Chapter One

 

 

BRODY O’SHEA logged off his phone and ran around his apartment to do a quick cleanup. He only had about fifteen minutes before Dan showed up, and he wanted the place to be presentable. Why the fuck didn’t he just pick up his shit instead of leaving it strewn all over the damn place?

He bolted toward the pile of dirty clothes in the corner of his bedroom, tossed them into the closet, and shut the door. What next? His unmade bed, the stack of paper plates sitting on the coffee table in the living room, or the pods of water bottles that littered almost every surface of his apartment?

Fuck! This place was a pigsty. No, it was worse than that. No self-respecting pig would deign to step foot in this place. What had happened to him? He’d always made sure things were in their proper place before, but ever since he moved to Provincetown, he’d given up on housekeeping.

Why was that?

Irene, who’d stopped by last week, claimed he had poor life-management skills when she eyed the growing stack of audition manuscripts he’d been reading and for which he’d never actually auditioned. She even threatened to turn him in as a hoarder. They were supposed to be on the road to being friends again. So much for that! After her comment, he escorted her out the front door. He could manage his life just fine. He’d been doing so for almost thirty years. His general state of chaos was a relatively new problem, but it was one he couldn’t find the solution to.

No matter how hard he might try to pick up after himself, he grew bored and instead jumped on his computer or phone to see if he had any bites on the many social dating sites he subscribed to. Yes, it had recently become an obsession, logging onto Cyber, Manhunt, Scruff, Growlr, Mister, or any of the other apps that clogged up his phone and laptop. But what if he missed the message from the Mr. Right he’d been waiting to find?

Okay, now he was starting to sound like his mother. That was a frightening thought. She’d always believed she needed a man to make her complete. That was probably why she’d been divorced four times. Well, that and the fact that she was a drug-addicted, alcoholic, fame-obsessed has-been who’d been unable to recreate the brief success she enjoyed in the ’90s with her grunge band, Square.

But he wasn’t like his mother, trying to find happiness in heroin, booze, or men. He wasn’t like his father either, who seemed concerned only with women or work. He’d worked hard over the years to be someone better than either Joy or Patrick O’Shea. Sure, he’d not been in a real relationship since college, and he had managed to screw that one up out of fear. Who could blame him? He’d never seen a real relationship, and he had no clue what love was about.

But then he came here. To Provincetown.

Everywhere he looked there were happy couples. Men and women who’d devoted their lives to each other. Like Gary and Quinn, who’d been together almost twenty years, and Zach and Van, who were getting married later that week. Even Teddy, the man he’d loved in college, lived here with his new boyfriend, Nino.

Why couldn’t he have that too?

That was when he decided it was time for him to find a man to call his own, and he couldn’t just leave it up to fate. He’d never done that before in his life. Let some unseen force work its hocus-pocus and bring him what he wanted. What he had was hard earned. If he wanted something, he went for it. What made love any different? It didn’t. Not in Brody’s book.

Since last year, when Teddy had rejected him in favor of Nino, he’d decided to be more proactive and weed through the many men out there until he found the man for him. He’d already been on dates with most of the single men who lived in Provincetown, at least those who met his high standards of hot, sane, single, employed, and childless.

Snagging the dates had been easy enough. He was a pretty attractive guy. Not to sound vain or anything, but he appreciated his own aesthetic qualities. But pretty much every single guy out there who met his standards was only interested in finding Mr. Right Now. They’d spend time with him and flirt, but when it came down to really getting to know each other, to moving past the bedroom, none of them were interested.

While he had no problem with tricking—because, well, it was fun—why wasn’t anyone more interested in him beyond a fuck?

It was enough to start giving Brody a complex. Was there something undateable about him? He sure as hell didn’t think so. Which was why he’d asked Teddy to come over a couple of days ago. They might not be together anymore, but they were still friends. He could always count on Teddy to be honest with him.

Luckily, Teddy had validated Brody’s self-assessment. There was nothing so wrong with him that would put guys off. What Teddy had said next, though, threw him for a fucking loop. He wasn’t “desperate.” One thing Brody O’Shea was not was desperate.

Yes, he was singularly focused. He was a man on a mission, but that didn’t make him desperate. Did it? He sure as hell didn’t think so.

But according to Teddy, Brody was not only desperate but also unhappy. Brody’s disgustingly dirty apartment reflected that unhappiness, in Teddy’s opinion. He couldn’t have disagreed more. While it was true he wasn’t over-the-moon in love like Teddy was with Nino, he wasn’t exactly suffering from depression.

He had a lot of things on his mind. He hadn’t snagged an acting job in far too long, which was starting to piss him off. The number of clients he had as a personal trainer was steadily growing, which helped pay the bills. He was also trying to get the male lead in Poke-a-hunkus, which was Brian Long’s parody of the Disney classic Pocahontas. If he could get Brian, who had many connections to the various Provincetown acts, to cast him in the play, he might be able to land his own show at one of the many venues around town.

So he wasn’t unhappy. Just very busy.

He had a lot on his plate, and he had to work on finding himself a man.

That took a lot out of a guy, and that was why he didn’t have time to clean up his apartment regularly. What he needed was to slow down. Perhaps find a maid. Maybe his mother’s housekeeper, the one she could no longer afford, could hop a jet from New York City and get here in time to clean up this shithole before Dan arrived. Yeah, and maybe singing monkeys would come flying out of his ass too.

Now, that would make a good show for the average P-town audience.

What the hell was he doing? He didn’t have time to stand around with his thumb up his butt. He needed to clean before Dan got there. A quick glance at his watch told Brody he had maybe five more minutes until Dan, who he’d been chatting with on Cyber for the past two days, knocked on his door.

Ignoring the bed, which would likely just be messed up again in a few minutes, Brody headed for the water bottles on his nightstand. He scooped eight of them off the table, then noticed four more lying on the floor. He kicked those under the bed. How much damn water did he drink in a day?

He couldn’t answer that now. After rushing to the kitchen, he deposited the water bottles in the recycling container. He then ran around picking up paper plates and as many water bottles as he could carry before heading back to the trash basket. After five more armloads of trash, he’d finally managed to clear the apartment of most of its detritus.

There were still some spots of clutter, but it wasn’t as bad as before. At least now there would be a place for Dan to sit. Their conversation over the last few days had been promising. Dan was tired of the hookup scene too and only logged onto Cyber occasionally, just to see who was out there. Luckily for Brody, he had happened to be online during one of Dan’s rare Cyber appearances.

Since then, they’d been messaging almost nonstop. They sometimes talked about serious subjects like their jobs or their childhoods, but Dan preferred to flirt, which was important. There had to be that sexual attraction before things could go anywhere. He wasn’t about to end up with someone who didn’t enjoy a good flirting session. Done right, they could make Brody breathless.

A light knock on his front door interrupted his thoughts. Dan had arrived.

Now, it was time to see if Dan lived up to Brody’s expectations.

 

 

WHEN BRODY opened his front door and got his first real-life glimpse at Dan, who leaned against the outside doorframe, he couldn’t help the grin that traveled across his lips. He was perhaps the hottest accountant he’d ever laid eyes on. Although height wasn’t a huge hang-up for Brody, he preferred tall men, and since Dan stood eye level with him, he was just the right size at over six feet. His brown hair was clipped very short, and he had stunning dark brown eyes. If Brody had to, he could stare into those eyes every day.

What he liked most about Dan was his smile. It hitched up at the left corner of his mouth. It made him look masculine and confident. Two traits any man he planned on spending the rest of his life with had to have.

So far this good-looking accountant met two of Brody’s requirements—hot and employed. Only three more to check off the list.

“You gonna invite me in, or we just going to do this here?” Dan asked. The right corner of his mouth tugged into a grin until it stretched wide across his thick lips. Fuck, that was sexy!

“Sorry about that,” Brody laughed as he motioned Dan inside. “I’m just very pleased that you look like your profile picture.”

Dan nodded as Brody closed the door. “Yeah, I hate false advertising. That shit just pisses me off. If you don’t have a nine-inch cock and a muscular body, don’t tell people that you do. Own up to your tiny dick and fat ass. There are people out there who get off on that shit.”

“That’s true,” Brody hesitantly agreed. “There’s someone out there for everyone.” What was this guy’s problem? He might be hot, but his abrasive attitude wasn’t making a good first impression. Did that mean Dan might be crazy? Nothing was sadder than an insane hot man. Talk about wasted potential.

He took a deep breath to center himself and then led Dan over to the couch. A hint of smoked leather lingered in the air around Dan. Was he a smoker? If he was, this was going absolutely nowhere. Smoking was disgusting. He definitely needed to add nonsmoker to his list of requirements.

“You’re fucking hot,” Dan commented. He studied Brody as Brody sat down. He could practically feel Dan’s eyes roaming over his body, and by the slight increase in his breathing, Brody could tell that Dan liked what he saw. Mutual attraction was good, but there was more to a happily-ever-after than looks. He still needed to find out if Dan was sane, single, and a childless nonsmoker.

“Join me,” he said while he patted the couch.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Dan answered before he settled next to Brody. Dan sat on his right hip so that he faced Brody, then extended his arm around Brody’s shoulders. “You are most definitely my kind of man,” Dan growled.

“Thanks,” he answered as he eyed Dan’s extended arm suspiciously. Dan obviously wanted to get down to business, but he had yet to pass the interview process. Not that Dan realized he was about to be interviewed. Brody had to find some way to get him to slow down, so he could ask the questions he needed answered. What better way to put a gay man at ease than with a compliment? “You’re pretty hot yourself,” he finally responded.

“I know,” Dan replied.

A grimace unfurled across Brody’s lips. Confidence was one thing. Cockiness was an entirely different animal. Brody wasn’t a fan of arrogance. In fact, he needed to add humility to his list of expectations.

Before he could tell Dan to rein in the attitude, Dan scooted closer until his right thigh pressed against Brody’s. Dan’s skin radiated more warmth than the sun. He was obviously hot for Brody’s body, while Brody’s initial desire for Dan had all but cooled.

“I’d almost given up on finding someone like you.” Not that tired old line. His afternoon lunch rose into his throat. Originality most definitely needed to be added to his list too. “When I booked this week in P-town for my vacation,” Dan continued, evidently completely oblivious to Brody’s declining interest in what he had to say, “I had no fucking clue it was Family Week. There are far too many fags and dykes pushing strollers up and down Commercial.”

Really? Fags and dykes? What the fuck was the matter with this guy? Those derogatory labels pissed the shit out of Brody. Gay men who called other gay men fags needed to look in the mirror when they were munching on cock or shoving a dick up their ass.

It was time for Dan to go.

Brody stood up and headed for the front door.

“What’s the matter?” Dan asked as he stood from the couch. He stared blankly at Brody as if he had no clue he was the biggest douche in the world.

“It’s time for you to go now.”

“What?” Dan asked. The hot and cocky motherfucker wasn’t so smug now. He’d turned into a child who’d just had his dessert taken away. “Why?”

“This isn’t going to work out,” Brody said as he opened the front door.

“I’ve been here like five minutes,” Dan complained. God, he hated whiners. That was another characteristic to add to his list. “It took me longer to get here.”

“Sorry about that,” he said, and he meant it. He was sorry he had wasted two days and the past five minutes chatting with Dan. While he was doing that, he might have not been paying attention to the man he was meant to fall in love with.

Maybe he needed to speed up the process. Less chatting online and straight to coffee or something. There had to be some way to cut out the middleman.

Dan stomped over to where Brody stood in front of the open door. “You’re a dick, you know that?” he asked. He stopped in front of Brody and sneered. “Are you one of those fags who just teases and never puts out? Is that what you are? A cock tease?”

Brody settled his gaze on Dan’s crazed eyes. If he were any more like a rabid dog, his lips would be covered in a white froth. This guy was definitely insane. Pity. “Actually, I’m a gay man who doesn’t have time for fags like you,” he responded before gently pushing Dan past the threshold and slamming the door shut.

“Fuck you!” Dan screamed from the other side before his footsteps stormed down the stairs.

Brody rolled his eyes. What a loser! He needed to reevaluate his screening process. It obviously wasn’t working correctly, and contrary to what Teddy had said, he was not desperate. A desperate man wouldn’t have just kicked a hot trick out of his apartment, no matter how crazy the motherfucker was.

What was he going to do now, though? Spending the afternoon alone wasn’t how he’d imagined passing the next few hours. If Dan had worked out, there would have been a lot of naked time. Not to mention the customary grunts and groans of a successful date.

But that wasn’t going to happen. Unless he gave himself a happy ending. He might not have Mr. Right, but he did have Mr. Right Hand. Who else was better at getting him off? But one quick glance around his apartment told Brody what he really needed to do.

He needed to clean up this shithole. If he started now, he could be done by the time he needed to head over to Gary and Quinn’s.

So which was it going to be? Clean or jerk off?

He eyed the piles of crap around his apartment and then his slutty hand.

Who was he kidding? Within seconds, his clothes were off and he was on the couch with that five-fingered whore clutching at his goods. He pounded his cock furiously as his hips thrust into his grip.

He’d only been jacking himself for a few minutes, and he was already close to unleashing. He was either seriously horned-up or he had the best hand ever! Whichever it was, he wanted the sensation to last. Floating between orgasm and release was the closest thing there was to heaven on earth.

So Brody closed his eyes. As he pulled on his dick and played with his heavy balls, he searched the countless images of naked men from his past. Perhaps there, he’d find the man he was meant to be with. The one who would free him from the loneliness that filled up his days.

All he saw was a sea of naked flesh, bare asses, and throbbing cocks. How could he tell one apart from the other when all he’d ever noticed was the pleasure they’d briefly given him? No matter how hard he tried to recall a particular sexual encounter, he only glimpsed the hairy chest that he buried his head into or the cock that serviced him.

How fucking sad was that?

When he opened his eyes again, his hand no longer held wood. It gripped a wet noodle.

Great. Not only did he suck at finding a man, he couldn’t even please himself anymore. As if he needed another reason to be depressed. He should just get up and clean. That would take his mind off his troubles.

Instead he curled up into a ball and closed his eyes.

 

 

THE IRRITATING and constant chirping of crickets woke Brody from his peaceful slumber. What the fuck was going on? He’d been having a wonderful dream. He’d been walking hand in hand with a man on the beach. Although he couldn’t see the man’s face, his heart soared at just the warm weight of his hand inside his own.

It was beautiful, as if their touch was something spiritual, a joining of not only bodies but of souls that were destined to be together for a lifetime. Brody often tried to see the face of the man whose touch sent electrical current shooting through his body, but every time he gazed up at him, the sun was too bright, and he couldn’t see. Or the wind blew sand in his eyes. Whenever he finally wiped his vision clear, the man was then looking the other way, pointing at something or someone running down the beach toward them.

Did they have a dog? If so, he hoped it wasn’t a precocious Frenchie like Teddy’s Louie. He saw himself with a more amiable breed, like a Golden Retriever with a name like Buddy. Yeah, that was what he wanted.

But what he wanted even more was to see the face of the man whose presence made him feel loved and safe and cherished. Just as the man was turning around to look at him, a chorus of crickets exploded within his room.

“Goddammit,” he cursed as he reached for his phone. He’d changed the default text tone to crickets, thinking it was the least harsh tone on his phone, but when someone sent a million texts within a span of a few minutes, the soothing chirp turned into the buzz of an approaching plague of locusts.

When he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, he was able to read that the texts were from Gary.

Brody O’Shea, where are you?

Brody sighed. Even in texts, Gary used his full name. He found that a rather annoying personality quirk of his new friend.

Why aren’t you here yet? Standing up your friends isn’t like you. At least not the Brody O’Shea I first met. We have mountains and mountains of things to do.

Yeah, and he didn’t want to do them. He was happy that Zach and Van were getting married. He just wasn’t in the mood to celebrate a happily-ever-after at the moment. Much less decorate for the bachelor party, which would be filled with other happily partnered couples.

Humberto and Theodore just got here, and they’re usually late to everything. Yet still no Brody O’Shea.

Why couldn’t Gary just call them Nino and Teddy like everyone else?

Theodore claims that you are hooking up again. I hope that’s not the case. Mama Travers would be very disappointed in you.

Oh Lord. Not the Mama Travers thing again. Gary was a nice guy, but he definitely wasn’t his mother. And he wasn’t hooking up. Well, he would’ve been if Dan hadn’t turned out to be a complete waste of space. But Gary didn’t need to know that.

Gary was also right. Standing up his friends wasn’t like him at all. What was that about? He’d always been a proponent of bros before homos. But lately he’d been so consumed with finding Mr. Right that he’d let everything else fall by the wayside.

He had to rectify that.

I’ll be right there, he texted to Gary before getting off the couch.

He wasn’t abandoning his search for Mr. Right. He just wasn’t going to let his friendships suffer. The people who’d embraced him since he moved here were important to him. It was time to stop being ridiculous, to stop trying to force a connection with a man.

What he wanted was what he experienced in his dream. Anything less was unacceptable.