Apr 12 2017 12:00pm
L.A. Witt Excerpt: Back Piece
Colin Spencer is a tattoo artist with a past he’d prefer to keep a secret. Actually, he has a few secrets that he’d rather people didn’t know about, which is why Colin doesn’t do commitment. But when a shy sailor approaches him at the gym, Colin finds this guy pushing all his buttons.
Growing up in a conservative family, then escaping with the Navy, Daniel Moore is an unsure virgin who feels like he can’t share his true self with anyone. Seeing Colin—and his tattoos—at the gym are the sign Daniel needs to finally get those tattoos he’s always wanted, and maybe try his hand at flirting.
As Colin and Daniel spend more time together, their awkward hesitations turn into a deep passion neither expected. But with both men harboring secrets, will their relationship be able to survive their insecurities and become something beautiful?
Get a sneak peek at L.A. Witt's Back Piece(available April 24, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.
When Colin Spencer walked into Seaside Barbell on Wednesday night, he stopped so sharply his sneaker squeaked on the tile floor.
It wasn’t the ever-present smell of rubber, sweat, and metal. It wasn’t the godawful grunge playing over thegrunts, clanks, and conversation. He was used to the way this place smelled and sounded.
No, what stopped him in his tracks was the scenery, which had noticeably changed. Specifically, the new arrivals.
By the counter, holding clipboards and filling out membership forms, were five gorgeous men with high-and-tight haircuts and matching yellow NAVY T-shirts. They all looked a little younger than him—midtwenties, give or take—and . . . wow. Either they all had especially incredible genes, or they weren’t starting at the gym after months of being couch potatoes. They were all tan, all fit, all just mouthwatering.
Two of them glanced his way, probably wondering why he’d stopped and what the fuck he was staring at. He shook himself, adjusted his bag on his shoulder, and continued past them to the locker room.
As he changed into his workout clothes, his brain was firmly focused on the beautiful men he’d just seen. Apparently Seaside Barbell’s owners hadn’t been joking about poaching from the base gyms and somehow advertising to the sailors on the ship that had just come back from deployment. The owners were both retired Navy, so they had ample access to all the bases, and they were determined to pull in as many new members as possible from Norfolk, Little Creek, and nearby Naval Air Station Oceana. Which meant this place would soon be teeming with fit young men lifting, running, squatting . . .
Colin shivered, making a mental note to shake the owners’ hands.
You boys are doing God’s work. Keep it up.
After he’d changed into his workout clothes, he sat on the bench and leaned down to tie his sneakers. The locker room door opened, letting in the noise from the gym. Without thinking about it, he glanced up.
Just in time to see those beautiful men come walking in.
His hands stopped. His jaw dropped.
And bending down like this was about to get really uncomfortable, so he quickly turned his attention back to tying his shoes.
What the hell, anyway? It wasn’t like he didn’t get to see hot military men on the regular. This was Virginia Beach. Navy guys were everywhere. Half of them wanted tattoos, so they were constantly in his shop with his hands on them. Hell, once in a while he even got lucky and tattooed a hot, wild-eyed SEAL. In one particularly memorable case, a hot, wild-eyed SEAL who turned out to be a power top with an oral fixation.
Colin shook himself.
I really need to get laid, don’t I?
As he stood, casually adjusting the front of his shorts to be absolutely sure nothing incriminated him, he stole another glance at them . . . just in time to bust one giving his arms an appreciative look. He was exceptionally cute—kind of a baby face, even with the military haircut, and no ink that Colin could see.
And Colin hadn’t met too many straight men who’d watch another man in the locker room. At least not quite so intently.
The sailor’s eyes flicked up and met Colin’s, and he jumped. Turning bright red, he cleared his throat and looked away.
Colin’s mouth went dry. Either that kid was gay, or he had a serious appreciation for ink, or both.
Shaking himself again, Colin headed for the door. He didn’t allow himself to turn around and see if the guy was checking out his ass. He didn’t have to—the mirror gave him an unobstructed view of a not-so-sneaky glance from that blushing sailor.
Colin chuckled. Busted.
And yep, I definitely need to get laid.
At the front counter, Amanda, his ponytailed trainer, waited for him, her usual flowery smile belying the sadistic beast in hot pink yoga pants she really was. “You ready?”
“Ready when you are.”
“Good.” She tucked her clipboard under her arm. “Food log?”
He cringed. “Damn it.”
“Locker or shop?”
“Locker.” He pointed over his shoulder. “I’ll, uh . . . I’ll go grab it.”
She quirked her lips and nodded in true Amanda damn right you will fashion.
He jogged back to the locker room, pulled open the door, and walked in just in time to catch his red-faced ogler peeling off his track pants to reveal a pair of snug blue NAVY shorts underneath. Colin nearly stumbled for the second time since he’d arrived, but he recovered, and hurried to his locker.
As he dialed in the combo, he fought the temptation to steal another glance at the sailors. Especially one in particular. There’d be ample opportunity, he reminded himself, since it looked like they were all getting ready for a workout session. God help him if they decided today was leg day.
“Hey, um.” A quiet, almost shy voice came from behind him. “That’s some really cool ink.”
“Thanks.” Colin’s lock opened. He turned, and nearly jumped out of his skin. Oh, hello. “I . . . yeah. Thanks.”
The kid struggled to hold eye contact, but his smile was friendly. “Did you get those locally?” He paused, then quickly added, “I’m asking because I’m looking to get a tattoo.”
“Oh really?” Colin pulled his food log out of his locker and shut the door again. “I’m actually a tattoo artist.”
The sailor’s eyes lit up. “Are you?”
“Yeah. In fact, my shop is two doors over.” He gestured in its general direction as if that made any difference whatsoever. There were five businesses in the strip mall—his wouldn’t be difficult to find.
“Oh. Wow. Um.” The kid glanced at his friends, then cleared his throat. “Do you have a card?” He grimaced. “I mean, that’s stupid. It’s two doors down, so . . .” He put his shoulders back, and shook his head. “Anyway. If I wanted to talk to you about some work, do I just drop in?”
Sweetheart, you can drop in anytime you want to talk about anything.
“Yeah, yeah.” Colin smiled, trying like hell to play it cool. “I’m there until ten most nights. In fact, I’ll be there tonight after my session here. Which . . .” He held up the food log as if it meant a damn thing to anyone but him. “I should get in there or my trainer will make me suffer for making her wait.”
The kid laughed, and good God, that was almost worth staying in here and risking Amanda’s wrath. “All right. Um. My session’s right now, too. So, uh, I’ll come by afterward?”
“Sure. Yeah. Looking forward to it.”
They exchanged smiles—is this as awkward and embarrassing for you as it is for me?—and then went their separate ways.
Back out in the gym, Amanda tapped her watch. “Couldn’t remember your combo?”
“Uh.” Colin handed her the tattered black journal. “Just got a little distracted.”
She snickered. “Can’t imagine why.”
“Baby, I know you, and I saw them go in there.” She arched a pencil-thin eyebrow. “I’ll let it slide this time.”
She must’ve been in a good mood. Normally she’d tack on a dozen or so burpees or send him on a run around the parking lot just for the hell of it. Mercy was a rare thing when Amanda was involved.
She thumbed through his journal to the most recent pages, and looked them over. Colin’s throat tightened as he waited for her to comment. This was his least favorite part of his workout. Even the burpees and that stupid rowing machine had nothing on the weirdly raw, vulnerable feeling of having his eating habits scrutinized.
When the military guys, including the kid who wanted some ink, came out of the locker room, he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him. They couldn’t have known what she was looking at or why she required him to keep it in the first place, but he still hated even the possibility of someone catching on. Especially someone he was hoping to get naked.
“Okay.” She closed the journal, pulling his attention away from the new guys. “I want to see a few more carbs, and that should take care of you getting dizzy during cardio. And I’m not kidding—more fat.”
He gritted his teeth. “Okay. Okay.”
“I mean it.” Her forehead creased. “You’re not doing yourself any favors by going too lean. We’ve been through this.”
He nodded, trying to ignore the knot of shame coiling in the pit of his stomach. She was right. They both knew she was right. She’d gone to school for this—he’d hit the jackpot with a trainer who was also a nutritionist. In the long run, he’d reap the benefits of listening to her, no matter how much of a battle it was with his own damn psyche.
“All right.” She grinned. “Shall we get started?”
Colin exhaled. “Let the torture begin.”
Copyright © 2017 by L.A. Witt.
Learn more about or order a copy of Back Piece by L.A. Witt, available April 24, 2017:
L.A. Witt is a M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.