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Matthew likes his life in Richmond. He has his friends and his softball and his volunteer work. And he has a very good-looking boyfriend, Brian, who he’s been happily dating for over a year now. So what if his friends tend to question just how good his boyfriend is, and so what if Brian tends to have inexplicable mood swings. And so what if Brian seems to invite Matt’s suspicions on occasion. If he just shows a little faith and trust, he’ll appreciate what he has with Brian the way he should. Right?
But suddenly, Matt finds himself in a desperate life-or-death situation on a trip overseas, and he realizes just how much he misses home, and Brian. He’s luckily rescued by a team of US Special Forces, only to immediately find out they’re a bunch of bigoted jerks. Worse, a quirk of his situation forces him to spend time with them that he’d rather not. And that’s when he finds out that first impressions can be misleading. When called upon, he steps up when every fiber of his being tells him not to, and discovers something deep inside himself that he didn’t realize was even there. And his life will never be the same. He finds that he can, after all, make some very overdue changes in his own life.
What Matt doesn’t realize is that the bond of brotherhood runs both ways. And he winds up changing the lives of several of the men on that Special Forces team as much as they changed his.
All it takes is faith and trust.
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Chapter 1 – The Promise
I’ll be a better boyfriend. I swear to God, I promise.
Matt’s thoughts had been playing this over and over for a while now. He was lying on his side and reviewing how he could be better. The petty doubts and itching suspicions he had allowed to seep in seemed silly and minor now. He wanted to deserve Brian. He certainly appreciated Brian, and had from day one, but maybe he could appreciate him even more. He should. He should appreciate him more. He was lucky to have a guy like Brian and should appreciate him much more. All he wanted was a chance. Dear God, just a chance.
Matt shifted on his side, trying to get comfortable, and thought back to the first time he ever laid eyes on Brian. He had gone out for drinks to the new upscale bar, Clover, with a few friends, the few really good friends he had managed to make after moving to Richmond. He had noticed Brian across the way, in a small group, drinking and laughing and chatting. Brian was so good looking. Masculine, with light brown hair, fair complexion, and absolutely killer eyes. Clearly well-built. Clearly out of his league. Matt couldn’t help it though; he kept getting distracted and looking over at Brian.
Brian eventually caught Matt looking at him, which embarrassed Matt terribly. But Brian had nodded and smiled, acknowledging Matt’s attention. Matt was certain that this handsome guy was just being polite.
As usual, he had been just a little too shy to actually go talk to him. Bret and Jim, the friends whose company he was supposed to be enjoying at Clover, finally noticed how distracted he was, and started to rag him mercilessly. In the end, they really did want him to go talk to the guy, and agreed he was extremely good looking. And, as Bret pointed out (in the way only Bret could), the worst, most disastrous thing that could happen would be that they would click and fuck. And Jim, as he had pointed out to Matt in the past, reminded him that anybody that didn’t fall for those green eyes of his was blind, or straight, or stupid, or some pathetic combination of the three. Neither Bret nor Jim was surprised, though, when Matt had no intention of doing something so reckless as saying hello to the guy.
Normally, after the missed opportunity, Matt would have regretted not trying something. But thinking back on it now, it worked out better that way.
What had made it ok was that the following weekend, Matt, Chiliburger (as Bret Chilbergh hated to be called), and Jimmy Bob (as Jim Bobson similarly hated to be called) had decided to go back to Clover, and Brian was there again. Matt was infatuated and distracted by Brian’s presence, just as he had been the week before. But this time, as they were getting ready to leave (with Matt too unwilling to make a move yet again), Brian stopped him on his way out and said, “I think you left something over there on the bar.” Bret and Jim, hoping that Matt would finally get laid, said goodbye and walked on out without him.
Matt hadn’t brought anything with him that he could have left. “I did? I don’t see anything over there.”
“Yeah, the drink. Your drink,” said Brian, smiling and nodding his head back over towards the corner of the carefully illuminated bar. Matt felt like Brian’s smile could charm the stars from the sky so he could put them in his pocket.
Matt was confused. “There’s no drink there.”
“I haven’t bought it for you yet.”
And that broke the ice. Matt and Brian wound up talking, and an hour later Brian told him, “You know, you look like you could use a good date. Will you go out on a date with me?”
That was how they started dating. And maybe it hadn’t been perfect in the year since they had met, but Matt hated how he had been alone prior to meeting Brian, and Brian was really good looking, and he was lucky to have Brian. Matt just needed to resolve to appreciate what he had even more.
The angle of Matt’s head on the cold floor while lying on his side got uncomfortable, so he turned to lie on his back instead. He had started thinking about Brian to keep the panic and dread away. And this had worked since he hadn’t heard the voices outside the room in a while. But he knew if he heard anything outside the door, the naked, trembling fear would return.
And as soon as he even thought about that, he regretted it. The fear and panic did return. His eyes watered as the tears started to flow and he cried to himself silently. He hated that he was crying, if for no other reason than he couldn’t spare the water. He was already terribly thirsty and very hungry from being in the room for what felt like well over a day now.