Evan Harper has been sleeping with Chuck Whistler for five months. They've kept it light, just friends with benefits. Unfortunately, Evan knows his feelings run deeper than he’s let on, and he doesn't want to pressure Chuck for more. He cools things off between them and hopes for the best.
Try as he might, however, Evan can't seem to put thoughts of the lead singer for Caesar’s Flame out of his mind, and things escalate when Chuck forces the issue. They have an argument, and Evan punches Chuck in the face.
The real problem is Evan hasn’t quite gotten over being betrayed and outed in high school, something that has tainted any relationship he might have had with anyone. But how can he explain that to Chuck? Especially when the man professes his love, in spite of a broken nose?
“I’m gonna go home and clean up.” I grabbed my bag and moved toward the door. “Appreciate you stopping by and checking on the place, Chuck.”
I walked out of my office and waited for him to leave so I could lock up. “I was looking for you, actually,” he said while following me out of the building. “I stopped by your house earlier, but you weren’t there.”
“Well you found me, and I’m okay. Later.” I started to walk away, but he stopped me.
“At least let me drive you home, Evan. Please?”
“One good deed for the day is enough, Chuck.” I turned to continue on my way, but he fell in step beside me.
“I haven’t slept with anyone since we stopped having sex a couple of months ago,” he announced as he kept pace with me.
Ah hell. “Whether or not you did so, is immaterial. You weren’t my boyfriend, so you could do whatever you wanted, even while we were sleeping together. Why are we having this conversation?” I should be upset, but I was too worn out to give a damn at the moment.
“Because I think it matters. And I went about this all wrong, for which I sincerely apologize.”
I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. “Chuck, I had a shitty night, so now’s not the time for a heart to heart.”
“It has to be the time.” He grabbed me by the shoulders. “I’m sorry, Evan. I was an idiot and I deserved the punch in the face. I was trying to make you jealous, okay? I knew you watched the fan sites, so I took a chance that you’d see photos of me kissing that guy in Italy. And then, I did the same thing when Caesar’s Flame got back to town. I didn’t sleep with any of those guys, Evie. I wanted to get a reaction out of you. I wanted you to admit what you felt, but it seriously backfired.”
My heart stuttered at his use of my nickname. “Don’t call me that.”
Chuck let go of my shoulders and slid his hands down my arms to grab my fingers. “Why not? It’s my special name for you.”
“Not anymore.” I tugged on my hands, but he wouldn’t let go. “Why do you have to be so ...”
“So ... what? Explain what’s going on here. Why’d you punch me? Aside from the fact that I was an ass, which we both know.”
“Because!” He raised an eyebrow and waited for me to continue.
Fuck. He wouldn’t stop until I confessed everything. “Because what you did reminded me of something shitty that happened in high school, all right? Someone I thought was really into me betrayed my trust and outed me for his own perverse amusement. I swore I’d never let someone play me like that again. And then you pulled that stunt. It was like I relived the whole harrowing experience.”
“Oh God.” I looked at him and noted his chagrin. “I really fucked up, huh.” He cupped my cheek but I moved away from his touch. He let me, this time.
“I’ll admit to overreacting to what you did, and I am sorry for breaking your nose. I’ve learned to protect myself and built walls around my heart as a result. I don’t know how to be any other way. Anything outside of the parameters I’ve created brings pain and suffering, as you’ve seen.”
Chuck looked resigned. “Evan, I don’t know if you can ever forgive me, but please know that I do care about you. A lot. I screwed up, but you need to know that I’d never do anything to hurt you on purpose, unless I’m being stupid, like I have been.”
He placed a hand over his heart. “I love you, Evie. I’ve loved you for months, but I didn’t want to spook you. I hope we can get past this, and that you’ll let me prove to you that I’m worthy of your heart, someday.”
That was something I never expected him to say. “Chuck ...”
He shook his head. “It’s okay. I understand. I’ll wait for you, no matter how long it takes. No more games, I promise.” He kissed my cheek and ran a hand over my shorn head. “Forever, Evan. You are the song of my heart.”
As I watched him walk back the way we’d come, I felt a wave of desolation sweep over me. Chuck loved me?