Ben Moss has a good day job with the Public Information Office of Colby County. However, at night he’s a successful -- if secret -- writer of straight romance novels. Ben has also written a "serious" novel about a man who is, like himself, gay. Unlike his other books, no one will publish it.
Ben’s cheating ex is sorry and wants to get back together. Ben’s new boss at work is sexy and Ben is very attracted to the man. Then there’s his neighbor, Toby Tabber. Toby is smaller than Ben, younger than Ben, and it’ll never work out between them. Or will it?
Can Ben find romance just like his characters, or will love remain strictly within the pages of his novels?
"Maybe there is something I should tell you. Something I should have told you when you invited me here."
Toby raised one eyebrow and grinned. "Yeah? So what is your dark secret?"
"Cool! But I knew that."
* * * *
"You know I'm gay?"
"Uh huh, the neighbors all know. I make a point of chatting with folks when I'm out and about the neighborhood. They told me you had a partner until a couple of years ago but that he moved out and you've been alone ever since. They also said you didn't used to be such a loner."
"Damn! I've never made any secret about being gay, but I didn't know my life was known to everybody."
"Hey, that's the way people are. They're curious about the folks next door or down the block. And, face it, most of them are out in their yards in the nice weather and they talk over back fences. It's only natural to compare notes."
"Yeah, I suppose it is."
The spaghetti obviously didn't come out of a jar. Far from it. Ben was reminded of meals he'd had in good Italian restaurants. The salad was delicious, too. Obviously Toby liked to cook and was pretty good at it. Ben thought of Trent, too, who was an excellent cook.
Ben studied the younger man across the table from him. Since Trent left, he'd not had a date, had closed himself off from others, protecting himself. In that time he'd had no sex except with his hand. Toby, about 5'9", had a square face, brown eyes and black hair, which he wore short on the sides and long enough to part (on the left) on top. His Polynesian heritage was evident in his features. His broad shoulders Ben had noticed earlier, as well as his narrow hips and his eminently fuckable butt. Ben pushed all those thoughts aside, however. He wasn't interested, not even casually.
Besides, Toby was probably straight. If he'd been gay he would have said so when Ben came out to him. Ben was doing well enough on his own, and he wasn't about to open up to anyone who could hurt him as Trent had. Nevertheless, he realized he was enjoying the food, the company, the whole experience. Then it occurred to him that having a couple of straight friends wouldn't end his world. They couldn't hurt him, and if his being gay didn't upset Toby, then it probably wouldn't upset Bruce either.