After an affair with a male student was exposed, fifty-something English professor Doug Curtis left his teaching job and moved to a small conservative town in central Florida. Keeping the closet door firmly closed, Doug rebuilds his life, makes friends, becomes active in his church, and volunteers for various local organizations. He’s settled, safe ... and alone.
There’s some excitement around town when middle-aged hot shot administrator Stan Mason accepts the position of city manager. Outwardly confident and capable, Stan hides a painful past of betrayal and heartache. When Stan sees Doug, he’s instantly intrigued, captivated, and aroused. He wants to find out more about the somewhat staid but sexy older man.
Doug is also excited at Stan’s arrival in town, and soon discovers they have many shared interests, including in each other. But this is a conservative area of Florida in the late 1990s, so they have to be discrete. Seeking escape from small town attitudes, they go south on vacation. Can what happens in Key West stay in Key West?
Next in line was the guy from the church, the hottie. He was standing there with his hands cupped together with a cracker in his palm. When Doug looked at him, the man winked. Doug immediately roared with laughter. The other man burst out laughing then, too. People around the room stopped their chatting to see what was going on.
Hastily putting the cracker on a tray of empties someone was carrying back to the kitchen, the man offered his hand to Doug and said, "Hi. I'm Stan Mason."
Shaking his hand, Doug started to introduce himself, when Stan interrupted, "And you're Douglas Curtis. I saw your name in the bulletin Sunday."
"Oh, of course you would have," Doug stammered. Standing there beaming, Stan was just as sexy as Doug remembered.
"I, uh, I tried to introduce myself to you after the service, but I didn't see you anywhere in the parish hall."
"Yeah, I'm sorry to pull a stunt like that on you and then run off, but I had to get back to the office. It seems to have worked, though. You remembered me." Putting his hand on Doug's arm, he continued, "I hope you weren't shocked or offended by what I did."
"Not at all," Doug replied, smiling. "Lots of people want the LEM to dip their wafer. All you did different was to wink at me. But you sure did get my attention."
So this was Stan Mason, the new city manager. Doug had been predisposed from what Bruce had told him not to like the guy, but in the flesh, Doug found him, he admitted to himself, irresistible.
Stan smiled at Doug again, took his glass of cabernet, and excused himself. Doug watched as Stan walked up to Bruce and said hello. Bruce then introduced Stan to some of the Chamber members.
Hallie came in about 6:30. Doug poured her a glass of chardonnay even before she asked.
"What are you doing? You aren't a member of the Chamber, are you?" she asked.
"I've been drafted, but I think I may enlist for a while. I'm liking this job."
"Wonderful, darling. Now I need to go say hello to some of these people."
"Uh, would you like to pick up something to eat after this is over?" Doug asked her.
"I'd love to, but I have an AAUW meeting to get to by seven-thirty, since I'm introducing the guest speaker. But let's do dinner soon, sweetheart."
"Sure. I'll call you."
"Oh, please do."
At about ten minutes to seven, Stan came back past the drinks table.
"Doug, do you have dinner plans?"
Doug, who’d spent a good part of his life as a college professor, found himself tongue-tied.
"Uh, well, no, actually."
Stan looked him steadily in the eye, and Doug felt light-headed. He couldn't remember ever being affected this way by anyone before.
He was taking a deep breath as Stan said, "I fixed a pot of chili this afternoon. Would you like to come to my place and have some with me? I'd like to get to know you. We could have another drink, if you'd like, while I make some corn bread, and we could just visit. What do you say?"
Thinking he'd like to skip the food and jump Stan's bones, Doug cleared his throat.
"Uh, if you're sure you don't mind, I, er, think that would be nice."