From the author of Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir and co-author of the Romentics™ series of gay romance novels comes a sexy new story of values, family, love, big hits, big choices, big plays, and big men.
Division I college football coach Peyton Stone has a secret. It’s not so much that he’s gay. It’s that he’s fallen in love with his older Iraq-War-vet-turned-starting-
For each, the stakes are high: bowls, limelight, press, and the NFL. But Peyton and Brady find time during the season to carve out their own private and sexy refuge. Only jealous whispers force the head coach to see what he didn’t want to see and he tears the two apart. It’s only when Brady’s war injuries threaten his health that Peyton reluctantly returns to the team — under cover! The two concoct a plan to pass off Peyton as Brady at the bowl game, thereby preserving Brady’s health and perhaps earning a national championship. Will anyone notice the difference? Does anyone really want to? Most of all, can the pair’s sense of honor outlast the deception?
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After loading the Silverado with marinated chicken, beer, wine, chips, and chocolate, Peyton drove out of Manchester with the distinct feeling that he and Brady had looted from the town everything worth taking.
Brady dozed in the passenger seat. Every few minutes, Peyton stole a glance at Brady’s face. Each time he felt the thrill of the forbidden. As if, finally, he was seeing Brady unmasked. The real human being behind the tinted Plexiglas shield he wore during the game. Peyton picked out all the places he would kiss later: the chin, the dimples, the forehead, and the eyes. He could scarcely wait.
After ninety minutes’ drive, Peyton pulled off the highway on to a rutted dirt track that led across a fallow field.
Brady finally woke and asked in a groggy tone, “You kidnapping me? Gonna keep me in the cellar, like the gimp?”
“Star quarterback gone missing,” Brady said, using his television announcer voice. “Quarterbacks coach is a person of interest.”
“I’d do it,” Peyton said. I’d do anything to keep you.
After a few hundred yards, the field gave way to forest. They passed an outhouse before they reached Peyton’s refuge: a back cabin he rented from a very nice straight woman. She wasn’t much of a football fan, but she was glad for the extra income since her husband died.
The little cabin had a secondary fuel stove and kerosene lights alongside the electric, in case the power went out. The stone hearth was big enough to walk into. A long sleeping loft was perched over a kitchen, where the cast-iron wood-burning stove that looked like some medieval torture device took up much of the floor space. There was no cell phone service; they had to go up on the hill to get a signal. No TV. No radio. No internet. Just an old guitar, a fishing rod, a scatter of books, and a handful of board games.
“It’s not much of a dungeon,” Peyton apologized. “Coach’s salary only goes so far.”
“I love it,” said Brady.
While Peyton unloaded the Silverado (cheap wine, chicken, marshmallows for the fire), Brady explored the property. Peyton found him on the riverbank behind the house. Brady grinned, stripped naked, and jumped in. He shrieked at the top of his lungs.
Peyton just smiled. The nearest neighbor—his landlord—was miles away. They were in their own world.
“I’ll get you a towel,” Peyton said, but when he brought it back, Brady pulled him into the river, clothes and all.
Afterward, stark naked, Peyton chopped wood and Brady collected kindling from the surrounding woods. It was only then that Peyton discovered he had no matches. “Dammit,” he cried. “Dammit. I could have sworn… This ruins everything.”
“I forgot the damn matches.”
“We could run out to the store…”
“It’s like twenty-five minutes away. Last thing I want is to get behind the wheel again. I don’t even want to get dressed. I want to be here with you.”
Wearing nothing but his dog tags, Brady emerged from the woods. He was carrying an armload of kindling and had smudged mud on his face like warpaint. He dumped the wood at Peyton’s feet like an obedient dog. “Never fear,” he said. “Your hero is here.”
Dousing the kindling with a cup of kerosene, Brady chipped a spark from the rocks around the fire pit. The fire caught and they fed its relentless appetite until the blaze was big enough to dry the river’s damp out of their bones. They made love by the fire pit on an old blanket.
Peyton grilled chicken over the hot coals and afterward melted marshmallows on sticks. They fed each other s’mores until Brady’s lips tasted of chicken grease and his breath was sugar and chocolate. Brady picked up the guitar and sang a deep, unpolished rendition of Wild Horses and a rocking version of Jolene.
The win over the Swarm? Peyton hardly remembered it.
The final score? No idea.
The game seemed like something from a history class that happened a thousand years ago but was of no consequence in the present time.
Scott D. Pomfret is author of the forthcoming novels The Second Half (Lethe Press June 2016), Only Say the Word (Ninestar Press May 16, 2016), The Hunger Man (Ninestar Press June 2016), and the recently released collection of short stories You Are the One (Ninestar Press April 4, 2016). Past published works include Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir (Arcade 2008), the Romentics-brand gay romance novels (LooseID Press), the Q Guide to Wine and Cocktails, and dozens of short stories published in, among other venues, Post Road, New Orleans Review, Fiction International, and Fourteen Hills. Scott is lucky to be able to write from his tiny Boston apartment and even tinier Provincetown beach shack, which he shares with his partner of fifteen years, Scott Whittier.