ADAM Williams laughed as his seven-year-old daughter skipped ahead, but he quickly sobered as a female lifeguard glared at him. He caught up to his daughter Denise and said, “Walk.” She pouted but followed his order nevertheless.
Denise was young, but he could already tell that she would be a heartbreaker in her teenage years. Although she had her mother’s odd, reddish-brown eyes and waiflike bone structure, she had her father’s full lips, wavy black hair, and scattered freckles that only added to her charm. Her enjoyment for life also came from him.
Adam’s curly black hair fell below his ears. His sapphire eyes usually held a strange intensity, especially when he was concentrating. He wasn’t overly muscular, but it was still obvious that he took good care of his body. Years of jogging in the mornings had strengthened his leg muscles, and his arms were shaped from lifting weights twice a week for the past five years. Adam knew he looked good in swim trunks, so he wasn’t shy at all about taking his shirt off and letting the appreciative eyes of people in the pool vicinity wander over him.
Seeing his daughter hopping, impatience showing on her face, Adam turned on the poolside shower. “In you go.” After Denise obediently ducked under the spray, she stepped into the pool, ignoring what Adam knew to be cold water from his earlier experience with it.
Grinning, he took a seat on one of the poolside chairs and kept an eye on Denise as she played in the public pool.
Adam watched Denise dunk her head and attempt a handstand. With her legs flailing as she tried to find her balance, it definitely didn’t look like one. Adam chuckled as she came up spluttering. Denise waved wildly before going back under; she truly was a little fish. In fact, his daughter’s numerous pleas finally convinced Adam to save up money so he could enroll her on the swim team.
Denise’s giggles as she came up for air were infectious. Times certainly had changed; Adam remembered when he’d resented her for existing, but now she was the most important thing in his life.
He had become a teenage father at the age of sixteen; a girl named Cynthia was the mother. Although he didn’t want a kid, he had decided to do the responsible thing and be a real, involved father. Cynthia had brought their daughter to his house for an afternoon. Supposedly, he was only going to watch her for the day so she could look for work.
Cynthia never came back.
Adam later found out that she had moved away with her parents, leaving Denise with Adam. His parents had demanded he take the baby to an orphanage, but Adam refused. They threatened to kick him out of the house. Adam still refused, believing it was only a bluff. They followed through with the threat, leaving Denise and Adam homeless.
Luckily his aunt, who was estranged from the family, stepped in. Aunt Belinda was wonderful. She taught him how to care for Denise properly and baby-sat while Adam worked and finished his high school education, and then earned a B.A. in Business.
Aunt Belinda had married a wealthy man who had died in a car accident, so she didn’t need to work and had a lot of free time on her hands. Thanks to his aunt, when Adam finished school, he had an apartment to live in with his daughter right away. Against his aunt’s wishes, Adam paid back Belinda for the down payment. He and Denise were truly blessed to have such a caring woman in their lives.
Denise meant everything to him, and Adam was happy that he hadn’t given in to his parents’ demands.
Adam discarded his shirt as he stood up from the chair and went to sit on the ledge near the lifeguard seat. He playfully kicked water into his daughter’s face. She ducked underneath the surface to avoid his splashing feet. Denise turned around so her back was to him as she was forced to come up for air, wading through the water in the opposite direction to get away from him. “Don’t go too deep,” Adam warned his exuberant daughter.
“You have a cute sister,” a voice murmured from above him.
Adam tilted his head back and his breath caught in his throat. Sitting in the lifeguard’s chair was a man with windblown chestnut hair that stopped right below his ears. The bangs didn’t quite hide his smoky gray eyes, and his plump lips were curved in a smile. The sleek swimsuit he wore displayed a muscled torso. It was obvious that he worked out.
Adam shook his head. It wasn’t the first time he had found himself admiring a guy’s appearance, but like all of the previous times, he would ignore it. He focused instead on the lifeguard’s statement. “Thanks, but she’s my daughter.”
The lifeguard’s eyebrows rose as he looked down. “Really? She must be close to eight, and you can’t be older than twenty-five.”
Adam frowned in annoyance. “Not that it’s any of your business, but she’s seven and I’m twenty-three.”
The guard held up his hand in a placating gesture. “I meant no offense, seriously. My friends always tell me that my curiosity is my worst trait. I’m Mark and, since you told me your age, I’m twenty-one.”
Adam was still a bit annoyed, but he realized Mark truly hadn’t meant to be offensive. “I’m Adam.”
“What’s your daughter’s name?”
“Denise. Her mother named her.” Adam couldn’t help the distaste in his voice when he said the word “mother.” Cynthia wasn’t anything like a real mother—not that his own was a shining example. They had both abandoned their children.
Mark smiled and Adam felt something flutter in his stomach, but did his best to squash it down. “Denise is a beautiful name. How is your relationship with her mother? You don’t sound like you’re fond of her.”
Adam eyed him suspiciously, but Mark’s expression was innocent. Of course, it could have been an act. “Your friends were right; you’re too curious.”
“I’ll take that as, ‘Mind your own business’.”
Smart decision. Adam nodded. “That would be for the best.” Mark smiled again and Adam found it sexy as hell. He resolutely ignored that thought. “You must be a university student.”
Mark nodded and said, “Yeah, going for English with a minor in Business.”
Adam shrugged and decided turnabout was fair play. “Dating anyone?” Adam acted as if the question were no big deal, while wondering why it even mattered.
Mark smirked as if he had heard Adam’s thoughts. “No, I haven’t found the right man to go steady with yet.”
Adam’s eyes widened as they locked gazes. Mark’s eyes were hungry as they roamed appreciatively over Adam’s shirtless body, and Adam felt himself burn up. “Y-You’re g-gay?” he managed to stutter out.
Mark chuckled. “Yes, I am. What about you?”
Adam quickly stood up. “I’m straight.” It was blunt, but he didn’t want to give Mark any ideas.
Mark opened his mouth to respond, but a female lifeguard, the same one who had glared at Adam when he and Denise first arrived, came to take Mark’s place. Adam backed away to give the two of them some room. As she watched the pool, Mark turned around to climb down the chair. Adam couldn’t help but notice Mark’s very nice ass.
He felt himself harden slightly and squeezed his eyes shut, thinking of unpleasant things to make his arousal go down. It took a while, but he finally succeeded. When his eyes opened, he was standing nose-to-nose with Mark. Despite being two years older, Adam was slightly shorter and felt a bit intimidated. He gulped, trying to dissolve the lump that had appeared in his throat.
Mark’s eyes hungrily raked down Adam’s chest to his tanned stomach. “Are you sure you’re straight?” With that, Mark left Adam standing still as a statue, the question resonating in his head. Are you sure you’re straight? Are you sure you’re straight? Are you sure you’re straight?