We are so excited to have Santino Hassell with us here at Sinfully for his very first Monthly Author Column. So less of me and more of Santino… go see what he’s up to!
I’m Santino, and I’m here to introduce my new column at Sinfully—Get Hasselled. I thought a lot about what to do with this column and decided to be super ambitious and use it for free shorts revolving around the Five Boroughs series.
You will NOT have to have read the series to enjoy them. In fact, you could look at these shorts as an introduction to the series if you haven’t read it yet. They will alternate in heat level and theme, and go between present day and the past. My intention with these stories is to explore the histories of the characters. You may hear from Raymond and David, or Caleb (whose story is coming soon in the standalone erotic romance First and First), but especially Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici—childhood friends who harbored and ignored non-platonic feelings for each other for twenty years before finally acting on them in Sutphin Boulevard.
The first story takes place four years before the start of SB and is told from the point of view of Michael’s younger brother, Raymond. A celebratory weekend in Atlantic City takes a turn for the awkward when Raymond winds up babysitting his hard partying brother and friend. Especially since a drunk Michael and Nunzio don’t always do so well at hiding their attraction to each other.
OUT OF THE FIVE BOROUGHS—ATLANTIC CITY
A weekend in Atlantic City should have been the perfect way to spend my 21st birthday, but I'd somehow wound up the designated babysitter and third wheel to my brother Michael and Nunzio--Michael's best friend.
Nunzio was also my stand-in brother when Michael pissed me off, "childhood" crush, and epically cool video game partner. Basically, the Italian-American jack-of-all-trades to the dysfunctional Rodriguez family.
As Michael approached the concierge, Nunzio came up behind me and squeezed my shoulders. "You hyped?"
I shrugged him off. "I guess."
"You're too old to be this sullen, Ray. Pep the fuck up. It's your birthday."
"I'd have been peppier if Chris hadn't bailed." Having another friend handy would have prevented the awkwardness of spending this weekend watching Nunzio and Michael eyefuck each other while drunk, and then having to pretend I didn't notice. Nightmare level on every point. "What are we even gonna do?"
"Get drunk, laid, and gamble. Maybe not in that order." Nunzio noticed the grim set of my mouth and smirked. "Don't worry. I won't force you to be my wingman at gay clubs."
"Yeah, Michael has you covered." The muttered comment earned me a curious side eye, and I sneered. Right. I wasn't supposed to know Michael was just as gay as Nunzio. Probably gayer considering I'd first stumbled upon him getting busy with another dude at fourteen, and Nunzio had waited until the tender age of fifteen. "Isn't his job to wingman you in any situation or whatever? Best friends and what not."
Nunzio nodded, appeased. Or pretending to be appeased. He probably knew that I knew. "Pretty much, but don't worry about me. What do you want to do?"
"Play Xbox and smoke."
"Tonight in Atlantic City, smartass."
"Fuck if I know, man. I don't do this social shit."
"Yeah, I know. You fuck the same two girls you been knowing since you were in first grade." Nunzio glanced over to the concierge but continued reading me the 'you need to have fun and be young' riot act. "You're a piece of ass, Raymond. Potentially even more attractive than myself, which is an incredible feat. You need to stop holing up in your bedroom with a pipe and a controller, and have some fun."
"You need to stop staring at my brother's ass."
Nunzio swung his gaze back to me. "Shut the fuck up. I wasn't."
"Uh huh." They were so pathetic. "Whatever. We can go out to eat and find a spot to dance, aiight?"
Nunzio looked pumped again. He ran a hand through his dark curls and went back to staring Michael down. I made a mental bet with myself as to how long it would take them to get drunk and sloppy, and start groping each other. If they made it to midnight, I owed myself an hour of peace, quiet, and a copy of Game Informer.
A snarled 'carajo' came from the direction of the concierge, and all thoughts of peace vanished.
"These pendejos fucked up our reservation," Michael griped after stalking over to us. "Instead of a suit with two bedrooms, they put us in a deluxe room with two kings."
"It's cool," Nunzio said. "I'll book another room for me or Ra—"
"Me," I said quickly. "It's for me."
"No sweat. I'll—"
"I already tried that, wise guys. The hotel is entirely booked." Michael glared around the lobby as if looking for someone to murder so he could shove my narrow ass in their room. "This is bullshit."
"Want me to go talk to them?"
"Why?" Michael's gaze swung back to Nunzio with the quickness. "You think you can get the idea across clearer?"
"No, but being a little nicer might—"
"Nicer? Vete pa'l carajo…"
"Okay, okay." I clapped to get their attention. "Both of you shut the fuck up and quit fighting like an old married couple. This is why I don't be going nowhere with you people."
Michael opened his mouth to come back at me with some reckless comment, I could just tell by the gleam in his eyes, but Nunzio edged him out of the way.
"Let's look at the bright side. I plan to get wasted and stumble back to the room at five in the morning, anyway. At this point it's just a crash spot. And if I want to hook up with someone—" he kept talking, clearly missing the irritated look on Michael's face. "--I'll go to their room. Feel me?"
"Yeah." Michael yanked his duffel bag up off the floor. "Got it."
Nunzio snagged one of the room keys and turned around, oblivious to the simmering cloud of jealousy brewing in my dumbass brother. God. They really were pathetic. And now that Michael was all super charged with denial, jealousy, and Rodriguez rage, I was giving them until eleven.
We went upstairs, all of us silent and ornery in the elevator, and I promptly tuned out my brother. He started griping as soon as his suitcase hit the floor. I honestly had no idea why he was so bent out of shape. He'd get to cuddle up in a bed with Nunzio all night unless one of them opted to sleep on the shitty couch. If he wasn't so in denial, he'd be less cranky.
If I hadn't given up on my own crush due to the Jerry Springer-like feel of us both secretly lusting after Nunzio for mad long, I'd have jumped at the chance. But that ship had sailed, and I was quite content to keep my bicuriosity a secret. Although, I'd have probably been able to coax Chris into a mutual drunken jerk if his punk ass hadn't bailed on me.
"Eating or drinking?" Nunzio asked after shedding the sweatshirt he'd worn on the ride from Queens. He looked at himself in the full-length mirror, and pulled at the collar of his T-shirt before yanking it off. "I think everyone needs to cool out."
"Liquid dinner," Michael said shortly. "I want to have fun, and stop stressing over stupid shit."
I didn't point out that he could have fun without being wasted.
"Ray wants to go dancing." Nunzio's baby blues zeroed in on me in the mirror. "What say you—go to a spot for you and then a spot for me? Or split up."
"We could just go to a spot for you." I flopped back on the bed and closed my eyes as they changed into their impressive adult clubwear. My ass was staying in the same jeans I'd worn all day. "I'm not afraid of the gays."
"That's why I love you, Ray. Your apathy makes it impossible for anything to make you uncomfortable."
"And you never know," Nunzio continued. I could practically hear the dirty smirk in his tone. "You might find the right dude to slob your knob and your sexuality might swerve a little bit."
"Shut up, Nunzio," Michael said wearily. "Not everyone likes dick."
Maybe not, but we were three for three in this hotel room.
To be continued next month on Get Hasselled!
Meet Santino Hassell
Santino is an author of gay romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences. His new book, FIRST AND FIRST, is the third in the Five Boroughs series and will be released on April 18, 2016. It is a standalone with a HEA ending.
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