So, Fall Through Spring is up for presale, and it has occurred to me that I was pretty tightlipped about this project when I was working on it, and that you all might want a teeny little nip…
Also, you might want to say goodbye to the old covers, because as soon as we get a cover reveal for the NEW ones, you won’t even remember these were there…
You can buy Fall Through Spring HERE.
Dane listened in fascination as his brother welcomed the two newcomers to play with them instead of the group they’d left in the dust, and didn’t make a single accidental double-entendre. Skipper Keith seemedunassuming enough, but instead of listening to Mason Hayes as he made an ass out of himself, he thanked Mason for sending him Theraflu and a sweater when he was sick at work.
As Skipper and Mason were making conversation, Dane turned to the scruffy guy who gave great voice and said, “How long have you two been together?”
Clay Carpenter snorted. “I’m not the one he’s dating, but thank you. Skip would be a catch.”
Dane’s heart gave a double-flutter. “So you’re single?” God. Did he sound too predatory? He probably sounded too predatory. He’d gotten a lot of sex by being unapologetically slutty, but he really didn’t want to come on too strong. And these guys didn’t seem like the fast-and-loose crowd he’d run with as an undergrad or at the restaurant.
“Single, but not gay,” Carpenter said with a shrug, and until Dane heard the world crashing around his ears, he hadn’t realized how invested he was in the answer. He was so occupied with the sound of his heart’s destruction that he almost missed what Carpenter said next.
“But then, Skipper didn’t know he was gay until a couple of weeks ago, so, you know, anything could happen.”
It was said mostly in jest, Dane knew that. How could he not know? He wasn’t stupid. But it was said with the confidence of a man who wouldn’t mind if it was true.
Which meant… oh God, it just might… it must might….
“How could he not know he was gay?” Dane asked, fastening on something, anything to talk about so he could hear more of that rusty, self-deprecating voice.
Carpenter paused for a moment, and they both watched Skip swing the club in a perfect arc, and the ball bounce almost to the hole.
Carpenter sent Dane a droll look. “You see that?”
“God, I suck,” Dane said in dazed response.
“So do I.”
“But not in the same way,” Dane said dispiritedly.
“Sure, brag about that now. But my point is, Skipper’s never played golf before.”
Dane watched his brother take his turn, and stared. Mason had the grace of a giant redwood tree doing the cha-cha. The ball went up too high, fell too soon, and curved to the left in what was probably going to be a six-over-par shot. As far as Dane knew, his brother came out once a month, at the very least.
“First time?” Dane asked, feeling a little adrift. “How does that happen?”
Carpenter shrugged. “I don’t know. Skip and Richie have been best friends for six years. Then suddenly, they’re banging like beavers. Sometimes you watch and plan and think about what you really want to do; then you score a hole in one.”
Carpenter took his turn at the tee, and in spite of a few extra pounds, he moved with a no-bullshit, muscular athleticism that Dane had to admire.
Skipper almost scored a hole in one, but Carpenter was probably going to make a birdie at the very least.
Dane waited until Skip and Mason finished congratulating Carpenter before he stepped up and swung.
Yup. Almost as bad as Mason.
He waited for the fake congratulations from the newcomers, for the pained expressions of pity and condescension.
Carpenter looked at Skipper and shrugged. “Well, he did say he sucked.”
All of them burst out laughing, and they trotted joyfully down to the green to finish the hole.
And Carpenter grew no less delightful. His banter with Skip spoke of long familiarity and affection… and loyalty.
“So, Skipper, you gonna add golf to your unholy regime of exercise?” Carpenter asked.
“Nope,” Skip said. He was looking for a putting club like a beekeeper looking through spiders. “But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drag me out here the next time you get the urge.” Skip pointed at a club wholly unsuitable for the terrain, and Carpenter shook his head and pointed to the one next to it. Skipper nodded and went with the suggestion.
“I get the urge to do lots of stuff, Skipper. I just don’t always drag other people along with me.”
Skipper snorted and faced the ball. “Well, you can go to the bathroom on your own, but I wouldn’t mind holding your hand up here on the green.” He adjusted his stance one more time. Dane wanted to tell him he was doing it wrong, because according to every lesson he and Mason had had as kids, he was. But so far, Skip had the best score.
And sure enough, he hit the ball into the cup, when the rest of them still had at least five shots to clear the hole. Mason high-fived Skip and stepped up, and Dane turned to his new friend and said, “What’s his regimen like?”
“He’s got this sort of church of holy soccer,” Carpenter said in an undertone. “I managed to resist for two years, but he’s been making me eat chicken sandwiches and walk during lunch at work. Not like parents, mind you, but like, ‘Hey, there’s this great place to eat about four blocks away. Let’s be late getting back!’ I mean, he’s a fuckin’ Boy Scout, right, and he’s using being late back as a carrot. Anyway, I lost a little weight, got a little overconfident, and now I’m a part of the church… I mean, team. Go figure.”
“Where’d you meet?” Dane asked, impressed in spite of himself. He might as well stare at the blond god too, because apparently everybody worshipped at the altar of Schipperke.
“Same place Skipper and Mason met. Work. But me and Skipper are in the IT department, so we met sort of accidentally.”
Dane had to swallow against an unwelcome shaft of snobbery. Mason was VP of mergers and acquisitions. Dane knew the score. IT did not talk to VP—it was like some sort of rules of the royal court thing.
But then, Mason wasn’t great at rules, and Skipper appeared to be great at people, so maybe Dane could forget his whole…. Oh, who was he kidding.
“What the hell are you doing in the IT department?” he asked, appalled.
Carpenter rolled his eyes. “Not firing people, not being a douchebag, and not hating my coworkers. Fucking sue me. What is it you do again?”
They’d already covered the fact that Dane was a student, so Dane conveniently disregarded that.
“My brother is not a douchebag,” he said staunchly.
Carpenter just looked at Dane steadily, and Dane remembered that Carpenter had been there when Skipper should have called HR on Mason.
“I mean, he says dumb shit when he’s nervous, but that doesn’t make him a douche!”
Carpenter arched one eyebrow. “He asked Skipper if he’d like to come watch porn in his office.”
“But apparently there was the thing with the Theraflu and the making sure he got home when he was sick,” Dane pointed out hopefully.
“Often,” Dane amended with a sigh. “He’s not a douchebag often.”
Carpenter grinned at him. “Well, Skipper’s giving him a do-over, so I can give him a do-over. Reboot, new lives, let’s go kill some bad guys.”
Reboot?Dane blinked. “What do you play?” he asked. Oh God, something besides golf.
“PS4,” Carpenter said. “RPG, FPS mostly, what’s your poison?”
“Anything,” Dane said dreamily. He’d lost most of his gaming buddies when he quit the restaurant—they’d been casual acquaintances, really, not friends. “You want to play tonight?”
Carpenter shrugged. “Yeah, why not. Skip’s got yard work after this, and I’ve got to clean my apartment. Log on about eight?”
Finding a new friend was that easy.
A new friend with a sexy voice and an adorable scruff and a sense of humor.