Dr. Daniel Parker, equine veterinarian, has always assumed he was straight. Recently divorced, Dan is now on a quest to discover what these feelings of attraction to other men, which have lurked in the background all his life, really mean.
Naïve and inexperienced, wearing his heart on his sleeve, Dan jumps feet first into the gay dating scene and soon finds himself out of his depth in the various gay subcultures. His hopes are raised then dashed several times after discovering that what he's really looking for is a loving and committed relationship. Frustrated, Dan throws himself back into his work.
When Dan goes on a farm call to examine two newly-purchased horses, he meets Scott Wagner. His attraction to Scott is immediate. Could it have been this easy to find Mr. Right all along? But Dan's fantasies of domestic bliss fade when he learns the horses are for Scott's daughters -- Scott is married and straight. Disappointed, Dan wonders if he'll ever find love. Or will this farm call still make all the difference?
The closer Dan got to the city, the more his stomach felt like the Butterfly House at the local zoo. The feelings of mixed apprehension and excitement kept increasing as he pulled off the interstate and followed the GPS instructions to The Flame.
When the smooth female voice announced, "Arriving at destination on right," Dan felt the deepest swoop of trepidation yet. He stopped his car and stared at the door of the bar.
The Flame was nothing to write home about: just a plain black door in an old building in the style of the early thirties. It was several stories high and the windows on the upper floors were covered with shades that appeared ancient and dingy.
As he watched, two young men dressed in tight, sleeveless muscle shirts and skinny jeans came down the street. They were laughing and talking. They opened the door of the bar and went in.
Dan took a deep breath. He had dressed in a green, short sleeve shirt, and tan khakis. He swallowed, put the car in drive, and left. He got about two blocks away when he stopped and pulled over again.
No, you've come this far. You're gonna go through with this, he told himself. You're not going to use how you're dressed as an excuse for backing out.
When he got back to The Flame, he parked, got out of his car, crossed the street, and walked to the door. He hesitated, squared his shoulders, and went in.
It was dark inside. Dimmed overhead can lights, candles on the tables, and the lights from the illuminated liquor shelves behind the bar provided the only light. Loud rock music played over the speakers. As his eyes adjusted he saw it was fairly crowded, although it was still early in the evening. Men stood together in groups or in pairs. Here and there he saw a man by himself. The bar was crowded with men standing elbow to elbow. Some were engaged in conversation, others were surveying the crowd. A few younger guys were gyrating on a hardwood square in the middle of the room to the heavy beat of the rock music. Dan was relieved to see that there was a wide range of age groups as well as a variety of physical types among the patrons.
Dan was standing near the door. It opened and a man Dan judged to be in his late forties or fifties came in. As he walked by he gave Dan's butt a squeeze. "Nice ass," the man said.
Dan felt himself begin to panic. This isn't for me, he thought and turned to leave. As he did he walked directly into a tall man who was just coming in. The man held Dan by the shoulders as if to steady him. Dan's arms went around the man's waist.
"Leaving so soon?" the man asked in a deep, husky voice.
Dan looked up into a handsome face that oozed sexuality. The man had dark hair, a close cropped goatee, and penetrating blue eyes. His full lips seemed to pout and smile at the same time. He had an air of something forbidden about him. How could one face produce such mayhem in Dan's mind? His cock plumped.
Before Dan could pull himself together to respond, the man said, "You're new here, right? I mean, I don't think I've ever seen you at The Flame before. If I did I sure would remember you."
The man had still not taken his hands off Dan's shoulders, and Dan's were still on the guy's hips.
"This is ..." Dan croaked. He cleared his throat. "This is my first time."
The guy laughed. "That's good. Because if you've been here before and I've missed you, I'd think I was losing my touch. A sexy guy like you is hard to overlook."
Dan was afraid he was going to go to full staff if he stood being held so close to this guy and gazing into that fantastic face. He dropped his hands from the guy's waist and took a step back.
"Come on," the stranger said, "I'm gonna buy you a drink." He laid a hand across Dan's shoulders and steered him to the bar.
"Hey, Rocky," one of the bartenders called out as the two found a space at the bar. "How's it goin' man?"
"We'll have to wait and see," Rocky said, pulling Dan close to him and giving Dan a sensuous smile.
The barman snickered and winked at the men. "What're you drinkin'?"
"My friend here will have ..." Rocky said, looking at Dan and mesmerizing him with his beautiful blue eyes.
"A vodka martini," Dan managed to say without removing his eyes from Rocky's.
Rocky broke the spell by looking away. "Good choice. Make that two."
"Comin' right up," the bartender said.
"Now ..." Rocky raised his eyebrows and cocked his head.
"Uh - Dan."
"Dan. Tell me where have you been all my life?"
Dan wanted to say, "Waiting for you." But instead he just smiled and shrugged.
The bartender returned with their drinks.
Rocky picked up his glass and raised it in a salute. "Here's to the beginning."
Just what Rocky meant by that, Dan wasn't sure, but Dan suddenly knew what he wanted it to be the beginning of. "To the beginning," he said, picking up his drink.
They clinked glasses and each took a sip.
"So, tell me, Dan. Why have you never been in here before?"