Now Available: Straight From the Heart

Now Available from Loose-ID

Straight From the Heart

By Kimberly Gardner

KG_straight from the heart_coverlg copy

College student Kyle diStefano is having trouble paying his tuition. So when he hears about a job as team mascot with the

accompanying full scholarship it seems like the perfect solution. Except he knows nothing about football. But why should that stop him?

Known as the Big Cock on Campus, Dave Masterson never lets his antics with the ladies interfere with his true love, playing NCAA football. But when his coach suggests the team do some off-season conditioning at the ballet barre, most of the guys scoff. Only Dave takes him seriously.

With Dave’s knowledge of football and Kyle’s knowledge of ballet, it seems each has exactly what the other needs, except they play for different teams. Or do they?

Kyle knows one sure path to heartbreak is falling for the straight jock who’s teaching him the rules of the game. Dave falling for another man is going to mean nothing but trouble. But neither man can seem to help himself.

When a public display of affection casts doubt on Dave’s NFL dream, he is forced to make a choice. Stay with the game plan or call an audible straight from the heart.

Excerpt

Dave’s mood did not improve during the short walk back to Branson Hall. Just for the hell of it he ran up the stairs to the third floor, reaching the landing with his heart pumping a bit harder but no less worry clouding his thoughts.
In the common area of his suite, he caught a glimpse of blond hair and a smooth cheek. The owner of the hair and the cheek turned as Dave passed by. He had the impression of a nice face and pretty eyes that might have been brown or green just before the pretty blond called his name.
“Masterson. Hey Dave Masterson.”
Dave stopped, his room key already halfway in the lock. When he turned he found the blond standing behind him. And holy shit, it was a guy!
He looked vaguely familiar. Maybe it was the way that stray lock of hair fell across his eyes, or the way he stood, spine straight as an arrow and feet slightly turned out. Dave shook his head, still not quite able to place the kid. It didn’t matter.
“You’re Dave Masterson, right?” The kid asked. Then, without waiting for an answer. “I’m Kyle DiStefano. Your roommate goes out with my roommate.”
That was it. No wonder Blondie looked familiar. He was one of the theatre crowd Talleo hung with.
“So.” Dave gave the kid his back, shoved his key the rest of the way into the lock and turned it. The door opened.
“Can I come in for a minute?” Again without waiting for an answer, the kid—Kyle—slipped nimbly past him and into his room. He sat on the edge of Mark’s bed and sent Dave a sunny smile.
He just was not in the mood for this crap and for a moment considered kicking out the pushy little asshole. But it probably wasn’t worth the trouble it would cause, so instead he shut the door.
“Talleo’s not here, as you doubtless can see now that you’re in my room. Feel free to wait, if you want, but I’m not going to entertain you because I got shit to do.”
“I’m not here to see mark. I’m here to see you.”
“Me?” Dave paused, his t-shirt half on and half off. “Why?”
“Because I need your help.”
“With what?” He pulled his t-shirt the rest of the way off and tossed it in the general direction of the dirty clothes piling up in the corner that functioned as their hamper. “You need somebody’s ass kicked?”
“Pfft, I can do my own ass kicking, thanks. You don’t get to be twenty-one-years-old and gay without some experience in the area of ass kickery.” As if to illustrate his statement, Kyle made a kicking motion with one sneakered foot.
In spite of himself, Dave snorted out a laugh. “What then?”
“I need to learn about football. Mark says you bleed pigskin, so I want you to help me learn the plays and positions and stuff.”
“Seriously?” Dave laughed because, shit, that was funny. He crossed to their little fridge in the corner, opened it and pulled out a jug of Gatorade. He twisted  off the top, tilted back his head and glugged half its contents before recapping it and returning it to the fridge.
“Oh, no thanks, really I’m good,” Kyle said.
“What?”
“You didn’t offer me anything. Just went and chugged Gatorade from the bottle like—“
“You want some?” Dave opened the fridge and reached for the bottle.
“Ewww, no. Gatorade tastes like you’re drinking sweat.”
Dave slammed the refrigerator door and turned on his unwanted visitor. “Look kid, I don’t know—“
“It’s Kyle. I told you my name’s Kyle, so don’t disrespect me by calling me kid. Besides I think we’re probably around the same age so—“
“What the hell do you want? Kyle!” Dave added extra punch to the name.
But before Kyle could answer, Dave felt the cell in his pocket vibrate. It trilled that annoying series of notes Lacey had set as his text alert. She’d done it to be funny and he had yet to change it back. He reached into his pocket, pulled out the phone and after silencing it glanced at the display. The text was from Coach.

Here is Jeanine’s #. Call her and let me know what she says.
Fucking great.
“Um, hello, I’m talking here.” Kyle snapped his fingers.
It was a tiny gesture of impatience and somewhere deep down Dave knew he was being rude, but suddenly he’d had enough. Of Coach. Of Kyle, Of ballet. Of this whole fucking screwed up day. He heaved the phone across the room. It whizzed past Kyle’s shoulder and smacked against the wall before it plopped on the comforter atop Mark’s bed.
The expression on Kyle’s face might have been funny under other more laugh-inducing circumstances. But Dave was not in a laughing mood.
Kyle sprang to his feet. “What. The fuck. Is wrong. With you?”
“Nothing! Everything is just fucking peachy keen.” Dave was yelling and didn’t give a shit. In fact it felt good, damn good, to take his frustration out on this kid he barely knew. So he continued.
“Look, I don’t know what Talleo told you. Or what the fuck you want, but I don’t have time for it. I got problems of my own. I got to take a fucking ballet class or—“
“What?”
“What, what?” Dave shouted. “You got a problem with English? Fucking. Ballet. Class. Which word didn’t you understand?”
“Ballet? You? I mean, for real?” Kyle laughed.
Dave found that, shockingly, that laughter stung. His anger drained away. He was being a dick and this kid didn’t deserve that.
He dialed back his frustration and spoke in a more reasonable tone. “Yeah, ballet. What’s so funny about that?”
“Nothing. You just don’t look like the Swan Lake type.”
“Coach says it will help me take my game to the next level.
“So you’re going to do it?”
Dave shrugged. “I don’t have much choice. So yeah, I’m going to do it.”
Kyle’s whole face lit up and his smile blossomed. He actually had a nice smile. And dimples.
“I think I just might be able to help you with that.”
“How? You know a ballet teacher?”
“Oh honey, I not only know a ballet teacher, I am a ballet teacher.”
“Yeah right. Don’t jerk my chain, man.” But even as he spoke, something niggled at the back of his brain. He reached for it but it slipped away. And anyway Kyle was talking again.
“I teach three and four year olds every Saturday morning at my friend’s dance studio.”
“And you think you could teach me?” Dave’s interest peaked. This might just be the answer to his dilemma, if this kid was for real.
“If I can teach three-year-olds to plié, I can teach you to plié.”
“What’s a plié?”
“Like this.” Kyle rose and, while Dave watched, he positioned his feet with his heels touching and toes pointed out, His arms raised, hands meeting  above his head. He lowered himself, knees bending outward until his crotch touched his heels then rose up again, all with perfect posture and control. “That’s a grand plie rather than just a plain old plie, but you get the idea.”
The assholish part of Dave wanted to ask how the fuck a move like that was going to improve his game, but that part was no longer running the show. He was smart enough and self-aware enough to see how that degree of physical control could benefit his performance on the field. Besides, a ballet class on the down-low might be just the ticket.
“So what’s in it for you?”
“I told you, I want to learn about football.”
“And why do you want to do that?”
Kyle sighed and lowered his arms. “Because I want to be a snow leopard.”
“You’re trying out for the team?”
Masterson’s shock must have come through loud and clear because Kyle laughed, a surprisingly masculine chuckle.
“No! God! Can you even imagine? I’m trying to be one of the team mascots. You know.” He mimed the goofy dance the team mascot did at every game.
“Really? Why do you want to do that?” Why would anybody?
“If I get the job, it’s a full ride with books and fees and all. And I need the money since my financial aid got cut.”
“Ah.” That made sense. If not for his own scholarship, Masterson knew full well his butt would have ended up at some second-rate school with no …
“Dave, yoo-hoo!” Kyle made a finger snapping gesture but didn’t actually snap his fingers this time.
“What? Yeah, I heard you.” Masterson lied.
“What did I say?”
“Uh …”
Kyle flashed very straight white teeth in a grin that said, gotcha.
“I said, I already went through the tryouts. Now I’ve got the interview and I know they are going to ask me stuff about the game.”
“And you think I can teach you enough to fake it into a full scholarship?”
“I know you can.” Once more seated on Mark’s bed, Kyle leaned forward, his hands resting on his knees, his expression earnest and tinged with maybe a touch of desperation. “With your football know-how and my phenomenal school spirit I can kick ass at that interview. Besides, I have experience. I was a mascot in high school.”
“What was your team called?”
“The Beavers.”
Dave laughed. “C’mon, seriously.”
“I am being serious. We were the beavers.”
“Sooo,” He drew out the single syllable. “You wore a beaver outfit to every game.”
“I did.” Kyle raised a hand in a halting gesture. “But do not even go there. I’ve heard every beaver joke known to mankind.”
“Oh, c’mon. You can’t tell me you used to be a beaver and then say no beaver jokes. It’s not right. It’s like …”
He didn’t know what it was like. But Kyle didn’t seem to need him to complete the thought.
“I didn’t say no beaver jokes. I said I’ve heard every beaver joke there is.”
“Then one more won’t kill you.”
“I think it might.”
“Maybe you haven’t heard this one.”
“I’m sure I have.”
“Let me tell it. It’s funny. You’ll laugh.” And suddenly for whatever reason, Dave really wanted to make Kyle laugh.
“I seriously doubt it.” Kyle sighed. “But go ahead, if you must.”
“I think I must.”
“Then let’s get it over with.”
“There are these two beavers and they walk into their house, but one leaves the door open. And the other one says—“
“Shut the dam door.”
After a long pause Dave said, “I told you it was funny.”
Kyle widened his eyes then he laughed. Dave surprised himself by laughing too, and suddenly he felt better than he had since his talk with Coach.