Winter Wonderland (Winterhaven BK 7)

Winter Wonderland (Winterhaven BK 7)

Status: In Progress

Genre: Gay and Lesbian


Status: In Progress

Genre: Gay and Lesbian


Nolan both anticipates and dreads hotshot skier Lane Cassiter's annual appearance at the Winterhaven ski lodge where Nolan works. His natural physical attraction to the guy is offset by his internal disdain of Lane's bigot attitude. When Nolan is caught in the cross-hairs of Lane and his friends, a wager is made that might just get him the one thing he never dreamed possible - Lane Cassiter in his bed. But when circumstances arise that instigate Nolan to propose a counter-offer that involves both his and Lane's best friends, events take an unexpected turn that catches them all in a whirlwind of confused emotions and unacceptable realities.


Nolan both anticipates and dreads hotshot skier Lane Cassiter's annual appearance at the Winterhaven ski lodge where Nolan works. His natural physical attraction to the guy is offset by his internal disdain of Lane's bigot attitude. When Nolan is caught in the cross-hairs of Lane and his friends, a wager is made that might just get him the one thing he never dreamed possible - Lane Cassiter in his bed.

But when circumstances arise that instigate Nolan to propose a counter-offer that involves both his and Lane's best friends, events take an unexpected turn that catches them all in a whirlwind of confused emotions and unacceptable realities.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 20, 2017

Reads: 1225

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 20, 2017



As soon as the confession burst forth—exploding out into the open, never to be retrieved—Darren went rigid with tension, his fists clutching Rodney’s shirt. Both men were momentarily frozen in place, shock masking their faces. Todd’s pulse thundered wildly as he slowly looked around at the guests—all of them staring wide-eyed at the scene before them.

Oh, shit—shit! Todd knew by the stiffness in Darren’s body, the look on his face, that it hadn’t been his intention to out himself this way. Now he was caught by his own words; words that couldn’t be unspoken—or unheard by those standing by.

“Fuck…” Lane whispered unsteadily, his own shock plastered across his face as he looked from Darren and Rodney to Todd. Jude stood speechless, just staring at Darren. Todd didn’t know how to interpret his reaction, but he was the least of Todd’s concerns now.

Todd shot an anxious look at Drew who motioned to Nolan. They turned to the guests and began ushering them back toward the lounge. Jimmy, the bartender, joined them in getting the people out of the entry hall.

Rodney was the first to act and pushed Darren away from him. His facial muscles flexed as he clenched his jaw and picked up his bag, shouldering it once more. A distinct glimmer of tears glossed his eyes as he looked hard at Darren. “No you don’t,” he mumbled tightly and shoved past him, heading back toward the stairs.

“Darren?” Todd murmured and moved closer. Lane and Jude slowly approached.

“Why did I…?” Darren swallowed thickly, his voice shaking. He stared blankly at the floor as his hands crept up into his hair then gripped the back of his neck. He blinked and tears trickled down his cheeks, his eyes lifting fearfully.

“Hey…” Jude said quietly and hesitantly gripped his arm. “It’s okay.”

Darren stared at him uncertainly, tears draining out. His damp eyes shifted anxiously to Lane.

“It’s cool,” Lane whispered. “You don’t have to be scared.”

His chin trembling, Darren choked on a broken sob. “Yes…I do.” He backed away. “I’ll never…I’ll never stop being scared.” His arms slipped around himself, and he turned away, returning to the day room.

Todd watched him go, confused. Todd had his own fears to contend with, but Darren’s fears had a more literal feel.

“I guess that answers your ‘what’s up with Darren’ question,” Jude told Lane.

“Did you know…?” Lane looked at Todd.

“Yeah,” Todd whispered. “But not until today.” He glanced at Jude with trepidation. “What about you?”

Jude frowned, puzzled. “What about me what?”

“What do you think?” Todd stared at him. “Your best friend just came out of the closet…” Todd’s nerves wound out tight as his next question encompassed him and Lane as well. “Are you gonna be okay with that?”

What Todd could only perceive as amusement gleamed in Jude’s eyes. “Yeah,” he pursed his lips in a small smile. “I think I can handle it.” He stepped past Todd, pausing as he rested his hand on Todd’s shoulder and leaned close. “And when my other two best friends decide to come out, I’ll handle that, too.” He moved on by and walked into the day room.

Todd stood rooted to the floor, heart pumping furiously, eyes wide as he looked at Lane. “He knows?” he breathed out shakily.

Nodding slowly, Lane walked forward. “Apparently so.”

Uprooting his feet, Todd turned and followed Lane to the day room. Darren was sitting on the hearth again, his head in his hands. Jude sat beside him, hand on his shoulder, his voice low as he assured him everything would be okay. Jude looked up when Todd and Lane entered the room.

Todd met his stare briefly then took a seat on the other side of Darren. “What do you mean you’ll never stop being scared?” he asked quietly. “What is it you’re afraid of?”

Lane sank down on the edge of the cushioned chair and rested his arms on his knees. “We’re your friends, Darren,” he murmured. “You can talk to us.”

The guy was a whole different kind of scared than Todd and Lane were about coming out. Todd’s arm brushed against Darren, and he felt the tremors coursing through him; something had him fucking terrified.




“This is fucking rich.”

Tonya’s cold, amused voice halted Rodney in his tracks, just a few feet from his door. He looked over his shoulder, and she stood flanked by her two bitch friends—and a couple of Rodney’s friends as well. Though he was pretty sure Wesley and Norm only hung with him for the abundance of hot chicks and the parties. Like everyone else, they and Tonya’s clan obviously witnessed Darren’s little confession.

“So you were right about him,” she smiled. “Of course, you left out that teeny tiny detail about you being a fudge packer, too.” Her friends snickered and wrinkled their noses in disgust.

Norm—tall, black-haired with a decent body—stared at him. The guy had joined Rodney’s group just after the Hampton party. “Are you serious, man?” he berated. “You’re a fucking fag? What—do you love him, too?”

“Fuckin’ disgusting,” Wesley remarked, his hazel eyes dull with criticism. He was a few inches shorter than Norm with blondish-brown hair and a slightly thicker body that wasn’t entirely unappealing but could do with a few more trips to the gym. Wesley had become a permanent fixture in Rodney’s crowd through one the regular girls of the group, whom he had since broken up with. The girl was no longer hanging with them, but Wesley had remained.

“Were you thinking of him when you were pounding my ass?” Tonya smirked. “Is that why you didn’t want to fuck like a normal man?”

The events downstairs had Rodney’s head ready to explode and his mind fragmenting; he was in no condition to argue or defend himself. “Fuck off,” he mumbled stiffly and walked to his bedroom door.

“I can’t believe you of all guys are taking dick,” Norm scoffed. “You’re fucking surrounded by hot women who’d pay to fuck you, and you’d rather have some dude shove his cock up your ass? You’re fuckin’ sick, you know that? How do you think your sponsors are going take finding out they’re supporting a stinking queer?”

Rodney clenched the knob and shoved open the door, stepped inside, and slammed the door behind him. He was shaking, his heart pumping dangerously fast and hard as he ripped the bag off his shoulder and threw it against the wall, unmindful of the valuables inside. Fuck! He wrenched off his jacket and flung it hard across the room and paced the floor, chest heaving, hands raking viciously through his hair.

Because I love you—you stupid fuck!

“Fucking liar,” Rodney choked out through clenched teeth. The room distorted and shimmered as his heart tried desperately to grab onto Darren’s confession and draw it in deeper. Why! He screamed at his rebel heart. Why the fuck do you believe him? Why do you want him so fucking bad?! A broken cry burst up his throat, and he whirled around and punched the door, cracking the wood. Oblivious of the pain shooting through his knuckles, Rodney turned around and fell against the door, shaking. His head craned back, and he stared at the shadowed ceiling as warm tears ran down his temples.

Even if he wanted to side with his heart and believe it was all true…how could he when Darren had fucked him and dropped him in what felt like a single beat of his heart?




Lane was still reeling from the combined events of Jude’s not-so-veiled declaration that he was onto Lane and Todd, and Darren’s shocking confession that outed him before his friends and most of the guests. The guy was suffering the after-effects now. Though much more was going on with Darren than just a regret of his spontaneous actions.

Jude left and went into the restroom near the dining room and returned with a handful of paper towels. He gave a couple to Darren.

“Thank you,” Darren whispered hoarsely and wiped his eyes and nose. He cleared his throat. “I shouldn’t have...” He swallowed and wiped his eyes again. “I shouldn’t have done that. Not like that…in front of everyone.” His lips pressed tight and eyes started fill once more. “Outing myself is one thing, but…exposing him, too…” he closed his eyes and shook his head. “That wasn’t fair to him.”

“All you did was say you loved him,” Todd murmured. “It doesn’t mean people will automatically think he’s into you, too.”

It sounded good, but Lane knew better. So did Darren.

Darren looked at Todd. “If you didn’t know us, and you saw what I did…you wouldn’t think that maybe there was something going on between us?”

Rubbing his eyes, Todd nodded. “Yeah, I guess I probably would.”

Jude asked tentatively, “What’re you afraid of, Darren? Coming out?” He gestured at the three of them. “We got your back.” He squeezed his shoulder. “Friends to the end, man. You’re not alone. If you want someone to be with you when you tell your family or anyone else, we’re there.” He glanced at Lane and Todd. “Right, guys?”

“Absolutely,” Lane nodded.

Todd conferred. “You know it, bud.” His gaze locked with Darren’s and a look passed between them.

Lowering his eyes, Darren shook his head. “Thank you,” he whispered with deep gratitude. “But…but my family already knows.”

Lane frowned. “You came out to them?”

He nodded. “When I was fifteen.” He sniffed. “They’re cool about it.”

Jude stared at him, puzzled. “If you went as far as coming out to your parents, why not come out all the way, to everyone…and stay out?”

His green eyes shadowing with fear, Darren ducked his head. “I was going to,” he whispered and his voice began to shake. “But then I…I saw…” his throat worked and new tears formed, spilling down his face. “I saw a boy beaten to death just for…” his hand covered his mouth and he squeezed his eyes shut. “…just for being gay.”

“What?” Jude breathed.

Lane and Todd exchanged an anxious look as they both came to the same conclusion; Frederick.




Todd felt sick to his stomach. “You’re talking about Frederick, aren’t you?” he whispered with a tremor in his voice. Darren’s head sank into his hands, and he nodded.

“Who’s Frederick?” Jude asked, confused.

“Rodney’s older brother,” Lane explained quietly.

“What?” Jude looked at Darren. “How long have you known Rodney?”

Darren swallowed a sob. “Since my early teens.”

“Oh.” Jude was stunned. “I didn’t know Rodney had a brother.”

“He hasn’t talked about him since he died,” Darren said thickly. “I haven’t, either.” Anguish pinched his face, and his chin trembled. “But I see him every time I close my eyes.”

Lane asked gently, “Were you and Frederick…together? Was he your boyfriend?”

“No.” A shuddered breath fell from his lips. “He was my best friend. He helped me come out to my family. He knew…he knew I was in love with Rodney. And he was trying to help Rodney come to terms with himself, accept himself. But…I don’t know…he just couldn’t. He kept insisting he wasn’t gay. Frederick thought that maybe other kids teased Rodney for having a gay brother and maybe taunted him about being gay, too. But Rodney wouldn’t talk to him about it, or to me. We tried to include him in stuff, but he just called us names and didn’t seem to like us at all. It really hurt Frederick’s feelings that Rodney treated him that way.” Darren wiped tears from his face. “It hurt my feelings, too…that he treated me that way.”

Exhaling slowly, Todd murmured, “Darren…what do you mean you saw him beaten?” he swallowed thickly, his stomach hurting. “You were…there…when it happened?”

Quiet horror seeped into Darren’s eyes and he nodded. “We were hanging out at the swimming hole,” he whispered. “And three guys showed up. Older guys, in their twenties. We didn’t know them, but they knew Frederick was gay, and they started messing with us. When we tried to leave, they wouldn’t let us go. And they started shoving Frederick around, getting meaner. And…And it’s like…” he gestured absently, eyes distant and leaking tears. “…like I could see their hate coming to the surface. It wasn’t just…just bullying anymore…and I could see it in their eyes. They wanted to hurt us. Really hurt us.” He ducked his head and ran his hands through his hair, his body shaking as tears dripped off his face.

Nausea welled inside Todd, and he wrapped his arm around Darren. “You don’t have to talk about it,” he choked softly.

Darren sank against him, crying, and continued anyway. “They started punching him…then kicking him when he fell down…they wouldn’t stop…I screamed at them and tried to help him, but they wouldn’t fucking stop.”  He shook with sobs. “Frederick told me to run but…but I couldn’t leave him…I couldn’t…”

Lane cleared his throat and dragged his hand across his eyes. “Did they do anything to you?”

“When…” Darren shuddered, his face pinching. “When Frederick stopped moving, they grabbed me…” He trembled against Todd. “There was so much hate in their eyes…I knew they were going to kill me…I knew I was going to die that day…I knew because…because Frederick wasn’t moving…he wasn’t breathing.”

Jude’s breath came short and unsteady. “What stopped them?”

“Some people showed up,” Darren whispered. “And they took off. The people rushed Frederick and me to the hospital. I held him all the way there, begging him to be okay, but…but I knew it was too late. He-he was already gone. I just…I couldn’t accept it…not yet.” He broke down, clinging to Todd.

Lane covered his face, trembling. “Fuck, man,” he choked on a sob.

Standing up, Jude walked a few feet away, his back to them. His body strained as he struggled with his emotions.

“I went back into the closet after that,” Darren cried brokenly. “And stayed there. You don’t…you don’t know what it’s like to see that kind of hate up close…to know how much it wants to just erase you from existence. And…and to look it in the face and know…you’re going to die and there’s nothing you can to do to stop it from happening.” He shook his head, lips trembling. “I shouldn’t have told Rodney I loved him. I shouldn’t have let things go so far at the party that night, because I can’t…be out. I just…I just missed him so much and…and out there where no one was looking…in that moment, I felt safe…I just wanted to know how it felt, just one time, to let go of the fear and love him.” He straightened up and wiped his face with one of the towels. “I thought we were experiencing it together, but we weren’t.” He closed his eyes against the pain. “He wasn’t even there…not really.”

Todd slowly rubbed his face and swallowed thickly. “How did Rodney deal with his brother’s death?”

Shaking his head, Darren whispered, “He blamed it all on Frederick being gay. He said if he’d been straight, he would still be alive. He said…he said homosexuality was a curse…and that he would never be a faggot.”


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