As a self-employed electrician, Lloyd Barrett doesn’t meet a lot of eligible gay men on the job. So he downloads a dating app on a whim, and is surprised to find a profile for Doug Pfost, the former quarterback of his high school football team. He’s even more surprised when Doug likes his photo.
Soon they meet up at a local bar after work. Doug tells Lloyd he married his high school sweetheart after graduation but now, ten years and a young son later, Doug is in the process of getting a divorce and looking to explore his sexuality. Even though they seem to hit it off, Doug runs out on him when Lloyd gets up to pay the bill.
Later that evening, Doug calls to ask for a second chance. However, this second date also results in Doug bailing.
Doug begs for patience as he struggles to come out. Is Lloyd willing to give Doug another second chance?
So when Lloyd saw Doug’s photo on Tinder, he swiped right without hesitation. Then a queasy nervousness hit him and he closed the app. God, how stupid could he be? Doug wasn’t gay. The last Lloyd had heard, Doug was going to marry Jenny Archer, a pretty cheerleader he’d dated all four years of high school. Even if something had happened between them, if Doug had joined Tinder looking for someone new, there was no way he’d be interested in Lloyd.
Which made it all the more surprising when Lloyd got a notification that Doug liked his photo, too.
Suddenly he’d felt like a giddy schoolboy all over. He stared at the message Doug had sent -- hey what’s up man? hit me back -- for what seemed like hours before he gathered up the courage to respond. He didn’t say they’d gone to the same school, and didn’t admit to harboring a teenage crush, either. Instead he played it cool, keeping his message short and sweet.
And now here they were, meeting for drinks.
Or rather, here Lloyd was, on his second beer and wondering how stupid he’d been to think someone like Doug would be interested in someone like him.
Serves me right for getting my hopes up, Lloyd thought glumly. I didn’t really think he was gay, but is it so bad to wish he was?
Finishing the rest of his beer, Lloyd set down the mug with a thud on the table and reached for the wallet in his back pocket. Time to pay up and head on out before the weather got too bad. Maybe once he was home, he’d scroll through a few more Tinder photos, try again.
Before he could get out his wallet, though, the door leading to the parking lot opened and, amid a swirl of snowflakes and cold air, in walked Doug Pfost.
Well, I’ll be damned.
Lloyd tucked his wallet back into his pocket and waited while Doug looked around. When he spied Lloyd at the booth against the far wall, he hunched his shoulders and hurried over. He wore a heavy flannel shirt buttoned up to his neck against the cold and a pair of dark blue jeans, and on his feet were scuffed Timberland work boots. As he approached Lloyd’s table, he brushed a dusting of snow off the stiff bristles of his hair.
Holding out a hand, Lloyd nodded. “Doug, hey. I was beginning to think you wouldn’t make it.”
“Sorry, man. Didn’t realize it was snowing out. Roads are already slick as shit.” Doug took the offered hand and squeezed more than shook it, his fingers like ice against Lloyd’s warm skin. Then he slid into the booth across from Lloyd, unbuttoning his flannel shirt to expose the thermal undershirt beneath it.
While Doug’s photo on Tinder had been attractive, up close and in the flesh he was breathtaking. Lloyd felt a jolt of lust shoot through him, reigniting all the old feelings he once harbored for the former high school quarterback. Older now, Doug’s boyish good looks had grown rugged, sexier, in ways Lloyd couldn’t quite pin down. His hair was sheared off -- what was once a short, brown trim bleached on top with gelled spikes was now an inch of dark fuzz covering his scalp -- and his pale blue eyes were edged with small lines in the corners. A rough rasp of faint hair shadowed his chin and jaw, and the cold weather had brought a rosy flush to his cheeks.
Sweet Jesus, Lloyd marveled, his palms growing damp. He stared openly at his date. His date. The word caused his stomach to roil in anxious anticipation, and his blood hummed with something other than the beers he’d already had. Me. He’s here to see me. Lord, please don’t let me screw this up.
With a nod at Lloyd’s empty mug, Doug asked, “What’re you drinking?”
Doug shrugged. “The same.”
Somehow Lloyd managed to tear his gaze away long enough to flash two fingers at the bartender, who nodded in understanding. As she poured the beers, Lloyd smiled at Doug. “I’m really glad you’re here.”
“Me, too.” With a self-conscious laugh, Doug said, “Can I just say you look a lot different in person than you did in that profile pic?”
Lloyd ducked his head, embarrassed. “I hope that’s a good thing.”
“Oh yeah. You look better. I think it’s the smile.”
Lloyd tried to keep from grinning and failed miserably. “Well, can I say I liked your photo because I kinda sorta know you already?”
A guarded expression slipped down over Doug’s face. “Know me how?”