Casey’s wavey chestnut-colored hair and big brown eyes made him impossible to miss. Being a popular athlete with a scholarship at the university made him the all-star everyone admired. But despite the attention, he always remained a loner and preferred disappearing into his writing and books rather than playing sports or dating. His true passion was romance stories with sexy leading men, adorable cute-meets, and especially torrid romances.

Casey secretly feared that he’d never meet the man of his dreams. With so many people in this world, what were his chances of meeting Mr. Right? Would he be single forever?

In his desperation to have his own fairy tale romance, he began writing stories about how he hoped love would find him one day.

A few years later, Casey published his stories in a collection in hopes of making a living as a writer. Much to his surprise, they developed a modest following, and the book’s unexpected popularity soon brought him a publisher as well as new opportunities.

The annual Gay Romance Literature Retreat would take place in St. Louis this year, and his publisher suggested he attend it to sign books and meet his fans. Fans? It seems weird that people are fans of mine. He knew people bought his books, but actual fans?

Though hesitant, he agreed to attend the convention. However, Casey was less interested in signing his books and more interested in hopefully catching a glimpse of the authors he read over the years and grew to admire.

Arriving at the hotel was overwhelming. The magnitude of the event was beyond expectation. Giant posters adorned the walls, large impressive booths, tables, and displays for books and the authors that write them.

Wow, do I really belong here with all these talented novelists?

Casey decided best not to think about it. Why psych himself out and let his insecurities get the best of him. Instead, he decided to just focus on checking in and getting comfortable. In the distance, next to the elevator, hung a sign advertising a pool, spa, and weight room.

A hot whirlpool sounded awesome now. First things first, drop off the bags and unpack, then hit the sauna.

Casey entered the elevator and pressed his floor. As the doors closed, a voice called out, “Hold the elevator!” Quickly he pushed the “stay open” button, thwarting the doors’ attempt to close on the stranger rushing to get in. “THANKS!” the man said as he stepped inside with a smile. Casey didn’t reply. Not because he didn’t want to, but because the young man who entered rendered him speechless. At about thirty years old, this guy was clearly in the prime of his physical prowess. His piercing green eyes were the perfect complement to his long chestnut hair. The man sported worn, tight jeans, a black muscle tee-shirt. Nothing about his wardrobe was expensive, but the fit on his sculpted, athletic body made it spectacular.

Casey didn’t believe in love at first sight, but this man was making him re-assess that belief.

The elevator was slow, so the ride up to his floor gave them a bit more time together. Casey attempted not to be too obvious as he eyed the stranger up and down. What to look at first? His spectacular ass, his muscular arms, or his perfectly kissable lips?

Should I say something? Hello, are you visiting? Where are you from? Na, too weird. People like their privacy. How creepy if I try to pick him up in an elevator and do so by interrogating him?

By the time Casey gathered the courage to speak, the elevator had stopped, and the door opened. “Later, bro,” the tall, beautiful visitor quipped before disappearing down the hallway to his room.

DAMN IT. I should have said SOMETHING! UGH! Casey hoped he’d once again cross paths with this sexy stranger over the next few days.

Back in his room, he was quick to unpack. His goal was to prevent things from wrinkling and get to the sauna asap. Just as he finished and reached for the door, a call from his publisher to discuss the details of his book signing schedule tomorrow kept him on the phone.

Twenty minutes later, things were all sorted. Casey made haste to slip on his trunks and head to the spa.

Once behind the frosted doors of the sauna, a wall of inviting, warm steam engulfed his weary body. The thick mist made it difficult to see, but the landscape was clear enough to see the giant inviting whirlpool before him. As Casey’s eyes adjusted to the light and steam, he could make out the figure of a muscular man getting out of the whirlpool. The man had long wet hair draped over his shoulders as he casually dried the rest of his defined, sculpted body. Was it the heat from the sauna or the sight of the stranger before him that made him light-headed? Damn his publisher and that stupid phone call! Thirty minutes earlier and the two men would have been in the warm water together.

As Casey approached, the man began to leave. He could see it was the stud from the elevator. His handsome face sported a smile that left Casey speechless as he exited through the frosted glass doors.

Should I run into the lobby and talk to him? How weird would it be if I dashed out in my swim shorts after him? Another opportunity missed!

Casey knew that if he went in the whirlpool now, his mind would drift to the spectacular specimen of manhood that just left the spa. Better to take an icy cold shower and rid the smoking hot stud from his mind, then head to his room to get a good rest for tomorrow.

The next day, he was part of was an all-day event. It was authors’ day. A day that featured both established, successful authors and young upstarts like himself, it was an exhibition that would draw impressive crowds.

I’m curious if anyone will come to my table for my signature and to buy my book? He wondered,

concerned that he’d look foolish as he sat at his booth alone. Do I need anything? Books, pens, water? Nope, everything’s supposed to be there, ready for me at my table.

Casey grabbed his backpack and slipped his new favorite book inside. It was from his latest favorite author, JT Singer. JT was a new writer on the scene and the talk of the convention. Casey wasn’t usually the kind of person who fawned over writers he admired, but his particular writing style spoke to him in a way that no author had before. So it was little wonder that JT’s book was on several “best sellers” lists.

Casey grabbed the book with the hopes of visiting the author’s table and getting it signed.

As Casey made his way down the hallway, he could see people packing themselves into the nearby elevator to get to the lobby.

Better catch this one before it gets too full, and I miss my time slot!

“Please hold the door!” Casey yelled as he rushed to get in. The doors buckled open. The crowded elevator made it difficult to fit, but he managed to squeeze in. Much to his surprise and at his right was the stud from the spa last night. Casey looked down to see the man’s finger pressing the “open” button.

“Thanks,” Casey smiled, trying not to look too excited to see him.

“You held it for me yesterday. So I’m just returning the favor,” the man replied with a wink.

Casey pondered his next move. He couldn’t let this stud get away again!

Should I say something clever? A packed elevator wasn’t the place to flirt with a person you didn’t even know. Best to just be cool. Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity again in a place more discrete, he decided. The elevator doors then opened, and the man of his dreams walked away.

Three strikes, and I’m out! Casey signed in a defeated breath. You had three opportunities, and you missed them all. UGH! He was disappointed in how he handled himself, but there was no time to sulk at the loss.

From a distance, Casey could see a large crowd forming at this table. Could it be that people are waiting for me to sign my book? ME?

Now excited, he rushed to his seat behind the stack of books to greet the fans.

The next hour was a blast. Adorning fans familiar with every detail of his last four books regaled him with personal tales about how much his writing meant to them. Casey was surprised at what a wonderful time he was having. What fun this is! He grinned. Everyone’s so lovely and excited to talk with me about my work!

The line grew shorter, and his time came to an end. Only a few fans remained on his line amidst the crowded room. He signed what seemed to be an endless number of books in the last hour. Casey’s signing hand was sore, but he was not complaining. Instead, he was thrilled and flattered by all the attention.

The last person in the line finally stepped up for an autograph. Without looking up, Casey prepared his pen to sign the book, “Hello, thanks for waiting. Who should I make the signature out to?” The voice replied, “JT, please…” His sexy, deep voice instantly interested Casey. Who’s the hottie with the baritone voice? Before he could look up, the man continued, “I hate to sound like a weirdo fanboy, but I wanted you to know that your books inspired me to be a writer.”

Casey’s heart jumped as he held out the signed book to the man standing before him. It was his crush from the elevator and sauna.

“Since you just signed my book, you know my name’s JT…  JT Singer,” The man told him with a disarmingly seductive look.

Casey sat frozen as he looked deep into his eyes. THE JT SINGER? MY DREAM MAN OVER THE PAST TWO DAYS and my favorite author?

Casey reached into his backpack and pulled out his copy of JT’s book. “My whole afternoon was set aside to wait in line to have you sign this. You can’t be a fan of mine; I’m a fan of yours!”

JT chuckled, “Why couldn’t we be fans of each other’s?”

Casey bashfully conceded that it was indeed possible, although implausible.

JT took Casey’s book and placed it in front of him. He playfully apologized, “I’d love to sign the book for you, but I’m sorry, I don’t have a pen.”

Casey innocently didn’t miss a beat. “Here, I have one!” He extended his hand to give him one.

JT laughed as he politely refused it. “Thank you, but no thanks. I have a pen in my room that I’d prefer to use. Maybe if you bring the book up to my room later tonight, after this is all over, I could properly sign it?”

Casey now was wise to JT’s innuendo. He was aware that this hunk was his for the taking later that evening, but he decided that he wasn’t taking any more chances after letting him slip away three times prior.

Casey flirtatiously smiled as he replied, “Fine, I’ll wait for the book to be signed later, but this, I can’t wait for….” He stood up and rushed around the table. Then, without hesitation, he took JT in his arms and kissed him. JT was pleasantly surprised at Casey’s bold advances. A group of fans watched with delight.

JT laughed, “Hey, since this is a romance convention, why not show your fans a bit more steam? He took Casey in his muscular arms and kissed him passionately as he gently leaned him back.

The crowd cheered at the sight of the two men. It was clear these two hunks had finally found each other and true love.

Casey caught his breath as he swooned and proclaimed, “NOW THAT’S ROMANCE!”