Mason is in love with his brother’s best friend, Jack. It’s been ten years of secret fantasies, hidden glances, and forbidden yearnings. Just when Mason decides to give up on Jack and move away, his friends step in to get them together.
It involves a pool party, a pair of skimpy black swimming trunks, and a lot of jealousy. But new love is not always easy. Especially when a psychotic killer has his sights set on Mason being his next victim and he’ll destroy anyone who gets in his way.
"Hey, Mason, I was wondering if you had a moment to talk?"
"Uh, yeah, sure, come on in," Mason said as he held the door open and stepped out of the way. He stared after Jack in bewilderment as he walked into the apartment. He seemed to be looking at the stacks of packed boxes with something close to disgust.
"What’s up, Jack?" Mason asked as he tried to figure out what was going on. It felt like a kick in the gut to have Jack here after making the decision to stop pining over him.
"I just wanted to know if everything is okay? Your mom mentioned that you were moving." Jack gestured to the boxes stacked around the room. "Guess it’s true."
"Yeah, I’m transferring to Georgetown University."
"Why?" Jack asked as he looked back at Mason.
"Why?" Mason asked, blinking with bafflement at Jack’s question. "Why what?"
"Why are you transferring? Can’t you finish your degree here in Portland?" Jack asked as he took a few steps closer to Mason.
"I could but the program at Georgetown offers more," Mason replied as he stepped back from Jack. Standing this close to Jack, he could smell the soft musk of his after-shave and it was making his legs go weak. Jack smelled so damn good. He always did.
"Is that the only reason?" Jack asked.
Mason could feel his heart pound in his chest as he tried to read the closed expression on Jack’s face. Had Jack learned of his desire for him? Mason would worry that someone had told Jack how he felt except that Mason had never told anyone else.
"Should there be another reason?" Mason as he felt an unwelcome blush creep into his face.
"Mason, I just want to help. You don’t have to hide things from me. I’m your friend," Jack said as he reached a reassuring hand out to pat Mason on the arm.
My friend, but not my lover, Mason thought sadly as he shrugged Jack’s hand off of his arm. "I’m fine, Jack."
Mason turned away from Jack and walked over to stand at the kitchen counter. "Thank you for checking on me, Jack, but I’m fine. You can go now." Mason knew he was being rude but it was just too hard being in the same room with Jack and not blurt out how much he wanted him. He had to bite his lip to keep from blabbing everything.
"Mason—" Jack began again.
"Please, Jack, just go," Mason said quietly as his hands gripped the edge of the countertop.
"Please." Mason closed his eyes as he waited for the front door to open and close and Jack to leave.
"Mason, there has to be a better way to deal with this than to move across the country."
Mason spun around to find Jack standing right behind him. He stood so close that their chests almost touched. Mason’s eyes widened in surprise at the look of concern on Jack’s face. "Deal with what?" he choked out over the lump that had formed in his throat.
"Look, Mason, we can’t choose who we love, but she’s not worth leaving your family," Jack said.
"Who?" Mason asked in confusion.
"The woman you’re in love with. Your mother told me all about it. She didn’t know if your problem was that the woman was married or unavailable or what, but no woman is worth giving up your family."
"I’m not in love with any woman," Mason said, perplexed by the direction this conversation was going.
"Mason, I told you, you don’t have to hide this from me. I just want to help. If she can’t see what a great guy you are, you don’t need her. There are a lot of other women out there," Jack continued as if Mason hadn’t said anything.
Mason couldn’t stop the small laugh that escaped his lips as he gazed at Jack. The situation wasn’t that funny but he couldn’t believe that Jack was here giving him the chin up speech when Jack was the reason he was in this mess in the first place.
"Jack, there is no woman," Mason said.
"Jack, I can promise you, there is no woman. I’m gay."
Mason watched as Jack’s mouth opened and closed several times as he stared at Mason in shock. His embarrassment that Jack was the first to know he was gay quickly turned to annoyance as Jack just continued to stare at him.
"Your gay?" Jack asked in a whisper.
Mason crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Jack. Jack sounded astonished as if the thought had never entered his mind. "Yes, I am. See? No woman to worry about. Now, would you please go? I have a lot of packing to do."
"Your gay?" Jack asked again.
Mason rolled his eyes and waved his hand in the air in agitation. "Yes, Jack, I’m gay. Always have been. Always will be. Now, if you’ll kindly leave me to finish my packing, I might have time to go down to the bar and find me some hot stud to bring home and fuck."
Mason grabbed Jack by the arm and pulled him to the door. He opened it up and pushed Jack through it. He briefly noted the dazed look in Jack’s eyes as he looked up at him. "Bye, Jack," Mason said as he shut the door.
The moment the door shut, Mason turned the lock then leaned his head against it as his heart beat frantically in his chest. He couldn’t believe he had just come out to Jack. And Jack thought he was in love with a woman. Didn’t that just beat all?
Mason shook his head as he turned back to his packing. As he picked up another stack of books and placed them in an open box, he wondered what Jack would have said if he knew that he was the reason Mason was moving across country and leaving his family.
Mason snorted to himself as he grimly thought about Jack’s response. He’d probably pat Mason on the head and tell him that they could still be friends, but only friends. It wasn’t like Mason had a lot of friends, but friendship was not what he wanted from Jack. And what he wanted, he could never have.