You in My Arms

an excerpt



Chapter One

Saturday Night, Second Week in May

It was his best friend Bobby Michaels who insisted on that last shot that sent the room spinning. His friends had gone all out providing the party that he should have had on his twenty-first birthday, a year ago. But his parents had died in a car wreck the week before his birthday and Jason Monroe had been taking care of business.

In his case that had meant making all of the arrangements for his parents' interment and shepherding his half sister, who was only three at the time, through the experience. He was named as guardian in Ann and Evan Monroe's will and since there was literally no one else, the state gave him sole custody. He'd only gone out tonight because Bobby Michaels' mom and dad volunteered to babysit for Kitty. Mrs. Schwartz, his usual sitter, had made plans to go to the movies with a friend.

His parents had been no more than working-class stiffs like himself, but Kitty was the center of their universe and both his parents and Jason had doted on her. Jason worked two jobs, the first as a computer geek at Paper Clips and the second in Point Pleasant as a bartender at the Ocean View on the boardwalk, to make sure Kitty had everything she needed. There had been an insurance policy, but it was small and that was for Kitty's college. Her monthly social security check was put away for her to use as a nest egg. His own dreams had fallen by the wayside with his dad and Ann's death. He was determined that Kitty's wouldn't meet a similar fate.

Bobby came up behind him and slapped him on the back. "You're a lightweight, Monroe. We're all three shots ahead of you."

Bobby was referring to the men that were the members of Ocean Township's champion soccer team of 2010. All of them had gone on to play at big soccer schools, including Jason, who had played for two years at UNM. Unfortunately, Jason's scholarship couldn't help him support his sister, so he'd quit both school and soccer. His dream of being a software engineer for Google now lay in the dust of his parents graves.

"I've got to go home for Kitty. She wakes up early. Besides, the room is already spinning." Jason turned his shot glass upside down.

"So we come to the second part of the evening, the reason why we, a bunch of semi-straight guys, took you to a gay club."

Jason looked at Bobby a bit confused.

"What? Semi what?" Jason knew of no agenda except getting drunk off his ass and forgetting about his problems for a while.

"We are going to get you laid, dude, and we've picked out a great prospect." Bobby smirked and turned Jason's shot glass back up and asked the bartender for another shot of Jameson's for his friend. The bartender came over and poured Jason a shot. He looked at Bobby in exasperation.

"What? Now you're not even drinking?"

To distract Bobby from the shot of Jameson's in front of him he changed the subject.

"Is getting laid now a spectator sport?" Jason asked mulishly. It had been a fun evening, especially seeing all the guys together again, but Kitty was up at seven a.m. and it was already past midnight.

Bobby read his mind. "Don't worry about Kitty. My parents are keeping her overnight and I'll bring her back in the morning. When do you get a Saturday night off? Take advantage of it."

"But she doesn't have her blue rabbit and her Hello Kitty pajamas, she'll be upset." Jason sobered up.

"It's handled my friend, blue bunny and pj's included. Now look down the bar."

He breathed a sigh of relief. He didn't want to deal with a hysterical Kitty when he got home-if he got home. His legs weren't working.

Sitting at the end of the bar was a man who even in his present state of inebriation Jason had noticed eyeing him up all evening. Obviously, Bobby had noticed it too.

"You're not going to say anything to that man. Bobby Michaels, if you go down to the end of this bar you are so dead that even the guys won't be able to save your ass." Bobby smirked. Jason gave up. Bobby was going to do whatever it was that he was going to do and Jason couldn't stop him. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Bobby got up and said, "I'll be right back."

He left Jason sitting at the bar with the drink he didn't want and sauntered over to the black-haired stranger. All right, I've been doing my share of eyeballing him too. Jason laid his head on his arms hiding his eyes.

So shoot me. I was looking not touching. Bobby was speaking to the stranger with grand, wide drunken gestures. Did Bobby actually go over there to ask this guy to screw Jason? Oh, God no. I'm going to kill him and this time I really mean it.

* * *

Zach Montgomery had been watching the young man at the end of the bar all night. At first, there had been a crowd around him but they'd trickled away as the night wore on. The kid pushed all of Zach's buttons. He'd noticed him as soon as the kid walked up to the bar with his friends. The group went back and forth to the bar all night but the kid stayed where he was as if the party revolved around him. He was broad shouldered, had curly light brown hair was slim hipped and had powerful legs and arms. The T-shirt he wore outlined his perfect six-pack. He didn't look like he held his liquor very well but he had wisely turned over his shot glass indicating he didn't want a refill. That was until his friend filled it for him.

The kid had spoken with great animation to his light-haired friend as if his friend was about to do something stupid. He'd thrown his arms up in resignation and surreptitiously eyed Zach from under his eyelashes, then put his head down on the bar. Zach had been about to make his move when the friend came trotting up beside him.

"Hi, I'm Bobby Michaels. My friend down the end of the bar is Jason Monroe. He's interested in you but too shy to make a move. I've seen you watching him for the greater part of the evening. Are you interested? We're looking to get him laid."

Zach began to laugh. The kid had a pimp. "Who's we?"

"His former team mates from the state champion Ocean Township soccer team of 2010. It's his birthday- he just turned twenty-two." Bobby repeated himself, "He really needs to get laid."

"Any particular reason he can't do that himself?" Zach asked laughing.

"Like I said, he's shy." Bobby stood there waiting. Zach looked down the bar. The kid, Jason, Bobby had said, lifted his head off the bar and sent his friend black looks. Zach had a feeling that Bobby got black looks from Jason often enough that he was immune.

Zach thought about his options. He didn't do relationships but this kid wasn't looking for one according to his friend and he looked too delicious to pass up. He'd go down the bar, speak to him, and lay it on the line. Then, he can at least tell himself he tried. He looked the friend up and down and said, "Lead on."

* * *

As Bobby walked back with the stranger in tow, Jason waited for the ground to open up and swallow him whole; he was so embarrassed. He couldn't believe that Bobby actually did it. The man was huge. He had black hair and piercing blue eyes that you could see from five foot away, unlike his own ordinary hazel ones. Jason's hair was light brown and a little bit too long and lay in ringlets atop his head. He checked himself in the mirror behind the bar. No harm in looking, he told himself. Bobby brought the man close enough so that he stood in Jason's face, "Jason Monroe, meet Zach Montgomery."

Up close his eyes are even more mesmerizing. Christ, a man whose eyes you could get lost in for days. Jason reluctantly offered the man his hand in greeting. Bobby, the ever helpful, snuck away into the dark recesses of the tables in the back of the club all the way across the dance floor from the bar. His best friend was in so much trouble. The man, Zach, Bobby had said his name was, began to speak.

I must look like a fish with my mouth hanging open. I've got to practice a poker face.

"So this is your birthday bash. Do you always have your friends procure a fuck for you on your birthday? You know, you could easily get the job done yourself. There were at least a dozen guys eyeing you up tonight, if you'd deigned to notice them."

Jason almost fell off of the bar stool he was so shocked. Had Bobby actually gone and asked a stranger to fuck him? He was going to torture and kill his best friend at the earliest opportunity. Jason shot a look over to the tables. Bobby gave him a lecherous smile. The others at the table laughed so hard that Reggie fell out of his chair. Jason downed the shot Bobby left. He needed the fortitude.

He'd have to explain the score to the man in front of him and hopefully that would scare him away. Jason's life didn't need any additional complications and he needed to get home. He didn't have time to talk this guy out of the idea that he was fresh meat. Damn Bobby. He tapped the shot glass and the bartender poured him another shot of Jameson's. He took out his wallet and the guy next to him shook his head no, to the bartender.

Shit, he bought me a drink. Now to get rid of this guy I have to tell him my life story. Bobby you are so dead. Jason turned bright red. "Err... Hi. They've never done that before. I have no clue as to what to say to you. I don't get out much. Try ever. I have two jobs and sole custody of my half sister. My down time is pretty limited. But no, I've never had my friends troll for me before, especially since they're all straight."

"What are all those straight boys doing in a gay club?"

"They're here for me. Like Bobby said, it's my birthday."

"You don't seem to be in the mood to party."

"I'm not."

"Why, they seem to be having fun."

"I've drank too much and I'm going to have a huge hangover. I have responsibilities."

He gazed again at the good-looking man. He must be six foot four with gorgeous thick black hair and towers over me even though I'm a respectable five foot eleven. Christ, his muscles have muscles. His nose looked like it had been broken at least twice, and- Zach was it? - regarded him with laughing interest.

"Want to fuck?" Zach Montgomery asked expectantly, his entire face lighting up at the prospect. If Jason was going to pick someone up in a bar, this guy would be the one he picked. But to Jason's knowledge, this was not the usual approach to getting acquainted. Want to fuck was not a greeting to which he was or wanted to become accustomed. Jason took a sip of his fifth shot of the evening. Thank God Bobby had spilled most of one, and Reggie, number three.

Jason looked at him as if he were crazy. "I'm not in the habit of fucking people I just met." That should do it, just the right amount of haughty.

"I don't do relationships," Zach Montgomery announced.

Jason was getting aggravated and he was also more than a little drunk. How dare this guy presume I wanted a relationship with him? He's not that good looking. Jason looked at him again. Oh admit it, he's that good looking, and worst of all he knows it. Protest and make your displeasure known then leave. He doesn't have to know how attractive you find him.

"I don't have time for relationships. The only reason I have time off this evening is that Bobby's parents volunteered to babysit and I took the first day off my job that I have taken all summer."

"Baby, sit. Who? You're too young to have a kid and you implied you were gay."

Kitty was his life. He wasn't about to jeopardize her fragile mental state by bringing home a stranger who would undoubtedly leave in the morning and have nothing to do with them ever again. She'd take it as personal rejection.

"As I told you before, I have custody of my half sister. She's four." There, that should scare you away. Now let's put the icing on the cake.

"Doesn't make any difference, she's not here?"

Kitty didn't work to get rid of him. What would? "Where would this take place, the fuck you're offering?" Jason asked, looking around, admittedly curious.

"I own this club with my partner. We have an apartment that we use upstairs if it's too late to drive home, one of us is either too tired, or if we meet a special someone in the bar. Besides, in case you didn't notice, there's a hotel attached to the club. We're not so full that I can't commandeer a room. It's early yet. I've had a hard-on for you all night, kid. The curly hair and hazel eyes do it for me. But I don't do encores."

Who did this guy think he was? What the hell did Bobby tell him? "No offense, mister, I don't do one-night stands." Jason got up off the stool. His feet were unsteady and the room was a bit tilted but Jason was ready to go back to his friends and deck Bobby for sticking him with this guy.

The guy grabbed him by the arm. "I can make it really good for you, baby."

I bet you could. You look like you've had lots of experience."Look, Mr. Montgomery, I'm sorry my friend bothered you. After I explain, I don't think you're going to be interested in me." Now tell him and get the hell away from him before you succumb. Think of Kitty. "See, I'm a virgin-a virgin with a four-year-old sister who is my responsibility. Most guys don't want to be bothered with virgins unless there is a relationship in the offing. If they get past the virgin thing, they can't get past the four-year-old. So, I guess I'm not your fuck for this evening." That should do it.

Jason started to walk away.

* * *

To Zach's amazement, Jason's casual announcement of his virginal status sent him from half hard to ramrod stiff in two seconds flat. I am so going to tap that ass...What's up with that? Deflowering virgins was not something he was prone to do. Too much time in preparation and then there was the soothing and cuddling they expected afterward. No, virgins were not for him. I don't fuck virgins. But this guy had him both curious and aroused enough to disregard his rule and get himself one gorgeous virgin's company for the rest of the night. He'd deflower that ass three or four times tonight.

Zach never had to troll for bed partners; they came to him. However, Jason pushed all of his buttons. He'd looked good from the end of the bar, up close he looked even better. An athletic build-he heard something about soccer champions-broad shoulders and the gorgeous light brown curly hair that he wanted to run his fingers through and a pair of sparkling hazel eyes. Add in the a six-pack visible through his tight T-shirt, the strong, muscled limbs, and the full bottom lip made to pout-his dream man sat beside him on the barstool. Jason's refusal and his reference to a four-year-old made him even more compelling. I have to get this guy's story. Jason was having to lean against the bar for stability. "Your friend said you bartend on weekends?"

* * *

"Yeah, so..." Jason hoped he wasn't babbling.

"Are you any good?"

Now his pride started talking without his conscious permission. "Last Saturday I was the only bartender on duty, two others called in sick, everyone got served, and no one complained." And that was the only reason he got out tonight.

"Where do you work?"

"The Ocean View Bar in Point Pleasant." Jason answered. It was common knowledge that the Ocean View was a busy bar, nothing like this, but very busy.

"They only get the college frat boys looking to hook up with a girl. They don't tip well because they have no money and they only drink cheap beer. I usually get a more sophisticated crowd with money to burn, and they're your kind of folk," Zach said bragging a bit.

"Your point is?" Jason was holding on to the bar in order to stand up straight.