Holy hockey! Shutdown Pair comes out next Friday! I'm so excited to be able to bring you another LGBTQ hockey romance. I hope you fall for these two young men just as I did. To get us in the mood for release day here's another blog exclusive excerpt!
“Maybe he stepped outside. I’m going to go find him so he knows the wings are here,” I said as I tugged my coat on. They nodded. Off I went, Wyatt’s thick coat over my arm.
The air outside the popular pub was so damn cold it sent my system into shock. The first lungful was painful. I scoped out the parking lot. No Wyatt. He had ridden with me, so unless he was walking, he had to be around. Unease lifted the fine hairs at the base of my neck. I jogged around the clapboard side of the bar, fearing that I would find Wyatt beaten to death by some homophobes with tire irons. I’ve seen that movie. When I skidded around corner of the Puss, I saw nothing but several employee cars and a dumpster. Heart in throat, I ran across the lot, nearly going on my ass when I hit a hidden patch of ice the plows had uncovered earlier. Thankfully, no beaten body lay behind the dumpster in a widening pool of blood.
Where the fuck could he be? I walked behind a blue truck with a thick silver bumper, taking care not to let my feet get too close to the sharp drop-off. The moon was up, full and round, and so when I glanced down the embankment I saw a shape standing beside the river. Something told me it was Wyatt before I even made out the white glow of moonlight reflecting off his black hair. I went down the snowy embankment on my ass, fear coursing through me, calling his name at the top of my lungs. I hit the riverbank awkwardly, arms windmilling. Wyatt grabbed me before I went face-first into the turbulent Frost River. I stumbled back, his arms tight around my waist.
I tried to speak, but I was too winded, and yes, too fucking scared. People died in the Frost every year. A vicious waterway that sucked souls to a cold, terrible death without remorse or care was the Frost.
“Are you trying to kill yourself?” the man asked, his breath hot and pleasant beside my left ear. I should have pulled away, but I rather liked being in his embrace. Also, I feared that if he let go my legs would fold like a hotel sheet.
“I was going to ask you the same thing.”
We stood there beside the Frost, the water churning white as it slammed into the rocks. Water sprayed our cheeks, dampened our hair. I had to do it. I pulled away from his warmth to hold out his coat. He slid his arms into it in silence.
“I was just looking across the river. I mean, I started up there.” He motioned to the parking lot seventy-five feet or more above us. “But I couldn’t really see it clearly.”
“See what? Your imminent death?” I enquired, with a bit more bite than I had intended. Wyatt looked at me oddly. The moon did magnificent things to this man.
“Canada. Freedom.” Wyatt tipped his head to look around me.
“Freedom from what?” I asked, then threw a hand into the air. “No, please, don’t do it. Don’t just stand there with your teeth in your mouth. Forget I asked. You’re the most exasperating person I have ever met. I’m glad I went through your wallet. It serves you right for being so fucking close-mouthed all the time.”
“You went through my wallet?” he asked, his attention now on me instead of fucking Canada.
“Yeah, yeah I did,” I said, then folded my arms over my chest. The river roared behind me. I was slowly getting soaked. “You forced me into it being so mysterious and coy and whatnot.”
The shot to my face was so fast that I never saw it. I felt it, though. His fist clipped my jaw. I fell backward. The Frost rolled over my thighs. Wyatt yanked me out of the white water. I fell into him as we fumbled in reverse, both soaking wet and shuddering violently.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He kept saying that as we clung to each other, panting in terrified bursts, fingers digging tightly into each other’s sodden coats.
“Nah, I totally deserved it. Totally. Oh fuck, that was the scariest ten seconds of my fucking life.”
I buried my face in his neck. He put his hand to my wet head, held my nose to his jugular, and then began to cry. At least, it felt like he was crying. I closed my eyes while he held me. It was only for a moment, maybe not even a full sixty seconds, that Wyatt fell apart.
“It’s okay,” I whispered into his warm flesh, then lifted my head, despite him trying to keep me from seeing him. I took his face in my hands. His cheeks were as cold as ice. His lips trembled. I placed a kiss to his scruffy cheek, held it for a second, and ran my tongue over the water that rested on my lips. Salty. “It’s okay. This whole thing? It never happened. It never happened.”
Wyatt stared at me. He nodded. There was nothing I wanted more than to claim his mouth. Would he let me?
“Yeah, yeah, me too.” I placed one last kiss to his cheek. He leaned in to me for this one, his chest resting against mine for a long moment. Then we stepped free from each other. “Next time we go swimming, let’s pick a better month. Like August.”
“Right. We’ll swim in August,” Wyatt said, then turned away.
I stood below him, watching him climb back up the steep incline. I had asked for something meaningful to share with the man. A punch to the kisser and a tumble in the Frost was not exactly what I’d had in mind. Perhaps sharing something powerful but not including a near-death experience was what I should ask for next.
Slinging burgers in Minnesota in the dead of winter isn’t exactly the Hemingway lifestyle aspiring writer Heath has dreamed of. About the only thing the quick-witted wordsmith has going for him is his pick-up hockey league games every Saturday. Now it looks like even that’s gone south, along with the team’s AWOL goalie.
That is until mysterious Wyatt Dickenson skates into town and announces that he can tend net. Heath isn’t the type to turn down such a generous offer from a Greek god with impressive equipment and all the right moves.
Heath offers to share his rented room with the enigmatic drifter, and soon begins to suspect that Wyatt is harboring a secret. Can Heath get Wyatt to open up about his dark past? Is there a dark past? Or is Heath’s writer’s mind just spinning sexy, shadowy scenarios about the mystery man who has him so infatuated?