Phil Mitchell pours his heart and soul into his job as manager of Speedy Mart, a local convenience store. He loves his work and he loves his fellow employees, but when it comes to his personal life, Phil is lonely and depressed and still pining for his long-departed ex.
He embarks upon the week from hell where anything that can go wrong does. It begins with a truck crashing into his outdoor sign and only goes downhill from there.
Add an asshole homophobic boss hell bent on seeing him fired and Phil realizes he needs to put into place a plan to save himself and his job.
First step in his plan… do something about his love life.
Meanwhile, Ezra, one of Phil’s team members, is dealing with his own roller coaster ride of a week.
As is Brandon, the local cop…
And Mark, the homophobic boss…
Perhaps, with a little… luck, the next week will be better.
Esdras Manuel Covington, aka Ezra, smiled as he slid behind the wheel of his 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix.
“Bitch, you better start,” he said in his most sincerely threatening voice as he slid the key into the ignition. As he turned the key, the engine chugged to life, sluggishly at first, until he depressed the gas pedal, revving the motor.
Ezra about jumped out of his skin. His head snapped toward the passenger sideof the car where two palms pressed against the window. The smiling face of a familiar customer beamed between the outstretched hands.
He powered down the window. “Jesus Christ, Jeremy! You scared the fuck outta me.”
The twenty-something he-man grinned mischievously, the corners of his mouth curled upward as his lips peeled back to reveal a row of gleaming white teeth. “Yo motherfucka. Wassup?” With his forearms resting against the ledge, he leaned in. “You off work, man?”
“Yeah, I just got out.”
“I got something,” Jeremy said, lowering his voice. “Special fucking delivery.”
Ezra straightened his posture just a bit and raised his eyebrows. “Dude, that was fast.” He jerked his head slightly, motioning for Jeremy to get in the passenger seat.
Jeremy stood about six foot three inches with broad shoulders and the build of a bouncer. Actually, he did work as a bouncer on the weekends at some nearby club. Of course, that wasn’t his main gig. He also worked security at the Fashion Warehouse, a women’s clothing outlet in one of the nearby strip malls. He definitely put the “body” in “bodyguard”, with his rippling, muscular pecs and abs, and bulging biceps.
“Gonna pull around back,” Ezra said as Jeremy adjusted the seat, sliding it back to accommodate his long legs. “Dude, I didn’t expect you to deliver so quick.” He shifted into gear and backed out of his parking space then pulled around to the rear of the building.
“I told ya, man. I’m hooked up.” He slid his hand into the pocket of his leather jacket and pulled out a baggie.
Ezra parked where he could clearly see if any other vehicles were approaching, but made sure he was not in plain sight of the Speedy Mart patrons. “I… uh….” He turned to face his friend. “Man, I don’t get paid till tomorrow. I had the cash, but….”
Jeremy’s smile never faded, and with a shrug he tossed the bag of weed into Ezra’s lap. “I know you’re good for it, man. You won’t be playin’ me.”
“Dude, this is like… man, you don’t gotta trust me.”
“Oh, I don’t trust nobody.” He reached into the inner chest pocket of his jacket and removed a pack of Marlboro Reds, flicked one out, and seized it with his lips. He fired it up with a Bic then released a stream of smoke out the open window. “Never said I trusted you. I said I know you’re good for it.”
“Oh. Well, thanks.”
Again, he shrugged. “That’s what friends are for, right? You scratch my back, I scratch yours.”
“Right.” Ezra nodded then stared down at the dope. “This ain’t no eighth,” he said.
“Quarter,” Jeremy said. “Consider it a blue-light special. Since you’re a first-time customer, ya know.”
Ezra grinned. “Really? So, it’s like, same price?”
“Pretty much.” He turned in his seat, not just tilting his head, but shifting his entire upper body, and placed his fingertips against Ezra’s cheek. “Of course, it’d be cool if you—ya know—expressed your gratitude.” He patted, then gently slapped, the cheek a couple times, staring into Ezra’s eyes.
Ezra’s heartbeat quickened as his gaze locked onto Jeremy’s. Though he wanted to speak, to reply in the affirmative, he suddenly couldn’t find his voice. So he simply nodded.
Jeremy slid back, reaching down to locate the control to recline the seat. Ezra stared at his long legs, now spread, and the sight triggered a ripple of fluttering in his own lower abdomen. A familiar tingling, undoubtedly operant conditioning. Jeremy didn’t have to be more specific or cajole him in any way. Ezra already knew. He sensed what Jeremy was after. He could feel it in his gut.
He slid a slightly trembling hand onto Jeremy’s thigh.
Jeremy’s laugh alone could have seduced Ezra, low and sultry. Evil? Well, at least tempting. He took a long drag from his cigarette and then flicked it out the window before settling back in the seat and unbuttoning his fly.
It felt like a dream or a movie, certainly not real. Ezra had chatted with Jeremy numerous times in the store. They’d established a rapport, which in turn had facilitated the transaction that just transpired. Though Ezra at times allowed himself to get overly flirty, he’d never deliberately come onto Jeremy. To Ezra’s knowledge, he’d offered Jeremy no clue of his orientation.
“I knew a joint wasn’t the only thing you liked to smoke,” Jeremy teased.
Ezra slid his hand farther up Jeremy’s inner thigh. “No. I like a nice fat blunt occasionally.”
Another bout of rumbly laughter escaped Jeremy’s throat as he looked into Ezra’s eyes. “I definitely got a fat one for ya, boy. You have such soft, pouty lips.” He extended his arm, pressing against Ezra’s mouth with his index finger. Ezra parted his lips and sucked in the digit, barely an inch then slowly retracted.
“Aw, fuck yeah,” Jeremy moaned.
Ezra felt the throb of a growing bulge beneath the fabric of Jeremy’s cargos. His pulse pounded, throbbing in conjunction with his own hard-on. He shifted in his seat, maneuvering his position to work around the gearshift, and carefully unzipped Jeremy’s fly.
When I first read the blurb for this story, I was intrigued. It sounded like a nice little story about a store manager of a Speedy Mart who found love all the while dealing with a week from hell. It was that, but it was much more. For those readers who don’t like multiple points-of-view in a story, this would not be the book for you. Of twenty-six chapters, Phil, the “main” character’s point-of-view, is featured in less than half of them. I thought doing alternating points-of-view per chapter was brilliant!
This was much more than a love story. It was a snapshot, actually a short film featuring the lives of several employees of a gas station, and some of their customers. The characters are multidimensional, from different walks of life, socio-economic backgrounds, and at different stages in their personal development. Some I hated at first and ended up really liking. Others, I liked and ended up rolling my eyes at them and yelling at them to grow up.
There is a multitude of different types of gay people in this story, which is refreshing and extraordinary. A reader, whoever she/he may be, should be able to relate to at least one of the characters, as well as learn about how other “types” tick.
Most of the characters evolve and change throughout the telling, but some don’t. For me personally, those who didn’t change, I wanted to throw myself into the digital world and slap them.
I noticed a very few missing words/grammar/ spelling issues. But nothing major, and it didn’t take me out of the story… not in the least!
Now, if you were worried that the story was taking on too much, and therefore would be lacking in sex scenes, you would be wrong! There is lots of sex in this book. The language, at points, was a bit (okay, a lot) crude, but I could live with it because the situation, and the characters, called for that kind of language.
The book has been so enjoyable that I’ve read it twice already. I plan to read it again. It’s complex enough for readers who enjoy rereading books to get something new out of it each time. That is a big plus for me.
I give this wonderful story 5 stars!
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About the author
JEFF ERNO began writing LGBT fiction in the late 1990s. Although an avid reader and amateur writer from a very young age, Jeff pursued a career as a retail store manager in Northern Michigan. When his first gay-themed novel was published, he was shocked that anyone would even want to read it. So far, he’s published over thirty novels. Jeff lives in Southern Michigan, where he works part time at a convenience store.
Jeff’s writing credits include a variety of themes and sub-genres including male romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, erotica, and BDSM. He is the winner of a 2012 Rainbow Award and an Honorable Mention in 2011. His style is unpretentious and focused upon emotionally-driven, character-based stories that touch the heart. Jeff is especially passionate about young adult literature and combating teen bullying and youth suicide.