The Dating Disaster by Saxon James
The guy—no, man—no, beefcake across from me should have been a slam dunk. Blue/gray eyes, dark brown hair, five-o’clock shadow, and arms that could break me in half. He has to be over six foot and is the exact mix of strong and soft-bellied that makes all my limbs weak—well, except the one in my pants.
And yet this entire date has been more painful than anal bleaching post-crack wax.
My gaze keeps slipping to the Christmas decorations adorning the bar, and I remind myself again to focus.
Marshall’s deliciously big hands twist and twist over the table. “Ah …” He swallows. “So … you’re from Massachusetts.”
“We did cover that, yeah,” I say, trying not to laugh. The thing is, he seems like a total sweetheart, but—and it’s a big but—there’s no way someone like him would be able to handle someone like me.
He’s so … wholesome. Which is a pity because he’s hot as fuck, and I’d do anything to be handled by him.
“Huh. Right.” He’s squinting, which is really ruining the eye candy, and blinks way too much to be healthy. And I swear he hasn’t looked at me directly once. His eyes keep darting around the bar like he’d rather be anywhere else.
All my expectations that had skyrocketed at seeing him are shriveling. It’s not his fault though. It’s mine for putting so much pressure on this date. Sure, I love me some sex, every night of the week if I can get it, but after seeing my dad and godfather get married last year and watching some of my friends start to find their someones, I’m craving that connection too.
I’ve put my friends on Operation Find Felix a Boyfriend, and so far, they’re failing. Though, to be fair to them, none of them actually know about their mission. As far as they’re concerned, I’m on the hunt for more guys to sleep with.
And yeah, I’ll probably end up in bed with the teddy bear across from me, but the disappointment is setting in thick. He’s not my Mr. Right, and it’s really starting to wear on me that I can’t find one guy who’s halfway decent and wants me for more than a quickie.
I really like me, and I happen to be someone who likes a lot of sex, but I’m not an idiot. I know the word some guys call me. Even after they’ve been with me.
Most of the time, I don’t let it get to me, but times like these—sitting across from a guy who makes my heart feel all funny just from looking at him—it hurts to know I’ll never be good enough.
“What do you do on the weekends?” Marshall asks, hurrying to take a sip from his beer and dripping some down the front of his shirt. His Shenanigans polo, to be exact. Because apparently, he finished his shift five minutes before our date time and thought us meeting in the college bar where he works would be a smooth move. After I spent literally hours obsessing over what to wear. For him. To make him like me.
I put in effort for him, and he clearly didn’t think I was worth doing the same.
Determined to shake off my funk, I lift a shoulder and try to smile. “Fuck around, mostly,” I say. Because hey, if he’s not future boyfriend material, he can at least bang me senseless before the night is over. Might as well get something out of this date.
“Yeah, me too.” He nods, looking suddenly relieved. “My weekends are really low-key when I’m not working. Video games with the guys, reading, maybe some—”
“Oh, you think I meant fucking around as in relaxing?”
His eyebrows jump up. “Umm … is that not …”
“Bless … I meant literally.”
His mouth forms an O even as his cheeks redden. “That’s, uh, cool,” he stutters out.
And great, now he’s judging me.
I hold back my sigh, not wanting to go off on a rant about sex positivity. How long should I leave this thing before we’re both happy to admit it isn’t working? Dating is new to me, so I’m not sure if there’s an etiquette here, but after being closeted the entirety of my high school years, I’m determined to never hide who I am again. And there’s no way I’m letting this guy make me feel like less than him because I like a bit of sex.
And even with the gross feelings swirling in my gut, my cock is still on board for the after-party. He wouldn’t be the first guy to hate fuck me.
Marshall lifts a hand to run through his shaggy hair, revealing a huge sweat patch and an enormous bicep. My stare follows the line of his shoulder, up along his thick neck to his solid jaw, and when my gaze flicks up to meet his, there’s a flare of heat between us.
He clears his throat and glances down into his lap. “Do you … do you, uh, what do you study?”
My eyes narrow at the way he asked that, and I crane my neck to try and confirm my suspicions. I can’t see his lap from here, but I take a stab in the dark.
“Please tell me you’re looking at your cock and not a list of conversation starters.”
His head jerks up, and the guilty expression he’s wearing immediately gives him away. “I’m …”
“Am I really that hard to talk to?”
“What? No. No, I—”
That settles it, then. There’s no natural connection here. We’re too different. I remind myself that’s okay and try to shove the feelings of disappointment and worthlessness way down deep. He’s not my person. He’ll never be my person.
Well, no reason why he can’t be my person tonight.
My chair squeals against the hardwood as I stand.
Marshall’s mouth gapes at the movement, but I’m determined to make the most of the night. It’s already close to eleven, and the bar is busy, but it’s still too early to hook up in the alley out back. Which means we’re going to have to go somewhere, and I’d rather it not be my place because then it’s up to him to leave instead of the other way around. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Before he can say a word, I grab his giant hand, link my fingers through his, and drag him through the crowd. He follows me easily, and it’s not until I push through the back door into the dark alleyway that he gives me some resistance.
“Ah, Felix, what are you …”
I turn and press him into the wall. With his legs parted enough for me to step between, he’s still taller than me by a lot, and even if everything in there was a total write-off, I can already tell how we end the night will be burned into my memory for a long time.
His eyes are wide as he rests those sexy hands on my waist. “What are you doing?”
“I want to kiss you.”
A shuddery breath. A deep swallow. A nod. “Okay.”
I press onto my tiptoes and bring our lips together. At first, I’m not expecting much, but the second our mouths make contact is explosive. He opens for me instantly, tongue pressing against mine with a confidence that’s been missing the rest of the night, and the warmth from his mouth, the tightening grip on my back, the press of his solid chest against mine, gives me butterflies.
Full-on winged little bastards doing laps in my gut.
Marshall reaches up to cup my face, a soft hum leaving him. He keeps the kiss slow, deep, and it’s incredible and knee-melting, but I need more. I need to feel his solid body naked against me, his cock stretching me open, and see the awkward person who’s sat across from me all night sweat-slicked and desperate.
I grunt, fingers digging into his shoulders, before I trail them down his chest to tweak his nipple through his stupid polo shirt.
I’m breathing deeply when I break our kiss and press my lips to his ear instead. “I want you to fuck me,” I whisper.
The shift in him is immediate.
Marshall’s whole body goes tense, and his head jerks back. “I … I …”
“It’s okay,” I assure him. “The date was a fail, but we might as well get an orgasm out of it, right?”
The bewildered expression he’s wearing tightens, and he shakes his head. “That’s not for me.” And there’s that confidence I’d been looking for. At the worst possible moment.
My gut clenches at the implication, and I hurriedly take a step back. “Say no more.” I’m not going to force him to do me. In fact, if he doesn’t want me, the asshole doesn’t deserve me.
Hurt clenches around my chest, and I try to brush it off.
“I’m sorry, I just … I’m … I’m not …”
“That kind of guy,” I finish for him, having heard this shit before. He either thinks he’s too good for a quickie with me, or he’s a total closet case. Either way, I want off this ride. “Don’t worry. Message received.”
I pat my pockets to make sure I have everything with me before turning to leave.
Marshall’s hand snakes out to grab my arm, and I shoot him a glare.
“Want to let go there, big guy?”
He jerks back like he’s been shocked. “Sorry. Please. I’m confused.”
Closeted it is. “Don’t worry about it,” I brush him off and spare a genuine smile. I went through the closeted, confused self-discovery myself. I step in to brush a kiss over his cheek, then start to back away. “Thanks for the date.”
“I think it’s for the best.”
His face falls, but I turn and block it out, reminding myself it’s pathetic to cry over a little rejection. Marshall isn’t my Prince Charming, but that doesn’t mean I won’t find him.
Still, when I reach the parking lot, I can’t help but glance back over my shoulder. He’s slumped against the wall, watching me leave, and even though I can’t see his expression with the shadows over his face, this knot has lodged in my gut. Too bad for him.
He didn’t want all this, he doesn’t get to make me feel bad about walking away. I don’t have time for games, and I especially don’t have time for guys who make me doubt my self-worth. I’ve gone through that enough in the last few years.
I leave, the sound of the beach behind me a dull roar, the smell of salt water heavy on the air, and make the familiar walk home.
* * *
If I never see Marshall Harrows again, it will be too soon.
That’s the last thought I have before falling asleep, and apparently, it’s the wrong one to put out into the universe. I wake to Jason, one of my roommates, talking to someone with an unnervingly familiar voice. Considering Jason rarely stays here as it is, hearing him so early is weird enough, but …
I kick off my covers and go to investigate.
And as soon as I descend the short staircase to the next level, I wish I’d stayed in bed.
Standing in the middle of our currently vacant room is Jason … and Marshall.
My gut swoops as his eyes immediately drop to my tiny pajama pants, and I kick myself for not getting dressed first, but what are the chances?
“Hey, Fe,” Jason says. “You’re just in time to meet our new roommate.”
Ohh, fucking fuck no.
“Marshall, this is Felix,” Jason continues as if the ground hasn’t just caved out from right under me.
Instead of the earlier delightful swoop, my gut churns. My home is the place I can be me. I don’t have to tone down or act like someone I’m not, and now here’s this six-foot-something, sexy-eyed, scruffy, judgmental closet case, moving in.
“Ah, hi.” He offers me a confused kind of smile.
“Hi. Umm … how is this happening?” Whoa, that sounded high-pitched even by my standard.
“Bowser asked if I wanted the room …” His gaze flicks to Jason, like he’s checking for permission.
“So glad he did,” Jason says. “Some of the guys who applied were … well, they didn’t exactly come highly recommended.”
Marshall sniggers. “You won’t get any issues from me. I usually just hang out with Bowser, anyway.”
“How do you know him?” I ask, trying not to sound panicked or snappy, but fuck. Fucking fuck.
“We’re best friends.”
Well, that explains why Bowser was the one who set our date up. He’s lucky he’s already gone home for the holidays because otherwise, I’d have some very stern words for him. Very stern. Like who the hell sets someone up with their roommate-to-be?
“I need to go,” I say abruptly.
Jason throws me a concerned look, and I swear Marshall goes pale. His eyes are as wide as damn plates, and even though I’m borderline freaking out, I know what that look is. Don’t worry, buddy, I’m not going to out you.
“You good, Fe?”
Am I? Cue hysterical laughter, because what the hell?
I get to live with the guy who turned me down and made me feel just as small as I worry I am. Now whenever I look at him, I get to see my insecurities staring me back in the face.
The kicked puppy look he’s wearing really isn’t helping matters.
“Just fucking peachy.”
|September 2, 2022
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