Hiya peeps, we have Mackenzie Blair popping in today with her new release The Quarterback, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant giveaway so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! <3 ~Pixie~
Matt Lancaster is the star quarterback at Bodine College, a small Southern Division II school with an ultra-conservative Dean of Athletics. Matt is also very much in the closet, and he thinks he’s kept his secret well hidden. Until his best friends take him to a happy endings massage parlor and request a male masseuse for him.
In walks Trevor Kim, a gorgeous, pierced, tattooed fellow Bodine student who does massages—without happy endings—to pay for school after his family kicked him out for being gay. Trevor takes one look at Matt and breaks all his own rules about mixing business with pleasure.
Matt needs to keep his scholarship, win the National Championship, and survive his asshole father. Instead, he falls in love. Trevor needs to accept that the football god is meant to end up with him rather than a perky cheerleader. It’s time for a happy ever after for both of them.
Hello, I’m Mackenzie Blair and I’ve been reading romance novels ever since my mom took me to used book sale after book sale as a teenager. I loved that every romance novel had a happy ending. (Those covers were also pretty scandalous to my small-town mind, so there was probably a good dose of rebellion in my reading as well.) A few years ago, I discovered MM romance, and although I’d considered writing a romance novel for years, it turns out it took an MM story to finally inspire me to finish one!
So I hope you enjoy reading THE QUARTERBACK as much as I loved writing it.
Matt shuffled from one foot to the other as his best friend, Connor, leaned in to chat with the woman at the front desk of the spa. A spa they’d driven forty minutes outside of campus for, well past the Bodine County line. Connor, known for his loud mouth on and off the football field, spoke in low tones. Discreetly. Which meant this place was exactly the type of place Matt feared.
It wasn’t like dudes had spa days like chicks. Unless it was one of those places. Matt groaned. He knew his buddies were just trying to cheer him up. And they didn’t even know how bad his social life had gotten—pretty much nonexistent. He pretended he was just discreet with his hookups, but the truth was, he’d essentially been celibate for almost three years. God, that was depressing. Everyone else was cutting loose senior year. But Matt couldn’t. He couldn’t. He was team captain, on a full athletic scholarship, and that came with expectations.
Expectations that meant he should not be standing in a happy endings massage parlor off the interstate next to a budget motel in the deep South. So what if he had a three-year case of blue balls? He could handle a few more months. But, apparently, his friends had other ideas.
“All right, boys, we’re set!” Connor said with a huge grin, passing over a wad of cash to the receptionist. Cash.
Yep, Matt was screwed. And not in the way he wanted to be.
Connor handed their teammates and suite mates, Damian and Ryan, two white robes, which they immediately put on over their jeans and T-shirts. Matt reluctantly took his robe from Connor, the big lug of a linebacker, and followed his buddies to the locker room. If Matt weren’t so terrified about what was about to happen, he would’ve found Ryan’s and Damian’s eager excitement amusing as hell.
They were total opposites in appearance—Ryan with pale skin and buzzed hair, Damian with his dark Jamaican skin and a huge Afro. But personality-wise, they were totally in sync. Goofy, ridiculous, loveable idiots.
“I could be a young Hugh Hefner.” Ryan strutted like a playboy in his terry cloth robe as they reached their assigned lockers.
Damian scoffed at him. “Please, boy. That’s pathetic. Aim higher. Like Bond, James Bond,” Damian said with a horrid British accent, trying for a sexy pose. A purposefully pathetic sexy pose.
“No wonder ya’ll never get laid,” Connor said, rolling his eyes. Matt even managed a chuckle.
They all shucked off their clothes, used to being naked in front of each other in the locker room. In fact, Damian loved to walk around nude, bragging that he had to prove that the stereotype about black men was true.
Not that Matt looked. Ever. He was way too careful. Thankfully, Matt had zero interest in his friends in that way. The thought actually made him shudder.
As everyone shrugged on their robes again, Matt considered asking Connor what exactly he’d paid for, maybe backing out of a certain happy ending. Because knowing Connor, he would have requested the prettiest girl for Matt . . . and it would do absolutely nothing for him. It never did.
His dick liked other dicks. And he’d hid it for years. Maybe if he thought about enough gay porn, he’d be able to get hard for the pretty masseuse. Then again, he could just tell her no thanks. She’d probably be relieved. Working at a happy ending massage place couldn’t be all that glamorous. Especially off an interstate in Alabama.
“All right, boys, ready?” Damian clapped his hands eagerly.
“This is stupid,” Matt said. “We’re not a bunch of sorority girls.”
“Dude,” Connor snapped. “I took a major hit for you the other night. My back is killing me. It’s either one of Coach Boyd’s lackeys works it out or a pretty lady does it here. I choose option B.”
At that moment, a discreet knock came on the door, and they were led to separate massage rooms. Matt hoped his room was last, so he could just bail on the whole thing, but the dang girl led him to his room first. His buds gave him thumbs-up. He wanted to die. The girl ushered him through the door.
“Just take off your robe and slide under the sheet,” she instructed before heading back out.
Matt slipped off his robe, wishing he’d at least kept his boxers on, but he couldn’t race back to the locker room without causing a scene. So he reluctantly slid his bare-ass self under the cool sheet. He lay down on his stomach, his face nestled in the cushion provided.
Long minutes later, a knock came. “Come in,” he called out a bit hoarsely. He kept his head firmly down. He could do this. The regular massage part would feel good, and if it came to more . . . well, he’d just pass.
“I’m Trevor, I’ll be your masseur today,” Matt heard, and he snapped his head up. Holy shit, it was a guy. And not just any guy, an absolutely gorgeous guy who he knew from school. Trevor Kim. Fuck. Fuck.
Because damn the man was hot. Asian with dark-brown eyes and almost shoulder-length jet-black hair, a piercing in his left eyebrow, and a thin tattoo snaking around his wrist—he wasn’t the usual type at Bodine College, which was filled with soon-to-be yuppies. Any ethnicity other than white or black was less than five percent of the student body. He was tall, just a few inches shorter than Matt’s six-foot-two frame, and toned but not overly muscled. And Matt was the asshole staring at him.
“You’re a dude,” Matt heard himself stupidly say.
“Uh, yeah, last time I checked,” Trevor said with a small smile. “Is that a problem?” He looked away, quickly pulling his hair into an elastic band.
Yes, yes, it was a huge-ass problem! Because worse than being massaged by a chick whom he wouldn’t have a reaction to, was getting massaged by Trevor and having a huge reaction. But he couldn’t exactly explain his predicament.
And why the hell had they sent him a guy? Were his friends fucking with him? Or had they known he wouldn’t want a happy ending? Maybe all the girls only did massages for men who wanted to get off, and the guys did massages for men who didn’t? Yeah, that made sense. Right?
Apparently, he’d been lying there too long with a stupid expression on his face, because Trevor looked down at his clipboard and said, “You requested a Deluxe Deep Tissue Athletic Sports Massage. Is that right? Do you want someone else?”
Matt let out a relieved breath when he heard it. “No, no, that’s fine. We’re all on the football team, and yesterday’s game was brutal.”
“Are you sure?” Trevor asked again, reaching for the doorknob.
“Yeah, totally,” Matt said with a smile, sinking back down to his elbows. He doubted a chick at a place like this had enough strength to work out his muscles. Actual massage skills were probably not their best selling point. But, damn, Matt needed it. He’d been tackled hard after he’d thrown that final, perfect pass in the game yesterday. “If you can get out the knots, go for it,” Matt added, trying to ease the awkwardness. “My back is killing me.”
Trevor gave a nod and set aside the clipboard. “Sure, no problem. Go ahead and lie back down, and we’ll get started.”
Matt stretched out on his stomach, placing his face back into the headrest opening, so he was now staring at the wooden floor below. Soft music began to play as the lights dimmed a bit more. He felt himself relax, his eyes closing. But they snapped back open when Trevor lowered the sheet to just above his ass cheeks. Then he felt Trevor’s hands lightly graze down his spine, then again with a bit more pressure. And it felt so damn good. Too good.
Trevor did this a few times, warming up Matt’s skin, slowly, soothingly, as if trying to calm a skittish colt. Shit, could the guy tell he was nervous? He’d never really had a guy touch him like this. Had actively avoided it for most of his life.
And then the warm hands were gone. He heard the snap of a bottle and the smell of vanilla and cinnamon floated his way. A second later, Trevor’s touch was back, smoothing massage oil across his shoulders and upper back with firm pressure, the heels of Trevor’s hands pressing down. Trevor started in on Matt’s left shoulder, working the tendon that ran to his neck, his thumbs stroking in circles, digging into the muscle, forcing it to let go and relax.
“You carry a lot of tension here,” Trevor murmured.
Matt just nodded, because he was carrying tension a whole lot lower too. He needed to fucking relax. So he took a few deep breaths, trying to will his body and mind to chill the hell out. Trevor’s hands moved along his shoulder, digging into his deltoids, and Matt let out a sigh of satisfaction. These hands were magical. Trevor wasn’t afraid to use a lot of pressure, and it hurt a bit, but in a good way. Matt could feel the knots releasing after a few long minutes.
“Pressure good?” Trevor quietly asked.
Matt mumbled out something that sounded like, “Mpftyeah.”
Trevor chuckled and worked Matt’s left side, his fingers massaging down his arm, pausing to spend some time on Matt’s biceps before going lower, eventually to his wrist and his hand. Oh man, that felt good. Trevor’s fingers worked the palm of his hand, digging into the flesh at the base of his thumb. Matt let out a small moan of approval and didn’t even care anymore. He was blissing out. He usually avoided massages from the trainer at school too—he pretty much avoided any contact off the field—but clearly he’d been missing out.
Then Trevor stepped to his right side and started his ministrations all over again. Matt closed his eyes, his thoughts going blank, his body and mind lazy. Eventually, Trevor’s hands moved to his neck and used long strokes upward to the base of his skull. Then the fingers kept going, sifting through the locks of Matt’s blond hair, massaging his scalp, and damn that was heaven. He let out another murmur of approval, not wanting the sensations to end, and Trevor listened. He used a bit more pressure, his fingers working in small circles from the base of Matt’s scalp up and out to his temples. Soothing with each motion.
Matt almost whimpered when the fingers stopped, but then they slid to the space between his shoulder blades. Trevor firmly smoothed his hands down Matt’s spine, digging into the lats, the wicked fingers doing their magic. Then they massaged the muscles at the base of his vertebrae, and Matt almost died when the fingers dipped into the dimples on either side of his spine. Trevor seemed to linger there. Delving into the hollows, fingers splayed out, spanning his waist, as if measuring him, caressing him . . .
And then the hands were gone, and Matt heard him shift to the bottom of the massage table. A second later, warm palms were lifting his foot and stroking along the arch, magical thumbs finding hidden trigger spots.
“Shit, that feels good,” Matt said.
He practically heard Trevor smile. “Reflexology. Parts of your feet correspond to other parts of your body. Like, that’s your liver,” he explained, stroking the inside of Matt’s arch. “So if you’re hungover after a party at Kappa Sig, rub there.”
Matt laughed. “You go to Bodine, don’t you?” he asked, even though he already knew the answer. It wasn’t like he could forget a guy like Trevor. They’d had Freshman Lit together. And they both took classes in the Math Department.
“Uh, yeah,” Trevor finally said. “You do too, right?”
Matt nodded. Did Trevor recognize him? Did he know Matt was the quarterback? Probably. At such a small school where football was the sport, almost everyone knew the players.
But Trevor surprised him by saying, “We had Freshman Lit together.” And that made a tremor pass through Matt, because it meant the guy had noticed him too. Back when Matt had been a freshman and a benchwarmer, before he was Bodine’s star quarterback. Back when they’d been in a massive lecture hall with hundreds of students. And Trevor remembered him.
But his bubble of excitement burst when Trevor added, “You threw up in the middle of the midterm.”
“Oh shit.” Matt groaned. Okay, that wasn’t exactly how he wanted Trevor to recognize him. “I— Yeah, that was bad. Sorry you had to see that. I’d overdone it just before class,” Matt tried to explain, feeling himself turn red in embarrassment. “Running stadiums in the crazy heat.”
“Ah,” Trevor murmured. “I always thought you’d been hungover and maybe nervous.”
“No, just some freshman hazing by the older players. They were total assholes.”
“Well, that sucks,” Trevor said.
Matt shrugged. When he’d become captain, he’d put an end to the hard-core hazing. The idea that it brought everyone closer together was crap. It just created bitterness and rifts. Not how he wanted his team to interact.
Trevor switched to his other foot, and Matt closed his eyes, letting his mind go blank again. Well, at least he tried to. Of course, now, he kept replaying that horrible midterm moment in his mind. But, eventually, he relaxed again. When Trevor started working his calves, Matt smiled at how much better it was to have a guy with strong hands massaging him rather than a girl with dainty hands. No one had to know if he requested a male masseuse in the future. This was perfect for his sore muscles.
Well, not all his sore muscles. One in particular still needed to calm the hell down, but at least he was now only semihard, the massage relaxing even his horniness. But then Trevor’s hands moved up to Matt’s thighs, kneading the tight muscles there. Matt stifled a curse, trying to count backward from ten, willing down his erection.
But Trevor’s hands were so very close to the part Matt secretly wanted him to really relieve. Yet they stayed strictly in the lower thigh-zone area, not inching up at all. He kept the sheet lowered to a modest level. Apparently Connor had been wrong about this place. No happy ending here. Would there ever be for Matt?
Trevor skimmed the sheet to the side, revealing Matt’s upper thighs and his bare ass. Matt sucked in a breath in surprise, but Trevor’s hands just boldly smoothed straight up his thighs and started kneading his ass like this was ordinary. And maybe it was. His muscles certainly liked the attention as they unclenched beneath Trevor’s ministrations, but damn, this didn’t feel innocent. And his erection was getting downright painful. What the hell was he going to do when Trevor told him to roll over? He needed to think gross thoughts—his grandmother, road kill, moldy cheese.
Matt breathed a sigh of relief when Trevor moved away, because he needed a break from the incredible torture. Matt heard him slick up his hands again with oil, and Trevor stepped back toward him. His left hand firmly palmed Matt’s left ass cheek, and Matt gasped. Before Matt could protest, Trevor pulled his ass cheek to the side so that Trevor’s oiled fingers could slide right along his crack, slicking it up and coming back to press a thumb firmly against Matt’s hole.
“Oh, holy fuck!” Matt yelled, shooting off the massage table, yanking the sheet with him to cover his junk. “What the hell was that?”
Trevor backed away, hands up, his eyes terrified, horrified. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“What I wanted? Your thumb in my backdoor! Why the hell would you think that?”
Trevor looked away and gulped, then he spoke very softly. “You asked for the Deluxe Deep Tissue Massage. Athletic style.”
“Oh god.” Matt rubbed a hand over his face, his mortification deepening. “And what is that code for here?”
“Um.” Trevor shifted uneasily.
“Tell me,” Matt insisted. He needed to know exactly what Connor had planned for him.
“It’s a handjob with a prostate massage,” Trevor admitted.
Trevor narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms defensively. “A prostate massage. You know that part inside your ass that—”
“I know what it is!” Matt snapped, cutting him off. “Fuck, they’re assholes! I can’t believe they did this to me. Wait, what is the ‘athletic style’ code for?”
Trevor actually blushed at that question and looked away. “‘Hard and vigorous.’ Sorry,” he added, sounding truly miserable.
“Not your fault, man,” Matt managed to say, realizing Trevor was just as traumatized as he was. “Don’t worry, I’ll kick their asses for this.” Matt yanked open the door, remembered he was still pretty naked, but decided, fuck it, he needed to get out of here. Now. He wrapped the sheet around himself and raced to the locker room.
Minutes later, Matt practically ran through the lobby, now dressed, and pushed into the September heat. He quickly made his way to the parking lot in the back and hurried behind Connor’s SUV. Matt bent at his knees, bracing his arms and trying not to hyperventilate. Holy shit. It had to have been a practical joke. He knew some of the guys had been pissed about his no-hazing rule. Maybe this was payback. But, damn, this crossed some serious lines. And he couldn’t believe his best friends would agree to it.
Needing to calm down, Matt crossed to the gas station across the way. He stepped into the attached convenience store and scanned the refrigerators. Soda, power drinks, water. Yeah, those weren’t what he needed. It might be the middle of the afternoon, but if there was ever a time for a drink, it was now. He bought the manliest beer he could find (which was asinine, but whatever) and headed back outside.
Alabama was a no-open-container state but screw it. Matt popped the top on the can and downed it. Hoping a slight buzz might dull the horror. By the time he got back to the parking lot, his buddies were heading his way. Rage filled him as he picked up his pace.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Matt snarled at his best friend, shoving Connor against the Jeep. Connor winced and held up his hands in surrender, but Ryan and Damian both laughed, apparently finding this hysterical.
“Hey, hey, I was only trying to help,” Connor pleaded.
“Help? By having a guy give me a handjob. What is wrong with you? All of you?” Matt turned to glare at Ryan and Damian. Their laughter faded, and they exchanged glances with Connor, uncertain.
Connor cleared his throat, looking downright uncomfortable. “Uh, it’s a happy ending parlor. We thought . . . you’d like it.”
“‘Like it’? Jesus, we could all get kicked off the team for this!”
“Well, we sure as hell shouldn’t be shouting about it in the parking lot,” Damian replied, looking around the very public place. If anyone walked by, they could get seriously busted.
Matt yanked open the back door of the SUV. “Sickos. I bet all of ya’ll didn’t have a dude,” he snapped. Matt didn’t wait for confirmation. He just crawled into the back seat and slammed the door behind him, wanting to be as far away from this place as possible.
His buddies wisely followed, remaining quiet.
A few minutes later, they were headed down the interstate, Connor driving a bit too fast. Matt stared out the window, thoughts racing through his head. Did they know? Did they know he was gay? They couldn’t. They’d never hang out with him if they knew. It had to have been a prank. A mean prank meant to freak him out. Well, it did. Just not in the way they expected.
Damian broke the awkward silence first. “Listen, Matt, we didn’t mean anything by it. You’ve been tense, cranky as shit, and we—we . . .” he trailed off.
“You what?” Matt practically growled.
“Fuck, I’ll say it if no one else will,” Ryan offered, leaning over from the front seat. “You need to get off, man. And we never see you with chicks.”
Matt felt his heart stop beating. Shit, shit. He’d gone on a few dates; he’d even kissed a few girls. He thought that had been enough. But, clearly, clearly, it hadn’t been. He was screwed. They suspected the truth.
But he was captain of the football team, and as his father had drilled into him, football was not a place for faggots. His father had used the slur casually, not having a clue that Matt actually was one. The hate, the bigotry, had been there his whole life. At church, at home. And Bodine was no exception. The Dean of Athletics had made his view on queers, well, anything liberal really, very clear. He was a God-fearing man and such sin would not be tolerated.
“It’s no big deal,” Damian said, interrupting Matt’s mental meltdown.
“No big deal?” Matt shouted.
“So you’re gay, so what? It’s, like, legal to marry and shit.” Damian shrugged.
“Yeah, we can be your groomsmen! I look sick in a tux,” Ryan added with a fist bump to Damian.
Matt squeezed his eyes shut. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening. How were they okay with this? It had to be a joke. They were trying to trick him into admitting something. But why? For their amusement on a boring Sunday night?
Matt opened his eyes and looked at Damian and Ryan, who met his gaze with reassuring eyes. They weren’t messing with him, they weren’t disgusted by him . . . they were supportive? Was this really happening?
And then Matt’s best friend since sixth grade pulled the car to the side of the road, flicked on the hazard lights, and turned to face him.
“Matt, I know your dad did a number on you,” Connor stated calmly. “He’s a piece of shit. And I know our church is not down with homosexuality. But I don’t care about that. None of us do.”
“I’m not gay,” Matt whispered, almost automatically.
“Dude, you are so gay,” Connor countered. “I saw you kissing that goth kid behind the gym in ninth grade.” He smirked.
Matt slammed his head back against the seat rest. One moment of weakness. Okay, a few moments. But the hot goth kid had so been his type, with black eyeliner and a nipple ring. Still, this couldn’t be—
Connor leaned over and punched Matt in the chest, hard. “Stop fucking freaking out. Only we know, okay? And it sucks, it sucks that you have to hide it. I know what your dad’s like, and look, I get that some of the guys on the team might—”
“Freak the hell out? The dean could take away my scholarship,” Matt managed to spit out.
“Yeah, maybe. Maybe not,” Connor said. “I think Coach might have your back. But, dude, you can’t go through all of college celibate. You’re . . . you’re, like, really unhappy, man.”
Matt saw the sincerity on his friend’s face. He and Connor didn’t exactly do heart-to-hearts. Mainly because they usually already knew what the other one was thinking without ever having to talk about it. They knew everything about each other—favorite foods, favorite video games, annoying habits, fucked-up family members, when to hang out, when to give the other one space. But, apparently, Connor knew Matt way better than he even thought.
“Hey, if it helps, I have a gay cousin,” Damian offered, breaking into the discussion.
Matt let out a surprised laugh.
“Smooth, dude,” Ryan groaned.
“What? I do,” Damian replied, with a shrug.
“And I have a gay best friend. No big deal.” Connor smiled. He nudged Matt again. “We cool?”
“Shit, I guess. I don’t know. Just drive, okay?” Matt said, trying to process everything. And Connor understood, cranking up the radio and rolling down the windows.
As Connor pulled back onto the interstate, the conversation switched to yesterday’s game. Matt took a steadying breath as he stared out the open window. His best buddies knew. And they didn’t care.
Matt felt himself start to smile. So, apparently, he was an idiot. For not telling them. For not trusting them.
And for not getting the handjob from the really hot masseur.
Read more at: https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-quarterback (just click the excerpt tab)
Mackenzie Blair is an award-winning screenwriter in Los Angeles who’s written for shows and films you’ve probably heard of. Mackenzie grew up in the South but fled the humidity for earthquakes, university, and a brief stint in finance. As a cynical idealist, she prefers to write happy endings whenever possible.