Excerpt from The One That Counts by Chrissy Munder
The mat at the front entrance chimed and Rob lifted his head, turning away just as quickly. Crap. Not tonight. Rob chewed nervously on his lower lip, Barry's voice droning on in his ear. Unable to help himself, Rob stared as the man carried his duffle bag to the end row of washers. Rob had noticed him two or three Saturdays ago. Actually four, his brain helpfully supplied. Nothing too out of the ordinary, a single guy and his laundry strolling in right before the last load time posted on the front door.
He probably rented one of the cheaper units in the nearby apartment complex, unwilling to pay the extra cost for the so-called convenience of a pint-sized washer and dryer unit that wouldn't even handle three towels. He captured Rob's attention despite the way he washed, dried, folded his clothes, and walked out each time with nothing more than a nod in Rob's direction.
“Did I tell you Rachel Wallis and her amazing ta-tas is supposed to be there tonight?”
Rob ignored Barry's continued campaign and squatted on his heels. He grabbed the next huge bag of dirty laundry and dumped the contents into the sorting cart.
“She keeps asking me how you like college and what you're up to.” Barry fed some coins into the vending machine, and Rob listened to the familiar clunk as a soda dropped into his friend's eager hands. “She's still got it bad, must be all your tall, pale, and skinny. You show up tonight and even without the six-pack she cost me, I bet you could hit that.” The soda hissed agreement as Barry popped the tab, bubbles rushing to the opening.
Rob stood back up, absently tugging at his fallen shorts once again. Somehow he had managed to lose a freshman fifteen, not gain. He either needed to buy a better fitting pair or regain some weight. He turned to steal Barry's soda only to stop, surprised to find the newcomer had joined Barry at the counter, his brown eyes fixed on where Rob's hand still rested on his waistband.
“Can I get change here?”
The guy had a nice voice, almost gentle. For once Barry shuffled out of the way without Rob nagging him. His soda dragged along, wet trails of condensation left behind. Rob swallowed, staring at the mess as he silently took the offered bill and returned the change. Of course, the first time he approached Rob, it had to happen with Barry around. Rob caught a quick flash of silver, a broad band encircling the man's thumb, and then it disappeared from view, folded over the coins. Rob waited for him to walk away, hoping like hell his ability to breathe would return once he did.
“Thanks.” The guy held his ground, and Rob looked up in time to catch a flirtatious smile. “Your name's Rob, right?”
Rob nodded. He cast a glance to the side, all too conscious of Barry's closeness.
Despite his desperate mental plea, Rob's mouth and brain refused to communicate. He bobbed his head once again, willing himself to say something that wouldn't sound stupid or juvenile.
“I guess I'll be seeing you around.”
Rob's eyes followed the scuffed brown boots as they trailed back to the washers. Barry started in, nothing different than a hundred times before when customers had interrupted them, but all of Rob's focus stayed on the close fit of faded denim as Jim strolled away from him. Rob traveled up the long stretch of leg, paused at the soft gray T-shirt pulled over a curving slab of back muscle, and continued to the black, curly hair pushed behind the glint of more silver.
What an idiot, Rob chastised himself as his mind abruptly re-engaged, flooding with appropriate replies to Jim's conversational opener. There shouldn't be anything special about him, just another guy here to wash his clothes. Rob couldn't understand his fascination. Well, that was the problem, Rob thought as he wiped at his suddenly dry lips.
The One That Counts available from Dreamspinner Press.
When Rob Gentner’s father dies, his partner David sees an opportunity to shed some light on a past Rob rarely talks about. Standing in front of the family-owned Laundromat that was a major part of his upbringing, Rob finally shares the story of the summer of his first year of college, the beginning of his self-acceptance and life as a gay man. Finally David can understand the circumstances that made Rob the man he loves today—and they both decide that while first times will always be remembered, the last times are the ones that count.
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