In this City Hospital novel, EMT Brian is surprised when his good friend, ER doctor Stephen, confesses that not only is his marriage on the rocks, but that he's bi as well. In fact, Stephen prefers men to women. Brian, who always thought Stephen was cute and hot, but straight, suddenly sees a chance for them to be more than just friends. He doesn't want to ruin that friendship, though, and he wants to be there for his best friend as Stephen goes through the final collapse of his marriage, so he doesn't see them getting together any time soon.
When Stephen's split from his wife becomes official and he needs to find a new place to live, Brian offers his guest room and his desire to keep things on the friendship plane is tested. Not only is Stephen sexy and hot, the man is beginning to explore his desire for men. Brian leaves out gay sex manuals and porn on the coffee table, and offers to answer any questions Stephen might have.
When things come to a head and Stephen and Brian finally jump each other's bones, will they be able to maintain their friendship? And will their relationship get deeper, or is Brian just a step on Stephen's sexual journey?
It was Stephen's turn to snort. "You ever do something that seemed like a good idea at the time, but were pretty sure you shouldn't have done it and know you never want to do it again?"
Brian's eyebrows went up. "You and singles resorts have some experience already?"
"That's where I met Rachel. I went down with four guys from med school and got a little too into the whole thing. In my own defense, we didn't get married right away."
"Wow. That's... wow." Brian shook his head. "No offense, man, but no wonder it's falling apart."
And Brian didn't even know the half of it. "She's not a bad person. We just made a mistake." Stephen finished his beer and rolled the bottle between his hands, watching the label rub on his palm. "She wanted a doctor. I wanted a nice wife. Turns out two nice people can make a bad marriage."
Brian snorted. "I guess you're lucky it's not ending worse than it is, huh? Tell you what. You want to go on a vacation, I'll go with you and make sure you don't get involved with anyone. Hell, we should go to a gay resort, then it won't be an issue."
Stephen stopped rolling the bottle and stared at it for a moment, weighing his options. There was the problem, right there. He couldn't, in all honestly, turn to Brian and say it would be an issue. But he couldn't sit and lie to Brian, either. He'd been lying in some form or another for years, even gotten married -- and that had worked out so well. So he put the bottle down and said, "Did you ever do something that seemed a really bad idea at the time but really, really liked it?"
"I need another drink. Like, now." Stephen leaned forward, trying to get the attention of the bartender.
Brian patted his back. "Drown your sorrows, man."
"This isn't sorrows, it's nerves."
"Hey, look, you don't want to go to a gay resort with me, then that's fine, okay? Let's just leave it at that and I won't be insulted or anything."
Stephen rolled his eyes. "Hey! Get me another, yeah?" He waited until the bartender nodded and turned to Brian. "Have you ever heard of over-compensation?"
"You mean like having a fancy sports car because your dick is small?" Brian winked and also leaned back out of hitting range.
"My car is awesome, my dick is just fine, and you, buddy, are obtuse. Gay resort is not an issue." Jeeze. That car was totally not overcompensating for his dick.
"Then what the hell are we talking about here man? And I am not obtuse -- you're being mysterious."
Stephen grabbed the fresh beer as soon as it was set down and swallowed a mouthful. "No, I'm just trying not to come out to the whole fucking bar, Brian. I'm not even sure what I am, but it's not straight as an arrow, okay?"
Brian started at him, not saying anything.
Supper could not get there fast enough. Stephen drank again and looked at the TV and wished for a black hole to come and suck him up. "That thing I thought was a bad idea but really liked? Yeah. So."
"Are you telling me you're bisexual?"
"I'm telling you my marriage is more messed up than even Rachel knows, and I don't know what I want, what I like, or what I need." He glanced at Brian and then back at the TV. "And that it would be a mistake to let me get too drunk, probably. I'll talk your ear off." Among other things.
"So you're saying you're not sure if you're straight or gay or both. You know you don't have to talk to me about this, but you should probably talk to someone." Brian looked around. "And maybe somewhere more private than a bar."
"That second one is probably a good idea, yeah." Stephen wondered if he could finish his beer before his food reached him. "My life seems to be in transition at the moment. I hate that."
Brian patted his shoulder. "You want to get our food to go and head back to my place?"
"You mean actually start to deal with all this stuff I've repressed for years? That doesn't sound like something you need after the day you've had."
"But it sounds like something you need to do, and that's what friends are for, right?" Brian shrugged. "Or we can table it and you can get some real help from one of your colleagues in the head shrinking department." Brian gave him a keen look. "But you need to talk to someone, man. Just even coming near it has you all twisted up and agitated."
"It's just..." Stephen rolled his eyes and turned on his stool to better face Brian. "I'm thirty-two. Shouldn't I already know this stuff?"
"Dude, you're married. Seems to me you've been fooling yourself for ages."
Well, yes. Stephen knew that. He just didn't know what to do about it, aside from the obvious first step of getting himself unmarried. "This would have been a lot easier back in university."
"Uh-huh." Brian laughed at him, and then the bartender put their munchies in front of them. "Oh, food. Yes."
"Thank God." Stephen started scooping cheese and chili like his life depended on it. "If my mouth is full I might be able to stop these revelations. How much can a man say in a day, after all?"
Brian was laughing again, nearly choking on his food, the bum.
"Seriously. Now would be a bad time to tell you about the plastic surgery and witness protection program, right?" Stephen washed his food down with beer, feeling giddy in the wake of saying something, anything, out loud.
Brian stopped laughing long enough to do a double take, and then he started chuckling again. "No, no. Confess it all, man. It's good for the soul."
Stephen shook his head. "Nah. I'd tell you, but I'd have to kill you. That would make me sad. You don't want me to be sad, right? I think I've confessed enough for one day. Your turn."
"My turn? Since when did this become a turn thing? Besides, you already know that I'm gay."
"Well, yeah. But there's gotta be something you can tell me. I'm kinda feeling a little... exposed." Stephen blinked and looked at his beer bottle. "Honesty, buy it by the bottle."
"Trust me, you're not exposed. You do have a great ass, though, even clothed."
It had been years since Stephen had actually felt a blush rise. His neck got hot, then his jaw, and he knew his cheeks had to be bright red. "Um." Wow, he was really out of practice. He couldn't even remember what had worked on girls, let alone figure out what to say to Brian. He was pretty sure mentioning his Porsche was a bad idea, though.