The Bench by Jess K. Hardy

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Public defender James has been in self-imposed dating jail since his divorce, but Noah, the gorgeous dad he met at the playground, has him considering parole. Their kids are best friends, they have a lot in common, and they’re both single. It’s almost too perfect, except for one tiny detail: Noah is straight.

City planner Noah’s terrible year started when his wife left him for their twenty-year-old neighbor. Ever since he met James though, things have been looking up. James is smart and kind and now Noah—whose only romantic experience with men was a brain-scrambling spin-the-bottle kiss in high-school—is utterly confused because he can’t stop thinking about him.

During playdates, sleepovers, and steamy sexting sessions, these sensitive and loving dads will discover even broken, uncertain hearts can still find love. When a dark family secret threatens Noah’s daughter, they’ll learn two dads are better than one.

Be Warned: m/m sex

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Excerpt:

James

This has been, without question, the longest seven days of my entire life. Something happened last week. Only I have no idea what it was.

This is what I know: 1) Noah touched me. 2) Noah touched me twice. 3) I liked it, a lot. 4) I want him to do it again. 5) When I winked at him—obvious move, I know—he blushed. He very clearly blushed, cheeks pink as cherry blossoms.

This is what I do not know: 1) Literally anything else.

It’s driven me mad all week. Is Noah into me? He could be into me. Or he could just be, all the sudden, out of nowhere, super flirty. Friends do that, right? Suddenly become flirty? I mean none of my other straight friends have before. But maybe this is just normal behavior for Noah. Cute Noah. Hot Noah. Strong Noah. Noah, Noah, Noah—

“Dad, where’s Sophie? I’m bored.”

Max startles me so thoroughly my flailing arm knocks my coffee thermos over beside me. It rolls to the end of the bench, and into Noah’s open hand.

“Jumpy?” he asks me, green eyes narrowed in amusement.

“Ha. Right. Oops, I just—” I stutter hopelessly.

“Hey, Max!” yells Sophie. She grabs Max’s hand and pulls him laughing toward the tire swing.

Noah takes his seat beside me on the bench, cheekily tilting my thermos from side to side. “I think you’ve had enough of this. Maybe I should hang onto it for you.”

I snort. Honestly snort at him. I am mortified by my complete inability to keep my cool. This is ridiculous. It’s still Noah. Just Noah. The same guy I’ve sat next to every other week for the last few months. The same guy who smells like soap and pine and is so sweet to his daughter sometimes it makes my heart ache.

He’s only touched me twice, completely platonic touches, by the way, and I can barely look at him without wanting his hands on me again, immediately. I think I’ve masturbated more in this last week than I have in the last year. I’m like an obsessed teenager, both my brain and my cock swimming in visions of his green eyes, big hands, full, red lips. I have blisters.

“You’re looking good today.” My eyes flash wide as I amend, “I mean well, you’re looking well. Is that a new shirt?” Jesus tap-dancing Christ.

He looks down. “Yeah, it is actually. Just got it yesterday.” He stretches his arms out, twisting at his waist, flexing his muscles, just for me. In my head it’s just for me, anyway. “You don’t think it’s too tight? It feels tight.”

I’m struggling not to just sit here, slack-jawed, making lengthy and thorough eye-love to the soft green V-neck that looks perfectly poured over his boxer’s pecs—because that’s what Noah does when he’s not solving the city’s traffic crises or securing funds for new parks, he boxes, all sweaty and grunting. I gulp, tearing my eyes away from him and realizing suddenly that this is hell. I’ve sinned, died, and now I’m wandering the Seventh Circle of hell.

“No, it looks good. Perfect.” Hell.

He smiles, bright as the sun itself. “Thanks, man. You look good too. New haircut?”

Oh, that is it! He is flirting with me. He has to be. All of it. The smiles, the shirt, commenting on my hair. He is very clearly flirting. He’s never told me that he’s into men. But I’ve also never asked. What if he is? Or what if he’s into one man in particular? And what if that one man is me?

Or, and probably more likely, I am reading way too much into this. Noah and I have been growing closer—as friends—and maybe this is just how straight male friends talk to each other nowadays. Times are changing. People are more evolved. And I have never been so confused.

I clear my throat. “Just had it cut the other day. Thanks for noticing.” I take my thermos back from him, not at all accidently brushing my thumb over his. He doesn’t flinch. What is happening?

“I have some interesting news,” he says, and I nearly pass out.

Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 4 ratings)
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5/5
Loved it!
Written by Suzy Shearer on 27th Jul 2020

A quick read but a perfect one. Don't miss out, make sure you read it.

5/5
Loved this story so much!
Written by Rhonda on 22nd Jul 2020

This is the first time I've read anything by this author and I have to say, I was happy I gave this book a chance. I always look for MM books but they have to be written well and Jess K. Hardy did just that. The story is a wonderful and short read. And even though it's short, it's packed with emotions and the kids were a wonderful addition. I will be looking for more from this author. If you like MM stories, check this one out!

5/5
Loved it!!
Written by Heather on 22nd Jul 2020

Such a burst of authentic emotion, detailed romance, and hot sex w/ a dash of suspense thrown in. A wonderful quick read to satisfy all your cravings.

5/5
Will have you cheering (and panting!) for James and Noah!
Written by ALWC on 16th Jul 2020

Sweet and super steamy MM romance for when you’re in the mood for a good love story with some teeth, but also a happily ever after! Grab this one for the beach, by the pool, or vacay, and get lost in James and Noah’s respective stories – their friendship, dreamy connection, and slow-burn attraction with lots of heart, and HEAT! Jess K Hardy delivers a crackling romance with skillful prose that never drags, entertains, and gives you all the feels.