Knight of Ocean Avenue

Readers love the Long Pass Chronicles

by
T
ARA
L
AIN

Canning the Center

“Tara has pulled another great story out of the bag and I’m hoping it isn’t too long before the next hunky, closeted gay footballer gets his chance to come out in all his glory in the next book.”

—Sinfully Sexy Books

“…There is a lot of goodness in this story. The originality of the storyline along with Ms. Lain’s unique writing style will certainly leave you with a smile.”

—MM Good Book Reviews

“Powerfully written,
Canning the Center
is on my must-have list for readers who love a dramatic story. I laughed, I cried, and I loved with the characters over and over again.

—Carly’s Book Reviews

Outing the Quarterback

“I don’t think I have ever read a Tara Lain book that I didn’t love. She always writes in a style that I can believe in; one where the characters speak in real-life voices.”

—The Blogger Girls

“Another fantastic job for Tara Lain,
Outing the Quarterback
will quickly become another fan favorite.”

—Sensual Reads

“I truly had a hard time putting this book down.”

—Hearts on Fire

By
T
ARA
L
AIN

L
OVE
IN
L
AGUNA

Knight of Ocean Avenue

L
ONG
P
ASS
C
HRONICLES

Outing the Quarterback

Canning the Center

T
ALES
OF
THE
H
ARKER
P
ACK

The Pack or the Panther

Wolf in Gucci Loafers

Winter’s Wolf

The Pack or the Panther &Wolf in Gucci Loafers (Series Anthology)

Published By
D
REAMSPINNER
P
RESS

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

C
OPYRIGHT

Published by

D
REAMSPINNER
P
RESS

5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886  USA

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Knight of Ocean Avenue

© 2015 Tara Lain.

Cover Art

© 2015 Reese Dante.

http://www.reesedante.com

Cover content is for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted on the cover is a model.

All rights reserved. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. 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, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA, or http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/.

ISBN: 978-1-63216-575-6

Digital ISBN: 978-1-63216-576-3

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014920711

First Edition May 2015

Printed in the United States of America

This paper meets the requirements of

ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).

To Z.A. Maxfield, whose wonderful writing inspires me every day and whose friendship is a special joy.

C
HAPTER
O
NE

 

 

C
OME
ON
.

Billy glanced at his watch, then stared out the window of the coffee shop. Watching wouldn’t make Annie get there faster, but it took his mind off the reasons she was probably meeting him at the coffee shop instead of letting him pick her up at home.

He sucked in his breath and let it out slowly. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe she’d just been nearer the coffee shop and didn’t want to drive home.
Yeah, right.

He sat back and looked around Laguna Grind. Five people worked at laptops while they drank their overpriced lattes. All of them qualified as part of the eclectic Laguna crowd except for the guy in the corner wearing dusty jeans and a work shirt, flipping through an out-of-date magazine and sipping black coffee. Billy knew what he was drinking because he’d heard him order it from the cute girl behind the counter. Funny that a blue-collar guy would pay these rarified prices for black coffee. This was not a blue-collar hangout. Billy ought to know. Mr. Black Coffee was a guy like him, and he wouldn’t be in here either if Annie hadn’t picked it.

He looked at his watch.
Come on
. Mama hated when he was late to family dinners and this one was for Rhonda and Mitch, so she’d doubly hate it. Double hate from his mother was serious shit.

The guy with the coffee looked up at the girl behind the counter.
Man.
The look of pure longing on his face made Billy wince. So that’s why the coffee. The guy wanted the girl.
Sorry, Charlie, probably not gonna happen
. What would it be like to want somebody that bad?

A blast of air washed over him as the door opened. Evenings in June were still cool in southern California, which meant it was getting late. He looked up—and froze.
Who the hell
?

The new arrival turned every head in the coffee shop to look at his blaze of flame red hair flying around his head in a wild arc and falling on his shoulders. He was clothed in a hot pink shirt with several ropes of beads decorating the front. His black pants hugged so tight they should have been sold in a paint store.
Jeee-sus.

The pretty girl looked up and called out, “Getting your own coffee? What is the world coming to?”

Redhead airily waved a hand. “I set them all to working and escaped, darling. Feed me caffeine intravenously, please.”

That voice—high and dancing with humor—vibrated up Billy’s spine. Funny. The guy was kind of ridiculously flamboyant, but beautiful too. Features like you might expect on a girl, but more defined. Not soft. Huge eyes, full lips, high cheekbones. He probably had some added color on all those features, which should look weird, but on this guy it all made sense.
Beautiful
.

Billy sensed movement and glanced over toward the blue-collar guy. The young man looked like a bull. An angry bull. He sat forward, staring at the redhead and clenching his fists. Blue-collar didn’t think the guy was beautiful. Shit, his expression was pure hate. Billy tensed. Was it personal or just prejudice?

The redhead chattered with people and didn’t seem to notice the guy. How could he miss it? Fumes were coming off the big bulldog head.
Imagine going through life with people hating on you like that.
But if that red-haired man walked by one of Billy’s construction sites, every guy there would strain his vocabulary to find new ways to call him fag. Billy might not join them, but he probably wouldn’t stop them. Guys like him hated gays. That’s just the way it was.

The girl coffee server walked from behind the counter with a large steaming latte. She went to the redhead’s table, put down the cup, and kissed the pretty guy on the cheek.

Uh-oh.

Blue-collar guy stood up.
Not good
. Nobody seemed to notice.
Shit
.

The man was big, but not as big as Billy. Billy rose slowly, staring at the worker.
Look at me
. The big guy’s eyes flicked to him. Casually, Billy moved his head from side to side.
Don’t do it
. For a second, the guy just stared at Billy blankly, and then he seemed to recognize somebody like him. Somebody in rumpled work clothes. His eyes met Billy’s, focused. He shook his head once, fought some kind of internal war, then tensed and stepped forward.

Billy stepped forward too.

The guy turned red to his hairline, made a soft sound, and took off out the door like he was being chased by the damned Gay Pride parade.

Billy could feel his hands shaking. What would he have done if the bulldog guy had attacked the redhead? Would Billy have hit him? Stopped him? Who was he trying to protect?
Crap!

He glanced around. Everybody just went on doing their thing like nothing big had happened. Then Billy’s eyes met the steady stare of the redheaded man. The guy gave a slight nod and a little smile.
He knew. He knew what happened
. What did he think?

“Billy?”

He jumped and turned. There stood Annie. “God, you startled me.” He’d forgotten why he was here.

She frowned. “Sorry. I assumed you were waiting for me.”

“I was. It’s just that—I mean, I am.” He glanced again at the redhead, who stared at Annie with a blank expression.
Ballew, pay attention
. He pointed at the chair next to his. “Sit down.”

She perched on the edge of the leather chair. He sat too.
Try to look relaxed
.

Billy nodded at the extra paper cup on the table in front of them. “I got you tea with milk.”

“Thanks.” She picked up the cup and took a sip. Such an attractive girl, and nice too.

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