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an excerpt from

Someone Like You

  Derek was at his last day of work as a part-time employee at Drink for Your Health Juice and Smoothie Bar. Business was slow, since finals were over and students were beginning their mass exodus to hometowns, beaches, or summer jobs. Most of his friends were already gone. Derek had only a few things left to pack and a few precious days of freedom before his father came to get him for a boring summer of helping with inventory and shipments at Anderson Tool and Dye.

    After his last customers left, he was desultorily wiping down their table, trying to ignore that year�s song-that-must-be-played-until-everyone-hates-it. He glanced through the plate glass window and his heart skipped a beat when he spied one of Indiana�s scenic wonders: a man bending to lock his bicycle. He was wearing Lycra cycling shorts, and while they showcased his ass to good advantage�and for that matter, his package, when he turned around�they also made the most of Derek�s weakness for great legs.

    The cyclist�s legs were long, muscular, tanned, and covered with hair sun-bleached to nearly white. Derek was practically drooling about his powerful thighs when the man opened the door to the shop and stopped short on the threshold.

    �I�ll give you twenty dollars if you�ll change the radio station,� he said, brushing his sweat-soaked hair back with one hand.

    �I�ll do whatever you want for nothing,� Derek said brazenly then darted behind the counter and changed the station. He met the cyclist�s intense blue eyes and said, �What else?�

    �Strawberry lemon smoothie. Large.�

    �Are you sure that�s what you want?� Derek asked.

    One corner of the man�s mouth twitched, and he said, �Is there something else you�d recommend?�

    As if channeling some turn-of-the-century floozy from an ice cream parlor, Derek said, �Most of my customers appreciate my finesse with a banana.� He grabbed one from the counter and, keeping his eyes locked on the cyclist�s, began to unpeel it.

    �I usually like something more tart,� the man said, playing along.

    Derek shrugged and said, �Then I may as well eat this.�

    He proceeded to slide the banana between his lips, provoking a reluctant laugh from his customer, who asked, �When do you get off?�

    Derek slowly drew the uneaten banana from his mouth and said, �That depends on you. The shop closes at six.�

    �I�ll be back at six,� the cyclist said, turning to leave.

    �Aren�t you going to satisfy your craving for something tart?� Derek asked.

    �That depends on you,� the man mimicked Derek and kept walking.

    Derek sighed with longing as he watched the cyclist cross the street and unlock his bike. Derek didn�t really believe he�d be back, but at least he�d be a good fantasy on boring summer nights in Evansville.

    Derek�s boss, Tyrone, a hippie throwback who�d dropped out of Indiana State in the �70s, came in before six to write out his final paycheck and lock up. Just as Derek stepped out of Drink for Your Health, his Mystery Date wheeled up to the curb in a silver Jaguar convertible. Derek didn�t even hesitate before stepping into the car. It was only after they pulled away that it occurred to him that he knew nothing about his companion, not even his name, beyond how appealing he looked in biker shorts.

    Derek scrutinized him while he drove. His hair, fine and straight, looked blonder now that it was dry. In spite of his deep tan, there were no faint lines around his eyes, which made Derek guess he wasn�t that much older, definitely under thirty. He was clean-shaven and wore no jewelry except a watch with a silver band. His black jeans, black leather lace-up boots, and crisp white linen shirt made Derek feel frumpy in his khaki shorts, faded T-shirt, and sneakers. He was grateful that Tyrone hadn�t expected him to wear a bright orange uniform shirt as he had in his previous job as a fry cook.

    Without turning his head, the man said, �Now can you tell me my sun sign, my favorite color, and what brand of toothpaste I prefer?�

    �You could tell me your name,� Derek suggested.

    �Is it customary for an abductor to provide details like that?�

    �I�m Derek Anderson,� Derek volunteered.

    �Hunter,� the man said, which drew only silence as Derek contemplated whether that was his first or last name.

    Derek also wondered why they were driving toward Indianapolis. �I hope my parents can find a good photo for my milk carton shot.�

    Hunter laughed but offered no more information, so Derek faced forward and considered the consequences of his heedless flirting. When they took the exit for Mall of the Universe, his worry evaporated. Maybe Hunter just wanted to take him to the retail mecca of the Midwest and buy him some decent clothes.

    They drove to the outside entrance of the Hotel Congreve. If Derek was in for a one-nighter, he�d be doing it in style. They got out of the car, and Derek watched as Hunter tossed his keys to the uniformed doorman with a nod. Since the Hotel Congreve was way beyond Derek�s means, he had no idea whether it was customary for a doorman to also act as a valet. However, both men seemed to know what they were doing, so Derek just shrugged and followed Hunter into the opulent lobby, noticing how heads turned to watch as they strode toward the elevator. Hunter seemed oblivious to the stir he caused. Once the elevator doors cut the two of them off with a soft whoosh, Derek watched as Hunter punched some numbers onto a keypad.

    Then Hunter turned to him and said, �Let�s see what that mouth does with something other than smart-assed comments and bananas, shall we?�

    Derek felt Hunter�s kiss all the way down to his toes. It left him swooning like the heroine in a romance novel. The next few hours were a blur, because Hunter was a sensational lover, without inhibitions. They didn�t do anything Derek hadn�t tried before, but he�d never done it all with one man. Especially a man with Hunter�s skill.

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Timothy James Beck is represented by Alison J. Picard, Literary Agent. email: Ajpicard@aol.com
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