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Heat Stroke (Beach Kingdom #2)
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They can’t be together. They won’t stay apart.
Marcus “Diesel” O’Shaughnessy is a brash, oversized CrossFit enthusiast with a naked lady tattooed on his rippling forearm. Jamie Prince is a private school teacher with an extremely low tolerance for bull. The two men have zero in common. Well, except for three things.
They’re both moonlighting as lifeguards for the summer.
But what happens in the shadows of the Long Beach boardwalk can only remain hidden for so long, before the July sunshine reveals the hot, unrelenting connection they never expected, forcing Marcus and Jamie to decide if they’re simply caught up in a temporary heat stroke or if they’ve found something worth rescuing.
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God save him from confused straight guys.
Jamie Prince used the book he was reading to block Marcus “Diesel” O’Shaughnessy from view. Not an easy feat, considering Marcus was six foot five in a slouch and looked like he should be holding a championship wrestling belt over his head. It was Saturday morning, their lifeguard meeting was in full swing and the idiot wouldn’t stop making faces at Jamie across the locker room.
Marcus had been a fixture at the beach for the last three summers and the meathead never failed to get under Jamie’s skin, but life had been so much easier when their relationship was purely based on shit talking. It was one of his favorite pastimes and his above average IQ guaranteed that he basically slayed in a battle of words. Unfortunately, Marcus showed up each summer progressively confused about what exactly made his dick hard.
Jamie recognized the signs.
He’d been down this road before and fallen off the eventual cliff.
Sign number one. On Memorial Day weekend, also known as the day the Long Beach lifeguards begin manning their chairs, Marcus had walked into the locker room with a naked woman tattooed on his forearm. Hello, overcompensation, you’re looking well.
Sign number two. He wouldn’t leave Jamie the fuck alone.
Everywhere Jamie went, so went Marcus.
Which took a lot of effort, considering Jamie remained on the move almost every hour of the day in the summertime. During the rest of the year, he taught economics at one of the top college prep schools in the five boroughs. But the summer months were reserved for the family businesses. Beach and bar. He could almost always be found at one or the other, Marcus hovering somewhere in his periphery.
The nights Jamie bartended at the Castle Gate? Marcus played bouncer, checking IDs and escorting troublemakers out to the boardwalk by the scruff of their necks.
When Jamie’s older brother, Andrew, made the lifeguarding schedule and assigned their chair numbers? Marcus always requested the chair next to Jamie’s.
Those two signs were enough to know Marcus was peeking out of the closet and seeing a whole new, scary world. Jamie was not going to play his tour guide.
Unfortunately—and this was a massive drawback—Jamie kind of…maybe…didn’t mind the idiot so much. God, how ridiculous.
With an inward groan of pure self-disgust, Jamie buried his face in A Brief History of Time for a moment and gathered his resolve, Andrew’s voice going in one ear and out the other, summarizing a rescue on the beach yesterday and explaining what could be improved on for next time. Only when Jamie remembered why he didn’t make friends with confused straight guys on the verge of self-discovery did he lower the book—
Marcus crossed his eyes at Jamie.
Jamie fought a reluctant smile.
He wiped it clean when he caught Andrew watching him.
“All right, everyone,” said Jamie’s older brother, slapping his clipboard against his thigh. “It’s July Fourth weekend in Long Beach, so it’s safe to assume everyone on the beach is tanked. You know the deal. Pretend you don’t see the odd beer, but report the hard liquor. Radio in with any fireworks activity and we’ll hand it over to law enforcement.” He waved everyone forward. “Come get your chair assignments.”
Jamie sighed and approached his brother, Marcus converging at the same time, rifling a hand through his mess of dark blond hair and causing his CrossFit-honed bicep to pop. He was obviously preparing to make today’s case for being seated in the chair closest to Jamie.
Oh no. Not today. This whole weird friendship he was developing with Marcus needed to be nipped in the bud STAT. Jamie had almost smiled at him a second ago.
“Put me next to Rory,” Jamie said, widening his eyes at Andrew. “Someone needs to make sure he’s alert and not daydreaming about Olive all day.”
As if summoned by the mere mention of his girlfriend, Rory sauntered over to join them with a faraway look in his eye. “Speaking of Olive, she did the cutest thing when I was driving her to school yesterday—”
“See what I mean?” Jamie tapped his finger on Andrew’s beloved clipboard. “Lives are at stake. I better stick close to him.”
“Jamie,” Marcus cajoled. “Jamiiiie. Admit you want to be near me.”
Jamie dug his thumb and forefinger into his eye sockets. “If I’m not back after my shift, it’s because I’ve drowned myself. Remember me fondly. Carry on the Prince name without me.”
Marcus stepped back and gestured to his physique. “You’re really going to pass up all this eye candy?”
What am I even supposed to say to that?
If anyone else said something like that to Jamie, he would cut them off at the knees. Or, more likely, Rory would deck him. However, Marcus was the one person on the literal planet that could make the asshole assumption that Jamie had the incessant need to ogle anything with a penis simply because he was gay—and not get punched in the throat. One look at his earnest smile and it was impossible to hold anything he said against him. God, it was annoying.