Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.
Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.
They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.
August (24 months until the Olympics)
I’m doing a series of dives off the springboard. It’s not my favorite exercise, but the air I can get is awesome, and Andrey likes to remind me that I should get used to it, because someday my body won’t let me do the ten-meter platform anymore and it’ll be springboard or retirement. Andrey is a morbid dick at times, but his brutal realism is why I moved out to Bumfuck, Ohio, to train for the next two years. Because dreams and optimism are all well and good, but they’re not going to win me Olympic Gold, are they?
It started off as a normal Tuesday afternoon, nothing special about it. I’d spent the morning doing cardio, took a break and went to class for a few hours, and now I’m enjoying every second of being in the air. You’d think divers would spend most of their time in the water, but you’d be wrong; between weight training, trampoline, and practicing on crash mats and foam pits, we spend the majority of our day on dry land.
Andrey is recording me on his iPad to show me exactly how bad I’m screwing up this twist, and calling suggestions while I stretch and flex and try to make my body do what I need it to do—which is a forward two and a half somersaults, two twists dive.
Easy when it’s from the platform and you have heaps more time in the air. But I’m on the springboard, and Andrey is about three seconds away from his head exploding because I won’t point my damn toes. Plus, the springboard is turning my legs to jelly.
“It’s good for you,” Andrey is fond of saying.
It probably is, but right now I feel about three seconds away from my legs giving out, so I’m going to have to disagree.
Anyways, Andrey is recording, I’m diving, life is good. And then suddenly Andrey isn’t paying attention anymore, and I completely fail to rip my entry because I’m distracted by the guy standing next to Andrey, talking to him. That’s the first sign that it’s not going to be a typical practice . . . Andrey is usually just as focused as I am.
Doesn’t this guy know that we’re in the middle of a practice? It’s the interruption that upsets me, not the eyes watching me that are the exact same color as the pool I’m currently floating in. He’s skinny, dark hair a mess, and wearing sweats that are loose and worn.
Our gazes meet, lock, and he smiles. I look away quickly.
I tread water for a second, trying to figure out what’s going on. Andrey has the iPad tucked under his arm and is reaching to shake the guy’s hand, nodding. There’s another man that I hadn’t noticed before, probably Andrey’s age. I recognize him from somewhere, but my brain isn’t making the connection, although you’d think I’d be able to place that epic mustache in a heartbeat.
I’m climbing out of the pool, grabbing my shammy from where I tossed it before, when I hear Andrey say, “Okay, let’s see what he has.”
What the hell?
My mouth must be hanging open in shock a little, because Blue Eyes glances toward me and shrugs guiltily. But then he’s pulling his T-shirt over his head, toeing his flip-flops and sweats off to reveal a tiny red Speedo and miles of brown skin covered in swirls of black ink. I’d be angry, except it’s hard to be angry when you’re standing in front of a work of art.
Then the guy scampers up the stairs, heading straight for the ten-meter platform, and yeah, I’m angry again. Even those awesome tats and rippling muscles can’t take away from the fact that he’s interrupting my training session.
I’m toweling myself down absentmindedly while the guy stretches and moves to the end of the platform. He does an effortless, absolutely perfect handstand, like he’s completely unaware that there’s thirty feet of air and the hard surface of the water in front of him if he slips. He hangs there for a second, body straight as a pole, and then he pushes off.
It’s fucking beautiful. A back three and a half somersaults, and his pike is damn perfect.
Except he botches the landing so badly I can feel the spray of the water from where I’m standing.
The guy emerges from the water, smiling like he hadn’t just turned a perfect-ten dive into a cringe-worthy failure. He pushes his hair out of his face, still grinning like an idiot, and pulls himself out of the pool.
“How long has he been diving?” Andrey asks the older man.
The man answers too low for me to hear, but whatever he says is either impressive enough or ridiculous enough that Andrey’s eyebrows go up. He looks back over at Blue Eyes, who’s dripping poolside without a care in the world only a few feet away from me.
Andrey glances between the two of us. Makes a decision that’s obvious on his face and has my stomach sinking.
Then he shakes the mustache guy’s hand and nods.
“Jeremy, will you show Mr. Evans the locker room and training area?”
At first I think Andrey is talking about the guy with the ’stache. But then Blue Eyes bounds over, all excitement and white teeth, holding a hand out.
“I’m Brandon,” he says.
I don’t shake his hand. Yeah, I’m an asshole, but Andrey is walking away with the older guy, talking with his head tilted in, like I don’t even exist. In the middle of our training session!
Brandon shrugs and pulls his hand back, using it to wipe some drops of water off his stomach instead.
Up close I can see that his eyes are framed by dark lashes still wet from the pool, making them appear even more brilliantly blue. He’s fit, but all divers are in amazing shape. And he’s covered in ink: a full sleeve on his right arm, something fierce and tribal-looking curling up his leg and over his hip, cursive words on his ribs that I purposefully don’t read.
He’s watching me with a cheerful, expectant gaze.
I hate him pretty much immediately.
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About the Author & Links:
Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, El spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.
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