Chapter One

 

THE SHRIEK of the alarm shocked Jim’s heart into his throat. He slammed his hand onto the computer keyboard and dragged the edge of his sock across his rock-hard dick. Glancing back at the bed, he watched Peggy pull the covers over her ears. At least she was facing the wall. Shit, he wanted to come so bad. He looked longingly at the drawing of those doe eyes and the beautiful full lips wrapped around the guy’s erect cock on his computer screen.

“Jimmy, who turned that alarm on?”

“Sorry.” He clicked off the video, closed his laptop, and jumped toward the shrieking alarm. Oh, big mistake. He flopped back into the chair and caught his head in his hand to try and stop the spinning. That got rid of his hard-on fast.

“You nuts or what?” Her voice sounded muffled.

“Gotta go to work.” At his smack on the snooze button, the alarm finally gave up, and he sighed in relief.

“No way.” Voice clear now. “I owe you a blow job, and I’m gonna deliver.”

“Can’t, baby.” Not the right lips.

“But, Jimmy, that thing of yours wouldn’t even wiggle for me last night.”

He leaned over and patted her bare shoulder, then sat up very slowly. “I was drinking Jack, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Jack and dick don’t mix for me.”

“Man, you’re not kidding. You wouldn’t twitch.”

Rub it in. “It’s not you, it’s me.” Never had there been a truer statement.

The alarm started round two, and he staggered to where the damned clock stood bravely. He slammed a hand down on the button. “Come on, get up. We both have to go to work.”

She rolled over. “Hell, I can cancel my appointments. Those women don’t need another haircut.”

“Okay, stay there, but I have to go.”

“What you doing on the computer?”

“Just had to check something for work.” He staggered bare-assed toward the bathroom.

She finally sat up. “You don’t usually give a shit about work.”

“Yeah, well, this is Billy’s last day as a construction supervisor before the wedding tomorrow. After that he’s only going to do construction for his own company. I want him to hire me for jobs.”

“You know he will.”

He stepped into the bathroom and closed the door. No, I don’t know that. Billy had mentioned a tenant improvement job coming up for Ballew Construction, but he hadn’t hired Jim yet. Couldn’t blame him. Billy needed the best guys on his jobs, and everybody knew Jim Carney might know his way around an electrical circuit, but he was bullshit in the reliability department. Usually he didn’t care, but Billy mattered.

Fifteen minutes later he’d cleaned up enough to get dirty again and stood in his kitchenette. Peggy came walking out of his bathroom looking pretty—and pretty hungover. He handed her a cup of lukewarm, day-old coffee. She took it and looked inside. “How come there are three rings in this cup?”

“Three days, three rings.”

She handed it back. “Shit, Jimmy, a girl could catch Ebola in this place.”

He set the cup in the sink and herded her toward the door. Suddenly she stopped and looked up into his eyes. “Who’s Hero?”

“What?” What the fuck?

“When I was sucking you last night, you called me Hero.”

He tried to wipe the frown off his face. “Don’t know. I guess I thought you were being heroic or something. Superhero of blow jobs, you know?”

“I figured it was the girl you really wanted to have sucking you instead of me. Maybe she could have got you off.” She crossed her arms.

“Don’t know a girl named Hero.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” At least that was true.

“You ought to watch what you say, baby.”

“Yeah.”

“You could give a girl a complex.” She kissed his cheek. “Want me to try again tonight?”

“No. I’ve got some stuff to do for the wedding, but I’ll pick you up tomorrow at four, okay?”

She danced a couple of steps. “You and me sashaying at a fag wedding. Jesus, that’ll be different.”

He frowned. “It’s not a fag wedding. Billy’s my friend.”

“Never said he wasn’t. Some of my best friends are fags.” She leaned over and gave him a quick kiss. “See you tomorrow.”

 

 

AFTER SPENDING eight hours finishing their project, Jim sat at the Bay Bar with his final paycheck in his pocket and watched Billy walk out the door with a spring in his step. Billy’s last day working for someone else. The day before his wedding. Jesus, what would that be like, to have that kind of new life ahead of you?

He turned back to Charlie and Raoul. Charlie sipped a beer. “So when do we start the TI project for Billy?”

Raoul smiled. “Monday sharp, man. That’ll be great, working for Billy direct. No more big boss queering the works.” He snorted. “I guess Billy does his own queering, but it’ll be great working for him.” He looked at Jim. “You doing electrical or carpentry?”

Jesus, don’t look sad. “Not working this one, I guess. Billy hasn’t said anything.”

Charlie put a hand on his arm. “You know he will. Billy’d never leave you out.”

Why did everybody say that? “Don’t know. The job starts Monday.”

“Don’t worry.” Charlie raised his glass of beer in the air. “To Billy.”

Jim hoisted his Jack. “To Billy. He’s so happy, maybe there’s a chance for the rest of us.” He laughed.

Charlie looked at him sideways. “You not happy, Jim?”

Raoul blew a razzberry. “Hound dog Jim Carney. What you got to not be happy about?”

He waved a hand. “Nah, man. I’m fine. Just love that Billy’s on cloud nine, you know?”

Raoul took a sip of beer. “Yeah, because he’s gonna marry a guy, man. I love Billy and I even love Shaz, but, man, that still freaks me out. The day he said ‘I’m gay’ to the whole crew, I about fell off the fucking ladder.”

Charlie nodded. “It’s shit strange to think we didn’t even know our friend at all after three years.” He peeled his label from the bottle. “Does that make you feel weird?”

Jim nodded. “I guess.”

“Me too. Jesus, that’s, like, fundamental, you know? And I mean, Billy’s really a guy. You know, like a dude.”

“The dudest.” He tried to smile. “He said he didn’t know he was gay—until he met Shaz.”

“Just goes to show.”

“What?”

“I guess all gay guys aren’t girlie. I mean, like, anybody could be one.”

Raoul shook his head wildly. “No way, man.”

“Way. Billy fooled you. You never knew.”

“Yeah, but mostly I know. Mostly.”

Breathe. Jim slugged back the rest of the Jack.

“Jim.” Charlie glanced at him.

“Yeah.”

“Ever wonder what else we don’t know about each other?”

Jim raised his finger at the waiter. One more.

Two hours of booze later, Jim navigated the road slowly. Yeah, he shouldn’t be driving, but if he could make it one more block, he was home free. His phone rang, and he pawed the seat beside him until he hit the answer button. “Yeah.”

“Hey, Jim, it’s Billy. Sorry to bother you.”

He smiled. “Thash okay. We were just talking about you.”

“You all right?”

He shook his head. Focus, dammit. “Yeah. No problem. Just headed home.”

“Something exciting happened.”

“You mean besides getting married?”

Billy laughed. “Yeah. Well, not married yet, but that’s why I called. Shaz just surprised me with tickets to Tahiti for our honeymoon.”

Jim shook his head. “Man, Billy, thash’s—uh, that’s great. Billy Ballew in the South Pacific.”

“Yeah. Hard to imagine. But that’s the thing. You know how I just got this tenant improvement job on that building in Irvine?”

Jim nodded, then realized Billy couldn’t see it. “Yeah, you’re starting next week, right?” He wanted to scream And you haven’t hired me.

“Yes, two days after the wedding, but—”

His fuzzy brain finally put it together. “But that’s when you’ll be schwimming with the southern fishes.”

“Yes, I’d like to be, but only if you’ll be my construction supervisor and take over the job while I’m gone.”

What? “Me?” His heart leaped into his throat, and the car swerved. Get a grip.

“Yeah, you’re the only one with knowledge of all the trades, and the crew already knows you. There’s nobody else I can trust with this.”

“You trust me?”

“Yes. I trust you. This is our first big job as a company, and I need somebody good.” He said it firmly. Probably trying to convince himself too. “If you won’t do it, I’ll tell Shaz we have to postpone the trip until the job’s over.”

“You can’t do that, man.”

“Then say you’ll do it.”

Red dots swam in front of his eyes with every heartbeat. Billy trusts me.

“I have to put you on the company insurance, so you’ll have to get a physical.”

Insurance? Doctors? “I don’t know, man.”

“Come on, Jim. You’re healthy as a horse.”

“Don’t like doctors.”

“Okay, no worries. See you at the wedding.”

“Wait. What are you gonna do?”

“Not a problem to postpone. Probably better anyway. The building owner is kind of erratic. She may freak if I say I’m going away.”

No, no. Wait. Billy just gave him a chance. A chance at—what? Something better. “I can do it. I mean, I think I can.”

“I don’t want to make you do shit you don’t want to do, Jim.”

“No. I can do it.” He sucked in air.

“I know you can.”

“Jesus, Billy, it’s your company. Your baby. You really trusht me to do this?”

“I do, Jim.”

The question was, did he trust himself?

Fifteen minutes later Jim staggered into his apartment, shoved his car magazines off the ratty green couch, and collapsed onto it. Billy trusted him. He gave him a job. No, the job. The one he’d wanted for years. Jesus. He couldn’t fuck it up.

Billy had always been his friend. Three months before, he’d become his idol. How many balls did it take to come out to a bunch of guys on a construction crew? More balls than Jim had, that was for damned sure.

Jim rolled on his side and tucked his legs up to try to get the sour gurgle out of his stomach. Billy. Big, handsome, sloppy. People would believe Jim was gay before they thought that about Billy. And Billy smoked dick. Tough to believe.

Did he like to ass fuck?

God, no, don’t think about that. He pressed his hands against his temples. Billy probably had a schlong to match his size. How could any guy take that in the ass? I’ll bet a lot of guys like extra large. Their assholes stretch to take them in.

Stop it, dammit.

He sat up fast and nearly puked. Think about something else. Grabbing the remote control, he flipped on the football game and stared at it. How many of them were gay?

He stabbed at the remote. Find something else.

Like some cosmic horror show, the channel switched to a program he must have DVRed sometime of a Japanese pop star singing to a group of screaming teenyboppers. Didn’t remember recording it. Look at that face. The long black hair, doe eyes, full lips. That’d be my style, if I were gay.

He reached down and adjusted his semihard dick. Peggy had swallowed his cock halfway to Japan last night, but he couldn’t come. What’s wrong with me? He stared at the beautiful man singing on the screen, and his heart beat in his ears. He rolled on his side and grabbed his balls through his jeans. Don’t want Peggy. His fist squeezed on its own.

In one move he swung his feet to the floor and ran toward the bedroom. Still bending when he got to the bed, he knelt on the ratty carpet, reached under, and pulled out the metal storage box he’d kept there since he moved in. He twisted the combination on the lock, missed the numbers twice, and finally managed to open the lid. He grabbed the magazine on top and flipped to the carefully marked page. Kneeling up, he scooted down his jeans and briefs together and started cranking his dick before his eyes even settled on the illustrations. He didn’t need them. Hell, he knew every frame and cell by heart. The big blond guy sucking the juice out of the beautiful Asian with his floppy black hair, wide almond eyes, and gorgeous pouty lips. The look on the hero’s face said rapture.

Music pounded from the TV in the living room, and Jim flipped the page and watched that perfect guy take a big cock up the ass. Better than any online yaoi site. Better than porn.

He pumped himself harder.

These drawings taught him everything he knew. Everything he wanted. How many times had he come down a hot throat while he stared at these pictures? Spunk bubbled in his balls as he gazed at that spot where the big guy’s cock disappeared into that perfect hole.

Two more jerks. His heart beat so hard it hurt. Cum shot from his dick, and tears spilled from his eyes.

He collapsed on the floor and stared at the dust bunnies. Slowly his breath and heartbeat calmed down. I have to quit this. He should walk this damned box down and throw it in the trash. He’d just never found anything to take its place. Anyone. When he met the right girl, he’d toss the box. That was a promise. He was hound dog Jim Carney, and he had hot-and-cold running women.

He sat up slowly.

Funny how Peggy didn’t think about the fact that Hiro could also be a boy’s name.

 

 

“YOU OKAY, Jim?”

Jim pried his eyes from the dance floor and looked up at Peggy. “Yeah, sure. Sorry.”

“You should drink some Jack. You’d feel better.”

He shook his head.

She peered in his glass and sniffed. “You’re seriously drinking ginger ale?”

“Settles the stomach.”

She laughed. “Okay, baby. Whatever you say.”

“I tossed out all my liquor.”

She crossed her arms. “You must have been drunk when you did it.”

“There is that.” He grinned.

“You want to dance?” She smiled and did a little twirl, her pert butt waggling.

Jim glanced at the dancers again and swallowed. “Uh, not right now, okay? I’m not much on the dance floor.”

She crossed her arms again, and her cleavage popped. “You said your mom made you go to dance classes.”

“She did, and I skipped out and went to a friend’s garage to work on cars. Never learned.” He shrugged. “Sorry.”

She stuck out her lip. “You’re not much fun tonight.”

“Later, okay?” When the damned band wasn’t playing something that ought to be served with syrup and most of the couples on the dance floor weren’t made up of two fucking dudes.

He turned away and sipped his ginger ale.

She sighed. “Okay. I’m going to the ladies’ room.”

He nodded. She walked away, her curvy figure held tight with pissed-offness. Jim’s eyes slid back to the dance floor. Two guys, both with full beards and tats on their necks above their black bow ties, pressed together like they’d been wrapped with chains. Jim could actually see their erections rubbing in the openings of their tux jackets. He swallowed hard.

What the hell did you think was going to happen at a gay wedding reception, asshole? Did you think the guys were going to slosh back beers and talk about the Dodgers? Jesus. He slammed his glass on the table harder than he intended.

Of course, he and Billy had sloshed a lot of beers and talked baseball plenty of times, but right now Billy looked right at home at the center of the mass of dancers. All six feet five inches of the big guy radiated joy as he held the slim body of his brand-new husband against his chest and danced like Arthur Murray could take lessons from them.

What does it feel like, dancing with a guy? A shiver ran up Jim’s back. He chugged another mouthful of gingery not-so-goodness.

Raoul flopped his compact body into the chair next to him. “Hey, man, you okay?”

“Yeah. Why does everybody keep asking me that?”

“I don’t know, man. You look weird or something.” Raoul grinned. “I mean, aside from seeing you in a monkey suit.”

“I’m fine.” Jim stared at his hands.

“It bothering you, all these guys, you know, dancing and shit?”

“No, hell. I think it’s great about Billy and Shaz.”

Raoul lowered his voice. “Yeah, but that’s different than all their pals. There’s a lot of gay in this room, my friend.”

Jim glanced around. A spectacular-looking group, which made sense since Shaz was this big stylist and the room teemed with movie stars and rich people.

He glanced at Raoul. “It’s okay with me. It’s only one night.”

The music changed to an up-tempo piece. A couple of people shouted and someone started clapping. A circle formed on the dance floor. Jim grinned. Billy and Shaz had to be in the center of the circle. He’d heard the two could clear a dance floor or try out for a reality show, they were so good. He jerked his head at Raoul. “Let’s go watch.”

He got up from the table and edged toward the ring of clapping, whistling spectators. Slipping sideways, he squeezed between people and maneuvered to the front of the pack, then turned toward the dance floor. Holy blessed shit.