Three cheating girlfriends in a row have given skateboarder Brennan Cross the same excuse: he wasn’t meeting their needs. Desperate and humiliated, he goes to the professionals at the local sex shop for advice.
Zafir Hamady, a sales clerk at Red Hot Bluewater, has an unusual theory: he doesn’t think Brennan is a bad lover. In fact, he doesn’t think Brennan is heterosexual. Or sexual at all, for that matter. He also can’t stop thinking about Brennan. But even if he’s right and Brennan really is asexual, that doesn’t mean Zafir has a chance. Brennan’s never dated a man, and Zafir’s never met anyone who’s game for a Muslim single father with a smart mouth and a GED.
Brennan’s always thought of himself as straight. But when sex is explicitly out of the mix, he finds himself drawn to Zafir for the qualities and interests they share. And Zafir can’t help enjoying Brennan’s company and the growing bond between Brennan and his son. They work well together, but with so many issues between them, doubts creep in, and Brennan’s struggle with his identity could push away the one person he didn’t know he could love.
Once was chance. Twice was coincidence. Three times was a goddamn pattern.
I’d heard that expression before, and thought I understood it, but this morning it made a lot more sense than I cared to admit. Especially since I wasn’t crazy about the pattern that I couldn’t deny anymore.
Half-sprawled on my sofa, I stared at the dark TV screen. The ceiling. The window. The blank wall that probably needed some artwork or something. Maybe one of those pastel paintings my mom had all over her house. Or a photo. There was a shop down on Main Street that carried some cool prints of landscapes and animals and—
And she’s gone.
No matter how many times I mentally changed the subject, the truth remained. Aimee was gone.
Question was, whose fault was it?
Technically, she’d initiated the breakup, but I would’ve dumped her had she given me a second to get a word in edgewise, because she’d fucked him how many times over the last few weeks?
Groaning, I leaned forward and scrubbed my hands over my face. I should’ve been crying or drinking or something. I was devastated, after all. A year and a half down the shitter. The woman I loved—gone. The heartbreak would probably show up soon, but right now I was a little preoccupied by the reason she’d given me for sleeping around.
“A woman has needs, Bren,” she’d said with a sort of apologetic shrug. “He does things that you don’t.”
Over and over, those words ricocheted around in my head. Needs? Things I didn’t do for her? God, was I really that bad at sex?
Maybe I could’ve written it off and told myself she was just making excuses for cheating on me, but there was a small problem with that—she wasn’t the first. She was the third. I’d confronted the first after some rumors had made their way back to me. The second had thrown it in my face while we were arguing about something. And Aimee, I’d caught red-handed.
All three had given me more or less the same excuse.
And now . . .
Now I just wanted to curl up and die. More than twelve hours had passed since I’d caught her, and I was pretty sure everyone in our social circle had already heard. My phone was blowing up. Or, well, it had been until I’d turned the little bastard off. And like Aimee, Billy Fallbrook—the guy who’d been balls-deep in her when I’d walked through the door last night—was part of the local skateboarding scene. Knowing her, she was doing damage control. Knowing him, he was bragging to everyone that he’d nailed her.
Which meant everyone and their mother probably knew by now what a lame idiot I was in bed.
I gritted my teeth, wondering if I really was about to throw up. I swallowed hard to keep my breakfast down, but that was getting tougher every time my brain helpfully replayed that image of Aimee riding a spread-eagled Billy Fallbrook on our bed.
Fuck. Maybe I should’ve watched for a minute or two. Learned from his techniques. Figured out where the hell I kept falling short with the women in my life.
You’re pathetic, Brennan. Fucking pathetic.
Maybe, but I was getting desperate. Whatever I’d done for all three girlfriends, it obviously wasn’t enough. I needed some kind of help. Or advice. Or . . . or some goddamn CliffsNotes.
What the fuck was I supposed to do? Hire a sex therapist?
“So, I suck in bed. Help?”
Was there a documentary out there?
Yes, Brennan. It’s called porn.
Eh. That shit was about as boring as a documentary anyway. I’d probably fall asleep before I learned anything. Or just get depressed because my dick wasn’t the same size as my forearm.
Maybe . . .
I folded my hands under my chin and stared at the wall. I wasn’t paying for a damn therapist. I had no desire to watch porn. I was almost afraid to google “How do I have sex?” because I could only imagine the results.
I needed some help that wouldn’t bill my insurance or clog up my computer with malware.
Hmm . . .
Well, there was a sex shop in town. Red Hot Bluewater or something like that.
As soon as the place’s neon-lit storefront flashed through my mind, I was on my feet and heading for the door. I grabbed my wallet and keys off the coffee table and walked out of my apartment, down the stairs, and out to my truck.
Red Hot Bluewater, here I come.
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding All The Wrong Places, but including books written as L.A. Witt or Lauren Gallagher) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 20 th , and winners will be announced on June 21 st . Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
About the Author & Links:
Ann Gallagher is the slightly more civilized alter ego of L.A. Witt, Lauren Gallagher, and Lori A. Witt. So she tells herself, anyway. When she isn’t wreaking havoc on Spain with her husband and trusty two-headed Brahma bull, she writes romances just like her wilder counterparts, but without all the heat. She is also far too mature to get involved in the petty battle between L.A. and Lauren, but she’s seriously going to get even with Lori for a certain incident that shall not be discussed publicly.