Gambling on Love
By Jane Davitt
When Gary and Abe came out to each other in their final year of high school, a longstanding friendship turned into a new love. Keeping their feelings a secret was easy until a coach caught them together in the locker room, and their fragile relationship shattered around them. Panicked, angry, and rejected by his mother, Gary fled town, breaking Abe’s eighteen-year-old heart.
Eleven years later Gary returns just as unexpectedly, crashing into Abe's truck during a blizzard. He’s as arrogant and stubborn as ever—and just as irresistible. Time has changed them both in ways they never imagined, but the heat that flares between them is enough to thaw any ice.
While Abe discovers what Gary did to survive in the city, Gary realizes that Abe has grown into a man with needs to match his own, and they fall in love all over again. But Gary’s determination to carry out one final order from the rich, older man he lived with—and obeyed—for years means that a dead man's plans might split them apart again . . . this time for keeps.
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The heat of an August afternoon poured down like honey from a cloudless sky and made it too much effort to move. Gary lay on his damp towel, squinted at the blue arch above, and panted like a dog. He wore denim cutoffs, still soaked from his dip in the river, but the air was heavy, sticky against his bare skin, as smothering as winter clothing.
“Think we could sleep in the river?” Abe asked. “Because I swear, when I woke up this morning, I felt cooked. The sheets stuck to me. I can’t take another night of it.”
Gary turned his head, a slow roll, and adjusted his vision from far to near. Abe was worth looking at these days even if he hadn’t grown into the wide shoulders and muscles that had replaced his adolescent scrawniness. Slate-gray eyes and a sweep of thick, straight hair, black as soot, no shine to it, just a distracting sense of softness, added to his appeal. Gary swallowed an appreciative hum and tried to keep his hands where they were. There was a scatter of water droplets across Abe’s chest, clinging to tanned skin and the few sparse hairs around his nipples. Gary wanted to lick them away, one by one, taking his time, with Abe’s fingers tight in his hair, guiding him lower when he’d finished his task.
“Worth a try. Might get your toes nibbled by a fish.”
“You saying my toes look like worms, Fox?”
Fox. Gary hated that nickname when anyone apart from Abe used it. It wasn’t for his dark red hair, but his reputation of being too smart for his own good. People were wary of him. He knew what they were picking up on, even if no one had said the word gay.
Not yet. It might be a new millennium, but here in their small town on the border between Idaho and Montana, things were slow to change. Nobody was out. Everybody suspected Gary was in the closet and silently judged him for it.
Everyone except Abe. Abe liked him, always had. They’d met in fourth grade and been best friends ever since. And everyone liked Abe, which was probably why— Gary cut his thoughts off, unwilling to cast himself as Abe’s sidekick when that was so far from the truth. He smiled, beguiling, innocent. “Well . . .”
“You little shit.”
The growl that went with the words was halfhearted, the move to punch Gary’s arm a sketched-out wave. Gary got off on provoking Abe enough to make Abe wrestle him to the floor and administer a tickling with strong, merciless fingers. He lived for moments like that, with Abe’s weight on him, Abe’s breath warm on his face, but it was too hot for that today.
“A year ago, I was taller than you,” Gary reminded him. That would never be true again. He supposed he might have a few more inches to go before he stopped growing, but he’d never catch up to Abe, who at seventeen was already six feet of strength and raw masculinity. Arousal flared. Jesus, he’d better hope Abe didn’t look down and see the bulge pushing insistently against wet denim.
Abe knew Gary was gay. When he’d asked about it several months earlier, Gary had told him and braced for a frown, a grimace, a step backward. Abe had shrugged indifferently and planted a kiss on Gary’s forehead, a loud smack of a kiss followed by a hair ruffle. “Yeah, I thought so. Listen, I cut math class to work on my car. Can I borrow your notes?”
Math suited Gary, always had. There was one answer to a question, a clean, clear answer, and a teacher couldn’t take marks off him arbitrarily, the way the ones marking his essays did. He could score perfect, over and over, and he loved that feeling. But he disapproved of Abe’s truancy.
“I don’t know. Can I borrow your car?”
“When hell freezes over.”
“You don’t have your license yet, so you can’t drive it solo anyway.”
Abe had winked. “Doesn’t matter. It doesn’t run.”
They’d grinned at each other, a small knot of anxiety unraveling inside Gary’s gut.
Abe had been cool about it. Well, of course he had; they’d been friends for years. This wouldn’t change anything.
Abe probably didn’t realize how often he featured in Gary’s fantasies though, and given that Gary had seen Abe naked dozens of times, he had plenty of material. Abe wasn’t body-shy. His parents had been hippies in the seventies, and enough of it had stuck that they’d brought Abe up believing the body was beautiful and nudity natural.
They’d still freaked out when they found the stash of porn magazines under Abe’s bed.
In a way, Gary had been relieved to see the porn confiscated. He’d spent way too many guilty hours flicking through the magazines with Abe, side by side on Abe’s bed, the only sound in the room the rustle of flicked pages and their increasingly heavy breathing. And way too many guilty nights jerking off afterward, over and over, until his dick resembled chewed string and his wrist burned.
It hadn’t been the porn but the memory of Abe’s arousal he’d used as kindling: the shape Abe’s dick had made as it hardened inside his jeans, the way Abe’s scent had changed, musk and sweat heavy on the air. The magazines had featured a depressing number of women, a reminder that Gary didn’t have a hope in hell of making his fantasies come true.
“Are you falling asleep on me?”
Gary blinked, startled out of his reverie. “Huh? No, I was thinking about stuff.”
Abe’s gaze traveled over Gary’s body, lingering pointedly on the telltale bulge in Gary’s faded, thrift-store shorts. “I don’t want to know, huh?”
“No.” Gary made the single word a warning. Clouds raced in from the west, clustering thickly, white now, but they’d turn gray and heavy with rain soon. The air was humid, too close to endure, laden with static. If Abe touched him lightly, they’d feel a spark jump between them, but only Gary would feel the deep-down ache of longing for more. “You don’t.”
Abe’s hand tightened, not into a fist, but a reflex curl of his fingers, shock flaring on his face. “You got that thinking about me? Jesus, Gary.” His voice had grown soft, tense.
Gary couldn’t take that—Abe being kind or, more horrifying still, showing pity. “It’s not as if I can control it, for fuck’s sake,” he snapped. “You’re lying next to me close to naked. Yeah, I think you’re hot. So do half the girls in our year. Deal with it.”
“Only half?” Abe asked, but the joke was forced and Gary didn’t want to drop into their usual banter. Not now.
“Being gay’s not catching, in case you were worried. And you’re big enough to fight me off if I can’t help myself and try to jump your bones.”
About Jane Davitt:
Jane Davitt is English, and has been living in Canada with her husband, two children, and two cats, since 1997. Writing and reading are her main occupations but if she ever had any spare time she might spend it gardening, walking, or doing cross stitch. She's recently taken up yoga and loves discovering her ability to bend.
Jane has been writing since 2002 and wishes she'd started earlier. She is a huge fan of SF, fantasy, erotica, and mystery novels and has a tendency to get addicted to TV shows that get cancelled all too soon.
She owns over 4,000 books, rarely gives any away, but is happy to loan them, and is of the firm opinion that there is no such thing as "too many books."
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To celebrate the release of Gambling on Love, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card and four individuals will also receive their choice of one ebook from Jane’s backlist.
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