JOSH HARRIS held the living room curtains aside a couple of inches and peeked out at all the activity at the house catty-corner across the street.
“Dad, Dad!” His son, Ernie, ran full speed across the street, waving madly. The kid barely glanced either way, but fortunately there was little danger from traffic on their quiet cul-de-sac.
Josh dropped the curtain. If Ernie could see him watching, so could the new neighbor. Of course, Josh could always say he was just checking on his son. He sank down into his reading chair and picked up the book on the history of the Plains Indian tribes he’d stashed on the end table. The book was good. He intended to use it in his classes along with other new materials he wanted to incorporate for the semester. He still had planning to do. A powerfully hot young guy across the street was a distraction he could live without. He sighed.
The front door flew open, and a hurtling nine-year-old propelled himself through the entry to the living room and landed on his knees on the couch. “Man, that haunted house is so cool! Trex and Bogo say we can come and hang out there for all of Halloween if we want. Of course, I have to hit up all the neighbors for candy first.”
Josh laughed. “Of course. Every man has his priorities. But I thought they were moving in. What’s with the haunted house?”
“Trex is waiting to move in for a day so that they can do the Halloween thing. It’s so cool! But they won’t let me see everything. They say they want me to be surprised. And scared, I bet. I think they figure they can scare me shitless.”
Josh gave an exaggerated frown. “Language.”
Josh opened and closed the cover of his book. “What kinds of names are Trex and Bogo? It sounds like a cartoon.”
Ernie flipped onto his back. “Yeah, the Trex and Bogo show. Bet they could have their own show, too, they’re so cool. Their name is, like, Trexler, I think. And Bogo’s name is something weird. Bo-gard or something.”
“Yeah, I think. But his brother says they come as a set, so buy one and get one, you know? Bogo.”
“Brother? Are there two boys?”
“Nope. Trex is Bogo’s brother. Don’t know how that happened ’cause Bogo’s like eleven and Trex is way old, but whatever.”
Way old appeared to be midtwenties. And tall, fit, and gorgeous. “So what does Mr. Trexler do?”
Ernie stopped playing with his sneaker laces. “Do?”
“Like for work?”
Back to the triple ties. “Oh, he teaches—same place as you.”
“At the university?” Trexler appeared too young, but that would explain why a bachelor was moving into their family neighborhood. Proximity to the college.
“Yeah, I guess.” Ernie rolled back until his feet hit the couch over his head, rocked forward, and hopped to his knees, all in one exhausting-looking move. “I’m gonna go see if they’ll show me anything else. Man, I can’t wait ’til tomorrow night.”
The mini-missile flew back out the open front door—leaving it open.
Josh shook his head, got up, and followed. He adjusted his glasses and peered across the street. Jeee-sus, Trexler is gorgeous. He watched as the new neighbor pulled something big and covered with plastic from the back of a battered SUV. The way that faded red tank stretched across his wide shoulders and showed off his long, lean torso made Josh sweat. The guy had a body like a swimmer. His jeans had holes in them. Exploring those holes more closely seemed like a good project for an afternoon, right after running his fingers through that too-long brown hair.
Josh slammed the door. He was a dad, not some wild gay playboy. He stopped. Were there wild gay playboys? He walked back over and collapsed in the chair again.
I’m so uncool. No TV show would ever be made about him. Seven years married in guilt-ridden hell, denying he was gay, had taken a toll. He’d tried to make a home for his wife and the son they’d produced in one night of him proving his nonexistent heterosexuality with her egging him on. But they’d never been more to each other than a dare and, he sincerely believed, a way for the universe to give him the amazing gift called Ernie. To be with Ernie, he’d have worked at that marriage forever, but his wife knew it was hopeless. She made him admit he was gay, used that as entirely reasonable grounds for divorce, and left without fighting him for Ernie, thank God. Now she saw her son on occasional holidays, and otherwise it was the Josh and Ernie show. All dad, all the time. Ernie was his life and he loved that. Was he ever a little lonely for grown-up love? He raised his shoulders and dropped them.
He didn’t have time to be cool. Hell, he didn’t have time to meet a guy, and he was totally okay with that—usually. But he didn’t need some beautiful piece of ass across the street sticking the reality of celibacy in his face.