Pretty Boy (Perfect Boys #1) by K.M. Neuhold



“Mind your business,” Bryson barks, winding up his fist for another punch. Tommy tries to step in front of the man to block him, but seems to be little more than a speedbump, being shoved easily out of the way before the man catches Bryson’s cocked arm. He releases my shirt, and spins around, using the momentum of the movement to throw a wild punch.

The stranger dodges it easily, his hand flying out with impressive speed to grab Bryson by the throat. The muscles in his arm bulge, his eyes icy with more rage than I’ve ever seen. It should scare me, but the fact that it’s on my behalf makes me feel kind of warm inside.

“Keep your hands to yourself, or I’ll fucking kill you,” he says in a steady, unwavering voice that makes me think he really means it. Bryson claws at the hold the man has around his throat. “I’m going to let you go, and you’re not going to say a goddamn word. You’re going to get into your truck and drive away, and you’re never going to so much as look in Sterling’s direction again. Understood?”

He must loosen his grip on Bryson’s throat, because he starts to sputter and cough and then spits the words “Fuck you.”

The man’s jaw ticks and his bicep flexes again. “They’re simple instructions,” he says calmly. I glance over at Tommy to see if he’s going to do anything to try to help his friend, but he’s inching toward the truck with wide eyes. Some friend he is. “Let’s try it again. No words, just get your ass in the truck and leave.”

This time when the man releases Bryson, he does as he’s told, running for the truck. Tommy hops inside, and in a matter of seconds, they’re speeding down the road. I reach up and gingerly touch my cheek, already feeling the start of a bruise swelling.

“Let me see,” he says, his voice still gravelly, but gentler now. Like the soft way the road crunches under your tires after a rainstorm.

“I’m fine.” I bend down and start to scoop up my dented cans off the side of the road, doing my best to stack them so I can carry them the rest of the way home without a bag, since the one I had is currently laying in tatters.

The man kneels down next to me and helps. He doesn’t say a word while we gather the cans, and I’m glad for the chance to collect my thoughts after everything that just happened. I thought he left town the other night, so what’s he still doing here? And as grateful as I am that he scared Bryson off, I have no doubt I’m still going to end up paying for what I did to his truck, one way or the other. I dart a glance at the man as he grabs the last can. My memory didn’t quite do him justice. He’s far more handsome than I remembered. He looks up, and when our eyes meet, my heart beats fast again for an entirely different reason now.

“Thank you,” I say softly before dipping my head again and scooping all of the soup into my arms, awkwardly getting back to my feet.

“Where are you going? I can give you a ride,” he offers.

“It’s not far. I’ll be just fine.”

“Sterling.” He says my name with a firmness that makes me want to stand up a little straighter. “You’re going to be a good boy and let me take you home.” I feel like I should bristle at the words good boy. It’s a condescending thing to say to a grown man. But the tender way his mouth forms them makes me want to be his good boy, even if I don’t know anything about him. I also know I should keep arguing about the ride, but it’s a statement, a command, that leaves no room for questions, and there’s something oddly comforting about that. I don’t have to make a decision about anything; he’s telling me how it’s going to be. If I get in his car without argument right now, I will be his good boy.

Tendrils of heat creep along my skin, my cock hardening behind my zipper. What is wrong with me that this man is getting to me so easily? I look up, and he’s still looking directly at me, but it’s not the way other folks look at me. There’s no judgment, no disgust; he’s just looking, waiting for me to tell him yes. So I do.

As soon as the word leaves my lips, a slow grin spreads over his face, and the heat inside me multiplies by a thousand.

He leads me over to his car, opening the passenger door and waiting for me to awkwardly climb inside with my arms full of soup. Then, he carefully closes the door behind me.

“What’s your name?” I ask as soon as he gets in on the other side.

“Barrett.”

“Barrett,” I repeat, testing the way it feels. It suits him, and it feels shamefully right on my tongue. Something hot flashes in his eyes, and for a second, it looks like he wants to add something, but he doesn’t.