When former tagger Eric hears a cute fellow student named Joel protesting to a woman that he's gay, Eric goes to his rescue and gives him a big kiss and hug in City College’s hallway.
Even though sparks fly between them, Eric doesn't expect any reward for saving the guy from being hit on in public, so he's surprised when undercover cop Joel asks him to become his pseudo-boyfriend.
How bad can it be for a former high school dropout, who's been to juvie more times than class, to pretend he's a cop's lover?
Friday was a replay of Wednesday with Joel as a no show. This time another guy, a little
older and lot bigger and meaner looking asked me where Joel was. If I weren't tall and
sometimes mean looking myself, I would have been intimidated.
"Don't know. Said he'd be here," I answered zipping my backpack.
"You give him a message from me." The big guy pointed a stubby, calloused finger at my
chest. I eyed it and then him. His stance adjusted, lightened, and the finger came down.
"What?" I raised an eyebrow.
"You tell him that Ian said the stuff better be there tonight."
"Ian who?" I added a frown for effect. "You threatening Joel?"
The guy looked a little scared, but stuck to his attitude.
"You just tell him." Then he turned quickly and stomped out of the room, almost at a run.
I was tending bar that night at Long Point, an unsubtly named gay bar frequented byREAD MORE
older men and women who like to listen to jazz and not club music. One of my favorite tapes
was playing with Ahmad Jamal and Dave Brubeck, the classics, when who should walk in but Joel with an older buttoned-down type.
They were both in suits and ties, not uncommon for the Point. The older guy had his hand
on Joel's shoulder and was saying something Joel obviously didn't agree with.
"Oh, shit," Stevie, who was working the bar with me, murmured as he placed a drink in
front of one of our regulars. "Look who just arrived."
"Yeah? And?" I answered. How did Stevie know Joel?
"It's William Greenbriar, and I'll bet the other guy's his stepson, the heir apparent," Stevie
said, looking at me as if I was stupid.
"Greenbriar of the pro soccer team? The owner?" I asked.
Stevie sighed as he always did when I was slow to catch on to something he thought was
"Yes, meathead. That Greenbriar."
"Huh." I was used to his slams.
He and I'd had a thing a couple years before, so I knew where his attitude was coming
from. He resented the fact I'd called him a dyspeptic diva when I'd broken up with him. I'd gotten
tired of him hitting on my friends and borrowing my clothes, trashing them, and then
complaining I was stingy because I didn't want to "share" them with him.
He was a hustler, and I wasn't into being hustled.
So the guy I'd kissed in the middle of the hallway at City College might be the heir to the
Greenbriar soccer franchise. Huh. What else could I say or think?
Not only did this news make me more curious and deeper in the dark about what had
been going on, but it made me back off. I definitely didn't need a new diva in my life, no matter
how much I wanted him below the belt.
I didn't think he and his old man had seen me yet, and I was wondering how and why
they'd wandered into the Point when Charlie, our boss, came out to give me a break. As he tied
one of the bar aprons on, he tossed me his keys and said he'd left me a sandwich on his desk.
"Take your whole break, kid," he added. "Do some of your homework. We're fine out
I grinned at him, then looked up to see Joel staring at me. The older man, his maybe
stepfather, was talking a mile a minute, staring off at the foyer, not noticing he'd completely lost
his maybe stepson.
I nodded at Joel, then at Charlie, and hurried to the back, not knowing what to think. Why
were they here? Far as I knew they'd never been in the Point before.
True, the Point was a respectable gay bar, not a dive or dump. But still, really rich people
didn't usually drink here. So what was up?
A Kiss in Time is certainly an unusual twist on the fake boyfriend trope. Joel is an undercover narcotics cop posing as a college student where Eric just started classes. To maintain his cover, he asks Eric, whom he just met, to pose as his boyfriend. It works well because they’re both older students around thirty years old. If Eric agrees, the police department will give them a snazzy loft rent-free so they can live together. Additionally, Eric would be granted the use of the walls of a downtown building to use for painting murals. Eric is a high school dropout and was twice in juvie for tagging, but he maintains a dream of becoming a respected street artist. Joel’s sexy looks almost have Eric convinced to agree, but the walls seal the deal.
My one complaint is the lack of any on-page romance or sexy times. The sexual part of the relationship can be summed up in one sentence: “We’d kissed, fucked, and then decided we’d hit a crossroads.” An extra five pages could’ve been dedicated to developing the relationship, exhibiting some emotions between Eric and Joel so we could see their progression toward love, and gifting us with a nice steamy scene. I’d even be okay without the steamy scene if the emotions were more developed.
I generally don’t care for short stories but this is an exception. I really enjoyed A Kiss in Time – it’s a cute story with likable main characters, an intriguing storyline, and a snappy pace. I would love to see it fleshed out as a novella or full-length novel. This is one short I happily recommend.