All Male Nudes! Series, Book Five
For two decades, Ken and Avery have worked together at the Big D. Dishing out zingers and sparking each other over and over. Their past relationship blew up and replaced with a cautious friendship because neither could or would leave.
When Ken takes a fall off the stage and needs some help, Avery takes him in. There’s no avoiding the chemistry, attraction, and unfinished business now. Sorting through their dirty laundry and ancient history, neither wants to face heartbreak again but friends-with-benefits simply won’t work.
With these two, it’s true love or leave the Big D forever.
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“Ken is going all out,” Bev said as she pointed to the stage.
Avery turned his head, and indeed, Ken was in rare form. Normally, he hung in the back with a big group performance. He kept an eye on the other men and whipped them into shape at the next rehearsal if they’d been sloppy on stage.
Still, Ken had cut down his solo dances to one a night. All of his actions lately signaled he saw the writing on the wall. Avery silently scolded himself for nagging Ken today. Pushing his buttons only made him rebel. But silence riled up Ken as well.
“Just when I thought he was figuring out he’s not a kid anymore.” Avery took a bite of his piece of cake.
“He’s a dreamer. He’ll slow down, but it’s a shame his prince never showed up.” Bev smiled innocently.
Avery shot her a look. “He’s an adult. We all are. And this is America. If he wants a prince, he should’ve moved to Europe years ago.”
“So literal. We are who we are. I’m a business woman. Always have been. You got into stripping for the money. You never loved it the way he does. He lives for the attention and validation.” Bev shrugged.
“I know. He’s more than looks, though.” Avery had spent a year being the adult in their relationship. Adoring Ken and dealing with his need for more. He’d stroked that ego day-after-day.
“We both know that. He doesn’t understand his value off-stage because no one applauds when he does other things. He’ll never see his real value. It’s a shame.” Bev watched the show.
“He still has plenty of admirers.” Avery wanted to pour himself a stiff drink when he watched a big bear in leather shove a tip in Ken’s glittering briefs. The bulky fan leaned way over and rubbed Ken’s thigh.
Avery had buried his jealousy long ago. Drunken customers were a daily trial, but the splash of beer from the fan’s bottle caught the bartender’s eye. “We need to clean up that stage.”
“Let them finish. I’m sure Ken saw it,” Bev said.
Ken leaned over to give the bear a kiss on the cheek and slipped on the liquid. He didn’t fall on the stage but off it, hitting the side as he went.
“Shit!” Avery muttered.
He and Bev watched, expecting Ken to pop back up and take a bow. The waiting was agony. When Ken didn’t turn up and instead a couple experienced dancers hopped of the stage then waved for a bouncer, Avery knew it wasn’t good. The DJ announced a quick break to clean things up and invited the patrons to enjoy lap dances and refill their drinks.
“Go check on him,” Bev said.
“Me?” Avery asked. “He’ll listen to you.”
Bev shook her head. “I’ll cover the bar. Go check on him.”
Avery headed backstage and found Ken pacing and cursing. “That idiot!”
“Relax, it’s not the first time someone spilled or fell on stage.” Avery noticed Ken cradling his right arm. Everything else seemed just fine on him, but his shoulder looked weird.
“Off. I fell off the stage,” Ken informed Avery. “I’m okay.”
“Except for that arm. I think it’s dislocated,” a bouncer said.
Avery saw the pain Ken was hiding. He’d had plenty of dancing injuries. Twisted ankles, knees and a thrown-out back. When they’d dated, Avery hadn’t minded nursing him. This time, Ken was in real pain.
“I’ll be fine. Probably badly bruised and sprained, that’s all.” Ken tried to downplay it. “Go on! Get back out there! Do your jobs. We’re not all injured.”
The bouncer and other dancers ran back out front. Ken’s hissy fits were second only to Bev’s. If Bev yelled, everyone worried. Avery knew that’s why she’d sent him. She’d be yelling at Ken, and things would spin in a bad direction.
As soon as they were alone, Ken’s calm face cracked. “Fuck this hurts!”
“Let’s go to the ER.” Avery grabbed Ken’s duffle and pulled out his jeans.
“No, I’m not going. It’ll be fine. Just twisted.” Ken shook his head.
Avery put his finger into Ken’s limp right hand. “Squeeze my finger.”
“It’s a pinched nerve or swollen joint. It’ll go down with some icing overnight,” Ken argued.
“We’re going. Want me to get Bev in here? File it as workman’s comp?” Avery threatened as he held Ken’s pants open.
“You’re such a jerk sometimes.” Ken stepped into the jeans.
Avery pulled them up and closed the fly. It’d been a long time since he’d been this close to Ken. The smell of his old lover, the perfect muscles and the good memories flooded Avery’s mind. No one else made him feel this way, but they didn’t need to reignite anything. It’d taken so long to find balance and friendship.
“Want to try a shirt?” Avery asked.