Straight Shooter (Rear Entrance Video, #3)
This title is part of the Rear Entrance Video universe.
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This macho jock has a crooked little secret.
College hockey player Austin Puett is in trouble. Unless he starts treating his flamboyantly gay roommate with respect, he’ll lose his room and his job at Rear Entrance Video. But Austin’s got a not-so-straight secret of his own: nothing turns him on more than insults implying he’s gay—even though he’s definitely not!—and all his old coping methods have stopped working.
Pure desperation drives him to rent a Mischievous Pictures porn flick about straight men tricked into servicing Puck, a male dominant. Instead of letting off steam, though, it just leaves him craving more, more, more, and suddenly, Austin finds himself at Mischievous Pictures Studios for an audition. After all, you can be Gay For Pay and still be straight . . . right?
But meeting Liam Williams, the real person behind Puck, confuses Austin even more. Liam really seems to like him as a person, and Austin likes him back. And while Gay For Pay’s okay, what does it make Austin if he still wants Liam when the cameras aren’t rolling?
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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Austin hated playing goalie. Actually, when it came to the otherwise well-loved PE 11 floor hockey unit, Austin didn’t know if anybody in his school really liked being the goalie, but today it was him stuck in the helmet. He stomped around morosely in the net, drowning in too-big pads stinking of all the gym classes that had gone before.
Meanwhile, all his teammates ran free across the floor with sneakers squeaking and sticks clacking and not a single pad or helmet between them. Nothing burdened them but the red flags of their pinnies hanging out of their back pockets.
Being the goalie, Austin actually had to wear his pinny over his T-shirt. Fucking rank.
“Come on, come on,” he muttered, watching that asshole Timber Durston barrel right through the other team’s defence with the ball. How he wished that was him, soaking up the glory, scoring on the other team even though he was pretty positive the teacher wasn’t keeping score so much as making sure nobody snuck out the side door of the gym.
But no, Austin was here, on the empty half of the floor, standing around fucking useless, tapping his stick on the ground while Timber Durston showboated and everybody in pinnies gave him pats on the back and everybody in T-shirts glared jealously and then regrouped.
The ball dropped. The shouting and clacking and squeaking started up again. The teacher resumed her hawkeyed watch of the side door. Austin continued to stand around like an asshole, sweat dripping down his face inside the hot old helmet. Too much to ask that the side door be propped open to let some air in. Too much to ask that he didn’t have to wear this fucking helmet, be the only one in a fucking helmet, as if a little plastic ball was going to do the kind of damage a puck could. Fucking stupid, especially since nobody else had to wear one.
On the other hand, could be pretty great to see Timber Durston go down with a plastic ball–related brain injury . . .
“Austin!” one of the girls on his team shouted, and Austin looked up in time to see the crowd of his classmates now turned toward him, stampeding down the floor with Gene Tremblay at the head of the pack, shoulder to shoulder with Timber Durston, sticks cracking together as the ball skittered between them.
Austin blinked the sweat out of his eyes and hunkered down, spreading the surface of his body out. Left or right? High or low?
Why the fuck wasn’t Durston passing? He and Gene were knocking the ball back and forth between them like they were two kids playing fucking hot potato. Even with the helmet, Austin could see at least three openings on their team where Timber could get the ball away from the beeline it was making for the net, maybe even get it back into the other team’s defensive zone and out of Austin’s hair.
All Timber had to do was pass.
“Pass, damn it!” Austin yelled.
Well, somebody listened, but it sure as hell wasn’t Durston. As soon as Austin shouted, Gene shot the ball hard to Austin’s left and oh, shit Alison Greyeyes was right fucking there, nobody covering her, and tap went her stupid plastic stick, and Austin fell to his knees and shot his left foot out for all it was worth, but still the little plastic ball rolled happily into the net like this was a game of fucking minigolf and Austin was the windmill.
The stampede slowed. Alison’s teammates shouted encouragement while she fixed her ponytail.
Timber Durston, meanwhile, went straight for Austin. He was looking pretty pissed for the guy whose inability to pass had almost single-handedly cost their team the goal. Austin was about to say so when Timber beat him to the punch.
“Whose fucking team are you playing on, Austin?”
Oh, fuck you, Timber Durston. Austin ripped the sweltering helmet off his head. “Uh, yours, ya shithead?”
“Funny, because it looks to me like you just fucking gave that goal away to your boyfriend—”
“Austin! Timber!” the teacher snapped, rising from her seat to enter the fray. “One more word and I’m writing you both up.”
Austin’s face burned hot. Gene wasn’t looking at him, and he didn’t know if that made it better or worse. Alison had been the one to get the goal, but somehow he couldn’t bring himself to point that out aloud. Pussy.
Timber snarled and turned, and the teacher went back to her seat. Alison had retrieved the ball and was carrying it out for the next face-off, and Austin thought that was the end of it, was about to put his helmet back on, but then Timber cast a look over his shoulder and said under his breath, “Sweaty faggot.”
And what the hell did Austin do about it?
Here’s what Austin did about it: he popped a boner.
“Time to come out, Austin.”
Austin shot a look at his locked bedroom door, curled his lip in disgust, and returned to his biceps curls. He had nothing to say to any of his roommates right now, not even last-straight-man-standing Noah. And if Noah didn’t like it, he could put on his landlord panties and hand Austin his eviction notice, because otherwise Austin wasn’t doing shit.
“Seriously, Austin. Open the door.” This time, Noah’s knock was distinctly landlord-like.
Okay, so Austin wasn’t expecting things to get this serious this fast. He gulped, dropped his hand weight with a dangerously heavy-sounding thud, took a second to check that the thing hadn’t busted right through the floorboards, and finally clambered to his feet.
He still made sure he had his arms crossed and a suitably surly expression before the door opened. “What?” he barked when he and Noah finally came face-to-face for what felt like the first time since the big gay art show.
“You know what.” Noah gave him a dad face. “Can I come in?”
Austin didn’t make any move to get out of the way, ignoring the way Noah kept doing these abortive little trying-to-slip-around-you dekes. “Do you have to?”
“Well, I don’t want to have this conversation in front of Bobby—”
“Rob,” Austin corrected.
“—and I’m not sending him out for something that’s your fault, so it’s either in here, or on the lawn. Your pick.”
Austin rolled his eyes. “Fine.” He stepped aside, and Noah made his way into Austin’s room, shutting the door carefully behind him. “Does the door have to be closed?”
“Yes,” Noah said. “Now sit.”
Austin found himself plopping down onto his bed before he even had a chance to consider refusing. Damn those deeply ingrained be-a-team-player habits of his and the way they made him respond to certain tones of voice as obediently as a golden retriever.
Noah sat down too. “So it’s been two weeks.”
“You know damn well what since, Austin. Since Bobby came out.”
“Rob,” Austin insisted, but even he had to admit he sounded pretty halfhearted this time.
“Bobby. His name is Bobby now, and this is exactly the kind of shit I need to talk to you about.”
“So talk.” Austin reached for the foot-long novelty Canucks hockey stick propped on his bedside table and gave it a couple of fidgety swings.
“I’m trying. You keep interrupting me. You think you could maybe cut that out?”
“Sure,” Austin said. Whoosh, whoosh went the little hockey stick as it sliced the air.
“And could you put that fucking thing down before you accidentally hit me with it?”
Austin tossed it onto the floor. “Fine.”
“So it’s been two weeks,” Noah said again, “since Bobby came out.”
Austin didn’t say anything, even though he was pretty sure his eye twitched.
He stared resolutely at the floor, refusing to look at Noah as he got on with his lecture: “And look, I’m not blaming you for being a little taken aback by the whole thing. I mean, I’m not sure I really get it myself. The guy wears more makeup than Adam Lambert, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him in high heels, but he says he’s not a girl and he’s not a drag queen and his boyfriend is gay. So I get that you’re confused. I’m confused too. But would it be too much to ask that you take him at face value?”
Yes, actually, it would. Because it’s fucking crazy, and why should I have to change when he’s the one who sprung all this shit on me? But he didn’t say anything.
“He’s too shy to talk to you about it, but you really hurt his feelings when you stormed out of his show. And now it’s been two weeks and you’ve pretty much stopped speaking to any of us. So I’m going to ask you straight up, Austin. Do you have a problem with gay people?”
“No!” Austin yelped, then squirmed under the pure daddishness of Noah’s gaze. “I mean, no. No, I don’t. Of course I don’t. I was cool with Christian, wasn’t I? Even played along with your whole pretend-him-and-Max-aren’t-screwing act, when he first moved in, didn’t I? And I’m cool with Max, too. And hell, even that Dylan guy is okay when he’s not looking like he’s gonna punch me in the face.”
“You kind of deserve that. But fine, okay. You’re cool with Christian and Max and Dylan. I’ll accept that. So why not Bobby?”
“You’re going to get mad at me if I say.”
“I’m already mad. So spit it out.”
Austin balled his hands into fists. Twisted his lips. Squeezed his eyes shut. The bottled-up feeling didn’t take long to explode. “Because he’s such a fucking fag.”
Noah recoiled, blinking in shock, then took a deep breath. “Oookay.” He cast a quick look over his shoulder, as if the pride police were about to bust down the door and arrest them both. “So, what was that about being fine with gay people, again?”
Great, now Austin felt like an asshole. “Ugh. You know what I mean. There’s gay people, and then there’s fags. I mean, Christian kind of walks the line a little with the sweater vests, but he’s generally pretty cool. He keeps it toned down, you know? Not R—Bobby. He’s right in your face with it.” Austin flapped his hand on his wrist in demonstration. “Like, shit, I don’t want to be seen in public with a guy in fucking lip gloss, okay? Does that really make me a bigot?”
He realized after he said it that he didn’t really mean it as a rhetorical question, even though he’d phrased it as one.
Did it make him a bigot?
Noah sighed. “I don’t know. I’m not an expert on this shit, I just . . .” He scrubbed his face. “Bobby’s my friend, and he’s our roommate, and I’m sick of seeing him sneak by your room like a kicked puppy. So, look. I didn’t want to do this, but here it is. Whatever your issue with him is, you need to fucking sort it out, or you need to find a new place to live.”
Even though Austin had been planning for this exact eventuality, it still hurt like an elbow to the gut. “You’re kicking me out?” he asked, unable to smother the pathetic insecurity creeping into his voice.
“Looks like it.” Noah didn’t make eye contact. His voice was cold.
“But I’ve lived here longest out of anybody here other than you!”
“I know that. You’re also the only one here being a complete fucking prick.”
Really? Okay, so he’d been rude to Ro—Bobby, sure, but was the way he felt really that beyond the pale? Okay, maybe among his roommates. But that didn’t mean it didn’t make logical sense in, y’know, the real world. Anywhere else, most people would agree that the way Bobby was acting and dressing was weird, even if some of them didn’t necessarily approve of Austin’s behaviour. Hell, the guys on his team at SFU would probably have acted worse than him. If anything, Austin had been pretty considerate to make himself scarce over the last couple weeks. “So that’s it, then,” he said, dejected.
Noah didn’t even turn from staring at the door. “Yep. Consider this your one month’s notice. You’ve got until the first of June to either fix your attitude and make things right with Bobby, or find a new place.”
Austin didn’t much feel like looking Noah in the eyes just then, either. “Fine.”
“Fine,” Noah echoed, and stood. “Good talk.”
One month, one month, one month. Austin recited it to himself as he peeled a banana and dropped it into the blender. He wasn’t even sure what it meant. One month until he was out of this gay hellhole? One month until he was homeless and friendless? One month to clean up his act and get his head on—ha!—straight?
A scoop of protein powder. A big blob of peanut butter. Flax seeds.
He didn’t know. Well, at least he had a month to figure it out.
His first instinct was to cut and run, hit Craigslist and find a new place to live pronto. A month wasn’t long to look, and his budget was, uh, about a third of the price of even the worst housing Vancouver had to offer, but he might be able to manage it if he got creative. And relaxed his already low standards.
Except that if he cut and run now, he had a feeling Noah wouldn’t be giving him any glowing recommendations.
Stays to himself, doesn’t party, pays rent mostly on time—and he’s a homophobe, because that’s what we’re calling it now.
Well, maybe Noah’s bad review would be good, in the eyes of some.
If Austin felt like rooming with a bunch of Bible-thumper types. He groaned as he grabbed his gym bag and headed out the front door, protein shake in hand. Wasn’t there a middle ground between accepting everything and everyone and being one of those assholes with the GOD HATES FAGS signs? The question gave him something to distract him while he waited for his bus.
The guys on his team, he’d concluded by the time he took his seat. Insulting gay guys was pretty much expected on the ice, after all. Maybe one of them had a room going. If SFU had fraternities like a normal university, this wouldn’t even be a problem. Austin would have been well settled in a frat house by now with a couple peon pledges to do his bidding. Instead, he was about to get kicked out of the gayest house in Vancouver if he didn’t learn how to magically be cool with a dude in lip gloss and a bra.
Speaking of gay, if he got kicked out of the house would he lose his job at Vancouver’s gayest porn store, too?
Not that it paid all that well, and the novelty of working there had definitely worn off since they’d gotten rid of the normal straight-dude porn in favour of lesbian autobiographies and dirty gay comics about motorcycle gangs. But that didn’t mean he wanted to get fired because of Rob. Bobby. Whatever.
For a while there it had been kind of cool working at a porn store. Free porn. Talking about sex with female customers, some of whom had this habit of getting real candid when they told him about their taste in vibrators and crotchless panties. And as far as the guys on his team went, it was probably the only minimum wage job they’d ever be remotely proud of him for having. Sure, they ribbed him as much as a guy flipping burgers or selling electronics, but there was an air of grudging respect there, too, if only for the pure fucking balls it took to work such an out-there and embarrassing job.
He wondered if the same respect would come into play if they knew it was now a gay porn store. Not like he was planning on telling them, but it did kinda make him think. Could he really move in with people he couldn’t trust to be cool about such a dumb and basic part of his life? He’d seen what that kind of bullshit paranoia had done to Christian, after all. Turned the guy completely fucking squirrelly, that’s what.
But if he got fired at the same time he got kicked out, would it even be an issue?
Could they fire him? Maybe they’d expect him to quit.
No, because if Bobby was working at the store and uncomfortable with Austin’s “homophobia” in that setting too, then Christian’s aunt would be well within her rights to fire Austin just for that. His eviction from the house wouldn’t even come into play.
But damn, that was cold. Put a guy out on his ass and cut off his income? He’d have to really kill it with the grades this semester so he didn’t lose any scholarship money.
Speaking of which, his bus was pulling into the campus loop now. He had an hour and a half in the gym with a few of the other guys, time for a shower, and then it was off to his summer classes, filling all those credit hours he couldn’t take during the regular season when he practically lived on the ice. Summers sucked. Hours and hours of drills, no games, and academics? And now roommate drama on top of it all. Shit.
When Austin hopped off the bus from downtown, their left wing forward Drew was just getting off his bus from Coquitlam, his SFU Athletics duffel bag over one shoulder. He gave Austin a bleary wave. Hungover, probably. The guy couldn’t resist thinking summer equalled drinking time, even though in a way summer was more hard work than normal. And did he really think Coach wasn’t watching them all, taking note of their off-season behaviour? Not to mention the fact that slacking on summer training meant Drew would let the whole team down when fall rolled around. Austin wasn’t spending this much time in the gym and jogging and choking down fucking protein shakes and five-egg breakfasts for fucking fun.
“Hey,” Austin said, unable to keep his frustration out of his voice. “Late night?”
“That obvious?” Drew asked. The guy had huge dark circles under his eyes, still fucking smelled like booze, not to mention had the vague stain of permanent marker he hadn’t quite scrubbed off one temple. Distinctly dick shaped, Austin might add. Not that he was about to mention it. Nope, he’d let Drew walk around with dick face all day, as punishment for his sins against the team.
“Uh, yeah.” Austin snorted. “You gonna be able to keep up with me today, or am I gonna have to ask one of the girls on the ellipticals to step in for you?”
“Ha-ha. Looking for a convenient excuse to partner up with someone more your speed, ya fuckin’ pussy?”
The familiar insult gave Austin the same sick, involuntarily twinge as it had given him since puberty, but at least now he was pretty well practiced at smothering it. Which didn’t help how fucked up it was to have to be practiced with something so twisted, but anything was better than the alternative. “More like looking for a convenient excuse to look at some tits on my spotter instead of smelling your balls all day,” he replied without missing a beat.
Austin was fine, totally fine. He could definitely live with some of his teammates if push came to shove. His suddenly gay lifestyle—Rob’s makeup and the leather daddy comic books at Rear Entrance Video and Christian and Max making out on the same couch he sat on to play video games—hadn’t quite tainted him yet. He was still in control. He was.
“Don’t lie. You fuckin’ love the smell of my balls, pussy boy.”
Shit. Maybe Austin wasn’t quite as well practiced at smothering his reactions as he thought. Shit, shit, shit.
You fuckin’ love the smell of my balls, pussy boy.
He paused mid-crunch to shudder in reaction to that familiar, heady mix of nausea and horniness that had dogged him for years. Pictured himself on his knees, leaning in—
No, fuck no, he was not doing this here and now.
He grimaced and clenched his abs, forcing his back off the floor. It fucking hurt. His abs spasmed like they’d been electrocuted. At least his uncooperative dick softened a bit.
The workout schedule for that day was gruelling: crunches and side planks and squats and one-legged Russian dead lifts, and it still wasn’t tough enough for Austin. Maybe it would have been, if he hadn’t had that exchange with Drew, or if he’d at least reacted to it better, but now that the not-so-proverbial hammer had dropped, there could be no mercy.
He’d doubled up on his reps, which ate into his allotted time for rests, but fuck it. He’d upped the weight on the dumbbells. He’d huffed and puffed, muscles screaming with strain, body running with sweat, but he hadn’t let himself stop. He wanted to hurt. Wanted to wake up tomorrow morning still hurting; the kind of hurt you didn’t forget.
Beside him, Drew half assed his way through the same sets, occasionally pausing between wussy shallow squats to give Austin a bug-eyed look.
It’s called putting out an effort, he wanted to say, You should try it.
Except he really had no right to talk. Oh, sure, busting ass like this looked good to the rest of his team—especially Warren Phillips, newly promoted to team captain—but it was all a lie. As hard as he was pushing himself, hockey was the last thing on his mind right now. After all, if he was really thinking about his game, he’d be working out smart instead of working out hard. But he wasn’t chasing power or endurance or flexibility, all important qualities on the ice.
He was chasing pain.
Sometimes it felt like he’d spent his whole life punishing himself. Cold showers to start with, as stereotypical as it was to take one when you were turned on but didn’t want to be. Banging his head against hard surfaces, although that was more an impulse thing than a planned punishment. Which led to a short-lived affair with cutting himself, always on the inner thighs so he wouldn’t have anybody asking questions. The fact that his chosen spot was so close to the source of all his troubles, well, that was just a bonus.
Cutting yourself was fucked up, though, and it didn’t work anyway. But he’d eventually figured out a kind of equation, a way to balance shit out. Get turned on by being treated like a pussy and a fag? Do something ultra manly to even the scales. So he worked out. Hard. And if it left him too fucking tired and sore to jack off, all the better.
And it had worked. Worked so well, in fact, that it had been months since the last time he’d had to do this to himself and longer still since he’d had boner timing this bad.
You fuckin’ love the smell of my balls, pussy boy.
So much for his winning streak.
“Watch your elbows,” Warren said, and knelt down beside him on the mat. Austin fell back onto the floor like a sack of potatoes and wheezed. Shit, he was massively out of breath. How much of it was overexertion and how much was the ball-smell-related horniness he was still (unsuccessfully) fighting off? Warren’s eyebrows knitted together. “Are you okay, man?”
God, fuck, the last thing he needed was Warren’s people skills. Asshole. “Yeah,” Austin puffed. “Just pushed myself too hard, I guess.”
“Don’t hurt yourself,” Warren scolded him gently, in that way he had that never made you feel bad or humiliated, only determined to prove yourself and make him proud. “Although at least somebody here is pushing himself . . .” He cast a mildly aggravated look across the gym to where Drew was standing by the ellipticals, unsuccessfully chatting up some chick in short-shorts who still had her earbuds in.
“He was drinking again last night,” Austin blurted, half out of genuine resentment for the guy’s lack of commitment and half out of a need to get Warren and his look of genuine concern away from him pronto. “I saw him this morning majorly hungover with a dick on his face.”
It worked. Warren shook his head, fully focused on Drew now. “That guy. What am I going to do with him?”
Austin was angrier than he thought, because he sat up and said, “Put him on the fucking bench until he gets his act together. Calabresi would jizz himself if you gave him Drew’s spot. And he’d probably play better too.”
“Language!” Warren snapped, but then he nodded. “I might have to. His grades are slipping too. I practically had to write his papers for him last semester just so he could keep his scholarship.” His eyes widened. “I shouldn’t be telling you this. Shoot.”
“Make me alternate captain, and then you can,” Austin tried. God, he wanted that. To finally get recognition for his three years’ dedication to the team. To contribute even more than he was already. Maybe then he wouldn’t feel so inadequate all the time and his weird fetish would disappear, too. He’d belong. Be normal. Being alternate captain and winning games and—God, he fucking wished—getting drafted would put so many points on the manly side of his inner scales that they’d be permanently tipped in that direction. He’d be cured.
“Maybe,” Warren hedged, and stood, striding across the gym in Drew’s direction as he shouted out, “Hall! How’re your squats going over there?”
Austin gave his head a shake and got back to his grind.
Someday . . .
Until then, doubling up on his crunches would have to suffice.
The last thing Austin wanted on a day like this was to shower with his teammates, so when they all headed to the changerooms, he made up some bullshit excuse about needing to work in some cardio because he’d gone to Vera’s for a cheeseburger last night. Then he hit the treadmill, pumped up the incline, and ran until he felt like his legs were going to give out.
By the time he hit the shower, it was clear of his teammates. He soaped his body—trying not to clean his dick too thoroughly—rinsed off, and got the fuck out of there.
He caught up with the team in the cafeteria closest to their next class. Got his plateful of lasagna and an energy drink and joined them. Sat as far as humanly possible from Drew, which meant squeezing in next to Ben Kibby, their goalie, at the opposite end of the table.
“’Sup,” Ben said, then turned back to defenceman Tim Cooper, who was in full redneck mode wearing his Confederate Flag ball cap and picking his teeth. “I’m telling you, it costs a couple hundred bucks, but I hear it totally works. You do a web conference with this guy for an hour, and he gets you more pussy than you know what to do with.”
“I already get that much pussy. They’re called puck bunnies.” Tim examined the lump of whatever he’d managed to catch on the end of his toothpick then threw the thing over his shoulder onto the floor. “Don’t know what your problem is that you gotta pay some dude to get you some.”
Ben frowned. “It’s not the same for Asian dudes, man. Girls don’t want us. They all think we got small dicks.”
“Get a T-shirt that says, ‘I’m half-white,’” Calabresi advised.
“Yeah,” Austin piped up, trying to get into the swing of things. “With an arrow, you know?” He pointed downward with both hands.
Calabresi and Tim both laughed, but Ben scowled. Man, the guy wouldn’t be so down on himself if he knew what Austin was going through sexually.
“At least you’re not a fuckin’ virgin like Warren over there,” one of the other guys added.
“If you think I’m going to be ashamed for saving myself for marriage,” Warren said evenly, not looking up from where he was cutting up a chicken breast into bite-sized pieces, “you’re sadly mistaken. And anyway, at least I’m not wasting money or time chasing after meaningless sex. Maybe that’s why I’m team captain, and you spent most of last season on the bench, eh, Ortega?”
“Buuuuuuurn,” Riley Campbell shouted obnoxiously. A table of Asian girls all looked over their shoulders to scowl at him.
“Wow,” Ben said, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Good for you, Campbell, you contributed!”
“Yeah, way to get those two brain cells rubbing together!” someone else said.
Austin shovelled a few mouthfuls of lasagna into his mouth, wondering which would be worse: living with this band of horny idiots or in the Gayest House in Vancouver.
“So did everyone get the assignment done for Professor Walton’s class?” Warren asked through his teeth, obviously trying to direct the conversation back to a more palatable topic. The table responded with a chorus of Yeahs and Mostlys . . . except, predictably, for Drew.
“Oh shit!” Drew said, slapping his hand to his forehead. “Was that today? I totally forgot.”
“Oh come on, Drew,” Warren moaned. “Homework is worth thirty percent in this class, and you’ve already missed two out of three assignments.”
“It slipped my mind, okay?” Drew’s tone was peevish. He turned to Austin’s end of the table. “Hey, Ben, do me a solid and let me copy your answers, bro. I’ll play wingman for you at this party Friday if you do. Won’t even charge you two hundred bucks.”
“Wingman, eh?” Tim guffawed. “You gonna stand around telling all the chicks that he’s only half Chinese?” Ortega high-fived him.
Ben glowered. “Forget it, man. I already got in shit last semester when you came into that open book exam with a binder of my photocopied notes.”
“Fuck you too, man. You’re the world’s worst Asian,” Drew complained. “What about you, Tim?”
Eyes on his tray and with a mouth full of lasagna, Tim said, “I don’t need your help to get pussy.”
“Not the wingman thing. Can I copy your homework?”
“You want mine?” Riley asked, as desperate as an SPCA puppy.
Calabresi snorted. “Nobody wants to copy your assignments, man. You probably do them in crayon.”
“Nobody’s giving you their homework to copy,” Warren finally announced. “Nobody on this team is cheating. On anything. Period. And Drew, you need to get your stuff together if you’re planning on playing on the team come next season.”
“Stuff?” Drew taunted. “You mean shit, Warren? The word is shit. C’mon man, this is a hockey team, not your fucking Sunday school. Shit. Say shit.”
“We’re not talking about my religion right now. We’re talking about the fact that you need to start taking things seriously on and off the ice. Austin says you got drunk last night.”
Drew rounded on Austin while their teammates stared. “Oh did he, now?”
“Come on man, leave me out of this,” Austin protested weakly, wishing he could slither under the table and disappear. Just what he needed to add to his roommate drama: team drama. Because even if he was right about Drew, betraying a teammate that way wasn’t done. Your teammates were your brothers, and that meant sticking by them no matter what. Drew may have needed to get his fucking act together, but for Austin to narc on him like this? That was the worse crime by far, and it showed: his teammates glared at him.
Drew, sensing his advantage, laid his victimhood on thick. “What the fuck else did you tell him, huh, Austin? You tell him I don’t say my prayers at night?”
Warren was looking seriously exasperated now. “You know I keep my beliefs off the ice.” His voice was calm, but his nostrils were flaring. “Look, we talked about your drinking already, Drew. The drinking, the missing assignments, and then today I had to remind you that you were in the gym to work out. It’s the last straw. You need to be a team player.”
“I need to be a team player? I need to be a team player? What about Ben, who won’t help me with my schoolwork, huh? What about Austin throwing me under the bus? Don’t they need to be team players?”
“Team player doesn’t mean letting you get away with everything. You need to shape up or ship out.”
Drew cast a glower around the table. “Seriously? You’re all just gonna let him sit here and chew me out?”
“Tim?” Drew tried. “Calabresi? C’mon, Ortega? You at least gotta have my back, Ortega.”
Nothing. But Austin didn’t take their silence as approval for his behaviour, either. His punishment would come.
“We want to win games, Drew,” Warren said solemnly. “Maybe even place. We want to get drafted. We can’t do any of that if you’re dragging us down with your slacking.”
“Oh, I see how it is. You’re the new team captain, and you need to make an example of somebody. And Austin’s sucking your dick, so it can’t be him.”
“Oh, fuck off!” Austin shouted, fury fed by the sick twitch his dick did in his pants. “Everybody’s sick of your me-me-me fucking attitude, Drew. Sick of it. We’re sick of picking up after you. We’re sick of losing games because you won’t fucking practice hard enough. And yet we’ve all put our necks out for you by helping you fucking cheat at school so you can keep your scholarship, even though you don’t even contribute to the team and you’re not worth the fucking effort. And you know why? It’s called fucking loyalty, man.” One of the other guys snorted at Austin’s use of the word, but Austin barreled on with his speech. “It’s called sticking to your fucking guns. It’s called standing by your teammates even if they’re total fucking douche bags or you don’t like them or they’re fucking weird.” He gasped for air. Realized he was standing, chest heaving, and everyone at the table was staring at him. Scratch that: everyone in the entire cafeteria was staring at him.
And he wasn’t just talking about the hockey team. Especially not at the end there.
Because sure, SFU’s hockey team was a bunch of assholes, some of whom Austin would never associate with if it weren’t for a shared love of the game, but none of them—not one—could be called “weird.”
But his roommates sure as hell could.
That settled things, anyway. Austin wasn’t a quitter, wasn’t a traitor, was better than Drew in every way, including on the ice. Which meant that weird or not, he was going to have to learn to live with “Bobby.” Because as tempting as it was to move the fuck out and leave all this confusion behind him, that was something Drew would do.
Austin was made of stronger stuff than that. Austin had morals. Austin had balls.
It also helped that today’s disastrous boner-and-betrayal-filled lunch had solidified the fact that living with any of his teammates—especially considering his . . . problem—would be absolute hell. He thought things were uncomfortable now? Just wait until his new roommates spotted one of his inappropriate hard-ons. Sure, he’d managed to avoid detection up until now, but how long could you live with a group of guys before they figured out that a specific subset of insults gave you a boner every time? Living in the gayest house in Vancouver may have had its pitfalls, but nobody there called him fag or pussy on a daily basis.
He had a closing shift at Rear Entrance Video tonight, which would be a good test of his new resolve. He’d make nice with whoever was scheduled to work days, and then he’d sit right there in the middle of all that gay LGBT shit and force himself not to be grossed and/or weirded out by it. And hopefully he’d come up with a way to do the same thing around Rob—ahem, Bobby—so he could keep his place in the house and prove his loyalty.
If he even could.
Without the ultimatum, he maybe would have been able to get better at handling Bobby by way of desensitizing himself to The Gay, but he wasn’t sure if a month—even one spent living with two and a half gay dudes and working in a porn store absolutely saturated in gay—would be enough to bring him to that point. The past two weeks sure hadn’t resulted in any progress, but then, Austin hadn’t exactly been trying.
But maybe if he purposely exposed himself to critical levels of the stuff, even beyond what he was currently dealing with . . .
Which was a possibility, he guessed, except he had a feeling trying for that much exposure would involve marching in a pride parade before going drinking at Celebrities and then heading home to raid Christian’s personal collection of dirty movies for his own nightly presleep jerk-off session.
And by the time it got to that point, why not suck a bunch of dicks while he was at it?
He scrubbed at his face in frustration, more than a little concerned at how detailed the image of himself sucking dick was.
And not, like, lovingly either. Not like girls did in porn, licking their lips and smiling like the dude they were sucking off was their personal god. Not even like girls sometimes did to him, borderline disinterested but still willing so long as he returned the favour. More like a brawny guy cornering him in some grimy bathroom and shoving him to the floor, pinching his nose to force his mouth open and fucking into him like a blow-up doll. And he’d hate it. It’d taste disgusting, and it would choke him and feel wrong all around, but he still wouldn’t fight it, wouldn’t bite the guy or anything, would just—
Shit. Now he was getting a boner on the fucking bus.
He needed to get this thing under control.
Except he wasn’t sure he even could. As much as the guys at the house all joked about the gay being contagious like it was the most absurd thing they’d heard of, Austin couldn’t help but wonder if having so much of it around wasn’t making his problem worse. After all, he’d had his problem pretty well dealt with before Christian and Max had started fucking and Rob had started wearing lipstick and Rear Entrance Video had become Queer Entrance Video.
And now? Now it was back to square one, except instead of being a terrified teenaged kid, he was a terrified grown-ass man with a much more seasoned—okay, more like plain fucking perverted—imagination. Austin pulled his backpack onto his lap to hide his shame. Couldn’t move out because it would be betraying his roommates, and his problem meant he had nowhere else to really go, anyway. Couldn’t stay where he was because being around so much gay was clearly affecting his hormones or something.
And his only solution was to expose himself to even more gay? God, if he did that, by the end of the month he’d be popping a boner every time someone so much as looked at him funny. Of course, if he was also making nicey-nice with his rainbow roommates, maybe the boner problem wouldn’t matter anymore. He’d be one of them.
Oh, who was he kidding? Of course it would matter. Austin wasn’t like Drew, but he also wasn’t like Rob or Christian or Max, who all could say “Screw what other people think; I don’t need them anyway. I’ll do what I want.”
Austin needed to play hockey. And for that, he needed his team.
He needed to be straight.
No, he was straight. But he needed to be a normal straight guy. His roommates could blab about how there was nothing wrong with them all they wanted, but that wasn’t Austin. There was something wrong with Austin, and he couldn’t lie down and accept it. And if he didn’t fix it, and soon, he’d lose everything that mattered to him. He’d lose himself. Because he wasn’t just on a hockey team, he was the team. The team was him.
The more he thought about it all, the more he realized: he was fucked.
He was also at his stop.
And of course it was Rob working the counter.
Of course it fucking was.
Rob, who didn’t look any more happy to see Austin than Austin was to see Rob. First, he looked up with a smile, then he startled, then he opened the till and started counting out the bills without a word.
Make nice, Austin reminded himself as he walked in. “Since when do you work days?” he asked. And, like the fuckstick he was, made it sound like an accusation. Not on purpose or anything, but there it was.
Rob snorted. “I have the summer off, remember?” he said, and then mumbled something into his lap that may or may not have been, “Or have you taken too many hits to your thick head?”
“Oh,” Austin said, forcing himself not to get lippy right back. “Uh, well. That’s cool.” He swallowed hard and took the seat beside Rob, unintentionally catching a glance of the black lace bra peeping out from the top of Rob’s half-unbuttoned white shirt. Imagined someone forcibly putting something lacy like that on him and watching him squirm in embarrassment. His face went hot, and he turned away from Rob, staring at the bills instead. He was beginning to see why Rob couldn’t take his eyes of them today. “Look, uh, R—Bobby, about how I’ve been acting. I’m sorry.”
Rob turned on him, his face insufferably smug. Not the face of a guy about to accept an apology, that was for sure. “Oh yeah, is that so? And I’m sure how sorry you are has nothing to do with the fact that Noah told you he was kicking you out at the end of the month.”
Jeez, what the fuck had happened to the old pushover Rob from before? The one he could steal food from and never have to pay back? The one he could make small dick jokes about, who’d never punch him in the face for it the way Ben once had in the locker room?
“Well, look who it fucking is. Here kissing ass, I take it?”
Dylan, of course. The fat fuck sauntered in, giving Austin the kind of scowl that didn’t turn him on at all.
So that was where Rob was getting his new balls from. Hell, the guy had probably coached Rob on exactly what to say.
“Why, you want in on the action, gay boy?” Austin snapped back. Oops.
Dylan’s shoulders went up, and shit, Austin had forgotten the guy was fucking huge, at least as big as their team enforcer Riley, except with brains to back up the brawn. “You know what I think, toolbag?” Dylan said. “I think you’re such a dick to Bobby because it makes you uncomfortable to see him embrace himself.”
“Uh, yeah, duh,” Austin replied, because with the gay boy comment, he’d already fucked this thing up and he might as well go down swinging.
“And you know why I think that makes you uncomfortable? I think it makes you uncomfortable because you’re jealous. I think you’re a little bit of a jock closet case.” Oh, there went Austin’s boner. He crossed his legs, meeting Dylan’s fierce stare. He wasn’t going to let this guy intimidate him, big or not. “I think sometimes you stare a little too long at your teammates’ dicks in the locker room. I think maybe sometimes you jerk off thinking about your coach. And I think seeing Bobby happy makes you jealous, and it also scares you, and I think that’s why you treat him like shit. Straight guys—actual straight guys—have no reason to be threatened by people like Bobby. People like Noah are secure in their sexualities, but you’re not.” Dylan smirked in triumph. “You’re repressed, and you’re unhappy, so you’re lashing out at Bobby because he’s brave enough to do what you can’t. Admit it.”
“F-fuck you,” Austin managed to spit. That was all he had. Just . . . “Fuck you, Dylan. What the fuck do you know?”
Rob slammed the cash drawer shut and snatched his man purse from under the counter. “Let it go, Dylan,” he pleaded, then stood and walked out from behind the counter, taking Dylan by the arm. “Come on, he’s not worth it.”
“I know, baby,” Dylan said, brushing Rob’s long hair from his forehead and pressing a kiss there.
Austin stood there, dumbfounded, with a boner, feeling like a complete fucking asshole. An asshole who was going to be homeless at the end of the month, if things kept on the way they were going. Maybe he should apologize, maybe— “Hey!” he yelled, when they turned their backs on him like he really wasn’t worth their time or attention. “Just so you know, I am not a closet case, okay? I am straight as fuck!”
No reply other than the jingle of the bell over the door as they exited. Not that they needed to bother; did a statement that pathetic and desperate really require a comeback? Seriously, straight as fuck? How straight was fuck, even?
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.
He banged a fist down on the desk. He’d literally just decided to make things better, and yet in the time since making that decision he’d somehow made them ten fucking times worse?
Shit, if he’d decided to say fuck it and embrace getting kicked out, would he and Rob have miraculously kissed and made up?
Okay, no, that was stupid as fuck, and not just the part about him and Rob kissing each other, even metaphorically.
The issue was, deciding to do something and actually making it happen were two separate things. If they weren’t, he’d already be in the NHL by now, captain for the Canucks, taking home the Stanley Cup and single-handedly preventing another riot. And he’d be straight—without exceptions.
But he was none of those things. He was just Austin Puett, playing for one of the shittiest college teams in Canada, getting kicked out of his place at the end of the month, and springing wood every time anyone suggested he was anything other than macho.
To get what you wanted, you had to do more than want it and decide to get it. You had to make a plan, and then you had to execute it. Get on a college team. Train hard. Kick ass. Win games. Make captain. Get drafted. Kick more ass. Win more games. Get traded. Kick even more ass. Win even more games. Take home the fucking cup.
Austin knew all about discipline, all about planning and making those plans fucking happen. With hockey, at least. So why not with Rob?
So maybe he hadn’t hammered out any kind of plan yet, but whatever that plan ended up being, Austin was pretty sure that calling the guy by the name he’d chosen would likely be a part of it.
“Bobby, Bobby, Bobby,” he muttered to himself, practicing the word as he returned to his seat.
“Who’s that, yer boyfriend?”
Austin recoiled, torn between surprise and—God fucking damn it—horniness; his wheelie chair flew back and slammed into the wall behind him.
The guy draped over the counter laughed, then blew a big pink bubble of gum. Popped it. Snapped it. Smiled.
Holy shit. A customer. Had Austin missed the bell? Was this guy some kind of gay ninja?
And oh, he was definitely gay. Spiky hair with frosted tips. A V-necked T-shirt tight enough that Austin could see his nipples were pierced.
And gay porn in his hand. That too.
Austin wheeled his chair forward again and snatched the DVD out of the customer’s hand. “I’m straight,” he said, probably way too late for it to sound like he wasn’t lying.
The customer flashed him a crooked smile. “No shit, really? Isn’t that weird, working in a gay porn store?”
Weirder than you know.
The DVD was some locally produced BDSM thing called Master Puck and Mistress Titania’s STRAIGHT SUB SETUP 4.
Austin stared at the case. At the main title in bright red, bolded capital letters.
His face burned. The customer cleared his throat, and somehow even that came out gay-sounding.
“Oh!” Austin snapped his gaze up. The guy had asked him a question. Shit. “Uh, well. It wasn’t a gay porn store when I first started working here.”
The customer smirked, dark eyelashes dipping over his eyes smugly. “So you could say you . . . got set up?”
Oh God. Austin was at the point of giving fourteen-year-old boys the world over a run for their money when it came to involuntary boners. He squirmed and yanked the DVD case open so he could scan the bar code into the system and process the return.
Beep. Three days overdue. He threw it into the TO BE SORTED pile, forcing himself not to give it a second glance. “Will that be all?” he rasped, then tacked on, “. . . bro?”
Yeah, real straight, Austin. Straight as fuck.
“Don’t I, like, owe you late fees?” Snap went the guy’s gum.
“Oh, uh, right. Um. Yeah. Six bucks.” Austin licked his lips, refusing to meet the guy’s gaze as he took the ten from his hand and opened the till.
His boner pulsed. STRAIGHT SUB SETUP, his mind taunted, those red capital letters floating through his mind. He wondered what a movie with a title like that might be about. He knew enough about BDSM from working here and from his own “research” on the internet to know that the SUB part meant submissive, as in someone who got off on being ordered around and spanked or whatever while wearing a collar and one of those creepy zippered hoods.
Doing whatever some sexy chick in a corset and thigh-high boots told you to do? Yeah, Austin could go for that. But when it turned into her calling you a sissy and paddling your ass like a little kid and making you suck her lovingly realistic strap-on complete with wrinkly balls, Austin started to get weirded out—and turned on, and then weirded out again even worse. So, you know, even if it was a guy and a girl together, he stayed away from the BDSM stuff. Back to the normal porn of blondes in pigtails with fake tits pretending to be babysitters and fucking black pizza delivery guys.
“Um, hello? My change?”
“Sorry. Uh, fuck. Four bucks, right?” he fumbled in the cash drawer for some toonies but kept grabbing and dropping the same three over and over again, unable to gather the dexterity to get exactly two. Three. Zero. One. Three. Zero. “Fuck!” he snapped, on the edge of crying like a bitch.
“Are you okay?” the customer asked. Blew a bubble. Popped it. Snapped it. “You seem kind of high-strung, sugar.”
“I’m not a tweaker,” Austin said. Finally, he managed to pick up two toonies and hand them over. “Four dollars.”
The customer put up both hands defensively, rolling his wide eyes. “Nobody said you were, sweetie. But between you and me? I don’t think you’re quite straight, either.”
“What do you know, huh?” Shit. That didn’t come out angry so much as . . . pleading? Was that the word for the desperate whine in his tone just then? Also, yay, another fail on the not being hostile to gay dudes front.
“On this subject? Quite a bit, babycakes. Not to brag, but I’ve sucked so much supposedly straight dick in the last few years, that when you say straight I hear convince me.”
“D-does that really happen? Straight guys? They let you . . . let you . . .” Suck their dicks? Fuck them? Get fucked by them? “Let you?” he finished, unable to make his mouth say anything more explicit.
The customer threw back his head with a gloating laugh. “Let me? Let me? Oh, honey. They beg me.”
Austin nearly passed out.
The customer—Zeke, according to the sloppy scrawl on the back of his receipt—wound up giving Austin his number before he finally left. And he’d signed it with XOXO.
Austin, of course, balled up the scrap of paper and chucked it into the garbage, then prematurely tied off the bag and took it out to the dumpster in the alley.
There. No evidence.
He returned to the counter and fell into his seat, feeling like he’d run five miles. Which he may have, earlier today. Shit, he was going to fucking hurt tomorrow, and it was going to destroy his workouts for the entire week, and it hadn’t even helped his problem at all.
Maybe he was going about this all wrong. Maybe the punishments weren’t the solution, but a part of the problem.
Maybe Zeke and Dylan were right about him.
Not about him being gay, fuck no. Austin was straight, he was. Whatever Dylan thought about him, he sure as hell never looked at his teammates’ dicks or asses in the showers, and he’d never been tempted to, either. He didn’t think they were sexy to look at the way girls were. He liked tits and hips and long hair and, oh yeah, pussy. He was sitting here at the counter with a stack of gay porn DVD cases—returns processed and discs filed away, ready to be returned to the shelves for the next gay dude to rent—and he wasn’t even remotely turned on by them. Guys sucking dick, guys with cum dripping down their chins, guys spreading their ass cheeks and showing you their assholes . . . not one image appealed.
But, oh, getting called gay or thinking about being forced to do gay shit, yeah, that got him off. That wasn’t gay, it was just twisted. A twisted part of him he’d been fighting for years to bottle up and put a lid on, so no wonder the top of his head was blowing off now.
Okay, the tops of both heads.
What was that thing Dylan had said?
“You’re repressed, and you’re unhappy, so you’re lashing out at Bobby because he’s brave enough to do what you can’t.”
If that was true, if Austin really was being such a dick to Bobby because he was repressed, then would fixing his repression fix the way he was acting, too? Would he stop being so disgusted and frustrated by Bobby and so angry?
He stared down at the stack of DVD cases on the counter. Slowly sorted through them until he found the one he was looking for. The only one that turned him on: Master Puck and Mistress Titania’s STRAIGHT SUB SETUP 4.
The cover was black and white with bold red lettering. On it, a buff guy in black leather pants and some kind of chest harness thing—Master Puck, Austin figured—was standing facing the camera, his legs spread dominantly, with a naked guy kneeling in front of him, looking up at him in fear and awe. Austin’s throat thickened. So did his dick.
Not because of the men—naked or half-naked—but because of the positioning. Because of the expression on the STRAIGHT SUB’s face. Afraid and sick to his stomach and helplessly turned on. And Austin, in turn, felt exactly the same. Turned on by the image. Sick with himself for liking it so much. Afraid of what it all meant and where it would take him.
He flipped the case over.
OhthankGod. On the flip side was a picture of a woman in some kind of skintight red vinyl thing that hugged every feminine curve. Her tits practically spilled out of the top of her dress, and in her hands, she held what looked like a riding crop. And she was smirking. At Austin. Dangerous, that was what she looked like. Man-eater. He bit his lip, his eyes sliding over to the text.
Mistress Titania is back to her old tricks, and this time well-hung str8 frat boy Danny Domino is her prey!
The setup: After answering an online ad for a straight submissive willing to do absolutely anything for a sexy and demanding mistress, unwitting Danny arrives at the Mischievous Pictures studio for a classic bait and switch. He thinks he’s gonna be licking Mistress Titania’s stiletto heels and begging for her pristine pussy, but he’s going to get a mouth and ass full of cock instead!
What Mistress Titania wants, Mistress Titania gets, and after Danny signs a contract promising to obey her every command (and letting us film, of course), she brings out her best friend and partner in crime, brutal Master Puck, who never gets (or hits) harder than when he’s with a virgin str8 boy. Now, to please his mistress and fulfil his contract, Danny must perform the ultimate act of submission: swallowing his str8 pride in order to swallow gay cum, all while Mistress Titania watches. But after taking Master Puck’s monster pierced cock, will Danny ever give her—or any other woman—a second glance again?
Austin could watch this. He could. There was even a woman and a straight guy in it, so it wasn’t even really gay porn. It was porn for sick fucks like him. Straight sick fucks.
He could take it home without renting it—no paper trail—and put his headphones on, and watch it. Tonight, in the middle of the night. He could watch it, and if he got a boner, he could jerk off to it. Return it to the store tomorrow before anyone noticed it missing. Steam let off. Repression fixed. And then he’d have no reason to be so angry at Bobby anymore, and he wouldn’t say douche bag things without meaning to. Eventually Bobby would have to forgive him, and once Bobby forgave him, the other guys—Noah, specifically—would too. He wouldn’t be kicked out of his house. He wouldn’t lose his job. Maybe his problem would even stop “popping up” at inopportune moments (like with his team, specifically) if he had an actual outlet.
And it would all be a secret, and Austin would still be straight. He’d have hockey and his team.
This could totally work.
He wheeled his chair back to the filing cabinets where the rental discs were stored, found the one he was looking for (and discs one, two, and three of the same series!), took both DVD and case, wrapped them in his workout T-shirt from this morning, and stuffed them into the bottom of his bag.
Oh, there was one more emotion that he’d seen on Danny Domino’s face but been unable to identify before now: anticipation.
The longer his shift went on, the more the anticipation built. It was a shifting thing, moving from arousal to anxiety to disgust and back again. His stomach roiled. It felt a little like the hours before a big game, excitement and fear and grim determination all warring inside him. And just like before a game, he felt the need to stand, jump up and down on the balls of his feet, clap his hands, and do jumping jacks; anything to get that energy out. At least having a plan and a desired outcome took a little of the pressure off him. In one way, he was a mess of emotions, but in another, he felt better—freer—than he had in years.
When a middle-aged gay couple came in partway through the night, he barely blinked, even when he overheard them describing, in detail, what they planned to do later that night after watching the DVD they were currently in the process of selecting. And if he could handle gay Mr. Clean telling gay Jackie Chan that he was gonna pound his cute ass until he couldn’t walk straight—as if either of those dudes could do anything straight—then maybe, given some time and, um, release, he could handle Bobby too. And Bobby’s bras. And Bobby’s girly hair. And Bobby’s big butch boyfriend.
Damn, this porn was gonna have to blow his socks off to make up for all that.
Well, he thought as he locked the door and turned off the OPEN sign, I’ll know for sure by the end of tonight. And if this particular volume of the series didn’t work, there were three more to serve as backups.
It was sick how much the thought of them excited him.
No. If this video worked, that would be it. He wouldn’t watch the others. It was meant to be a treatment. A medicine like his mom’s prescription pain pills: use them past the point where you were cured, and they became an addiction.
In fact, he should take the other DVDs in the series off the table completely. If this didn’t work tonight, then more of the same wouldn’t, either. He couldn’t be simultaneously looking for a way to fix himself and looking for an excuse to watch as much gay porn as possible.
One porno. One viewing.
Hands trembling with building excitement, he counted out the till.
Three times, because he could never quite get his numbers right.
...packed a serious punch...the star of the series....one of my favorite books of the year.
...this was one hell of a book, exquisitely written, extremely well thought of, with a great development of character and romance right in the middle of one hell of a kink.
Straight Shooter was one of those reads. You know the ones. The ones that suck you in and you can’t put them down....This entire series is phenomenal.
From start to finish I found myself fully immersed in this story and its compelling storyline...left me exhausted but immensely satisfied....
This was excellent. Heidi Belleau knocked it out of the park with this novel.