Clay Phillips has been branded by gal pal Reba as devious, unscrupulous and unprincipled in his dealings with men—in short, he’s an opportunist. Clay is good with that definition until he meets Lenny Mitchell, a young man who has just been dumped by his girlfriend because of some serious performance issues in the bedroom. Clay falls hard for Lenny and helps him get to the root of his problem. When all is said and done, both men’s lives are changed for the better and a strong bond is forged between them.

The Opportunist
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Cover Art by Latrisha Waters

The blonde was the first thing I saw when I entered the bar. Actually, to be specific, she was the first thing I heard. She sat in a booth across from the jukebox, waving her arms, her voice shrill. I couldn’t hear her exact words, but I could tell from the tone of them that she was ripping some poor bastard a new ass hole. Once I got about even with the table, I glanced over, and sure enough, a guy sat across from her with a totally hangdog look on his face. He had his shoulders drawn up as close to his ears as he could get them. He stared intently at the condensation rings on the Formica tabletop while he peeled the label off a bottle of Bud.

I stuck a couple of quarters in the jukebox and picked out a few tunes I hoped would be loud enough to drown out the ranting blonde. Once the music started, I took a seat at the counter and ordered an ice-cold beer.

“Here you go, handsome.”

“Thanks, Reba.” Reba and I went to high school together. We had a little thing going a few years back, but we eventually decided that we made better friends than lovers. Reba assured me that there was nothing wrong with my performance in the sack, but she could tell my heart wasn’t really in it. That had led to a booze-fueled confessional where I spilled my guts to Reba about my sexual preferences. It turned out she’d known all along. And here I’d thought I was being so clever about slipping away to the city on the weekends so I could enjoy a little man-to-man action.

The good news was that Reba didn’t much care who I wanted to bed. We had history, friends and interests in common. We both liked line dancing, rodeos and good country music. We also both liked tall, brawny, soft-spoken blue-collar guys. Any time we were out together and a guy started to pay attention to Reba, I made myself scarce unless she made it clear she wanted me to stay and run interference. Reba’s a looker, and sometimes a guy started coming on too strong, which tended to make her nervous. Usually all I had to do in a situation like that was stand up and glower to get a guy to make himself scarce. If that didn’t work—well, let’s just say I’d never in my life come in second place in a bar fight.

“Now, honey.” The guy in the booth reached for the blonde woman’s hand, but she jerked it away.

“Don’t you honey me.” She pounded her fist on the table. The glass in front of her damn near jumped off onto the floor. “I’m sick and tired of your excuses.”

“I’m sorry, Sue Ann.”

“Screw that.”

“Things don’t sound any too good over there, do they?” I hazarded.

“Maybe not,” Reba allowed, “but they’re not looking so bad, are they, Clay?”

I shrugged my shoulders noncommittally. She rested her elbows on the counter and lowered her voice. “I’ve seen more than my share of men, but rarely have I seen one engineered quite so well from the ground up. God must’ve been in a fine mood the day that boy was born.”

I had to agree with Reba. There was no faulting the broad shoulders, the biceps that strained against the sleeves of his shirt or the full curve of his denim-encased thighs. The fellow also had a nice profile—a jutting chin, a prominent nose and smallish pink ears that I wouldn’t have minded nibbling on for a starter course.

“Well, you can just shove it up your ass sideways, Lenny!” The blonde gal jumped up from the booth. The table wobbled and sent Lenny’s beer flying. She spun on her heel and stalked toward the front door. “What the hell are you two looking at?” she snarled as she stormed past me and Reba.

“Y’all come on back now,” Reba crooned. “And kiss my butt,” she added under her breath. She grabbed a towel and went over to mop up the mess the blonde had left behind. I slipped behind the counter and pulled a couple of beers out of the cooler—the icy cold ones Reba kept tucked back by the refrigeration coils just for me. I practiced a smile in the mirror above the cash register, then made a beeline for Lenny.

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