“We need a run, like, yesterday.” Beckham Davis applauded and pasted a smile on his face. He hoped his enthusiasm would energize his baseball team. He loved baseball and couldn’t imagine being in any other sport. He’d played shortstop until his knees blew out two seasons ago. Instead of wallowing in his depression after losing his ability to play, he’d invested his money in the minor league team.
Through good and bad times, he loved his team, the Racerbacks. Today though, they could use a run and a win. He could use a win, too.
Payton Barr, his friend and one of the few people he allowed into his private box at the stadium, swatted him on the arm. “You know they’ll lose.”
“You’re not helping.” Honestly, he didn’t always like Payton and most of the time he tolerated him. Today wasn’t a good day for their friendship.
“Shut up.” His phone rang and he ignored the caller. He’d come to the game to relax, not talk shop or work.
“They’re terrible,” Payton said. “You’re investing in a losing situation.”
“Because you know so much about baseball. I’m investing in them and the team is growing. That’s how it works and I’m going through the proper channels.”
Beckham stood and stretched as he applauded the team. The carpeting under his feet softened his footfalls. He’d installed monitors to watch the team and keep an eye on his investment. He’d been smart about his money, sticking most of it into the stock market, property and marketing for the team. He’d worked hard to ensure he created financial opportunities and had reaped the benefits for himself—his own box, his own helicopter and three homes. But nothing he’d earned so far made up for what Payton thought Beckham lacked.
Payton snorted. “You were more fun when you were with someone.”
With that he agreed. “No kidding.” He wanted a guy in his life. Having the other stuff didn’t make him happy at night. He hated attending the games alone. It could get boring when the team lost and he wanted to share his time with someone. But most guys either wanted in on his money or to use him to get to the players.
He snapped his fingers and the valet brought a fresh glass of sparkling water. “Thank you.” Beckham had installed a machine in the luxury box to produce ice in the shape of the team mascot—a pig. He swirled the water in his glass and clinked the ice on the sides.
Maybe Payton was right and he’d invested in a losing team. He didn’t think they were that bad. They were young, yes, but not bad. Besides, they had a state-of-the-art facility on a par with those of major league teams, he paid for flights for the team instead of making them travel by bus and even paid the team a healthy stipend while with the organization. He made sure anyone injured was taken care of and their bills paid. He wanted happy players and ensured even the practice facility was top-notch.
But the team wasn’t currently winning. They’d been in a six-game losing streak.
How long would it take to start winning again? Did they need a better field? Guys to stick around long enough to help them? Most of his players moved on to the next level—good for them, but not for the team to win.
Maybe he’d spent too much money on his personal luxury box. But it was his money. Why not spend it on himself as much as on the team? He wanted the best when he watched the game and could afford it. None of the other boxes were carpeted or had valet service. None had specialized ice cubes or personal Wi-Fi. He even had a special staircase leading down to his personal parking area beneath the stadium and a dedicated tunnel out to his private helipad.
And why not have such things? It was his money and he liked his creature comforts.
Payton snorted again, bringing Beckham out of his thoughts. “You need a boyfriend,” Payton said. “And sex.”
“If you’re volunteering, don’t.” He wasn’t attracted to Payton. Never had been.
“Who said me? I’m not your type.”
“No, you’re not.”
“You’re not good enough for me,” Payton said.
“Shut up.” His phone rang again. He growled and checked the number—Demetrius Ford. Well, hell. He hadn’t heard from Demetrius in weeks. He checked the score. The team was still down by one run and with only one out, meaning they had a slight chance. He ignored the call and resumed watching the game. The team’s star outfielder, who was currently rehabbing his shoulder, struck out.
Damn it. People wouldn’t come if the team wasn’t winning. No luxury stadium or fantastic experience would make a difference.
At least there would be fireworks after the game. He always made sure the fireworks were the best possible.
“Do you ever wish you hadn’t come out?” Payton asked. “That you’d kept your mouth shut and kept your career?”
“I blew out my knees.” One too many sliding catches on turf had helped that along. Being gay had nothing to do with it.
“But you took a lot of heat for being gay.”
“I did, but many of the guys rallied around me. It wasn’t until I destroyed my knees and kept trying to play while hurt that I got into trouble. The fans thought I kept playing to milk my contract and the guys knew I did it because I swore I could play through it. I couldn’t, but I tried.”
He groaned. “Why are we friends? You’ve been a dick today and you’re always negative.”
“Because I’m good at being a dick. I tell the truth and keep you tough,” Payton said. “You got soft.”
“It’s not your job to make me tough.” Payton had no idea how tough he was or how he’d gotten there.
“I still think you’re a pussy. You could’ve been a great player if you’d kept your dick in your pants.”
“That has nothing to do with ruining my knees.”
“You blew them out sucking too much cock.”
Oh really? He opened his mouth to argue with Payton, but the crowd broke out into cheers and redirected his attention to the game. One of the runners made it all the way around the bases. Once he tagged up at home, the crowd cheered again. He checked the scoreboard.
Seven to five—the Racerbacks had won.
Beckham stood by the railing and applauded. He appreciated the win more than the team knew. They’d lifted his spirits.
Payton left his seat. “You finally got a win.” He shook his head. “You could’ve been in the hall of fame if you’d have kept your pants zipped.”
He’d had enough. Beckham moved away from the railing and into the shadows at the back of the box. “Say it again.”
“You’re a himbo. You sucked dick whenever you could because you have a problem,” Payton said. “You suck.”
Beckham grabbed Payton by his collar and pressed him to the door. “Say it again. Come on. Push me.”
“I can’t. You’ve pinned me to the door.” Payton wriggled. “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you handle the truth?”
God damn it. Payton had him on the edge of losing control and not in a good way. “I’ll say this once. I had a boyfriend while I played. Everyone knew once my wife divorced me that I’d planned on marrying Ryan. I loved him. Just him. Now get that through your thick head and get the fuck out of my life and luxury box.” He threw Payton against the wall and let go. Losing his cool was a mistake, but he hadn’t been able to help himself.
“Yeah, tough guy.” Still, Payton scrambled out of the private box.
Beckham bit back his anger. He wanted to throw something. To take his frustrations out and hit at anything. Fuck. He should run a few miles to cool down. That’d help.
He sank into his chair. He shouldn’t have let his emotions get the better of him. Not like this.
Ryan wouldn’t have liked him losing his temper this way. But Ryan was gone.
His phone rang again and he nearly threw the phone. He swiped to answer. Leave me the hell alone. He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yeah? This had better be good.”
“Wow,” Demetrius said. “Someone’s testy. Who pissed you off?”
“Sorry.” He massaged his brow. “Payton did.” He couldn’t remember if Demetrius had ever met Payton.
“He gets under your skin so you’ll kiss him.”
That was fucked-up. “No.” He wasn’t even sure what to make of the statement. “It’s messed up.”
“It is. If he’d just come out and be himself, he’d be a lot more pleasant to be around, but he’s determined to insult everyone who’s gay so he can punish himself,” Demetrius said. “Ignore him. Better yet, stop hanging out with him.”
“I know you know.”
He hated when Demetrius was right. “You called three times. What did you want? I’m at the game—now the post-game festivities.” Fireworks exploded in the sky and music blared. “I hate talking on the phone during a game in case the cameras focus on me. I don’t want anyone to think I’m not paying attention.”
“That’s admirable,” Demetrius said. “The first time I called I was trying to. The second time was an accident.”
“Are you still lonely?” Demetrius asked.
“Jesus. You’re not coming on to me, too, are you?” He’d had enough. “Or are you that worried about me? I’m not going to fall apart because I don’t have a guy in my life.”
“I’m with Todd, so that’s not a problem for you,” Demetrius said. “You should meet him one of these days. He’s a gem. A sweet kid.”
“Kid?” That didn’t sound good.
“He’s a couple years younger than me.”
That made a bit more sense. “Where’d you meet him?” He watched another bloom of fireworks light up the sky. He could use a few sparks in his life and not from a canned explosion. “I need to meet someone.”
“Funny you should say that,” Demetrius said. “The first time I called you, I had planned on asking you if you’d be interested in joining me at a club. Boys Club.”
“What is that?” He sighed. “What’s Boys Club?”
Demetrius chuckled. “While I’ve got you on the phone and before I explain, I’d like to set up a deal with you to advertise at the stadium. I wanted to work with you directly and didn’t want to forget before we hung up.”
“That’s easy. What do you want to do? What advertising are you interested in?”
“Some placards at the stadium, a special event day for my staff and maybe sponsoring a dollar dog night,” Demetrius said. “Something like that.”
“I’ll hook you up with my marketing people,” Beckham said. “You’re welcome to whatever you want to do as long as they can get it to work.”
“Good. I’m excited for this opportunity,” Demetrius said. “Perfect.”
“Welcome.” He trusted Demetrius. The man always made good on his word and brought in serious revenue. “Now about that other thing. Boys Club? Care to elaborate?”
“I do care,” Demetrius said. “First, it’s exclusive. Second, it’s not cheap.”
“Have you met me?” Money was no object.
“Thought I should put that out there,” Demetrius said. “Third, it’s a place to find your perfect match.”
“In a boy?” He wasn’t keen on the idea of dating someone too much younger than him. “I don’t do that sort of thing.” A few years younger, maybe, but not nearly half his age.
“It’s not that way. What I mean is that there are guys there younger than you, but still within your parameters.”
“I’m thirty-eight.” And too damn old sometimes.
“These guys are nineteen and up,” Demetrius said. “And they cater to your needs.”
“Like…how?” Demetrius had intrigued him. “In the bedroom or out? Both?” He wasn’t keen on dating a courtesan, but hey, maybe it could work.
“However you want them to work. We should talk about this in person,” Demetrius said. “Want to go?”
“Where is it?”
“Just outside of Cleveland. Fly up here and we’ll go. I bet you’ll find the one you want.”
Interesting. He did want to go, but it was getting late. “When? What time?” He was only forty-five minutes from Cleveland via helicopter.
“It’s already nine-thirty. Think you can make it here by eleven?”
“Deal. I’ll grab Taylor and fly right to your house.”
“I’ll let them know to light up the pad. See you soon.”
He hung up and abandoned his private box before the fireworks ended. Part of the luxury of having his own stadium was the access to the helicopter pad. He’d had the pad installed in case of an emergency, like needing to fly an injured player out of the facility, but the pad served the dual purpose of allowing him to fly out as he pleased.
He filed his flight plan via his phone, then joined Taylor at the helicopter. “We’re not heading home tonight. We’re going up to Demetrius Ford’s place and I’m flying.” He started going through his preflight checks.
“Yes, sir.” Taylor assisted him through the checks.