Finlay McIntyre (aka Raven) is a successful adult film star with a penchant for kilts, until an accident cuts short his stardom and leaves him with reduced sex appeal, lowered self-esteem, and no job. He knew his porn career wouldn’t last forever, but he wasn’t prepared for retirement at twenty-eight. While trying to figure out the rest of his life, Raven attends a high school reunion. That’s when a malfunctioning AC unit in his hotel room changes everything.
Caleb Sanderson, an entrepreneur with his own HVAC business, has no idea what to expect when he steps into Raven’s hotel room to fix his AC unit. They’re attracted to each other, but Caleb, closeted, can’t afford a gay relationship, not with his mom pressuring him to produce grandchildren. If he wants to keep Raven—who no closet could hold—he’ll need to tell his family the truth. But Raven has a few secrets of his own. He refuses to reveal his porn past to Caleb, a past that might be the final obstacle to Caleb and Raven having any kind of relationship.
Raven paced the narrow confines of the room. Frowning, he shoved the chair and desk into the corner by the sliding glass door. The room wasn’t even big enough to properly pace. He glanced at the phone, then back at the mirror.
He must have been mad, utterly mad to have done this. He’d wasted money on a hotel room for nothing. Shit. And yet, this weekend had been the first time in over a year that another man had stirred something below his belt.
“I’m so stupid.” Raven flung himself face down on the bed. What had he been expecting to happen? Even if he’d been able to manipulate events to put him and the handyman in the same place at the same time, recreate the heady sensuality of that unexpected meeting… what would happen then? Raven hadn’t changed his mind about getting naked with anyone. He planned to never have sex again—he should be finding a seminary, not trying to entice a probably straight man into his room.
He flipped over and stared at the ceiling, the constant thrum of the perfectly functional A/C unit mocking him. Berating him. If he went through with this, what was he going to do? Was he seriously going to try and seduce the handyman like some undersexed, unappreciated housewife?
Pursing his lips, he tried to imagine the scenario. It was almost like one of those books he’d read as a kid, where he’d flip to a different page depending on what choice he made. Option one: gentle rejection; go to page six. Option two: violent rejection; go to page fifteen. Option three: enthusiastic acquiescence; go to page sixty-nine. None of those options led anywhere useful for his mental or possibly physical health. Even if he got to page sixty-nine, the storyline would have an abrupt ending when Raven admitted he wasn’t interested in having sex.
Then they might have to go back to page fifteen, the violent rejection where Raven gets his head bashed in by a raging homophobe.
None of this made any sense, and yet Raven had still booked another night at the hotel. Still hadn’t completely given up on the idea of calling down to the front desk and complaining about the lack of air- conditioning in the room.
Option four suddenly materialized… the front desk telling him they were going to move him to another room rather than send a technician. Hell, option five could be a completely different technician showing up. Maybe he’d imagined that split second when his gaze had connected with the handyman’s and all the air had been sucked from the room in the heat of that connection. After all, his room had been only a couple of degrees off sauna-ish.
There was only one way to be sure. One way to convince himself.
Raven rolled over, yanked up the receiver, and stabbed the button for the front desk.
“Yes, Mr. McIntyre, how can I help you?” The chirpy voice would have made him cringe even without the use of his last name. Raven was the name he’d chosen, and Raven was the man he’d grown into. Finlay McIntyre was some loser who got beat up on a regular basis and whom nobody liked, not even his mom. Raven, on the other hand, was admired and lusted after by thousands of gay men and a number of straight women.
“My air conditioner isn’t working. Can you please send someone up to take a look at it?”
“As soon as possible, Mr. McIntyre. Can I send someone up with a cool drink and some ice, perhaps?” Not a bad idea, but he wasn’t going to give them the chance to add another room service charge to his bill. This was already a bit of an extravagance for someone who didn’t have a job.
“Mr. McIntyre?” The chirpy voice made him blink.
“Oh, sorry, no, thank you. Just please put a rush on getting a technician here.” The woman on the other end of the phone assured him she would, and Raven disconnected the call.
He stood and twirled in front of the mirror, checking himself out. His top was a snug black T-shirt, his kilt sedate and casual: black with narrow red and yellow lines. Didn’t look too over the top desperate, but that front desk lady had a good idea—something cool to drink wouldn’t hurt, and it might help him look relaxed when the technician showed up.
Five minutes later, Raven skidded back into his room, clutching a couple of soda cans to his chest, foolishly fearing that he might have already missed the handyman in the time he’d been gone.
The room was exactly as he’d left it, silent except for the hum of the obviously functional air conditioner. The moment the technician stepped in the room, there would only be two conclusions the guy could draw. Either Raven was incredibly stupid for thinking the unit was malfunctioning or he was looking to get laid in one of the lamest porn plots ever created. Raven groaned. That was actually what he was doing—recreating one of the old standby plots from porn. In fact, he’d done that movie at least twice that he could recall. And where exactly did he think he was going with this? Because it wasn’t going to involve being naked. Sure as shit, he was going to look stupid or desperate. Or possibly both, which was so fucking attractive.
After dumping the cans beside the television, Raven walked over to the air conditioner and poked at it. Crouching, he felt around the bottom edge and discovered a couple of wires hanging down in a loop. Without another thought, he yanked.
A split second later, the annoyingly healthy thrum ceased.
©2016 KC Burn
KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds). After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own—getting published. After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she’s had in a long time, and she hopes you’ll enjoy them as much as she does.