College Rose Romances, Book 4
Rory Graeble returns to college determined to reinvent himself. Too many years have been wasted with masks, but becoming a student leader is a step Rory isn’t sure he’s ready for. A new identity takes more than just a new nickname, and Rory knows he has to take the chances that his old self would never risk. When that chance is a party that ends with an anonymous hot skater’s tongue down his throat and a phone number in his pocket, Rory knows what he has to do.
Danny Smits never expected to see stuffy lit geek Rory Graeble trying to be out, trying to be proud, trying to be… Rory. It’s damned sexy, and too much for the entrepreneurial skater to resist. When Rory calls him back the day after the party, Danny knows Rory has changed. But will Danny’s haunted past deter Rory? Or will Rory embrace the chance to experience everything the closet had stolen away? Danny believes in keeping things real, in a brutal honesty he knows means Rory will run screaming.
But this time Rory isn’t running.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Purple Horn Press
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Coming of Age, Coming Out / Closeted, Hurt / Comfort
Word Count: 75000
Setting: New England
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
LAWRENCE GRAEBLE LOOKED up at the tall concrete building. What it lacked in aesthetics it made up for in one aspect. He had a single. Four years at the university and he finally had a single. Lawrence couldn’t help the bit of a grin that overcame his lips.
His glee didn’t last long. It was interrupted, promptly, by a kick in the shins.
“Serves you right,” Stacy said. She adjusted her hold on the rather massive box she was carrying. “Some of us are holding your crap, Rory. Move it.”
He grinned at her and fished another box out of his car. The nickname was new, part of the whole reinvention of himself. It was a work in progress, but the name at least he was getting used to. Lawrence always sounded stuffy anyway. “Thanks for helping out, Stace.”READ MORE
She lifted one leg to push the box up, adjusting her hold again. “Yeah, yeah. I know I’m Wonder Woman, but if we don’t move this box soon, it’s gonna get dropped.”
Rory kicked his door closed and walked to the building. He didn’t have to unlock it, not today. Even for early arrivals there were enough staff around that the entry was held wide-open. Stacy followed him as he looked around, trying to take in the bright orange and green furniture in the lounge. The dorm staff pointed toward an opening that clearly led to the stairs. Rory murmured out a thanks, but went for the elevator instead.
“At least it has an elevator,” Stacy said, as though reading his thoughts.
Rory leaned his box against the wall while they waited, but said nothing.
“Hey.” Stacy bumped him with an arm and smiled. “It’ll be better this year.”
Rory shook his head. He’d like to believe that. With his new single room, a happy and tangible bit of proof, he even wanted to. But in a few days the campus would be full.
“Not everyone’s a jerk, Rory,” Stacy said as the elevator beeped and the doors slid open. She stepped inside. “You coming?”
Rory joined her in the elevator and they rode the jarring monstrosity up to the seventh floor. The doors opened and they were greeted by a smiling face.
“Hey, you’re Lawrence, right?” asked a young man with sandy hair. He had the body of a surfer, lean lines that showed through the sheer fabric of his loose shirt, and a tan that made Rory think it was more than just the suggestion of his build. He also had dimples that made him completely adorable. Focused, of course, on Stacy.
“I go by Rory.” At least I do now.
The young man smiled again, and grabbed hold of Stacy’s box. “I can get this for you.”
“It’s heavier than it looks,” Stacy said, relinquishing the box. The young man’s groan suggested he agreed.
“738?” asked Rory.
“This way. I’m Barry.”
“You’re the RA?”
“One of two,” Barry answered. “Becky has the other hall, but we’re a team.”
“How’d you know who I am?” asked Rory.
Barry blushed. “Directory photo. I looked up everyone on the hall. Stalkerish, I know, but I gotta know my residents! Becky did the same. It wasn’t just me.”
“Becky didn’t make flashcards, you did.” It was a woman’s voice, from behind them.
Rory glanced over his shoulder to see a young woman that he assumed must be Becky. She was short, about Stacy’s height, and heavy, with a lot of curves that the tight, tailored clothes hugged and even emphasized, but in a way clearly meant to make her sexy.
Becky cocked one hip and smiled. “Hey, Stace. And this is Lawrence? You’re the good one, right? Not that ass that—”
“No,” Rory said. “That was Tuttleman.” Rory could feel the swell in his throat. He coughed deliberately, trying to clear it. “Sorry.”
“That’s okay, sweets. I’d be gagging too, the way he treated Stace.”
“Guy problems?” asked Barry.
Rory shook his head. This was nothing he wanted to hear, anyway. He’d heard it all before. And frankly, the trash talking of Andrew Tuttleman struck more than a little close to home. Rory braced the box against the doorframe to his room and opened the door. He couldn’t help but smile. Not just a single, but a pretty big one too. There was the usual furniture. A dresser, a bookshelf, a desk. The harsh metal frame of the institutional twin extra-long bed. But there was plenty of extra space too. He could put down a rug, some beanbag chairs. His smile got bigger.
“Nice, isn’t it?” Barry said. Rory had expected him to stay for the ex-bashing that was still going on in the hall. “Only a few this big. It’s the corner. More windows, too, if you like light.”
“I do,” Rory said, setting his box on top of the dresser.
“I’ll tell you the bad bit. Stairs are just opposite. Not so bad this high up in the building, but it means more noise.” Barry set down the box and walked over to the wall. He slapped an open hand against it. “No neighbor on this side though, so it sorta balances.”
Stacy walked in and looked around. The stroke she gave Barry’s arm as she passed him wasn’t subtle. Stacy had never paused in looking for what she wanted. It was one of her best qualities. Also the one that had gotten her into not one, but two relationships with closeted gay boys.
Barry grinned at her. “So, you’re Rory’s…”
“Friend,” Rory answered before she could. “We’re just friends.”COLLAPSE