Mike Miller’s life has gone to shit. The formerly popular high school quarterback now works at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. The last thing he needs is meeting the guy he used to bully at school and seeing him all sorts of polished up. James is now the proud owner of an amazing silver Jaguar and a self-made millionaire. It seems that the day couldn’t get any worse for Mike, but James ‘Lovelace’ Austin might just turn out to be his golden ticket out of the job he hates.
When James Austin meets Mike Miller, his high school crush and tormentor all in one, working at an old, dirty gas station, it feels as if the stars have finally aligned in his favor. He wants to finally get his revenge on the guy, but when Mike turns out to be gay, the whole afternoon takes a turn for the surreal. Instead of just humiliating Mike at his workplace, James decides to hire him for a weekend at a conference he’s attending. A hot guy by his side is the only accessory James needs to rub his success in the faces of his frenemies.
Only problem is, a gay Mike Miller might be too much of a blast from the past than James ever expected. If James wants his nerdy heart safe from the hunky jock, he needs to keep Mike at arms length. The task would be a lot easier if Mike wasn’t unashamedly hitting on James. Or is it just James’s money Mike is after?
Themes: cinderfella, enemies to lovers, escort, bullying, jock/nerd, mechanic, millionaire, old flame, high school crush
Genre: contemporary m/m romance
Erotic content: explicit m/m sex scenes
Length: ~ 33.000 words
The heat made Mike boil in his uniform, so even though his boss had told him not to, he pushed the top of his coveralls down to his hips. Mike was pretty sure the old pig was just jealous his employee looked so much hotter than him. Not to mention both Vega’s wife and their daughter, Vanessa, were making eyes at Mike, which couldn’t be going down all that well with the guy. Vega probably only kept Mike on because he couldn’t find anyone else who’d do the job for the slave wages he was willing to offer and live in the ancient motel by the gas station as well.
Mike carried a crate of beer into the small convenience store where Vega sat behind the counter, sweating, farting, watching TV and fanning himself with a newspaper. Without a word, Mike made his way toward the fridge to stack it full of beer. When he left home three years ago, he never thought he’d end up working at a shabby gas station in the desert, in a dead-end job, and with no one to fuck. No, when he came out and his family showed him the door, he was sure what awaited him would be a gay paradise, a never-ending parade of hot, tight asses and eager throats. Instead, he was stuck in this dump, barely scraping a living, not able to save up for anything, not able to afford a car, even though he kept fixing other people’s.
Life just wasn’t fair for Mike Miller. Wasn’t a hot mechanic every gay guy’s dream? Thanks to the free gym Vanessa let him use at the motel, he never got out of shape after high school, unlike some of his former teammates, but that wasn’t helping his chances when he didn’t have a quarter to his soul and never met anyone. Hell, if things kept up the pace they had slogged at for the last twenty-seven years of his life, maybe he should knock up Vanessa and become the proud heir to Vega Gas & Motel?
There wasn’t much traffic at the moment, but Vega wouldn’t let him have a moment’s peace, so he pulled out a rag and started pretending to clean the fridge door of the ever-present dust. He could kill for a cold beer right now. His throat was slowly turning into sandpaper while his skin couldn’t have been more wet without getting into a shower stall.
From outside, he heard the low hum of a car, but when it came to an abrupt stop, he knew they had a customer. Mike groaned but just kept stacking the beer in the fridge and enjoying the cool breeze coming from between its cold walls. It was like standing in the door to Narnia. He crossed his fingers for the customer pumping his own gas, paying Vega, and disappearing from sight. But no, the hoarse, cigarette-infused screech grabbed the back of Mike’s neck to haul him back to the door like a disobedient puppy.
“Hey, you! There’s Mr. Jaguar waiting for his lady friend. Chop, chop!”
Mike rolled his eyes and put a cold beer against his forehead for a sec before closing the fridge. “I’m going, I’m going. Can’t he pump his own gas? Rich asshole.” He walked along the shelves, but just as he was about to put his sunglasses on, he saw the Jaguar in all its glory. Sleek and designed for speed like the animal it was named after, the convertible almost blinded him with sunlight reflecting off its silver body. Mike’s eyes already strayed to a slim figure leaning against its side. Mr. Jaguar didn’t look like someone who belonged in a beat-up place such as this. Dressed in a pair of well-fitted, cream-colored slacks and a white shirt, he was the male version of the bombshell blonde customer even Vega would rush out to pump gas for. The presence of such a woman here was as elusive as the possibility of a meteorite striking Vega through the roof. Mike would take the meteorite, hands down. Or Mr. Jaguar, who combed his dark hair with his fingers and looked at Mike through a pair of pitch-black shades.
Mike was drawn out of the convenience store as if the guy were that cold beer he dreamt of. He’d rub him all over his body, not just the forehead. He put his sunglasses on as well, not really even dreaming the guy would be gay anyway. But stare he could, even at a straight guy.
“What can I do you for?” Mike asked, walking up to the car and shamelessly running his fingers along the side of the Jag’s door. He’d sell his soul for a machine like that. The customer’s mouth opened slightly, as if Mike’s invisible finger pressed on the middle of that plump lower lip. There was just a shadow of dark stubble on his cheeks, which only accentuated the customer’s angular cheekbones. Sharp as razor blades, thought Mike, but it did nothing to stifle his excitement. It wasn’t often that he met a man this hot in person. Slim, but the rolled-up sleeves revealed toned forearms covered by a dusting of black hair. The customer stared at him in silence, eyebrows gathered into a deep frown over the sunglasses.
“I ain’t got all day, you know?” Mike pouted and put his hands on his hips. He wasn’t going to take shit from Mr. Jaguar, no matter how hot he was. And he was so hot. Mike imagined himself grabbing the guy and fucking him on the hood of the car. He’d get to bury his dick in a piece of hot meat and caress the body of the car as well.
“You seem familiar.” Slowly, the customer raised his hands and took off the sunglasses, revealing a pair of narrow, expressive eyes. They were as blue as the sky above them.
Mike gave him another once-over, from the stylish leather shoes, to the catalog-trimmed hair. “I’ve never left the county, so I doubt it,” he said, but stood a bit closer, hoping Vega wouldn’t see it from his farting chair. What if the guy actually was gay? Maybe being ‘familiar’ was meant as a pickup line? Why was he so bad at this kind of stuff?
“I used to live around here,” said Mr. Jaguar, giving Mike a long look. “Didn’t you go to Alberta High School?”
Mike frowned and took a step back. “Yeah, why?” He pulled his sunglasses off and combed his fingers through his brown hair. Fuck. He should have combed it that morning. Was this the moment he should say something like, I’d remember someone as hot as you from school, and they would both laugh before going round the back for a quick blowjob? Mr. Jaguar did have nice lips that now broadened in a smile.
“Mike Miller, am I right? The quarterback.”
Mike gave him a crooked smile. Mike Miller, the quarterback. That did sound nice. Too bad it wasn’t high school anymore, and you couldn’t live off being a mediocre football player. He’d been good in school, just not good enough for a scholarship.
But Mike had to focus on the problem at hand. He couldn’t link those blue eyes to a name at all. “Yeah, long time ago,” he said and held out his hand to the guy, hoping Mr. Jaguar would save him from his misery and introduce himself. He didn’t even take the hand Mike offered.
“Do you know who I am?” he asked with a small smile.
Mike crooked his head to the side and rubbed his hand against his sweaty stomach as if he’d never held it out. This was getting truly annoying. “Not really, no.” He shrugged, trying to keep his cool even though goosebumps of shame were crawling up his back. A motherfucker he was supposed to know from school pulled up in a Jag, and he had no choice but to pump his gas. Perfect. Another perfect day in the life of Mike Miller.
The customer sighed and gave a shallow nod. “I will help your memory. I’m the guy you cornered in a shower stall. You switched on the icy cold water for a good laugh with your teammates,” he said, forcing his lips into a smile.
Any hint of a grin dripped from Mike’s face like sweat. This couldn’t be happening to him. There they were, the school’s resident gay nerd and him, about to pump his gas. This had to be the guy’s dream come true. A prophecy written in the stars. It could have only been worse if Mike were fat by now. He didn’t even remember Mr. Jaguar’s name all that well. Only the nickname he got after an unwanted outing during a slideshow presentation.
“Lovelace.” Like the actress in Deep Throat. Mike groaned and took another step back. His life had reached a new low.
“It’s James. And certainly not ‘Lovelace’,” whispered… James, who looked nothing like the thin, shapeless teen with longish hair Mike remembered from school. “But I am happy that I was entertaining enough to be remembered.”
As angry as Mike was with this meeting, he couldn’t help but have his skin throb at the knowledge that this guy was in fact gay. Mike put his hands in the pockets of his low-hanging coveralls and swallowed. James was the first real gay guy Mike had ever known, and he had been trying to hook up with him even when James had been an ugly duckling. None of his attempts ever worked out the way he wanted though. Being in the closet didn’t help either. Like that shower stunt. That was an epic fail. Mike had this fantasy that it would all work out like in a porno. He’d get James wet, have him undress and… stuff would happen. Instead, the whole fucking football team came into the locker room and wrecked the mood.
“Yeah, whatever. You’ll always be Lovelace to me.” Mike summoned a grin. Okay, so maybe he was as poor as dirt, but at least he could still have some satisfaction over this guy. Mr. Look-at-me-I’ve-got-a-Jag.
James put the sunglasses over his eyes and frowned. “I’ll get some coffee. Wash the car,” he said and started walking toward the store.
Mike spread his arms to the sides. “You’ve got to be shitting me!”
“The key’s inside,” said James, showing off his tight ass, or at least that was how it seemed to Mike. Those pants fit James perfectly.
Mike looked back to the Jag. For a split second, he imagined jumping in, showing Vega the finger and driving off never to return. With the added bonus of leaving James without a car. Mike knew he wouldn’t do it though. He wasn’t a criminal, even if it would make his life so much easier.
Mike took a deep breath and stroked the side of the door again. The car was so pretty, no matter whom it belonged to. It actually took Mike a while to get into the driver’s seat, shyly as if he were courting a virgin. The upholstery was soft, cream-colored leather, and the seat was a dream to sit in. He’d never had the chance to actually drive a vehicle so polished, new, and classy. Yes, that was the word. There was no fish tank in the back, no television set, or big speakers, but everything inside was of highest quality. And it smelled of a cologne that very much spiked Mike’s senses.
He carefully drove the car into the garage where he washed the cars. At least there was shade here. Even the short drive was as smooth as spreading soft butter all over toast. Mike scrutinized the car when he got out, and in fact, it wasn’t half as shiny as it had seemed to him at first glance. Like the hot guy who then turns out to be all too familiar.
That was his life. He either met no gay guys, or tempting gay guys who’d never suck him off. Grumbling under his breath, he prepared the necessary supplies and started working the soapy sponge over the beautiful exterior. It was only when he glanced toward the open doors that he noticed the already-familiar silhouette of James. God knew how long he had been standing there and ogling Mike with his gay eyes!
“You don’t have to supervise me. I know what I’m doing.” Mike rinsed the soapy sponge in a bucket of clear water and then dipped it in the soapy water again.
“I know,” said James as he sipped some coffee out of a paper cup. It gave Mike some satisfaction to know that the coffee powder in the store’s vending machine was past its due date. “I’m just enjoying the view.”
Mike actually stopped moving and looked back at James while polishing the wet metal. He could feel his stomach muscles move with a deeper breath. Good thing he was tanned because heat rose to his face at that comment. “I bet you had a crush on me in school, didn’t you?” Mike tempted his luck. “How’s being gay working out for you?”
Serena Yates (Rainbow Book Reviews)