Prologue

An introduction to Davo

WHEN I was eleven years old, I worked out what it was to be gay. Being gay meant you were a boy but liked girly things. Being gay meant you were bashed at school and ridiculed by the sports teacher. Being gay was not good.

I didn’t want to be gay.

So I took my entire My Little Pony collection, which I had lovingly looked after for years, and I dumped it all in the bin. And I didn’t cry. Much.

And when my little sister begged me to help her pick out some matching shoes for her Barbie? I sneered and told her boys didn’t do girl stuff like that. I cut my hair macho short, I practiced kicking a football until I was the best in the class, and I made sure that no one ever had a reason to call me gay.

When I was thirteen, I worked out what it really meant to be gay. Being gay meant you had a choice. You could be one of those gays who liked girly things, got the shit kicked out of you at school, and was ridiculed by the sports teacher, or you could say “up yours” and tell everyone that you were gay and didn’t give a flying monkey about their opinion.

Okay. I may’ve said “flying fuck” instead of flying monkey, but I was thirteen, and saying the fuck word was part of my hate against the whole world.

But I still despised anything girly. I made myself a slogan. I may like dick, but I’m not a pussy.

I wrote this in my secret journal (only girls have diaries) and used it as my daily mantra. By the time I was fifteen, I’d told my mother I was gay and proudly printed those words across my bedroom wall. I may like dick, but I’m not a pussy.

Mum wasn’t impressed.

But Dad was. He stewed about it for days (the fact that I was gay), and then said, “Well, at least I don’t have a pussy for a son.”

So I kept playing football. I wore all black and swore like a sailor. I refused to have any friend at school who was even a touch feminine (because it might rub off on me). I also refused to have anything to do with anyone who was a homophobe. So my friendship group was reduced to two people—Thor and Harry. Both were straight but didn’t give a flying monkey about me being gay.

Okay—they may’ve said “flying fuck” too. We were fifteen. Every second word out of our mouths was either “fuck” or “shit.”

However, disassociating myself from any gay person who was even a smidgeon feminine was devastating to my sex life. By the time I’d worked out the error of my ways, there was something inside of me that still shied away from the “girly gays.” I didn’t end up losing my virginity—“all the way” virginity—until I was eighteen.

Nineteen.

Okay, so I was twenty. That’s not a crime, is it? And besides, I made up for lost time.

Not that I’m promiscuous or anything. Much. I just like getting off. A lot. Frequently. And it doesn’t really matter what the guy looks like in the dark, does it?

Relationships are for girls—so I told myself—which meant that, at the grand old age of twenty-seven, I was single and still participating in blow jobs and fucking that didn’t require last names. Actually, most of the time, they didn’t require first names either.

I thought I was doing really well in life. I had a job, great friends, a place to sleep, and no strings to bind me. No one could be happier… right?

And I was extremely happy. Until Jake got himself a baby.

Jake Manning is my closest gay friend. Thor and Harry still take the joint title of being my best mates, but they get squeamish and maidenly if I want to discuss the fact that I like to put my dick in other guys’ arses. They don’t understand how great the feeling is and that I like to occasionally suck off another man.

Jake got that. He was gay and single—so he got the pickups and the problem of trying to make time for friends who had partners. Jake was also a teensy-weensy bit my idol. Okay… I fuckin’ loved the guy, in the nonromantic, non-girly type of way. He had a shit life, a shit family, and shitty-titty luck, but he was still facing up to every morning with a grin. I worked all day at my shitty job and grumped though the evening. Jake worked three shitty jobs and still managed to smile.

But curse words peppered his speech, and the only hint of femme on him at all was a stud in his ear. He was gay, but he was a man. My inner thirteen-year-old was happy with that. If Jake could do it, then I could.

Then Jake—my gay idol—up and got himself a boyfriend and adopted a baby. I internally crapped my pants. Moondancer, Applejack, Sunburst, and Minty all laughed at me from their My Little Pony heaven, telling me that sooner or later I was going to end up as one of those gays who called everyone “darling” and knew all the songs from High School Musical.

So the day I met Lee, you’ll forgive me for not noticing every little thing about him….

 

Chapter One

I KNOCKED on the door of the big house and waited with my palms sweating. In one slippery hand, I gripped the plastic handle of a packet of disposable nappies, and in the other, I had a six-pack of beer.

The door swung open, and I smiled at Patrick. Not that he could see it. He was blind after all. But you sometimes can’t help smiling at the friend you see. I opened my mouth to identify myself, but he was too quick for me.

“Davo. I’m glad you could make it. Jake’s been waiting for you to drop by.”

Fuck. How the hell did he know? “How did you know it was me?” I asked him.

Patrick smiled as his vacant gaze turned in my direction. “You’re still making your way through that bottle of Tommy Hilfiger cologne that your mother gave you for Christmas. If you change, I’ll have to learn your new scent.” I chuckled and mentally awarded him a point. “Come on in,” he invited as he stepped back to give me room. “Jake’s changing Maxine, and then she’ll be ready for a cuddle.”

I cursed up a storm in my head but kept the smile on my face. Cuddling the baby was something that I had been hoping to avoid. Didn’t babies sleep all the time? And they always said to never wake a sleeping baby. I thought I would be safe.

I made my way down the hall to the kitchen and placed my gifts on the table. “I’ve brought you guys some presents,” I told Patrick as he headed for the fridge. “Nappies for the baby and beer for her dads. Oh, and congratulations by the way. I meant to say that first up.”

Patrick’s face lit up with pride and pleasure. He was an extremely handsome man and most of the time dressed like he’d stepped directly out of GQ. Jake had scored when he’d landed that man.

Naturally the man who scored Jake was pretty lucky too.

“Thank you,” Patrick replied. He pulled some items out of the fridge. “We’re so lucky to have Maxine, and I swear that baby is an angel. She’s only three weeks old, yet she can sleep for five hours straight.”

Five hours? I was horrified. Was that all? I cleared my throat. “And that’s something to celebrate, is it? Five hours?”

Patrick was laying out cheeses and carrot sticks. He smiled. “Yes. The first week she only managed two hours before waking for another feed. The doctor said it was because she was slightly premature and needed extra milk to catch up on the growing. But Jake has her in routine now. And of course, Maxine has both of us wrapped around her little finger.”

There was a sound from farther in the house, and Jake appeared. He was grinning from ear to ear and he held his new daughter on his shoulder. She was wrapped in a fluffy pink blanket, and I paled.

Pink? It was so girly.

“Davo. Hey, how’re you doing? I’m glad you could stop by.” He stretched out his arm, and I remembered my manners. I stood and shook hands as I repeated my congratulations to him. He grinned broadly. “Thanks. Here. Have a cuddle.”

Before I could refuse, Jake lowered the newborn into my arms. It was instinct to crook my elbow and provide a cradle for the baby to nestle into, then to clutch her to my chest so I wouldn’t drop her. Suddenly she was in my arms, and Jake was backing away as he asked Patrick if he needed help.

My knees went weak as I stared down at the little scrap I was holding to my chest. She was awake, her unfocused eyes staring solemnly into mine as she tried to make sense of this new face in her periphery. Her eyes were a strange gray color—not quite brown, not quite blue—and it seemed to me as if her soul was calling to me through her gaze. Her eyelashes and eyebrows were so pale and delicate, they were hardly there at all. She had a pink band wrapped around her head with a decorative flower on it—so pretty and girly I wondered why Jake, my nonfemme best gay friend, had put it on. There were only a few wisps of pale, blonde hair on her head, so it wasn’t like she needed something to hold it back.

From what I could tell under the blanket, she was dressed in a white material that was dotted with pink flowers. The sight was so foreign to me that I blinked several times to make sure they were flowers and not some trick of my imagination. Finally I focused on the cute little rosebud of a mouth. She was sucking on her lower lip. Tiny bubbles of white were forming at the corners of her mouth.

I swallowed hard and admitted silently to myself that she was beautiful. Gorgeous. Precious.

“Jake?” I called with only the slightest waver to my voice. “Jake, can you come and get your baby?”

I didn’t dare take my eyes off her, in case she hurt herself while I wasn’t looking. But I could hear Jake and Patrick in the kitchen. Jake wasn’t rushing to my aid.

“What’s wrong, Davo? Did she poo through her clothes again?”

Again? I gagged at the thought. Poo? All the way through her clothes?

I took stock of the situation. I couldn’t feel dampness, and I couldn’t smell anything bad, so I assumed that there was no need to run screaming from the room. “No. I just don’t want to hurt her. Can you come and get her off me? Please?”

I threw in the please so he knew I was serious. But what did I get in response? Did he run over to help me? Did he assist in any way? No. He only chuckled.

“’Course you won’t hurt her. She’s not made of glass. Just hang ten, and I’ll make her bottle. You can feed it to her.”

Oh, the horror. Feed a baby a bottle? I could feel the femme rubbing off on me already. There was a balloon in my chest.

Patrick made his way over to the table with plates of nibblies for us to share. “Davo bought us nappies as a gift,” he called to Jake. “And beer. I don’t know which is more important around here these days.”

Jake chuckled again. “Beer, Patti-cake. Definitely the beer. I took Maxine to the liquor store yesterday, intending to buy us something nice to share, and the looks I received from the staff and customers there had me scuttling out after grabbing the nearest bottle of wine I could find. Heck. You would’ve thought I was taking her to a sex shop or something. Do parents not get to drink?”

Patrick smiled and returned to the kitchen to bring across the next plate. I stood in the middle of the room, holding the baby and feeling as useless as tits on a bull.

“Maybe we should take her to the pet shop, then?” Patrick answered. “If I remember rightly, shopping at the pet shop is fun. I get to see all the pretty animals.”

That made me look up. If Patrick was blind, how could he see…?

I witnessed a shared look between the two of them that sizzled the air. I chuckled despite my terror at holding a baby. “Parents don’t get to have sex,” I lectured them. “It’s in the parenting rule book.”

That made Patrick laugh and pretend to blush. “Oops.”

Jake snorted. “I guess someone forgot to tell my mother that one,” he scoffed. “Or your mother, Davo. I seem to recall some younger siblings at your house.”

I refused to think of my parents in that manner. “No. My parents are both virgins. The stork brought my sister and brothers.”

“More like a stalk,” muttered Patrick as he finally sat down. Jake breezed on past with the last of the snacks and ushered me to a chair. I tried to pass the baby back over, but he refused. Instead, he plonked a small bottle of milk on the table in front of me.

“No way,” I denied. “I can’t feed a baby.”

“Your call.” Jake shrugged as he twisted the lid off a beer and put it in front of Patrick. “But when she starts screaming, you may change your mind.”

I turned to Patrick in desperation. “What about you, Patrick? You’re her daddy. You can feed her.”

Patrick picked up his beer and took a long swallow. “I can’t. I’m blind, remember? I might end up sticking that thing in her ear or up her nose.”

I narrowed my eyes at the man I’d just watched cut up carrot sticks and arrange a platter of cheeses, crackers, and dried fruit. What was up with these two? Before I could mull over it too much, Maxine decided she’d waited long enough with this stranger, and opened her rosebud mouth to let out a squeal of discontent.

“Oh, oh,” muttered Patrick. “She’s about to blow.”

I looked down in alarm. Her face was screwed up tight, and she was looking a little flushed. The panic rose inside me.

“It’s your turn to feed her, Patrick,” grumbled Jake.

The squeal was getting louder.

“No way,” returned Patrick. “I did her at two o’clock this morning and at five. Your turn. Definitely.”

The baby wriggled and squirmed in my arms, her face becoming redder.

“What about all day yesterday?” Jake countered, glaring across the table. “You had an appointment with the lawyers, and I had her all day by myself.”

The squeal had turned to a screech, which had turned to a shriek.

“Bullshit,” Patrick burst out. “You took her to your mum’s house, and your mum and Maria fussed over her. You probably had a nap.”

The shriek was definitely a scream now. I watched my friends bicker over whose turn it was to feed their child. What sort of parents were they? What sort of friends were they?

Jake returned volley. “And why can’t I have a nap? I was up all night with Maxine. And I change her all the time. I don’t see you doing nappies very often.”

“That’s because the smell is atrocious. Did it register with you that each time I need to change her nappy, I need a bucket to catch the vomit that comes out of me at the putrid smell?”

With exasperation, I grabbed the bottle of milk from the table and shoved the nipple into Maxine’s wide-open mouth. The noise was cut off midwail and silence descended. I sighed in relief as peace was restored and the baby began sucking frantically on the teat as if she’d been denied food for a week. Listening to her two dads argue over whose turn it was to take care of her, I rather thought she might’ve been.

I smiled down at the precious sight of my best gay friend’s daughter attempting to wrap her tiny fingers around the plastic bottle. I’m sure I missed the knowing smirk that passed between Jake and Patrick.