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Opposites do attract...hard and fast. Greg Hargrove has a ticket to the hottest party in town: Drew Bradley's annual Odd Ball. Dressed for the theme as one half of a popular sitcom duo, Greg doesn't expect to meet his match and engage in a secret night of passion while the festivities rage on. When handsome Rick Wade falls on his radar, however, Greg decides to partake of more explicit party favors. Is Rick more than a one-night stand, though, or can Greg look forward to many passion-filled reruns?
In the ten years Drew Bradley hosted his annual Odd Ball, people knew to expect two events: sometime toward the end of the evening Drew would lose his pants, and the two winners of the Best Oscar and Best Felix costume awards would immediately hook up afterward and live happily ever after. That many of the happy couples continued to come to the big party as their chosen television personas stood testament to their host’s impeccable matchmaking—and entertaining—skills.
Greg Hargrove personally didn’t care if either happened on his watch. After years of watching siblings primp and prepare for the biggest bash in town, he’d finally reached the requisite legal drinking age and could now attend. Though he’d never seen the television show that inspired the theme of the party, he’d gleaned enough by living vicariously through older friends—and researching YouTube clips—to know the score.
On November fourteenth, Felix Unger was asked to leave his apartment. This request came from his wife...
There was more to the prologue, he knew, but in his excitement Greg thought himself fortunate to recall his own name, much less those of characters from a TV show that ceased airing first run episodes long before he was a “glint in the mailman’s eye,” as his brothers liked to tease.
Greg adjusted his Yankees ball cap and smoothed a hand over his three-day-old stubble. It itched like hell, but he wanted to shoot for realism even if he didn’t win the grand costume prize. Would be nice, though, since neither of his older brothers had won before, and Greg had heard Drew didn’t skimp on the goods. Last year’s couple, he’d been told, won matching gold watches. At the front door of Drew’s McMansion of a home, a wiry, unsmiling man with a long nose looked down at Greg over his John Lennon glasses. “Your invitation?” He held out a pale, almost wrinkleless palm.
“Sure.” Greg surrendered the requisite card given to him by his brother Joe, who couldn’t make it this time. Joe hadn’t kidded him when he warned about the exclusivity of the event. What the hell went on here that required protection against crashers?
The butler-bouncer, for lack of a better description, peered down at the invitation for a long moment, as though determining its authenticity. Then, curling it in his bony hand, he addressed Greg. “You may access all designated party rooms with the exception of the VIP area, and you must stay in character. How everyone behaves throughout the evening will determine the final judging for the contest.”
“Got it.” Damn, people sure took this party seriously. At least, going as slovenly Oscar rather than uptight Felix, Greg believed he could blend in easily. Acting like a slob came naturally to him anyway.
“Good.” The man startled Greg with a warm smile that completely softened the landscape of his face. “Enjoy yourself.”
Greg passed through a wide foyer of gilt-framed mirrors and Queen Anne occasional tables to reach the main party area. Drew Bradley certainly didn’t hide his wealth, and Greg wondered how the guy came into his money. According to rumors, he’d either inherited it or invested wisely in the early days of Internet IPOs. Either way, the guy was apparently loaded.
On seeing the vast living room filled with partygoers, Greg realized the host didn’t spare any expense for this gig, either.
A shorter, blond Felix, crisp and clean in pleated beige slacks, white Oxford, and a green sweater vest, approached from the left and offered a can of Schlitz.
“You’re new,” he said. It wasn’t a question.
Greg nodded. “Yeah, I just got in,” he said, his attention still drawn to the room. A thick white line divided the space, half the room appointed with elegant antiques and servers bearing silver trays of fancy hors d’oeuvres. A string trio played in one corner. Not a speck on the carpet.
The other side, by contrast, looked as if a tornado had hit. Junky couches peppered with tortilla shards crowded the space, and plastic bowls of pretzels and chips sat everywhere. No coasters under cans, no napkins. A group of Oscars gathered around a flat screen television, watching a hockey match.
Amid the activity, though, Greg did notice how the guests crossed the line to interact with each other. A female Felix turned up her nose as her Oscar companion offered her a bite of a dripping sandwich, while a Chinese Oscar got his hand slapped when he tried to touch a vase on the Felix side.
Greg’s new Felix friend chuckled. “No, I meant you’re new here, period. I’ve been coming to this party since the very first year. I would have remembered you.”
“Oh?” Greg finally turned to see how handsome his companion looked despite the stuffy demeanor. This Felix stood straight, a good head shorter than Greg, and possessed a serene quality he usually found attractive. Greg liked his men slim and tended to favor twinks, though he’d not before considered anybody older. If what this man said was true, he had at least six to ten years on Greg. The Odd Ball admission required guests to be at least twenty-one.
Greg folded his arms and regarded the Poindexter. “What makes you think you could single me out?” he challenged.