If you never fooled around with someone of the same gender, did you even go to high school?
My whole life I’ve had the pressure of being Marcus Talon and Shane Miller’s football prodigy. I’ve been destined to follow in my NFL-playing fathers’ footsteps since the day I was born. I usually thrive under pressure, but as senior year looms, it all gets too much, and I need an outlet. The last place I thought I’d find my release is at Levi Vanderbilt’s graduation party. In his bed. With him.
It’s a one-time thing. An experimentation. And while it was fun, we agree that being with guys isn’t for either of us. I’m happy to accept that until he turns up in California.
I haven’t had to think about him for four years, but now I can’t get him out of my head.
Coming to Franklin University for grad school to follow a boy I hooked up with once is the stupidest thing I could have done.
We said that high school didn’t mean anything, but the truth is, that night made me realize who I truly am, and since then, I’ve been trying to find that sense of freedom again.
I’m hoping it can be with him, but everything I’ve heard around campus points to Peyton not having the same life-changing revelation I did.
And if that’s the case, did I just move across the country for a straight guy?
Kill me now.
We move closer in the coffee cart line, my wet shirt from my spilled coffee sticking to my skin.
“So, what will you have to drink?” My tone is airy and light, but in a forced kind of way and not at all calm and collected like the night we hooked up.
It’s hard to believe the guy with so much game back then grew up to be a bumbling idiot.
Peyton looks hesitant, like he wants to fight having me buy him a coffee, and I can’t say that I blame him. If all of his socials have anything to say, it’s not like he bats for my team. He’s always posting photos of him and his teammates with girls, and I’ve tried to search for homoerotic subtext in the photos with any guy other than his brother, but even I know that’s grasping at straws.
And last night, when I caught sight of Peyton at Shenanigans, kissing the bartender, it all but confirmed my suspicion.
While I lied through my teeth about our hookup only being fun but not earth-shattering, it seems Peyton didn’t have the same revelation I did: I’m gay AF.
“I haven’t decided yet, but I need to make this quick. My place is just off campus, and I’d like to change before my next class starts in an hour.”
Disappointment that shouldn’t belong here punches me in the gut. “Sure.” I hope my tone can pass for nonchalant, but I doubt it.
“You’re welcome to come back with me.” He eyes me, and every inch his gaze touches burns like fire. “You could probably fit my clothes now you’re not so scrawny.”
Damn. As easy as that, the tension leaves my shoulders. “I wasn’t scrawny in high school either, you dick.”
“You were scrawny, but you’ve definitely … uh … filled out.” He eyes me again but is trying to be subtler this time.
The totally wrong thing to say here is he can fill me out anytime because that wouldn’t go down well. I’d go down well. On him. But no. Straight boy is straight.
If the universe loved me at all, he’d be bi, but that’s wishful thinking on my part.
We get to the front of the line, and I order another latte—or in this fucked-up Franklin U system, a “study juice”—and point to Peyton. “And whatever he wants.”
“I’ll get the same, but with two pumps of caramel.”
“Is that allowed on your team diet?” I ask while I tap my card to pay.
“Who are you, my brother?”
“Eww, fucking hope not.”
Oh. Right. No mentioning the thing that was fun but not really but totally mind-blowing and the thing that changed the direction of my life. Not mentioning it. At all.
When I don’t elaborate, Peyton relaxes.
“Besides. I was at practice at 6:00 a.m. I need to survive the full day of classes somehow.”
“With a side of caffeine for your sugar?”
“Yep. It’s the only way I can make it drinkable.”
We’re given our order, and I let Peyton lead us.
We drink our coffees in silence because after all these years, there are no words.
“So, you’ve been on campus this long and I haven’t seen you?” he asks.
Oh, look at that, my throat is dry, and I need more coffee. I sip slowly and try to think of a reasonable excuse for that.
“It’s a big school.”
“I saw you last night at Shenanigans, didn’t I?”
I play dumb. “Oh, were you there?”
“I was. And you were right across from where I was standing.” Yeah, he’s not letting me get away with that.
“Okay, fine. I saw you there with your girlfriend, and I didn’t want to interrupt.”
Peyton laughs. “Not my girlfriend.”
Hope blooms in my gut … And then he keeps speaking.
“I don’t have time for relationships.”
“Ah. Player on and off the field, huh?”
He scoffs. “Hardly. I’m too focused on my career to mess with anyone’s emotions.”
Except mine. Which he’s unwittingly doing. Gah, I want to ask him straight up if he’s into dudes, but then I have to remind myself that Peyton Miller is not the reason I’m in California.
And I’ll prove it by being honest with him. “I knew we’d run into each other eventually, and I did see you last night, but …” I bite my lip. “I kind of chickened out of talking to you.”
“Oh, so you went with spilling hot coffee on me instead. I have to say, a simple hello would have worked.”
“I wanted to make it memorable,” I quip.
“First-degree burns are memorable, I guess.” Good closing book for the series.
We met Peyton in book 1 or 2. The football god brother of Brady, bff to Felix. Peyton and his brother are the sons of Superbowl winners and out former NFL players. So while Brady gave up on football as it wasn’t his passion, Peyton LOVED it.
And of course, Levi, the other main character, knows nothing about football. This trope is getting a little tired. Anyway.
Levi and Peyton were in the same social circles growing up. Peyton being new football money, Levi was very old money. The differences are huge. They have a one off at a high school graduation party, both declare it not their thing and move on. But neither did.
So four years later, Levi transfers to FU and does his best to avoid Peyton, but that doesn’t work well.
Soon enough things change with Peyton and Levi. Secrets are told, secrets are kept, football championships are waiting to be won.
When it comes down to the wire, it’s the age old “what will I pick? my future with football or my future with him?”
So yea, a lot of plot devices that we’ve seen 100 times. But I really liked Peyton and Levi. They were good together, they were good on their own. Levi doesn’t completely crumble under pressure and Peyton thrives on it.
Peyton and Brady’s dads are HILARIOUS. But I also got that one of them was kind of never serious and it was obvious that sometimes they needed a serious dad.
I was kind of surprised that the final book was Peyton and not his brother. His out and proud brother. Peyton had always said he was straight. BUT Brady does have something going on and I kind of hope we get more of that in another book.
Nothing new here except the names and the setting. There’s nothing really wrong with the book but I was hoping for a little more and to go out with a bang.
3.5 pieces of eye candy
Eden Finley is an Amazon bestselling author who writes steamy contemporary romances that are full of snark and light-hearted fluff.
She doesn’t take anything too seriously and lives to create an escape from real life for her readers. The ideas always begin with a wackadoodle premise, and she does her best to turn them into romances with heart.
She’s also an Australian girl and apologizes for her Australianisms that sometimes don’t make sense to anyone else.
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