The start of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire means Wes can finally get back to his seasonal job and distract himself from his recent messy break-up. There’s plenty for him to think about at the Faire, such as his role as a wandering flower merchant, the overwhelming August heat, and Carlo, who plays a handsome knight.
Carlo is the exact opposite of Wes’s ex, Phillip, who won’t let their relationship die easily. The young knight is sweet and caring and chivalrous, but Wes has sworn to himself he’s not ready to jump back into dating yet.
When Carlo collapses off his horse during a joust, Wes has to confront his own feelings for his new friend, as well as Phillip’s constant attempts to win him back.
“Heyo, Farm Boy, pass the mead.”
Carlo picked the bottle up from between his feet and handed it over. “Don’t drink all of it, I might want seconds.”
One of the women sitting on the ground by the fountain scooted closer. “So, why do they call you ‘Farm Boy’?” she asked somewhat flirtatiously.
“It’s one of Jeff’s weird nicknames,” Carlo said, shaking his head. “Like how Robert is ‘Old Bear’ and Hal is ‘Rocky’.”
“I’m okay with being Rocky,” Hal said. “It fits. I’m from Philly, and I can take a beating and dish it right back.”
Jeff nodded. “Exactly. And Carlo is ‘Farm Boy’ because he grew up on a farm. And because he has that Smallville Tom Welling jawline going on.”
“I thought you looked familiar!” the flirting girl said. “Except your eyes are brown instead of blue. Still handsome though.”
“Calm down, Alia,” Jeff said, waving his hand. “Unfortunately for you, and all the women here, Carlo is a life-long player for the other team.”
That made Wes’s ears perk up. Carlo was barely a blip on his gaydar, and Wes had chalked that up to wishful thinking. He wanted more friends who were his own orientation, and Carlo seemed nice.
“What a coincidence!” Jared exclaimed. He clapped Wes on the shoulder. “My main man Wes here is also of the homosexual persuasion.”
Wes turned his head to give Jared a death glare. He had specifically told Jared he wasn’t interested in dating, yet here he was playing wingman.
Hal looked between Wes and Carlo. “Should I move over to let you sit together?” he asked.
Carlo sighed. “Guys, you don’t have to ship us just because we’re the only gay guys here.”
“Excuse me!” came a loud exclamation from the other side of the fountain. “I’m gay too!”
“You wanna go out some time?” Carlo called back.
“I’d have to ask my husband, but I get the feeling the answer is ‘no’, sorry.”
“No problem.” Carlo turned back to Hal and said, “You see? You can’t put two people together based solely on their sexual preference. It’s like if I came up to you and said, ‘Hey, heard you were straight! My sister is single. Do you want to meet her?’ then started naming your kids or whatever.”
Hal shrugged. “Is your sister hot?”
Carlo’s face became stony. “My sister is fifteen,” he said in a protective growl.
Hal put his hands up defensively. “Well, why didn’t you say that?”
“Because that’s my point. You don’t know anything about my sister, so why would you agree to date her? I don’t know anything about ... uh ...” Carlo furrowed his brow and snapped his fingers.
“Wes,” Wes said.
“Right! Wes! For all I know he could be a crude meat-head asshole.”
Wes nodded. “And for all I know Carlo could be a self-centered bastard like my ex.”
Carlo’s eyes grew wide. “Oh, heck no. My mama raised me right, thank you very much.”
Jeff laughed. “See? Total farm boy. He’s not even technically an actor.”
Jared leaned forward, propping his elbows on his knees. “Huh? I thought all the knights were with the Bacchanalian company?”
“I am, for the season,” Carlo said. “My family runs the farm that raises most of the horses they use here. I’ve been helping to train them since I was a kid, and since my parents would take me to the Faire to watch the jousts, I’ve always loved this place. I applied to work here when I graduated high school, but they turned me down. Went to college instead, but kept applying when I came back. Eventually had to take some theatre courses for experience, but here I am.”
Wes raised his eyebrows. “Respect.”
“Thank you,” Carlo said. “Now who has that Maiden’s Delight? My goblet is regrettably empty.”
Jared glanced at Wes and grinned. “I take it you’re not into blonds then.”
Carlo shrugged. “I like blonds very well, but it’s not as though I’m going to jump into bed with a guy simply because he had nice hair and just the right amount of scruff.” He narrowed his eyes. “What kind of lax standards do you heteros have?”
“All I’m saying is that if I weren’t totally into women, I would have made a move on him by now.”
“You’re welcome to do so,” Carlo said. “I, however, am going to go about this my own way.” He reached across Hal and offered a hand to Wes. “Hi, I’m Carlo. Nice to meet you.”
Wes grinned and shook his hand. “Wes, likewise.”
“Whatcha drinking tonight?”
Carlo stood and brushed off the seat of his shorts. “Wanna take that bottle and go somewhere else before these guys start holding our faces together and telling us to kiss?”
“I’m down for that.” Wes took his plastic wine cup and his bottle and followed Carlo back through the Faire gates.
Jeff called after them, “Be safe, you two!”
Carlo responded by raising his middle finger without looking back.