Actually, I'm Gay

Roxy Harte

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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 bes...
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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...

  • Note:This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices.
Excerpt
Beau responded to the all-call page, meant to summon all available personnel to assist with a situation. As the director of a summer camp for autistic children and teens, he knew the emergency could mean anything from a temper tantrum to a full code. Reaching the attendant assigned to Kerrigan MacNeill, he realized it was the lesser instance and relaxed. Yes, the boy was rigid on the grass and screaming, but it was a manageable situation. As the first responder, he quickly assessed the grade of emergency and pressed a button on his pager to cancel the all-call. He addressed the boy’s attendant. “Jim?”

“He was having a seizure.”

“I disagree. Did you consider he might be trying to tell you something?” His gaze followed the direction of the boy’s, and he saw a man standing on the shore on the other side of the lake. After pulling a pair of binoculars from a hip pack, he lifted them and looked. His gut made him suspect it was Kerrigan’s father, although he wasn’t sure how the boy could have possibly known that. Seeing a man with the same shock of bright red hair as the boy’s, he wasn’t happy his guess was correct. He’d presumed he was going to have a problem with Colin MacNeill. On the phone he’d been arrogant, pushy, and demanding. He’d met his ilk before, and usually they were nothing but trouble. Damn idiot. After turning Kerrigan’s face away from the lake, he helped him sit, then as he grew calmer, to stand. Thankfully, for Kerrigan, out of sight meant out of mind, at least to an extent.

Distraction was Beau’s best plan. “What’s next on your schedule today, Kerrigan?”

Beau responded as if Kerrigan answered him. “Swimming? Awesome! I love swim time.” Holding out his hand to Kerrigan, he started walking backward. The boy didn’t take his hand, but he followed, and Beau was able to lead him toward the indoor pool. Jim fell into step beside them, and he could tell by the mentor’s body language that he was embarrassed by the ease with which he’d managed to divert the situation.

“I’m sorry; I guess I overreacted.”

“Better safe than sorry -- isn’t that what we teach?”

“Yes.”

“You did fine. You thought he was having a seizure, and we always err on the side of caution with new clients.” Reaching the gate of the pool closure, Beau waited for Jim to trade places with him, imitating how he’d outstretched his hand. Jim took two steps backward. Kerrigan took a single step forward. Assured Kerrigan would follow, Beau asked, “So, you’re confident you can handle it from here?”

“Yes, sir.”

Half an hour later, Beau was sitting in his pickup on the other side of the lake, watching Colin MacNeill skip rocks over the gently lapping river’s surface. He tried to stay detached as he watched the man but was having a hard time keeping his professionalism and his baser needs separate. Truth was he found Colin MacNeill very attractive. Tall, buff, obviously maintaining an arduous personal workout program, but it was his pale skin and flame-colored hair that earned him a second glance, and a third.

Beau’d been surprised by Colin’s phone call -- three weeks into the summer session -- demanding admittance for his son. Beneath his aggressive tactics, Beau heard the slightest desperation. He knew a parent on the edge when he heard one, and Colin MacNeill was definitely a man in need of respite. Seeing the man was still in town, Beau worried about how to best approach Mr. MacNeill. Some parents had a harder time letting go than others.

With the sun setting, the man’s hair glinted like flames as Beau approached him. Colin turned to face him, and Beau was astounded that his face was even more attractive than his body.

“Mr. MacNeill? You know your presence here is against camp policy.”

Colin squared his shoulders and crossed his arms defensively. “I’m on private property. I rented this house for the rest of the summer. I intend to spend my weekends here, so I can be close to my son.”

Beau knew the owners of the lakeside cottage personally -- the Smithsons, a couple in their late seventies -- and wondered how they could have been persuaded to rent their property for an entire summer. “Camp Hope is designed to offer parents a needed reprieve as much as to provide an exciting and pleasurable experience for the child.”

“Camp security, right?” Colin reached into his back pocket and withdrew his wallet. He started unfolding hundred-dollar bills, and Beau knew exactly how the Smithsons had been coerced, but it would have taken a lot more than a few hundred-dollar bills.

Beau withdrew his camp identification from his pocket and handed it to him.

“Phillip Beauregard Delacroix” -- Colin looked him up and down before adding the suffix following his name -- “the third. You sure as hell don’t look like a director. I’m not quite sure why I thought your camp was an appropriate facility for my son. You look like a Rolling Stones reject.”

Beau didn’t take it personally. He had shoulder-length hair, usually kept in a ponytail; innumerable tattoos that ran the length of his arms, carryovers from his previous life when he’d entertained dreams of being a drummer in a famous Southern rock band; and a soul patch under his bottom lip whenever he bothered to shave at all. He also had a doctorate in pediatric psychology, and a forty-year family legacy behind the camp his grandfather had founded. Both his grandfather and Beau’s father had acted as executive directors until their deaths, and he was proudly following in their footsteps even though the career hadn’t been his first choice.

He’d never really believed he’d have to step into the position even though he’d been groomed for it, holding one odd job or another at the facility from the time he’d been a teen. His grandfather and father had seemed immortal, but of course time weakens a man, and his grandfather had succumbed to pneumonia nine years before. Six months later a freak boating accident had taken both his mother and father, leaving Beau sole heir to the camp at twenty-four. He’d had to work his ass off to play catch-up, holding the camp together for years with an amazing staff while he went back to college nights to earn his doctorate.

He’d known coming into the job that how he looked was going to be held against him, but he’d learned to win people over with his personality, hard work, and his love for the kids. Now, at thirty-three, he let the camp’s accolades do most of the talking, and he knew how to clean up and look the part when he had to. Unfortunately, Mr. MacNeill had caught him on a work day, which had seen him fixing one of the retaining walls down by the dock.

Ah, nothing like a good first impression.

“Camp Hope is the perfect place for your son, and not to be unduly abrupt, but what you need to do is go home. You’re obviously exhausted, and your presence here has been upsetting to Kerrigan.”

Colin pulled his cell from his pants pocket to look at its face. “No missed calls, no messages.”

“The camp doesn’t call a parent each time a child cries.”

“It should.”

Beau stared at him a moment longer than he should, allowing himself to lust a little, even though the man was annoying -- and a parent of one of his campers -- before glimpsing in him a feeling of helplessness he hated to see. “Go home, Mr. MacNeill.”

Colin turned away from Beau, looking back over the water at the camp. A second later his shoulders were shaking, and it became obvious he wasn’t okay.

Shit.

Beau approached him. He patted his shoulder. There was a time for tough love, but there was also a time for compassion. “First time leaving him?”

Colin nodded. “I feel like I’m abandoning him.”

“Mr. MacNeill, our summer program is the top in the country. Our mentoring programs are designed to unlock potential by helping these kids overcome the barriers holding them back. After his personal evaluation, we’ll establish a profile of attainable goals. Would it make you feel better if we met tomorrow to discuss his objectives?”

* * * * *

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

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