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Him (Him #1)
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1942444079 (ISBN13: 9781942444077)
They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?
Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.
Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.
Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend… and a big one to learn about himself.
Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.
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The coffee shop line is a little long, but I know I’ll make it to the rink on time. Some weeks just click.
Over the weekend, my hockey team clinched the first two rounds of the NCAA playoffs, and now we’re headed to the Frozen Four. I somehow got a B-minus on a history paper I wrote in an exhaustion-induced coma. And my spidey sense tells me the guy in front of me won’t order a complicated drink. I can tell from his clothes he’s a simple man.
Things are going my way right now. I’m in the zone. My skates are sharp, and the ice is smooth.
The line advances so Dull Guy can order. “Small breakfast blend. Black.”
It’s my turn a minute later, but when I open my mouth to order, the young barista lets out a fangirl shriek. “Omigod, Ryan Wesley! Congratulations!”
I don’t know her. But the jacket I’m wearing makes me a rock star, at least for this week. “Thanks, doll. Could I please get a double espresso?”
“Right away!” She barks out my drink order to her colleague, adding, “Make it snappy! We’ve got a championship to win here!” And wouldn’t you know? She refuses my five-dollar bill.
I shove it in the tip jar, then haul my ass outside and head for the rink.
I’m in a stupendous fucking mood as I stroll into the screening room at the team’s top-notch facility on the Northern Mass campus. I love hockey. Fucking love it. I’m heading for the pros in a few short months and I can’t frickin’ wait.
“Ladies,” I greet my teammates as I flop into my usual seat. The rows are set up in a semi-circle facing the massive screen at the head of the room. The chairs are padded leather. Yup¸ Division I luxury at its finest.
I shift my gaze to Landon, one of our freshman D-men. “You’re looking kinda green, man.” I smirk. “Does your tum-tum still hurt?”
Landon flips me the finger, but it’s a half-hearted gesture. He looks sick as hell, and I’m not surprised. Last I saw him, he was sucking on a bottle of whiskey like he was trying to make it come.
“Dude, you should have seen him when we were walking home,” a junior named Donovan pipes up. “Stripped down to his tighty whities and trying to dry-hump that statue in front of the south library.”
Everyone around us breaks out in laughter, including me—because either I’m wrong, or the statue in question happens to be a bronze horse. I call him Seabiscuit, but I think it’s just a memorial for some filthy-rich alumnus who made the Olympics equestrian team a hundred years ago.
“You tried to ride Seabiscuit?” I grin at the freshman.
Red splotches rise in his cheeks. “No,” he says sullenly.
“Yes,” Donovan corrects.
The cackling continues, but I’m now distracted by the smirk being aimed in my direction, courtesy of Shawn Cassel.
I guess you could call Cassel my best friend. Of all my teammates, I’m closest to him, and yeah, we chill outside hockey, but “best friend” isn’t exactly a term I throw around often. I’ve got friends. I’ve got a shit ton of friends, actually. Can I honestly say any of them really know me? Probably not. But Cassel comes damn close.
I roll my eyes at him. “What?”
He shrugs. “Landon isn’t the only one who had a good time last night.” He’s lowered his voice, but it doesn’t really matter. Our teammates are too busy riding Landon about last night’s horse shenanigans.
His mouth twitches. “Meaning I saw you disappear with that meathead. You guys were still AWOL when Em finally dragged me home at two.”
I raise one eyebrow. “I’m not seeing the problem.”
“Isn’t one. Just didn’t realize you were corrupting the straight ones now.”
Cassel’s the only guy on the team I ever discuss my sex life with. As the only gay hockey player I know, I walk a fine line. I mean, if someone brings it up, I’m not gonna clam up and scurry into the closet, but I don’t volunteer the information, either.
Honestly, my sexual orientation is probably the worst-kept secret on this team. The guys know. The coaches know. They just don’t care.
Cassel cares, but in a different way. He doesn’t give a shit that I like to fuck dudes. Nope, what he cares about is me. He’s told me on more than one occasion that he thinks I’m wasting my life moving from one anonymous encounter to another.
“Who says he was straight?” I say mockingly.
My buddy looks intrigued. “Seriously?”
I arch a brow again, which makes him laugh.
Truth is, I doubt the frat brother I hooked up with last night is gay. Bi-curious, more like it, and I won’t lie—that was the appeal. It’s easier to mess around with the ones who are gonna pretend you don’t exist in the morning. One night of no-strings fun, a BJ, a fuck, whatever their liquid courage allows them to try, and then they disappear. Act like they didn’t spend the hours leading up to it eyeing my tats and picturing my mouth around their dicks. Like they didn’t run their greedy hands all over my body and beg me to touch them.