About First Bloom
Author: Sean Michael
Word Count: 22,500
Page Count (pdf): 94
Date Published: September 15, 2021
Publisher: Sean Michael
Heat Rating: 3
File Types available: epub, mobi, pdf
Joey works as a janitor at Dick and Rock’s gym. He’s been there since his parents kicked him out for being gay. He’s happy at his job and loyal to the men who were there for him when he needed them most.
Erik is a master’s student and competitive swimmer who started going to the gym after a hand-gliding accident. He’s trying to recover and get his mojo back.
Joey’s been mooning over the handsome Erik for months now, but hasn’t had the guts to walk up to him. With Dick’s encouragement, he finally approaches his crush. When it turns out that Erik has been watching him too, Joey can hardly believe it.
Join Joey and Erik as they discover what they can be together.
Joey put the towels in the dryer and set it on high before grabbing the spray and a clean cloth. The machines needed wiping down; they’d been pretty busy earlier. It was quieter now, though, like the gym often was during its last few hours in the evening.
He started with the cycling machines as they weren’t being used. He sprayed and wiped and sprayed and wiped, his gaze taking in the gym, his brain just wandering idly. Until Erik came in. The tall, broad guy had been coming in for months, working hard to recover from an injury of some sort, and Joey had been quietly drooling over him ever since. So good-looking, so dedicated.
“Why don’t you go over and say hi already?”
He jumped at the sound of his boss’s voice behind him. “Dick! Hi!” He cleared his squeaky throat. “What?”
Dick chuckled. “You heard me. You’ve been staring for weeks. So you should just go and say hi.”
“I couldn’t. I mean, I just couldn’t.”
Erik was beautiful—dark hair, green eyes that were like lasers. And he was so focused on making himself healthy again, strong again.
“Why not?” Dick asked.
Well, duh. “Just look at him, then look at me. Come on, I’m not in his league.”
“I thought that once. And then he brought me home and they kept me.”
Joey frowned at Dick.
“Just trust me. Go say hi. What’s the worst that can happen?”
That was easy. “He laughs in my face.”
“If he’s a nice guy, he won’t laugh, even if he’s not interested and if he does laugh, he doesn’t deserve you in the first place. So just go and say hi.”
He looked at Dick for a long moment, then nodded. Dick and Rock had always treated him well, taken care of him. Dick wouldn’t steer him wrong in this.
“Okay. Okay.” He clung to the spray bottle and the cloth and slowly made his way over to Erik. He couldn’t believe he was doing this. He glanced back—Dick was still there, leaning against the wall and watching him. Okay, so he couldn’t chicken out. He focused back in on Erik, who was cooling down on the treadmill.
Erik appeared to be worn out—red cheeks, sweat pouring, and deep lines on his face.
Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. He was about to veer off when Erik glanced up and caught sight of him and he was too close to pretend he wasn’t headed right for the man.
“Hey, man. How goes it?” Whoa. What a gorgeous smile.
He couldn’t help but smile back. “Good. I’m good. Looks like you had a hard workout today.”
“I think they’re all hard right now. You’re Joey, right? You work here?”
Oh. Oh god. Erik knew his name.
“That’s right.” He thrust out his right hand, realized he was still clinging to the spray bottle, and put it in his left hand, then held his right hand out again. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Ditto. This is a great place to work, huh?”
“It is. The owners are awesome.” They’d saved his life. “It’s a good place to work out too.”
“It’s the best place in town.” Erik gave him a tired smile. “I don’t suppose you could give me a hand. I’m a little shaky.”
“Oh, sure. Sure. Let me just…” He put his spray bottle and cloth down next to the machine and offered Erik his hand. “Maybe we should go sit at the juice bar and get you a smoothie.”
“Do you mind? I’d appreciate that, very much.”
Did he mind? Shit. He was over the moon.
“I’d be happy to.” He helped Erik get off the treadmill and offered his arm, really glad that he was stronger than he looked, thanks to Dick and Rock again, as Erik was leaning a fair bit.
He glanced over at Dick, who gave him a thumbs-up. His cheeks heated a little, but he took a breath and got Erik over to the little juice bar area, helping him into a seat.
“You want a berry protein blaster? Those are my favorite.” Sweet and tart and he could have a large one of those before going home and didn’t need supper, maybe just a little snack before bed.
“Sure. That sounds delicious and sweet. Thank you. Let me give you my card?”
“I’ll get this one.” He got a discount. “You can get it next time.” He held his breath, waiting for Erik’s response.
“Yeah? Thank you. That would be cool, man. You rock.”
He beamed at Erik. “Okay. You just sit there and I’ll be right back.” He went to the counter and ordered two large berry protein smoothies from Billy.
“I’ll bring ’em over when they’re ready.”
“Thanks!” He went back and sat across the little table from Erik. “They’ll be here soon.”
“Thanks. Really. I appreciate your help down off the treadmill. I was shaking up there.” God, were his eyes really that color?
“It was my pleasure. You need someone to spot you if you’re going to push that hard.”
“Yeah, I had an ex coming in, but he’s got a new boyfriend, so…” Erik shrugged. “What are you going to do, right?”
Joey winced. “Oh, that sucks. Well, I’m here a lot, so if you ever need help with that…”
“Are you? I know you’re off Thursday and Fridays.”
Erik knew his days off? That meant Erik had noticed him. He couldn’t help his smile. “I am. I could come in to spot you, though. I just live a few blocks over.”
Billy arrived with their smoothies, setting them down on the table. “Let me know if you need anything else.” He gave Joey a wink and headed back to the counter, leaving Joey with hot cheeks.
“Are you two…you know?”
“What? Me and Billy?” He shook his head. “No, I’m single.” He wanted Erik to know that up front. “We’re just friends.”
“Oh! That’s…that’s good to know. That’s very good to know.” Erik wrapped his lips around his straw and sucked hard, the action pulling his cheeks in.
Joey watched for a long moment, admiring the man in front of him. Erik was glad he was single—and he was glad Erik was single. That was a good sign, right? He was trying to decide if he should ask Erik out. Could he do that?