Chapter 2 - 2017 Top Ten Gay Romance

“You’re the dude that inherited like a billion dollars and bought up a bunch of run-down properties all over the city. You’re turning them into apartments and subsidized housing and centers for queer kids and battered women and stuff!” Chase shook his head, his eyes wide. “That’s like the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. You rock, man!”

I did actually blush then, heat washing over my face. Having Chase’s approval warmed the pit of my stomach.

“It wasn’t quite that much,” I corrected, not knowing exactly how to react to praise coming from this man. What was it about him that gave me butterflies? I stepped around him and started emptying bags. The frozen stuff was in danger of melting. “And it was only a few buildings, besides this one. I wanted safe spaces.”

Chase nodded. “Like I said, that’s why I picked this place to live, even though the rent was a little higher than I wanted to go. I got tired of always having to watch my back, and I didn’t want to worry about bringing someone home if it was a guy instead of girl.”

It took a moment for the statement to register, but when it did, I dropped a block of frozen penne and chicken in a vodka sauce right onto my foot. The pain shocked me and I bit out a curse before jerking back my foot and holding it up.

“Eli! You okay?” Chase grabbed me, supporting me as he looked at the floor. “Shit, I bet that hurt.”

“Yep,” I managed. My eyes watered.

“Sit down.” Chase stuck out a leg and snagged a barstool, using his foot to drag it closer. He helped me ease onto it, then bent to pick up the box of frozen food. He shoved it into the freezer before he turned to me, wide smile back in place. “Just relax and tell me where these things go. Rest that foot. You think it’s broken?”

eding. It’d be tender for a while, but I d

the next bag, I stopped him with a hand on his arm. “Don’t worry ab

ed me. “Y

nk or something?” I wasn’

great! I need to hydrate after my run. But

apple bobbed, the expanse of corded muscle under his skin, all combined to make me want to lick a swath up his neck. Which reminded me of his statement. I t

’re bi?”

out loud. Not because I didn’t want to, but because of my family. And the dudes I ran with. I grew up on the south side, and it ain’t the safest place, right? Had to always watch my back, you know? But a

I mean. You said your friends

me. He had a six pack that made my mouth go dry. But then I saw what he was showing me, and my breath c

d run, call the cops. After that, after I recovered, I cut all the haters out of my life and moved. Started looking for a safe place. Didn’t really

ugh equality has come so far, it’s still…It’s a worry. I wanted places where the victimized, the marginalized

rently thought better of it because he dropped it before making contact.