Genre: Contemporary, Hockey, Romance
Sometimes the toughest thing to believe in is yourself.
The first time Paul Dyson met Robbie Rhodes, they ended up naked in Robbie’s bed. The last time they met, on the ice the morning after, Paul punched Robbie in the face and called him something he’d rather not repeat.
Two years later, they’re teammates and Paul is so deep in the closet he'll need a roadmap to find his way out again.
Robbie might be his compass. But to be with Robbie, Paul will have to turn his back on his family and everything he’s ever believed in.
It’s going to take a lot of faith to find their way together in this shiny new world.
Country Boy is a love story about figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and how to get there. It contains sweet hockey plays, a 1976 Corvette Stingray, fancy underwear, and the journey of a lifetime.
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As if to remind him how much better his life was now than it had been three days ago, the sun set over Elliot Bay in a riot of colors from palest rose to an almost blinding neon pink. Paul pulled out his phone and sent a picture to his sister with a message.
Sunset from my place. Beats the heck out of Bakersfield. When are you coming to visit?
The five years between Paul and his sister had felt like an unbreachable gulf when they were younger, but their mother’s death had drawn them together. Now that Sissy was in college, and out from under their father’s thumb a little bit, it was time to see if they could be friends.
On a whim, he looked up Robbie’s contact information. What were the chances he still had the same number he’d had two years ago? What the heck? He had nothing to lose, and Robbie was the only person he knew in the entire state.
Before he could change his mind, he sent the picture to Robbie with a short message.
The next incoming text wasn’t from his sister as he’d expected, but from Robbie.
Nice. Where are you living?
I have no idea where that is, but I’m going to assume on the waterfront.
Yeah, check this view out.
The solarium was basically a glassed-walled party room with an amazing view across Elliott Bay. It had a wet bar and everything. He couldn’t wait until he made some friends and could have them over for dinner or something. He probably should get some furniture by then. He snapped a few shots of the view from different angles and sent them to Robbie.
Wow. That’s gorgeous. I’m jealous.
Where are you living? Paul texted back.
I’m like one block down from the arena.
Yeah. But the view isn’t nearly as nice. Mine looks like my apartment in Bemidji. He’d sent a picture along in illustration.
Sure enough, the only piece of furniture in his living room was that old futon. Paul would bet his last dollar that was the same comforter too. A shiver caught Paul by surprise as he imagined having a replay of their last encounter on that futon.
I think it’s smaller than your old place, he replied steering his mind away from the past.
But that kiss Robbie had given him, that wasn’t in the past. What was he supposed to do with that? Should he apologize again for hitting Robbie, or should he not mention it since they seemed to be having a less-than-hostile conversation at the moment?
How could he possibly explain everything he’d been feeling that night? Crushing grief over Eubee’s death. Shame and guilt for what he’d done with Robbie, combined with a burning urge to do it again as soon as he could. Fear for himself.
It had taken him years to untangle all the emotions, and Paul kissing him today had kind of re-tangled some of those things, loosened the lids on some memories and emotions he’d worked so hard to repress.
Part of his anger had been over knowing that he wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with Robbie, let alone see him again unless it was across the ice. His dad would be scrutinizing his interactions with guys even more than he normally did.
If his father had found out Robbie was gay? Well, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that he’d try to make an issue of it, maybe even try to get Robbie kicked off the team. He wouldn’t be able to do it, of course, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t suck for Paul and Robbie if his dad made a stink about it. And who knows how it would have effected Robbie’s professional career?
No, back then it had been better for both of them if Robbie thought Paul hated him.
That wouldn’t be possible now, of course. Paul would have to find a way to earn Robbie’s friendship while keeping him out from under Stoney’s radar. If Stoney found out Robbie was gay, he would one hundred percent out him as publicly as he could. If he found out Paul was friends with a gay man, he would throw Paul under the same bus, get him kicked out of the church, and he could kiss goodbye his chances of ever seeing his little sister again.
Sighing, he checked his phone. Robbie hadn’t responded to that last text, so Paul wandered back downstairs to flip through the menus the realtor had left him to find some kind delivery person to bring him food.
Paul looked around the mostly-empty apartment and contemplated going out into the world and getting something to eat. The night was gorgeous, and it would be nice to be able to go out with someone. Maybe take a walk along the waterfront and find a cool looking restaurant. Not like a date, obviously, just as friends.
Maybe he and Robbie would be able to be friends. One day. Though the fact that Robbie still hadn’t responded to his text made that seem unlikely. He had probably just remembered he hated Paul.
Paul’s phone vibrated on the kitchen counter.
Robbie had sent a photo of the view from the middle of a small, tree-lined street. The newly-renovated Key Arena was visible at the end of the street. My view, Robbie texted.
Oh crap. There it was. The place where Paul was going to be playing his first professional game in almost exactly twenty-four hours.
I can’t believe I’m going to be playing there tomorrow, Paul texted back. Why does it feel so weird to get something you’ve been working for your whole life?Add on Goodreads