A Novel in the Long Pass Chronicles
Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he's gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.
In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will's problems seem like nothing compared to Noah's. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it since the teacher of his class has designs on him, a plan Will isn't happy about.
SHIT, HE was late. Will drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, stared at the light, and tried to ignore his throbbing cock. He toggled his feet back and forth between the gas and the clutch on the Ferrari. The brake was for amateurs. Damn Orange County summer traffic. Come on! Rainbow wouldn’t wait long.
The red light shone steadily. He should take this as a sign. Forget Rainbow and get to class. No way he wanted to be late. That class could mean everything, including the scholarship. But sticking his dick into Tiffany Baxter didn’t do it for him a lot of the time, and it had been two fucking weeks since he’d gotten off worth a damn.
The light changed. Yes! His brakes squealed and three seconds later he pulled into the nearly vacant lot at the park. No kids playing soccer, no moms supervising rug rats on the swings. Perfect. Tuesday morning between runners and playground a.m. He didn’t recognize that old Civic two spaces down.
He pulled down the mirror and ran a hand through his blond curls. The curls that made the cheerleaders scream, the press liked to say. You don’t need this. Cock throb. You can leave and go to class. Cock throb. Shit! This wouldn’t take long. One touch of Rainbow’s talented tongue and he’d be off. At least he’d be able to concentrate. He threw open the door, slammed it behind him, and clicked the remote as he ran toward the cement block bathroom.
No stopping. No thinking. Breathing hard, he rounded the block wall that provided privacy to the men’s room. Nobody. He leaned down and looked under the beige metal dividers. A pair of sequined tennies moved slowly out of the back stall.
OMG. An overly made-up, sharp-boned, but still pretty young transvestite’s face surrounded by phony red hair stared back at him.
What the—? “Who the fuck are you?”
The guy leaned his skintight-denim-clad hip against the opposite wall. “Think of me as Rainbow Two.”
Will didn’t know this guy. What was going on? “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Rainbow’s sick. She sent me.”
Breath caught somewhere between his sick belly and his throbbing cock. Rainbow Two wore bright red lipstick. Man, what that color would look like ringing Will’s prick.
The guy stared at Will with a smile, showing crooked white teeth. “You sure are pretty. Rainbow said I’d enjoy the fuck out of this one.”
Will’s hands trembled. Stay or go? Shit, those lips could get him off in five seconds. He’d be fifty bucks poorer and several ounces of cum lighter. And he needed to come! Damn, too risky. “I’ve got no idea what you mean. Sorry, lady.” His feet ran while his cock tried to stay behind.
The guy’s slightly accented voice called out, “Hey, baby, don’t go. I’ll make you feel good.”
Feel good. Shit. Out of here. The car door beeped. He slammed his butt on the seat and had the Ferrari moving before the door was fully closed. Racing through gears, he screeched out of the residential area and roared onto the ramp for the freeway.
Where was Rainbow? What had he been thinking sending a stranger? Shakedown time? Didn’t Will pay the guy enough? He took a breath. Chill. Rainbow has no idea who you are or who your parents are. He knows nothing about football. He shuddered. When it came to SCU, everybody knew a little about football.
He couldn’t stop shaking.
Wasn’t fear supposed to get rid of a hard-on? But the damned thing just kept throbbing. Hate this! He slapped the steering wheel. His whole life balanced on a pack of lies. With one big confession, he could blow the whole thing away—no more lies. Yeah, and no more life.
He sucked in air. Work the plan. He hated plans. Work the plan.
He pulled off the six-lane freeway onto the off-ramp for Laguna.
Resolution. This was it. The last time. He was done. No more risks. Nothing but females from now on. If Tiffany didn’t do it for him, he’d find some girl who did.
That dumbass idea got rid of the boner real fast.
The Laguna Canyon Road looked like a parking lot. It took a full half hour to get out of Irvine and down to Laguna College of Art. Twenty minutes late for his summer class with no orgasm and one near heart attack to show for it. Shit.
He parked, pulled his art supplies out of the trunk, and carefully extracted the large wrapped package from his passenger seat. He had to be careful. His fucking future was in that brown paper. Balancing his precious cargo, he walked down the pathway to the office of the college. He had to set down the package to let himself in, then picked it up and crossed to the counter.
The lady behind the desk smiled. “Is that a Milton scholarship application?”
“Lovely. You brought it to the right place. Let me take it off your hands.” She reached over and he handed her the package.
He must have looked worried. She smiled. “Don’t fret. I’ll take good care of it. You’re Will Smith, aren’t you?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
“I always remember since it’s like the movie star.”
He cringed. Why had he used that stupid name?
“I’m Cora Johnson. I’m so glad you’re entering. I saw some of your work and it’s very effective.”
He flashed his expensively straightened teeth. “Thank you. I think you just made my day.”
“Most welcome. Of course, final recommendations from staff will be added to the entries at the last minute.”
That made his stomach flip. “Thanks again.”
She smiled, and he left the office and headed for the studio. He’d had a class there before so he knew right where to go. But this class was with Masterson. It made him sweat just to think about studying with the guy. Masterson was the right name, because the artist was a master. He only taught one or two classes a year. A few other hours a year, he made a lot of money painting giant portraits for rich people. The rest of the time he did what he wanted. Wild, surrealistic, haunting, edgy, ass-dropping art. Will wanted to paint like that. Yeah, and his folks wanted Will to paint not at all. But if he could get the scholarship, he wouldn’t need their money. Masterson’s name on a recommendation would be a big fucking deal.
He ran up the stairs and paused outside the door to the life class. Swag, man. Stay cool.
He pushed open the door.
There was Masterson, just like his pictures. Longish brown hair, thin face, thin body. Good looking in a Cassius-lean-and-hungry kind of way.
Will’s eyes moved past the teacher. Lots of easels, students already working, supplies all over the place and—holy shit.
The artist’s model sat naked on a small platform in the middle of the room. But not just no-clothes-on naked. We were talking gleaming, pale beige skin, shining hair, and hard-as-stone butt-cheeks naked.
Will’s deprived cock did a happy dance.
The model’s back—read, bare ass—faced Will while his graceful spine curved away.
The beast in Will’s pants started to grow.
The guy’s long brown hair flowed over his shoulders and outlined his profile, perfectly presented to Will’s artist eye. High-bridged nose, prominent cheekbones, pointed chin.
The damned traitor prick pushed so hard against Will’s zipper he probably had teeth marks on his cockhead. Why was it every time he decided to go straight, some cosmic joker had to twiddle his fucking finger and prove beyond a shadow that William Elliott Ashford III was as gay as a circus tent? Shit!
“Are you in this class?”
Will focused his eyes back on Masterson and clasped his hands in front of his crotch, still holding his tackle box. “Yes, sir. Sorry I’m late. Traffic.”
Masterson glanced at Will’s folded hands and sucked on his cheek like he was trying not to laugh. “Name?”
Will shifted to get the animal to go back in its cave, but no matter how hard Masterson stared at Will, the model still sat there in all his fucking glory. “Will Smith, sir.”
Masterson glanced at a paper on his desk, made a check mark, and pointed toward an empty easel with a folding table beside it and a rickety chair. “There’s a place in the back, William.”
The man smiled and the lean, almost harsh face softened. “Will. Made any good movies lately?”
Oh my, so very original. Will smiled. “Yeah.”
Masterson waved his hand toward the easel and looked at the model. “You can move, Noah.”
Will walked back to the empty place. Do not stare at that guy. Don’t stare. His name is Noah. Noah.
Weird. Usually life models were “interesting” looking, for lack of a better word. Fat or craggy, old, and character-filled. Not perfect, smooth beauties like this guy.
Will set his tackle box on the floor, opened it, and pulled out brushes. Masterson walked up beside him with a canvas. “This is gessoed already so you won’t have to waste any time.”
Will set it on the easel. “Thanks.”
Masterson crossed his arms. “I’ve seen the work you submitted when you applied for the master class. Promising.”
Wow. Music to his ears. “Thank you, sir.”
Masterson grinned. Who knew dimples could live in cheeks that thin? “Try Dwight so I don’t feel so old.”
Will smiled. “Thanks, Dwight. I wouldn’t want to suggest something that’s not true.”
The instructor winked at him and walked back to the beat-up desk in the corner. Winked. Will had read that Masterson was gay. Had the teacher just been flirting with him? Or shit, maybe he’d been coming on to Masterson. When you spent your life in the closet, every interaction was a fucking minefield.
Will sat in the chair and looked up at the model. His breath caught. No way. The beautiful guy had repositioned himself and now sat facing Will, his legs crossed, leaning forward with his arm resting on his thigh. Everything shimmery and perfect—if you didn’t count the six-inch scar that ran from the right corner of his mouth up to the edge of his very blue eye. It skipped the eye miraculously and continued above it on his forehead, disappearing into his hair. The puckered skin pulled that eye closed a slight bit more than the other. Funny. Without it, the kid would have looked almost too angelic. As it was, the eye gave him a permanent touch of cynicism. Yeah, anybody who’d picked up that badge of courage in his life deserved to be a cynic.
That must be why Masterson had chosen the guy as a model. What a challenge to capture that strange mix of beauty and ugliness, innocence and wisdom. Truth. The model’s face had to be pretty damned captivating to keep Will from staring at his prick, which managed to peek up like some engraved invitation between his crossed legs.
Will leaned down to grab some paint. He’d need a lot of Caucasian flesh tone for this, with a little yellow ochre and maybe some warm gray. He stared at the tubes. God, he loved to paint. Some days, living the next year in a double closet made him want to puke. But if he could just get through it, he’d be free, living his life like a fucking bird. He had to hang on. He had to.
When he straightened, the guy had moved again. Now he looked over his shoulder with his eyes downcast and the brown hair covering the scar. Too pretty. Will grabbed some charcoal and started outlining the forms and shapes on the canvas. Damn. He wanted to see that scar.
He got up and walked to the platform. The boy’s eyes flipped up to look at him like a deer that wasn’t allowed to move. Cosmic blue, baby. Will smiled, slowly reached out a hand, and curved the guy’s hair behind his ear. Do not even think about how that silky stuff feels.
The model’s eyes shifted toward his ear. He glanced up, then frowned. Shit. Did he think Will was dissing him? Showing how ugly he was?
Will smiled again. He tried to keep his voice soft. “You’re beautiful.”
That got his attention. Those eyes flashed back to Will’s and the connection sailed straight to Will’s balls. And guess what? That bare cock stretched up another inch from the model’s lap. Mutual admiration?
A voice came from Will’s left. “Hey buddy, move, okay? I can’t see the model.”
He dragged his eyes away and looked toward the complainer. “Sorry.” Another glance down found the boy still looking at him with an unreadable expression. Will twisted his mouth. “Sorry, Noah.”
He walked back to his easel and started to lay on paint.
No more thinking. Not about his unsatisfied cock or how he’d better not be late for football practice even though driving to SCU on a summer afternoon was hell on wheels, literally. It didn’t matter if your car could do zero to sixty in one point five seconds if you could only go ten feet at a time. Shit.
He needed painting therapy. Yeah, that’s what they did with crazy people, right? Well, he was wacked and painting was his therapy. No, painting was his life.
He stared at the beautiful model. He’s not a man, he’s a form. Paint. Dark first. Capture the shadows, all the tones of parts in hiding. The belly, cock, the scarred side of his face. Then, bam. Light exploded on the tip of a knee or the flash of his forehead. Will sucked in breath to keep his hand from shaking. So great. Time dissolved. He could paint forever. Maybe an hour passed. Maybe a minute. He just kept on painting.
“I like where you’re going with that.” The voice came from behind him. Masterson.
Will shook his head a little. Back to the world. “Thanks.”
“Take some photos to finish from. This will be Noah’s only session.”
He wouldn’t think about how disappointed he felt. “Oh?”
“Yeah. I explained before you came in. Noah’s actually a student in this class. When our life model cancelled, I pressed him into service. But next session, he’ll be painting, not posing.”
A student. “He’s a great subject.” Will pulled out his phone and started taking photos.
“Yes, beauty ruined.”
Will frowned. “Ruined?” He shook his head. “Perfected.”
Masterson raised his eyebrows. “How so?”
Will looked at Masterson’s lean face. “No light without dark. He makes his own contrast. The scar reminds you of just how perfect the rest is.”
Masterson turned his lips up just a little, but a tiny crease popped out between his eyebrows. “Glad you see that.”
Will nodded once. What had he said?
“Keep going.” Masterson slapped Will’s shoulder and walked over to another student.
Shit. Had he seemed to be correcting Masterson? He should learn to keep his fucking philosophy to himself.
After another few minutes, Masterson walked back to the center of the large room. “Please finish and clean up for the day. Noah, thanks so much for your help. You can get dressed.”
A few students clapped and the guy looked embarrassed. He grabbed a robe that was thrown over the edge of the platform and pulled it on before standing up. No use mentioning how disappointing that was either. Yeah, you’re all about girls, remember?
Will loaded paints into his tackle box, covered his paint palette with plastic wrap to keep it moist until the next class, and took his canvas to a picture rail to get it out of the way of whatever group of students came in next.
He glanced over at the platform where Noah stood, wearing the robe. The guy was tall. Probably only a couple inches shorter than Will. His brown hair fell down his back in a shiny curtain. Wonder how old he is? That sweet face looked really young, but there was an old quality about him. Like he’d seen too much.
Will started to close his paint box, but stopped as Masterson walked over to Noah and spoke in a low voice. The hand he placed on Noah’s shoulder had a damned proprietary air. Masterson smiled, and the model looked up at him from under his lashes with a little grin that promised one fuck of a lot.
Well, damn. That little interaction spoke a Wikipedia of shit. Noah was gay. Masterson either already ass-fucked the guy or was angling for some action, which could mean that Noah was not on the market. Real fact, Will shouldn’t care about that at all. But Masterson might already have a favorite in this class. A favorite he could recommend for the Milton scholarship. That Will cared about for sure.
The dialogue is written in a way that expresses the main characters' college aged immaturity, yet is intermixed with scenes that are full of emotional brilliance.
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I had to read this book with an open mind. See, I can understand why people would be really angry with Will in this book. He does some shitty things to keep his secret. But, I get it. Noah, beauty perfected, the beautiful man with a 6 inch scar on his face, and a past to rival many others, sees the understanding in Will’s choices. When he sees the why it sort of becomes clear. We can’t judge how others handle things. I’m quite sure there was a better way Will could handle it but when you put yourself in his shoes you get it. And in the end he does the right thing and that’s what matters. Tara has written a book that will evoke a lot of emotions. It will test your strength to not throw your kindle across the room. But it’s intense, and you won’t want to stop reading. I’m VERY interested in book 2, Jamal’s story! I can’t wait to see where it goes. This is a good read, keep an open mind, and hang on. It’s worth the ride.
Will is has been living a lie for most of his life. It hasn't been easy, hiding his love of art and sexual orientation from his father (and the world) but his reasons for doing so are complex, and not at all bad. The burden of his lies gets heavier with each new addition, and he's counting down the days until he can finally be free.
Noah has been taking care of himself for as long as he can remember. Out and proud, his sexual orientation is as much a part of him as his drive to become an artist. Growing up alone was difficult, but he is stronger for the experience, and has managed to maintain his positive outlook on life.
When the two meet in a master painter class, the sparks fly; but not only do they come from completely opposite social backgrounds, they are also standing on opposing sides of the closet door.
When rumors about Will's sexual orientation begin to emerge, he must decide to either follow his dreams and his heart, or continue to live the lie that allows him to be the man that makes his father proud.
OUTING THE QUARTERBACK is a new-adult/coming of age romance. The dialogue is written in way that expresses the main characters' college aged immaturity, yet is intermixed with scenes that are full of emotional brilliance. I enjoyed the rather interesting blend that is as sharply contrasting as the themes of art and football. I loved the the raw and passionate sensuality, moments of humor, emotional tension, drama and loving tenderness. The supporting characters are especially vibrant, and add depth to this heartwarming modern day fairytale.
My OFFICIAL REVIEW written for Carly's Book Reviews
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