Rough Play Book 1
- Playing Around
Size: 8.00 x 5.00 in
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Ninestar Press
Pairings: MF, MM
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Polyamorous
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Everyone is Queer, Friends to Lovers, Sex Buddies Become Lovers, Uncommunicative Masculinity
Word Count: 80000
Setting: USA, Georgia
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
For years, Logan resented how his parents had made him into a workhorse. Whether the boxes of supplies were for the funeral home or the drug store, they were heavy and unwieldy, and no matter how much he protested, his parents never tucked an extra dollar into his pocket for his trouble. There was no choice—just required labor without a word of gratitude.
Moving his belongings into his college dorm was the first time he welcomed the labor. No parents telling him how to set things up. No last-minute delivery showing up right as he finished. No demands or expectations. Just welcome quiet.READ MORE
He set the last of the boxes on the floor with a grunt and rubbed his arms as he studied the small room. The tight quarters weren’t much—barely the size of his bedroom at home and stuffed with twice as much furniture to accommodate two men—but he wasn’t going to complain. Not even about the bunk bed. He’d heard from his RA, Aavai, they could be broken down into two beds, and he’d get Christian to help him do so later.
Speak of the devil. Logan glanced over his shoulder with a smirk as Christian came in with both hands full of bags, as many as seven hanging from each hand.
“At least I know how to pack a box,” Logan said. “I can’t believe your parents let you bring all your shit in grocery bags.”
“Not all of it,” Christian fired back. He set the bags down on top of their mountain of stuff in the corner. “Shut up. You’re still lazy. You’re standing there, not even starting to unpack…”
“Why the hell am I gonna unpack when we need to work through logistics?” Logan gestured around the room. “Look at this. Two beds. Two desks. Two dressers. C’mon, we’ve gotta do some rearranging. This place looks like shit.”
“I don’t give a damn how it looks.” Christian leaned forward and launched himself face-first on the bed. Unsurprisingly, his feet hung off the edge. “Perfect.” The word was muffled, but he already sounded half-asleep.
Logan walked over. “Now, who’s the lazy ass?” He spanked him and darted away with a laugh when Christian turned on him like a wounded animal. “Get up, man! Want you to help me break this bed down.”
Christian scoffed. “Weren’t you the one who just said we’ve got too much shit in here? And now you wanna move the bed? No way.”
“If you like the bunks so much, you can sleep on top.”
Christian shot him a frown. “Me? On the top bunk? Are you kidding me?”
“You’re over six feet tall. How are you afraid of heights?”
Christian shrugged and rolled onto his side, the wall protecting his ass from another slap.
Logan rolled his eyes. “All right. Are you gonna make me spell it out for you?”
“Yeah, go ahead, spell it out.”
Of course. “If you think I’m gonna meet some girls who’re chill with crawling up a ladder to get some alone time, you’ve got another thing coming.”
The grin Christian shot him spoke multitudes. “Your ugly ass couldn’t get a girl in the first place.”
“I’ll be stealing your girl first.”
“I’d like to see you try!”
Logan laughed as he turned away. He took in the placement of the furniture and tried to visualize the best place for everything—once he moved things, he was unlikely to do it again. “Listen, just help me break apart the bed, and we can put it by the wall.”
The mattress creaked when Christian sat up. That was definitely going to put a damper on trying to be quiet when they had company over. “Nah. I wanna get a couch and put it there.”
Logan glanced over his shoulder. “We’ve got a couch in the living room. The whole point of a suite is to have another room to put our shit in instead of clogging up the bedroom.”
Christian shrugged. “So? The couch can only fit three of us anyway. What if I wanna sit down somewhere and you and our suitemates are taking up all the cushions?”
“Then you sit your ass on the floor.”
Christian stood, his eyes sparking with a familiar competitiveness. A fire lit up in Logan’s chest as Christian faced him. Logan squared his shoulders, head tipped back to look him in the eye. Christian didn’t seem the least bit intimidated when he replied, “I’m getting a couch. And I’m putting it there.”
Logan crossed his arms over his chest. “And I’m taking apart the bed and putting it there instead.”
Christian took two dangerous steps forward. Already, his hands dangled by his side, open and ready for grabbing. Logan planted his feet and held his gaze. “Winner chooses?” Christian asked.
Logan bit his bottom lip through his smile. “Bring it on, motherfucker.”
Christian barreled toward him like a bull, grabbed hold of Logan, and they began their dance.
Like any two guys who had known each other since kindergarten, they’d always done their fair share of horsing around. They’d thrown each other in the dirt on the playground when they were seven, much to the panic of their teachers, and Logan’s mom had blunted the end of a broom with the number of times she’d banged it against the ceiling when they wrestled too loudly.
They knew each other’s moves by heart at this point. Though Christian had the stronger body from years of soccer, Logan played dirty.
Christian’s hand wrapped around the back of Logan’s neck, and Logan batted his arm away before going for Christian’s waist. An early takedown might not be the best strategy, but the more unpredictable he could be, the best chance he had.
Unpredictable didn’t work. Christian spun with his tackle, and all the breath knocked out of Logan when he landed on his back on the cold tile floor, Christian’s weight on top of him.
“Couch,” Christian said with a certain smugness.
Logan lay limp for only a second to catch his breath before he exploded with energy, lashing out legs and grabbing at Christian’s shirt to get some leverage. “No deal! I didn’t give yet!”
“You’re gonna!” Christian was never out of breath this early. He sounded as calm as he’d been a few seconds ago. He caught Logan’s wrists, then pinned them to the floor over his head, his bright white teeth shining against his dark skin. “We’re getting a fucking couch.”
“No way!” Logan squeezed his thighs around Christian’s hips and twisted, trying to roll him over, but Christian pressed a hand against his stomach and held him there, as if it was easy. The full weight of Christian—most of it bearing down on his wrists, the rest coming down on his hips—was too much to shake off.
Maybe if I just tire him out… Logan didn’t stop thrashing around, his teeth gritting with the effort, and Christian laughed, the only sign of his exertion the slight tremor of his tone.
Christian bore down on him, one of his muscular legs tangling up with Logan’s to pin it down too. Their bedroom door opened just then, and they both whipped their heads to see the mortified man backing away with wide eyes.
“Oh, fuck, sorry!” And then the door slammed shut.
Silence. Christian stared at him for a few seconds.
They both started to snicker.
Christian sat on his knees, letting Logan pull away and rub his back. “Oh my God, you don’t think he—”
“I absolutely think he thought that,” Logan said through his laugh. “Holy shit. Should we go tell him?”
“Nah.” Christian’s eyes gleamed as he stood and offered Logan a hand to tug him to his feet. “He’ll figure it out when he sees all my girlfriends I’m bringing back.”
“Right.” Logan rolled his eyes, elbowing him as he walked past. “C’mon, we might as well go introduce ourselves or whatever.”
Christian got to the door first—competitive to the end—and opened it for him. “And then we go couch shopping.”
“I won,” Christian said with a smirk.
“That wasn’t a win!” Logan led him into the living area of their dorm’s suite. “We got interrupted! That wasn’t even close to a win!”
“We don’t have technicalities in the rulebook.”
“I’ll put it in tonight.” Logan rolled his eyes. “If we’re getting a couch, you’re fucking paying my medical bills after I go to the hospital for my broken back.”
After a moment of searching the empty living room and their kitchen nook, they peered in the second bedroom and found the man who’d walked in on them.
“Hey.” Logan knocked gently on the half-open door. “Sorry, you, uh, caught us at a bad time.”
The guy threw his hands up as if he’d been stopped by police. “I’m so sorry—”
“Dude, you don’t have anything to be sorry about.” Christian leaned against the doorframe as if his head wasn’t almost brushing the top. “Just taking care of some unfinished business.”
“Shut up,” Logan threw over his shoulder and held out a hand. “I’m Logan. This is Christian. Guess we’re gonna be your suitemates?”
“Yeah, guess so!” The guy smiled as he shook Logan’s hand, though his eyes still flitted between them as if he were watching a tennis match. “My name’s Daiki. It’s nice to meet you both.”
“Daiki?” Christian asked.
“Daiki.” He nodded, but didn’t say anything more. “Have you guys met my roommate yet?”
“Nah. We just got here, but Aavai said we were the first ones in.” Logan shrugged. “We left last night, got a hotel room, got some breakfast this morning…guess we were ready to get here.”
Ready was an understatement. After twelve years of being in the same tiny town and barely able to remember where he’d first lived, the change of scenery was what Logan had been desperate for. It didn’t matter that Fulton State University was in the same state—tuition was cheaper for his parents, and the view outside Daiki’s window showed him something different.
A city, for example, that wasn’t too far away, barely visible over the roofs of their college buildings. He didn’t know what was down there besides a Waffle House, a hotel, and a gas station that carried an incredible array of candy for late-night snacking, but he looked forward to learning the lay of the land.
“I guess he’ll be here later.” Daiki rubbed the back of his neck. “Do you guys think I can go ahead and claim a bunk and start unpacking, or…”
“Tell your roommate to go fuck himself if he doesn’t like the bunk you picked.” Christian was succinct as always.
Logan laughed and shoved Christian out of the doorway. “Don’t pay him any attention. He doesn’t think much. Sports scholarship, you see.”
“At least I got a full ride.” Christian lifted his chin and smirked. “Don’t see my parents having to rob a bank just to pay for the damn place.”
“Mm-hmm. Yep, and you’re gonna be a big soccer star, and we’re all gonna say we knew you when. Uh-huh.” Logan rolled his eyes.
“I, uh, I guess you guys know each other…pretty well?” Daiki asked. “Have you been…together long?”
“I’ve known this idiot since he was trying to eat crayons, if that’s what you mean,” Logan drawled. “But that’s about it.”
Daiki’s eyebrows shot into his hairline. “Really? You’re not dating? But I thought—”
“We’re straight. Sorry to disappoint.” Christian turned on his heel and headed into the living room. “Logan, I’m hungry! Buy me a burger!”
“Buy your own burger!” Logan called and glanced at Daiki. The expression on Daiki’s face made Logan hesitate. “Hey. Sorry if you’re…” How do I phrase this?He’d heard it put a number of ways back home, and all of them had made his mom’s lips thin. He’d learned what the wrong words were only after she washed his mouth out with soap. “…he doesn’t mean anything bad. Promise.”
Daiki stared at him hard. “I hope he doesn’t, or he’s going to have an awful time at this school.”
Logan chuckled. They’d already walked past several couples holding hands around the busy campus as they found their way to the parking lot—most of them a guy and a girl, but a couple of girls and a couple of guys together too. The open display of affection would take some getting used to. “It’s fine. Seriously, no problem. It’s just not something we saw very often at home.”
Daiki leaned against his desk and glanced down at his feet, and Logan took the opportunity to size him up. The gay couples weren’t the only thing he’d have to get used to. Though Daiki didn’t appear mixed like Logan was, he still wasn’t white. As he’d carried his boxes in, Logan had seen more people of color than in his entire life just in the lobby. Their floor RA was Indian and Sikh. The girl checking them in downstairs was white, but she was being helped out by someone with dark brown skin.
FSU was a different world, one appearing as though the campus had come out of some movie that was really making a point out of being diverse. As though it had been intentionally done. As though some guy was gonna point the diversity out in his review as being unrealistic.
But here he was, standing in a room with someone who wasn’t white and who wasn’t like his best friend Christian either.
Logan spent the past twelve years thinking the white, heterosexual climate of Greenbarrow was normal. But the other students didn’t seem as surprised by their surroundings as Logan—and he wasn’t sure what he thought of that yet.
Going home after this was going to feel fucking weird.
“I guess you guys are both from down here, then,” Daiki finally said.
“Around Georgia? Yeah.” Logan shrugged. “Greenbarrow’s a couple hours south of here. Why, is my accent that bad?”
Daiki chuckled. “It’s pretty thick, but that’s not bad, I mean—”
“I got you.” Logan grinned. “You always apologize this much? What, are you Canadian?”
“No! No, I just…” He trailed off. “I guess I don’t want my roommates to hate me immediately. Especially if you two are some united front that could make my life pretty terrible.”
Daiki wasn’t a tiny guy, but he carried himself with the air of someone who was ready to be pushed around right now. Logan wasn’t a bully, and with the school’s star jock as his best friend, he’d been pretty immune to targeted violence by his classmates. But he’d never exactly stepped in and stopped anyone from being an asshole either. This is a sign. I’ve got some penance to do here. Logan was pretty sure his social calendar was going to be filled with nothing but Christian for the next four years, but he could try to do better.
“I’ll only make your life terrible if you eat whatever food I put in the fridge,” Logan said dryly, and Daiki laughed. “I’d better go catch up with Christian, or I’m not gonna get any lunch, but it was nice meeting you. Maybe we can hang out before classes start.”
Daiki stood tall, as though he’d been waiting his entire life for this moment. “Yeah! I-I mean, that’d probably be cool or whatever.”
“Cool.” Logan backed out of the room, putting his hands in his pockets. “And, uh, hey, listen, if your roommate’s an asshole, let me know. I’ll make sure he doesn’t mess with you.”
Daiki gaped at him. “Y-yeah, I’ll do that. I’m sure things’ll be fine, but…”
Penance. Logan shrugged. “Just saying. I’ll see you later.”
When he popped into his bedroom, Christian was shoving clothes haphazardly in the drawers of one of the chests. “You’re an idiot,” Logan said, huffing. “I wanted to move stuff around before we started unpacking.”
“And I wanted to get these bags out of our fucking way.” Christian scowled at him. “What? Your noodly-ass arms can’t move furniture when it’s full of boxers?”
“Fuck you.” Logan grabbed Christian’s sleeve and started walking backward, dragging him along. “Let’s go get burgers. I’ll pay if you drive my car.”
Playing Around is absolutely a fun and sexy book. Smoking hot, need a spritz with a water bottle and a cold drink level sexy, people. And it is a NA MM romance which basically tickles ALL my fancies.
But this story is much more. It seriously moved me on a very soul deep level. So many instances the interactions between Christian and Logan ripped my heart out of my chest cavity and stomped all over it.
It was very hard for me to write this review because after reading (and thank all things good that the author was kind enough to offer an HEA so I didn’t need to hunt her down and force her to write me some happy for these boys… Misery style) I was raw and super vulnerable in some of the very best possible ways.
Logan and Christian have been best friends since kindergarten. After spending their entire childhoods together, it makes sense they would go to the same college: the first step toward making their futures intertwine forever as blood brothers.
But being away from home means discovering freedom Logan and Christian have never had before, and their journey of finding who they really want to be—and how they want to fit into each other’s lives—is a messy one.
When a double date with their girlfriends turns into a new, erotic experience, both Logan and Christian are shaken by it. Suddenly, they can’t continue to see each other in a platonic light. Exploring their curiosity feels dangerous even when their girlfriends aren’t an issue, but ignoring their changing feelings is impossible.
- PLAYING AROUND features an MM HFN, but centers around a polyamorous vee (M1/M2 and M1/F) for a portion of the novel. Cheating is not a factor in this book, nor is there any jealousy drama around the third person.
- Content warnings include explicit MM and MF sex, ethical nonmonogamy, underage drinking, referenced past racial microaggressions toward the protagonists (challenged), referenced homophobia (challenged), and biphobia (challenged).