Loving Him

an excerpt

The gentle lap of the sea was a simple background to the sound of chatter and glasses being moved and filled. Laughter happened in bursts from the surrounding tables on the patio and deck. The scents of sun-heated sand and salt water were strong, but after the three days Sam had already been there, he'd grown used to them. The sun had set and the torches had been lit, giving a romantic glow to the few walls, which was lost on him.

Sam watched the blond hunk from across the bar, a sad state of entertainment, in reality. It was the third night Sam had seen the same guy, in the same spot, on the same stool, doing the exact same thing. Sitting there, sulking, and rolling a gold band between his fingers. The guy drank until he could barely walk, then slithered back to his room to vanish until the next afternoon. Considering they were supposed to be in the decadence of the Pacific, it was utterly sad both of them were doing essentially the exact same shit. Drinking themselves drunk to pass the time until they had to return to real world bullshit.

Sam couldn't take it anymore.

He motioned to the bartender, bringing him closer. "What's he been drinking?" He hooked his chin in the other man's direction.

"Whiskey sours."

"Okay, set him up."

"You got it."

Like the bartender cared one way or the other. The beauty of All-Inclusive, he guessed. He sometimes forgot that. Sam drew a breath, slid off his stool, and approached the big blond. Quietly, he took the empty stool at his side and nodded when the fresh drink appeared in front of the silent, brooding guy.

The guy at his shoulder apparently noticed the fresh drink even if he didn't care about the body invading his private space. "I didn't order this."

"I did. Seemed a waste to sit and drink alone in the same damn bar."

Blondie grunted. "I guess." He drew it close, gulped a bit then set it down. "Thanks."

"I'm Sam Rooney." He held out a hand, waiting.

"Hunter Reece." A firm handshake. What Sam hadn't expected was the frisson of energy sparking in his palm. He held no illusions the man next to him was straight. The slip in his libido wasn't even a tick on Hunter's radar.

That was fine. Sam wasn't looking for a hook up or sex. He was, plainly put, sick of being alone every day.

All. Damned. Day.

Decadence had gotten old after the first thirty-six hours.

Sam sipped liquor through his straw, absorbing the pungent coconut milk and rum like a sponge. He was getting good at it, too.

Hunter tapped the broad gold band on the bar, palming the drink in his other hand. A moment later, he practically drained the refilled glass without breathing.

"Wow. Your liver is going to hate you."

Hunter only shrugged. "What's one more?"

Sam shifted on his seat. He slid off his flip-flops to settle his bare heels on the cool stretch bar of the stool, ready for the long haul. "Okay, what happened?"

Hunter gave him a sideways glower. "Don't want to talk about it."

"Well, getting drunk as a skunk every night is doing wonders for you, too." He lifted his own drink and toasted Hunter. Propping himself on the bumper of the bar with an elbow, he waited Hunter out. It wasn't like he had anything exciting lined up.

"Shit." Hunter hissed. Then he bottomed out the drink. He waggled the empty glass and requested a fresh one. "She walked out two days before the wedding."

He winced. "Fuck. So you're on a one-man honeymoon?"

Hunter sucked the last drops from the glass as the bartender prepped his newest, then shook himself like a dog coming out of the rain. "Yeah."

"That truly sucks."

"That's only half of it," Hunter griped. With a little lubrication and an apparent welcoming ear, it seemed he was very willing to purge, whether he had wanted to or not. "She ran off with a friend's brother."

Sam groaned. How cliche. "Please tell me he wasn't the best man."

Hunter ran a finger under his lip, contemplating his drink. "No, just a friend."

"Who now is on the shoot to kill list, I take it?"

He rolled a beefy shoulder in answer. "I don't give a shit. I really don't." He twisted to stare dubiously at Sam. "She gave the worst goddamned head on the planet. I'm more glad we didn't actually go through with it now, but it sucks that we got this far at all." He said it like he should have known better. He sucked on his drink, playing with an ice cube before crunching it to swallow it down. "I wanted to think love was love, it would someday be wonderful. The sex would rock my world." He huffed a disillusioned curse. "It's all make-believe. There is no such thing. It's a Hallmark sales ploy. Shoulda listened to Dad," he muttered, taking another drink.

Sam didn't think so, but he wasn't going to argue semantics with Hunter. He wasn't in the frame of mind to believe it.

His own parents had been together eight years before they adopted him when he was three and a half. He loved his dads, though he could agree; it wasn't all roses and picnics. He'd seen them suffer, seen them hurt. He'd also seen them love, seen them support each other, holding all the kids together with a bottomless strength, in the way only a family could. He never regretted being adopted by them. In fact, being with them had actually been immensely helpful when he had begun to suspect he was gay as well. He'd known they would completely understand and appreciate what he'd been going through.

He hunkered down on the ledge of brotherly understanding with Hunter. "Eh. From what I understand, women are fickle. If you're not packing like King Dong, then they're not going to be happy."

Hunter turned enough for Sam to see the arch of one honey-blond eyebrow. "From what you understand? What are you, a virgin?" Hunter cackled, the depth of his own inebriated state clear.

"Oh, trust me," Sam purred, giving him a laser-eyed stare from beneath his lashes. "I'm not a virgin." Sam leaned back so Hunter wouldn't feel like he was being played. "I'm gay. Never touched a woman. They give me the ick." A dramatic, flamboyant shudder quaked Sam's shoulders.

Hunter blinked then tossed his head back and roared in laughter. "Oh, God!" He was gasping when he finally scrubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands to catch the moisture in them. "‘The ick.' Oh fuck. I'm using that! I swear I am."

"Go for it. It's not trademarked."