Jesse Bauer sat in a corner, playing with the label on his beer. He hardly knew most of the crowd here for this travesty of a welcome-home-slash-birthday party. His girlfriend had the issue of attendance since he was one of the guests of honor along with douche-bag Nate and some guy who’d been on vacation for two weeks in Canada. Yeah, our homecomings are definitely similar. He rolled his eyes and huffed at the thought. Coming home from a war with a GSW to the shoulder and a vacation are definitely the same. Another snort.“There you are, baby.” Miranda wrapped one of her slender hands around his bicep and smiled at him. She was trying to her overly painted face seem polite but wasn’t doing a very good job of it. He knew she wanted to bitch about his lack of interest in the party but would never do it with so many people around. He scrunched his nose at the strong smell of her vanilla perfume that didn’t mix well with the beer on her breath. She scoffed.“I haven’t seen you in months, and you’re looking at me like I’m repulsive?” She obviously noticed his scrunched nose.He shamelessly avoided her question. “Miranda, I’m jet-lagged, sore, and don’t know anyone. How am I supposed to enjoy this shit?”“You could give it a try.” She practically gritted her teeth to stifle the urge to yell. He knew she was trying to help, but damn if he didn’t just want to be at home with some pizza and a movie. Maybe something with explosions. He missed explosions. Not the death part, but the sounds were fun.“I just want you to stop sulking. You’ve been doing it since you were put in the hospital. I know it’s not easy, but you can at least try to move on. This party is the best place to start. With people who care.”He couldn’t tell whether his face turned red with anger or when she brought up the shoulder injury that had him into medical retirement after only ten years in the marines. He lived and breathed that job. Either way, she got the hint from the color of his face and his narrowed eyes and stopped whatever else she had to say.“I’m going to refill my drink. I’ll be right back.” She stalked off, heels clacking. She looked like an emotionally injured Scarlett O’Hara, whom she strangely resembled, aside from the bleached hair. He scanned the crowd for a minute; the door opened.Alison Marks came through. He remembered her from a Christmas party Miranda had thrown several years ago. He was about to make the effort to say hello to the one person he recognized when a man followed her in whom he didn’t know.He couldn’t help but take in the sight of the man. He was slender but not too thin, with a lightly freckled face that spoke of a childhood in the sun. He was wearing a black henley, jeans, and a baseball cap that he’d turned backward. His clean-shaven face was almost too pretty to call masculine, and it was obvious he had a mop of black curls by the few strays poking out over his ears. He looked terribly uncomfortable as several people descended on him with pats to the back and hugs, shoving a beer at him.Must be our Canadian explorer.The man slowly scanned the crowd, and when his honey-brown eyes landed on Jesse’s stare, Jesse couldn’t look away. Pow! Crack! was all he could hear in his head as a flame started to ignite between them. He could see a light pink blush creep into the other man’s face. How cute. Jesse felt a warmth spread throughout his body as they continued to look at each other. Miranda’s sudden reappearance broke the spell. Jesse saw the other man’s long, dark lashes flutter, and looked away, at the sight of her nearly crawling into Jesse’s lap. Jesse almost impulsively threw her off to go comfort the other man, who was now swallowed by more well-wishers.Jesse looked back to Miranda, who was—not subtly—staking her claim on him. She must have noticed the eye sex he’d had with the other guy. He admonished himself for being so blatant, but she knew his preferences going into their relationship, hence the lap crawling and tight hand around his arm. He could not hide the annoyance on his face. Why not just piss on my fucking leg?He didn’t know why he still dated Miranda. She had been the best option for keeping up the façade while he was in the marines during the whole “Don’t ask, don’t tell” era, but he was retired now, and that policy was dead; he didn’t necessarily have to hide anymore. Except from his marine buddies. And his mom.Never mind.Miranda was still the safest bet. And she was sweet when she wasn’t like this.“Let’s get out of here.” She had worked herself up. He felt a bit like prey.“All right. Let me hit the john. Then we can head out.” He handed her his beer and made his way to the upstairs bathrooms Nate had insisted no one would use. He was wrong. Honey-brown eyes met him in the mirror when he opened the door. The man from before. He as he pulled his sleeves down and pocketed what to be some sort of ointment. Jesse heard the Pow! Crack! in his head again and had to suppress the urge to hug the right out of this man.“I’m sorry. All done in here. I’ll just get outta your way.” The man spoke so quietly the words were barely audible, but Jesse could definitely pick up on a Southern accent that added to the man’s appeal. The man turned and cast his eyes downward as he tried to leave.“You’re good, man.” Jesse couldn’t stop himself from word vomit, wanting anything but for this man to leave. “I saw you come in. I’m guessing by the reception that you’re Homecomer Number Two. I’m Homecomer Number One.”The man raised an eyebrow. “Why do you get to be Number One?” Jesse held himself in careful restraint when the man smirked playfully.“I got here first.” Jesse shrugged and gave a friendly smile. The other man’s eyes sparkled with good humor and looked more confident, even if it was for a fleeting moment.“Jesse.” He held out his hand.The other man looked at it for a moment before taking it in his grasp and shaking, saying “Tucker.” Tucker’s voice was barely audible, unlike when he’d attempted to be . Their eyes met . Tucker licked his lips, making warm-fuzzy things happen inside Jesse. Jesse was not accustomed to losing control, ever…around anyone. That didn’t stop him from descending on Tucker’s lips.Tucker tensed for a moment, sending a nervous shudder down Jesse’s spine. Jesse hoped like hell he did not read the signals wrong. But he knew he’d read them right when Tucker relaxed against him and opened his mouth for a deeper kiss, albeit shyer than Jesse would have liked. He still fell into the man’s mouth, feeling unstoppable. Tucker tasted like beer and toothpaste. He smelled woodsy and slightly of cologne that Jesse could only think was what the color blue would smell like. How strange.Jesse couldn’t think of a better taste or smell . Tucker put his hands on Jesse’s chest and sighed into Jesse’s mouth. Jesse reached up and firmly gripped Tucker’s arms. What he thought would be a passionate move ended in a loud cry from Tucker, whose knees buckled like he was in pain. Tucker immediately drew within himself, looked around like a feral cat, and as he darted out of the bathroom.Jesse followed but couldn’t find Tucker or Alison to ask what the hell had happened or if he’d hurt Tucker. Someone said they’d left in a hurry. He did, however, find Miranda, who seethed in annoyance. He gave her an .“Can we go now?” she asked, obviously trying for seductive instead of annoying. He felt like an unimaginable bastard. He hoped she wouldn’t be able to smell the other man on him. He’d come entirely too close to cheating. He never wanted to be that kind of man, but Tucker was like a drug Jesse had never known was out there to indulge in.He felt like an even bigger bastard when he thought of the other man as he fucked Miranda that night.And the next.
And that's it! Don't forget that Jesse and Tucker's story is out July 2 over at LooseId (of course it'll be on Amazon, BN, ARe, etc) See you for Seven Sentence Sunday!