Read The Locker Room Online

Authors: Amy Lane

Tags: #Paperback, #Novel, #GLBT, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Contemporarygay, #M/M Romance, #dreamspinner press, #amy lane

The Locker Room

Readers rave about AMY LANE

Keeping Promise Rock

“I was swept up in the amazing love story…”

—Night Owl Reviews

Making Promises

“…fabulous flawed characters, a strong plot, action, angst, and love—all

combined with an emotive writing style that makes the reader feel every

joy, heartbreak, and hurt that her characters feel.”

—Fallen Angel Reviews

Talker

“…a brilliantly written story about two men with a great deal of baggage

but also an extraordinary love.”

—Literary Nymphs

“If you"re looking for a sweet and compelling love story with

unforgettable heroes, I highly recommend reading this book.”

—Dark Diva Reviews

Truth in the Dark

“…a wonderfully creative story with a new and original twist on the

Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.”

—The Romance Studio

Guarding the Vampire"s Ghost

“If anything this novella is too short. It"s well written, emotional,

romantic, heart warming, and breaks your heart at the same time.”

—Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews

NOVELS BY

AMY LANE

Keeping Promise Rock

Making Promises

The Locker Room

NOVELLAS

Bewitched by Bella"s Brother

Christmas with Danny Fit

Guarding the Vampire"s Ghost

Hammer & Air

If I Must

Litha"s Constant Whim

Talker

Talker"s Redemption

Truth in the Dark

Copyright

Published by

Dreamspinner Press

4760 Preston Road

Suite 244-149

Frisco, TX 75034

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the

author"s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or

dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The Locker Room

Copyright © 2011 by Amy Lane

Cover Art by Dan Skinner/Cerberus Inc. [email protected]

Cover Design by Mara McKennen

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any

means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information

storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where

permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press,

4760 Preston Road, Suite 244-149, Frisco, TX 75034

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

ISBN: 978-1-61372-011-0

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition

April 2011

eBook edition available

eBook ISBN: 978-1-61372-012-7

Dedication

This one is to Mate—I"ll always be his true blue fan.

The Locker Room

1

Prologue

Playing the Moment

Arco Arena, Sacramento, California. Home of the Kings.

XANDER KARCEK pounded down the glossy wood of the court, thigh

muscles straining, huge biceps pumping, and sweat dripping into his eyes

from his black bangs. The ball sang against the boards in front of him

and popped back into the palm of his wide-fingered hand as he dribbled

furiously, strides ahead of the enemy, in perfect position to score.

He didn"t.

Instead, he popped the ball behind him with the next dribble, and

Christian Edwards caught it one-handed and continued the dribble down

the center of the court. He didn"t have to look behind him to know Chris

was right on his heels—he never had to look behind him. Chris would be

there. Chris didn"t know how to fail. And this way, when the opposition

came up behind Xander, arms spread, legs wide, ready to block the shot,

Xander was there with surprisingly wide shoulders for a guy who stood

six feet, nine inches tall in his size eighteen bare feet.

And Chris, the center, leapt into the air, twisted his body, and made

the shot with a chest-high dunk, and the fifteen thousand fierce voices,

echoing around their bodies until the sound was so thick you could cut it

with the slice of a sweating hand, exploded into shrieks of unholy,

furious joy, singing Chris"s praises.

Just the way it should be. The whole world should sing Chris"s

praises.

Xander and Chris passed each other as Chris recovered his running

stride from the dunk, and as they got into position to intercept the other

team, they faced the opposite direction. That"s when their arms swung

down from the elbows in a smooth low five, and they snarled at each

other in triumph.

God, they loved this fucking game. Xander would live for it, Chris

would die for it, and together, they would
never
stop creating spectacular

2

Amy Lane

feats of magic on the court. It was who they were, dammit, and not a soul

on the planet could take it from them.

Oh, please, God. Don"t let anyone take this from them. Please.

Chris"s hand slapped Xander lightly on the hip, and Xander"s eyes

slid down, a moment of softness in this hard-edged, bright-lit world, the

hot and shiny sunshine center of the magnifying glass.

Xander had learned a long time ago that it was so easy for the

world to take things away. Chris had been Xander"s only reason to

believe that sometimes, God gave them back.

The Locker Room

3

Home Cooking

Fifteen Years Earlier

It was cold, and the light was fading, but Xander was damned if he was

going home. His mother would be home, with her crack-smoking

boyfriend du jour, and they"d been inhaling and fighting and exhaling

and fucking, and the apartment would stink and there would be no food,

and if either one of them heard Xander hanging around, someone would

try to kick the crap out of him.

Xander was tall—six-foot, one inch, even at fourteen—but

sometimes he could swear the bones at his wrists were wider than his

biceps, and it didn"t help that there was never any food in the house, and

he didn"t feel like smoking crack to stop the hunger, like his mother kept

telling him to do.

So, it was late, and cold, but out here at the basketball court in the

community park, there was just him, and a street lamp, and his smoking

breath. It didn"t matter that he didn"t have a sweatshirt, or that he hadn"t

eaten since yesterday morning. All that mattered was that the ball—his

only possession, stolen from Walmart in a moment of desperation—felt

right in the palm of his hand, and that he could pound it rhythmically

across the cracked blacktop and hear the regular jangle-swish as it blew

through the chains of the basket.

But it was hard to focus when you were that hungry, and when a

voice tried to get his attention, Xander had to squint and concentrate on

where it came from.

“Oh, come on! Aren"t you going to throw it to me?”

Xander was so surprised that he did.

The boy was shorter than him by a good six inches, but was still his

age. His hair was dark blond and wavy, and he wore trendy jeans and a

blue sweatshirt with a print on the front. His eyes were so brown that

from across the court, they looked black. He had a pointed chin with a

cleft in it, and a pouty mouth, and a smile of such cheerful goodwill that

Xander almost felt like he
owed
it to the kid to give him the ball. Who

4

Amy Lane

could resist that bouncy humor, or that amazing happiness, even as the

sky darkened to twilight?

The kid caught the ball easily, and dribbled with a natural grace

toward the basket. He shot and missed, and then shot and scored, and

then looked up with a grin on his wide, smiling mouth. “Well, aren"t we

going to play?”

Why not?

Xander"s hunger was forgotten, and he started to guard the basket.

The kid was good. Not as good as Xander, maybe because he

hadn"t been forced to use a basketball hoop in a park"s vacant lot as

refuge from too many things to count, but he was quick and agile and he

kept up a steady stream of banter that eluded Xander as they played.

“What, you think I didn"t see that? That was a feint, I got it… no!

You blew right by me! That"s okay, I"ll getcha… no no no no no, he

shoots, it swishes, he
scores!”

Xander was up on him by five shots out of twenty, and having the

time of his life, when there was a sudden smell of food and a voice

across the court.

“Chris? Chris, honey, I"m so sorry I"m late!”

Chris (apparently) slowed down as he was approaching the basket

and turned toward the voice, and Xander took that opportunity to steal

the ball and score. Chris turned to him with a sheepish grin and an “Oh!

Man, that"s no fair!” and Xander blushed.

“Sorry,” he said softly. The smell of food hit him again, and his

vision went a little black. He missed catching the ball on the dribble and

tried to keep his knees steady as he turned to say goodbye to the boy who

had been, for an hour at least, his friend, his family, and his

entertainment, all in one.

But the boy wasn"t going.

“Hey, Mom! Can that kid come home and eat with us? He"s an

amazing player, Mom, you"ve got to see him shoot!”

Xander blushed to the roots of his straight, dark hair, and looked at

his companion with a little bit of awe. He sounded like… like… like a

little kid, the kind who expected someone to answer him when he spoke,

The Locker Room

5

and in Xander"s neighborhood, you didn"t talk to a parent like that,

because it never happened. Ever.

“I don"t know, Christian—it"s late. Maybe someone expects him

home?” The woman had phrased the question like she was expecting

Xander to answer, and Xander fumbled for a moment. He was never

good at words, mostly because he was never expected to use them.

“No one cares,” he said, and then he felt stupid. There had to be a

better way to say that, but he couldn"t think. And then, in the middle of

the almost shocked silence, his stomach grumbled. Loudly.

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