Can one wedding be the turning point of four different men?
Brad's dream of happily ever after with his best friend, Geoff, is destroyed when he receives a wedding invitation to Geoff's wedding -- to a woman. After accepting that waiting for the man has gained him nothing, he intends to wipe him clear of his heart and mind. With a night at Blue Dogs. Tristan is captivated by Brad and what begins as a night of pure release starts something for Tristan that he can't deny. A wanting to know the other man beyond sex. Can Tristan win Brad's heart away from an unrequited love? It may not be as easy as he'd like when Geoff reappears begging for forgiveness.
Brad held the invitation between two fingers, as though it was contaminated. His stomach was tied in knots. His best friend's wedding.
He sank to the sofa, shivering. His life flashed before his eyes. All the years he'd known Geoff... The invitation mocked him. It hurtled silent pain at him over the groom-to-be.
The man he'd been in love with since he was six was getting married.
To a woman.
Brad tossed the envelope to the coffee table with a hiss of pain. "Why?" he gasped, his voice rife with the internal agony he was drowning in. "You are gay." He ground his teeth together as his eyes closed.
Brad knew why.
Geoff's mother. She'd put him up to it. And Geoff was so deep in the closet, maybe he'd finally convinced himself that he didn't have to be gay. That by marrying a woman, all would be right in his world. The truth was, he'd be miserable within the year, and more than likely saddled with a child by then. Brad couldn't even begin to dissect how that baby would happen. He knew Geoff.
Then again, if he could go this far with this farce, maybe Brad didn't know him at all.
The only thing Brad knew with a certainty was he wasn't going to be able to witness the train wreck. He couldn't watch his best friend throw his life away for someone else's ideals.
He dialed a number on his cell phone. "Ruben?"
"Hey buddy. What's happ-en-in'?"
"Is that standing offer at Blue Dogs still open?"
Ruben purred with delight. "For you, always. Are you sure you want to do this, though? I know you haven't been keen on it before."
"Before..." He huffed in disgust, his gaze landing on the offensive invitation. "Before I thought I'd be with the man I loved."
"Going to BDs to lick your wounds isn't the right mindset."
"I don't really care what the mindset is. When are we going?" He needed a night out. A night out of his head. A night of fucking wouldn't be out of the equation either. He'd been waiting, like a fool, for Geoff to get his shit together.
He was done waiting.
Ruben hummed on the other end. "Tomorrow night is the next."
"Perfect. I'm not on shift this weekend."
Ruben made another noncommittal sound of agreement. "Meet me at my place at eight. And dress is casual. You won't be in it for long anyway."
"So you say," he retorted. Brad really had his doubts about this club, Blue Dogs. He'd never heard of anything like it in Arbor Heights. Ruben had only cryptically shared details, and that it wasn't downtown. He swore Brad wouldn't regret going, that only a few new faces were even allowed in each year. They had an evening cap and if you were late, you weren't getting in. Blue Dogs didn't sound like any place Brad had ever been to. It definitely wasn't a nightclub. Maybe it was one of those private parlor establishments. Elite clubs. Whatever.
In the end, it didn't matter. Glaring at the embossed cream linen on his coffee table, he made up his mind.
If Geoff didn't want him, then fuck Geoff.
He sarcastically saluted him and his false nuptials, hoping he enjoyed his new prison of matrimony to a woman he'd only grow to resent while she grew to hate him.
He was done waiting for his sorry ass.
* * *
Tristan greeted each member as they walked in his front door Saturday night. "Maurice." He got a quick kiss. "Good to see you again."
"Always an exciting pleasure."
Tristan snickered and lightly pushed his flirting guest onward. "Go on." He reached and shook another hand. "Hello, Ruben. Glad to have you back. Who is this?" he asked, though he knew. Tristan knew every person, whether a first time attendee or a longtime guest.
"This is Brad. I've mentioned him."
Tristan reached and clasped the man's hand. "Nice. Take him to Vance to read and sign the waiver." He couldn't help a full body perusal. Not a boy toy, but a dish worth sampling over and over. "It will be a pleasure to have you this evening."
The man's eyes shot wide and he swallowed. "Uh...um, Ruben," he said with an anxious quiver.
"Relax." Ruben curled an arm through his friend's, tugging him deeper into the house, leaning head to head to speak. "You'll see."
Then they were gone, and Tristan got to greet more faces and friends. When the last of the fifty he allowed were inside, he shut the door, signaling to any others that the evening was officially starting and the house was at capacity.
Lighting was turned down low, while music flowed from the speakers overhead. Something easy, sensual, and not too loud. The raucous party atmosphere wasn't his intent. Though one would only have to look a little closer to see exactly what that intent was.
Bowls were scattered around the front room filled with condoms and lube packets. Stacks of towels waited unobtrusively. Comfy chairs, cushions, beanbags, floor pillows, all manner of means to relax. The room was cleaned out except for these few needs.
The front bathroom was stocked. Water chilled in ice-filled insulated containers and buckets around the room on tables. Tristan didn't allow alcohol or drugs. And the waiver was a must.
There were a few rules. Entering required a health waiver, and an ironclad nondisclosure agreement. He wasn't running a brothel. This was his private home and he liked making men happy. There was something so very primal in the meeting and mating of two strong personalities.
No force. Ever. No meant no. Anyone was free to leave when they wished. No one was required to return.
A weekend thing that had started with a few close friends had grown into a sort of meet and fuck. No strings. No questions, not by him. If men hooking up wanted to get together outside of his home, they were free to do so. Tristan didn't control his guests.
That being said, he wasn't a fool. He investigated every person who walked through his doors. Which included Ruben's new friend, Brad Hauffman. They all received approval to be included, and none joined that he and at least three others of the core group weren't personally vetted by.
Energy was already beginning to snap on the air. Testosterone was rich, mingling with a few colognes and others' natural, raw musk. Lust licked at nerves. Tight jeans, curving slacks, T-shirts that looked painted on, or shirts that were unbuttoned halfway. They were all beautiful to admire.
An arm curled around Tristan's waist and he smiled. "Hello, Dustin. How've you been?"
"Busy with my doctorate. I can't tell you how badly I need tonight."
Tristan smiled, brushing a soothing thumb beneath a shadowed eye. "You're losing sleep again."
Dustin nodded. "I'm taking the whole weekend for down time."
Tristan gave him a slow kiss. "Tonight will do you some good then," he said when he finally released the other man's mouth.
Dustin swayed into his body, a flat palm splayed open for support across his chest. "Damn. I forgot how good you are at those."
Tristan winked. "Enjoy," he crooned.
"Someone will." Tristan kissed him again and moved on.