on July 15, 2014
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"Love isn't rocket science. It's much, " much "harder. "
Determination and elbow grease propelled Greg London from blue-collar background to Ph.D. candidate. His single-mindedness doesn't leave a lot of room for a personal life, but that's the price of success. Besides, it's not like the boring nerd ever ends up with the hot guy.
Then his housemate, gorgeous undergraduate jock Marshall Sulkowski, invites him to watch a movie. In his room. Side by side on his bed. Needless to say, the sexual tension is wreaking havoc with Greg's focus.
Marsh seems to have it all-looks, charm, and a baseball scholarship to a great school. In reality, his father's cut him off, and he's floundering and desperate for a break.
One impulsive kiss leads to a red-hot affair that gets them a little bit of what they need to stay afloat. But as the end of the semester approaches and the pressure rises, Marsh realizes charm may have gotten him into his brilliant lover's pants, but he'll have to dig deeper to discover what they both need.
Warning: Contains housemates falling into bed with each other, a geek who needs a break, and a jock who doesn't know his own worth. Also, vague science and explicit m/m sex.
Greg London is a PhD candidate working his way through graduate school. After answering an ad to rent a room, jock Marshall Sulkowski finds himself living with men he thinks are better than him.
Both Greg and Marsh are stuck with the labels of their childhood; they bring these pre-conceived notions to their relationship each feeling unworthy of the other; Greg thinking he is a boring nerd and Marsh that he is a dumb jock.
There were times in this book my heart broke for Marsh; he often thought so little of himself when it was clear he has such a big heart.
Greg and Marsh were so tied into the stereotypes of themselves, they failed to see the connection they developed with each other. This book worked for me because it felt so true… two men who just can’t seem to communicate with each other. Two men stuck in their own heads, two men who dismissed feelings for sex.
The use of secondary characters in this book truly moved the story forward as both Marsh and Greg needed someone to point out what was right in front of them. Marsh’s friend Yulia and Greg’s friend Ronnie both made this story work, both pushed their friends to see the connection developing.
Marsh’s gestures for Greg in the end spoke volumes as the old adage is so true, actions do speak louder than words.
In the end, I loved how Greg helped Marsh see how he could be more. The love and support of another means so much, and Greg proved that to Marsh in spades.
This was my first book from Ms. Grey and I am looking forward to continue to read new books as she releases them.
Get What You Need Epilogue
“James Langworthy. … Carol Lin. …”
Good Lord. Marsh Sulkowski stretched his neck out, shifting it from one side to the other, only to have to scramble when he nearly lost his damn cap.
“Sorry,” he mumbled to the guy sitting next to him as he reached up to resettle the thing on his head. As he did, he brushed the tassel hanging from the mortarboard out of his face.
They were only halfway through the alphabet, and he was going stir crazy already. The dean was reading the names about as slowly as physically possible, and Marsh never had had the longest attention span.
It’d been long enough, though. Long enough to get him here.
He forgot his fidgeting just long enough to remind himself exactly where he was. This was it, after all. The moment he’d been waiting for and working toward for four and a half years. The moment he’d honestly thought would never come.
He was graduating. From college.
He’d literally thought he’d never see the day.
“Anthony Nelson. … Trang Nguyen. …”
Not that any of that meant he wouldn’t like to see it come along a little faster, mind you.
The girl on the other side of him gave him a dirty look, glancing meaningfully between his face and his knee. Rolling his eyes, he stilled his leg. He had a bad habit of jiggling it up and down when he was nervous or feeling hemmed in. He and all the rest of the graduates from the liberal arts college were packed in like sardines in the gymnasium. As annoying as it was to be getting the evil eye from whatshername sitting next to him, he couldn’t exactly blame her. His nervous tick was making his folding chair creak ominously.
And it just went to show exactly how much he’d changed in the last year that his first thought after that was to wonder what precisely the tensile strength of the shitty steel they made the damn things out of was, and how much of his squirming it would be able to withstand before it collapsed on him.
Not exactly a normal thought. But that was what happened when you were dating an engineer.
A slow smile crept over his face, accompanied by a warm tugging in the center of his chest. He’d been trying so hard this whole ceremony long not to look behind him, but ah hell. Who was he kidding?
Somehow, he managed to crane his neck around without bumping either of the tightasses to either side of him or losing his cap. His gaze went instantly, immediately to the first row of bleachers to the right.
God, Greg was such a nerd. He’d pulled out a button-up and a sports coat and a tie for the occasion, when Marsh had only just managed to be convinced that he needed to wear pants instead of shorts. (So what if the gown only went to the middle of his shins?) The guy had an actual, real-life bouquet of flowers in his hands.
And Marsh loved him so much it hurt.
Greg had gotten him out of the worst crisis of confidence he’d ever been through. Had convinced him to not give up on himself even when it had seemed pointless to keep going. Had opened himself up and let Marsh see all the vulnerabilities he was hiding beneath that brittle exterior of his.
He’d also ridden Marsh until Marsh could barely see straight that morning. But that was just a perk. The real wonder of it all was that he let Marsh be with him. Let Marsh love him. For the past year and a half. Hell, maybe always, if Marsh had anything to say about it.
“Stephanie Rutherford. … Paula Sanchez. …”
Marsh jerked his gaze away from the stands and back toward the podium. They were finally on the S’s. Which meant he was coming up soon.
He wiped his palms off on the slick polyester of his gown and readjusted his cap. At the cue, his whole row stood up, and Marsh swallowed hard.
The walk up to the stage passed by in a haze, and then he was standing there, at the top of the little flight of stairs.
For a second, Marsh’s knees didn’t feel like they were going to be able to keep him up.
But then he heard it.
They’d told everybody so damn many times not to clap for each name, but half the people here didn’t seem to give a shit.
Somebody was clapping for him.
He took a deep breath and his feet seemed to come unglued. One step and then another, and then there he was, standing in front of the dean of his college, accepting a diploma he’d earned, goddammit all. His eyes stung as he shook the guy’s hand and kept walking.
As he did, he took that one moment to look around. To sweep the crowd just one more time.
It was with a faint pulse of regret that he acknowledged, for real this time, that his family wasn’t coming. He’d talked to his mom exactly once since she’d confirmed what he already knew—that his bigot of a father had cut him off for being who he was. Bisexual. He’d sent them the graduation announcement that had been provided by the school, and he’d told himself he didn’t care what they decided to do. Burn it. Throw it away.
He hadn’t expected them to show. And it didn’t matter. In his hands, he had the proof that he’d made more of himself than good old Dad ever had. That he was better than his father had ever given him credit for. That he was worthy.
He quit his scanning and turned his gaze to the people who really mattered. The people who loved him. They were all sitting together in a little cluster beside and behind Greg. Yulia. His coach—hell, pretty near half of this year’s team. Ronnie and Jason. Greg’s parents, who’d come all the way down here just to see this.
If that wasn’t love—if that wasn’t family, well. He didn’t know what was.
“Oh God, would you stop it?”
Greg ignored Yulia as he kept on clapping. Who cared that they’d moved on to the next student? Marsh was still up on that stage, and he was looking over at them. Looking right at Greg, and the expression on his face…
Greg still couldn’t understand how he’d ever mistaken the way Marsh felt about him. The guy wore his feelings on his sleeve. You just had to know what you were looking for, and after more than a year, Greg was plenty well acquainted with the signs.
“I love you,” he mouthed.
On the other side of the crowded gymnasium, Marsh’s eyes went even softer, and he beamed.
Beside Greg, Yulia groaned. “I think I’m going to throw up.”
Without glancing away from the sight of Marsh descending the stairs back down off the stage, Greg gestured toward the right. “Aim it that way, please.” Away from him.
“Hey,” Ronnie protested from Yulia’s other side.
“Shh, this jacket is dry-clean only.” The khakis Ronnie was wearing were machine washable. Greg would know. They’d originally been his, after all.
Greg’s mom leaned down from the bleacher behind them to put a hand on the back of his shoulder. “You must be so proud of him, honey.”
Biggest understatement of the century. Greg would have been proud of Marsh whatever he had chosen, but the fact that he’d soldiered on and completed a degree that had been a genuine struggle, the fact that he’d followed his dreams… Pride didn’t begin to describe it.
And all that hard work had paid off. Marsh had not only finished his degree requirements, but he’d gotten that teaching certificate he’d been hoping for, too. Completed his student teaching, then landed a long-term sub position for the spring semester.
Best of all, the school had loved him so much, they’d offered him the job full-time for next year. He’d be teaching history and assisting with the JV softball team. Paying back his loans.
A task that would get even easier in a couple of months when Marsh and Greg moved into their own apartment together. Not that he wasn’t going to miss Ronnie and the guys, of course, but he and Marsh were more than ready for some privacy.
He twisted around to look over his shoulder at his mom, a soft smile curling the corners of his mouth. “You have no idea how proud.”
Fortunately, Sulkowski was pretty close to the end of the alphabet. Greg watched Marsh twitch and fidget his way through the last few dozen names, and through one last speech from one last old white guy. Finally, the dean stepped forward again and said, “I present to you, the Class of 2016.”
Greg put the flowers he’d brought down on the bench beside him and leapt to his feet. His hands already hurt from all the clapping. But fuck it all. He brought his palms together again and again and again.
The place descended into general pandemonium after that. Most of the baseball team drifted away as the stands started to clear out, but the core group of Greg’s parents, and his and Marsh’s friends stuck close to him.
So they all got to ambush Marsh at once when they found him, leaning up against a tree near the front of the parking lot.
Greg stood back and let them each have their turn. It felt good, watching Ronnie and his parents give Marsh hugs—and in his mother’s case, a kiss or three on his cheek. Even watching Yulia embrace him didn’t bother him anymore.
Still, he was more than ready when the rest of them stepped aside.
Marsh locked eyes with Greg, and Greg felt as if something in his chest released.
This man. This beautiful, amazing man. He’d taken such good care of Greg over the past year, pulling him out of his own head, and reminding him to eat and sleep. It was thanks to him that Greg had finally gotten his migraines under control. Gotten his research back on the right track.
Gotten his life back.
He still didn’t know what he’d done to deserve Marsh, or how a geek like him had managed to reel in such an extraordinary man, such a perfect partner. But he was past worrying about it.
Now, he was just going to enjoy it.
Everyone else moved off a little ways, and Greg gave Marsh a sly grin as he lifted the flowers from his side.
Marsh cocked a brow. “Are those for me?”
“Nah, just picked them up for some other incredible college graduate I happen to be in love with.”
“Good.” Marsh closed the distance between them. “Because I hate flowers.”
Greg faltered for a second. “You do?”
Rolling his eyes, Marsh stepped that last foot forward. “No, you dork. I love them. Gimme.”
Greg handed them over gladly, their fingers brushing as Marsh closed his hand around the stems.
“Congratulations,” Greg managed.
It didn’t matter that they were surrounded by a billion people, or that his parents were about five feet away. Being this close to Marsh still did things to Greg. Lit his body up. Made his heart glow.
“Thanks.” With that, Marsh passed the flowers off to Yulia, who’d somehow magically appeared at his elbow. Otherwise ignoring her as she retreated, Marsh reached in to grab Greg by the tie.
“For the flowers?” Greg asked.
Marsh’s mouth and gaze were both devastatingly soft. “For everything.”
Putting his hands on Marsh’s hips, Greg leaned in.
And then Greg kissed him. Not for the first time—not even for the first time today. Just for the first time in this new phase of their lives.
Their shared life. The one they were building, together.
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