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Deke (Fake Boyfriend #3)
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Word of advice: don’t come out to random guys in public restrooms. Even if they’re charming and adorably nerdy and offer to help.
My family believe I can’t be happy if I’m not out to the world. I have a bitter ex-boyfriend and an unstable NHL career to show for it. A fake boyfriend seems like an easy and quick solution to get my family off my back, and this guy is volunteering. I take him up on it without asking his name.
I really should’ve asked for his name.
Word of advice: learn how to introduce yourself properly.
In my defense, I don’t recognize Ollie Strömberg right away. I cover football, not hockey.
I’m not supposed to see him again, and he’s never supposed to find out I’m a reporter.
That all changes when my editor reassigns me.
It’s a lesson I should’ve learned by now. Nothing’s changed since high school. Jocks still hate nerds. But even worse, athletes hate journalists. Especially ones who know their secret.
*Deke is a full-length MM novel with a HFN/HEA and no cliffhanger*
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There are only so many times I can hear that coming out will solve all my problems. Like saying the words “I’m gay” to the entire world will somehow give me unicorn powers and I’ll start farting rainbows and scoring on the ice.
I love my family, but for the love of Gretzky, they need to get over it. I have.
Okay, probably not.
My boyfriend left me because he hated being referred to as my roommate all the time, and somehow, that makes me the bad guy. I mean, I know I’m not the good guy, either, but Ash and I didn’t deliberately set out to hurt each other. We were just really good at it.
My family—especially my ma—thinks if I come out to the world there’ll be a domino effect, and I won’t be the only gay guy in hockey for long.
There’s more chance of me farting rainbows.
It didn’t happen when Matt Jackson came out in the NFL a few months ago, and I have no delusion it’ll happen for hockey when my time comes. I followed Matt’s story, and it wasn’t pretty.
The NHL was one of the first leagues to support LGBTQ players with their You Can Play project, and yet not a single player has creaked open the closet door, and my career doesn’t need the added pressure of being the first one.
I don’t want to be the NHL’s first pancake.
Last thing I want to do is yell out in the middle of the locker room, “Oh, by the way, I’m gayer than a leather daddy convention.”
No matter how many times I say I need to be in a good place before bringing shit on my career, it all falls on deaf ears when it comes to my family. And Ash.
I’m not out, so I shouldn’t get shiny things like happiness to play with. That’s what they seem to think.
And that’s why I’m hiding in the bathroom of this dingy bar-slash-restaurant before we’ve even been served dinner. We came to the Honey Bee so the whole family could be together. Ma already complains she doesn’t see us all enough, but in our defense, we’re five dudes with shit going on in our lives. I think she’s more upset she doesn’t get to dote on all of us now we’re grown-ups. And by dote on, I mean butt in.
She’s a meddler through and through, but I get the brunt of it. I’m her baby—the youngest—and also the gayest. My whole family has been overprotective of me ever since my mom outed me to myself when I was fifteen.
Yup. That happened. Because Ma knows everything. Apparently.
Tonight, all I’ve heard is how lost Ash is without me and how relationships need compromises to work.
“Be the person that you needed growing up, struggling to believe you could be anything you wanted to be,” she’d said not ten minutes ago.
Changing Gus Kenworthy quotes to suit my situation doesn’t help, Ma.
When I’d stared at my brothers to get any of them to back me up, they all sipped from their drinks and avoided eye contact. Dad grunted and nodded but didn’t take sides.
Okay, my dad’s not an asshole. I’m just frustrated.
The door to the bathroom opens, and I assume it’s one of my brothers come to check on me as per Ma’s orders.
“I’ve been waiting for you—” I turn and come face to face with someone who is definitely not one of my brothers.
This guy who is the spitting image of a blond Superman, even down to the wild curl across his forehead and an adorable chin dimple, stares at me with wide, pale blue eyes. He’s smaller than me but still probably six foot easy. My gaze travels down his slim build, and when I meet his eyes again, I replay my words and take in our location—a gay-friendly hangout in the South End—and I think I might’ve just come onto someone for the first time since Ash and I split. Unintentionally, but still.
“Not you. I thought you were my brother.”
The guy screws up his face. Oh, fuck, now it sounds like I’m waiting in the bathroom to hook up with my brother.
“No. I wasn’t waiting for … that.” My face burns, and I pray to God I’m not turning red. “I’m hiding.”
He cocks an eyebrow. “From your brother?”
“From my entire family.”
His warm gaze trails over me and lingers on my tattooed arms. His heated stare causes a stirring in my groin, reminding me that I haven’t had sex in six months.
“I’m guessing you belong to the giant Norse gods out by the bar?” he asks.
My brothers and I often turn heads, especially when we’re all together. I’m the runt, and I’m six four. My brothers always joke that I took up hockey so I could add height with my skates.
We’re seated in one of the restaurant’s private rooms, but I’d say my brothers are about due for another drink.