Dad’s Nerdy New Boyfriend is coming next week, but like an idiot I published it on Amazon instead of setting it for preorder, so you can download it now if you want to!
When website designer Rick Pruitt takes his eight-year-old son Micah to see the latest Pokémon movie, he expects to be bored out of his mind. What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the guy ahead of them in line.
Self-confessed nerd and Harry Potter look-a-like, Marty Owens runs a comic shop downtown. Marty needs a new website to help grow his business and Rick needs a guy he can eat cozy meals with, snuggle up to, and … But no matter how many of Rick’s boxes Marty checks, there’s still Micah to consider. Fortunately Micah and Marty hit it off, connecting over a love of video games and all things Pokémon.
Rick starts coming by the comic shop after hours to work on Marty’s website. Can they also build something long-lasting and meaningful offline, too?
After a long moment, Marty prompted, “Did you maybe want to see the site I already have?”
“You have a site?” Rick asked, surprised. “I thought you said –”
“It’s just one page, nothing fancy.” Easing his hands under Rick’s on the laptop keyboard, Marty opened the web browser.
The home page came up, displaying the store name, Ricochet Comics, in black inside a yellow starburst outlined in red. It looked ripped from the pages of a garish comic book. Behind the logo, the webpage’s background was done in a multi-color halftone-dot pattern.
The overall effect was a little gaudy, but Rick had to admit that it was effective. Just glancing at it told him exactly what to expect. With a grudging nod, he admitted, “Not bad.”
Marty winced. “It’s a little in your face, don’t you think?”
“It’s perfect for a comic shop. Tells you everything you need to know — hours, contact info, map — and there’s no doubt it’s kid-friendly. I mean, with colors like that.”
Marty laughed. “You’re just being kind. It’s obnoxious, you can say it.”
But Rick shook his head. “No, actually it isn’t. In fact, if you hire me –”
“If?” Marty parroted. “You got the job.”
“You haven’t even seen my proposal yet,” Rick told him. “Hell, I don’t even know what it is exactly you want me to do. So if you hire me, my first suggestion is to keep a similar look but just update it a little. Who did these graphics?”
Marty’s pale cheeks pinked. “Me. They look like something from a Geocities website back in the mid-nineties, don’t they?”
“Hush. Let me show you some of the sites I’ve done.”
Gently Rick turned the laptop a little towards him and moved Marty’s hands aside. Was it his imagination, or did Marty lean on him a little more than necessary? Opening a new tab on the browser, Rick typed in the URL for a demo commerce site on his own URL. “This is a much more modern design,” he said as the page loaded. “It’s for a completely different type of store, too. I’ve preloaded it with random items just so you can see how it loads and what it looks like, but basically …”
The online store had a three-column layout, with the items displayed in the center column. Marty leaned closer as Rick went over the sections — categories, shopping cart, specials, new and featured products. Everything was customizable, and Rick could easily see how he could revamp the layout using Marty’s existing graphics as inspiration.
“This is fantastic,” Marty gushed, as Rick showed him how to add products to his cart and checkout. “How easy is it to maintain? Or do I need to keep you on retainer for that?”
“Oh, the backend is a cinch.” Rick opened a new tab and called up the store’s admin page.
When he logged in, though, Marty groaned. “You gotta be kidding me.”
“What?” Rick asked. “It’s not that bad. Look, I’ll show you.”
Quickly he reviewed the admin dashboard so Marty could see how to review orders or generate reports, even how to enter new items into the store. “Piece of cake,” Rick assured him.
Marty didn’t look all that thrilled. Leaning his chin on Rick’s upper arm, he sighed. “You have to put everything in one at a time?”
His weight on Rick’s arm was heavy and welcome. When Rick looked down at him, Marty turned his head, laying his cheek against Rick’s shirt sleeve. His eyes looked impossibly blue behind his round glasses, and the tiniest lines spidered out from the corners, making him look his age and not like Harry Potter at all. In fact, this close, Rick barely noticed the glasses except to wonder if Marty’s eyes would still be so blue — or so large — if he took them off.
He didn’t realize he was staring until Marty’s eyebrows raised in question. “Well?” Marty asked.
With a little shake of his head to clear it, Rick asked, “Well what?”
Marty’s lips curved into a faint smile. “Are you even listening to me?”
“Yeah, sure.” Rick nodded quickly and hoped he didn’t look too foolish. God, he needed to focus. “What did you ask me, though?”
“About the –”
“Entering stuff in,” Rick interrupted. “Right, right. No, we can import a large number of items if you have them in a database, or something. How do you … um …”
He was staring again, he knew it this time, but for some reason whenever he looked into Marty’s eyes, he seemed to lose his train of thought. Databases, the website, adding new products, he reminded himself. Jeez, man, look alive here. He’s going to think you’re an idiot if you keep zoning out.
On the contrary, Marty’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “Am I distracting you?”
“A little, yeah.”
Lowering his voice, Marty asked, “Would it be better if I sat back some?”
Rick didn’t want to say yes — he didn’t want to lose the sudden intimacy between them. But he couldn’t concentrate on what he was doing, either. Marty’s presence was so palpable beside him, so warm and real, so there. Being so close like they were made Rick realize just how long it had been since … well, since someone’s been so interested in me.
Who was he kidding? Sure, Marty was obviously into him, but Rick would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little intrigued by the comic shop owner, too. His gaze drifted over Marty’s face. The man wasn’t exactly gorgeous but he was cute, and Rick suspected he was the type of guy who got more attractive the more they’d get to know each other.
When Rick didn’t answer, Marty grinned. “Lost your train of thought again? You seem to do that a lot when I’m right up on you like this. Like what you see?”
“I’m — I’m … um.” Rick ran a hand through his hair. It took everything he had to look away from Marty and turn his attention to the laptop screen instead. “Sorry. I’m a little distracted, I guess.”
“By me?” Marty asked bluntly.