Evernight Publishing www.evernightpublishing.com Copyright© 2012 Seleste deLaney ISBN: 978-1-77130-137-4 Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs Editor: JS Cook ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. .
DEDICATION To Deanna and Damon: Challenge accepted. I hope you approve. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I’d never planned to write M/M, not really. It was always on my maybe-someday-but-probably-not list for a very simple reason—I was terrified I couldn’t do it. Then a dear friend introduced me to a dear friend of hers, and the two of them issued me a challenge to try. I was still terrified, but I have this problem of not being able to back away from a dare. And sometimes a challenge is far too close to a dare to make a difference. So, if you hate this story, blame me but, if you love it, thank Deanna Wadsworth and Damon Suede because it never would have happened without them. It also wouldn’t have happened without a slew of beta readers helping me along the way and making sure I didn’t just write straight sex with two men. So a huge debt of thanks to Deanna (again), Janelle, Branli, and Katee. Also, to my husband and kids for their unending patience with me while I hide out in my office and stay up way too late at night. I love you! Finally, thanks to the Evernight team. You took on this crazy multi- author, shared-world series when I pitched it and have embraced it at every step so far. We’re building slowly, but I hope you are proud with where we’re going. .
LOVE AND OTHER INDOOR SPORTS Cupid’s Conquests Seleste deLaney Copyright © 2012 Prologue Music pulsed, and lights over the dance floor strobed in time with the beat. Eros leaned against the bar, nursing a headache and the same drink he’d been sipping for an hour. Hades, he missed the nectar of the gods. Still, the Rose Bowl Cosmo was tasty. and large enough to last. He put the straw between his lips and sucked in a long swallow. “For exile, you don’t have it all that bad, brother. Imbibing at a location so ripe for the picking—either for your mission or yourself.” With a lascivious grin, his brother Pothos tipped his head toward a trio of coeds staring at them from the dance floor. His expression shifted quickly to a sour wince as he took a swallow of wine. “Though the vintage could use a little help.” While Pothos worked his mojo on the wine, Eros attempted to lure the coeds toward the bar. The minute their gaze shifted from Pothos’s long chestnut waves to him, they started giggling and turned away to resume grinding against each other. So much for his chance at a fun night with his brother and the ladies. He let out a sigh and tossed the straw, raising the bowl to his lips instead. Pothos savored a sip of his wine. “Much better. By the way, have you lost more hair since I saw you last?” “Yeah. And you apparently forgot your manners.” Eros swept a hand over his bald pate. Damn Zeus and the hair thing. Banished until he fixed the sorry state of love on earth was bad enough without this. “Gah. I need to get back to work. The drinks might be decent, but without a little loving of my own, it’s not any fun.” .
“And you think you’re going to find someone here that’s ready for true love? It’s a college campus, Eros. Half the people here just want to get laid. And the other half will wake up with broken hearts in the morning.” Looking around the club at the drunken college kids and the nearly as drunk alumni pouring through the door, Eros couldn’t really argue, but he sure as hell wasn’t planning to leave without trying. Besides, the way Pothos said he couldn’t made him bristle. “That sounds like a challenge, brother.” The laughter that erupted next to him drew everyone’s attention—exactly what Eros tried to avoid when with his godly companions. Pothos just waved a hand through the air though. In a shimmer of light, a bewildered haze settled over the patrons and they returned to their drinks and dancing. “I’ll tell you what, if you can match up one of mine, I’ll put in a good word for you. See if Zeus will let Erato visit for a little reward.” “One of yours?” Pothos was the god of longing—sexual or otherwise—for the unattainable. One of his people likely meant someone obsessed with a movie star. Not exactly convenient, or realistic, especially out here in the sticks. “You don’t ask much, do you?” “I would never give you an impossible task. I’m not that cruel. No, brother, this one wants something that is here, in easy reach. He’s just too afraid to see it for what it is.” Pothos drained his wine glass and tipped it toward the door. “There he is, and his match is here, on this very campus. They should have been together long ago, but. circumstances and your absence on this plane for so long. well, it never happened. What do you say?” Eros eyed the man standing awkwardly near the entrance. Already women were turning his way, admiring the way the alum’s old letterman jacket stretched across his broad shoulders. With his strong jaw and chiseled, boy-next-door good looks, the guy could have any woman he wanted. He shouldn’t need divine help at all. Styx! The bastard even had a full head of glossy black-as-night hair! As he stared, Eros decided he really didn’t want to help the guy. Then a golden-haired beauty sidled up to Pothos’s side, and Eros felt an uncomfortable tightening in his loins. Erato. It wasn’t her, but damn, just the blonde waves made him yearn to have her wrapped .
around him again. Hades, for that, he’d make every beautiful man on the planet fall in love. “Yeah. I’m in.” He raised the bowl to his lips again. Before he managed to tip it up and take a drink, Pothos pressed his hands to the glass, making it glow. “Drink up, brother. I said it wasn’t impossible, but this one is not going to be easy.” With a swirl of darkness, Pothos disappeared, just more smoke rising toward the vents. Giving a snort, Eros swallowed the last of his drink. His eyes widened and he hoped Zeus didn’t catch wind of Pothos’s gift. Nectar of the gods. Eros licked the inside of the bowl, not caring who saw. If Pothos had given him this, it meant he really had his work cut out for him. .
Spin the Bottle Griff never should have gone to the bar last night. From the minute he walked inside, girls started swarming, and none of his former teammates could understand why he left alone. Hell, a part of him wondered too. He liked sex with women fine and had a trail of ex-girlfriends a mile or so long to prove it. Women were what he’d been taught. what was expected of him. A wife. Babies. His folks were leaning on him hard for still being single. How could he explain to them that he’d never connected with a woman in his life? Never felt that spark? He’d only ever felt it with one person—right in this very building. Now that he was standing in the foyer of the Delta Chi fraternity house for the first time in years, he wondered if ditching the girls had been the best plan. After all, it would have been easy enough to grab the trio that attacked him on the dance floor. They seemed almost as into each other as they were into him. He could have taken them back to his hotel, made up some bullshit excuse about an injury, and then told them he just wanted to watch. At least then he wouldn’t have to worry what the rest of the team said about him leaving the bar alone. His bogus reputation would still be intact. He sighed and eased the front door shut behind him. None of it mattered. He was here for a week and then he was going back home. Let the guys think what they wanted, even if it was the truth. As soon as next weekend was over, he’d be back to his normal life and its awkward string of first dates that led nowhere. Hopefully he could hold off on trying another relationship for a while. Maybe some woman would come along who’d just knock his socks off. It was bound to happen eventually, right? He almost laughed at the thought. Griff wished he were brave enough to come out of the closet. Wished he could find a guy worth doing that for, but even with men. none of them had ever made his heart trip over itself trying to beat since the first time. A thin layer of dust collected on his fingers as he trailed them along the mahogany stained wainscoting. Obviously, they hadn’t cleaned for the big weekend yet. Griff wasn’t the only brother who .
had played in the Rose Bowl ten years before. At least three of them would be invading the house soon enough. He didn’t realize where he was going until he stopped in front of the entryway to the common room. It was the main public area of the house—generally the best kept—but it was also the room where he’d gone through hazing twelve years ago. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the archway. Right there. By the fireplace. “Hey, aren’t you Jacob Griffin? Defensive tackle?” The voice startled him so badly, he jerked his hand away from the wall, wondering for a second how he didn’t yank part of the wood with him. “Yeah. Well I used to be. The ACL injury senior year kind of put the pro plans to bed in a hurry. Sorry, I always did suck with names, and I seem to have completely forgotten yours.” Then again, he thought he’d remember a guy like the one in front of him. Barely five-seven, a bit on the chubby side and bald as the day he was born. Griff couldn’t remember a single frat brother who looked anything like him. Eyes twinkling like he knew something Griff wasn’t privy to, the guy grinned and said, “Chris. Chris Erosou. And no worries, I wore glasses then and had a lot more hair.” The name wasn’t ringing a bell either, but Griff shook the guy’s hand. “The hair—that must be it.” “Yeah, it started going right after graduation and a few years in, I shaved the rest off. Bald is beautiful and all that crap.” He shrugged then jerked his head toward the common room. “Lots of memories in there, huh?” “Good and bad.” Chris shrugged. “Hazing’s part of the gig; we all know that coming in.” When Griff didn’t respond, he kept on talking. “So who was yours anyway?” The question should have startled him, but Griff had been thinking about it ever since he set foot on campus again. No. That was a lie. He’d been thinking about it ever since it happened. “Colby Marsters. He dropped out of the pledge class shortly after.” “That’s right—I remember now. Have you seen him?” Did every time he closed his eyes count? “No. After he left, I got buried in the frat, classes, and football.” Chris’s laugh echoed through the empty common room. “I meant since you’ve been back.” .
He stepped into the room, and Griff followed, curious what he meant. “Why would he be here? He wasn’t on the football team.” Sure it was Homecoming and the reunion for the winning Rose Bowl team, but most regular visitors wouldn’t show up until Friday at the earliest. “Nope. Soccer, but that isn’t what I meant.” Chris stopped on the far side of the gilt-framed coat of arms and leaned against the wall, staring at Griffin. “You do know he works here, right?” Time seemed to freeze around them while Griff’s head spun. He reached toward the wall for balance, and his hand slid down the edge of the coat of arms. He hissed a breath through his teeth—a tiny golden splinter that looked almost like an arrow was stuck in his hand. He used the precious seconds it took to pull the piece of the frame free to collect his thoughts. Colby was here. Had been here for who knew how long. He licked his lips and tried to make the question sound casual. “I didn’t know. What does he do?” “He’s a coach. Women’s soccer last I heard, which means he’s likely at the gym or field house right now.” Griff nodded absently, but his mind wasn’t in the present anymore: it had drifted back a dozen years to the day they’d stood in this very room and the pledges were ordered to play a ridiculous game of spin the bottle. with each other. Sixty seconds of kissing another guy, and if you broke the kiss before the timer ran out, you had to go again. As much as he hated the hazing bullshit, he hadn’t had a choice about pledging. Delta Chi had been his father’s fraternity and his grandfather’s before that. So, unlike some of the others, he hadn’t balked at playing the game. Sure, he’d always been able to look at other guys and, just like with women, find them attractive or not. But that didn’t mean anything. As far as he’d been concerned, just because it was his first time kissing a guy didn’t mean it couldn’t also be his last. One and done, like so many other things he didn’t want to but had to do. Colby had looked almost as nervous as Griff felt by the time they stood in front of the group. Of course the laughter from the other pledges at Colby’s “ball handler” t-shirt didn’t help. But neither of them even cracked a smile. They were both athletes and trained to hate losing, so they’d shared a silent nod before moving in. Clearly, neither of them planned on doing this more than once. .
Then his lips had met Colby’s, and Griffin’s world shattered. Before that moment, he’d always thought kissing was just kissing, but Colby took control in a way he’d never felt. Part of his brain had screamed he should be in charge—after all he was bigger, stronger—but he didn’t want to. Later he told himself that if they’d both tried to be the dominant kisser they would have broken before the timer ran out. It was a lie. From their first touch, he wanted to let Colby lead, loved the way it felt to be taken by someone else. No, not just that. Taken in a way no woman had ever matched. Before, or after. He’d spent that night lying awake, trying to figure out what it all meant. The next evening, he’d stumbled, exhausted, into the house only to find out Colby wasn’t coming back. Obviously whatever he’d felt hadn’t been reciprocated. What had ruined him for every woman—and man—that came later had driven Colby away from the fraternity entirely. Feeling the ghost of the kiss on his lips once more—throbbing in time with the pain from the splinter—Griff knew he couldn’t stay away. He needed to see Colby again, if only to get the soccer player out of his system once and for all. “Cool. I might have to take a walk over there.” # “Coach, you need to look at this.” Colby groaned. He’d already sent the girls off to hit the showers and was really looking forward to putting his practice notes into the computer, brainstorming a couple new drills, and going home so he could change and take a run. But with the way his assistant coach, Deanna, waved the papers in her hand, leaving soon might not be an option. “What’s wrong?” She slapped the papers into his outstretched palm. “It’s Desirée. Her mid-term report to be exact.” Crap. Desirée was their star goalie. He’d recruited her personally and promised her family he’d make certain she stayed eligible. The tutors he’d hired were supposed to be some of the best on campus. The information on the papers argued otherwise. Regardless of how many hours of tutoring her scholarship paid for, she was failing two of her core classes and barely passing another one. The A in her .