Jess Bryant © 2019
All Rights Reserved
Rodrigo Cruz was wavering. He was fucking wavering. If he was honest with himself, he’d been wavering for a while. It wasn’t the first time he’d considered abandoning his self-imposed rules about not pursuing teammates. But tonight, in the dimly lit bar after a long day in the sun and a couple of drinks, he was wavering way too close to crossing the line he’d drawn in the sand before he’d ever even met Trevor Thorne.
How could he not?
The man was gorgeous. Hot as hell. A Greek god encased in all-American good looks. Full lips. Dimpled chin. Spiky golden-blond hair and those eyes. Fuck, those eyes. They were blue, only blue wasn’t the right word. It wasn’t descriptive enough. They were jewels, diamonds in the rough of his handsome face.
Trevor had a nickname in the league. The Ice King. He was cold. Unemotional. Detached on the field and off. And those eyes of his were glaciers, impossible to delve past the surface without feeling the chill.
Only, Cruz had seen past the icy veneer. Trevor had let him past it. After months of shared hotel rooms, tiny bus seats, and 24/7 forced proximity, Trevor had slowly begun to let him in. He’d started to lower the walls he kept so high around him, and Cruz was proud to call him a friend instead of just a teammate.
The Ice King had thawed for him. Cruz had seen those blue eyes twinkle with laughter. He’d seen them warm with amusement and pleasure. And more and more, he thought about what it would be like to see them full of heat, full of passion and fire.
Cruz stared across the crowded bar, caught himself drowning in those blue pools like they were the goddamn Bermuda Triangle and there wasn’t a life preserver in sight.
Cruz lowered his gaze when Trevor looked away, returning to his phone call. He squinted at the tumbler of liquid sitting in front of him on the table, trying to remember how many he’d had. Too many.
He was drunk. So. Damn. Drunk. He knew he was drunk which meant he was way past the point of no return. He shouldn’t have had that last drink. Or, rather, considering he was in the presence of the one man who made him want to throw his rulebook out the window, he really shouldn’t have been drinking at all.
Alcohol impaired judgment. It made him stupid. Made him do stupid things. Things that would undoubtedly get him in trouble. Things that would most likely lead to his pretty face being punched, repeatedly. Because when he was drunk he forgot he wasn’t supposed to stare at his teammate’s lips like he wanted them wrapped around his cock.
But Trevor had insisted on grabbing a drink when they got back to the hotel, and despite the little voice in the back of Cruz’s head that had said he should just go to bed, he was shit at denying Trevor anything. So he’d gone. He’d bought the first round and then Trevor had bought the second, and by the time the tequila hit him, Cruz had forgotten why drinking with the man who haunted his dreams and was his every walking fantasy was a bad idea.
It wasn’t as if he was just risking his rules when it came to Trevor. If it meant getting the gorgeous god of a man in his bed, Cruz would happily abandon his stance on steering clear of sexual relationships with teammates. He wanted Trevor, and he’d let himself have him if his friend had given him so much as a hint he was into the idea. But he hadn’t, and that meant continuing to fantasize about him, continuing to tread this line and risk their friendship.
Hitting on a friend, on a teammate, on a supposedly straight man who wasn’t interested in him that way wasn’t just against his rules; it was downright self-destructive.
He’d been down this road before. Thinking there was more in every glance, every touch, than there really was. It hadn’t turned out well. Not for him. He’d been young then, naïve, just learning what it meant to be bisexual. He was older and wiser now, and he knew better. He knew it was a dead end.
When he was sober, he knew that. He knew not to stare at Trevor like he wanted to lick him up one side and down the other. He knew the smiles Trevor gave him, the ones that curled around his heart and made him feel all warm and tingly, meant nothing but friendship to Trevor. When he was sober, he knew he needed to stop fantasizing about his best friend.
Even if he wasn’t completely convinced Trevor was as straight as he always claimed. The looks he shot Cruz across the bar were veiled and sexy. The way Trevor bumped their shoulders together and found little ways to touch him was intimate and flirtatious. Cruz honestly believed Trevor was gay or bi or at the very least questioning and curious. But until Trevor made a move, some sort of move, he couldn’t cross that line. He wouldn’t force Trevor to admit to things he’d clearly been hiding for a very long time. He couldn’t and wouldn’t touch Trevor the way he ached to touch him.
But in his alcohol-fueled brain, he couldn’t help but wonder what his best friend would do if he slid up behind him, pressed their bodies together, and whispered in his ear exactly what he wanted to do to him. The idea alone made his cock hard, which at his level of drunkenness was a tribute to how damn much he wanted Trevor. Hell, he never got hard anymore. Not for anyone but the man he couldn’t have.
Trevor slid back into the booth opposite him with a heavy sigh. Without a word, he picked up his drink and knocked it back. Cruz watched his throat work, watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed, and had to swallow a groan of his own.
“Everything okay?” he managed when Trevor dropped the empty glass to the table.
“Fucking fantastic.” Trevor winced and then wiped a hand over his face, “Sorry. I’m in a shit mood, and talking to my happy, madly-in-love brother didn’t exactly help. Didn’t mean to take it out on you.”
Cruz shrugged, accustomed to the same excuse he’d been hearing for weeks now, the one he didn’t quite buy but always let slide. “What’d Trent want this time?”
“You mean other than to tell me my life choices are shit?”
Cruz raised an eyebrow, but Trevor waved him off before he could ask what he meant. Instead, he let it go, just like he always did, and he let Trevor wave the waitress over to bring them another round of drinks.
He didn’t know all that much about Trevor’s relationship with his superstar twin brother. Trevor didn’t talk about him often, and he’d guessed the relationship was strained. He knew they’d only recently started talking again after a fight that had led to years of radio silence, but he didn’t know what that fight had been about. Just like he didn’t know why every single time Trevor hung up from a conversation with his brother, he looked completely wrung out and emotionally exhausted.
But Cruz wanted to know. He wanted to know everything about Trevor, the man who had fascinated him from the moment their eyes had connected across the locker room on his first day as a Texas Titan. He really wanted to know if the tension between Trevor and Trent had anything to do with the latter coming out as gay recently. But Trevor didn’t talk about it, and Cruz didn’t dare ask. And only in his wildest, drunkest imagination did he think about simply kissing Trevor to find out once and for all.
It was a stupid thought. One he needed to ignore. He was drunk, and he needed to go upstairs and collapse into bed. Alone. Before he did something stupid like crawl under the table and try to convince his best friend to switch teams.
Cruz couldn’t help it; the very idea made him giggle with amusement because his dick, despite the alcohol and the mental reprimands, hardened further at the thought. Yeah, he was going to get his pretty face punched off. Because despite his focus on the man sitting across from him, they weren’t alone at the table. They were in a crowded bar, sitting with several other teammates. Teammates who would give him absolute hell if they caught him sporting a boner in a public place.
“Earth to Cruz. Come in, Cruz.” Fingers snapped in front of his face, and he slowly blinked his eyes back into focus.
His head spun when he connected with those glacier blues just across the table. “I…uh…”
“You okay, man?” Amusement tilted the corners of Trevor’s mouth upward.
“Fuckin’ fantastic.” He shot back the same response Trevor had used and then threw back the new drink the waitress had just put in front of him and prayed the burn would wake him back up into reality. Reality where the man he fantasized about did not fantasize about him. He slammed the glass down a little too hard and watched Trevor’s lips twitch. “Why?”
“You were staring into space giggling.”
“I don’t giggle.”
His stone-faced denial made a full-fledged grin spread across Trevor’s handsome face, lighting him up, lighting up the entire corner booth, and making Cruz’s stupid, tequila-saturated heart slosh in his chest.
God, that smile did things to him. Things he didn’t like. Because if his dick was the only thing interested in Trevor, he’d be fine. He’d find a distraction. Nail a pretty young thing and move on. But his dick was sending messages to other muscles in his body, important ones, and he was too drunk not to smile back at the beautiful bastard.
“You do, actually.” Trevor smirked.
“You totally do.” A high-pitched feminine voice that reminded Cruz of nails on a chalkboard piped in, and his eyes flickered to the bimbo waitress all but falling into Trevor’s lap.
Big boobs, probably fake just like the color of her hair. Her roots were showing, and so was her desperation. He fought a growl, hating the green-eyed monster inside him that wanted to act like an overdramatic boyfriend and claw her eyes out for touching what he considered his.
Dammit. Women. He shuddered at the intrusion. Sometimes he could handle them. Sometimes they were what he preferred. Soft and sweet and delicate. But from the moment he’d shaken hands with Trevor, all he’d wanted was more of that firm grip, preferably around his cock. And he was just drunk enough to snarl at the waitress without thinking it through.
“Was anyone talking to you?”
Big blue eyes blinked at him in surprise. Huh. Blue. He hadn’t noticed that before. Maybe she really was a blonde. Not that he cared. He wanted a different blond. He wanted the gorgeous blond across the table with muscles and planes instead of curves.
“I thought…” The waitress opened her mouth, but a stern, masculine voice cut her off.
“Rodrigo.” He shivered when Trevor used his first name, his eyes darting back to Trevor in time to see those baby blues narrow on him, and oh, damn, that shouldn’t have made his cock twitch but it did. Stern Trevor always got to him. He had a thing for Bossy Trevor. It punched every one of his buttons when the older man ordered him around. “Apologize.”
He pouted instead of complying. “Why?”
“Because you’re being rude.”
He shrugged unapologetically. He was being a brat. He knew he was. A drunk, dramatic brat. But damn if he cared with tequila coursing through his veins and his cock wanting something it could never have. He stuck out his bottom lip for good measure.
Trevor chuckled, and another shiver ran down Cruz’s spine. There was a twinkle in those blue eyes, one he knew from experience was for him and him alone. Sometimes he thought it was simple amusement. Other times, interest. Right now, drunk and irritated, he wanted to believe it was a flirtation or at the very least recognition of Cruz’s bitchy behavior for what it was: jealousy. Whatever it was, the look his friend gave him made him all hot and bothered, made him wonder what kind of lover Trevor was for the millionth time.
Firm. Demanding. Bossy. Dominant. Cruz bit his bottom lip to quell a moan at the very thought. Blue eyes flickered to his mouth, and he couldn’t help wondering if Trevor’s eyes had gone there of their own accord or if he hadn’t actually managed to stifle his moan. Not that it mattered because whatever Trevor saw there, it iced his eyes like the flip of a switch.
Trevor’s lips pursed, and there was zero amusement in his voice when he spoke again, “Apologize to the lady for being rude.”
It was an order. Blatant. And as unapologetic as Cruz was, he shrugged in defeat.
“It’s okay, it’s fine.” Nails began to climb Trevor’s arm, but Trevor pulled away from the woman before Cruz snapped again.
“It’s not okay. He’s drunk and he’s being rude.” Trevor pretended to look at a watch Cruz was fairly certain even in his alcohol-fueled state Trevor wasn’t wearing, “It’s late, and we should get upstairs anyway. Game tomorrow and all.”
Cruz blinked through his haze. Game tomorrow. They were drinking on a game night. Why had they gone to the bar again? He tried to remember, but everything other than the loss to the Sun Devils was cloudy with tequila.
Something about blowing off steam?
Hell, he couldn’t really remember anymore. They’d lost. Trevor had been in a mood. They’d gone to grab some dinner and drinks. Only they’d never ordered dinner. They’d filled up on booze instead and now the world was fuzzy and Trevor was mad at him and Cruz was too drunk to care if he was making a scene in front of their teammates.
“Sorry, guys. The kid can’t handle his liquor. Enjoy the rest of your night, and we’ll see you for breakfast in the morning.” Trevor apologized for the both of them, but there was steel in his voice when he motioned to Cruz. “Come on. Let’s go.”
Cruz squinted at Trevor as he stood. He wanted to tell him he wasn’t a kid and he could handle his liquor just fine, but really, it would only make the scene worse to argue with his captain. And he was drunk. Really drunk.
How was he this drunk? Usually he handled his liquor better. Then again, he didn’t usually drink on an empty stomach after a day of playing nine innings in the desert heat either. A big hand gripped his bicep, and the world tilted precariously as he was unceremoniously dragged out of the booth.
“I said, come on.”
Cruz let Trevor pull him upright without a fight. His hand was big and warm, and it practically burned Cruz’s flesh where it slid under the sleeve of his T-shirt. He was forced to his feet, and his legs were just rubbery enough that he wavered a moment, his chest brushing against Trevor’s for a split second as he came face-to-face with that gorgeous, stony expression he knew so well.
“You okay?” There was an undercurrent of something in Trevor’s voice when he spoke softly, just to Cruz, that he couldn’t quite place. “Can you walk out of here?”
He nodded because he couldn’t find his voice.
“Good.” The hand on his arm disappeared, and so did Trevor’s nearness as he stepped back. “Get your drunk ass in the elevator before I kick it into next week.”
Cruz winced and followed, completely unable to appreciate that firm, tight ass he liked so much in those denim jeans ahead of him. Trevor was pissed. Not concerned. Not annoyed. Pissed. And some sick and twisted part of Cruz liked it, liked that he could get the Ice King to crack, liked that his bratty behavior had gotten him what he wanted.
He and Trevor were headed up to their room. Alone. Together. And in his alcohol-fueled haze, that seemed like the best possible ending to this night. Almost like a fairytale come true. If only his prince charming would stop scowling at him.
They stepped into the elevator, and the doors closed behind them. Their images stared back at them, or rather, Trevor’s blue eyes stared at him in the reflection, burning a hole in Cruz’s restraint. He smirked, and the words rolled out of his mouth before his brain could convince his tequila tongue it was a bad idea.
“Stop glaring at me. It makes me want to kiss that look right off your stupidly gorgeous face.”