By: Heidi Cullinan | Other books by Heidi Cullinan
Marie Sexton | Other books by Marie Sexton
Published By: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Published: Mar 12, 2013
ISBN # 9781619214668
Marie Sexton | Other books by Marie Sexton
Published By: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Published: Mar 12, 2013
ISBN # 9781619214668
Word Count: 67,154
Available in: Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat, Rocket
DescriptionSometimes family chooses you.
How does a man get to be forty without knowing whether he’s gay? That’s a question Vince Fierro is almost afraid to answer. If he is gay, it’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, he can’t help but wonder if he’s been playing for the wrong team.
There’s only one way to settle it, once and for all—head for Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.
Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek to the sultry strains of Coltrane, Trey finds himself wanting to help Vinnie figure things out—no promises, and no sex.
It seems like a simple plan, until their “no-sex” night turns into the best date of their lives and forges a connection that complicates everything.
Warning: This book deals with alcoholism, broken promises, and overbearing little sisters.
Reader Rating: (27 Ratings)
Excerpt:Copyright © 2012 Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
The truth about Vincent Fierro’s sexual orientation came to him as he lay underneath a client’s sink, de-clogging onion skins from a busted garbage disposal in a two-bedroom condo on Aldine. I wonder, he mused, if maybe I’m gay.
The thought made him jerk his head back against the sink trap hard enough to give him a goose egg, and he swore under his breath as he tried to push the alarming idea away and focus on the job at hand. Though the job was tedious, it was uncomplicated, and no sooner had he dismissed the dark little thought it was back again.
It was stupid. Vince knew he wasn’t gay.
He blamed the onion fumes and his rumbling stomach, imagining them tangling with the knowledge he hadn’t had a date in a month and hadn’t been laid since Cara Paglia had taken him home to cheer him up after his last divorce, which had been in October. It had been too long since he’d given the old boy a ride, so long that answering a call for a gay married couple made him think for one idiot second that maybe that was his problem, why he had broken his mama’s heart with divorce number three. That maybe his problem was that he was looking in the wrong pasture.
Vince rolled his eyes at himself and pulled out more onion goop. It was middle age, that’s what it was. It was his sister-in-law the beautician suggesting at dinner the night before that he let her start coloring and highlighting his hair now while the gray was just barely noticeable. It was realizing a couple days a week at the gym and walking from Emilio’s to his brother’s house every other Sunday wasn’t enough to keep his three-year-old niece from asking if she could rest her head on his “nice squishy tummy” while they watched Tangled for the fiftieth time. It was finding out kids born the year he graduated high school were now legal to drink. It was his latest ex-wife leaving him for a twenty-eight-year-old.
It was not because he was gay. Because Vince wasn’t gay. You didn’t marry three women and sleep with how many others and then decide—with your head under a sink and your eyes stinging of onion—that since you were thirty-eight and single you must be gay. Sex with another man wasn’t just some random idea to try on when you’d gone through everything else.
Of course the little devil in the back of his mind had to whisper, It isn’t exactly a random idea, now, is it, Vinnie?
Clearing his throat and mentally drop-kicking the devil back to the rock he lived under, Vince pulled the last of the onion muck out of the housing, wiped his hands on a towel and aimed his flashlight at the naked unit. His brain was blissfully occupied now with assessing rings and seals, and he grimaced as he saw both the blade and the hopper would need to be replaced. Given the unit itself was almost old enough to drink, they’d be better off getting a new one. Pushing himself out from inside the cupboard, Vince adjusted his T-shirt and followed the sound of voices down the hall to give his clients the news. He stopped outside the closed door to the home office, however, caught up in the hushed tones of their conversation.
“—feel so stupid. Why do onion skins clog a sink? Isn’t that what a garbage disposal is for?”
“It doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s just old. Maybe the new ones can take it no problem. Don’t beat yourself up, sweetheart.”
“We don’t have the money for this, Kyle. Not with me laid off. God, but I wish—” The speaker broke off, and Vince thought he caught a muffled sigh.
“Shh. Hush. It’s going to be all right. You’re going to get another job. And if we don’t replace the disposal right away, then we’ll just do without for a little while.”
“That’s all we’re doing, living without. And it’s all my fault—”
The first man was quite clearly near tears, but Kyle only got calmer and gentler the more upset his partner became. “It is not your fault. It’s the slimy sub-prime mortgagers and those assholes who made trading their s**t a game who started this.”
“I should never have switched jobs. Never. If I’d stayed at First Union, I’d have seniority, and I’d still have a job.”
“Bill, stop. You’re making yourself crazy over a clogged sink.”
“That’s what I feel like! A clogged man.” Vince heard the speaker choke back a sob before adding in an angry whisper, “I don’t know what the f**k you still see in me. I wouldn’t even blame you if you went off with some hot young thing with healthy self-esteem, a full head of hair and a job.”
“If he had good health-insurance benefits and a low-mileage vehicle, I might be tempted.” On the other side of the door, Vince imagined Kyle lifting the other man’s chin and staring him in the face as he spoke. “Honey, I know this is rough. And I know damn well I’d be the same kind of wreck if it’d been me laid off for eighteen months. But you have to stop beating yourself up. You didn’t break the garbage disposal. It just broke. You didn’t make a bad move on your job. You just got screwed. And I don’t care if you lose every hair on your head and gain twenty pounds. I love you, I married you, and you’re going to have to work a lot harder than this to get rid of me.”
No more sounds came from the room into the hallway except the occasional soft smack of lips parting and reuniting at a new angle. Vincent slipped quietly back to the kitchen, where he leaned on the wall next to the fridge and shut his eyes against the strange ache inside him.
That. He wanted that. Even as he reassured himself that was just a healthy relationship he’d heard, not a magical gay relationship, he couldn’t stop the deeper, more aching whisper from rising up inside him. I want a man to treat me like that.
Pushing the thought away in a panic, he headed back down the hallway, louder this time, clearing his throat and rapping smartly on the wood. The taller blond man opened it, moving to shield his partner from view as he blew his nose noisily into a tissue. “Finished already?”
Vince cleared his throat a second time. “Here’s the deal. It’s an old unit. I’m not gonna lie. A good chunk of the guts are dull or near to useless. The clog didn’t help much, but all it did was point out trouble that was already there.”
The man grimaced. “I see. So we need a new unit.”
“Well, that’s the thing.” Vince rubbed the back of his neck. “It’d be best, yeah. But if you wanted, you could limp this along a bit longer, if you were careful. I can jimmy the blade a bit, buy you time. It’d mean you’d be putting a lot of junk you’d normally send down the disposal into the trash instead until you replaced it. No onion skins. No potato peels or carrot shreds. But soggy cereal, pasta—anything that isn’t stringy or sticky or hard—would be okay in small batches and with a lot of water. Give it extra time to chop, ’cause it’ll need it. And in the meantime, you can save up for what you want. Do some research on how powerful you want it and then watch for a sale. I’ll leave some names for brands to watch for and ones to avoid. When you get what you want, give us a call and we’ll install it.”
The blond man didn’t answer right away, meeting Vince’s gaze instead as he took it all in. A silent conversation seemed to follow.
Heard us, did you?
Yep. Just trying to help. Know what it’s like.
And you don’t mind that we’re gay, big burly Italian boy like you?
Vince shrugged and averted his eyes.
“Thank you,” the man said. “I believe we’ll take your advice and limp along until we can save up. That was very thoughtful of you to suggest such a plan.”
“Not a problem.” Vince jerked his head toward the kitchen. “I’ll clean up and do a quick job on the blade. You want to put a cake pan or something under it for tonight. It shouldn’t leak, but if it does, that means you start shopping right now.”
“I will,” the man promised.
Vince felt good about himself for helping people in a tight spot, trying not to think of all the crazy s**t he kept trying to think of instead. He was doing really well all the way up until he was scribbling brand names on the back of a business card and the blond man came into the kitchen holding out an envelope. “I want you to have these. They’re vouchers for tickets to a theater I manage down on Broadway.”
Vince held up a hand in protest. “You don’t have to do that.”
“I do.” The man smiled. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am. I know you heard us talking about money. And I also know you haven’t so much as batted an eye at the fact that we’re gay men.”
“Well, we are in Lakeview,” Vince said, voice heavy with meaning, and hoped he didn’t have to finish the rest of that sentence.
“You’d be surprised.” He thrust the tickets at Vince again. “Please. They’re good anytime from now until the rest of the year. Consider them a token of my sincere appreciation. And stop by the office if you use them. I’ll make sure you get good seats and complimentary drinks for the night.”
Not knowing what else to do, Vince took the envelope with a gruff nod.
The man caught his hand and squeezed it gently. “I hope someday someone gives you the kind of lift you gave me and my husband tonight. And be sure of it, I’ll be using Parino Brothers Plumbing from now on.”
Vince escaped shortly after that, leaving his card and a bill and accepting a check and two enthusiastic handshakes before heading back to the van. The strange flush of emotions and potential self-discoveries went back to the shop with him, and they followed him home as well, lingering through his solitary meal, a soak in the tub and all the way through two glasses of brandy.
Reader Reviews (7)
Submitted By: tonihip on Jan 31, 2014This story had an original theme for males in this day and age, because our main characters are two men who want to take their physical relationship very very slowly! In many ways they are both M/M virgins. We get both POVs of Vince and Trey which wasn't confusing because they are very different people who are looking for love and security. 262 pages.
Submitted By: rylliar on Jan 19, 2014I really loved this story about two characters coming together, both in very different stages in their life. One, a multi-divorced older man, is struggling with new feelings of homosexuality and the possible ramifications with his family if he were to come out. The other, a much younger but out gay man, struggles with family issues of his own. I loved how the two stories were interwoven; a real "slice of life" story. Must read!
Submitted By: lisa44837 on Jan 4, 2014I really liked how Vinnie & Trey took their time to get to know each other & be sure before actually having sex with each other. I felt like that added a lot of depth to their romance. Vinnie was such a sweet guy, he really deserved to have his chance to be happy with himself & his partner. And poor Trey . . . working so hard to support his family & put himself through college. This was a sweet read.
Submitted By: hooked on Jan 1, 2014Very nice story
Submitted By: trix on Jan 1, 2014Very intense themes of family issues are dealt with here, but it's also sweet thanks to the slow-burning romance. It's refreshing to see an m/m story where the leads are more concerned with mutual pleasure than the definition of certain sex acts in a relationship. This could be a good starter story for an m/m newbie, if angst isn't a red flag.
Submitted By: youngromancelover on May 15, 2013I really liked this book, it was loving , sad and happy. a good storyline & hot characters. Also loved the scene between Kyle and his partner that was a aww moment there.
Submitted By: karenminfl on Apr 25, 2013This is a great story. Vinnie has an epiphany while working under a sick. I love that part. But it leaves him just a bit confused and shaken. His sister give him some practical advise. And just when he thinks he's wrong there is Trey. Trey is so gentle and seems to know just what Vinnie needs. He's even willing to put up with moving slow and quiet. But when Trey faces a crisis Vinnie decides it's time to call on his big Italian family come to his aid and then means being honest.