Spot Me will be available August 13, 2009, from Dreamspinner Press. Also, I am being interviewed on the Love Romances Blog on August 17, 2009. Check it out.
Blurb for Spot Me:
Working out is a daily routine for Dan, who meets his friend Lonnie at the gym to lift weights. But breaking a sweat takes on a whole new meaning when Dan sees Gene, a professional bodybuilder, in the mirror. Dan knows it's a lost cause: he's forty and nursing a broken heart, nowhere in the same league as gorgeous Gene.
Then at the gym the next day, Gene asks Dan if he can work out with him. A bet wins Dan a smoothie and conversation, which surprisingly leads to a date. Now Dan is faced with a dilemma: does he allow Gene to elbow his way into his life, or will he give up on the idea of a new relationship before it even starts?
His phone vibrated on the desk next to his keyboard. “Chest @ 4.” Dan hit reply and texted back, “K.” This was a normal exchange that happened almost every day, and Dan smiled to himself. The familiar message meant that in an hour he’d be leaving work and heading to the gym.
“You were vibrating again,” Dan’s co-worker Michelle called out from over the cubicle wall.
“I know, but at least I remembered to turn off the ringer.” He snickered, glad she couldn’t see his face. Michelle was the phone Nazi, picking on co-workers who forgot to silence their cell phones. “Just an hour and I get to leave.”
He heard a snide, “Yeah, yeah.” float over the wall as he got back to work on the report he was finishing for the director.
At quitting time, Dan made sure everything was saved, shut off his computer, and grabbed his stuff before stopping on his way out of the building to fill his water bottle with ice from the machine. Like many things in Dan’s life, this was part of his daily ritual.
Leaving the building, he walked to his car and dumped his bag in the back seat. He slid the water bottle into his gym bag before climbing into the driver’s seat and starting the engine. The drive to the gym was the usual quick and painless five minutes, though it seemed like a world away. The daily pressure of work slipped away as he pushed open the glass doors and walked into the huge, new, gleaming temple of exercise. This was one of the few things Dan did for himself, and he relished it.
“Hey, Dan.” The woman behind the counter greeted him as she scanned his card.
“Hi, Denise.” He didn’t stop to talk; it wasn’t expected. Instead, he hefted his bag and walked to the locker room, choosing one of the polished wood lockers and pulling off his clothes to change.
“Big Pimpin’!” Dan grinned and shook his head, not bothering to look up.
“Hi, Lon.” The man pulled off his shirt and toed off his shoes before slipping his pants down his legs. Smack. “Geez, Lon.” Dan rubbed his butt where Lonnie’s smacked him. “You wait!” Dan pulled on his shorts and slid on a string tank, and then he sat down to put on his shoes.
“Nice panties.” Dan ignored the old and familiar comment. Dan hated the baggie shorts most guys wore; they felt funny on his legs.
“Big ass.” Dan reached out and swatted Lonnie’s butt as he teased, “Do these pants make my butt look big?”
Lonnie twisted around, trying to get a look at his own butt. “Do they?”
Dan rolled his eyes as he got up and locked the locker before grabbing his gloves and water bottle. “No, your ass makes your pants look big.” Dan ducked under Lonnie’s swipe and laughed as they left the locker room together. “You are the most ass-obsessed straight man I’ve ever met,” Dan chided as they walked to the weight area. “Am I fat? Does my ass look big? God, Lon, sometimes I think you’re the gay one—either that or a woman.”
“Would that make Corey a lesbian?” Lonnie said it with such a straight face that Dan couldn’t keep himself from laughing.
“Come on, let’s get started. Bench press or dumbbells?”
“We’ve been using barbells for a while; let’s use dumbbells.” Dan nodded in agreement and grabbed a bench. After setting down his things, he grabbed the sixty pounders for a warm-up, set with Lonnie completing his own set when Dan was done.
They’d just completed their third set and Dan was grabbing the eight-five pounders when he looked up into the mirrors and faltered for a second before picking up the weights. “Lon, who’s the guy on the incline press?” Lonnie knew everyone either because they were his clients or because he was the most outgoing person on Earth. Dan picked up the weights for his set while Lonnie turned around. As Dan lifted the weights and checked his form in the mirror, Lonnie wandered away, returning just as Dan was finishing up his last reps before dropping the weights.
Lonnie scoffed, “That’s Gene Harper.”
The name meant nothing to Dan, and he shrugged slowly, looking in the mirror again as the man finished his set, watching those muscles work as they pushed up almost three hundred pounds.
“He’s a professional,” Lonnie added.
“Do you know him?”
Lonnie shook his head, “Not personally, but he’s been on the cover of just about every muscle and bodybuilding magazine at some point.”
Lonnie took his place on the bench, and Dan helped him hoist the hundred pounders onto his legs before he began his set. Lonnie was more than capable of handling the weight, so Dan found his attention and his eyes shifting to the mirrors and the absolute vision working out at the bench behind them. He watched as the bodybuilder finished his set and clanked the weight into the bench rack. Dan returned his attention to Lonnie and then glanced back in the mirror and right into the bodybuilder’s reflected eyes.
The intensity of his gaze made Dan shiver slightly, and he quickly turned his eyes away as Lonnie’s weights thudded onto the floor. Dan took a sip from his bottle and got the weights for his own set, doing his best not to check in the mirror again, but he couldn’t help it.
“Quit making goo-goo eyes and do your set,” Lonnie scolded.
“Look who’s talking.” Dan watched as Lonnie’s fiancée approached and his expression went all mushy.
“Hey, Chicken.” Dan couldn’t help snorting softly. Lonnie was the only man on Earth who’d nickname his vegan fiancée “Chicken.” Pulling his eyes jealously away from their cooing and light kisses, he reclined on the bench, and pushed his weights into position. He got five reps with the ninety-fives and then dropped the weights and sat back up, his eyes checking the mirror again, but the bench behind them was empty.
Dan’s attention turned back to Lonnie and Chicken—Corey—and smiled as he watched them. “Lonnie, don’t you two do enough of that at home?”
Corey walked over and gave Dan a brief kiss on the cheek. “How are you?”
“I’m good, Gorgeous, how are you?”
Corey swiped at Dan’s arm and looked away. “Stop it.” Lonnie’s fiancée was a beautiful, fit, bright woman who refused to believe how attractive she was. Lonnie gave her another quick kiss.
Lonnie waved toward the benches as he took a swig from Dan’s water bottle. “Let’s grab an incline bench.”
Dan nodded and picked up his things, moving to the only free bench and grabbing the weights. He’d just gotten them in place when he saw the bodybuilder walk alongside him and pick up one of the weights from the rack. Dan almost dropped the weights on his chest when he saw the man bend over, his pants drawing tight over a butt to die for. Jesus, Dan, pay attention! He returned his focus to the weights and completed his set, just barely, before dropping the weight. He and Lonnie continued with their sets, with Dan peeking in the mirror and watching the bodybuilder as he went about his routine, and they finished theirs.
“Sauna?” Lonnie picked up his weight belt and took another swig of water.
“Yeah, I need it.” Dan’s muscles were tight, and the heat would help loosen them up so they wouldn’t be sore the next day. He filled the water bottle from the drinking fountain and headed into the locker room. Lon pulled off his shirt and headed into the shower and sauna area while Dan changed into a bathing suit and followed behind him.
When he got in the sauna, Lonnie was already regaling the others with some of his stories of past debauchery. “Nice suit, Princess,” he teased.
Dan turned around and wiggled his butt at him. “Thanks, Tinkerbell.” Most of the guys had heard this type of exchange before, and it didn’t faze them at all; they knew Lonnie. The conversation turned to workout routines, as it usually did.
“I need to lose weight.” This was another of Lonnie’s refrains.
Dan couldn’t restrain himself. “It won’t do you any good, and you know it. Dieting is not going to shrink your J. Lo ass.” Lonnie was indeed unfortunate in the butt department. “You just have to face it: you’re seven percent body fat with your middle-aged mother’s ass.” They guys all laughed, mainly because it was true.
In response, Lonnie grabbed Dan’s water bottle and blew a fountain of water at him.
“I owe you two, Lonnie,” Dan quipped as he snatched back the bottle.
After relaxing nicely, Dan left the sauna to get cleaned up. Walking into the shower area, he took one of the stalls and started the water. Dan heard Lonnie wander in a few minutes later. Now was the time. Reaching outside the shower, Dan grabbed the water bottle and filled it, the ice still clinking. Slowly he opened his curtain and saw Lonnie’s head of black hair. With a quick move, he dumped the water into the other shower.
A scream of surprise from the shower made Dan smile. The shower curtain opened, and Dan found himself face-to-face, naked body to naked body, with… the bodybuilder.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Dan didn’t know what to say, and he stammered an apology as peals of laughter echoed from one of the other stalls. Dan turned toward the laughter, “You bastard!” Then he turned back to a still fuming and still very naked man. “I’m sorry, I thought you were him.” Dan did his very best to keep his eyes above the equator, and even tried to look at the man’s face, but he couldn’t help peeking at his bodybuilder’s chest. There was just so much to look at after all.
The angry look faded, to Dan’s relief. “It’s okay.” Then the bodybuilder turned around and stepped back into the shower, giving Dan a look at the naked version of the butt he’d seen earlier through the gym shorts. Dan had to bite his lip to restrain the small whine that tried its best to escape. Forcing himself to turn away, Dan retreated to his shower and pulled the curtain tight, letting the hot water beat down on him.
There was no way in hell he could step out of the shower, not after the eyeful he’d just gotten. Using the soap, he took himself in hand, stroking a few times as visions of the wet, tanned, muscled Adonis showering a few steps away took hold of his mind’s eye. He wondered what it would feel like to stroke those muscles, feel that skin against his, run his hands over that ass of death. Dan found himself clamping his eyes closed as his climax approached, biting his lip to stifle any sound that might escape.
Once Dan was breathing normally again, he finished his cleanup and turned off the water. Grabbing his towel, he dried himself, noticing that the other stalls were empty. Thank God. At least he wouldn’t have to face the man right away. Dan wrapped the towel around his waist, grabbed his suit, and walked out toward the locker room, making a point to keep his eyes straight ahead. But as soon as he got there, he got another eyeful. There was Mr. Bodybuilder standing on the scale in a pair of skin-tight boxer briefs, and this time, Dan got to look. Briefly. To his credit, Dan maintained his control and got to his locker. Unlocking and opening the door, he dropped his towel and stepped into his briefs before pulling on his pants.
“Excuse me.” A deep voice wrapped around Dan’s ears as his locker door moved slightly.
Dan did himself a favor and finished dressing quickly before making his escape from the locker room. Lonnie was waiting outside, and Dan walked up to him and socked him in the arm. “Thank you very much. I thought he was going to punch me.”
Lonnie started laughing again. Corey came out of the women’s locker room, and Lonnie managed to tell her what he’d done through his laughter.
“Lonnie, it wasn’t that funny,” Dan said. It really was, but Dan couldn’t let him think so, not right now.
“Aww, come on,” Lonnie said. They grabbed their stuff and walked toward the front door. “Why don’t you follow us back to the house? I need to get something, and we can go to dinner.”
Dan acquiesced and followed Lonnie and Corey out to the parking lot. Getting in the car, Dan followed Lonnie’s royal blue Porsche out of the parking lot and onto the highway. Ten minutes later, Dan pulled into Lonnie’s driveway and got out of the car. Lonnie came out of the house and tossed something at him.
“We’re leaving for the Dominican Republic in a few days, so take the Boxster while I’m gone.” Lonnie opened the garage door, and Dan got in the sleek silver convertible and pulled it onto the driveway. “Empty out your stuff and pull your car in the garage,” Lonnie instructed. Dan smiled as he moved the stuff he’d need from his car to the storage compartment under the Porsche’s hood before pulling his car into the garage. The overhead door came down, and Dan went inside the house through the garage entrance.
“Where’s Corey?” Dan called out as he walked into the massive living room.
“She’s upstairs.” Lonnie turned on the television and sank onto the leather sofa. “So what’s with you making eyes at Mr. Muscles the entire time we were working out? I take it you like him, or at least would like to do him.” Lonnie was never subtle or tactful about anything.
“What’s not to like? But let’s be real here. He’s what, about twenty-eight? And way out of my league. Even if he is gay, a guy like that is not going to go for a skinny old guy like me.” Dan couldn’t suppress his smile. “Especially after I threw cold water on him.” Dan couldn’t resist taking another swipe at Lonnie’s arm.
“I’m not so sure he isn’t interested. He was looking at us the entire time we were working out, and I don’t think he was looking at me.” Lonnie swiped back at Dan, catching him lightly on the shoulder. “Besides, you have to admit, he did notice you.”
“Only after I threw ice water on him. God, Lon, I’m forty.”
“Fuck, would you stop whining about that already? You turned forty six months ago; it’s getting old; and you know you could pass for thirty any time you wanted. If I were gay, I’d do you any time.”
“Thanks, I think.”
Lonnie got up from the sofa and rummaged through a pile of magazines before tossing one into Dan’s lap. He turned it over and saw a picture of Gene Harper on the cover. Dan leafed through the magazine until Corey came down the stairs. Then he set it on the table.
“Take it with you if you want,” Lonnie said. He got up and met Corey with a kiss at the bottom of the stairs, and Dan followed them out to the cars.
Dan started the powerful Porsche engine and followed Lonnie and Corey to the restaurant. Their dinner was great, and in the parking lot afterward they said good night, with Lonnie hugging the stuffing out of Dan. “Man, don’t sell yourself short. I know Mike did a number on you, but you deserve all the happiness in the world,” Lonnie said.
Dan found himself hugged again as Lonnie added, “I’ve got appointments for the next two days and then we leave for vacation. Be good, Bro, and I’ll see you when we get back.” Lonnie thumped Dan on the back and released him. After final goodbyes and hugs, they left and Dan walked to the car and drove home.
Pulling up to his house, Dan parked the car and put up the top before unlocking the front door and walking inside. He dropped his work bag near the door and put his dirty clothes in the laundry. As he rifled through his bag, he found the magazine and headed to the living room to watch TV, taking it along with him.
The television droned on as Dan opened the magazine, turning directly to the cover article, which, to his surprise, wasn’t the usual crap about what workout routines the guy used. Instead, it was an interview. Dan skimmed it, half expecting the usual fluffy crap, but his eyes stopped when one word jumped out of the page at him: GAY. Dan stopped and read closer.
“Well, I’ll be damned.” The gorgeous hunk from the gym was gay, and out, no less. And if the article was any indication, the guy seemed articulate. Dan read the rest of the interview before closing the magazine and dropping it on the table with a sigh. Just because he was gay didn’t mean that Gene Harper would ever be interested in him, but Dan could dream. At least he’d gotten to see the muscled Adonis naked in all his glory. Turning off the light, he headed of to bed, telling himself that he wasn’t going to whack off to thoughts of Gene Harper. Well… at least not again.