Hardwired for Love (MM)
Three times burned, Br’er Harris swears off efforts to find love. He still has needs, though, which he satisfies by becoming a paid escort.
Widower Ray Cunningham wants to explore the feelings of attraction to men he’s had most of his life but has kept hidden for fear of rejection from his ultra-conservative family. Ray doesn’t want a relationship with a man; he just wants to satisfy his urges with no-strings hook-ups. And the easiest way to achieve this is to hire an escort.
Ray’s first encounter is with Br’er, and they’re instantly and powerfully drawn to each other. The attraction is so powerful and disturbing, each privately vows to never see the other again.
However, their feelings will not be denied. Br’er accepts a second meeting, which leads to a third, then a fourth. Despite his previous history with relationships, Br’er knows Ray is the one for him. Unfortunately, Ray’s fear of being outed to his family keeps him from being able to offer more than clandestine meetings in out of town hotel rooms. Br’er says it’s enough, but Ray knows he deserves better.
Ray is faced with a decision. Can he let Br’er go to find the love he deserves, or will he be able to throw open the closet door and live openly with the man he’s hardwired to love?
Ray unlocked the door and went into the hotel room. He put his overnight bag on the suitcase stand and smiled. These last few weeks of seeing Br'er had been happy ones. He wished they didn't have to be so secretive about their relationship. But what could he do with his job and his family being what they were?
He unzipped the bag and took out his toiletries, thinking of what he and Br'er shared. Could it be called a relationship? After all, Br'er was a paid escort, not a real lover. But surely Br'er felt something for him. If he didn't, he was a damn good actor. And hadn't he offered not to take his full fee, just what Br'er had to pay the agency? Didn't that show Br'er wanted this to be more than a business relationship?
Of course, it couldn't be. Not really. Not with Ray's situation. So maybe it was better just to let things be, not burst the bubble by trying to find out what Br'er's feelings were -- just pretend it was something real. Br'er was a handsome young man. What would he want with a middle-aged widower anyway?
Ray's thoughts were interrupted by a knock. His heart fluttered, and his cock tingled. He quickly checked himself in the mirror and went to the door. He opened it. Br'er stood there with his backpack on his shoulder and that wonderful impish grin on his face. "Hey," he said.
Ray pulled him into the room and into his arms. He kicked the door shut and leaned against the wall, holding Br'er fast against him, letting the magic of arousal banish all the speculation and doubt from his mind. Br'er was here. What did it matter whether or not what they were sharing was real? Ray's feelings were real. That was enough.
An hour later, showered and dressed in the soft terry robes the hotel provided for the guests, they lay together on the bed. The aura of great sex still surrounded them. Br'er was in Ray's favorite position with his head on Ray's chest, an arm around Ray's waist and a leg draped over Ray's. Ray played with Br'er's hair.
"Can it get any better than this?" Br'er asked.
Not sure if the question was rhetorical, Ray hesitated and then said, "I don't see how."
Br'er started to say something, then seemed to change his mind.
"What?" Ray asked.
"You know, if we had a way to get in contact without having to go through Antonio's, you wouldn't have to pay for our being together. It just doesn't feel right that you're still paying."
Br'er's words both thrilled and frightened Ray. "That would be nice. But ... I don't know."
"Never mind. Forget I asked," Br'er said as if sensing that what he'd said was stressing Ray. "I know it would be hard for you. I don't want to do that. I understand that with your being married ..."
Without thinking, Ray said, "I'm not married."
Br'er sat up, surprised. "You're not? But your wedding ring?"
Ray held out his left hand and fingered the wedding band. Of course, Br'er would have assumed he was married. "I'm a widower," he said. "My wife passed away about two years ago." A wave of emotion passed over him.
"I'm ... I'm sorry," Br'er said awkwardly. Then he laid back down on Ray's chest. Ray stroked Br'er's hair. He wasn't sure what to do. He sensed a change in Br'er. Did Br'er's knowing he wasn't married change things? Did that mean Br'er would want more, want a relationship Ray couldn't provide?