When he was sixteen years old, Rich Miller saved a young man from drowning at his local pool.
Title: My Hero
Series: Hero #1
Release Date: September 28th, 2013
Publisher: Kindle Edition
Categories: M/M Romance, Sports, Contemporary
When he was sixteen years old, Rich Miller saved a young man from drowning at his local pool. Little did he know that years later, as a senior in college and Olympic diving hopeful, Rich would meet up once again with Johnny Milloway, now a big football player – and when Rich says big, he really means ‘bear’. The shy jock remembers his savior, and the two men become friends.
Johnny isn’t put off by the fact that Rich is gay. In fact, the more time he spends with Rich, the more curious he becomes. Johnny wants to know all kinds of things – what it’s like to kiss a guy, for instance. Only it doesn’t stop there…
Rich finds it difficult to believe that this relationship can go anywhere. Johnny is straight, and Rich isn’t prepared to deal with the heartache he knows will come his way in the future. He has enough on his plate as it is – the Worlds are just around the corner, his father would rather watch a football game than spend time watching his son dive…. What he doesn’t count on is Johnny, who can be very determined. And having Johnny in his life proves to be a catalyst for some pretty earth-shattering changes.
Rich shut his alarm off quickly as he tried not to wake his roommate. He was told in no uncertain terms that his 5:30 wake-up time was not conducive to their living arrangements. He pulled on a pair of nylon athletic shorts and picked up his gym bag before slipping quietly out of his dorm room. Walking down the hallway he pulled on a tank-top T-shirt that he’d picked up on his way out.
He liked going to the weight room in the early mornings. There was rarely anyone there, which was the way Rich liked it. He hated having to compete for equipment with the other jocks, especially the football guys. They always thought they took precedence over everyone else. Another reason he didn’t care for football or the players.
Before he opened the double doors that led into the weight room he heard the clank of one of the weight machines being used. This was only the second time in four years that he’d run into another person at this time of day. He peeked through the small window to see who it was before he entered. The only thing he could see was a big guy with his back to Rich and the door, as he did triceps extensions, his grey T-shirt wet with sweat. Rich hesitated briefly before pushing through the double doors.
Rich made his way to the leg press machine. He noticed that the guy, his back still to him, had ear-buds in, so he didn’t hear him come in, which was fine with Rich. He got busy with his own work out, paying no attention to the other guy in the room.
After his third repetition, Rich moved to the leg extension machine. As he draped his towel over the back of the machine, he looked up and his eyes locked with those of Johnny Milloway in the mirror. The big man’s eyes widened. He nodded quickly and looked away. Rich thought he may have blushed, but then he could have just been flushed because of the massive amount of weight he was curling, his biceps bulging.
Neither man spoke to the other. There wasn’t another instance of eye contact either. Rich had the feeling that Johnny Milloway was purposefully avoiding any contact with him, which made him slightly uneasy.
Rich finished up his leg work out and went into the locker room. He stuck to his routine of only working one body part at a time, then a quick shower before going back to his dorm room to pick up his books for whatever class he had that morning. He had made it a point to do as many morning classes as possible so that it would leave his afternoons free for the pool. He preferred the athletic locker room here to the one at the aquatic center. This one reminded him of high school. The air was heavy with the smell of sweaty men with their dirty socks and soaked jock straps, always a major turn on for him. The only smell at the aquatic center was that of chlorine. Rich leaned against the beige tiles with his hands, his eyes closed, letting the lukewarm water cascade over his shoulders and back. He jumped when he heard another showerhead turn on.
Looking over he saw Johnny Milloway, his knees bent as his face pointed up into the spray, his head obviously higher than the shower head. Rich’s mouth hung open as he watched the water sleuth over his body through the dark hair that covered the massive muscles. The young man had very little body fat but he must have easily weighed in at two hundred and fifty pounds. His eyes dropped and Rich’s stomach tightened. Johnny Milloway’s cock and balls hung low, water pouring off his genitals. The kid was very well hung. The big football jock happened to look up, his eyes locking with Rich’s. He quickly turned his back to Rich, giving him a view of his perfect, fur-covered butt.
Rich felt the familiar tingle in his nuts and knew that if he continued to stare, he would end up with a full blown hard on, a definite breech of shower protocol. Wasting no time, he finished up his shower and hurriedly left the shower room and the football star behind. If he was fast enough he could get out of there before the freshman was finished showering.
He was tying his shoes when the biggest feet he’d ever seen came into view. Looking up slowly, he let his gaze travel up the thick calves, past the wet towel cinched around the hips, the hairy taut abdomen and then finally to the massive pectorals, the nipple barely visible through the dense fur. Rich couldn’t even see past the man’s huge chest muscles to his face unless he sat up straight, which he did.
“Ummm… can we talk, Rich?”
The voice was rich and deep, almost a whisper, but so powerful it made Rich’s insides vibrate.
“You know me?” Rich was more than slightly surprised.
“Of course. Wanna grab a coffee? You got time?” the big guy asked.
“Yeah, sure. I got time,” Rich answered, puzzled as to why this big jock would want to talk to him.
“Thanks. I’ll just get dressed. Be ready in a minute.”
Rich stood by the exit with his gym bag slung over his shoulder, wondering how this guy knew him. He didn’t have long to think about it.
“Um…. I’m ready.” The deep voice behind Rich made him jump.
“Starbuck’s okay?” Rich asked. “That’s the closest.” “How about the Union Center, it’s free there,” Johnny Milloway suggested.
“Sure, that’s fine. There shouldn’t be many people there this time of the morning.” His response was a nod, nothing more.
It was a short walk. Neither said anything. They got their coffees and found a table off in a corner. Rich had been right, they practically had the entire place to themselves.
Rich looked at the big guy across from him. He had to admit, he liked the short, well-trimmed beard that made Johnny’s lips seem so damned kissable.
“So…I don’t think we’ve ever actually met,” Rich said, starting off. “I’m Rich Miller.” Rich extended his hand.
“Um…no, we’ve never been introduced,” Johnny said as he took Rich’s hand. His big hand made the diver’s all but disappear.
“Was there something in particular that you wanted to talk about, Johnny? It is Johnny Milloway, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry,” the freshman said, blushing wildly.
Rich would never have thought, Who knew this big guy would be so shy?
Johnny took a big sip of his coffee and grimaced.
“Yeah, the coffee here isn’t the best, but it is free.” Rich chuckled at his expression. “So what did you want to talk about?”
“Well…I never…it’s just that I’ve always wanted to talk to you.”
“Really? What about?” Rich was even more curious now and more than a little surprised.
“You saved my life, and I never got the chance to thank you,” Johnny whispered, blushing even harder.
“Huh? I did? When?”
“I was twelve and it was at the Oak Ridge public pool one summer. I guess I was tired or something, but anyway, I started going under and you saved me.” Johnny looked up briefly before looking back down into his cup of black coffee. “I always wanted to…you know…say thanks personally.”
Rich thought back to that day. It was the only time that he actually thought he’d saved someone’s life. Sure, there had been other incidences where he’d helped people at the pool during the four years that he’d worked there, but there had only been the one kid that he remembered saving and here he was, sitting in front of him, all grown up.
“Wow, I do remember,” Rich said in awe. “You were just a little skinny kid.”
Johnny looked up with a slightly sideways grin. “Yeah, I guess I kinda grew up.”
Rich busted out laughing. “Kinda? Shit man, you’re huge.”
“Yeah, I did grow a lot these past few years.” Johnny was still blushing widely. “Anyway, thank you.”
“Oh. Yeah, well, you’re more than welcome, but I can thank you too.”
Johnny jerked his head up. “Thank me?”
“Yeah, because of you I had a summer job all through high school.” Rich grinned broadly.
Johnny matched his grin, but didn’t say anything.
“Now here you are, all grown up—which is an understatement— and a star football player,” Rich said, trying to avoid an awkward silence.
“Yeah, but nothing compared to you.” Johnny quickly replied. “You’re going to the Olympics.”
Rich’s mouth dropped open. “You know about my diving?”
“Hell yeah,” Johnny said. “Your triple twist with a somersault at the end is amazing. I bet you nail that quad next time, too.”
Rich sat there in total shock, unable to say a word.
“Uh, you want some more coffee, Rich?”
Rich looked down at his nearly empty cup. “Oh…yeah…sure.”
Johnny took both mugs for a refill, leaving Rich to meander through the information he’d just received. This big guy has followed my diving career and I saved his life. Too much.
“Here ya go. You did take two creams, right?” Johnny said, sitting the coffee down.
“Yeah, thanks, Johnny.” Rich quickly caught on that Johnny had remembered how many creamers he took.
“You’re welcome,” Johnny said with that almost silly sideways grin. “Hey, Johnny, why were you in the weight room so early?” Rich asked after emptying the two small cream containers into his coffee.
“I like working out when there aren’t a lot of people around. I’m not much one for crowds.”
“Yeah, same here. Which is why I try and get there early.”
“You think you might like to work out together?” Johnny asked, the color rising in his cheeks.
“Yeah, sure. I’ve never had a workout buddy before. Might make me push a little harder.”
Johnny grinned wider.
The rest of the conversation was mostly about people they’d known in high school, teachers and coaches back then. Once they’d finished their coffees, they walked out of the Student Union Center where they ran into a group of some of Johnny’s teammates.
“Hey, Milloway, why you hangin’ out with the sissy diving boy?” one of the big players jeered.
Before Rich could say anything Johnny Milloway picked up the other player by the front of his shirt and slammed him into the doors of the Student Union Center. “You are not allowed to say anything. You are not even allowed to speak to him, got it?” Johnny’s voice was low but full of menace.
“Damn, dude. Chill,” the guy said, his hands in the air. “Didn’t mean to insult your boyfriend.”
Johnny growled, the sound almost primeval as he picked the guy up and threw him against the brick wall next to the door, making his head bounce off the hard surface.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa there, Milloway!” one of the other players said as he tried to pull Johnny off the stunned guy he’d just body slammed. “Back off, man. Let him go. He didn’t mean anything by it.”
Breathing hard, Johnny let the guy go and he slid down the wall to the ground. When Johnny turned around Rich’s breath hitched. There was a fire in the man’s face that he would never have imagined could have been there from the shy guy he’d just had coffee with.
Johnny stared at the remaining four football players, his hands clenched tightly at his sides. “This guy saved my life when I was a kid, and none of you, and I mean none of you will disrespect him. Got it?”
“Oh fuck, man, we didn’t know,” another player said, backing off. “We got it, no problem, Dragon.”
“You just spread the word. You fuck with Rich Miller, you fuck with me.” Johnny bellowed.
Webb, one of the receivers that Rich knew about, picked up his buddy and started helping him walk away.
“We’ll spread the word, Dragon, you…just chill out man,” another said, backing away, leaving Rich alone with Johnny.
Rich stood there stunned for a moment, and then he started to get mad. “What the fuck, man?”
Johnny looked at him, his eyes still blazing, his breathing still rapid.
“Are you crazy?” Rich asked as he walked up to the hulk. “What’d ya go and do all that shit for?”
Now it was Johnny’s turn to look surprised. “I…I…wanted—“
“You wanted what?” Rich poked him in the chest. “Man, I don’t need this kinda shit.”
Rich turned on his heel and started to walk off.
“Rich… please?” It was the soft deep voice that he now associated with the non-crazy, shy Johnny Milloway.
“Hey, listen, asshole, I don’t need you or anyone else defending me,” Rich said as he continued to walk away.
“But… they were calling you gay and shit.” Johnny trailed behind him.
Rich stopped and slowly turned around to face the big man. “Just an FYI, dumbass, I am gay. So you run along now with your buddies and forget about it. Okay?”
And with that he walked away, leaving Johnny Milloway standing there apparently dumbfounded, his mouth hanging open.
Max Vos is a classically trained chef with over 30 years of food service experience. After retiring in 2011, Max found himself with time on his hands and was urged to turn his talents to writing. ‘Cooking English’, a short story, now part of his anthology collection, Inappropriate Roads, is now available. My Hero was his first novel, which turned into an international best seller. Max now has a total of six completed novels, which are listed on his website, along with the entire Memories Series. My Hero: The Olympian, the sequel to My Hero was released late last year.
Max can be reached at