Uneasy pieces the league.., p.1

Uneasy Pieces: The League, Book 4, page 1

 

Uneasy Pieces: The League, Book 4
 


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Uneasy Pieces: The League, Book 4


  Table of Contents

  Epilogue - Jordan

  Complete Game - The League, Book 1

  A Second Glance - The League, Book 2

  Always Waiting - The League, Book 3

  Copyright

  Marshall

  Jordan

  Share Your Thoughts

  Also by Declan Rhodes

  About the Author

  Uneasy Pieces

  Declan Rhodes

  Contents

  Copyright

  1. Marshall

  2. Jordan

  3. Marshall

  4. Jordan

  5. Marshall

  6. Jordan

  7. Marshall

  8. Jordan

  9. Marshall

  10. Jordan

  11. Marshall

  12. Jordan

  13. Marshall

  14. Jordan

  15. Jordan

  16. Marshall

  17. Jordan

  18. Marshall

  19. Jordan

  20. Marshall

  21. Jordan

  22. Marshall

  23. Jordan

  24. Marshall

  Epilogue - Jordan

  Share Your Thoughts

  Also by Declan Rhodes

  Complete Game - The League, Book 1

  A Second Glance - The League, Book 2

  Always Waiting - The League, Book 3

  About the Author

  Copyright © 2017 by Declan Rhodes.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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  1

  Marshall

  I curled my legs up tighter toward my chest on the end of the sofa and swallowed another mouthful of beer. I said, “It really sucked, Billy. I mean it wasn’t even funny. What the hell are guys my age turning into?”

  Billy Alvey tilted his head to the right and said, “Hmm, don’t know, Marshall. Maybe they’re turning into guys your age.”

  I growled, “That’s not even funny.” Then I downed the last of the bottle of beer. “I even saw him slip the blue pill into his hand before he excused himself to visit the restroom, and then when we got to the bedroom, he still couldn’t keep it up.”

  Billy’s eyebrows furrowed. He asked, “How old did you say this guy was?”

  I said, “47. He was just a year older than me. He had a saggy little belly, and I think he complained three different times during dinner about getting old.”

  Staring back at me, Billy said, “I guess not everyone can be as well-preserved as you, Marshall. Don’t go getting bent out of shape either. I mean that as a compliment. Look at you. The muscles are still rock hard and any wrinkles in that face just make you look rugged. I’d do you if I was gay.”

  I sighed and said, “I do work on it. It’s not out of vanity either. It really does feel good to stay in shape. I hop out of bed in the morning with energy. I do fifteen pushups before I grab my first cup of coffee.”

  “Well, we don’t have to talk about your personal insanity,” said Billy. “I’m doing well to just make it to the kitchen before coffee.”

  Scratching my head, I said, “And then it was like he didn’t know anything that had happened in popular culture in the last fifteen years. He was still repeating catchphrases from the first go-round of Will and Grace and humming old Madonna songs.”

  “And you’ve seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones?”

  I laughed. “I guess you’ve got me there, but I do watch the cooking shows.” I slipped my spine down further into the cushions and stretched my legs until my feet were just inches from Billy’s on the opposite end of the couch. I said, “At least he was a bottom, so it wasn’t a requirement that he stay hard. I can still keep it up for a good long time…”

  Billy interrupted. “Seriously, Marshall, I don’t want to say ick, but the details of sex between two men does nothing for me. I promise not to give you a blow by blow on the best way to excite a clit with my tongue.”

  I said, “Thank you, I appreciate that Billy. I feel like I’m being kind of an asshole complaining about this so much with it all centered around age, but we’re not that old. I think he could do a better job of taking care of himself.”

  Billy flexed his right arm and showed off a strong, wiry muscle. He said, “Yeah, I understand that point. I’m hoping to be a little more like you when I’m your age.”

  “Damn, why can’t I date you, Billy? Just think of how much fun it would be. You can take me to the tattoo parlors, and I’ll show you how to impress the other guys at the gym.”

  Billy laughed out loud. “Ever the romantic. How about dinner, Marshall? Or maybe a movie? Could you take me to the beach? The gym is more like a necessary evil to me. It’s not the most romantic place I can imagine.”

  Billy was a great friend. Our relationship began with an altercation at a bar. I most often stick to the gay bars in the city, but I was tagging along with Sara and Joseph, a married couple, for a night out. They were both friends from back in high school. I was in my early 30s feeling lonely, and I was looking forward to their company and the comfort.

  I like the old-fashioned Milwaukee bars that haven’t changed much since the 1950s. They are the ones with little tears in the booth seats that have been patched over with duct tape. Some of them still have old pinball machines in the back and usually two or three pool tables that rent by the hour. It’s a great way to sink into the city’s past, and the health board makes sure the bars stay clean.

  As the three of us ordered beers at the bar, I notice a pair of men playing pool on one of the bar’s two tables. They looked young, maybe just out of college. One of them wore a leather jacket with long black hair down his back and piercings that glistened in the dim light. The other was clean cut. He was tall, built solid, and I wanted to take a closer look. I leaned in close to Sara and asked, “How about we amble to the back. I want to check out the guys playing pool. Maybe we can even rent our own table.”

  Joseph heard my comment and he asked, “Are you hunting tonight, Marshall?”

  I grinned and said, “I just like to keep my eyes open.”

  The three of us made our way to the back but stood a respectful distance away from the table. While the leather-clad man leaned across the table to make a shot, I gave the other man a clear once over gazing from head to foot.

  “Looks like we’ve got company, Billy,” said the man.

  A 23-year-old Billy made the mistake of responding by rattling off a homophobic comment within earshot, and in the next moments we nearly came to blows. Billy’s friend and Joseph pulled us apart.

  Instead of us both turning to head the other direction in a huff, we each waved off our company and actually sat down and had a talk. Three hours and three bottles of beer later, I had witnessed the birth of one of the best friendships of my life. Our other friends were long gone. Billy gave me a ride home, and we’ve been close since. I can depend on him in any emergency, and also for great company just whiling away the time.
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  A few years later I joined Reggie’s gay softball team. When Reggie mentioned that each team was allowed a couple of straight guys on the roster, I called Billy immediately. Tucked beneath his long-haired, pierced, and tattooed exterior, lurks a magnificently talented softball player. He told me that he played Little League baseball and joined the high school team, but then he ran into conflict between his need to personally express himself through appearance and the clean-cut wishes of the high school coach.

  Billy stuck by his personal independence, and it brought an end to his baseball career. In athletic skill, he’s what I would call a natural. Outside of Blake, and his prodigious talents, Billy is the best player on our team.

  I asked Billy, “Will you date me if I promise to take you to nice romantic places? We’ll have dinner out along the lake, and I’ll stroll with you at the art museum.”

  He frowned. “Marshall…um…no. I think Becca would be jealous.”

  “How are things with Becca?”

  Billy smiled. “She’s a lot of fun. She’s really into architecture in the city, so we go on walks downtown, and she tells me about what we see. She knows so much about city hall and the old warehouses and department store buildings. It might sound like a geeky kind of thing to do, but it’s interesting. And we do have fun in bed, but I’ll spare you those details.”

  “And you said she works at the animal shelter?”

  “She runs an animal shelter. She’s the head honcho. She really loves pets. Becca has two dogs of her own. Do you need one, Marshall? Maybe it’s the perfect thing to keep you company.”

  I waved a hand. “No, I don’t need a dog or a cat. There’s too much responsibility there. I would never get to leave home again, and I’m allergic to walking in the rain and snow.”

  “Becca has a big Great Dane that they rescued from an abusive home. It’s an amazing dog. She would let you have first choice, Marshall.” Billy leaned forward trying to convince me.

  I crossed my arms over my chest and said, “No.” I added, “I’ll just live vicariously through the pets of others. You can tell me stories about the Great Dane and share pictures. That’s enough pet ownership for me.”

  Billy rubbed the razor stubble on his chin. He said, “Maybe you just need to date a younger guy, Marshall.”

  “Younger?”

  “You know, in his 20s or, at oldest, early 30s. He would have more energy and keep you feeling youthful.”

  I leaned back again and said, “Do you mean like Ian?”

  Billy’s eyes opened wider. He said, “Oh, that’s right. You did go on a date with Ian. I thought the two of you would look great together, but there was a lot of other stuff going on.”

  “Yeah, he was on the rebound from Blake, and I think he was just looking for a piece of eye candy.”

  “You have something against being eye candy, Marshall? I definitely don’t mind stripping down and having Becca tell me exactly which tattoo she likes best, and then she has me trace the outline so she can see it even better. I really like when she’s in the mood to talk about the ones down south.”

  I growled. I always felt my cock stiffen in my jeans any time Billy talked about his body, and he liked to talk about his body. I’d only seen him completely nude one time, and it was well worth the viewing.

  Billy said, “Okay, so not a guy like Ian, but there are young guys out there who are really into great-looking older men. They are looking for daddy types.”

  I hesitated before I said, “I’m not sure I’m a daddy type.”

  “Those long, strong arms, big muscular chest, and that chiseled jaw. Yeah, you at least look the part. And then, Marshall, you could have someone more like…” Billy stopped himself.

  I finished the comment and said, in a questioning tone, “Like Neil?”

  I was nearing the 25th anniversary of my first date with Neil. I could remember it as plain as if it happened yesterday. I remembered being nervous when I was getting ready to meet him. I stared at the mirror and brushed my hair first one way and then another trying to get it just right. At the last minute I roughed it up with my fingers and decided the tousled look was best.

  Completing my efforts to get ready, I tugged on my jeans, the ones that fit nice and snug across my package and made even me want to see what was tucked inside. Then added the shirt that was probably tighter than it should be, but it advertised the fact that I had a broad chest sculpted by long hours in the gym. Bright red sneakers and three condoms in the pocket were the finishing touch. I was ready for that first date.

  Neil and I had three years together. Actually, it was a little less. We dated for a year before pledging ourselves to each other as a committed couple, and six months later we were crushed by the AIDS diagnosis. Sixteen months after that, I watched Neil’s casket lowered into the ground forever. In a bitter twist of fate, if the disease had begun its devastating journey through Neil’s body just a year or two later, breakthroughs in medication would likely have kept him alive and healthy for years to come. We were unlucky.

  Billy groaned, “Damn, Marshall, I can really be a shit sometimes. I didn’t mean it that way. Please forgive me, buddy. Maybe you just need to wrap a strip of duct tape over my mouth.”

  I shook my head. “No, Billy, it’s fine. Whenever I think about young guys, it’s hard to not have Neil come to mind. I don’t remember him much like he was after he got sick. I remember the sexy Neil. I remember the guy that made my heart pound in my chest every time I came close. I’ll never forget.”

  2

  Jordan

  “C’mon, Mr. Vaughan, just come and see him play. Then you can mention him all casual-like when you talk to Coach Helton. He would be perfect. I know he would be. I even promise to bump up my grades if you come this weekend to see him play.”

  A smile lit up Shane’s slightly pudgy face as he put in positive words for one of his favorites. I was seated at the desk in my classroom thirty minutes after the final bell of the day. I planned to get some work done, perhaps grading math homework, before heading home, but it wasn’t turning out that way. I said, “Why don’t you just…ahem…bump up your grades anyway, Shane? You’re pretty clearly telling me that you can do better.”

  He blushed sheepishly and groaned, “Aww, man.” Shane stuck around after school just to needle me about his choice for the open assistant coach job for the high school baseball team. He knew someone who played on a local softball team, and he was convinced the man would be perfect for the job. Somehow, I got stuck on the selection committee for the new coach, and Shane dug the names of the members of the committee out of Coach Helton, our head baseball coach.

  I scratched my head and looked at Shane. “You wouldn’t be trying to blackmail me, would you, Shane? Trying to blackmail me with that promise of harder work?”

  Shane said, “Oh, no, no. I’m not doing that at all. I just think Blake deserves a chance. And you know Joey, too, Mr. Vaughan. He would be right here at my side trying to convince you if his mom wasn’t sick.”

  I did know Joey. He was a junior and Shane was a sophomore. I had Joey in class the year before during my first year on the job. He was quiet, but he was an excellent student. I even did my best at leaning on him to consider being a math major in college. As one of the top baseball shortstops in the region, he told me he was considering sports medicine, but He agreed that maybe math could be a backup plan. Joey took over the position of man of the house at home when his father skipped town leaving behind a wife and four kids. Joey was the oldest.

  Halfway through the previous school year, I volunteered to guide the student group for LGBTQ students and straight allies. Mrs. Ackerman, the former adviser, left our school for a corporate chemistry job halfway through the year. She left behind a void, and she was missed. She was a very strong advocate for the group. Both Joey and Shane were members. I first met Shane at one of the group meetings.

  Shane was now on the baseball team, too, but he spent a lot of time on the bench. He was happy
just to be on the team with Joey, the love of his young life. The pair were high school sweethearts, and I fully expected them to eventually marry. They appeared to be perfectly matched even though they were only teenagers.

  I cocked my head to the side and said, “You’re not trying to set me up for a date are you, Shane? You said it is a gay softball team, right?”

  Shane giggled and said, “No, Mr. Vaughan. Blake has a boyfriend. He’s just such a nice guy, and he played in the baseball minor leagues. Joey and I both think he would be great at helping out the team.”

  “And why aren’t you trying to drag Coach Helton to one of these softball games?”

  Shane leaned over the desk and said, “Well, just between you and me, Mr. Vaughan, Coach can be a little stuffy even though he’s a great coach. He told me that usually the assistant is another teacher, but he also said it doesn’t have to be that way if they find someone really excellent and experienced with baseball.”

  I stared eye to eye with Shane and asked, “And what makes you think I really know that much about baseball or softball? Seeing…um, Blake, I think you said…play is going to tell me what?”

  “You’re on the committee, Mr. Vaughan, doesn’t that mean you know something about baseball? Softball isn’t very different.”

  I laughed and asked, “How many touchdowns do you need to win a baseball game?”

  “Wow, Mr. Vaughan, you really don’t know much of anything about baseball.”

  I held out my fingers and said, “A smidge.” Then I asked, “Are you dragging Joey to the game, too?”

  “He promised to come. It’s the start of the new season, and we love to watch Blake play. He knows us, too, so you could even say hi. You could see what his personality is like up close and personal. In fact, the whole team is a bunch of great guys. They aren’t just all regular jocks.”

  I sighed and said, “Okay, you’ve got me convinced. I don’t really have anything else on Saturday that would keep me from being there. Now do me a really big favor and get out of here so I can get some work done.”

 
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