The Truth About Al by M.L. Rhodes
*Book 2 in the Campus Hearts series
Amber Allure Bestseller
Kindle Gay Fiction bestseller
To most, Al Baxter’s life seems charmed—he’s got looks, smarts, friends, and is headed to law school in the fall. But under the surface, things are far from perfect. Al’s mother is pursuing a career in national politics, and when her staff uncovers a potentially devastating secret Al’s been keeping from his family for the past four years, a painful rift forms in the once close-knit Baxter clan. Wanting to do the right thing to support his mother’s career, but conflicted over his growing desire to live his life in the open on his own terms, the last thing Al’s expecting, or needs, is to fall for stubborn and oh-so-serious Elliot Cullimore. Especially since Elliot has a protective fortress the size of Texas built around his heart.
Raised by a struggling single mother, Elliot Cullimore learned early that nothing in life was easy. That truth hit home when, at the age of twelve, a life-threatening illness left him partially deaf, making his teenage years difficult as he learned to cope with his new reality. Now, he works long hours to put himself through college. And he holds no illusions about ever finding love. He knows from painful experience that being a nerdy, hard of hearing guy doesn’t exactly make him a hot commodity. When he meets Al Baxter, however, he’s blindsided by his feelings for the man. The trouble is, Al is exactly the type of guy Elliot swore he’d never be with—rich, entitled, and always had everything he ever wanted fall at his feet. And worse, Al’s hiding who he really is and pretending to be something he’s not. How can Elliot trust his heart to a man who can’t live his own life with honesty?
But for the first time, Al finally knows what he wants, and he’s willing to fight for Elliot. Even if it means risking everything…
Release date: July 24, 2011
Length: Extended Novella (35K words)
Available in ebook formats at: Amber Allure, Kindle US, Kindle UK, ARE and many other online ebook stores.
Available in paperback at: N/A at this time
Al stared at Elliot, his stomach tied in a knot that kept getting tighter and tighter with every revelation Elliot made.
And the worst part was, even though he’d never done it intentionally, hadn’t even realized he was doing it, he was afraid there might be some truth in Elliot’s assessment of what had happened between them in class the year before. Back then, Al had thought he was just trying to be Elliot’s friend, that there was nothing more to it than that. But when was the last time he’d worked so hard at being another guy’s “friend?” When had he ever felt so excited to go to class just to see and talk to and spend time with one of his guy “friends?” And when had he ever enjoyed a day with one of his guy “friends” so much that he hadn’t wanted it to end?
“Elliot, I’m sorry. So, so sorry. I was dumb, okay? I thought we were just friends. I truly did. I had no ulterior motives. Lookin’ back on it now, you’re probably right, there probably was more to it for me on a level I wasn’t even aware of at the time. But I promise you, I never set out to hurt you. I would never intentionally hurt you, I swear.”
Elliot shrugged as if it didn’t matter, but Al knew it did. It mattered to Elliot a lot, otherwise he wouldn’t have spent the past year so hurt he’d put up extra thick walls to keep Al out.
“I’m sorry,” Al said again. “From the bottom of my heart.”
“It’s done, over with. And you know what? We’re done here, too.”
He pushed past Al again, and this time Al let him go. Or tried to, but couldn’t let him get far. There was still too much unsaid. He turned and reached for Elliot’s hand. “Don’t go.”
But then he realized Elliot’s back was to him and he probably hadn’t heard, so he scrambled around him, stopping him with gentle hands on his upper arms. The position left them face to face and standing so close he could feel the heat emanating from Elliot’s body. “Don’t go. Please.”
“God, just stop!” Elliot groaned. “I don’t want to do this anymore. You wanted me to tell you the truth and I did, but there’s nothing else to say, Al.”
“There’s everything else to say. I listened to you. Now will you listen to me, and let me explain?”
“It won’t matter. Nothing’s changed between us. You’re still a rich, sexy, entitled playboy who’s hiding in the closet and I’m still a poor, hard of hearing, openly gay geek who’s not willing to be anybody’s hidden secret. The two of us, we’re not mixable. And it’s too late to be friends. Nothing’s changed.”
“You’re wrong,” Al said quietly. “You’re wrong, Elliot. Everything’s changed.”
“Like this…” He cupped the man’s cheeks between his hands. Elliot’s eyes widened and his lips parted in surprise as Al drew him close. And then Al lowered his mouth over his and kissed him.
Elliot stiffened, and for a moment Al thought he’d pull away. But then his hands slid haltingly up to Al’s chest, and a second after that, with a soft, strangled moan of surrender, his arms curved around Al’s neck and he gave himself over to the embrace.
Al had never imagined his capitulation, not like this, so willing and charged with emotion. He’d pretty much expected Elliot to tear away from him and storm out the door, and the fact he hadn’t was a gift.
Elliot’s body was warm against his, filled with tension but no longer the angry kind. He moved closer and closer still to Al, then as their thighs touched, and finally their groins, he whimpered against Al’s mouth.
A jolt of shock hit Al as he discovered Elliot was hard, as hard as he was.
As Elliot rubbed against him, making soft moaning noises, Al wanted to touch him more intimately, wanted to slide his hand, now on the small of Elliot’s back, lower so he could cup his ass. Wanted to yank open their jeans and feel skin against skin, cock against cock. Wanted to sink to his knees and swallow Elliot’s dick in his mouth and make him cry out with pleasure.
But he held back, letting Elliot take the lead. He didn’t want to push too fast, too hard. He was still reeling that the man desired him at all. All this time he’d thought Elliot hated him, yet beneath his anger, it seemed he’d had feelings for Al from the beginning.