Trevor Daniels is feeling aimless. A recent college grad, he’s not sure what to do with his useless degree, and his family all but abandoned him after he revealed the truth about himself. But a friend’s suggestion that he take his chances on a reality show aimed at finding the next big boy band strikes a chord with him—until the show’s producers convince him to act like he’s in a relationship with a guy who’s not at all his type. It isn’t exactly love at first sight for Jalen Smith either—but lust just might push them in an unexpected direction. If only their secrets weren’t even more twisted than their sheets, threatening to cost them the win—and each other…
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“You brought your luggage?” The receptionist looked at Trevor like he’d brought a snake to the movie studio offices instead of a rolling suitcase and a backpack.
“My flight was late. And then customs—”
“Fine.” She held up a hand, shimmery with the sort of nail art Trevor’s sisters weren’t allowed to wear. “You can have a seat.” She motioned to a seating area with square leather and chrome chairs and a metallic-looking shag rug.
“Wait. Is my group here yet? Stand Out!?”
“Let me check.” She glanced at a pink sheet on a clipboard. “No.” She made a shooing motion back in the direction of the waiting area.
The receptionist disappeared back down a hallway, teetering on shoes that put her a good six inches taller than Trevor. The building was kind of a letdown. The whole complex was a series of gigantic gray warehouses, but the inside of this one was like any other office building in America. Or Canada. He’d only been in Vancouver a couple of hours and kept forgetting he wasn’t in the States anymore.
His bag made a loud clickety-clack sound as he dragged it across the tile floor to the seating area, but the only occupant in the chairs didn’t even glance up. The guy was about Trevor’s age, maybe a bit younger. His eyes were half-closed, like waiting for producers to call his name was just so boring. He had that jock sprawl, maximizing every inch of the low chair. Trevor took a seat with a good view of the guy. Indifferent eye candy was his favorite kind.
He had this thing for straight guys, particularly jocks. Jocks were his personal kryptonite; they made his knees turn into magnets, headed straight for the floor. And the guy across from him was the deadly, heart-stopping red kryptonite brand of jock. His build was perfect—not too tall, because Trevor was picky about that—but jacked like a Chevy with a lift kit. Hell, even the dude’s neck was ripped. Jock’s foot moved back and forth in motion with the music pumping in his ears from pricey Beats headphones.
Because dude’s eyes were shut, Trevor felt free to continue his inventory of hotness. Baggy shorts. T-shirt for a wrestling team. Wrestling. Trevor had to shift around on the slick leather couch before continuing his appraisal. Cheap white socks, but black shoes that probably cost more than Trevor’s bike. Rich elitist jock? Yes, please.
The outfit was notable because Trevor would have figured most guys coming to a TV studio would want to dress up a little. He had, but of course now his pressed khakis and dress shirt seemed horribly overdressed compared to jock boy and the receptionist wearing a cutoff denim skirt and a tank top that seemed to be made out of nothing more than knotted rope.
Maybe dude wasn’t there to be on TV. Or if he was, maybe he was there for a different show from the music reality show Trevor was on. He certainly didn’t look like the boy band type. Dude looked ready for an MMA-fighter type show, or maybe working as a stunt double. But if he wasn’t on Trevor’s show, that meant—
“You done checking me out or you need me to turn to the other side?” Jock’s eyes snapped open. They were a startling shade of hazel, almost amber. And at the moment, they were filled with undisguised irritation.
Oh, crap. Trevor gulped hard. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He dug out his phone, giving himself something to look down at. He’d been caught before and it almost never ended well. With any luck, Dawn would show up soon and he would never have to see jock boy again.
“Oh, don’t be shy.” Jock boy had a killer whisper: husky with a hint of command to it. He said it with the air of someone who knew exactly how hot he was. And now he was going to make Trevor pay for noticing.
Trevor didn’t look up from his phone, but inside he was squirming in his chair. In a different situation, he’d be more than happy to let this play out until he was on his knees in the restroom with jock boy berating him, but he’d sworn to turn over a new leaf. Plus there was always the risk that jock wanted all the verbal abuse and none of the fun. No more gambling.
“Yeah. That’s what I figured.” The other guy snorted.
“Trevor! You made it!” Dawn came barreling across the lobby, red hair streaming behind her. She was flanked by two nearly identical blond giants—one wore a blue polo shirt and khaki pants, the other a brown polo and blue pants. Both had the same bored smirk on their faces.
“What are you doing with your luggage?” Dawn’s smile was replaced by a frown, like Trevor was some clueless kid making her day more difficult. “Why didn’t you give it to the receptionist? They’re sending all the contestants’ stuff over to the house while we tape the intro segments.”
“Here. I’ll take it.” Blond giant number one grabbed Trevor’s bags, tossing them like they were a set of hand weights.
“Jalen!” Dawn stepped around Trevor to hug jock boy, who stood up to greet her. “It’s about time. I was starting to freak!”
Just his luck. Dawn hung on Jalen the jock like they were old friends, tugging his headphones down to his neck and rubbing his closely cropped black hair. Oh, geez. Jalen looked a bit young to be Dawn’s boy toy; she had to be in her late twenties. But no matter what Jalen was to Dawn, he was now a giant pain in the neck to Trevor. A sick feeling gathered in his gut and his hands tightened.
“Did you meet Jalen already, Trevor?” she asked.
“No,” Trevor said carefully. The tension in his muscles climbed to trampoline spring tight—any second now Jalen was going to call him out for creeping on him.
“We’re acquainted,” Jalen drawled at the same time.
“Um. Okay.” Dawn frowned but luckily kept talking before Jalen could reveal way more than Trevor wanted. “So this is Carter. And over there is Carson.”
Twins. They had to be twins right? Trevor was already in too much shit for gaping and didn’t want to stare hard enough to figure it out.
“So, are we ready to become the next boy band?” Carter spoke like some dude on an infomercial, each word carefully articulated for maximum impact. “I am so ready to win this thing.”
The riot in Trevor’s stomach grew worse. Win? With Jalen the jock? As in Trevor was now in the same group as jock boy? And the blond giants? For the next six weeks?
“Yeah. Let’s do this.” Carson came back over. Like Carter, he had a macho, commanding voice, probably a baritone when he sang. Heck. Trevor really didn’t want to be the only tenor on a team of One Direction wannabes.
“Okay Stand Out!, let’s go film your intro.” Dawn motioned for them to follow her down the hall.
Oh, hell. He was really going to be on camera, in a boy band, right freaking now.
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.
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