Beer Truck by Emily Carrington
When TJ, a famous country star, finds out he has cancer, he retreats to his hometown to heal away from the paparazzi. Uncomfortable living with his parents, he gets a job as a beer truck driver.
Harvey is the owner of a local bar. He’s been following TJ’s career because the two of them used to be lovers. But TJ insisted on being in the closet. Now that Harvey’s older, he can’t imagine burying himself like that ever again.
But when TJ walks into his bar, both men are shocked by the attraction that still blossoms between them. But neither will budge in their beliefs. How can they possibly find happiness in each other’s arms?
Publisher’s Note: Content trigger warnings for both internal and external homophobia and physical illness (cancer survivor).
Beer Truck (It Should Have Been You 1)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Emily Carrington
The music for the gathering was the weirdest mix Harvey had ever heard. As he served drinks for the extremely co-ed bachelor party, he heard the Carpenters, Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Evanescence, Lily Allen, and a host of others that he didn’t know. He knew the music had no significance for one of the bachelors, Peter, because Peter was completely deaf. So, maybe Abe, his soon-to-be husband, had chosen everything? That didn’t seem likely. Peter and Abe were a team and rarely did anything solo anymore. Ever since their first night, when they’d met in this very bar, they’d operated almost as one unit, or at least that was how it looked from the outside.
Harvey remembered fondly approaching Abe, pronounced Ah-Bay in the Japanese style, on Christmas Eve a few years ago, asking if he and Peter wanted to be Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Considering that Abe was the shorter and smaller of the two, Harvey had presented him with the blond wig and belted jacket/skirt combination. Abe had asked Harvey to wait to offer Peter the other half of the costuming, but Harvey had jumped right in, loving Christmas in general and especially Christmas Eve at Maurice’s. He’d fumbled his explanation because even though at the time Peter could still hear the low thrum of a loud bassline, he hadn’t been able to hear speech and Harvey couldn’t sign more than “I love you.”
It had gone off rather smoothly after Abe stepped in. Harvey would never forget the way Peter’s eyes widened with obvious appreciation and lust as he’d viewed Abe in that red skirt.
Now, here they were, ready to get married in a couple of days.
Harvey pressed his lips together and turned away from the sight of the couple swaying on the dance floor, Abe guiding Peter with discreet touches that looked only slightly sexual. But from the shine of Peter’s eyes, he was feeling the full effects of his lover’s motions.
Being grumpy at a couple’s bachelor party wasn’t kosher or polite, so Harvey refocused on pouring drinks. Or would have, if anyone had been there asking for more. Instead, everyone, damn, every single person in the bar, was paired up and dancing.
Harvey bit his tongue to keep from frowning or showing any other sign of displeasure. He wasn’t actually displeased, just feeling left out. Granted, on nights like this, he or whoever was tending bar usually made a hefty surplus of tips, but he hadn’t wanted to be here for this. He had been invited, told he could bring a plus one. But he had to work instead. His business partner, CeeCee, was busy. Her daughter had some sort of medical emergency. And the regular Saturday afternoon bartender had COVID.
He tried to focus on thoughts of CeeCee’s daughter, who was like a niece to him, but he honestly couldn’t, and not just because CeeCee hadn’t revealed the nature of her teenager’s medical issue.
It was the sheer number of couples. From Mike and Aidan Delaney, easily the oldest pair in the room, to their nonbinary young adult, Ash and Ash’s lover, Theresa, the youngest, everybody was in a twosome. He wasn’t jealous. Or at least he refused to be where anyone could see him. But, damn, he missed having someone in his life.
All right, that wasn’t exactly true. He had occasional flings. But nothing serious. Not since college. Even his three-week, whirlwind relationship with CeeCee had ended, although not badly. They’d both decided working and sleeping together wasn’t for them. During that time, he’d casually referred to CeeCee as his partner, more out of desperation to have someone in his life than because he’d actually thought they had a hope in hell of making things work out. When they’d broken up right after Christmas, he’d blushed to think he’d given her that title.
He longed for a return to the days of his early twenties, when life had been a song and —
“And I was trapped in the closet, banging a man who dropped me the first chance he got.” Realizing he’d been speaking aloud, if softly, Harvey shut his mouth. And here came Aidan, almost the tallest man in the room as well as the oldest. Okay, oldest among the partygoers. At forty-two, Harvey had a year on him. And, damn it, he was the only single person here.
Forcing a smile, knowing the blind man couldn’t see it but also understanding the expression would carry in his voice, Harvey asked, “Get you anything, Aidan?”
“Just wanted to check on Dustin and CeeCee.”
That made Harvey’s smile genuine. “Dusty has the VID, which he’s probably tweeted to half the town by now because he’s so bored. He doesn’t have many symptoms but knows our zero-tolerance policy. CeeCee…” What could he say when he knew so little and wasn’t sure what she wanted bandied around? “She’s okay.”
Aidan nodded. “And you’re okay?”
Damn it, the man was too perceptive for someone who couldn’t see light or dark. Or maybe it was just a casual question. Maybe Harvey was just being paranoid because he’d had run-ins with Aidan’s intuitiveness before. So, instead of lying, because that might be caught, he asked, “How’s Mike? Are you two really going to go for a third adopted child?”
Aidan grinned. “Mike’s fabulous, and yes we are.” Then he sobered. “But are you okay?”
Damn. He should’ve known he couldn’t fly under the radar. “I’ll be fine.”
“Anything I can do?”