"Have you guys done it yet?"
"No!" Kyle Bennett rolled his eyes at the camera on his laptop and sank back against the couch cushion, wondering how long his sister would go on about it this time. "Jeez, Lorrie. I'm sorry I ever talked to you about it."
"It was Mom's spiked eggnog talking, not you." She laughed, and her image in the video chat window shook. She was two thousand miles away in the bathroom of her mobile home, sitting fully clothed inside the empty bathtub with the laptop Kyle had given her last Christmas perched on her lap. He wasn't sure if she was hiding out from her husband or her kids. Maybe both. A bright red shower curtain, covered in images of footballs and the Ohio State University emblem, was pulled around the bathtub, creating a pink glow across her face. It didn't camouflage her dark hair and eyes, though, a perfect match to his own, or the excited look on her face.
Kyle loved seeing the smile that wasn't always there, loved her laugh, but he wanted to kill her for bringing up the same topic she always did. He'd been doing good all day, not thinking about Evan, not thinking about everything he'd been dreaming of doing to his best friend's body--or vice versa, to be more precise.
Lorrie raised her eyebrows repeatedly in a playful look. "So?"
She was a nut. She never could stop herself from asking. Probably because her life hadn't quite turned out as she'd dreamed when they were kids and she'd danced around the house with her pillowcase draped down the back of her head, calling it her wedding veil. He doubted she'd been picturing the shotgun wedding at the local courthouse she'd ended up with. A ceremony that had lasted less than five minutes. No veil. No declarations of eternal love in the wedding vows. No bouquet of flowers or music. Just the sound of her soon-to-be father-in-law spitting chaw into an empty Mountain Dew bottle.
Kyle stared at the ceiling of his West Hollywood apartment, not sure what she wanted to hear. No need to keep staring at the ceiling, though. He'd long ago memorized the perfect swirls of textured paint. The side effect of working--or, in his case, not working--from home.
Still, he stared at it every day. Something to pass the time.
Hell, he might as well turn in his Mystery Writers of America's Best Novel award for that level of creative thinking. He focused in on the laptop screen again. Lorrie's dark eyes had gone from wide-eyed excitement to a squinted judgmental stare that reminded him too much of the one their mom gave their dad.
"Don't look at me like that," he said. "I told you I wasn't going to do anything."
"And why not?" she asked.
"Evan's not the kind of guy who fucks and forgets it."
"So you're saying you're usually forgettable in bed?" She laughed again.
"Shut up," he said, also laughing. It was hard to resist her good mood. He loved his big sis, and if he was honest with himself, it was nice to finally have someone to talk to about his attraction to Evan Walker.
For the past ten years, his best friend had been off limits, but then six months ago, Evan's partner had dumped him. Now that Evan was sleeping in his spare room, it was driving Kyle crazy, being so close to the man and not making a move.
Which explained his recent fascination with ceiling paint rather than his latest manuscript. Too bad he didn't write romances. Or erotic-as-hell romances, for that matter. Most days his imagination had been focused on one thing: sex. Pretty specific sex too. And not his usual brand of fucking at all.
He never took it up the ass. Not anymore. He'd only done it three times in his life. The most recent had been seven years ago. He'd been drunk on more Jack and Coke than he'd ever had since, and he'd agreed to bottom because the other guy wouldn't do anything otherwise. It was over before Kyle had a chance to react to the sound of his own voice saying, "What the hell. All right."
The time before had been with a D-list actor who worked out at the same gym and who Kyle had pursued for weeks. A guy who'd told himself he was straight and would only do another guy up the ass. No getting fucked for Mr. D-list. No intimate touches. No kisses. And no sucking, probably because he didn't want anyone asking him to return the favor.
The first time for Kyle had been when he was sixteen. His first time in a lot of ways. Before then, he'd messed around with other boys, even college guys, but the first man who'd given Kyle the chance to do more than a quick BJ or a handjob had been a forty-three-year-old, twice-divorced dentist who also didn't want anything but the fucking. And he'd been the one doing the fucking, no question about that. Kyle'd been the one on his hands and knees in the back of the guy's minivan.
Kyle had done it, his forehead scraping along the carpeted floor of that minivan with each shove of the guy's dick into him. The carpet had smelled of urine, old fast food, and hay. Sort of like walking into the barn on his grandpa's farm as a kid, minus the petrified, over-salted fries.
He hadn't hated the experience, but it had left him feeling used and powerless. He didn't go for that. Even at sixteen, that night with the dentist--who must have been paying a shitload in alimony what with state of the reeking van--had taught Kyle two things: he wanted to feel in control, and from then on, he'd be the one doing the fucking, with the occasional slip due to Jack and Coke and D-list actors.
Then what the hell was up with his dreams lately? Well, not just his dreams. His every fantasy. Awake. Asleep. Staring at the damn ceiling swirls. Thinking about him and Evan together. Evan sucking his cock, his balls. Evan licking his ass. Evan ramming into him from behind, thrusting Kyle face-first into the black sheets of his own bed.
He drew in a deep breath and spoke to Lorrie again. "Evan doesn't do the casual thing. Not even with a friend. I'm not going to lead him on."
There was a long pause, and then Lorrie said, "You're in love with him."
Kyle bolted upright and smacked his knee on the edge of the solid wood coffee table. The laptop skidded backward six inches, stopping just short of falling off the table. Which was good. He didn't need another excuse not to write.
"Ow." He rubbed his kneecap. "I am not in love with him." He sounded like the time he and Lorrie were fighting over whether he'd left the barn door open, which led to the escape of their grandpa's prized horse. Only love and sex were not something he and Lorrie had ever argued about during their teen years. Which was fine by him. Catching her making out with Carl Babcock, her tits hanging out of the top of her bra as Carl fondled her on the couch in their living room, had been enough.
He didn't want to think about tits, his sister's or any other woman's.
He'd rather give up on the ceiling swirls and spend the afternoon dreaming about cock--Evan's cock. He'd seen it a number of times over the years but had never had the pleasure of touching it, with hands or mouth or anything else.
There he went again.
He gave another rub to his knee and sighed. "I just want him."
God, how he wanted him. Since before the night over ten years ago when they'd been driving across the country to go to college and he and Evan had ended up fumbling around in their shared room at the Motel 6 off Interstate 80 in Des Moines, Iowa. It wasn't about love then. Still wasn't. "I want to fuck him. All right?"
"Don't give me that bullshit," Lorrie said. "You love him."
"No... Well, yeah. Like a brother."
"Ew." She scrunched her face and looked at the red shower curtain to her left as if she could see through it to know if her two kids and husband had heard what they were talking about.
"What?" Kyle asked.
She whispered, "You just said you wanted to fuck him."
"Jeez, Lorrie. I really am sorry I ever mentioned it to you."
She laughed again, the sound reminding him more of their childhood in Ohio.
"So what are you going to do?" she asked.
God, she was more excited than usual. Since Kyle had told her about Evan moving in six months before, she'd bugged him about it every week when he called. The iPhone and two-year plan with unlimited texting might not have been the best gift idea for her this Christmas. She'd never let up.
"You're nosy," he said. For years, he'd kept his desires for Evan a secret. Until he'd confessed to Lorrie in a drunken stupor last Christmas that he'd been wanting Evan since the first time he saw him in their high school English class.
"I'm not nosy," Lorrie said. "I just want to know all the details. I mean, if you do go for it, what happens if he turns you down? Can your ego take that?"
Kyle didn't want to think about Evan rejecting him. It was a real possibility, though. Like he'd done to Evan in that motel room.
Or worse yet...Evan might see something between them that wasn't there. It had been a long time since Evan had been alone. He didn't do casual sex.
No. Evan Walker fell in love. Hard.
Kyle didn't. Never had. He liked his life uncomplicated, easy. Just the way he liked his sex.
"So," Lorrie said, clasping her hands together in front of her chest as if she were praying for something to happen, "when are you going to, uh...make your move?"
A pair of black running shorts was draped over the arm of the couch where Evan had left them the day before. Kyle almost reached for them but stopped before he did something stupid like take them to his room for a sniff during a jerk-off session. "Told you, I'm not going to sleep with him."
"Why not? He's not a kid anymore. Neither are you."
"What does that mean?"
"Maybe it's time for you to have a real relationship. Take a chance. You know how Evan is. Someday he'll move on and meet someone new. You might never have another shot."
That left him speechless. Would Evan always be a fantasy for him? Always out of his reach?
"Don't you have anything better to do than bug me about this?"
"No," she said. "They cancelled my soap opera."
"You're not turning my life into a soap opera."
"It would be an improvement."
He laughed at that. He didn't want to admit to Lorrie he'd been trying to make a move, to talk to Evan about it for a week. The words lingered in the back of his throat. As if they were stuck in a motel room ten years earlier when he'd last gone for it with Evan, and Kyle had freaked over the intensity of his feelings. He'd practically been a kid and hadn't been ready for that kind of connection with anyone.
Hell, he was almost thirty and still wasn't.
Would it be like that again if they touched? If they kissed? Could he deal with that?
One night had been all they'd had. Kissing, shirts off, their bare chests pressed together, Evan's hand down Kyle's pants, rubbing his dick through the underwear, their tongues moving to a rhythm that was so new, so different, and all their own.
Then he'd pulled away, and Evan must have seen something in his face. Evan had jumped off the bed and said, "We can't. We can't fuck this up."
At the age of eighteen, Evan had been screwed over too many times, trusted the wrong boys too often in his youth to believe sex wouldn't fuck up a friendship, let alone with someone like Kyle. Evan knew the truth.
So did Kyle. They'd fuck, and then he'd leave Evan. That was his MO then. Still was. No wonder Evan couldn't trust him.
But that was a different time. A different Evan.
He'd spent the last ten years in a relationship and was just starting to get over that loss, the heartbreak. Evan wasn't ready for something more with anyone. Not yet. This would be about doing what they'd always wanted. About giving in to desire. About a night together that would blow their minds. No matter what Lorrie thought, this would not be anything other than sex.
"Do guys talk about stuff like this?" Lorrie asked.
"How the hell would I know?" He dropped his head to the back of the couch and focused on the ceiling swirls again. Yep, still there. Still that disturbing bright white that practically damaged the retinas. Still too perfect in their uniformity. Like everyone in Hollywood. He needed to get away from it all.
"What are you going to do, pounce on him?"
"I wish I could be there."
"God." He sat up. She had a dreamy expression in the chat window. "I do not wish you could be here. If something does happen, I hope we'll be naked and..." He didn't say more. Didn't say he hoped he'd be buried inside Evan like he'd been dreaming of doing for years. Evan's body underneath him. Those blue eyes watching him. That blond hair resting on the dark sheets of his bed. Only, the recent fantasies had Kyle on the sheets, Evan staring down at him, buried in his ass. A knock came from the apartment door. "I gotta go," he said. "Someone's here."
"You're still coming home for Christmas, right?" she asked.
"No matter what." He wasn't going to miss their usual trip home. Evan loved spending Christmas in Ohio. He loved the snow, the lights and decorations, the Christmas carols, the whole sappy affair. No matter how long they'd been living in California, Liberty Falls, Ohio--known as the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree--would always be home.
"And what about moving?" she asked. "Are you still planning to move back here after the holidays?"
"I think so. I don't know. I gotta go. Tell the kids I've got surprises for them."
"You spoil them too much." Despite her words, she couldn't hide the grateful smile. Money had been tight since her husband, Brett, had been laid off in April.
"There's no such thing as too much spoiling from Uncle Kyle. See you soon." He gave her a wave, ended the call, and went to answer the door.
A guy in his early twenties stood in a uniform of a short-sleeved button-up shirt and shorts that were a little too tight around the hips and ass like they were stripper pants and he'd be ripping them off as soon as the music started. He held a package wrapped in plain brown paper. "Kyle Bennett?"
"Package for you." He handed it over. Kyle took note of the visible bulge the tight shorts did nothing to hide, the muscular thighs, the eye contact that lingered between them. Yep, gay. Kyle almost laughed. Hadn't he seen a dozen pornos that started out like this? So he did what he always did. He licked his lips, ran his gaze over the guy's body, and met his stare again.
"I need you to sign for it." The guy didn't look away as he held out the electronic signature pad.
"Sure." Kyle reached for the pad and let his fingers brush the man's knuckles. "You must get pretty tired doing all these deliveries."
"You got that right. I sure could use a break."
Kyle smirked as he signed his name. Yeah, he still had it. "Well, I'd invite you in, but I'm supposed to be working." He passed back the signature pad and added, "Maybe another time."
The guy nodded. "Just order something else from"--he moved in close and read from the package in Kyle's hand--"Powers, Hunt, and Weinberg." He gave Kyle one last stare and turned away.
The man's ass almost had Kyle calling him back. He hesitated, doorknob in hand, but he knew how it would go. The same way it had the last time he'd been with a guy. Things would get started, then he'd think about Evan, about all the things they could do together, and when he looked down and saw the guy on his knees didn't have blond hair or those sharp blue eyes, the disappointment would hit hard. So he had avoided the scene.
Truth was, he'd rather be home with Ev. Sex or no sex.
There was no one he enjoyed spending time with more. Evan was funny and smart and, despite his small stature, was the toughest person Kyle had ever known. He admired the hell out of him and...
Kyle slowly closed the door and leaned his forehead against it.
"You're in love with him."
He tossed the delivery onto the coffee table and headed for the bathroom down the hall. The cool water he splashed on his face did nothing to ease his racing heart. He bent over, gripping the edge of the sink in both hands. A bead of water dripped from his chin and ran down the drain. This wasn't him. He didn't get panic attacks or worry about what he was or wasn't feeling for anyone. But this wasn't just anyone. He stood, not recognizing the wide-eyed, pale, wet-skinned man looking back at him from the mirror.
Yeah, this was what love reduced a man to. Nothing recognizable. He wasn't about to lose himself like that. Or lose Evan. Because, even if he gave in to what he was feeling, it would never last. He braced his hands on either side of the mirror and spoke to his reflection.
"Don't you dare hurt him."
He grabbed a hand towel, scrubbed his face dry, and threw it at the towel rack. It hung there for a second, then hit the floor. He groaned as he picked up the towel and slammed it on the countertop before heading back to the living room and the plain brown package on the table.
Had he ordered something? Porn? No. He hadn't watched any in a long time. No need. One thought about Evan sleeping in his guest room, and Kyle was hard and reaching for his cock. It was embarrassing how fast he came. And how often he'd been jerking off lately. Sort of like high school all over again. Like the week he'd met Evan.
Damn. He had to get his mind on something else.
He plopped onto the couch and read the names on the package again. Sounded like a law firm. He'd heard those names before. Maybe his agent or editor had requested it be sent to him. Or not. It wasn't from New York. It was from Ohio. That was where he'd heard of the law firm. His dad had mentioned them once when dealing with the paperwork after the funeral. Kyle's chest grew tight with the grief he still carried.
He removed the brown wrapping and opened the box. Inside was another box, this one thin, with a letter taped to the top. It read:
Mr. Kyle Bennett,
This completes your portion of the estate for the late Victor Bennett. Please sign the enclosed record of receipt in the presence of a notary public and return to our office at your earliest convenience.
Kyle dropped the letter to the couch, unsure if he could pick up the thin box. Two years since his grandpa's death. Why were they sending him this now, and what the hell could it be?
He couldn't deal with opening the box right then. He had to get going. Only an hour until he'd get the news he'd been waiting years to hear.