June 18, 1812, Baltimore, Maryland. A sports bar.
"I'd rather watch the Ravens lose than chill with Noah Brenin, bro." Mattie tossed a peanut shell onto the bar.
"Hold your breath and stay still," his friend Ross said from behind him. "Besides, it's only a preseason game, not a wedding."
"Marriage bites, man. I'm not getting married. I don't even want to be near Noah when he gets married." Mattie sucked in his breath as Ross laced the eyelets of his chest pads. "Why am I even wearing this bullshit?"
"To look the best for the gentlemen in our lives," Carl joked as he appeared on Mattie's left, a jersey flung over one arm. With shimmering auburn hair and eyes the color of emeralds, Carl was a total stud.
Mattie huffed. "I don't care what any 'gentleman' thinks of my appearance, you queermo."
"Which is why you're still unmarried at twenty-five."
"Yeah? What's your excuse, Carl? It's not legal in Maryland in 1812?" Carl was gay.
"I haven't met a dude who could handle me," he grinned.
"Hey, where's your bitch?" Ross grunted as he squeezed Mattie's rounded figure and tied the last lace tightly. "Shouldn't she be doing this bullshit?"
"I dumped her," Mattie waved a hand through the air. "Besides, I prefer to dress myself." He hoped they wouldn't notice the quiver in his voice. His mother had finally cut him off, and his girlfriend had left him cause he was a broke slob. He didn't want them to know that all the girls he had coming over for the game were really hookers.
"There." Ross finished fastening his shoulder pads and stood back. Mattie took the jersey from Carl and slipped it on over his head.
"For real, bro, I don't ever want to marry. Women suck." He squared his shoulders as Carl slid behind him and straightened the jersey. "Tell me about it," he said.
Ross put his hands on his hips. "Noah Brenin is a fine man and a good catch." Ross was also gay. Mattie hung out with a lot of gay dudes but he wasn't gay so don't worry about that. This book doesn't have gay stuff, it's just tolerant.
Mattie gazed at his buddy. He had to smile at the motherly reprimand glowing in his crystal blue eyes. Tall and slender, with honey-blond hair, he turned lots of heads in Baltimore. As did Carl.
Mattie wish he had the same affect on men. I mean women.