It was strange to be back in Lincoln Hill, Tim reflected. He’d left to go to college elsewhere and never had a reason to step foot there again. His family—his older sister Angie and his aunt and uncle—had all left at around the same time, Angie to move with her military husband while his aunt and uncle retired to Reno.
Growing up there had not been bad. It was one of those affluent cities in Northern California that was very proud of its liberalism. Though his aunt and uncle, who had raised him and Angie after their parents died in a plane crash, had not been especially wealthy, they’d done well, and Tim had been fortunate to be popular in school even though he was gay. A rarity, perhaps, but one that ensured he hadn’t faced a lot of bullying. Most of his friends were on the football and baseball teams, which afforded him some protections other kids didn’t have, and his interaction in the Gay-Straight Alliance with Lance and Ashtyn also helped.
As the town car pulled in front of Lincoln Hill River Resort, he smiled. The grounds were gorgeous. The resort hadn’t been built when he’d last been in the city. Just the river had been there, surrounded by fields of grass and rolling hills. Now a beautiful Victorian-looking resort hotel had been built, painted in pink, purple, and turquoise. He knew from the brochure that it had three pools, including an indoor one, four spas, two gyms, a shopping mall, several restaurants, a salon, a ballroom, and a convention center. Impressive.
The driver opened the passenger door, and Tim got out right next to an enormous kissing-fish fountain encircled by fragrant red and yellow flowers. He shook his head. Only a committee from a wealthy place like Lincoln Hill would have chosen an extravagance like this resort for their high school reunion.
A bellhop appeared at his elbow. “Checking in, sir?” the short guy of about twenty asked politely.
“Yes, for the reunion.” He’d decided to arrive Wednesday even though the reunion activities didn’t really begin until Friday. He could use some extra time off.
The bellhop nodded. “Of course, sir. I’ll take your bags inside,” he said as the town car driver removed Tim’s luggage from the trunk.
Tim turned and paid the driver and then followed the bellhop across the pebbled entryway and through two ornate automatic doors into the lobby of the resort. It bustled with a crowd of men and women of similar age to his, so he guessed they were likely also early arrivers for the reunion. After a quick glance around, Tim didn’t recognize any of them, and he definitely didn’t see Lance or Ashtyn. He’d been in touch with both of them since finding out they were all attending, and they’d all exchanged information about their arrivals. He knew Lance wouldn’t be arriving until Thursday morning and Ashtyn not until Friday morning.
The bellhop gave him a ticket for his bags and promised he’d have them delivered to his room after he checked in, so Tim went to stand in the check-in line.
He wasn’t really sure just what he expected out of this long weekend and the reunion. But he knew he had to get Keith out of his head. Micah deserved to be happy and not have his best friend mooning over his husband. Maybe Tim would get lucky and meet someone here to take his mind off it. Micah and Keith had been married for months now. True, Tim had tried seeing a variety of guys, including the piano player he’d fucked after the wedding. None of them had been interesting enough to see more than a handful of times. Not that he was still hung up over Keith. Much.
As he moved along the line, Tim began to notice one of the guys behind the reception desk. He had brown hair with blond highlights, short on the sides but longer on the top. He wore a black suit, a crisp white shirt, and a soft-blue tie. Tim couldn’t stop staring at him, but he wasn’t entirely sure why. Sure, the man was gorgeous. Slightly plump lips, high cheekbones, a pert little nose. A very tiny stud—looked like diamond—in his left ear. Definite eye candy. But perhaps just a bit prettier than Tim’s usual type. This one looked softer, less rugged than the kind of guy he found attractive. Yet he couldn’t take his eyes off him.
The closer Tim got, the more fascinated he became, and he started praying that he’d be called to the guy’s line instead of either of the two women or the blond guy on the opposite end. Even if he had prayed regularly, which he didn’t, it was a strange thing to pray for. Hell, the guy was probably straight or something. Lots of guys wore earrings these days. It meant nothing.
Soon it was his turn, and one of the women said, “Next, please.”
It appeared his hottie was just wrapping up the guest he was helping too. Tim turned to the woman behind him. “You go.”
She raised an eyebrow, shrugged, and stepped around him to make her way to the woman behind the reception desk.
Please let him be free next.
Tim felt as if he were in high school again instead of just at a reunion.
“Next guest, please,” the man said.
Calmly, even though he kind of wanted to run, Tim made his way up to the man, paperwork confirming his reservation clutched in his hands.
The man smiled. “May I—” He stopped. Stared at Tim, his smile fading. He blinked and then cleared his throat. “May I help you, sir?”
Periwinkle blue. The hottie’s eyes were a beautiful periwinkle blue. As gorgeous as he’d been from the line, up close he was simply stunning.
Tim flashed him a smile as he spotted the guy’s name tag. “I’m checking in…Brandon. Oh, assistant manager, huh? Of the whole resort?”
Brandon blushed a little. “That’s right. May I have your name, sir?”
“Timothy Olfander.” He stuck out his hand for Brandon to shake.
Brandon ignored his hand and instead turned to punch the keys of a computer. “You’re here for the Lincoln Hill High School Reunion. Is that right, Mr. Olfander?”
“Yes, but you can call me Tim.”
“And I have here that your checkout date is a week from today, next Wednesday.”
“Yes.” Tim nodded. “When do you get off?”
“Excuse me?” Brandon’s gaze met his, his eyes just a touch wide.
“Work. When do you get off work?” He grinned.
Judging by the reaction he was getting out of Brandon, Tim guessed the man was gay. Very good news for him. He just hoped Brandon didn’t have some rule about not fraternizing with guests. Or the hotel. He supposed the resort might forbid it.
“Seven,” Brandon answered, looking as though he wasn’t sure he should have. He reached into a drawer and pulled out two plastic key cards. He ran them through a scanner.
“Great. How about a drink?”
Brandon shook his head. “I don’t think that would be appropriate.”
“Well, I, I’m not sure that’s your business, sir, but yes, I am.”
Tim grinned. “Okay, so what’s the harm in one drink? Is it against resort rules?”
“You can come to my room for the drink, then, and no one will see you.”
“That most definitely would be against resort rules.” Brandon handed him the key cards and a resort map. He picked up a pen and circled a group of rooms. “Your room is here. Take the garden elevators to the left of the lobby up to the fourth floor.”
“Meet me in the bar at seven fifteen.”
“Enjoy your stay, sir.”
“Seven fifteen,” Tim called as he stepped away from the reception desk.