Geeky James O’Brien was involved in a barroom brawl a month ago where he met Officer Scott Brown. The two clicked immediately, but sometimes geeky James worries he isn’t exactly what someone like Scott would need.
When Scott talks James into going camping, James is a little worried. He’s much more of a virtual camping kind of guy. But since it means a lot to Scott, James agrees. Once out in the wilderness Scott breaks his leg and loses their only working phone. Now it’s up to James to prove there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Be Warned: m/m sex
“Paint ball?” I asked horrified. “That’s your big surprise?”
“It’ll be fun,” Scott said, braking to avoid running over an unobservant pedestrian blabbering away on her phone. “There will be four of us on each team so it won’t be too out of control.”
“Shit.” Did he not know I wasn’t the most athletic guy in the world? I mean I wasn’t a complete couch potato type, but I also wasn’t an Olympian. Playing League of Legends online didn’t exactly qualify me as sporty. “I’ll be on your team, right?”
He grinned, his dimples deep in his cheeks. “Of course.”
“Shit,” I repeated as I slid down in my seat and tried to suppress the anxiety bubbling in my gut.
He looked over at me and frowned. “Are you mad?”
I shook my head. “Oh, no, no. I’m not mad.” Terrified would be more accurate. Would the fact that I rode my bike a lot make any difference in my stamina? Maybe I wouldn’t completely embarrass myself by being an out of shape loser. I knew Scott and his macho cop buddies would no doubt be in way better physical condition than me.
He squeezed my neck affectionately. “I just thought it might be a less stressful way to meet my work friends.”
Less stressful for who? Them?
“I would have preferred large amounts of booze to be involved when I was first introduced to them.”
“Oh, there will be after we kick the other team’s ass. I hoped it could be a nice, informal way to break the ice.”
“It’s just…my favorite little book store is having a sale today. I was hoping to pick up a first edition of The Hobbit that I’ve had my eye on.” I nibbled at my cuticle.
“Come on, James. You have to meet my friends sometime.”
I stared glumly out the window at the shops and trendy coffeehouses we passed. Couples sat at tables with colorful umbrellas, and others walked hand in hand enjoying their lazy Saturday together. I’d give anything to go inhale a fresh butter croissant and huge cappuccino instead of playing paintball.
I’d been seeing Scott for a month now and everything was going great, especially considering how lame I was at relationships. We had a chemistry that could set the sheets on fire, and I was even really fond of his three-year-old son, Troy. But I’d stalled every time he tried to get me together with his friends from work. I didn’t care for cops since my old man had been one. Well, he’d been a cop and a colossal asshole so that might have colored my opinion of cops just a bit. I guess Scott had decided I’d put him off long enough and so he’d engineered this ‘surprise’ for me. Yay.
“I wish you’d warned me.” I glanced down at my skinny jeans and high top sneakers.
“You might have come up with an excuse again.” He gave me a pointed look.
I didn’t argue because he was right. I’d have definitely pulled a work meeting or maybe a great aunt’s funeral out of the air just to avoid this moment. I gestured toward my obviously inappropriate footwear. “I don’t have the right shoes.”
“Nice try.” He laughed and reached carefully behind my seat, while still keeping his focus on the road. “I bought you a pair of boots.”
“What? You bought me shoes?”
“How do you know they’ll fit me?” I grumbled, taking the box from him and lifting the lid.
Cocking one smooth brow he said, “I’m a cop. I have amazing investigative skills.”
“What did you do? Hire a private investigator to figure out my shoe size?” I smirked.
“I went one better. I looked in your closet while you were in the shower.” He looked very pleased with himself.
I pulled out one boot and studied the brown leather. “These look expensive.”
“Not really. Besides I don’t want you running around in cheap boots that hurt your feet.” He sounded sincere and I couldn’t help but smile.
“You’re always so considerate.” My chest warmed at his kindness. “I don’t know why you like me.” That kind of popped out. I hadn’t actually meant to say that out loud. I mean I really did wonder, but it wasn’t my style to just spill my guts.
He shook his head and laughed. “You always say stuff like that and I don’t get it. You’re amazing.”
My cheeks warmed. “Hardly.”
The smoldering look he sent me had my stomach jangling. “I think you are.”
I cleared my throat and switched topics, because the last thing I needed was a hard on when I arrived to meet his friends. “So is Jack going to be there?” Jack was Scott’s partner and from the way Scott talked about him the two of them were pretty tight. I wasn’t really a jealous type of guy, but the way Scott said Jack’s name always kind of bugged me. There was a definite affection there.
“Why ‘of course’?” I asked fiddling with the visor.
He was silent for a moment as he concentrated on getting on the freeway. “Because he’s my partner and you’re my boyfriend. Not counting Troy and Marie, you two are the closest people to me.”
There he went again just sharing his feelings as if that was the most normal thing. Well, it is for everyone but you, dummy.
“Let’s say Jack doesn’t like me?” I asked, turning to watch his reaction. “What would happen then?” I didn’t share with him my suspicion he would probably pick Jack over me. He’d known Jack longer. They shared a bond of trust our new relationship hadn’t had the time to create.
Scott’s jaw tensed. “I’m not worried.”
That makes one of us.