The day after Colin MacNeill admits to his wife of nine years that he might be gay, he wakes up to find himself alone with his five-year-old autistic son, Kerrigan. It wasn't supposed to work out this way. He and his wife were best friends and his sexuality shouldn't matter. They should still be able to live under the same roof and raise their son together, right? What would be the harm if they both took secret lovers?
His day doesn't get any better when he has to take his son with him to the office and his boss suggests he take some time off...because obviously he has a lot to deal with, and bringing his son to the office isn't going to work out. His boss also takes the liberty of suggesting a summer camp for disabled children, and although Colin finds the idea of abandoning his child to the care of others abhorrent, he feels he doesn't have a choice. As a top-notch corporate attorney, he can't be expected to leave his clients hanging. Especially when the biggest case of his career is mere weeks away from trial. At least having his son at camp would give him time to locate his wife and try to convince her that his suggestion could work.
Meeting the camp's owner, Beau Delacroix, turns Colin's world upside down. His insane attraction to Beau is an impossible situation. The man is going to be working with his son all summer and an affair would be completely inappropriate. Besides, the ease with which Beau bonds to his son makes Colin feel like a hopeless failure.
Beau Delacroix never intended to become the director of Five Rivers, a summer camp for mentally and physically handicapped kids founded by his grandfather fifty years before, but he discovers too late fate has a sense of humor, putting him in the one place he never wanted to be only to discover he loves the camp and the kids. When the camps funding gets cut, he needs a lawyer and fast; Colin MacNeill seems like a godsend except for the fact that they can't stand to be in the same room together. And the even crueler twist of fate makes Colin MacNeill the hottest man he's ever come face to face with.
Can Beau get Colin past first impressions and convince him to help save the camp? One thing's for certain, it's going to get pretty hot at Five Rivers this summer...
* * * * *
Beau didn’t even attempt to sleep. Well after midnight, the entire camp was bedded down except for a few key staff responsible for overnight rounds. He sat in a chaise at the edge of the lake, smoking one cigarette after another, and watching the man on the other side of the water pace. It didn’t matter the man irritated the crap out of him -- he was still sexy as hell.
He found himself wishing Colin wasn’t a parent of one of his campers and wishing he was gay -- gay would definitely be a bonus -- but as he let his mind drift with the lake’s current, neither obstacle stood in the way of his mentally stripping the man on the other side of the lake. He imagined his pale skin freckled, his arms and legs lightly covered with copper hair. He imagined his penis long and thin, tinted pink, and jutting from a thick mat of flaming red --
He blinked and blinked again, not believing he’d seen what he thought he’d just seen. Had Mr. MacNeill just jerked off his shirt and slid out of his pants? He was imagining things, surely, but as he caught a flash of white skimming the water, he knew Mr. MacNeill was attempting to swim across the lake. Damn idiot! “Why?”
Beau was torn between swimming to meet him halfway to coax him back to the Smithsons’ side of the lake -- at least he’d already be there to rescue him if it was deemed necessary -- or letting the fool swim the entire width while he sat and watched.
Damn it. He couldn’t just sit and watch.
He stripped out of his T-shirt, jeans, and boots and hurried to the water’s edge. It was going to be cold. He’d swum in the lake many a night, and it was always bracing. He tried not to think about it as he entered the water fast and dived under as soon as he reached the edge of the beach shelf. The water went from shallow to deep quickly here, which was why it was designated as a launch point for the canoes and paddleboats. The swimming beach was almost a half mile away and closer to the cabins.
The men met in the middle of the lake, because even though Colin had entered the water first, Beau was the stronger swimmer. Beau found Colin breathless and dog-paddling but holding his own in the water. He commented sarcastically, “Nice night for a swim.”
“Yes, nice night. Warm. No moon,” Colin answered, his burr thick.
When they’d talked earlier, Beau had caught slight traces of a Scottish accent, but it was negligible. Not so now. It was as thick as molasses in the winter.
“You weren’t thinking of swimming all the way to the camp?”
“I was. I wanted to peek in on my son.”
“He’s fine, Mr. MacNeill. He won’t be alone a minute; he’ll have round-the-clock supervision.” Beau kicked his feet and made small circles with his hands to stay afloat.
“I just feel so guilty.”
“You shouldn’t. By bringing your son here, you are expanding his opportunities. You’re giving him the best possible environment to form friendships.”
Colin shook his head, and Beau knew he didn’t believe him.
“You’re planning on coming to my office in the morning, right? We can look in on Kerrigan then and see the camp’s mentors in action.”
Unexpectedly, Colin threw his arms around Beau’s shoulders and held on to him, hugging him, overcome with emotion. “My wife left. I understand her ditching me. I told her that I’m gay, but I never thought she’d abandon Kerrigan. I still can’t believe it.”
Gay? One of Beau’s wishes, but still a parent of one of his campers, and that would be crossing a line he couldn’t cross. He held Colin, whispered words of comfort, and willed his unruly body to behave. Their stomachs kept brushing each other as they tread water facing each other. It had been almost three years since his last serious relationship, and during summers there just wasn’t an opportunity to meet or date anyone.
He could feel his lust rising. Literally. It didn’t help he’d had it bad for Colin since first seeing him up close and personal.
Beneath the water their legs tangled as intimately as lovers’, making red-hot need speed through Beau’s veins. A rippling wave pushed them closer, pelvises bumping, and it wasn’t only his own erection he was feeling. In the dark, moonless night, their gazes collided a second before their mouths. Beau was shocked. He’d been thinking he wanted to kiss away the man’s tears and emptiness, but he certainly hadn’t initiated the kiss, had he? Colin was kissing him deeply, teeth colliding, tongues dancing. His fingers wound into Beau’s ponytail. The kiss had every potential of leading to moreuntil Colin pushed away from him. “Sorry.”
He swam hard and fast toward the Smithsons’, and all Beau could do was watch. He’d crossed a line he hadn’t meant to cross, and he wasn’t even certain how it had happened. With his heart racing and lust pumping hard though his veins, he knew he wanted it to happen again, and that was why he didn’t follow him. A kiss was one thing, but if he followed Colin out of the water, he knew there would be more than kissing. He couldn’t remember ever wanting anyone as much as he wanted Colin MacNeill in that moment.
He stayed in the water, not following, not going back to the camp. He tried to get his thoughts straight but couldn’t come up with a single reason for why this man, or why now.
Copyright © Roxy Harte