“Lance Ritter is not my boyfriend!” Gavin declared, hitching an impatient shoulder at his best friend, Manny. “He’s just helping me out with my lit paper. If you’d signed up for the class like we talked about last semester, it’d be you helping me out.”
“Shh.” Manny looked around the nearly empty library, then leaned back in his seat and reached for the book lying on the table. “‘White knights,’” he read aloud. “‘White knights appear as the saviors and guardians in myth and in many old, long-forgotten religions. Anyone placed under the protection of a white knight is bound to the knight in an eternal cosmic union no man, god, or demon can sever.’ Come on. A course about fairy tales? I couldn’t take that instead of the extra physics credits.”
“They’re not all fairy tales,” Gavin said, bristling a little. “Lance says that a lot of this mythological stuff has basis in fact, and that—”
“Lance says, huh?” Manny waggled his eyebrows suggestively. “For someone who’s not your boyfriend, you’ve been spending a lot of time over at his place. And correct me if I’m wrong, Lance is a pretty good-looking guy?”
“Lance isn’t my type. And even if he was, he’s not interested in me. Hell, I don’t even think he’s gay.” Gavin frowned. “I’ve got to pass this course if I want to graduate, and it’s a lot harder than I thought it was gonna be. It was just my good luck I got paired with him in the first tutorial. He really gets this stuff.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Manny turned the pages, shaking his head. “I can see how you’d struggle with this. Her, for instance.” He leaned forward, pointing to a drawing of a sinuous, dark-haired woman dressed in a blood-red gown. The woman’s eyes glowed green. Gavin shivered.
“‘The lamia is a type of succubus. Part woman, part snake, she shapeshifts at will, preying on virgin youths and stealing their souls.’“ Manny cackled. “Yeah, I can see how that’d be hard to swallow.”
“Shut up.” Gavin blushed, snatching his book back and stuffing it into his backpack. “Manny, I just need the credits, okay? And anyhow, I’m not a virgin.”
“Hand jobs don’t count!” Manny slapped him on the back. “Come on, I’m just kidding you. Let’s get out of here, huh? Before a lamia gets us?”
“You want to borrow that book if you like it so much?” Gavin retorted, giving Manny a friendly punch on the arm.
“Oh no. You and Lance might need it for bedtime reading.” Manny picked up his bag and headed for the exit, grinning cheekily over his shoulder.
Gavin caught up with him at the door, just as Jefferson, Manny’s blond, athletic boyfriend jogged up the steps toward them. Swallowing the rest of his protest, Gavin managed a cheery greeting, but his thoughts remained with his lit paper… and Lance.
What he’d told Manny was true. Lance wasn’t his boyfriend, and as far as Gavin knew Lance wasn’t interested. But Gavin couldn’t stop thinking about him. The evenings they studied together, sprawled comfortably on the couch in Lance’s tiny studio apartment, eclipsed everything else in Gavin’s life. Lance’s deep blue eyes, the way his full lips parted when he smiled, the curve of his muscular arms—everything about the guy turned Gavin on.
Especially the way Lance leaned in close, looking over Gavin’s shoulder at his notes and patting him on the back, Lance’s low, sexy voice, close to Gavin’s ear.
Gavin took a deep breath. Every time Lance encouraged him, Gavin felt electrified, powerful. And when Lance followed up the words by squeezing his shoulder and smiling into his eyes, Gavin felt electrified in an entirely different way.