Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward
Joe Cosentino © 2016
All rights reserved
Cal Cozzi sat on the white sandy beach like a king on his throne. The thirty-one-year-old thought about his great-grandfather, Calvin Cozzi III, who had built the eight bungalows, seven of which Cal’s father, Calvin Cozzi II, had rented to guys like Cal when Cal was a boy. With both men long gone, Cozzi Cove was Cal’s heritage, lifeblood, and oasis. As he gazed out at the ancient lighthouse near the horizon, Cal filled his lungs with salty sea air. He was happy to be home.
A familiar yawn and warm breath on his neck caused Cal to turn around and throw his arms around the stocky young man who plopped down next to him. Over a decade younger than Cal, Michael Rodgers rubbed his fingers over dark eyes. Resting his head with its chestnut-colored locks on Cal’s chest, Michael said, “I missed waking up in your arms.”
They shared a long kiss and then rose and stood at the water’s edge, watching the seagulls fly across shades of amber, violet, and flame that were fading to reveal a bright-blue sky. With Cal’s Italian and Scottish heritage and Michael’s Swedish and African lineage, Cal thought their skin glistened in the sun like jewels.
Shorter than Cal, Michael licked Cal’s neck.
“Hey, stop licking. I don’t have any pets.”
“You do now.”
Cal took the boy in his arms and smothered his youthful face with kisses. Though Cal would never forget Lance, the soul mate he’d lost to cancer two years prior, he couldn’t escape the fact that he was growing more and more in love with Michael every day they lived together. Michael’s high-energy zest for life and brutal honesty in speaking his mind both infuriated and delighted Cal. And Cal was well aware that his straightforward, hardworking masculinity still made Michael weak at the knees after living together in the main bungalow for nearly a year.
“Let’s get some breakfast.” Cal ran his fingers through Michael’s curly hair.
Michael kneaded the muscles in Cal’s back. “What are we having?”
“I’m having the honey buckwheat pancakes I made. What are you having?” Cal slapped Michael’s firm buttocks playfully, and then ran away as Michael chased him, laughing.
As they headed for the main bungalow, Cal scanned the row of seven guest bungalows on the cove. Cozzi Cove itself was a quiet stretch of beach with waves tickling jagged rocks perched on white sand only a mile away from the open ocean. Though he was excited about the start of the summer rental season, Cal knew he’d miss the tranquility of having the cove to himself—with Michael.
Michael followed Cal into the kitchen. As Cal gazed at the lantern-shaped kitchen clock on the wall, he admired his grandfather’s taste in decorating all of the bungalows with wood-carved, nautical-themed furnishings.
Sitting at the table, Michael said, “When do the guests arrive?”
“Check-in starts at eleven a.m.”
Michael giggled. “Do I have to check in?”
Cal kissed the top of his head. “Yeah, into my bedroom.” He served the pancakes and orange juice before sitting next to Michael. “What time do you have to leave for school?”
Michael answered with his mouth full. “College! I’m taking a summer class at State, not going to morning kindergarten. I’m a junior.”
“Very funny. In the fall I’ll be a senior, like you.” He kissed Cal’s wide nose.
“Hey, your lips are covered in honey.”
“So they tell me.” Michael continued eating.
“Does your study buddy tell you that?”
Michael raised his eyes to the mermaid-shaped lighting fixture as if gathering patience. “Carlo is my partner.”
“In my advanced photography class.”
“Is that what they call it at State?”
“Maybe in your day.” Michael’s eyes gleamed devilishly. “Hey, did they have college back then?”
“I’ll put you over my knee, young man.”
“Promises, promises.” Michael swallowed his last piece of pancake and then gulped down the rest of his orange juice. “Carlo is coming here before our class. We’re taking some shots of the cove.”
Cal felt his expression harden. “I thought you were going to mow the lawn, rake the pebbles, and hose down the sidewalk around the bungalows.”
“Done.” Michael put his plate, glass, and fork in the sink.
“Last night, when you were in the shower.”
“That’s why you didn’t come in with me.”
Michael wrapped his arms around Cal. “Can I take a rain check for tonight?”
“Maybe you should ask Carlo.”
“Carlo doesn’t shower. He takes baths.”
Cal did a double take. “And you know this how?”
“He told me.” Michael ran into the back bedroom, the home of his computer and photography equipment.
Cal felt his blood boil. Taking in some deep breaths, he told himself to calm down.
Michael came back holding a number of prints and placed them on the kitchen table. “What do you think?”
Cal looked down at photographs. “Nice composition, proportions, and shading.”
He pointed at the dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned, very muscular young man with a stoic Roman nose, dimples like craters, and a cleft chin like the San Andreas Fault. “Your professor brought in an Italian porn star?”
“Watch many Italian porn films, do you, Cal?”
“Obviously you don’t have to.”
“That’s Carlo. I took them in class.”
Cal offered a weak smile, trying hard not to let the anger and jealously he was feeling show on his face.
Michael ran his finger over the photographs. “Our professor complimented me on the line and shape.”
“I can see why.”
“And the contour and shading.”
“I’m really proud of them. Tommy loved them too.”
Cal rose and put his breakfast things in the sink. “When did you show these to Tommy?”
“Yesterday afternoon when I was working at Tommy’s bar. The pictures of Cozzi Cove are for our next assignment.”
“‘Hot Italian guy on the beach’?”
“‘Summer magic.’ ” He hugged Cal’s neck. “And there’s no place more magical or more romantic than Cozzi Cove in the summer.”
After Michael headed into the bathroom, Cal heard Connor’s jeep pull up into the parking lot.
A minute later, Connor’s voice rang out. “Hi, boss. Private Connor O’Riley reporting for duty.”
Cal met Connor in the living room. “Hi, Connor. Good job cleaning the bungalows yesterday. I aired them out last night. Do me a favor. Get some fresh towels from the bin outside and put them in the bungalows.”
In his usual skintight white T-shirt and short-shorts, the freckled twenty-year-old saluted. “Aye, aye, Capitán.” Connor licked his red lips, which matched his frizzy hair. “Where’s Michael?”
“In the shower.”
“Does he need more towels?” Connor headed toward the bathroom.
Cal grabbed his muscular arm. “Down, boy. And keep it in your pants when the guests get here.”
Connor feigned shock. “Me? Make a play for a guest? Never! Cal, you wound me to the heart.”
“You must have studied dramatics at the college this year.”
Connor batted the long lashes over his sky-blue eyes. “How else could I have dated all the gay dudes?”
Cal laughed. “I’m sure you dated them.”
“I did.” Connor revealed his pearly-white teeth. “It was the football team last year who went straight, pardon the pun, for the touchdown.”
Cal put his arm around the boy’s wide shoulders and walked him to the front porch. “Please get straight to work so everything is ready when the guests arrive.”
Connor said with the eagerness of a child at Christmas, “I can’t wait to see our pick of the litter.”
“Look, don’t touch.”
Connor opened the front door and bumped into Carlo, whose crimson dress shirt had enough buttons open to reveal impressive pectoral muscles. “Welcome to Cozzi Cove!”
As he entered the front porch, his dark eyes glistened in the morning sun. “I’m Carlo. I’m looking for Michael Rodgers.”
Cal shut the door behind him and shook Carlo’s hand, noticing the bulge in Carlo’s black slacks. “Please come in.”
“Beautifully written, the story pulls me in and keeps me in Cozzi Cove. I look forward to my next visit there.” ~TBR Pile
“Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward delivers a strong cast of characters and a few surprising denouements to individual story lines that will bring a smile to your face and perhaps even a heartfelt sigh.” ~GGR Reviews
“Who knew that 7 bungalows set surrounding a beautiful cove, could hold so many secrets, love and intrigue?” “The humour, whether subtle or not-so-subtle was superb, the timing delivered with perfection, Joe Cosentino is a natural comedian and another reason why I love reading his books. He is also very clever, he weaved moral messages throughout the entire storyline,” “Great fun entwined with the Cosentino romantic magic that brings his books alive, I loved it.” ~Three Books Over the Rainbow
“I jumped straight in after finishing Cozzi Cove last night. And, as I expected, it was fantastic.” ~Divine Magazine
“Oh, Cozzi Cove, you are fast becoming a favorite vacation destination with your action and excitement! Joe Cosentino once again wins his way into your heart and soul with this fun, flirtatious romance. Love, laughter and smoldering intimacy await all who dare to venture to the clear blue waters of the Cove.” ~3 Chicks After Dark
“I absolutely love this series and loved all of the romance that happens at Cozzi Cove. You don’t just have one romance you have seven (really eight when you count Cal & Michael).” “I love an author that can inject humor in just the right places. Joe Cosentino is fast becoming a must read author for me.” “I can’t wait to read more from Cozzi Cove.” ~Inked Rainbow Reads
“visiting Cozzi Cove is like coming home or revisiting a beloved holiday destination. I know everyone, by now, who is a permanent fixture and I sincerely hope that Cosentino continues this series forever. As before, the characters are a hoot. They’re a mixture of funny, quirky, sad, lonely individuals who come together to make a riotously brilliant cast.” ~Divine Magazine
“Cozzi Cove is a special place where magic happens and the guests find love, sometimes in the most surprising places.” ~Jo & Isa Love Books
“readers will meet a variety of characters that creates a soap opera intrigue, unlike any other novel read. This story will definitely keep readers guessing with every page. Only when readers reach the last page does everything become known. It’s addictive. Cozzi Cove is a brand new series that will keep Joe Cosentino’s readers on their toes and begging for more. I laughed, cried, and fell in love with this latest novel.” ~Danielle Urban of Universal Creativity Inc.
“In the magical world of Cozzi Cove, a vacation paradise for gay men in a very gay-friendly town, anything and everything can happen.” “If you like interracial romance, angst, a touch of humor, jealousy, personal trainers, architects, beach resorts, and lots of sexy men you will love this story.” ~Cathy Brockman