skating on chance
Buffalo Bedlam series
Vince Forsberg hasn’t been back to Asbury Park, New Jersey in years. Not since his first serious boyfriend broke his heart. But when he receives an invitation to his childhood best friend's thirtieth birthday party, the pro hockey player is thrust back into his old haunts… and comes face to face with the one man he can’t make himself forget.
Joseph Parelli always looked at Vince as the one who got away. He may have messed up once, but he’s older now and more mature. After a life-threatening experience, he knows what he wants, and who he wants. The night club manager will do whatever it takes to convince his first love to give him a second chance.
Over hot days and hotter nights, Vince and Joseph rediscover each other. But when the past threatens to repeat itself, will their second shot at love be a game-winner or ring hollow off the post?
50% of all royalties from this novella will be donated to organizations that provide advocacy for the LGBTQ community.
READ AN EXCERPT
In the corner of his vision, someone walked toward him. Vince turned his head, hoping his expression didn't reflect his musings.
Joseph stood beside him, in a dark shirt and dark jeans that were perfectly tailored to his body. He smelled good, like something fresh and citrus-y. His dark brown hair was mussed just a shade shy of perfect. And the intensity in his deep brown eyes made Vince's heartbeat stutter. Wearing a tentative smile, he took a step toward the table. "Hungry?"
"No. I…" Vince shoved his hands into his pockets. "I don't know what I am."
Joseph's gaze tracked over Vince's face. He came closer. Not close enough to touch, but close enough they didn't have to raise their voices to be heard. "So, how have you been?"
How did he possibly answer that question? So much had transpired since they'd last seen each other. He settled on the easiest, safest option. "Good. You?"
Awkward silence stood like an invisible wall between them. There was so much Vince wanted to say, to ask, but that barrier stopped him. Uncertainty kept him from physically smashing it down or finding the right dialogue to blast through it like dynamite. Instead, he selfishly stared, sucking up the seconds, tucking away each one to examine later.
Joseph broke their gaze-fest. He glanced down, only to look back a moment later. He opened his mouth, and Vince prepared himself for an awkward and hastily exit. Instead, Joseph gestured between them. "Do you want to go somewhere we can talk? Where it's quieter."
Surprise swept over his body and stole his voice. Vince nodded.
"There's hardly anyone on the side patio."
Heart in his throat, he walked with Joseph through the crowded room. Catching Celek's gaze, he smiled and nodded, hoping his astute friend would understand that he was fine.
Vince's pulse pounded with every step. Not knowing what to expect didn't play well with his imagination. It ran in every direction.
The side patio had strands of twinkling lights that blended with the clear night sky and made it seem like he could reach up and touch a star. Only one other couple sat in the far corner, sipping beers and cuddling close. Vince turned his back to them and straddled a chair.
Joseph dragged a chair over, spun it around so they would be facing each other, and straddled it too. The backs of the chairs nearly touched. Joseph retreated a few inches and Vince drew in a lungful of citrus-scented heaven. Joseph's hands curled over the top rung. His lips curved in a small smile. "It's good to see you."
Vince wrapped his arms over the top of his chair and tried for a casual expression. No doubt, he wasn't fooling anyone. "You too. You look good." Ugh, how many times had they said good in the last few minutes? He chastised himself for being a coward.
Then Joseph leaned forward. "I mean it. I knew you were coming, but I didn't anticipate what it would be like to see you again."
"It's almost like the last seven years didn't happen." The words slipped out before he could stop them. "You're still at the nightclub?"
Asking a question when he knew the answer was also a coward move but he didn't dare delve much deeper.
"Yeah. I'm a manager now. Have been for a while. Like Aaron. I worked my way up from tending bar as fast as I could."
"How do you like it?"
The power of Joseph's smile hit him square in the chest. "So far, so good. It's better pay. And I like being in charge."
Vince returned the smile, and it was easier than he'd thought. "I can see that. You always were a take-charge kind of guy."
"Most of the time." Joseph lifted his shoulders. "You're recovered from your injuries? How's your shoulder? I watched the playoffs. It looked like you banged it up pretty good."
As if on cue, his shoulder twinged. "On the record, sure. Off the record, we'll go with almost."
Joseph frowned. "This guy I know tore his rotator cuff, and it took him months to fully recover."
"Guy?" Vince's voice cracked. Clearing his throat, he grabbed hold of the chair rung and his courage. "Uh, boyfriend?"
"He's one of the bartenders at the club." Joseph waved away Vince's worry with a flick of the wrist. "I'm not seeing anyone."
Relief was an odd sensation. "Oh."
"I'd ask you the same thing, but I have to be honest. I already asked Aaron."
"Oh." Stunned, Vince couldn't think of anything else to say.
Joseph nudged his chair an inch closer. "I'll be even more honest. I think about you all the time."
It was like a trick of Fate, they were both thinking of each other? Goosebumps broke out on his skin. Vince swallowed hard. "You do?"
"I've been thinking about a lot of things lately." Brown eyes intense, expression earnest, Joseph leaned forward. "And it all comes down to this: I want a second chance."