Troy lives to be a teacher. Jessie knows teachers can’t be gay. These facts could rip them apart.
It’s the summer of 1978. Troy Larson is only one university-year away from living his dream as an elementary school teacher. In the meantime, he’s heading to his family’s annual, month-long vacation at a Northern Minnesota lake resort. He’s looking forward to time with his best friend, Jessie, and finding out what happened to him. This year was odd. They hardly spoke on the phone and Jessie didn’t come home for the usual breaks. When they meet, it’s clear something’s off with Jessie. One day in, Troy secretly stumbles upon Jessie in an illicit act with another man. The incident triggers questions about Jessie’s sexuality and confusion about his own.
Jessie Smith is set to take over his father’s Minneapolis foundry when he graduates from a New York university next year. But the time in New York has taught him how to accept his sexuality and his newfound freedom is not something he’s willing to give up. As the families meet for their vacation, it’s clear that Jessie is different. After the first day, Jessie sees an abrupt change in Troy, and it’s baffling. The changes in Troy cause a lifetime of repressed feelings to surface in him.
Troy’s pursuit of the truth brings him closer to Jessie than he ever thought he would want to be. He struggles to understand what’s going on between them and how his best friend is turning into more, way more. With the gay rights movement facing legal challenges from Save our Children, can Troy convince Jessie he’s willing to fight along side him and face whatever consequences may come together?
Troy sat in the black vinyl passenger seat of Jessie’s blue Trans Am, peering ahead of him at the convenience store. He had to stay focused and figure this thing out. So far Jessie was acting completely normal. So, he must not know that he saw him. Maybe it was best if he didn’t say anything. Saying something would only embarrass Jessie and that’s not cool. But is he gay?
“So, we’ll get some beer and snacks and then go and get the boat at the marina.” Jessie slapped Troy’s arm. “You hearing me?”
Troy jumped and blinked. “Yeah, I heard you.” Damn, he had to pay attention. He got out of the car and met him at the glass doors to the store.
Jessie opened the door and swung his arm. “After you.”
“Thanks.” Troy stepped inside and perused the rows of snacks and sundries, the tall, glass refrigerated drink coolers at the back. His gaze caught on a rack of skin mags at the front of the store. That’s it. He should get one. They could look at it together and he’d see how Jessie reacted to it. If it gave Jessie a hard-on, then he’d know he wasn’t gay and whatever he saw was…whatever. He could put it to rest. But could gay dudes get boners from nude chick pictures? No…this will work. He furrowed his brows.
Jessie walked through a row of snacks, picking up a bag of potato chips. “I’ll grab us some sandwiches. You want Schlitz beer again?” He stepped to the coolers.
“Sure.” Troy strode to the skin mags and searched over the titles. Playboy, too tame. He needed something more erotic than that. He had to be sure it would be enough to give him a hard-on. He picked up a Hustler in one hand and a Penthouse in the other, attempting to peek under the wrapper, hiding the image on the front.
Jessie came up behind him and rested his chin on Troy’s shoulder. “What you looking at?”
Troy startled and turned around, facing him. “Uh, just thought, you know, we could have some fun with these while we’re out.” Would he buy it, or think it was too weird?
Jessie peered at the magazines. “Somebody horny?” He gave him a coy grin and lifted a brow.
Troy released a choked chuckle. “N-no, I just thought it would be fun to look at while we’re out. That’s all.” What would he think about this? If Jessie didn’t want to bring the magazine, would that mean he was gay?
Jessie’s gaze fell to Troy’s mouth and he licked his lips. “Sure. Get the Hustler. That one’s better.”
“Okay.” Troy slid the Penthouse into its place on the shelf. Okay, so he must look at these if he has a preference, right? That would make him not gay. Then why would he let a dude blow him? He pursed his lips.
“Troy.” Jessie stood at the counter with a female cashier in a red t-shirt, their food now bagged. “Get over here with that, so I can pay.”
“Yeah, sure.” Troy walked to the counter and set the magazine on it, then stared out the glass doors of the store, heat flushing his face.
The cashier rang them up and Jessie paid.
Jessie came close, whispering in his ear. “Your face is redder than her shirt, man. You embarrassed to buy a skin mag?”
“Stop it.” Troy forced a smirk and grabbed bags from the counter. “You bought ice, right?”
“Yeah, I’ll get the beer, you grab the ice.” Jessie seized a twelve pack from the counter and strolled out the doors of the store, snickering.
Christie Gordon started writing gay and M/M romance fiction after becoming preoccupied with anime and in particular, the boys love and yaoi genres. She’s always had stories in her head and always enjoyed writing, so she took up fiction writing classes at a local community college and published her first book with eXtasy Books back in 2009. Christie likes to write complicated characters with painful pasts that refuse to be ignored until the characters are forced to face them head on. Angst? Yes. Happily ever after? Always. It’s the struggle to get there that counts.
Christie’s day job is in the high-tech industry with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. She currently lives in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area and enjoyed eight years in the Bay Area of California but grew up in Minnesota. She shares a home with her partner of twelve years, a musician by night and a coder by day, who is currently in three bands, giving her plenty of time to keep writing. She is also a mother of two sons, one currently in college for engineering and the other preparing for nursing college. Her one-eyed, rescue pug is always by her side, snoring the day away.
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