Authors: Cheryl Dragon
Tags: #Male/Male Erotic Romance
Table of Contents
Hot at Last
All Male Nudes!
By Cheryl Dragon
Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Hot at Last
Copyright © 2014 Cheryl Dragon
Edited by Michele Paulin and CJ Slate
Cover Art by Adrian Nicholas
Published by Resplendence Publishing, LLC
1093 A1A Beach Blvd, #146
St. Augustine, FL 32080
Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-768-1
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Electronic Release: May 2014
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
For two decades, Ken and Avery have worked together at the Big D. Dishing out zingers and sparking each other over and over. Their past relationship blew up and replaced with a cautious friendship because neither could or would leave. When Ken takes a fall off the stage and needs some help, Avery takes him in. There’s no avoiding the chemistry, attraction, and unfinished business now. Sorting through their dirty laundry and ancient history, neither wants to face heartbreak again but friends-with-benefits simply won’t work. With these two, it’s true love or leave the Big D forever.
For Darlena, who put up with me and helped me through a lot of books.
Holding open the door to Big D’s strip club, Ken Lamont did what he did every day. He focused on the job and being the best he could be. It took more effort than people thought to make it look so easy. Ignoring his attraction to Avery Robins was second nature now, too, as long as they kept a certain distance. For the moment, they were far too close for indifference.
To some people, they were the interracial odd couple, Ken white and compulsive about his appearance and physical form. Avery, black and, while neat, he was a lot more laid back. People who’d been around the club long enough knew they were ex-lovers, and the less said on the subject the better everyone got along.
Today, however, was special, and Ken would do his best to be up close and work with Avery. Behind Ken, Avery carried in the big birthday cake they’d bought for their boss and friend, Bev. She owned Big D’s in Vegas and another club in Reno. The three of them had been working together for over two decades. Ken tried to hide his age, and his forties weren’t too bad, but he wanted his prime back. Those late twenties had been magical.
Avery had given into his age early. He hadn’t stripped for years, and while his body was still good, the gorgeous and smart man seemed truly content with managing the bar for Bev’s club.
Checking out Avery’s butt in the worn but well-fitting jeans, Ken knew what he was missing. Avery’s broad shoulders, muscled arms and skilled hands taunted Ken daily, but he rarely let himself dwell on it. Their sex life hadn’t been the problem. How they looked at life differed drastically.
Setting the cake on the bar, Avery looked at Ken. “What?”
Ken shrugged and glanced over at the stage. “Nothing. The decorations look good. Bev sure as hell doesn’t look fifty.”
“She’ll hate it and love it. Her nephew is taking her to dinner so she won’t be here when we open the doors. You can work up the crowd, get them ready to sing
and all that. I hope we have enough cake.”
“Please, half the guys won’t touch it. Don’t worry about the crowd. I’ll handle it.” Ken smiled at the big room.
will.” Avery went behind the bar and began to set up. Avery’s tone made Ken tense up.
“What?” Ken asked.
“Nothing. You’re a great MC.” Avery checked the cash register.
“I’m a great dancer, too. You know it.” Ken looked at the dull stuff Avery did in his daily routine and rolled his eyes. Wiping a bar, dealing with the register, mixing drinks, cutting up fruit garnish, managing bartenders and all that
crap. “How do you not become totally depressed over what you do?”
Avery sighed. “I could ask you the same thing. You’ve been taking your clothes off for two decades. We’ve all seen it.”
“Every new dance routine is a challenge. Every new dancer I help learn the business is a challenge. My work keeps me in shape, too. What challenge do you have? The newest drink?” Ken studied Avery’s stomach. No sign of any spare tire forming. The guy worked out in private.
“You’re good with the new dancers. Doesn’t mean you need to keep stripping. You can work out without taking your clothes off.” Avery went about checking his glasses and stock.
“I like taking my clothes off.” Ken enjoyed the feeling of power and all those men admiring him.
“I know,” Avery said. They’d had this talk dozens of times since Avery had left the stage. Ken was a bit annoyed that today Avery wasn’t taking the bait.
“It’s Bev’s birthday, not mine. I refuse to acknowledge aging anymore.” Ken didn’t need a reminder of the years ticking away and nothing changing. In his twenties and thirties, he’d tried so hard to get a break but nothing had ever happened. Just as his father had predicted, Ken had never gotten lucky in life no matter how hard he worked. Ken wasn’t a quitter, but his father would never approve of Ken’s life so it didn’t really matter.
“Yet you keep talking about it. Today is about Bev. I like what I do. For the most part, I like my life, Ken. You like what you do. So why pick a fight?”
“Your body isn’t bad. I don’t know why you stopped. I’ll keep stripping until I need a walker.” Ken enjoyed sparring with Avery. The young men they worked with lacked life experience, and while Ken loved meeting fellow dreamers, he appreciated the long-time connection to Avery. And to Bev.
“Or until you find a rich sugar daddy? Or maybe a younger millionaire?” Avery teased.
Ken dreamed of getting a big show on the Vegas stage like Liberace or Siegfried and Roy, but the only real talent he had was taking his clothes off and dancing. No acting job or chorus dancer spot had ever worked out. No big break for him—yet.
The dream of a rich man did seem far out of reach now. “I’ve had plenty of men. I can still get plenty.” Ken was young at heart.
“So can I.” Avery wrote the drink specials on the board.
Ken didn’t want to think about that. As long as they were both single, it didn’t seem as if life was passing them by. When Avery got a boyfriend, it made Ken nuts, but the guys never lasted.
“You never bring them to the bar,” Ken said.
“No need. I keep my private life private.” Avery poured himself a glass of water with a lemon twist. Then did the same for Ken, only he got a lime twist.
They knew each other too well, and the bickering was oddly reassuring. Ken picked up his water. “I’m glad you’re not living like a monk.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Avery said. “I hope you’ve been saving for retirement though.”
“Why?” Ken sipped his water.
“If you haven’t found a rich man yet, you’ll need something to fall back on eventually. When you can’t shake your ass anymore, you still have to pay the bills. We tell young guys that all the time. This is a temporary job for most. How many have we seen come and go?” Avery asked.
Ken glared at the sexy, bald, black man. The urge to kiss him battled with the urge to smack him. “Plenty. I’m a dancer. I love what I do. You like being a bartender?”
“Well, neither is exactly an impressive career. We are who we are, and there’s no need to apologize for it.” Ken shrugged.
“Not at all. But some day, we’ll need to retire. You’re not a planner, Ken. You’re a dreamer. Why do performers take every comment as a criticism? Can’t it be a friendly suggestion? A thought I’m sharing? A brainstorm? I’ve got a good financial planner. I could give you his card, and he’d look at your retirement funds,” Avery offered.
Pride and perfection were all Ken really had. He’d taken criticism his entire childhood and worked hard to give no one anything to say as an adult. Those who insulted him saw it roll off his back. Deep down, Ken knew Avery didn’t mean to tear him down. Avery was practical and full of reality. He’d share ideas with Bev or anyone, and some people liked it. Ken still had a bit of a wound that apparently would never heal.
“Is he gay? Good looking?” Ken asked.
Avery laughed. “Married to a woman and not good looking at all. But he’s smart with money and doesn’t charge a ton. Love isn’t always the answer.”
“No, no, it’s not. Love is pain and drama. While I like drama, pain is something to be avoided. If I found a Daddy Warbucks, I wouldn’t need to love him.” Ken baited Avery.
He needed to stop. Why was he doing it? Ken liked Avery and Bev as friends. His past with Avery had been buried long ago. Ken just couldn’t resist picking at that old wound again.
“I’m sure you could find some gay guy in his eighties and thrill him. But just remember there are usually family members around. Prenups if you get married. And wills. You might not get what you’re promised.” Avery wiped the bar.
Ken rolled his eyes. The bar didn’t need to be cleaned. Then again, he didn’t need to be here having this conversation. “I know. Bev’s birthday just reminds me how long we’ve all known each other. How much has happened. How much hasn’t.”
“We all don’t luck into fame and fortune. You’ve worked for it. You tried. Life is a bitch. You’d think it’d hand us love or some sort of consolation prize, but this is the hand we were dealt. You can accept it and enjoy being a grown up, or you can keep on dreaming and be the old joke at the gay bar.” Avery looked Ken in the eye.
“I’m not that old yet.” Ken straightened his back. His left knee locked up every so often, but he was in good shape.
“No, you’re not. You’re a great dancer,” Avery said.
“Then why do you always tease me?” Ken asked. They rarely talked like this. It was mostly one liners and zingers. Real talk about anything but the business was rare.
“Because life is a bitch, and you bait me into it. Reality hits when you’re not looking. Some people roll with the punches. You won’t. I’m not jealous of your dancing or however many men you pick up. In the end, with a dreamer like you, when you have to face reality, it won’t be pretty,” Avery said.
“I deal with reality just fine. You gave up younger than I did. Then again, you’re eight years older. Don’t drag me down with you,” Ken replied.
“Dreams change; that’s all I’m saying. The world changes. You should adapt instead of fighting it.” Avery went behind the bar and basically ended the conversation.
Ken inhaled deeply then exhaled slowly. That man would drive him insane. Yet the people at Big D's were an odd sort of family that made Ken feel accepted no matter what. They could fight and snap, but they’d always show up at the club again.
“I’m going back. See you later.” Ken headed for the rehearsal area, putting the sugary cake and the bossy bartender out of his mind. He could sleep with men younger than Avery. Hotter, too.
Sex just didn’t have the same healing and energizing impact it had had before. Instead of feeling desired after a one-night stand, Ken felt hollow. Things were changing, and he hated when Avery was right.
Sitting at one of the dressing table spots, he studied his reflection. Changing dreams sounded easy, but to what? How? If he gave up on his dreams, Ken feared he’d have no reason to get out of bed. He’d turn into a depressed lump once before in his life. He didn’t want to go there ever again. If he gave up the stage, he could easily become a slob who ate anything and didn’t bother to manscape. No matter what anyone else thought, Ken had to believe he deserved the best. Everyone should!
* * * *
After Bev blew out the candles, the club erupted into applause and shouts. Now, Avery could finally relax. The private gifts would come later, but the cake had survived and Bev was all smiles. Ken had led the whole place in an enthusiastic round of
when Bev had come in, and everything had been drama free.