Buoyed by my packed social schedule, I weave through the crowded lounge, full of beautiful people enjoying cocktails and tunes. As I go, I scan for my guys. Nate texted me, saying he’d snagged a booth in the VIP section here. Tanner should be here too. He said he was coming to Gin Joint after a quick post-game chat with his watch sponsor. Perfect. I can give him a hard time for being all humbly braggy about his big-time sponsorships too.
Fucking star shortstop. Fucking toast of the town. Fucking most popular athlete in New York.
Someday, I’ll be as secure as he is with my contracts. In my position in this city. Until then, at least I can give him hell with no guilt. Pretty sure I am legally required to, courtesy of the dude code.
With my swagger on, I make my way to the booth, and when I spot my friends, I go in, guns blazing.
“Gentlemen,” I say to the crew, then point at Tanner. “Did you know drinks are on Sloan tonight?”
Tanner rolls his dark blue eyes, the color of a cool mountain lake. “That’s quite an assumption, Remington.”
Nate cuts in, excitement in his expression. “The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Years Old for the table then,” he declares.
“Make mine a double,” his husband, Hunter, adds in his English accent.
But then Tanner sits up straight, his sturdy frame filling all the space. He always fills the space well, but I’d never tell him that. It’d go to his head. “Not so fast, Mister Big Mouth,” he says to me.
“I’ll take Big Mouth as a compliment, thank you,” I say.
“If the dick fits,” Tanner zings back.
“I always make sure it fits. I don’t believe in the gag reflex.”
“Ah, so that’s your religion.”
“Bet it’s yours too.”
“Only way to worship,” I say.
Our volley is interrupted by Nate’s laughter, then a clearing of his throat. “Hello? Are you two going to join us or keep up your foreplay all night?”
Furrowing my brow, I snap my gaze to Nate. “What? We’re just—”
“—Shooting the shit,” Tanner supplies, quickly jumping on the grenade of Nate’s comment.
Good. Because we were not flirt fucking. But best to move the evening along so I motion for Nate to make room so I can slide in next to him.
Instead, he points to the other side of the booth. “Sit next to Sloan. Your cologne is too strong for me.”
“Maybe it’s too strong for me too,” Tanner says.
For that comment, I park my ass right next to Tanner, up close and personal, our thighs touching. I clap his shoulder. I’ve been doing that a lot lately but hey, I’m a friendly guy, and I’m a physical guy. So sue me. “I get it, Sloan. I’m just too much man for you,” I say.
Tanner snorts. “Yeah, that’s the problem,” he says, straightening even more. Dude is six three, and that’s a real six three, not a baseball-players-lie-about-their-height six three. I’m six two. But I don’t mind the extra inch he has on me. I’ve got inches where I need them.
“It’s okay. Someday you’ll be man enough to ride this ride,” I say.
Nate grins. Hunter laughs.
Tanner just scoffs, then says, “Anyway, how the hell do you figure I’m paying? You always score second dates.”
I preen a little from the compliment. He’s not wrong. I do well in the dating department. I have good people skills, and I know how to compliment a man. Trouble is, last night flopped big time. “You are correct, but I didn’t ask him out for a second date. You won’t fucking believe what happened.”
I’m still a little chapped. But I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I refuse to let it get to me.
“What happened?” Tanner asks, sounding a touch wary. He probably figures I’m setting him up for a punchline. Well, that does sound like my style.
But the joke is on me. “So, we’re having a drink. Shooting the breeze. Talking about New York, the summer, the newest Webflix show.”
“As one does,” Hunter puts in, clearly liking that last one since he produces for the streaming giant.
“Yes, and I’m digging Afternoon Delight,” I add.
“Yeah, it’s a good show,” Tanner adds, then steers me back. “So what happened?”
I shake my head, like can you believe what went down. “The guy whipped off his T-shirt in the middle of the bar.”
Tanner knits his brow. “That’s your you won’t fucking believe what happened moment?”
Nate chuckles too. “I’d be willing to bet that’s happened to you a few times, Mister Morecock.”
I grin, as wide as a city block. “Thank you.”
“Of course you’d take it as a compliment,” Tanner grumbles.
“Of course is right,” I say, then continue down story road. “And he reaches into a canvas bag he has with him and yanks out a silver shirt.”
“Ouch,” Nate says, instantly figuring out where this is going.