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Out in the End Zone (Out in College #2)
Author/Writer of Book/Novel:
Evan di Angelo is an upbeat, good-natured goofball who loves his friends and family… and football. A traumatic accident may have ended his hopes of playing professionally, but he’s made the most of his four years on the field at a small Southern California college. He’s learned the hard way to embrace change, take chances and try things outside of his comfort zone…like agreeing to play fake boyfriends for someone else’s senior project.
Mitch Peterson knows that being his authentic self is the path to true happiness. He’s grown from a shy, quiet kid from a broken home to an out and proud budding internet sensation bound for grad school. An awesome senior project is the key. It’s unlikely anyone will believe the hunky, straight athlete is Mitch’s new lover, but it’s worth a shot. However, as their tentative friendship blossoms into unexpected attraction, the lines between reality and fiction blur for both men. Evan is forced to face old demons and decide if he has the courage to take the next step and come out in the end zone.
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“This above all: to thine own self be true.”—William Shakespeare, Hamlet
The steady bass of a popular hip-hop song reverberated in the overcrowded living room. The lights had been dimmed to evoke a club-like atmosphere. Partygoers danced on coffee tables and on the patio just outside the open sliding glass doors leading to the backyard. Others bopped to the beat and yelled to be heard above the din. Traversing the sea of inebriated twentysomethings to get to the kitchen would take time, patience, and maybe a raincoat to avoid accidental drink spillage, but it was better than listening to the same stupid stories I’d heard so often I could tell them myself. Why did I think this would be fun?
Oh, right. Because college parties were a blast, I mused sarcastically as my roommate’s ex-girlfriend swayed against my side.
I fake laughed on cue, then raised my red cup and signaled I needed more alcohol before making a not-so-stealthy escape. I didn’t check to see if I was being followed. I breathed a sigh of relief when I stepped into the kitchen and spotted Chelsea and Mitch.
Chelsea Ramirez was our hostess tonight. She was a petite Latina with a bohemian streak who loved a good time. She didn’t think twice about having a hundred people over every other weekend. I met Chelsea through my best friend, Derek, during our sophomore year of college. I’d just switched schools to play football at a small private university in nearby Orange, but I’d made lifelong friends at Long Beach State, like Derek and Chels. I had good friends at Chilton College too—but not like these guys. I didn’t mind the sometimes wicked freeway commute. It was more important to me to be close to people who felt like family.
I tapped my empty red cup to Chelsea’s, then turned to greet Mitch with a smile that probably looked a tad too enthusiastic. “Hi, there. How’s it goin’?” I asked awkwardly.
“It’s going well, thank you.” He looked amused at my sudden ineptitude. With good reason.
I was a total dweeb around Mitch Peterson.
We met through Chelsea a few years ago, but since we usually only saw each other at parties like this one with a gazillion people around us, I didn’t know him well. Truthfully, the guy kind of intimidated me. He had bright blue eyes, short dark-blond hair, and a commanding presence that made him appear taller than he was. I pegged him at five eleven, at least three inches shorter than my own six two. And he was much leaner. No joke, I could bench press him with one hand tied behind my back.
According to Chels, Mitch was a cultural and fashion trendsetter and an active member of a prominent on-campus LGBTQ group. And maybe a cheer captain too? I couldn’t remember. He was one of those uber go-getters. You know the type. A 4.0 student, president of multiple clubs…oh yeah, and a budding YouTube star too. I felt like a slacker in comparison. My grades were decent but after football, my main pastime was hanging out with my friends. No doubt he thought I was a dumb jock.
“Hiding in the kitchen at your own party? You’re slipping, Chels,” I chided playfully.
Chelsea tossed her dark hair over her shoulder, then rolled her eyes. “Don’t go starting rumors, Evan. I have a dilemma, but I’m three kamikazes and two tequila shots into the night, so I’m seeking guidance from my more sober friend ’cause I josh dunno what to do,” she slurred.
Uh oh. She was drunk. I supposed that made sense. It was sometime after midnight on a beautiful summer evening in Southern California and the last weekend before school started. A perfect occasion for a party, if one was needed. And Chelsea usually didn’t require much persuasion to let loose and have fun. Mitch seemed relatively sober, though I had spotted him dancing on the coffee table with Chelsea when Derek and I first arrived a couple of hours ago.
“What’s the problem?” I asked, setting my cup on the counter and reaching for a water bottle.
Mitch shot a guarded look my way. “Sex is happening in her roomie’s room.”
“Like right this second?” I furrowed my brow and gestured in the general direction of the bedrooms.
“Yup. Rachel doesn’t know her room is being used for a slam pad, and Chelsea is having a moment. The way I see it, she has two options.” Mitch set a hand on his hip and began a theatrical countdown on the fingers of his free hand. “Option one, she commits coitus interruptus and an embarrassing moment occurs, complete with nudity, animal sounds, and possible screaming. Two, she lets them wrap it up and then kicks their asses to the curb. Which would you choose, Evan? Door number one or door number two?”
“Uh…I need a little clarification before I answer. Animal sounds and screaming? What the fuck are they doing, and who is it? Anyone I know?”