T.J. Alton is shy and reticent, living alone with a rescue cat after his parents’ death a year earlier. He rarely strays from his usual daily routine of work and home and back again.
Then he meets Devon Ryder, an outgoing, colorful, and ruggedly handsome man, with his own long list of emotional baggage. After a month of chatting online, the two men decide to meet in real life, and their first date is at a local Great Escape theme park in upstate New York.
As they discover more about each other through conversation and food, a connection is made. But will T.J.’s fears of large crowds and intimacy drive him back to isolation, away from the social circle of life, and the idea of starting a new relationship with someone special?
“I need to get over my fears,” I told Devon.
“I think that’s been accomplished tonight.” He took his hand away from my damp neck.
His palms were sticky from the humidity and melting snow cone.
“I’m glad you came,” he said.
“Given that we’ve only been chatting online for a month.”
“I thought it was time. Didn’t you?”
The lump in my throat returned. Anxiety was setting in. I bit my bottom lip, my molars grinding in the back of my mouth. “I’m glad you took me out of my comfort zone.”
“Which is where?” he asked.
“In a condo twenty miles from here. Watching TV. Cooking. Not straying too far outside.”
“Our late chats and your online profile yielded little about yourself. All I know is how much you like eighties detective shows, cats, and long walks in the night.”
“I also buy my own groceries,” I said.
“I do leave my apartment once in a while,” I said.
“Are you agoraphobic?”
I shrugged. “Part of me, maybe.”
“My skeletal Facebook profile should’ve raised some red flags.”
“What are you scared of?”
“People. Crowded places. Terrorism. Violence.”
“Why did you choose to meet here, at an amusement park?”
“Because you wanted to.”
He laughed. “No. Really. Why?”
“To face my fears, I guess. I can’t live in isolation the rest of my life.”
He slid his sinewy, hairy arm around my slumped shoulder, the hot, drifting scent of his masculinity blasting my senses. “You’re different than other guys,” he said.
“A lot, I’m sure. Most guys are social.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
“I was being facetious.”
He hugged me, tugging me closer to him in the already tight space. “There’s something special that sets you off from other guys. Your colorful personality, it’s refreshing.”
I stared into his earnest eyes and burst out laughing. “That’s the worst pick up line I’ve heard.”
“I sound like a big weirdo, right?” he said.
“You’re on the verge.”
“No. No. I’m just trying to understand what brought us here,” I said.
“I mean –”
He nudged me. “I’m kidding. I know what you mean. I think it was karma.”