To Live Again

By: L. A. Witt


“Don’t sell yourself short. I mean, yeah, there are guys here half our age. But…” He hesitated. Leaning toward me, he lowered his voice, and sounded uncharacteristically shy as he said, “You’re not a bad-looking guy at all.”

My cheeks burned.

He gestured out at the crowd. “And I’ve already seen a couple of them checking you out.”

I couldn’t make myself turn. “You’re shitting me.”

“Not at all.”

“How much you want to bet I could turn them off the instant I open my mouth?”

“Depends on what you’re thinking of doing with your mouth.”

My teeth snapped shut. Ethan chuckled. I was used to this side of him—he’d always been the brazen, uncensored half of that pair—but he was also one of two people on the planet who knew I wasn’t straight. And he’d only known since earlier this evening. I wished I could believe everyone in my life would be so relaxed about me coming out. Hell, Ethan hadn’t even been surprised, and he was already to the point he could joke about it as if it were no big thing. God, I wished I was at that point.

“Look, I’m serious.” He folded his arms on the table and locked eyes with me. “Greg, you’re a single man. You’re in a club full of horny, single men. All you have to do is get out there and break the ice with one or two, and you’re golden.”

“Yeah. Easy for you to say.” I fidgeted on the bench. Maybe I just needed a moment to collect my thoughts. Something to get me away from all these lights and all that skin. “I’m, uh, gonna hit the head. I’ll be right back.”

“Sure.” He gestured past the dance floor. “See that exit sign? Go past that, and there’s a hallway. Restrooms are back there.”

“Great. Thanks.” I got up and headed in the direction he’d indicated.

Halfway to the dancefloor, I met the gaze of a beautiful twenty-something with a smile that almost made me stumble. He lifted his eyebrows and beckoned to me.

Go for it. Go for it!

But I just returned the smile and kept walking. Maybe I’d find him when I came back. I had to escape for a second, though, or I was going to lose it.

I kept my eye on that exit sign like it was a lighthouse in a storm, and finally managed to shoulder my way through the throngs of people and slip past it. As soon as I was around the corner, the noise of the club diminished enough that I could hear myself think.

I stopped and leaned against the wall. Eyes closed, I took a few breaths.

What was I so afraid of? I’d been out of the game with women for so long, it wasn’t like I’d be that much less awkward with them, but men may as well have been an entirely new species for all the confidence I had in approaching them.

And the divorce was still a fresh wound. Three weeks ago, the thought of approaching anyone for sex had been an alien concept, because Becky and I—

The wall I was leaning on suddenly gave.

I stumbled back. “What the—”

“Shit!”

I almost caught the doorknob, but missed, and crashed into someone and the boxes he was carrying. He lost his balance. I lost what was left of mine.

Someone tried to grab us both, but we tumbled into a heap.

I quickly got off him—well, managed to get on top of a guy tonight after all—and scrambled onto my knees. “I’m so sorry. Are you all right?”

“You fucking idiot,” the kid who’d tried to catch us snapped. “Why the hell were you leaning on—”

“Hey.” The other guy sat up, dusting off his black Wilde’s shirt. “Take it easy, Evan. Just go unlock the van, okay?”

With a huff, the kid—Evan, apparently—stomped past us, keys jingling in his hand.

I watched him go, then turned back to the guy I’d knocked over. “I’m really sorry about that. You okay?”

“I’m good.”

Our eyes met.

And my heart stopped.

I couldn’t put my finger on his nationality—Hawaiian, maybe?—but holy shit. His black hair was cut neat and short, his tan much too deep for someone living in Seattle, and those eyes…

I gulped. They were dark. Almost black.

He cocked his head. “Hey. You all right?”

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