By: Carolyn LeVine Topol | Other books by Carolyn LeVine Topol
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Published: Feb 17, 2010
ISBN # 9781615813629
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Published: Feb 17, 2010
ISBN # 9781615813629
Word Count: 16,770
Available in: Epub, Microsoft Reader, Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.prc)
DescriptionWhile Jack Randall relishes his free-spirited life, making no commitments and tricking with a variety of hot men, he also wants what his best friend Steve has: happiness with a husband. He doesn't realize that joining the health club in his building, Healthy Obsession, will lead him to Mr. Right; but there stands the muscular and extremely good-looking Rick Monroe.
Jack is immediately attracted to Rick, even though Rick is married, a father, and reluctantly in the closet. The reality of falling in love is much harder than the dream of finding Mr. Right, but Jack is willing to make the effort and help Rick, if Rick is willing to be true to himself.
Reader Rating: (10 Ratings)
"I CAN'T believe you're not joining us tomorrow morning. That's totally fucked!" Steve's eyes narrowed as he glared at his friend across the table.
"Look, I have no control over my employer's edicts. If this is what he wants, I have no intention of making a damn stink about it. It's no big deal, just a gym. I just won't have my usual workout buddies." Jack sighed. "Besides, I'll still see you and your hubby after work." Jack patted Steve on the shoulder as he stood up from their table. "I'm going to get another Guinness; you want one?"
Steve nodded, still frustrated. Every morning for years they'd met at the same gym. It was their way of staying connected despite their different lifestyles.
Having met his partner five years earlier, Steve was in a loving relationship with Tom—married. Jack had poked fun at their marriage, but it was clear he was behind them one hundred percent.
Jack sat down, slamming the two pints of stout on the table. "Maybe this is just what I need. Who knows, I may finally find my Mr. Right."
Steve huffed. "I'm still not convinced you're really looking. You've slept with practically every man in the Greater Boston area."
Jack snorted. "If I had, then my dick would have fallen off by now." He took a sip of his beer, hiding his grin. "Besides, I don't sleep with them: I fuck them. Let's get our facts straight."
Steve held up his glass. "Sorry, didn't mean to screw up the semantics."
Jack smirked. "In any case, it's probably been only two-thirds of the gay men in Boston."
"Thank you. Should I have that new name monogrammed on my briefcase?"
Jack was trying to keep the conversation light, but Steve wasn't going to let him off the hook so easily. Taking a sip of his brew, he put the glass down.
"I know you've been lonely. Shit! You've even mentioned you want to find someone who could become more than a one-night stand. How do you plan to do it?"
Jack grimaced. "Maybe I should do what you did."
"Hey, we both know I had no plans to get stuck on a stalled T-line between two stations. It was freezing outside and I'd left my heavy jacket at home."
"So one of the hottest men anyone has ever seen turns out to be in your car, and is a gallant homo. No one has that kind of luck but you." Jack raised his glass to Steve.
"I have to admit, if I had to get warmed up by someone, I picked the best."
"He picked you… how soon they forget." Jack chuckled.
"You just want to get my mind on something other than your nonexistent love life." Steve sat back in his chair with a grin on his face, remembering the day he'd met his husband. Their first touch, when Tom had noticed Steve shivering, was all it took to make an immediate and lasting connection. Since then, neither had missed a day together. Three years later to the day, he and Tom were married.
Jack ran his finger over the rim of the glass before bringing it up to his lips again. "I'm fucking envious. You know that, don't you?" he whispered, the sincerity of his admission clearly evident.
Steve nodded and sighed, wishing he could steer Jack in the right direction. The bars and clubs hadn't worked. His friend only found one nameless trick after another. Hoping it would elicit more prospects, the two friends had joined a gym. Jack had hooked up with a couple of possibilities, but nothing had lasted more than a day. It seemed, even at the gym, the men Jack met had no interest in anything more than a satisfying fuck. Steve knew Jack was lonely, but there didn't seem to be anyone out there for him.
"Hey, maybe one day I'll get on the Green Line and meet the man of my dreams."
The two clinked their glasses together in a toast to Jack's fantasy.
"But I doubt it. It seems I'm doomed to live alone."
"And fuck everyone who breathes." The two chuckled, but Steve could see the hollow look in his friend's eyes and wished there was something he could do.
Jack viewed the bar, pausing as his eyes met those of a good-looking brunet at the end.
"I see you found your date for the night."
"It's a warm body."
"Is that enough?" Steve patted Jack's shoulder.
"At least it's something." Jack stood up to make his move. "I'll see you tomorrow night. Can we meet here, or do you need to be home?"
"It'll be fine. See you then." Steve left the remainder of his beer on the table as he prepared to head home, reminded again how lucky he was to have a loving husband waiting for him.
Looking back just before exiting the bar, he saw Jack down the remainder of his drink in one gulp and head for his target. Steve shook his head. His friend may seem to be the perfect predator, the envy of all the single gay men in the neighborhood, but Steve knew better.
JACK viewed his surroundings. The equipment was all state of the art and the men—some were definitely worth a second look. Others needed to be in the new rooftop health club: spare tire and receding hairlines were at a premium.
The biggest irritants were the women. He hated watching all the breeders gathering at the new watering hole to flirt and tease in the nauseating way heteros tried to attract one another. He recognized some of the women from his office's secretarial pool sidling up to the older executive types.
The new facility overlooked Boston Harbor. While the view wasn't bad, Jack still preferred the gym he went to nearer his home in Cambridge. But when the boss strongly suggests anything, it's worth listening, especially if the goal is to move from "Associate Editor" to "Editor" within the next year.
Jack remembered closing the final manuscript he had been reviewing the previous evening when he had heard a knock on his office door.
His first reaction had been to tell the intruder to "fuck off," but instead he had looked up and seen Bruce Sutcliff walking in uninvited.
"Good evening, Jack, how was your day?" Bruce always started with ridiculous small talk, postponing any question or issue on his mind.
"My day was fine. I read four new submissions: barfed over two pieces of unsolicited trash and found two fairly workable."
"I gather the workable ones were backed by agents." Bruce had taken a seat opposite Jack.
"One was unsolicited and surprisingly captivating. The other was not only backed by an agent, but we've published some of her work already. While the second wasn't a shock, it's always refreshing to discover untapped talent. It's a pleasure to reward quality writing." Jack had stared pointedly at his employer, and Bruce had nodded his understanding.
"People think just because a children's book is short and filled with pictures, anyone can write one. It takes more than a third-grade vocabulary to write good literature for the same age group."
Jack had leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk. "Sometimes their vocabulary is far beneath that of our readers."
Bruce had chuckled and sat back, folding his hands in his lap.
"Look, Bruce, we both know you didn't come in here to find out how my day was, or talk about the weather, or any other bullshit. What's up?"
"Up is exactly where it is."
Jack had remained silent, waiting for more information, although he had been tempted to make a cutting remark about wanting to get out so he could get it up.
"To be specific, the new health club the building added."
Jack had sat back in his chair and gripped the arms. "The eyesore the building managers added in place of the rooftop restaurant. I've heard it's fairly decent and has some quality equipment, although they should have asked us to name it. Healthy Obsession—what a cheesy title."
Bruce had grinned, clasping his hands and resting them on the edge of Jack's desk. "Maybe they should have asked us. After all, we're the professionals who deal with words and titles."
Jack had smirked. "It sure as hell couldn't have hurt."
"I'm glad you're aware of the new club, because, you see, the building management put a special deal on the table."
Here it comes; spit it out, Bruce. Jack had tilted his head.
"Any business in the building that can get their executive officers to sign on in entirety gets a huge break on rent." Jack had sat still, detecting there was more. "They hope the health club will attract more than just the tenants and executives…." The editor's voice had trailed off, and he lowered his head.
"They want top paid employees to act as gym-bunny magnets." Jack had begun to stack some manuscripts in neat piles. "Nice idea, but I already belong to a gym. Have for a long time and I don't intend to—"
Bruce's voice had taken on a stern edge. "I know all about the types of places you go and the people—the men—you associate with. That's on your own time." He had stood up and held the doorknob. "But this is business. We can save a bundle if you join the damn club and make an appearance every morning. You don't even have to break a sweat: just join and show."
Jack had bitten his lip, seeing his boss' determination and knowing this was an order, not a request. "Fine, Bruce, I'll be there first thing in the morning to check out the place. If it's an adequate facility I'll join and make regular appearances."
"Thank you, Jack. That's what I like to hear. Teamwork: that's what good business is all about."
"And I always thought good business was about doing your job better than anyone else and getting the rewards that follow."
Not responding to Jack's final remark, Bruce had left the office, closing the door behind him.
Jack grimaced. Teamwork, my ass. You just want a goddamn break on the monthly rent. Not that he could blame his boss; the economy had affected everyone, including readers. Selling books was much harder. More and more parents were encouraging their kids to take books out of the library and weren't even addressing purchases unless it was Christmas or birthday time… or so the market researchers reported.
JACK approached the bench press and the weights. He had to hand it to the designers; the club was decked out with all the right equipment. There were just two problems: it was a haven for heteros, and it took time away from his other gym, which had a much more enticing clientele.
Settling on the weightlifting bar, Jack aligned some of the larger free weights and lay down underneath it, preparing to lift.
As he was about to attempt his first lift, he heard someone run over to halt his actions. "Hey, buddy, don't attempt that kind of weight without a spotter."
Jack sat up, annoyed by the intrusion as well as the assumption he couldn't manage on his own. "Don't 'hey buddy' me. I can do this—"
Looking up, he was mesmerized by the hottest, hardest six-pack he'd ever seen off the Internet.
"I don't want to be a pest, but it's not a good idea to…." The hard body stopped talking and rolled his lips inward, never taking his eyes off Jack. He swallowed and coughed. "You can strain a muscle if you're not careful, and I'd hate to see the bar fall on you."
Jack nodded, looking up and down the body standing over him, and licked his lips. "Thanks." This guy was the poster boy for men who were cut. Every damn part of his body looked like it was chiseled by a sculptor. He had more ripples than the ocean. "You look like you've been to a gym once or twice. I might be willing to take your advice."
The man raised an eyebrow and smirked. "I do like to work out. I already belonged to a gym near my home, but I was strongly encouraged to join this one when it opened."
"Hmm, I got the same strong encouragement from my boss. I gather you work in this building." Jack tried to get a line on this stranger. He saw the wedding band on his finger, but in Boston that could mean anything: married breeder, married homo, or putting off anyone searching for a permanent relationship. Anything was possible.
"I guess if I want to keep my job, it's worth changing gyms for part of the week. I still try to hit my old place on the way home each day," the hunk continued.
Jack huffed. "I'll probably do the same. I have some friends and others who would like to be friends at my regular place. Wouldn't want to disappoint anyone."
The hottie laughed. "We seem to be in a similar boat." He offered his hand and Jack shook it, feeling heat, wanting to sustain the contact. "I'm Rick, Rick Monroe."
"You certainly are."
Rick laughed and continued to shake hands vigorously. "And you?"
Jack snorted, feeling a bit off his game. "I'm Jack. Jack Randall. I work for Sutcliff and Simon Publishers on the thirtieth floor."
"I work for M. J. Trust and Associates."
Jack dropped his hand, trying to keep from sounding too shocked. "You work for an accounting firm?"
"Yep. I'm a CPA with a pretty good client list."
Jack began to question his initial reaction. Sure, some guys were straight but had a willingness to play. The accounting type, though… his gay radar never went off for them. Hell, if he'd ever had an accountant who looked like Rick, he sure as shit wouldn't get any financial business accomplished when they met.
"Lay down. I didn't mean to get your routine off track." Rick stood behind Jack, prepared to spot the bar as he lifted.
"You definitely did not get me off track." Jack reclined on the bench, and despite his desire to focus on the bar, all he could see were Rick's sapphire-blue eyes gazing down at him, his sweaty mop of light brown hair sticking to his forehead.
Blinking, Jack began to raise the bar, not wanting to embarrass himself. He was able to complete ten lifts safely with Rick hovering and egging him on.
"Nice job. You do that really well."
Jack smirked. "I've been working out at my other gym for as long as I can remember."
"Can you spot me?"
"Nothing would make me happier." Jack was hoping Rick was following his underlying meaning. Maybe this new health club wouldn't be as dull as he had first thought. Not only did he meet a hottie on the first day, but the guy was nice.
"Thanks." Rick added another twenty-five pounds to each side of the bar and lay on the bench below. "Ready."
"Absolutely." Jack drew out the word, hoping to get a sign from his new exercise buddy indicating a much closer body connection would be part of the plan after their workouts.
Rick immediately started his lifts. He lowered and raised the heavily weighted bar twenty times, and with Jack's help rested it safely back on the stand above the bench.
"Pretty damn impressive," Jack drawled. It was time to get what he'd wanted ever since he first caught sight of Rick. "I like your style. Care to further this discussion in the steam room?"
"I've been working out for years." Rick smiled and Jack felt his cock react. "Sure, I could use a little steam to ease the pull before I shower."
Bingo! This was his chance. It was obvious that the hot accountant was just as interested in him, and he wasn't going to fuck it up. Jack furthered his teasing enticements, enjoying the play on words. "I can tell you work out regularly. You have very well-defined muscles."
Rick shrugged as he started to walk toward the locker room. "Yeah, I guess. My wife seems to like them."