The Facebook challenge was to post a one-word story title and a brief synopsis. I looked up from my spot in the passenger seat and saw the sign for Pittsburgh. Three minutes later, this little story was sketched out in my head.
Here's a flirtatious excerpt about two men who meet in a Philadelphia sports bar watching a 76ers (basketball) game.
This sexy, MM short story makes its debut on August 19 at Patient Lee's Saturday Takeover on Queeromance Ink's Facebook Page.
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The warm blast of heat as I opened the door of Tommy’s, the sports bar down the street from my office, hit me like a hug from my mother. It was frickin’ freezing in Philadelphia this week, and it didn’t look like it was gonna warm up any time soon. I was late getting out of work, again, and I’d already missed the first quarter of the Sixers game. It didn’t help that the bar was packed. I looked around for people I knew, but I could hardly walk, never mind see. I pushed my way to the bar, just as an older guy pulled his overcoat off the back of his chair and yelled a thank you to the bartender.
“You leaving, man?” I asked as I put my hand on the stool before somebody else grabbed it.
“Yeah,” he said. “Just stopped for a beer. Basketball ain’t my thing.” He pushed his way through the crowd, and I bellied up to the bar. I arranged my coat on my chair and loosened my tie, checking the back on my Flyers tie tack to make sure it was secure.
“Stella Bella,” I called, flagging the bartender over. Her name was Stella, but that didn’t stop me from adding on the Bella. I’d been coming to this bar for four years, ever since I moved out of my parents’ house in King of Prussia to my townhouse in Rittenhouse Square. Stella was gorgeous. Long, brown, wavy hair, and an ass that filled her jeans to a level that most men would find delicious.
Most men. Not me. I came out in high school and took all the shit that came along with it, but I graduated and went to Penn State Main Campus. I got my degree in business, and right after graduation, I got a job at PNC bank in Philly. It was a good job, not my dream job or anything, but I had a nice place to live and I was pretty happy with my life. All that was missing was a guy who filled his jeans like Stella did. A nice package in the front wouldn’t hurt either.
Stella put the pitcher of Yuengling and a frosted glass in front of me. “How ya doing, Clarke?”
“Better now that I’m in here,” I said. “It’s fucking cold out there.”
She filled my glass, clucking her tongue and smiling. “It’s January in Philadelphia. What the hell did you expect?” The State Farm commercial on the giant TV in front of me ended, and the second quarter of the game started.
I didn’t notice the guy next to me until I finished my burger. I was so fucking hungry, and so focused on the game, I wouldn’t have noticed if a bomb went off. The Sixers were down by four for most of the second quarter, and I didn’t want to have to depend on the replay when they turned the tables on the Bulls.
He actually hit me when the Sixers caught up. His arms flew up in the air when Robinson tied the game up. His hand clipped my head, and his head snapped toward me. The shocked look on his face was hilarious.
“I am so sorry,” he said. His eyes were wide, and I could see that he hadn’t even realized I was there.
“Quite a game, huh?”
“Yeah. Great game, now that we’re tied up.”
Stella leaned in between the two of us, looked at me, and said just loudly enough to hear over the noise in the bar, “I know for a fact he enjoys that.”
He blushed an adorable shade of red, but I did, too. “How does she know that for a fact, huh? Did Stella Bella tie you up?” I tried not to grin too widely. I didn’t want him to think I was coming on to him. I was coming on to him, but I’d been shot down in an embarrassing blaze of dismay enough times to stay cool.
“NO!” He said it loud enough for our whole side of the bar to hear. “I drank too much one night, and she—”
“She tied you up?” I laughed, mostly from discomfort. Bondage wasn’t in my bag of tricks. Neither was hetero sex.
“No.” He snorted out loud. “She coaxed the story out of me. This bachelorette party was discussing Fifty Shades of Grey. I made a comment, and she didn’t let it go until I told the story.” He took a long drink, draining his beer. “I am so freaking embarrassed right now.”
The game resumed, and I let it go for a few minutes. Stella brought another round, and this time, she spoke to him. “Did you tell him all about it? I bet he’d love to know. I think he’s your type.” She looked at me and gestured to him with her head. “He’s gorgeous, isn’t he, Clarke?”
I cocked an eyebrow. Was she trying to fix us up?
“Clarke, this is Joe. Joe, this is Clarke. I can’t believe you guys haven’t met here before.”
He had the same confused look as I did. “I usually work second shift, so I’m not usually here until midnight,” he said. “They got me on first shift this week.”
“What do you do?”
“Paramedic. I live around the corner, so I stop in a lot on the way home. Tonight I just came to watch the game with someone other than my cat.”
“Ha! Same. I work during the day, but neither of my cats appreciate my obnoxious cheering. I’m in banking. Less exciting, but then again, so am I.”
The Sixers got a three-pointer, pushing them into the lead. Joe and I jumped up and cheered, along with the rest of the bar. He turned to me and gave me a deliberate high-five. Our eyes met for a moment, and a shiver ran through me. I tried to shake it off, but he was hot. And it had been a long time since I met someone. But was he gay? I wasn’t sure enough to risk it. Yet.
We returned our attention to the game, and I was grateful for the distraction. This guy was making me hard, and until I knew whether he was gay or straight, I didn’t want him to. The momentum had shifted to the Sixers, and they were up by eight points.
Stella came around with refills. She put them down on the bar and stood there, looking from Joe to me and back to Joe. “What’s the matter with you?”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “We’re watching the game.”
“I’ve done all the work for you two. If you blow this, it’s your own fault.” She snorted. “I mean, blowing would indicate success, but . . .”
My heart was pounding. He had to be gay. She had to be setting us up. He turned to me with raised eyebrows.
I grinned as the lump in my pants returned. “So then you . . .”
“Oh, thank goodness,” he said, grinning back.
The buzzer ending the game echoed through the bar, and everyone jumped up, cheering. Without thinking, I leapt from my chair and hugged him. I was almost embarrassed, but before I had a chance to blush, his erection poked my thigh. Thank goodness is right.
We pulled back and locked eyes. “Did you say you live around the corner?” I asked. I couldn't resist. He was adorable, and I hadn't had sex in ages.
Stella raised her glass of ginger ale to us as we grabbed our coats and left in a rush. The blast of cold air did nothing to cool my ardor, but the snow had picked up.
“I think the meteorological term is snowing like a son-of-a-bitch!” He pulled his black-and-gold watch cap over his ears. “It’s just down there.” He gestured with his gloved fingers to the gift shop down the block. “I live upstairs.”
Three steps later, and my toes were frozen through my wingtips. Joe was much better prepared for the cold than I. Better prepared for the snow, too. I’d lived my entire life in Philadelphia, and I still didn’t think to put my damn boots on in the winter. My heel slid right through the snow, and I fell to the sidewalk, my skull smashing into the snow-cushioned pavement.
My rational mind knew it was Joe’s paramedic training which pushed him to cradle my head with such care, but my rational mind was on break. I gazed into his eyes, and serenity engulfed me. He shifted his head, and the snow and the streetlight formed a perfect halo around his heavenly face. I heard horns—the angels, I guessed, but Joe’s head snapped up, his eyes went wide, and everything went dark.
* * * *
The blackout affected a big chunk of the city, but the accident which caused the horns I heard happened right in front of Tommy’s, the sports bar we’d just left. We couldn't tell if anyone was injured, and it was freaking dark. No streetlights, no neon, no LED signs flashing open, and now that the accident blocked the one-way street, no headlights.
While I was still lying on the sidewalk, I encouraged Joe to go to the accident. I could tell he was itching to help.
“I already have a patient. I can’t abandon one patient for another without transferring care,” he said, his voice all business. He helped me to my feet once he’d finished his assessment and determined I was okay. “Besides, I can’t show up on scene with a boner like this.” He held my arm after that, which was just dandy with me. We were close in height, and the traces of his aftershave drew me in.
He fumbled with the key in the dark entrance to his apartment. “Jesus. It’s so dark I won’t even need to blindfold you.”
“Blindfold?” I choked on spit as I said it.
To be continued . . .
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