Nik isn’t looking for love when he takes a summer internship at Hot Shot Sports magazine─in fact, it’s the last thing on his mind–but when Tiernan, a handsome Olympic hopeful, offers a distraction from the stress of life, he has to decide if he wants to take full advantage, or if he’s just using Tiernan as an excuse to forget about his problems. After a disastrous Olympic trials four years ago, Tiernan is determined to stay focused this time around. He can’t afford any distractions, but the cute photographer documenting his Olympic progress might just be worth the risk. (M/M)
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“Is this what you always wanted to do?” Nik asked as he propped himself up against the ledge. Tiernan moved beside him. It was cooler in the water, he admitted, where he couldn’t feel the sweat. Water lapped at the edge of the pool, making a soft sound.
“I never really thought about it,” Tiernan admitted. His face was partially in shadow, the light blocked by Nik’s head. “It was the one thing I was better at than my sister. It was something I could win, something my parents were proud of. I guess I just got lucky and found something I liked.”
“Would you do it again if you had a choice?”
Tiernan licked his lips and smiled. “I would do it again and again and again until somebody stopped me.”
“Even though your family isn’t here?”
Tiernan’s eyebrows furrowed and he took a deep breath. Nik frowned. Maybe he’d stepped over the line of what was acceptable for two people who’d slept together a few times.
“It’s not about them. Sure, it’d be nice if they showed up, and maybe they will. Maybe they’ll come to the Olympics if I make it this time. I disappointed them last time, but I don’t plan on doing it again.”
Nik shouldn’t have brought it up. He looked away from Tiernan, back towards the hotel. From here, he could see the window into the gym. Most of the guys had left now, leaving an eerily empty room filled with exercise equipment.
“Does your family support your photography career?” Tiernan asked, splashing Nik lightly to get his attention.
Nik wiped the water off his face as he shook his head. “Not really. My brother says I shouldn’t go to school for something I could learn in a book.”
“Well, you don’t have to go to school for it. Lots of people don’t.”
“I want to go to school,” Nik said, maybe too aggressively. He couldn’t help it. “I don’t care how much it costs or if it’s pointless for this profession. I want a degree.”
He looked up at the touch of Tiernan’s hand to his jaw.
“Then you should get yours. Prove them all wrong.”
“Is that what you’re doing?”
Tiernan shrugged. “I’m proving it to myself too.” He had drifted closer somehow without Nik noticing. His entire face was in shadow now, but Nik could still make out his features. He saw the slight quirk to his lips, almost a smile. It made something nervous, excited, flutter deep in Nik’s chest.
“I hope you make it tomorrow,” Nik said after a second, feeling the way the water rippled as Tiernan moved closer.
“Me too,” Tiernan agreed, leaning in and kissing Nik.
His skin tasted like chlorine, but Nik was more focused on the slow slide of Tiernan’s lips against his, tongue darting across his bottom lip, gently opening up his mouth and licking inside. Tiernan’s hand on his jaw kept him from floating back involuntarily at the push of Tiernan’s body against his. It wasn’t a leading kiss, not hinting at more for once. Something stirred in Nik’s stomach, something unfamiliar but not necessarily bad.
He breathed out slowly when Tiernan pulled away, licking his lips slowly and meeting his gaze. Nik almost didn’t want him to go. It was a strange thought, unbidden, but he didn’t hate it. It was nice to talk to someone who didn’t judge, someone who listened, who could relate.