Matt & Adam

an excerpt

Chapter One

What is a guy supposed to do to get a little privacy? Matt Holt stared at the pieces of the door lock in his hand. He hadn't been rough with the latch or handle, but the cheap plastic snapped off the sliding door. Even if he'd have wanted to glue the pieces together, he couldn't. Nothing fit together any longer. He glanced out his lone window. Smoke rolled over the city and darkened the sky. Huh. Had wild fire season picked up that fast?

He picked up his cell phone and the remote, then switched on the television. Instead of really listening to the broadcast, he dialed the landlord's number. The stupid lock needed fixed and pronto. After two rings, the landlord answered.

Matt scrubbed his free hand across his forehead and explained the situation.

"What?" He pinched the bridge of his nose. "What do you mean you can't fix it?" Of all the times he needed work done in his apartment, this was the one time the guy couldn't?

"Haven't you looked out the window? Traffic's snarled because of the fires and the smoke. I'll get to it later. I can't get out to get the parts, and I don't have them here."

"Fine." He didn't have much choice. Matt glanced back at the sliding door. Smoke and debris entered through the slight opening. Shit. "I have stuff coming in my apartment."

"Tape it, and I'll be up in two hours. I've got other jobs ahead of yours."

"It can't--" Before he could finish his statement, the landlord hung up. "Damn it." Matt tossed his cell onto the couch. He was supposed to plug the crack...shouldn't be too hard, right? He crossed the room and toyed with the handle. Unlike before where he had some play and could get the door shut, now the handle wouldn't budge, and he had a full one-inch gap. Smoke and dust eased into his apartment.

"Shit," he muttered. He tried to think. If Dad or Nick were there, they'd have said duct tape and what else? Cardboard? Did he have cardboard? Not a chance. He wasn't the type to keep unnecessary items. If it's not important or reusable, he recycled or tossed the item. Now he kind of wished he had at least a cereal box.

He grabbed the tape from the kitchen. Starting at the top of the door, he stretched the tape to the floor. Smoke still escaped into the room but not as fast.

"Sources say the fires will only get stronger," the lady on the news read. "Due to the increased pollution, an air quality advisory has been issued, and health officials urge residents to stay inside."

He finished taping the door but wasn't satisfied with his work. The smoke stream had slowed, but some continued into the apartment. With his luck the smoke from outside would set off his damn alarms. He dropped the roll of tape onto the floor. What the hell was he supposed to do? It wasn't like he had family close. His folks had moved back to Ohio, and even if he could've booked a flight out, were the planes even flying? Damn.

His phone rang, and he sprinted across the studio apartment to retrieve the device. "Hello?"

"It's Marie. Because of the smoke, we're closing today. I don't see people wanting to buy vibrators and dongs today. They probably can't find the place anyway. John would love it if you could email the copy for the menage video he sent you. Like by the end of today? Then one of us would be having fun."

He scrubbed the back of his neck with his palm. Well, fuck. "I'll do my best."

"Great. I'll call tomorrow and let you know what we're doing. This smoke is crazy. You can't breathe out here." Marie paused. "Okay, talk to you tomorrow."

"Bye." He hung up and returned his attention to the sliding door. The smoke wasn't going away. When he peeked through the glass, he could've sworn it wasn't three in the afternoon but rather three in the morning. Should he pull the curtain across the window to help keep the smoke at bay? Probably couldn't hurt. He taped the curtain down and swallowed hard. His throat ached, and he grabbed his water bottle. Staying put wasn't going to work. He downed the lukewarm water then sighed.

A thump against his door grabbed his attention. "Coming!" he shouted. He grabbed the handle. Please let that be the landlord. He opened the door, and his spirits sank. Not the landlord. "Hi, Adam."

"Hey. I think this is yours." Adam offered up an envelope. "It was delivered to my box downstairs." He frowned. "Close your window, fool."

"I don't have one open--not really." He swiped his keys from the hook. "Let's step into my temporary office." The hallway would have to be less smoky than his apartment. He stepped into the hall and closed the door. Unlike his place, the bright hallway was clear and full of fresher air. "Wow, that's better."

"I'm sure it is." Adam leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. "What's going on?"

"My sliding door broke. The handle's jammed up, and I can't get the damn thing closed. I tried tape and closing the curtain, but I'll be honest. My mechanical skills suck."

"Why don't you come over? Grab what you need for now, and when the landlord comes up to fix it, you can go back. It's better than gagging to death." Adam stepped away from the wall and opened his apartment door. "I guarantee my place is smoke-free."

"You're sure?" He didn't want to impose, but he had been interested in spending more time with his neighbor. Other than chance meetings in the hallway and the rare conversations downstairs in the laundry room, they'd barely been around each other.

"Positive." Adam smiled. "I could use the company."

"Then let me get my laptop and my phone." He headed back into his apartment. The smoke wasn't much worse than when he'd left, but it was bad enough. He tucked his laptop, the cord, his phone and charger, as well as his wallet into his shoulder bag. Did he need anything else? The movie he was supposed to review and write the blurb for...shit. As long as he was over at Adam's, he wouldn't be able to watch it. Like Adam would be cool with viewing a gay menage? He shook his head and slid the movie into the back pocket of his bag then headed over to Adam's. Before he left, he locked his door. A streak of giddiness shot through him. Was he excited to spend time with Adam?

Excited didn't begin to describe his feelings. Every time he looked at Adam, naughty thoughts entered his head. Adam stood a couple of inches shorter than Matt's six feet of height, but what he lacked in stature, he made up for in sexiness. Adam reminded Matt of a movie star. From his perfectly styled, straight-out-of-bed hair, those deep brown eyes, and the little scar that reminded Matt of a dimple, down his toned body to his feet, he'd featured prominently in Matt's fantasies. He wanted Adam as his partner in bed--or anywhere really. Was that crazy? Probably, but he'd done other things just as kooky.

"You did call the landlord, right?" Adam appeared in Matt's doorway. "This is awful." He waved smoke from his face and coughed. "If you haven't called him, then I will."

"I did call, and he said it would be a couple of hours." But if he could spend those couple of hours with Adam, then maybe he didn't want the landlord to come through right away.

"Alistair is a nice guy and a gem with apartment pricing, but he's slow as crap with repairs. Got everything?" Adam asked.

"Go figure. I've got stuff I need to get done today." He patted his pocket for his keys then flipped the lock on his door. "Let's go before I fill the hallway with smoke."

"No problem." Adam stepped out of the way. "My door is unlocked."

"Are you going somewhere?" Now he felt a little weary of going over to Adam's. "If I'm imposing..."

"No. I ordered Thai while you were packing. It's just around the corner, so it won't take long. I got enough for the both of us, but I've got to run downstairs to get it." Adam grinned. "Promise. I'll be right back." He opened his door for Matt then strolled down the hallway.

Matt paused in the doorway and watched the sway of Adam's ass. God, the man had a nice butt, just enough to grab during sex. He snorted. Like he'd know what it would feel like to fuck Adam. That opportunity wasn't going to come around.

He ducked into Adam's apartment and closed the door. When he turned, the scent of Adam's cologne wrapped around him. He wasn't sure what he'd expected, but the woodsy scent comforted him. He gazed at Adam's personal space. Computers took up most of the horizontal spaces. He wouldn't have pegged Adam as a computer geek. Looks definitely deceived.

Matt placed his bag on the couch. He wanted to sit, but he wasn't sure whether he should. He didn't want to disturb Adam's things.

Behind him the door clicked open. The smell of the tangy food entered the room. A hint of smoke followed as well.

"That didn't take long." Adam strolled around Matt and dropped the plastic bag on the counter. "I got two orders of chicken stir-fry and extra rice. There's water and soda in the fridge. Help yourself."

"I'm not sure this is a good idea," Matt said. He picked up his bag. "I'm intruding."

"You sound just like your brother." Adam stepped between Matt and the door. "I offered you a place to work on whatever it is you've got to do in a smoke-free environment. If you were intruding, I wouldn't have asked you in."

"My--my brother? What are you talking about?" Matt asked. Adam knew Nick?

"Nick told me all about you." Adam took the messenger bag from Matt and put it back on the couch. "Get some food. We'll talk while we eat."

"I'm confused." He crossed the small apartment and sank onto one of the barstools. "How do you know Nick?"

"The U of San Fran here in Santa Rosa. Your brother and I were roommates all four years." Adam grinned again. "I got homesick for Arizona, and he'd get homesick for Ohio and tell me stories about you."

"Huh." He stared blankly at the foam food containers. His brother never mentioned knowing Adam. If he had, then Matt wouldn't have waited so long to make a move. No, he would've waited. He hated to be shot down, and getting turned away seemed to happen to him often.

"Nick taught me how to ask a girl out, how to use every cheesy come-on in the book and how to kiss." Adam plopped down beside him. "Funny, I miss the guy."

"I do, too." Matt bowed his head. "I'm sorry. I wish I knew you were friends with him. How is he? I haven't talked to him in six months."

"He's out fighting the wild fires in the Ventana Wilderness. They've got some contained but not much. I just instant messaged him two nights ago." Adam opened the containers. "It's hot, dirty, and not going out."

"At least he's safe for now." He hated not talking to his brother, hated that they'd argued before Nick left. He sighed. The food smelled divine, but his stomach churned. He'd lost contact with his brother over a guy--a guy who'd ended up being a real dick. He'd wanted to call Nick a hundred times but didn't. Why? Fear. What if Nick never forgave him? What if the fucking fire claimed Nick, and he never got the chance to say he was sorry? He only had himself to blame, if they never got the chance to reconnect.

Adam slid one of the containers to Matt. "Eat."

"I can't." God, he was becoming so emo. He hated being emo.

"Why? Because I know about Garig, the dick?" Adam offered up a spoon. "I'm going to level with you. Nick told me about Garig. Nick's my best friend, and I knew how that dick worked him over. He wasn't pissed that Garig had a fling with you. What pissed him off was you not coming clean."

"Why--why didn't you bother to tell me this before now?" He grasped the spoon. "I mean, you are close to my brother, and you live next to me. You could've said something." A thought occurred to Matt. The reason Adam probably kept quiet was the kissing thing--Adam and Nick were together. That's why they messaged each other. He'd been fantasizing about his brother's boyfriend. Well, shit.