Somewhat like Jake, in my college romance Screwups, I spent the first years of college studying and earning high grades. I wasn’t a business major—the very thought of it gave me hives—but I had a high GPA and almost no friends. Then I moved into Eaton House.
Okay, so I can’t really blame Eaton House for my grades plummeting. There were plenty of students living in that dorm who kept their grades up. But I wasn’t one of them. The minute I discovered how much fun having friends was, it was all over. Things were a little more complicated than the scenario I painted in Screwups. For one thing, I discovered Eaton House through a guy I dated briefly, years before I moved in. I took to it instantly and began spending all of my time there, sleeping in my friend’s room until we broke up, and then on the floor in whoever else’s room I could manage after that.
In other words, I made a pest of myself. But I solved that problem eventually by moving in, so I had a room of my own.
I was more like Danny than Jake, in most ways. I did take some art classes and participated in some of the nude modeling sessions in the 2nd floor lounge—both as an artist and as a model—but I was a music major studying piano, so I was more likely to be found playing the baby grand we had up there.
I quickly attached myself to the gaming crowd upstairs, and relocated to their wing. We didn’t actually play Dungeons & Dragons more than once. But we had weekly games of Gamma World, Star Wars, Call of Cthulhu, and some my friends made up. At one time, I counted six weekly roleplaying games I was involved in! Is it any wonder I couldn’t find time to study?
The other thing about our dorm was that it was hot in there. And I don’t mean in a sexy way (though it was that, too). The thermostats were kept at a steady 75 degrees, and we weren’t allowed to adjust them. Like Danny, I never wore any clothing in the dorm except shorts. (On a side note, I also shared his penchant for walking on the furniture, rather than the floors. I no longer remember why.) If they’d allowed me to run around naked, I would have.
In fact, considering how shy I’d been when I first entered college, my descent into decadence was rather shocking. My friends and I were responsible for nude pizza parties, nude “saunas” in the bathrooms (after we’d turned all the showers on full blast), towel stealing, streaking, skinny dipping, nude snow angels, you name it. My shining moment—keeping in mind that I never went through frat hazing—was streaking through the dorm covered from neck to ankles in marshmallow fluff.
Some might consider this undignified. But I wore that fluff with pride. And it got me laid.
Oh, yeah. There was sex, too. But this post has already gone on too long. Let’s just say it was a miracle I managed to get to classes at all. But somehow I managed to graduate with a Music Theory Major. I can’t say it’s done me much good in the “real world,” but I wouldn’t trade those college years for anything. Like Jake, I was able to break out of my shell and become comfortable in my own skin.
Then, twenty years later, it gave me a ton of material for a novel!
In 1996, Jake Stewart is starting his third year at the University of New Hampshire. Even as a successful business major, he is absolutely miserable. Not only is Jake pursuing a field he hates when he’d rather study art, he is utterly terrified of what will happen if his father finds out he’s gay. When he finally gets up the courage to move into the creative arts dorm on campus, his new roommate, Danny, is openly gay—and there’s no denying the attraction between them.
Danny Sullivan has been out since high school, and he appears comfortable with his sexuality. But something happened in Danny’s past—something that gives him nightmares he refuses to talk about. Unknown to Jake, the way he mistreated his friend, Tom Langois, when Tom came out to him in high school, is mild compared to the way someone very much like Jake treated Danny.
It may be too late to fix the mess Jake made with Tom, but if Jake wants to be with Danny, he’s going to have to fix the mess made by another closeted jock he’s never even met.
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