Four years ago, after winning Olympic medals gold, Justin retired from swimming, and he's been floundering ever since. For years swimming was everything, but his Coach waved him off once he'd retired. The Fourth of July finds him contemplating doing something stupid, so Justin calls up Coach. To his surprise, Chris answers.
When Justin retired, Chris cut all ties with the swimmer he'd fallen in love with, wanting to make sure that Justin didn't stay with him as a lover just because it was the easy thing. He's been waiting for a long time for Justin to come back to him, so when Justin calls, he immediately offers to let Justin back into his life, and into his arms.
When he finds out that Justin is lost, drowning in a pool of self-doubt and the belief that his happy years are behind him, Chris realizes maybe he made a mistake letting go so suddenly. He brings Justin to his home, and gives in to the urges they’ve ignored for a long time. Now Chris can love Justin, give him rules and structure that Justin needs. As long as he can convince Justin that it’s really love. Can Justin and Chris put the last four years behind them and find themselves a golden moment?
Justin sat on the edge of his balcony, feet swinging, a half drunk bottle of bourbon in one hand, his gold medal in the other. He could see the swimming pool, two stories down, and he wondered, not for the first time if he would hit the water if he jumped.
There was a party going on behind him, people dancing and laughing, celebrating the Fourth. There were fireworks going off in the night sky, blue and red and green and white and...
God, it wasn't supposed to be this way. It wasn't supposed to be empty and lonely and... He wasn't supposed to be worthless. He wasn't supposed to be sitting on his balcony and thinking about jumping. Was he?
"Jase? Honey? You okay?" Somebody whose name he didn't know came out, smiled at him.
"No. No. I'm just watching." Go away, leave me alone. Let me sit here.
He let the medal swing, the gold catching the light from the tiny explosions. It took a minute, but the little girl disappeared back into the apartment. He was so tired of lying. So tired of fucking everything.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket, opened it and dialed one on speed dial. Please, Coach. Just answer the phone. I know you don't have to, but please...
His eyes closed at the familiar voice and suddenly he couldn't speak.
"Hello?" He could picture Coach frowning as he said it, moving to check the call display, which Coach never did when he first answered. "Just, that you?"
"Yeah. Yeah. I. Hey, Coach." I miss you.
"Hey, Justin." Was it his imagination, or did Coach's voice get warmer? "How's it going?"
"It's..." He looked out at the pool again. He could probably make it. "It's going. Happy July."
Chris chuckled. "Happy July, kid. Feels odd, doesn't it?"
"Yeah. Yeah, it does." Everything did. Everything. "I didn't mean to bother you."
"If it was a bother, I wouldn't have answered the phone."
"Yeah." Chris hadn't answered the phone for the better part of a year, really, telling him it was time to move on. He'd retired, with four gold medals, two silvers and a bronze and, after two Olympic games, hundreds of competitions, thousands of races, and five shoulder surgeries, he was done.
No more sponsors. No more early morning practices. No more someone worrying about him. It was just this apartment and a job designing web sites for a shoe company.
"You watching the fireworks?" At least Chris wasn't in a hurry to get him off the phone.
"I'm on my balcony. You?"
"On the TV over the capital." He could almost hear Coach's self-deprecating smile. "I was thinking of heading out for a midnight snack."
"You always loved midnight pancakes." They'd eaten more syrup at one a.m...
"Like you hated our midnight snack attacks. The Denny's on Maple is open all night."
"I'm... I've been drinking, Coach. I can't drive down." Wait. Had Chris invited him?
"I'll swing by and get you. Those pancakes are calling my name."
"I... I'll be downstairs."
"See you in ten." Coach cut the line.
He slipped off the balcony ledge, heading through crowd in his apartment without a word. His roommates would deal. It wasn't until he was all the way downstairs and waiting before he thought to wonder how Coach knew where he lived.
Dark Diva Reviews
As always, it would not be a Sean Michael novel if there wasn’t hot, steamy sex and Golden ramps it up. Each scene left me breathless and energized, as I awaited the next sexual encounter between our main characters. A must for any lover of sexy men and the ferocity of their bond.
Justin is at the end of his rope, quite literally. As a former Olympic swimmer the dive he's thinking about taking now is not going to get him any medals. Justin is lost, without direction and hope. In desperation he makes a last chance call to Chris, his former swim coach. Unbeknownst to Justin, Chris has stayed away from him because Chris was in love with him. When Justin decided to retire, Chris felt the best way to handle it was to encourage Justin to search out a life, a life without Chris telling him what to do every minute. Chris had no idea freeing Justin would imprison him inside his own fears, worries, and feelings of inadequacy. Justin is wary, and Chris is shocked and distressed to learn that his trying to do the right thing, and give Justin a chance at a life on his own, turns out to have been just about the worst decision ever. When they get together will Chris be able to help Justin become who he was meant to be and believe in himself?
This is trademark Sean Michael with a "damaged" main character whose life has been put through the wringer. In this case it is an Olympic swimmer who, without that to anchor him, doesn't feel he has a value. Chris is the older coach who doesn't want to take advantage and who is really heartbroken to learn that the sacrifice he made has really backfired in an awful way. It takes a long time for Justin to feel secure, to trust, and to believe in himself. Golden, at times, is one sex scene after the other which sometimes doesn't work for me but here it is part of the way that Chris is helping Justin to release and to trust. It works better than you would think and it doesn't feel super repetitive. I really enjoyed both characters and the D/s tones were appropriate and never felt off. Nothing hardcore (Michael puts the sounding wands away more is the pity as we don't get them in this novel) in favor of allowing free rein for the men to build the relationship. I thought it was a very well done book that showed perhaps the negative of fame, nothing comes without a price. When the accolades are in the rear view mirror how do you validate your own self and chart a pathway that doesn't include what has been, up until that point, your very reason for existence?
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