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eBook by Ryan Loveless
eBook Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: Adam Dumas is Major League Soccer's only openly gay player. When he is transferred to St. Louis, his new teammates don't exactly roll out the welcome mat. It doesn't help that Adam sees "the Gateway to the West" as a step down from his high-profile position in LA--an attitude Adam has no problem sharing with his new housemate and fellow center forward, Colin Evets. Colin is Adam's only friend on the team, but when Adam misinterprets Colin's Midwestern charm for something more, he could end up ruining both their friendship and their careers. As Adam struggles to make a better impression, Colin tries to decide if the person he's been showing the world is who he wants to be with Adam. The pressure to win influences decisions both on the field and off as Adam and Colin discover how making the wrong move can be very right.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, Published: 2011, 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2011
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17 Reader Ratings:
Adam stood very still in front of Mr. Colman's desk. If he moved even a pinky, his body would launch itself over the desk and strangle Mr. Colman, the president of the LA Galaxy soccer team, who had just had the gall to say: "Don't take it personally, Adam. It's business."
Adam twisted his arms behind his back and dug his fingers into his elbows, willing the pain to help him keep control of his anger. "I'm not supposed to take it personally? I find out in the middle of a... a... team meeting that I'm getting transferred mid-season? Do you have any idea how embarrassing that is? All the guys are looking at me like I knew and have been keeping it from them. So now I have to choose between looking like a dick or a fool. Thanks a lot." He stopped to catch his breath, glaring at his soon-to-be-former boss, who finally looked a teensy bit embarrassed. "I've given thirteen years to this club, and you can't even fucking tell me in private that you're sending me to... to...." He paused, spluttering, the thought so vile he could hardly force himself to say it. "St. Louis," he managed at last.
"Now, Adam," Colman said, sounding even more condescending, as if Adam were a child and not a world-fucking-class striker, "it's not confirmed that you'll go to St. Louis. No one is forcing you to go, but you won't be staying here. Where you go you'll have to work out with the MLS deputies and your lawyers. You know they're the ones with your contract, not us. But since I did mention to them last week that we wouldn't be needing you next season, I have it on good faith that they put some feelers out, and St. Louis expressed an interest--"
"Only St. Louis?" Adam interrupted. "Not Chicago? Not Columbus?" He rattled off the top teams in the league. His anger transformed into queasiness as Colman's face remained unchanged. He was a good player, damn it. Had his off-field reputation damaged him that much? It wasn't like he ran around with prostitutes. Hell, he could name three teammates who did, and they'd just signed three-year extensions. All he'd done was tell Sports Illustrated he was gay.
But that was five years ago, and Colman had even gone public in his support for Adam in the direct aftermath. So he liked to party, liked to drink. He never hurt anyone, never got into any real trouble from it. Just because he was nearly the only soccer player to show up in a tabloid when the World Cup wasn't on--which was the only time in every four years that the US at large remembered it had professional soccer--that was no reason for Colman to get rid of him. If the others were jealous or upset about that, they had every right to stumble out of nightclubs making out with men they'd never seen before, too. Adam didn't see anything stopping them.
"There was Chivas USA," Colman said, "but I didn't think you'd want to join a club that was ranked last in the Western Conference."
"They were second in 2008, though, when we were second-to-last," Adam said. He snapped his head up, facing Colman with his accusation. "I'm not the one who'd have a problem playing for them. You wouldn't like it, though, if I joined up with the team that shares our field and then helped them kick the Galaxy's ass." It was insulting, the whole fucking thing. Hadn't he scored more goals than any of his teammates so far this season? "Because I would. You know I absolutely would."
"The Rapids were interested," Colman continued.
"Fuck them. I'm not playing on a fucking mountain." The last time the Galaxy had gone to Colorado, they'd laughed at the oxygen tanks set up in the locker room, but by half-time they were knocking each other over to get to them when they weren't on their knees vomiting into trashcans.
"Which is why," Colman cut in smoothly, "I think St. Louis is the best option for you. They're a young club, and they could use some experience on their field, frankly."
"And there's no chance they'll win the Eastern Conference and we don't have any home games scheduled against them, so you don't have to worry about seeing me marring up Galaxy grounds anytime soon," Adam said. Yeah, he had Colman's number.
Colman smiled benignly. "Adam, I want you to think of this as an opportunity for your personal growth. You've been with us since you were fifteen. It's time to move on. We're revamping the squad for the coming season. You aren't the only one leaving. St. Louis is building a decent team. They want you."
"How much?" Adam asked.
Colman had to know what Adam was asking and yet, to make him say it.... Bile burned the back of Adam's throat. "How much did I go for?"
"Seventy-five thousand," Colman said. He leaned back in his chair, as if what he'd said wasn't a smack in the fucking face, or, more likely, that he didn't care that it was.
Adam grabbed the nearest thing to hand, a Golden Balls trophy, and flung it against the wall. It knocked into a framed portrait of Colman and former President Clinton. Both crashed to the floor. The glass in the frame broke, and the trophy landed a few inches from Adam's foot. "I'm trash," Adam said. "I'm your trash. You remember that I was your top scorer last season, right? You do know that? Seventy-five thousand? That won't even buy out the balance of my contract."
"Our top scorer," Colman said gently. Adam pushed his fingers into his elbows again, this time using the pain to distract him from what Colman was doing. Colman knew how to mess with Adam's head, slipping into paternal-mode, into the character Adam had worshiped as a boy, so easy now that Colman knew he'd gotten his point across. "Not the League's. We're getting--"
"You're not." Adam cut him off quick and sharp, his fleeting grief over a long-lost relationship gone with the start of Colman's news. This couldn't be happening. Could not. Be. Happening.
"We signed him yesterday."
Adam didn't have to ask whom. Every team in Major League Soccer was after a certain German pretty boy. And now. Well. Out with the old, in with the.... Adam forced his face to be hard even though he wanted to keep on throwing things. He wanted to do other things, too: cry and beg and ask the person who taught him how to be a man to fucking act like one and admit that the reason Adam was off the team had nothing to do with how he was playing. "You're using my transfer money to afford him. You're whoring me."
"Adam. You know how things work here. We have to keep costs low. The Gateway, or whoever you want to go to, get a top class player, you, for less than they'd pay otherwise, which leaves more funds available from the MLS coffers for us to get our new prospective star, which, yes, your transfer fee will partially pay for." The fight seemed drained from Colman. All that remained now was picking up the pieces and moving on. He stared at Adam as if to will Adam out the door so Colman could get the process started.
Adam nudged the trophy with his foot. It took all of his restraint and the certainty that he'd end up with a broken toe to keep him from kicking it. He visualized it flying into the wall. "I'm still one of the best in the country," he said.
"I don't doubt it, Adam. But to play for the Galaxy, you need to be one of the best in the world." Colman had discovered Adam when Adam was eight years old. He'd pulled him out of a playgroup at his school in San Diego. Colman had made the drive every weekend to watch Adam play and moved him into the summer youth camps when he was ten, away from his parents for the first time and then practically raised him, along with many of the same players Adam played alongside today. Until today, Adam corrected himself.
"You are full of shit," Adam said, instead of anything sappy, because that was true, too. "The Galaxy might have one or two world class players, but all of them? That's just shit." He left before Colman could say anything.
In three weeks, the deal was done. Adam would transfer to St. Louis with his contract in place: no cuts, no raises, and the transfer fee stood at seventy-five thousand, as Colman had said. Colman put out a press release announcing the German's acquisition and wishing Adam "luck," making it look like it had been his idea to go. The St. Louis Gateway's president, Ian Lovell, released a statement talking about Adam's achievements and welcoming him to the Gateway. Both releases included the same quote from Adam: "LA has been my home since childhood, so my leaving is bittersweet, but I am looking forward to joining a vibrant young club like the St. Louis Gateway." A publicist had written it. Adam had been asked to contribute, but he had ignored the request. As far as he was concerned, they wouldn't print what he wanted to say anyway. Besides, he was used to being misquoted. Most of the time when he talked to the press, his words ended up unrecognizable, so one innocuous sentence didn't concern him. He had been too busy trying not to get any more screwed over than he already was to think about it. His former club--which he had been with officially since he was fifteen years old--had tried to put him on a train.
It wasn't like he expected the club to be a surrogate parent. Except that it was. Most of the time. It was. And now his surrogate parent had tried to bundle him onto an Amtrak for forty-eight hours. He'd screamed bloody murder at that. Raised his voice so much that Colman's secretary had come in to see if there actually was a murder going on, and Adam had turned around and yelled at her that the only fucking way he was leaving LA was on a plane, so if they wanted him gone, they'd better goddamn book him a ticket. He felt like shit for yelling at Karen, but he'd been too in the moment to stop. He apologized later, coming to her desk with flowers when he knew Colman would be out. Her smile and hug had made him want to cry.
So, he got the plane ticket, and he upgraded himself to first class. The Galaxy had booked him into economy. Economy. With his legs. His legs that were not only a goodly part of his six-foot, one-inch frame, but also insured for ten million dollars each. And they expected those legs to sit scrunched up for however the hell long it took to get to St. Louis. Right. He wasn't surprised after everything else. The Galaxy had no reason to care about his legs anymore.
If he played his cards right--took control of his game, made sure his new teammates didn't slack and played well--then there was a good chance he could get out of St. Louis at the end of the season. His contract was up then. There was no doubt that MLS would re-sign him because, despite Colman's lame excuses, Adam played a good game. All he had to do was keep on showing that, and he'd get picked up by a team in a real city, like New York, or maybe even Europe. He'd done a season with Germany's Bundesliga six years before, when he was twenty-two, so why not? Yeah. That would be the goal. Get picked up by Spain, Italy, or Germany... where the good soccer was these days. That's where he needed to be.
On the plane, Adam scrolled through naked pics of Jordan's ass on his phone until he sensed his seatmate looking too. He angled the phone so the guy could see better. A glimpse of nudity was usually all it took to get a little privacy. The dude pulled a face like he'd eaten something sour and turned away. Adam shrugged at him, faux apologetic.
He'd "dumped" Jordan before leaving, which meant that if he didn't delete the pictures, he was a dick, but Adam figured he could keep them a little while longer, since as it happened having private nudes of a guy who'd already posed in a national magazine with his shorts down was pretty low on the list of dickish things Adam had done recently. He'd kept to himself the fact that he was more than a little jealous, maybe even pissed off, that Jordan hadn't received walking papers, too. Adam knew that made him the jerk of the century, especially since Jordan was so deep in the closet that he woke up every morning choking on mothballs. Plus, Jordan wasn't even in the starting lineup, so he had his own problems. They hadn't been officially dating, since Adam had a policy against closeted men. All that hiding made life difficult, and if someone got outed from being with him, Adam didn't want to deal with the fallout.
Not two minutes later, his seatmate stretched out, bumping Adam's knee in a way that could not possibly be an accident, so Adam climbed over him, let his hand accidentally knock the guy's dick and, yeah, thought so. He headed into the bathroom and locked the door.
When he was five years old, Adam started noticing the way people talked to his mother about him. "With that light olive skin tone and dark hair like his father, he's going to be stunning when he grows up," they'd say, and then add, "Oh, but he has your gorgeous blue eyes. You must feel so fortunate to have a beautiful child. He won't have any trouble." Adam hadn't understood what they meant. He wasn't green. Plus, he hated olives. In his early teens, Adam went through an awkward period battling acne problems on a national stage as he was playing for the US Under-15 national team. He was lucky he had soccer to keep him fit, though. His brother David had been a chubby teen, nose always in a book, and had their mother's milk-white freckled skin, which David hated. They each used the other's flaws mercilessly in their unending fights. Adam grew so adept at tuning out comments about his appearance that he didn't realize his mother's friends were right until he was twenty-one. He didn't have any trouble. Doors opened for him. A single glance at someone would bring the person to him. He'd had sex in clubs, hotels, airplanes, cars, gym locker rooms, and, sometimes, in his own bed. He tried to be smart about it now, but that didn't always work. Sometimes he was drunk. Other times, he just had sex because he wanted to; it was a complement to whatever he was feeling--excitement, sorrow, or anger--which was why he was locked inside an airplane bathroom right now. Too often his partner ended up as an "anonymous source" in Celebrity Spy magazine. Despite the whatever's-convenient locations, he was basically vanilla--no toys, no dirty talking or insults, no slapping, no ropes--so the stories always read dull to him. Evidently no one agreed, because they kept getting printed.
His experience as a pimply teenager had made him appreciate what it meant to be attractive, and that helped him to not get conceited about it. Most of the time, he tried not to notice. It was the people around him who made it difficult. He'd done shirtless photo shoots where the photographer's assistant had approached unprofessionalism in the amount of time spent misting his chest with a water bottle. That wasn't to say Adam didn't know how to use his looks to his advantage, but using them was different from letting them use him. It was easy to have sex when all he had to do was look pretty. That was the case with gay and bisexual men and certain women, although he didn't sleep with the women. With straight men, all he had to be was gay. He probably could have looked like anything and still had straight men propositioning him because they'd heard what gay guys could do with their mouths.
There was a tap on the door. He opened it, pulled his seatmate in, then hopped up on the toilet and let the guy blow him. The man's inexperience became obvious in seconds as his teeth scraped him. Adam squeezed the guy's shoulder to get him to ease off. The man didn't try to take Adam all the way down and didn't make any noise other than smacking his lips when he pulled off. Adam ended up cupping the back of the man's head to keep him still and jerking off into his mouth.
Adam got the guy off with a quick hand job. He wasn't Adam's type--too soft, too hairy in the wrong places, too close to his own height--but whatever. Adam was equal opportunity polite where his dick was concerned, and if they were going to get caught, he might as well give the dude something to smile about. A few times, it looked like the guy wanted to introduce himself, but Adam pressed a hand over his mouth and stopped him. Adam left the bathroom first, whispering to the guy to count to sixty before he followed, and then left him alone with what were probably a hundred Midwestern morals crumbling around him.
Adam slept the rest of the flight. His seatmate nudged him a few times, but Adam pulled the blanket up, slit his eyes open enough to indicate that he didn't want to be disturbed, and turned the other direction. He got off the plane while the guy was pulling an obnoxiously large bag down from the overhead compartment a few rows behind them. Adam didn't look back.
In St. Louis, Adam's new club at least appeared to have their act together. He knew they were sending a limo. They had also sent Colin Evets, one of the Gateway's forwards. Adam knew Colin, but only a little. They'd never spoken beyond "good job" as they shook hands after matches. He'd never gotten the impression that Colin was the talkative type. So it was a surprise to see Colin waving and yelling his name, as if Colin thought Adam might not see him standing next to a driver holding a sign that said "Adam Dumas" in capital letters. In addition to all that, Colin's green and pink plaid shirt made him stand out all the more.
"Excited?" Adam asked, smiling as he accepted Colin's proffered hand. After the way he'd been booted out of LA, this welcome was both a surprise and a relief.
The top of Colin's head was level with Adam's shoulder. He looked up at Adam, crinkling his brown eyes into a squint. "Huh?"
"Nothing," Adam said. "It's good to see you."
Colin smiled and rubbed his hand over his short hair, mussing it so it stuck up in sun-bleached disarray, offering hints of blonde amidst the brown. Adam felt his own smile grow in response. Colin turned around to point down the corridor, still holding onto Adam's hand. Colin's hand fit perfectly into his. Adam let his thumb wander over the back of it and stroked the light brown hairs growing from Colin's soft skin, even though the back of Adam's mind niggled that it wasn't appropriate and that Colin had simply forgotten to let go. Adam started to pull his hand away. Then Colin looked up, mouth partly open as if holding back a question, which turned Adam's thoughts to Colin's lips. Thin on bottom and thick on top, the things he could do... the things they could do, he and Colin, with those lips.
He forced the thought aside as Colin's lips started forming words.
"The luggage is this way," Colin said. He let go of Adam's hand and trotted off in the direction he was pointing. Adam followed, his stride easily twice as long as Colin's.
It might have amazed some people that Adam and Colin both played center forward, given the difference in their builds, but while Adam's long legs made him fast and gave him the ability to aim and sink goals from outside the penalty box, Colin's compactness made him able to duck elbows and dart around taller players' legs. Plus, he could jump like nobody's business. Adam had seen him put the ball in the air, leap over three fallen players, and pick it up on the other side. He had respect for the guy.
Usually, Adam would be deep in conversation by now. He could go from "Hi" to "Tell me all your problems" within seconds of meeting a new person. Seven times out of ten when the other person was a gay man, Adam graced the poor lost soul with double comfort--his shoulder to lean on and a ride on his cock to make the guy forget all his troubles. But Colin didn't look like he had any problems to share. And, apparently, being this close to him made Adam tongue-tied. Colin seemed oblivious to any awkwardness, or maybe he thought that Adam normally had trouble with words, which was so not true. In any case, he parked himself right next to Adam--clearly Colin had no sense of personal space--at the luggage carousel. "We don't have your permanent housing set up yet, so you're staying with me tonight. Well, not with me with me. In the team's house. I'm from Montana, so I've got my home there. The house is just temporary during preseason and, you know, during the season." Colin circled his hands over each other as he talked. They increased in speed as his speech did.
"So... all the time?" Adam asked. He wanted to grab Colin's hands to stop them from spinning. He entertained thoughts of pulling Colin against him, Colin beaming up at him and readying his mouth for Adam's kiss--
Colin shrugged and smiled. "Yeah. Pretty much. They take the rent out of my per diem, but at least I don't have to worry about getting a sub-letter during off-season."
"Yeah," Adam said. He shifted his focus back to Colin and away from the things he was thinking about him. It probably wouldn't be a good idea if his first move in St. Louis was to fuck the center forward over the luggage carousel. He twisted so he wasn't facing Colin directly and spent some time watching suitcases go by. Colin didn't move, just stood beside him, so close that Adam could feel the heat from his body against his side.
"I probably won't be here long enough to bother with my own place," Adam said. All around the carousel he saw people standing in clusters and wondered if they knew each other as well as their proximity indicated. Maybe lack of personal space was a Midwest thing. Twenty minutes on the ground and Adam was in culture shock.
"What do you mean?" Colin asked.
Across the carousel, Adam saw his seatmate, who three hours earlier had put Adam's dick in his mouth, watching the luggage go by. "Come on, man, I'm just here because Colman thinks I need to get my legs back. I just have to show that I haven't lost them and then I am gone," Adam said. The man stood with a woman in a floral print dress and sandals. She held a little girl by the hand, and the guy had another kid on his shoulders. He looked up and made eye contact with Adam. Adam kept his expression steady as a spark of betrayal rose in his stomach.
"And here I thought you were here to contribute to your new team," Colin said. His tone had lost some of its friendliness.
"Well, yeah. That's the good thing for you guys--you get the benefit of my being awesome." Adam glanced over at Colin to see if his attempt at lightening the mood had worked, but kept part of his focus on the guy. Fucking bastard. He had a family. He gave Adam a small, awkward smile, and Adam almost felt bad for him. He was obviously closeted. His wife wouldn't have any idea, and he couldn't tell her. What was he going to do except take a chance when he saw an obvious and safe opening?
Adam was used to straight guys hitting on him. For all the posturing he was subjected to, all the murmurs of "pillow-biter" and "how can you do that with dudes?", they almost all wanted to "experiment" as soon as no one else was around. Adam turned them down every time, even the insistent ones. Especially the insistent ones. He didn't need to deal with anyone's identity crisis. But he'd had steam to let off today, and the guy had been convenient, so maybe Adam was using the guy just as much.
"Huh," Colin said, not appeased. "You might not want to tell your new teammates that. Some of them are actually looking forward to having you here."
"I'm not stupid," Adam said.
Colin sighed. Adam looked down to see him pinching the bridge of his nose.
"It's just business." He repeated Colman's limp excuse even though he didn't know why he should have to explain himself. "I just want to be somewhere that's--"
"Worthy of you?" Colin asked.
Adam shrugged, letting it answer for him: you said it, not me. He looked back at his seatmate, who returned Adam's attention.
"That guy recognizes you," Colin said. "Maybe you should run over and make his day since you're so awesome."
"He blew me on the plane," Adam said. Colin blinked at him. Shit. Why did he say that? Why not let Colin have his little moment and leave it be? Now he had to open up this whole can of worms and yeah, he knew he was acting like a dick about the Gateway, but that was business so he was allowed, but this was different. This was... he hadn't fucking known about the wife and kid and.... Shit.
"Oh," Colin said, dragging it out dry and flat. "So, I guess you already did make his day."
"I didn't know he had a family," Adam said, as if this would clear things up at all.
"Oh," Colin said again. The sarcasm was gone. Instead, he sounded like the wind had been sucked from his sails. He was probably picking up his shattered sensibilities. Adam waited for the judgment to come. Two suitcases went by on the conveyor belt before Colin said anything. Probably preparing his lecture.
"Well. Maybe it'll help. Um. Him come to terms. Or something."
Adam almost wished Colin had told him he was horrible. He hadn't expected the attempt at understanding, awkward as it was. It made him feel worse, somehow, this proof that Colin wasn't judging him about this, that Colin would let go of his annoyance so easily in order to say something kind. "I wouldn't know," Adam said. He saw his suitcase, grabbed it. As he did, the real reason he was pissed off jerked out of him. "I'm not anybody's other, not even for a five-minute blow job."
"I'm sorry," Colin said, and Adam braced himself for the questions. Who cheated on you? What happened? Colin didn't ask, though. Instead, he squeezed Adam's hand, took the handle of Adam's suitcase, and walked back to the driver with it.
Numb, Adam followed him.
Culture shock, Adam told himself. He'd expected it to come from the people and the environment. He hadn't guessed that Colin, who was one hundred eighty degrees different from everything Adam had anticipated, would cause the brunt of it.
* * * *
The team's house ("Hacienda del Gateway," Colin called it) had a shared kitchen and game room, but other than that the living areas were divided into apartments modeled on deluxe hotel rooms with a living room separate from the bedroom. "It's right next to mine," Colin said as he opened the door to Adam's space. "I know it's not much, but that shouldn't matter to you since you aren't staying, should it?"
"Colin," Adam said. "I told you, I'm in for the season."
"Good," Colin said. "I hope we won't bore you too much before you take off." There was no mistaking that Colin was still offended.
The last thing Adam needed was the only guy he knew in this city disliking him, especially not when that guy looked like Colin. "I know I'm coming off like a dick, but it's been a tough few weeks, so maybe you could just cut me a little slack, all right? I promise, I'm not always like this." He thought of his father saying, "Your face will stick like that" and wondered if that applied to personality too, if being angry for so long and betrayed and fucked over meant that he was going to be unable to shake it.
Colin turned back and smiled, his cheeks pink. "You just need some settling in time. You're jet-lagged and you've been through some tough stuff lately." He patted Adam's arm. Adam clenched his teeth so he wouldn't grab Colin and start doing the things he imagined. Maybe he was wiped out. That was probably why he was thinking nonsense about his dad's sayings. Thankfully, Colin stepped back.
"You have no idea," Adam said, once he got his words back.
"I've only been pro three years, but I've heard stories." Colin broke eye contact for a fraction of a second, and when he looked at Adam again, it was through lowered lashes. Adam almost moved toward him, but Colin blinked, regained his smile and the moment was gone. "Goodnight," Colin said.
"Night," Adam said. Colin's departure left him uncertain. He shouldn't have said anything about his plan. If he were lucky, Colin wouldn't say anything to Adam's new teammates. He sat down on the couch and stared at the television's black screen. He knew he had upset Colin. There was nothing more he could do about it tonight, so he resolved to put Colin's disappointed expression out of his mind and get some rest.
In the shower, his cock and hand had other ideas, and Colin featured prominently behind Adam's closed eyelids. He pulled a robe on afterward. It bore the Gateway's crest and had been hanging above the towel warmer, so it was nicely hot around his calves. He wrapped up in it and turned the television on. By the third showing of a local commercial featuring "Becky, Queen of Carpets" hawking her flooring wares from a flying carpet that swooped through the Arch, Adam was ready to call Colman and beg to be taken back.