Thrown a Curve (RL #2)

Thrown a CurveComing in June 2015

Rainbow League: Book Two

Mason made headlines when, after his professional baseball career was sidelined by an injury, he very publicly came out of the closet. Now he’s scratching the baseball itch playing in the Rainbow League while making his way through New York’s population of beefcakes, even though they all come up short. Plus, he’s still thinking about last summer’s encounter with hot, effeminate, pierced and tattooed Patrick—pretty much the opposite of the sort of man he has long pictured himself with.

Patrick hasn’t been able to forget Mason either, and now that baseball season is back upon them, he’s determined to have him again. Mason is unlike any man Patrick has ever been with before, and not just because he’s an ex-Yankee. All Patrick has to do is convince a reluctant Mason that their one night wasn’t just a crazy fluke and that they could be great together…if only Mason could get past his old hang-ups and his intolerant family.

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EXCERPT:

Their lunch arrived on a cutting board shaped like a large fish. There were a dozen pieces of sashimi and four different rolls arranged symmetrically on the fish. The waitress, in a thick accent, identified everything, but Mason couldn’t understand half of what she said. He picked up a piece of what he thought was tuna.

As they ate and the conversation drifted over to the Yankees—Jim and Ken were season ticket holders and Jim was always eager for Mason’s opinions on the team’s current lineup, even though Mason only knew a few of them personally—Jim’s attention suddenly got snared by something behind Mason. Then he sat up a little straighter and waved. “Oh, hey, Patrick.”

Mason turned, figuring it was another Sports Net staffer coming for lunch. But no. It was actually his Patrick. Crazy-haired, tattooed, pierced, twinky Patrick, who, Mason only now remembered, played for the same Rainbow League team as Jim.

He had a canvas backpack slung over one shoulder, and he hoisted it slightly as he walked to the table. He shot Mason a wary look and then turned toward Jim. “Uh. Hey,” he said.

Jim smiled. “What brings you to the neighborhood?”

“Oh, I, uh, was just going to get takeout. I’m taking a class at the salon up the block and they only gave us twenty minutes for lunch.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. I would have invited you to join us. You know Mason Brooks, right? He plays in the Rainbow League for the Hipsters.”

Patrick gave Mason a little smirk. “Yeah, we’ve met.”

Mason felt that in his chest, in his cock. This guy was still incredibly sexy. He was a lot of cocky swagger packed into a lithe little body that had been carefully decorated. Today he wore fairly mundane clothes—a pristine white T-shirt and a pair of jeans with tears across the thighs that had probably been sold that way—but he looked clean and that T-shirt pulled across his chest in a way that didn’t make Mason work too hard to picture what was underneath it. His hair was a riot of colors—blond, pink, purple, blue—fanned out in a quasi-mohawk with the longest bits falling into his face. He had a ring in his eyebrow and several in each ear, which caught the bright light of the restaurant. A number of different tattoos went up both of his arms, all of them colorful too, though they blended and fit together in a way that made the shapes seem indistinguishable. Mason imagined he could spend all afternoon studying those tattoos and still not see every detail.

Mason found the whole package unspeakably hot, but he told himself to calm down because this was certainly not the sort of man he had any business fooling around with. Even though he totally already had.

“Nice to see you again, Patrick,” Mason said.

“I’m sure it is, honey,” said Patrick.

Mason didn’t think he imagined how electric it was between them, how parts of Patrick seemed wired to parts of Mason. That damned smirk made Mason’s cock as hard as if Patrick had access to an On/Off switch in Mason’s body.

Dear Lord. Everything about Patrick was the opposite of what Mason needed. He didn’t picture himself with a guy like Patrick, not in the long term. He would have been lying if he said he didn’t want Patrick, but he certainly did not need this nonsense in his life. Not to mention that before their super hot encounter in the men’s room at Barnstorm, Patrick had let slip from his mouth a number of mildly offensive things. Mason needed to stop fantasizing about this guy, because they had no future.

He took a deep breath. He was trying to come up with something clever and flirty to say, if only to give Patrick a taste of his own medicine, but then the guy working the host stand said, “Patrick?”

“My order’s ready,” Patrick said. “Toodle-oo, boys. I’ll see you at practice, Jim. Mason, I guess I’ll see you when the new season starts. I think our teams are playing each other the first week.”

“All right. I’ll see you,” Mason said.

Patrick sauntered over to the host and grabbed his food and then sauntered out.

“Patrick is a character,” said Jim.

“Yeah,” said Mason.

* * * * *

Patrick took his sushi back to the salon, where he planned to shove his spicy tuna roll in his mouth in the back room before resuming this refresher class on cutting layers with a razor. Dirk, the owner of Dimensions, made each of his stylists take a class like this every six months or so to keep their advanced skills up. He considered it “professional development.” Patrick could have cut circles around the other stylists in the class and generally thought this one was a waste of his time, but he was spending the day in one of the best salons in the city and working with hair models instead of real clients, so it wasn’t awful. It was on Dirk’s dime. Patrick figured he’d make the most of it.
Except that he’d randomly run into Mason eating lunch with Jim of all people, and now he’d lost his appetite. Was it a date? Didn’t Jim have a boyfriend? And wasn’t he, like, ten years older than Mason? What the hell was that about?

Was Patrick jealous?

He pushed into the employee break room at the back of the salon, where a few of his classmates were shoveling food in their mouths. He sat down at the big table and started unpacking his sushi rolls.

“Uh, Patty, you okay there?”

Patrick looked up. Sitting across the table was a stylist named Brooke, who Patrick knew mostly from these classes. She worked at a high-end salon in the Meatpacking District and also probably could have cut circles around the rest of the stylists in this class. She was pretty and a little chubby and had light brown hair with purple streaks in it.

He was too dazed to say anything but the truth. “Just ran into this guy I hooked up with last summer.”

“Ah,” said Brooke. “I hate when that happens.”

Patrick laughed and shook himself to try to get back in the right mindset to eat his sushi. He picked up a little packet of soy sauce. To Brooke, he said, “It’s kind of an opposites-attract thing. I don’t know why I’m so hung up on him. We have nothing in common.”

Brooke nodded sagely. “Been there.”

“Yeah?”

She tilted her head. “I had boyfriend in college. He was from Russia originally. He’d lived in the US long enough that he didn’t have much of an accent, but he never quite got the hang of US culture.”

“Okay.”

“Smart guy, great in bed, but he had some backward opinions about women. Called all women ‘chicks.’ I wondered if it was an English-as-a-second-language thing, like maybe he’d heard someone else say ‘chicks’ and didn’t understand how that came across, but then I figured out that he was more concerned with having a girlfriend who behaved in certain ways than having an actual relationship. And obviously, I am not the sort of conformist girl he was looking for.” She ran her hand through the purple streaks in her hair as if to emphasize the point.

Patrick took a moment to admire how gorgeous her hair really was. It was something he noticed on people. Many hairdressers he knew actually had really rough hair, which puzzled him. Maybe they spent so much time on other people’s hair they couldn’t be bothered to make their own look nice. His coworker Deenie, for example, had recently gone green, but her hair was so dry it looked brittle and frizzy all the time. Not a great look. But Brooke had healthy, glossy hair that fell just past her shoulders.
But he was getting off track. “I mean, not that it even matters,” Patrick said. “It was just a one-time thing.”

“Is he hot?”

“Very. But again, doesn’t matter.”

“So what happened?”

Patrick shrugged, regretting having brought it up at all. He supposed he had wanted to talk about Mason, but he really didn’t know Brooke well. “Just now or—”

“Last summer. One-night thing? And just now you had an awkward encounter?”

“Yeah, basically. He was having lunch with another guy.”

“That sucks.”

Patrick laughed. “Yeah. We hooked up once last summer, it was awesome, but then we lost touch. I’d like to do it again, but I don’t know if that’ll happen.”

Brooke smiled. “You’re not going to track him down and declare your love like in a romantic comedy movie?”

“Well, I don’t have to track him very far. We play in the same baseball league. I’ll see him again soon enough.”

Brooke narrowed her eyes. “You play baseball?”

Patrick sighed. “I know. I get that a lot. But, yeah, I do. In a gay baseball league.”

Brooke laughed. “What won’t they think of next?”

Sensing she was going to make a joke based on her perception that everyone in the league was a femme-y twink like he was—and he’d heard it all before, including from guys who thought it was funny to be lispy and fey while miming hitting a ball and running around the bases—Patrick shoved the last of his sushi roll in his mouth, barely tasting it, and then started packing up his trash.
And he realized how he was reacting.

“I should try again with him,” Patrick said, mostly to himself.

“I agree,” said Brooke. “I don’t even know this guy, but if you’re this hung up on him, I think you owe it to yourself.”

“Yeah.” Patrick looked at the wall clock. “Well. Let’s go cut some hair.”