Cupid still has a lot to learn, and this time he's heading to college to do it.
Griffin and Colby were shoved together by fate during a fraternity hazing game of spin the bottle but, in a world deserted by Cupid, fear and uncertainty pushed them apart. Now, twelve years later, they're getting a second chance with each other. A woman in Colby's life, however, doesn't like what she sees as competition for his affections, and she's willing to ruin both men if they don't bow to her demands. After all this time, are they willing to risk everything for a chance at happiness, or are they destined to lose each other again?
Cupid won't give up easily though. He has one last game for them to play and, this time, it's winner take all.
Be Warned: m/m sex
Spin the Bottle
Griff never should have gone to the bar last night. From the minute he walked inside, girls started swarming, and none of his former teammates could understand why he left alone.
Hell, a part of him wondered too. He liked sex with women fine and had a trail of ex-girlfriends a mile or so long to prove it. Women were what he’d been taught... what was expected of him. A wife. Babies. His folks were leaning on him hard for still being single. How could he explain to them that he’d never connected with a woman in his life? Never felt that spark?
He’d only ever felt it with one person—right in this very building.
Now that he was standing in the foyer of the Delta Chi fraternity house for the first time in years, he wondered if ditching the girls had been the best plan. After all, it would have been easy enough to grab the trio that attacked him on the dance floor. They seemed almost as into each other as they were into him. He could have taken them back to his hotel, made up some bullshit excuse about an injury, and then told them he just wanted to watch. At least then he wouldn’t have to worry what the rest of the team said about him leaving the bar alone. His bogus reputation would still be intact.
He sighed and eased the front door shut behind him. None of it mattered. He was here for a week and then he was going back home. Let the guys think what they wanted, even if it was the truth. As soon as next weekend was over, he’d be back to his normal life and its awkward string of first dates that led nowhere. Hopefully he could hold off on trying another relationship for a while. Maybe some woman would come along who’d just knock his socks off.
It was bound to happen eventually, right?
He almost laughed at the thought. Griff wished he were brave enough to come out of the closet. Wished he could find a guy worth doing that for, but even with men... none of them had ever made his heart trip over itself trying to beat since the first time.
A thin layer of dust collected on his fingers as he trailed them along the mahogany stained wainscoting. Obviously, they hadn’t cleaned for the big weekend yet. Griff wasn’t the only brother who had played in the Rose Bowl ten years before. At least three of them would be invading the house soon enough.
He didn’t realize where he was going until he stopped in front of the entryway to the common room. It was the main public area of the house—generally the best kept—but it was also the room where he’d gone through hazing twelve years ago. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the archway. Right there. By the fireplace...
“Hey, aren’t you Jacob Griffin? Defensive tackle?”
The voice startled him so badly, he jerked his hand away from the wall, wondering for a second how he didn’t yank part of the wood with him. “Yeah. Well I used to be. The ACL injury senior year kind of put the pro plans to bed in a hurry. Sorry, I always did suck with names, and I seem to have completely forgotten yours.”
Then again, he thought he’d remember a guy like the one in front of him. Barely five-seven, a bit on the chubby side and bald as the day he was born. Griff couldn’t remember a single frat brother who looked anything like him.
Eyes twinkling like he knew something Griff wasn’t privy to, the guy grinned and said, “Chris. Chris Erosou. And no worries, I wore glasses then and had a lot more hair.”
The name wasn’t ringing a bell either, but Griff shook the guy’s hand. “The hair—that must be it.”
“Yeah, it started going right after graduation and a few years in, I shaved the rest off. Bald is beautiful and all that crap.” He shrugged then jerked his head toward the common room. “Lots of memories in there, huh?”
“Good and bad.”
Chris shrugged. “Hazing’s part of the gig; we all know that coming in.” When Griff didn’t respond, he kept on talking. “So who was yours anyway?”
The question should have startled him, but Griff had been thinking about it ever since he set foot on campus again. No. That was a lie. He’d been thinking about it ever since it happened. “Colby Marsters. He dropped out of the pledge class shortly after.”
“That’s right—I remember now. Have you seen him?”
Did every time he closed his eyes count? “No. After he left, I got buried in the frat, classes, and football.”
Chris’s laugh echoed through the empty common room. “I meant since you’ve been back.”
He stepped into the room, and Griff followed, curious what he meant. “Why would he be here? He wasn’t on the football team.” Sure it was Homecoming and the reunion for the winning Rose Bowl team, but most regular visitors wouldn’t show up until Friday at the earliest.
“Nope. Soccer, but that isn’t what I meant.” Chris stopped on the far side of the gilt-framed coat of arms and leaned against the wall, staring at Griffin. “You do know he works here, right?”
Time seemed to freeze around them while Griff’s head spun. He reached toward the wall for balance, and his hand slid down the edge of the coat of arms. He hissed a breath through his teeth—a tiny golden splinter that looked almost like an arrow was stuck in his hand. He used the precious seconds it took to pull the piece of the frame free to collect his thoughts. Colby was here. Had been here for who knew how long. He licked his lips and tried to make the question sound casual. “I didn’t know. What does he do?”
“He’s a coach. Women’s soccer last I heard, which means he’s likely at the gym or field house right now.”
Griff nodded absently, but his mind wasn’t in the present anymore: it had drifted back a dozen years to the day they’d stood in this very room and the pledges were ordered to play a ridiculous game of spin the bottle... with each other. Sixty seconds of kissing another guy, and if you broke the kiss before the timer ran out, you had to go again.
As much as he hated the hazing bullshit, he hadn’t had a choice about pledging. Delta Chi had been his father’s fraternity and his grandfather’s before that. So, unlike some of the others, he hadn’t balked at playing the game. Sure, he’d always been able to look at other guys and, just like with women, find them attractive or not. But that didn’t mean anything. As far as he’d been concerned, just because it was his first time kissing a guy didn’t mean it couldn’t also be his last. One and done, like so many other things he didn’t want to but had to do.
Colby had looked almost as nervous as Griff felt by the time they stood in front of the group. Of course the laughter from the other pledges at Colby’s “ball handler” t-shirt didn’t help. But neither of them even cracked a smile. They were both athletes and trained to hate losing, so they’d shared a silent nod before moving in. Clearly, neither of them planned on doing this more than once.
Then his lips had met Colby’s, and Griffin’s world shattered.
Before that moment, he’d always thought kissing was just kissing, but Colby took control in a way he’d never felt. Part of his brain had screamed he should be in charge—after all he was bigger, stronger—but he didn’t want to. Later he told himself that if they’d both tried to be the dominant kisser they would have broken before the timer ran out. It was a lie. From their first touch, he wanted to let Colby lead, loved the way it felt to be taken by someone else. No, not just that. Taken in a way no woman had ever matched. Before, or after.
He’d spent that night lying awake, trying to figure out what it all meant. The next evening, he’d stumbled, exhausted, into the house only to find out Colby wasn’t coming back. Obviously whatever he’d felt hadn’t been reciprocated. What had ruined him for every woman—and man—that came later had driven Colby away from the fraternity entirely.
Feeling the ghost of the kiss on his lips once more—throbbing in time with the pain from the splinter—Griff knew he couldn’t stay away. He needed to see Colby again, if only to get the soccer player out of his system once and for all. “Cool. I might have to take a walk over there.”
“Coach, you need to look at this.”
Colby groaned. He’d already sent the girls off to hit the showers and was really looking forward to putting his practice notes into the computer, brainstorming a couple new drills, and going home so he could change and take a run. But with the way his assistant coach, Deanna, waved the papers in her hand, leaving soon might not be an option.
She slapped the papers into his outstretched palm. “It’s Desirée. Her mid-term report to be exact.”
Crap. Desirée was their star goalie. He’d recruited her personally and promised her family he’d make certain she stayed eligible. The tutors he’d hired were supposed to be some of the best on campus.
The information on the papers argued otherwise. Regardless of how many hours of tutoring her scholarship paid for, she was failing two of her core classes and barely passing another one. The A in her Phys Ed elective wasn’t going to be anywhere near enough to make a difference to her average.
With half the semester left, there was still time to fix it though. He scrubbed at his face, wondering what exactly he’d have to do in order to get her to put in the work. “Have you talked to her yet?”
Deanna cocked her hip out and stared him down, blue eyes flashing as she battled against a smile and lost. “Not my job, handsome. In case you forgot, Rée is not particularly fond of me. You, on the other hand… She’s a big fan.”
Too big a fan. Ever since she set foot on campus, she’d made no attempts to hide what she wanted. And what she wanted more than anything—other than a pro-soccer career—was her coach in her bed… or wherever she decided they should have sex. When Deanna had pulled her aside to inform her that Colby didn’t swing that way and could lose his job even if he was interested, Rée had not-so-politely told the assistant coach to mind her own business. Fuck and off were some of the nicer words involved. As far as Rée was concerned, there wasn’t a man alive who didn’t want her, regardless of his sexual orientation.
If the team had any sort of decent back-up goalie, Colby would have sent her packing weeks ago. As it was it’d be his job if he intentionally sabotaged the team by cutting her.
He let out a deep sigh. “I’ll get with her tutors. Tell her I want to talk to her before she leaves.”
Deanna took the papers and bumped his hip with hers. “Better you than me, Coach Studmuffin.”
She sauntered off laughing, but Colby just closed his eyes and stretched, wishing for the thousandth time he’d listened to his gut and brought in the other freshman goalie instead. She’d had the grades but not quite as much natural ability. Stupid, stupid, and very fucking stupid of him.
This campus seemed to bring out the stupid in Colby though, had from the beginning. It started during his own freshman year, back when he was still in the closet with the door firmly shut. What had he been smoking that he thought rushing a fraternity would be a good idea? Whatever it was, he’d jumped on the Greek bandwagon with both feet. Then he’d met Jacob Griffin, and he knew he was screwed—and not in the good way.
It didn’t matter that he wanted to keep his secret. He was drawn to the big muscly football player in ways he couldn’t understand, regardless of the fact he soon found out Jacob had a girlfriend—a dancer no less. When the time came to choose a frat to pledge, Colby had followed him through the doors of Delta Chi.
But when fate had determined that the two of them end up paired for that ridiculous game of spin-the-bottle, he knew he’d never be able to keep his sexual orientation a secret. He’d wanted to kiss Jacob all through rush. Shit, he’d wanted to do more than that, but he’d convinced himself he could just be the guy’s friend. Now, forced into the kiss, he knew at the very least Jacob would figure it out. He couldn’t pretend the others wouldn’t see how much he wanted it, how much he’d likely enjoy it.
He wouldn’t be able to fool any of them, which meant he had to walk away. But he’d be damned if he was going to do it without taking full advantage of the kiss. Colby had never been the guy who pretended to be straight by dating girls, but he’d never kissed a straight guy before either. His only experience was with others just as terrified of who they were as he was. As he stepped toward Jacob, he trembled, unsure what to expect. Considering the circumstances, the last thing he’d expected was for it to change his world.
He’d gone into the kiss hard and fast, desperate to make the most of those precious sixty seconds. For the first time in his life, he’d been bold about what he wanted, commanding all of Jacob’s attention from that first touch, almost daring him to pull away, but neither of them did.
To this day, Colby remembered the way Jacob’s lips had parted beneath his, even as the football player shuddered. Their tongues slid against each other, tasting of beer and forbidden fruit. Sixty seconds hadn’t been nearly long enough. In twelve years, Colby had never had another kiss like it.
He ran his tongue over his lips like he could still taste it, but it wasn’t there. It’d never be there again. Shoulders slumping, he sighed and opened his eyes. His breath caught, and Colby wondered fleetingly if the ball that caught him in the head earlier had done serious damage because he had to be dreaming.
Across the expanse of the gym he met the steady green gaze of the very man he’d thought he would only ever see in his memory. Jacob’s jet-black hair was only a touch longer than the military style he’d worn in college. That plus the form fitting rust-colored V-neck sweater over a pale gray t-shirt confirmed Jacob was still the perfect model for respectability.
He looked almost exactly the same, and suddenly Colby remembered precisely what forbidden fruit tasted like.
Posted by Danielle Paglia on 12th Nov 2015
This was my first M/M read and I have to say I truly enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for a good love story and this had two characters that I cared about and was cheering for from the beginning. I do wish the antagonist had gotten what she really deserved, but sometimes there is grace in getting someone out of the picture and allowing karma to takes its time. I know this is a novella and I usually love the short format, but I did want to spend a little more time with each of the guys exploring their loss and how they handled it before they got their happy ever after. Ms. deLaney left me wanting more of the story and that's always a good thing