It’s just a friend thing.
Before confessing his gayness to his best friend, Tierney Terrebonne’s sex life is strictly restroom. After confessing his gayness to his best friend . . . it doesn’t improve much. Why bother trying when the man he’s loved for fourteen years (see: “best friend”) is totally unattainable? Good thing Tierney is an old hand at accepting defeat; all it takes is a bottle of bourbon. Or fifty. Repeat as needed.
Dalton Lehnart has a history of dating wealthy, damaged, closeted, lying, cheating, no-good, cowardly men, so of course he’s immediately attracted to Tierney Terrebonne. Fortunately, Tierney is so dissolute that even Dalton’s feelings for the man would be better described as pity. Which becomes sympathy as they get to know each other. Followed by compassion, concern, caring, and hopefulness as Tierney struggles to change his life. When the man comes out very publicly and enters rehab, Dalton finds himself downright attached to Tierney. And as everyone knows, after attachment comes . . .
But post-rehab Tierney can’t handle more than friendship, so Dalton should be safe from repeating his own past mistakes, right? Right?
Fourteen Years Ago
One night in October, Tierney discovered an honest-to-fucking-God glory hole. He’d been on the way back to his room from a midweek party and stopped at Cambridge Hall to visit the facilities, going all the way to the basement restroom for a little (drunken) contemplation.
As soon as he sat on the throne, he spied the opening in the stall wall. His palms went sweaty. He’d watched enough porn on the internet to recognize it, but still thought he might be hallucinating. Any moment it would disappear.
He leaned sideways—barely keeping his wasted butt on the john—to look through the hole.
Shit! There was a guy in there. Tierney’s pulse really took off then, all the blood draining from his head. Instinctively he leaned forward, putting his face between his knees—and into his briefs, hanging between them—to keep from fainting.
Tap tap tap. For a split second he knew it was his mother’s habitual knock on his bedroom door, and he jerked his head out of his underwear, eyes opening so wide they strained his lids.
Tap tap tap. It was a shoe. In the stall next to him. The shoe of the guy in there. And he was tapping. Like, knocking. Like he wanted to send a signal or wanted—
“Dude.” A voice floated through the hole. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Tierney squeaked. “I just, you just. Surprised. Me. Um . . .”
The guy didn’t answer, but his foot moved. He was standing now, taking a step. Tierney heard the door lock opening over the drumming in his ears. He’s leaving. “Wait!”
The shoes stopped. “Yeah?” the anonymous voice asked after a second.
“Uh . . .” His heart thumped so hard he shook with it. Something he hadn’t experienced since realizing that, as a Terrebonne, he’d never be allowed to kiss a guy or touch someone else’s dick or feel male hands touch his.
Or get an anonymous blowjob through a glory hole from a man.
“Dude,” the anonymous man in question said, sounding twitchy, calling Tierney fully back into his current situation. In a men’s room stall that happened to have a hole to another dimension where a guy would suck his dick.
Next thing Tierney knew, he was hugging the wall like a gecko, hips straining to push even farther into the opening, the rough edges of particle board and laminate biting into the skin of his thighs, and then—thank fuck—someone’s breath on his cock. Tierney grunted when he felt the heat of the dude’s mouth on his skin, taking him in, no playing around like girls did because they didn’t really want to taste dick.
This isn’t a girl.
The guy’s lips wrapped around him and sucked hard, and seconds later Tierney was coming. Groaning, then panting so loudly he nearly drowned out the dude bitching about how fast he’d shot before slamming out of the stall. Tierney closed his eyes and rested his cheek against the cool surface, listening to the door to the restroom swing open, and then footsteps fade away.
Oh God. He’d done it. Anonymously. The Terrebonne family name would never even know.
Weeks later, lying in bed the night before Thanksgiving vacation, Tierney let his mind revisit his most recent trip to the glory hole. He’d pictured his friend Ian in the neighboring stall. Ian was so butch and blond and built all the good “B” words. He kept his hair trimmed short and didn’t go for the sloppy grunge look like the other guys in their dorm. All the guys but Tierney.
Ian was like him in other ways too. They had similar backgrounds in emergency services, except Ian’s family was blue-collar. They were all firefighters, while Tierney’s were all ambulance company owners. Ian smelled like engine oil and saltpeter—not that Tierney knew what saltpeter really smelled like. Sounded masculine, though.
They weren’t roommates—Tierney paid extra to have his own room—but they lived on the same floor. Ian liked his dad about as much as Tierney liked Grandfather, and somehow that led to the two of them hanging out a lot.
Like with other friends over the past five years, Tierney knew his desire to be with Ian was a little different than the normal straight guy’s impulse to chill out with dudes. But he mostly ignored that, until the day Ian had said, “Chicks are more trouble than they’re worth.”
That made Tierney start to wonder. He had no other reason to think Ian might lean his way, just a feeling. A strong one. There had to be other guys around like him, right? Ones who were into dudes, but not exactly gay. And maybe . . . Ian could be one?
There was only one way to find out.
The night after Tierney returned to school from the holiday, he had Ian in his dorm room, drunk on bourbon he’d brought back from home. The dude’s eyes were glassy, and he was working to focus them. But was he drunk enough for The Plan?
Tierney swallowed down a hysterical giggle with another swig from the bottle. One more test.
“So, like, you feel horny, man?” he asked, slouching against the side of his bed. Look casual. He was just a regular guy who talked about sex. Yep, nothing freaky here.
Ian’s eyes went wide, showing the whites all around his irises. Then he mirrored Tierney’s slouch. “Well, yeah. Always.”
“I can fix that for you, dude.”
Ian froze for a second before squinting. “What’re you talking ’bout?”
“Just, you know.” Tierney shrugged. “When I’m hurting, there’s a place I go to get taken care of.” He wanted to take another pull off the bottle, but his hands felt shaky. He didn’t need to showcase that.
“Like, you mean hookers’r something? ’Cause I’m n—”
“No, dude. No money changes hands. Just, there are people out there who like giving head as much as others like getting it, and I know how to find them.”
Ian’s tongue flicked out across his lower lip.
Oh yeah, he was into it.
After that, everything unfolded in flashes of activity. Are we really doing this? Must be, because he and Ian were going together across campus, moving in sync. Tierney watched his foot land on the asphalt path at the same instant Ian’s did, orangish in the glow of the security lights.
“Where are we going?” Ian’s question came out on clouds of breath, puffing into Tierney’s peripheral vision.
“Cambridge,” he answered, because one word was all he could manage.
Then they were there, and he yanked the door open, swinging it wide so nothing could block Ian’s path to the glory hole. Glory. The sound of their feet pounding down the stairs echoed in his ears. “It’s in the basement.”
He ignored the question, pulling ahead once they reached the hallway, footsteps keeping time with his heartbeat.
What if there isn’t anyone here? Had to be. Too important. He shouldered the men’s room door open, forcing swagger into his walk, only glancing into the mirror for a split second to make sure Ian was following him.
There were feet in the left stall. As far as he could figure glory hole etiquette, the guy who wanted to get sucked off stood in the one on the right.
He opened that one just as the lower half of a face appeared in the hole. He and Ian halted, and Tierney stared at the whiskered, dimpled chin and plump lips waiting there. So obvious it’s a man. The guy’s breathing echoed around the bathroom, or maybe just in Tierney’s ears. Fuck, what if he’d been wrong and Ian was about to freak? Too late to wimp out. He shoved his buddy inside. “Open your jeans and stick your dick through, dude. He wants it.”
Ian shifted his stance a couple of times, hands resting on his package, but his fingers hesitated on his fly button. “You gonna watch?”
Thank fuck, he was really going to do it. “No,” Tierney scoffed, moving far enough away to seem like he wasn’t looking, but keeping Ian in his peripheral vision. Tierney heard the sound of unzipping, and saw a flash of flesh as Ian untangled his cock from his pants. Tierney couldn’t not see that—turning his head, he caught a brief view of the tight skin and protruding veins of a raging erection before it disappeared through the hole.
Oh fuck. He could hear it. The slurp and suck, and then a hmmm, like the other guy enjoyed Ian’s flavor, and it was all Tierney could do to just stand there and let it happen. For the first time, he wanted to be in the left-hand stall but only because Ian was in the right. Only totally gay guys sucked dick. He wasn’t into that.
Except, if Ian was into it, Tierney would offer. On his knees, with lips parted.
The slam of a palm hitting the stall wall made Tierney flinch, but the moan that accompanied it—low and throaty and quickly cut off—told him Ian wanted this. More than liked it, because that noise had been laced with the same ache Tierney had had every time he’d been here.
He’s into it. He’s into guys.
Ian stumbled out, jeans still open, lurching forward, and hit the tile wall next to the sink, then slid down to sit on the floor, facing the glory hole.
Tap tap tap. The sucker wanted more, and Tierney was right there, as hard as he’d ever been. The whole time he was being blown, he watched Ian. The dude barely blinked, gaze fixed on the action. When his hands crept toward his groin, and the bulge in his briefs, Tierney came almost as fast as he had the first time. But this guy didn’t bitch, maybe because he’d had two loads. Tierney faked cool, doing up his jeans and stepping out to offer a hand up to Ian, who seemed too freaked to see it shaking. “Ready to go, or you want more?”
Ian shook his head, and pushed himself up to standing under his own power. “Let’s go.”
The whole way back to the dorm, Tierney kept having to remind himself to breathe. Ian was silent, walking rapidly with his hands shoved in his coat pockets. Tierney’s nerves stretched taut, waiting for him to say something, but Ian didn’t even look his way.
Had he fucked up?
Tierney stumbled, lurching into Ian’s side, brushing elbows. Ian jumped away, like contact with Tierney sent a thousand volts of revulsion right through him.
Oh fuck. Going up the stairs behind him, Tierney didn’t even watch the guy’s ass like he normally did, too caught up in internal panic. He’s never going to speak to me again. What the fuck had he been thinking? He’d exposed his own desires to someone else. Someone who knew him, who’d seen his face, unlike the guys in the Cambridge Hall men’s room.
Someone he liked.
What if he tells everyone I’m a homo?
“Later, dude,” Ian muttered when they reached their floor, hunching his shoulders around his ears and walking down the hall. Away from Tierney. It was late, the dorm was quiet, but the common areas were still well lit. Anyone who looked Tierney’s way could see it all right there in the glaring brightness: his fear and his insecurities and his stupidity. Maybe someone could even see the sinkhole that opened up in his gut. But no one was watching him; he was all alone, standing there long after Ian had reached his room and gone in.