eBook Details


Betting on Forever

Series: The Breakfast Club , Book 2.0
By: Felice Stevens | Other books by Felice Stevens
Published By: Felice Stevens
Published: Nov 16, 2015
ISBN # e000000000387
Word Count: 77,000
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Eligible Price: $4.99

Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.mobi), Epub

Categories: Romance>LGBTQ>Gay Romance>Contemporary


Betting on Forever (The Breakfast Club) by Felice Stevens - Romance>LGBTQ>Gay eBook

A weekend fling in Atlantic City couldn’t be more out of socially shy Zach Cohen’s comfort zone, but a bet with his best friends forces him to put aside the humiliation he’s hidden for years, stepping away from his computer screens and on-line world. When he meets Sam Stein, despite their spark, Zach expects nothing more than a night of passion and a kiss goodbye. Yet weeks later, he can’t keep the man out of his head.

After a split second decision with tragic results ends his twenty year police career at the same time his relationship falls apart, Sam Stein is drifting through life. At his best friend’s urging he agrees to a trip to Atlantic City to clear his head. What Sam doesn’t plan on is meeting Zach Cohen, whose sweet nature and honesty has him thinking maybe he could move forward, until Zach leaves him without explanation, reinforcing Sam’s belief that people can’t be trusted.

Well-meaning friends refuse to let Zach and Sam hide from each other, forcing them to realize their weekend is much more than a one night stand. Before that can happen, Zach must come to terms with his past and stand up for his own independence, while Sam has to learn to take a chance and believe in himself and people again. All bets are off when dreams become reality and forever doesn’t seem to be long enough
Reader Rating:   3.9 starstarstarstar (7 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating:   liplipliplip
HELL COULDN’T be any worse than traveling southbound on the Garden State Parkway in the summer. The only blessing for Zach Cohen was that someone else was be- hind the wheel. It was nice of the sponsors of the con- vention to send a driver for him, saving him the hassle of driving himself.
He blinked against the glare of the late afternoon sun streaming in hot and bright through the car windows; the new contacts he got specifically for this weekend still gave him trouble, but after all these years of wearing glasses, he decided to give them a try again. This was going to be a weekend of change for him, and Zach figured he’d remake himself from the outside as well as the inside. The old him wasn’t doing so well.
His phone pinged with a text from his best friend, Marcus.
Knock ’em dead. And remember, go crazy and let loose. Atlantic City is like Vegas—what happens there, stays there.
He should be so lucky, Zach thought morosely, staring out the car window at the endless winding ribbon of cars. Mentally he slapped himself, remembering yesterday’s conversation at breakfast.
He and his two friends Julian and Marcus and Julian’s boyfriend Nick had met in their usual breakfast place in the city, though it was more like brunch by the time they all arrived.
“Zach, are you ready for tomorrow and A.C.?” Marcus signaled the waiter with a circle of fingers to bring the three of them their usual mimosas and a beer for Nick. “Man, I’d love to be going to a convention there in the summer. Nothing but sun, sand, and Speedos.”
“Have you depleted all the men in Manhattan that you need to expand to cruising beach tourists in Jersey now, Marcus?” Julian quirked a brow and grinned at both him and Marcus. “Besides, Zach is going there for business, not pleasure.”
Zach opened his mouth, but as usual Marcus cut him off. “Pffft. Bullshit. Zach needs to go have some fun and get laid.”
“That’s your answer to everything, but it doesn’t mean it’s right for Zach,” argued Julian. Nick remained quiet; he’d been with Julian long enough now to understand the dynamics of the different friendships in the group.
“Now that you’re in a relationship, you think that’s the best thing for everyone, but what if he doesn’t want one? What if—”
“Umm, hello. Sitting right here.” Zach leaned into the table and waved his hands in between the two battling best friends. “Nice that you both think you need to plan my weekend and my sex life for me, but I don’t need your help.” Bad enough he had his mother giving him dating
advice, the last thing he needed was interference from his friends on that front.
Regret glimmered in Julian’s eyes. “Sorry. He”—Ju- lian pointed to Marcus—“gets me riled up. We’re in our thirties, not twenty-one, fresh out of college, and looking for hook-up after hook-up.”
“Not everyone is made for monogamy and a relation- ship, Juli. You found yours, and I’m glad for you and Nick, but don’t shove it down the rest of our throats like it’s the only way to be happy. Some of us are perfectly satisfied the way we are—taking care of number one.” Marcus sipped his drink and shrugged. “I like my men the way I like Skittles; in every color of the rainbow. Besides,”—his eyes gleamed, and Zach had a sinking suspicion whatev- er was going to come out of his friend’s mouth would be something outrageous—“if Zach is going to Atlantic City, we should have a bet of some kind.”
“I don’t gamble,” said Julian. He braced his elbows on the table. “The business is getting started, and I won’t throw away money on some stupid play of the cards.”
“You were more fun before you started acting like an old married lady.” From years of experience with Mar- cus’s shenanigans, the look on his face spelled trouble for Zach. “I wasn’t talking to you anyway. I meant Zach.”
He had to hand it to his friend. No matter it was prob- ably completely outrageous and probably involved sex toys he’d never heard of, against his better judgment Zach couldn’t help but be intrigued.
“I’ll probably regret this later, but what were you
thinking?” asked Zach, and heard Julian’s groan of frus- tration, as well as Nick’s laughter.
“Now why are you encouraging him? You should know better.”
Marcus grinned at Zach with the devil in his eyes, and it was like they were back in middle school again. Wild, beautiful, and crazy; Zach couldn’t remember a time in his life without Marcus by his side. They’d known each other since they were babies and were the brothers nei- ther one ever had.
“Over the years I’ve learned to humor Marcus, other- wise he’ll be after me like a dog with a bone.” Zach ges- tured with his hand. “Come on, spill it. What’s going on in that demented little mind of yours?”
“You wound me.” Marcus pretended to be offended, but a sly smile touched his lips, and Zach braced him- self. “It’s simple. You’re going to a place known for letting loose and having fun. No one knows you there, since all your work is behind that little screen.”
“So what’s the bet?” Intrigued, Zach ignored Julian’s muttering.
“Meet a guy and get his number, or you owe me a hun- dred dollars.”
Nick snorted. “That’s boring, especially for you, Mar- cus.” He thought for a moment; then his eyes sparked with an evil light. “I’ve got something better.”
“Oh God. Look out.” Julian put his head in his hands. “When he gets that look in his, eyes you’re in trouble.”
Zach watched as Nick slung his arm around Julian’s
neck, pulling him in for a quick hug. “Don’t be scared, babe. It’s so outrageous probably neither of them will go for it. It’s just too funny.”
It seemed each of his friends had an opinion on how he should live his life. Eyeing Julian across the table, watch- ing him interact so lovingly with Nick, a pang of longing hit Zach hard. What would it be like to love and be loved like that? But Julian and Nick, separated for so many years, had fought long and hard to get to this place. Zach wasn’t the kind of man anyone fought for. He was the one people barely remembered.
“Go on, Nick,” Zach prodded. “I’m open to hearing what you have in mind. Like you said, it doesn’t mean I have to go for it.”
Ignoring Julian’s glare, Nick folded his arms, his gaze flickering between Zach and Marcus. “Well, the thing about bets is that they should always be extreme on both sides. So betting that you can’t get a guy’s phone number is boring because Zach could do that. There’s no fun in it. Why not bet instead on Zach picking a guy up and having a fling with him for the weekend.”
Julian sputtered. “That’s ridiculous.”
“Wait a minute, Julian. Let Nick talk.” Zach couldn’t help it. He wanted to hear more of what Nick had to say.
“At least Zach will have a good time. But here’s where the good part comes in.” Nick’s eyes danced with laughter. “The other half of the bet revolves around whether you succeed or fail. If Zach fails, he has to let us fix him up every weekend for three months. Knowing how much he
hates clubbing and dating, it’s a pretty good incentive to win.”
“You have an evil mind, Nick. I knew I liked you.” Mar- cus grinned and drank his mimosa.
“Hold on hotshot, I’m not finished. If Zach wins and has his sex-filled weekend?” Nick leaned back and clasped his hands behind his head. “You, my man, have to remain celibate for three months.”
Julian sat silent for a moment, then whooped with laughter while Marcus spit his drink out, coughing his out- rage. “What? Are you fucking kidding me? Three months? I haven’t gone without a guy for three days since before college.” With disgust, he peered into his empty glass and called the waiter over for a refill. “Besides, it’s stupid. Ev- eryone knows, Zach would never agree to that. He’s too nice and not into flings. He’d lose and then be forced to come to the club, which he hates.”
Marcus’s words stung. “Don’t you think I can do it? Or is it that you don’t think anyone will want me?”
“Don’t be a schmuck.” Marcus’s eyes hardened. “Of course you can, but you believe in true love, not hook- ups.” Marcus made little quote signs with his fingers and smirked.
“You make love sound like a disease instead of some- thing people all over the world hope for.”
“Not everyone. And since when did you become inter- ested in meeting guys and having random sex? That’s not who you are.” Zach winced at Marcus’s harsh voice.
Given that Zach wasn’t so sure he knew who he was
himself, why Marcus appointed himself knower of all things Zach Cohen was a mystery.
Zach considered Marcus, who was busy wiping his mouth. “Maybe I’ll surprise you.”
Sulking in his chair, Marcus huffed. “This is payback for when we were kids and I’d always get to the ice cream truck first, isn’t it?” He waited for the waiter to set the fresh drinks down. “All these years you waited for the right time and place to get your revenge.”
“You’re ridiculous.”
“I am?” Marcus scoffed and gazed at him with specu- lative eyes. “I’ve never pretended to be anyone other than who I am. Can you say the same?”
Zach had no answer. What was he supposed to say— that he was tired of being a nobody? But if he stopped, would anyone even notice?
These thoughts and more ran through his mind the next day during the ride to Atlantic City. There were nights he wouldn’t have minded a simple hook-up, if only to hold someone close in the dark. He wanted to be kissed by a lover. Not that he hadn’t been kissed by various men, but the rapid press of lips and hurried plunge of some man’s tongue in his mouth as a prelude to sex hardly passed for what Zach craved. He ached for hard, deep kisses; those smutty, filthy, feel-it-deep-in-your-balls type kisses that would leave you breathless for hours.
He’d never had them, but he knew they existed. How- ever—Zach shifted in his seat as the hotel towers along the Boardwalk came into view—finding someone to trust
not only your body with but also your heart had proved elusive for him. The affair with Nathan had made trust- ing another person with his heart an almost impossible dream.
Hiding away in his basement, talking to men online had become his norm. Zach knew he had a problem. Years of put-downs and humiliation will do that; when you’ve been told no one would want you, that you’re boring and nothing special, eventually you believe it.
And maybe Marcus was right. Not everyone was des- tined for the happily-ever-after life of love; he’d thought he’d found his soul mate in Nathan, but had been soundly kicked in the teeth by his cruel, parting shot.
“You’re just...not there. Sometimes I forget you’re even in the room when we’re together. I need someone to have fun with, not a goldfish swimming around in a bowl, staring at me.”
Hurt beyond belief, Zach had no idea Nathan har- bored such resentment toward him.
“Why did you stay with me?” Immediately Zach re- gretted asking.
“You give good head, and you were always there whenever I wanted to get laid.” Nathan had hefted his backpack over his shoulder. “I’d be an idiot to turn it down.”
There were other, more insidious ways Nathan had hurt him, imprinting themselves like a permanent scar on his heart, but those Zach buried deep, incapable of letting the hurt and humiliation see the light. He’d never told
anyone the extent of his shame.
And since then, he’d allowed himself at the most a few
dates with a man before moving on, unwilling to risk get- ting close. By cutting off intimacy, there was little chance of getting hurt again. At least he was the one in charge. Maybe Julian and Nick were the anomaly, and Marcus’s single life was the way to live.
The car pulled into the curving drive in front of the Tropicana Hotel on the Boardwalk, and Zach steeled him- self to face the crowds. He’d accepted the invitation to the Next Big App conference to award the winner of their app design contest the prize, also agreeing to moderate several panel discussions. Normally he hated these social events; they’d always made him feel awkward and inept, but the promise he made to himself—that this weekend he was going to try and be a different man—bolstered his resolve to push forward and transform himself from com- puter geek to a more self-confident Zach.
After all the years spent watching Marcus and Ju- lian, Zach had the behavior well memorized. He’d spent his youth in Marcus’s domineering shadow, crippled by shyness and inadequacy. It didn’t matter to Zach that his mother told him how smart he was, and how proud his father would’ve been that he’d skipped two grades and would graduate high school at sixteen. Nothing could change the nerdy little kid with glasses; the one who al- ways knew the answer to the hardest math problem, but not how to get picked for teams at gym.
Marcus could only help him so much.
It was time to unveil a new and improved Zach, some- one who wouldn’t skirt the after-dinner drinks and get-to- gethers in the bar. It would be safe here; no one knew the real him, and he could easily pretend to be someone else. A man confident and in control. All he needed was the balls to pull it off.
He headed to the check-in desk, crossing the elegant lobby decorated in gilt and crystals, all abuzz with fam- ilies and couples, some in dinner clothes. Checking his watch, Zach found it was close to six in the evening; the ride from the city had been interminable, and he had a scant half hour before the pre-dinner meet-and-greet. With his printed confirmation in hand, Zach approached the young man behind the desk, who flashed him a prac- ticed, bright smile.
“Good evening, sir. Checking in?”
“Yes. I’m with the conference.”
“Excellent.” All it took was a few taps on the screen,
and Zach was checked in and upgraded to a small suite. A pleasant surprise.
“Do you need help with your luggage?”
Zach eyed his garment bag and small carry-on and gave the clerk a smile. “I’m fine, thanks. These design con- ferences are great ’cause I never have to dress up.”
The young man met Zach’s stare, his engaging smile no longer forced, its warmth setting off the amber streaks glowing in his deep brown eyes. He handed Zach the card- key in its envelope. “Sometimes it’s nice to get dressed up, especially when you have someone special to share your
time with.”
Well, damn. Flustered by the man’s flirting, Zach re-
treated. “Uh, thanks.” Averting his eyes, he fumbled with the keycard, finally pocketing it, and hastened to the el- evator, wheeling the small carry-on behind him. Within minutes the elevator soared upward, leaving his stomach and nerves down below.
Pressed for time, Zach had no chance to appreciate ei- ther the sweeping view of the hotels in the rapidly advanc- ing twilight over the Atlantic Ocean, nor the suite’s ameni- ties if he didn’t want to be late for the cocktail socializing. It took only a few minutes to change into a sky-blue silk shirt and light khaki pants. One thing about having a fash- ion designer for a best friend: Zach never needed to worry about his wardrobe. No matter how hard or loud he pro- tested, every season Julian sent him an entire wardrobe of clothing. The silken fabric of the shirt whispered like air, sensuous against his skin.
Maybe Julian was right in the sense that clothes could somehow empower a person. After spending most of his days slouching around in jeans and tee shirts or ratty sweaters, dressing in this silky-smooth shirt bolstered his confidence for the bet. He no longer thought Nick’s idea was silly, and instead, Zach approached the evening with detachment and a sense of purpose.
The real Zachary Cohen, who enjoyed spending his nights lying on the sofa with Chinese takeout, watching old movies with his overprotective mother hovering in the background, would be replaced with a coolly confident,
self-assured Zach. A Zach who loved the New York City nightlife and belonged at a place like Sparks. From his friendship with Marcus and Julian, Zach could’ve pro- duced a National Geographic Special on the mating ritu- als of New York City gay men on the prowl. He sprayed on some cologne, and after only the slightest hesitation, took condoms and a small bottle of lube from his suitcase and put them in the night table drawer.
Satisfied with his overall transformation, Zach slipped the cardkey in his wallet and left the room. The ride in that bullet elevator to the third floor of the hotel where the reception was being held left him a bit queasy, and the carpet, patterned in a garish red, black and gold design made him dizzy. The buzz from the crowd only added to his unease, and Zach, who didn’t drink much, had never been happier to see a bar in his life.
“A double vodka on the rocks, please.”
“That bad, huh?”
Zach accepted the drink and, turning around, was
greeted by a bright smile in an extremely handsome, rug- ged face. The man’s hazel eyes reflected humor, warmth, and by the increasing intensity of his stare, desire.
Zach’s breath and heartbeat quickened. “Not anymore.”
Reader Reviews (5)
Submitted By: helpmaiden on Mar 29, 2016
Wonderful series
Submitted By: scorpgc@gmail.com on Jan 21, 2016
Very good sequel. I enjoyed getting into Zah's life and seeing the development of that character. Good to have main characters from the first book resurface, quite a bit actually! Looking forward to Marcus' story... ; )
Submitted By: boekenworm on Jan 10, 2016
Nice follow up on the first book. This time Zach is one of the main characters and it was very enjoyable to read his and Sam's story. I guess we will be getting Marcus story next?
Submitted By: karedwen on Jan 4, 2016
Really good book and well written. I love this serie.
Submitted By: loveshake4 on Dec 9, 2015
great book

Betting on Forever

By: Felice Stevens