. I knew where that one went too, which would save me time when he returned it the next day. I barely paid attention as I took his money, and then he was gone.
Tom followed him to the door and locked it after he left. Then he turned back to me with a smile. “Alone at last.”
My heart was suddenly pounding. My palms were sweaty and I had a hard-on that was threatening to rip the buttons off of my jeans. Tom walked over, still smiling. He nodded at the door behind me. “Where’s that go?”
His smile got even bigger. “Perfect.”
He led me through the door and closed it behind us. Then he turned and pushed me gently against the wall. He pressed his body against mine and his lips brushed my neck.
“I mean it, Zach. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since we had dinner.” His hands were sliding down my back and then squeezing my ass. “I know we hardly know each other. But I really feel like there’s something between us.” Something other than two very erect cocks? I certainly wasn’t going to argue the point. He kissed my neck some more and pushed his groin into mine. “I think we should get to know each other better. What do you think?”
“I’d like that,” I said.
“How about dinner tonight?”
“That sounds great.”
He squeezed my ass one last time, then pulled away. “I’ll pick you up at six.”
He took me to the same restaurant. He ordered a bottle of wine again. He talked incessantly about stocks and portfolios and investment returns. It would have been terribly boring if his hand hadn’t been slowly moving up my thigh at the same time.
After he paid the bill, his fingers brushed the growing bulge in my pants. He leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Can I come over?”
“Of course,” I said, relieved he hadn’t left it up to me to invite him.
As soon as we got in the door of my apartment, Geisha came out of the bedroom. She hissed at Tom, then streaked past us toward the cat flap in the window.
“What’s wrong with your cat?” Tom asked.
“She hates people.”
But I had no intention of wasting time talking about my ex-boyfriend’s pissed-off cat. I put my arms around his neck and kissed him. His body was strong and hard against mine, and I couldn’t wait to see more of it. He backed me against the wall. His kisses were aggressive and insistent. His tongue brushed the roof of my mouth, and his hands were grabbing my ass again.
I felt like I was on fire. I hadn’t been with another man for more than eight months, and even that had been nothing more than a drunken fuck, forgotten as soon as it was over. This felt completely different. I couldn’t get enough of him. I put my hands under his shirt, feeling his chest, which was covered with thick, coarse hair. I ran my thumbs over his nipples and heard him moan.
I undid his pants, pushed them down enough to be out of the way, and grabbed him. He moaned into my mouth and pushed harder against me. His hands were still on my ass, his fingers rubbing in my crack. “That’s good, Zach. God, you turn me on.”
I stroked him for a while, but his hands never left my ass. I let go of him long enough to undo my own pants and get them out of the way. My own erection bumped against him, and I pulled him tighter against me and kissed him more, grinding against him. I loved the feel of our cocks pressed tight between us. I could have gone all night like that, just rubbing against him and feeling his hands on me. I humped into him, holding his hips tight against my own. He groaned, took my hand, and led it back to his cock. Then his arms went back around me.
I wrapped my hand around both of us and started stroking.
“That’s it, Zach. A little harder.” His fingers were rubbing up and down my crack, fingering my rim. “Harder, baby. Harder.”
I gripped us tighter and sped up my strokes. He wasn’t kissing me anymore. His head was buried in my neck. He was breathing heavy and talking low. “That’s it, Zach. Oh God, that’s good. Keep going. Keep going.” I knew he was about to come when his hands clenched tight on my ass. His first shot of come made my hand slick, and that was all it took to send me over the edge too.
He kissed me some more, and then eventually went into the bathroom to clean himself up while I changed into a clean pair of sweats. Then I walked him to the door. He pulled me close and kissed me. “See you soon.”
TOM and I had another date three days later. He was supposed to pick me up at six, but instead, he came by the store at four to break it off.
“Baby, I’m so sorry,” he said. “We have a meeting—it just came up—and I can’t miss it.”
The skinny punk with the attitude was back, and I was wishing Tom would keep his voice down. The punk wasn’t looking at us, and I hoped that meant he wasn’t listening. “You have a meeting at six o’clock?” I asked quietly, not quite believing him.
“I’ll be done by eight, Zach,” he said, and he really did sound apologetic. “I’d love to see you afterward, if you’ll let me.”
That would certainly be better than nothing. “That sounds great,” I said, trying to sound casual and not pathetic, like I felt.
He left and I went back to doing my crossword puzzle. I was disappointed, but I tried to tell myself that it could be worse. He still wanted to see me. That made up for missing dinner. Mostly. Still, I dreaded six o’clock, when I would close the store and go home to my empty apartment.
My thoughts were interrupted by a sudden question in an impudent tone. “Can you help me find a movie?” It sounded like a challenge.
I looked up to find the skinny punk looking at me expectantly. He was quite a few years younger than me, probably early to mid-twenties. He was about five-seven. He was wearing combat boots, a T-shirt that had been washed so many times I could practically see through it, and baggy jeans that were low on his hips. At least his ass wasn’t showing.
“Maybe,” I said. I would have liked to be able to just say yes, but it would have been a lie.
“Can’t really figure out your system.”
He gave me a lopsided smirk which might have been cute if it wasn’t so annoying. “What alphabet you usin’?”
He had me there. I had given up on the alphabetical thing a long time ago. “They’re grouped by genre.” I pointed to the little labels at the top of the shelves.
“In theory, man, but they’re all fucked up.”
I was starting to get annoyed. Not least of all because he was probably right. Still, I didn’t really want this punk giving me lessons on how to run my business. “Like what?”
“Like this.” He pointed to the shelf next to him. It was labeled Classics. “Sixteen Candles is not a classic.”
“It’s a classic to people my age.”
“No, man. No way does it belong next to A Streetcar Named Desire. I don’t care how much it reminds you of your long lost youth. And this.” He walked a few steps and pointed to another shelf. “True Romance—not a romance.”
“What do you mean?”
“Quentin Tarantino. It’s an action flick. You never watched it?”
I was getting uncomfortable now. “No. I don’t like romances.”
He rolled his eyes. “Right.” He pushed his hair out of his face, sighed, and said, “I’m lookin’ for The Bridge on the River Kwai</>. You got that?”
“Ummm… I think so. That’s the one where the nun blows up the trestle bridge, right?”
He gave me the lopsided smirk again. “No, man. That’s Two Mules for Sister Sara. Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood. I’m talkin’ about Alec Guinness. You know—Obi-Wan Kenobi?” I nodded, because I did at least know who Obi-Wan was. “I don’t remember much about it except that fuckin’ song that they whistle, so thought I’d check it out again, you know?”
“But there’s a bridge, right?” Don’t ask me how that was supposed to help me locate the movie. I was just trying to keep up.
He shook his head at me. “Forget it, man.” He turned and grabbed The Shining off the shelf next to him, walked over, and tossed it on the counter in front of me. He was a few inches shorter than me. He looked up at me through his overgrown bangs. “Don’t you watch any of these movies?”
“I guess I like the blockbusters more.” I was trying not to sound defensive.
“That’s not really the way to go, is it? I mean, all the stores carry those types of movies. You gotta carry the shit that they don’t have space for. Cult classics, you know.”
“Like The Breakfast Club?”
He blinked at me. Once. Twice. Then, “How fuckin’ preppy were you in high school?” he asked harshly.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He rolled his eyes at me again. “Never mind.”
The Breakfast Club wasn’t a cult classic? Although I had heard that term before, I realized I didn’t really know what it meant.
“What kind of movies are you talking about?” I asked him, making an effort to sound sincere. “I really want to know.”
For a minute he just looked at me, and I could tell he was trying to decide how seriously to take me. Finally he pushed the hair out of his face again and said, “The Toxic Avenger. You got that?”
“I think so. Maybe. I don’t know.”
“Ed Wood, with Johnny Depp.”
“Is that the one where he cuts hair?”
“You talkin’ ’bout Edward Scissorhands or Sweeney Todd?”
“I thought we were talking about Johnny Depp.”
He rolled his eyes. “How ’bout, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover?”
“Is that one movie or four?”
“What about Re-Animator? Or Heathers? Or The Warriors?”
“Heathers!” I said triumphantly. “I think I’ve got that one here somewhere.”
“Hey, Ram, doesn’t this cafeteria have a no-fags-allowed policy?”
“The answer is, ‘They seem to have an open door policy on assholes, though, don’t they?’”
I just stood there, trying to figure out if he was calling me a fag or an asshole or both, and he rolled his eyes at me again.
“It’s a line from Heathers, man. Never mind. I should have known you wouldn’t get it.” I felt like we weren’t even speaking the same language. My confusion must have been obvious because he sighed and started digging in his pocket for his wallet. “You should watch some of your own movies, you know. How can you run a store like this if you don’t?”
I had been thinking the exact same thing. And Tracy had quit. I decided to take a chance. “Uh, do you want a job?”
“I got one.”
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure why I had assumed he was unemployed. “Okay.”
“I want a job.”
“You just said you already had one.”
“I do. I got two. But if you’re hirin’, I’ll quit one of ’em. It hella sucks anyway.”
I didn’t know what “helisux” was, but I wasn’t about to ask. “Can you organize all these movies?”
“When can you start?”
He smiled at me. “Now.”
“What’s your name?”
His smile disappeared. “Man, I been rentin’ here almost every night for the last three weeks, and you don’t know my fuckin’ name?” He was right. I was terrible at that kind of thing. He shook his head at me before I had a chance to respond. “It’s Angelo. Angelo Green.”
EIGHT o’clock came and went that night with no sign of Tom. In fact it was just after nine when he rang my doorbell.
“You’re late.” I tried to say it casually and not let it sound like an accusation. Maybe I pulled it off.
“I’m so sorry, baby.” He leaned me against the wall and kissed me. His tongue brushed the roof of my mouth, and his cock, already erect, ground against me.
I wanted to be mad, but it just wasn’t working. He was so gorgeous, and his hands were squeezing my ass, and his groin was grinding against mine, and God, I wanted him so much.
“I have wine,” I managed to gasp out.
“After.” His mouth was hard against mine, and he moaned, “Zach, please let me fuck you tonight. I want you so much, and I know you want it too.”
He was right. Just hearing him say it had me so hard it was almost painful. “Okay.”
We made our way to the bedroom, kissing and groping, shedding clothes as we went.
I took a condom and the lube out of the drawer and handed them to him. He turned me around and pushed me down onto the bed, then grabbed my hips and pulled me toward him. A second later I felt his slick fingers pressing into me. I moaned and leaned into him.
“Do you like that?” he asked as his fingers plunged in and out of me, touching that sweet spot inside, sending waves of pleasure through me.
“You’re so tight, baby. How long has it been?”
His fingers were still moving in me, and it wasn’t easy to formulate a response. “Too long,” I said, pushing harder against him.
“That’s it, baby. Tell me how much you like it.”
“I love it,” I gasped out.
“I can’t wait to fuck you, Zach.” His fingers were gone, and then I felt his cock pushing against me. “I can’t wait anymore.” He pushed in, hard, and I bit my lip to keep from crying out. “Oh God, baby, you’re even better than I expected. So tight. Damn, you feel fine.”
I was a little bit pissed because I could tell he wasn’t wearing the condom. Why did he think I handed it to him? That seemed like a pretty obvious request. Still, it was too late now. I was trying to let it go and just relax around him. He was already thrusting, talking the whole time, an endless stream of meaningless words. “So fucking fine. So tight. That’s it, baby. That’s it.” I’ve never been one for talking dirty during sex, but I sure wasn’t going to ask him to shut up.
He was already speeding up, and I could tell he wasn’t going to last long. I braced myself on the headboard with one hand and reached down with the other to start beating myself off. He was slamming into me, and I knew I was going to be sore in the morning. His hands were gripping my hips tight. “So close, so close.” And then he came, pounding into me hard. I was still going. He didn’t reach around. He stayed there, still inside of me, holding tight to my hips until I finished, and then he collapsed next to me on the bed.
“You’re amazing, Zach.”
I wished I could honestly say the same thing to him. Still, any sex was better than no sex, and I figured it would get better with time.
“Why did you have to work so late?” I asked.
“The meeting ran late. You know how it is. Everybody talking, nobody listening.” Actually, I didn’t know, but I didn’t answer. “It’s boring.”
“I’m glad you made it.”
“Me too. I missed you.” He rolled over to kiss me, then stood up, and started getting dressed. “I’ll take some of that wine now.”
I put on some sweats and a T-shirt, then poured the wine. He followed me into the living room. I turned on some music and turned around to find him watching me from across the room. We stood there, awkwardly staring at each other. It was ridiculous. I had just let him fuck me, and yet I had no idea what to say to him.
He glanced into the dining room and saw the puzzle sitting on the table. He walked in to look at it, and I followed him. “Do you like puzzles?” I asked.
He smiled at me. “You bet.”
I sat down in one of the chairs, and he sat in the chair next to me. “This one’s harder than I thought it would be,” I said as I started searching for one piece in particular which had been eluding me. “There are so many different shades of gray.”
He made a disinterested sound. I kept looking for my piece. He fidgeted for a bit, picking up pieces randomly and trying to fit them in. After a few minutes, he got up and wandered into the living room. Suddenly my music stopped, and he turned on the radio and started turning the knob. It took him a long time to find a station, and the constant stutter and stop of radio chatter punctuated by distressed static annoyed me more than it should have. What was wrong with the music I had on? If he didn’t like, he could have just said something.
He finally found a station that he liked and came back in to the dining room. He didn’t sit down, though. He set his empty wine glass on the table and said, “I need to get going. I have to be at work early.”
“Okay,” I said, trying to hide my disappointment. I walked him to the door and kissed him good night.
I ended up drinking my wine alone.
THE next morning was Angelo’s first day working at A to Z Video. I almost expected him to do a no-show, but he arrived right on time.
“Where did you park?” I asked him when he came in the door. “You don’t want to park under Sensei’s balcony. At least twice a year, one of his students pukes over the railing.”
He looked amused by that but shook his head. “Don’t own a car.”
“You don’t drive?” I asked in surprise.
“I don’t own a car,” he said again, as if the distinction was important. “Don’t need one. Only live two blocks away. My other job is four blocks over. Grocery store between here and there.” He shrugged. “Easier to walk.”
“What about in the winter?” I asked.
He gave me that annoyingly cute lopsided smirk. “Like I said, easier to walk.”
The door opened and Ruby walked in. Angelo was only a few steps away from her, and she headed for him with her arms out like she was going to hug him. His reaction was completely unexpected. He practically bolted. He backed away from her so fast he tripped over his own shoes and ran into the movie display behind him. I thought for a second the whole thing would tip over. It stayed standing, but at least a dozen movies hit the floor. Stuck against the shelves with no way to back up farther, Angelo stood frozen like the metaphorical deer in the headlights as Ruby grabbed his shoulders. He looked terrified, and I fought hard to keep from laughing.
“You have positive energy all around you,” she said to him matter-of-factly. “I could feel your light through the walls of the store. You’re a bringer of life.” He stared at her in mute shock, and she patted his cheek with her wrinkled hand and then turned and walked back out.
He looked over at me with huge eyes and asked breathlessly, “Who the fuck was that?”
“The neighbor. She owns the bookstore.”
“She crazy?” There wasn’t even a hint of humor in his voice.
“It’s a distinct possibility,” I said, smiling. He didn’t smile back.
Who would have guessed that the punk with the attitude problem was afraid of little old ladies? It was too funny for words. It actually took him a minute to get himself back together. He straightened up and took a couple of deep breaths, then shook his head as he started to pick up the movies that had fallen off of the shelf. “Puking kids, a psychic lady, and a head shop. You’re surrounded by weirdoes, Zach.”
Like I didn’t know that already.
From the beginning, Ms. Sexton weaves an interesting tale of two men who, by a chance crossing of paths, finds the one person meant for them. Read the full review.
...Sexton has delivered a seemingly simplistic plot that works incredibly well. There is no big drama, no misunderstandings, and no car chases or angst filled weeping here. Yet the story is never boring, slow, or bland. Sexton offers a light, satisfying, and thoroughly absorbing style of writing that lets the reader indulge with delight. Read the full review.
Rated 5 Delightful Divas by Kris, and a recommended read.
A to Z, while a smooth and easy read, conveys emotions very powerfully. Zach's outlook on life may frustrate you, the banter between Angelo and Zach will make you laugh, and the way Zach's landlord treats him will make you grit your teeth. But the real attraction of this story is the way Ms. Sexton's characters stay with you even after the last page. Read the full review.
Loved this story, hot and passionate with a little angst and humour in there too. Taylor has a complicated love life. Great characters I really hope to see more stories about these.
Terrific MM romance told from both leads’ viewpoints. Love the realistic progression of the men’s relationship.
Read the full review at
If you’re in the mood for a slow-paced, emotional tale with realistic conflict and a sweet ending, pick up A to Z. You won’t regret it! Read the full review.
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