Size: 9.00 x 6.00 in
Musician Daniel Gilchrist has decided he’s broken. He doesn’t deserve Jeremy Evans, a sensible, sweet artist who insists they belong together. Bad choices after a hellish childhood make Dan more suited to guys like his ex-lover, a toxic mega-star who wants to resume their affair.
But Jeremy is irresistible, and he’s survived a few nightmares of his own. He recognizes Dan's solid integrity and challenges Dan to get rid of false shame.
While Dan works to pry open his heart, his former lover persuades him to collaborate on a song that protests religious bigotry. Dan grows suspicious of the star’s odd behavior, and then law enforcement shows up.
That clinches it—Dan really isn’t good enough for Jeremy. Somehow he’s managed to drag the poor guy into danger.
- 1 To Be Read list
DAN GILCHRIST slid lower in the leprechaun-sized folding chair. The battered metal screeched in protest, freezing his six-foot frame midslouch. Well, fuck. Why didn’t he just holler, “Look at me, everyone!”
The therapist looked at him. “You wanna talk now, Dan?” “Absolutely not.” Everyone chuckled. Ya, he was hilarious.
Carl shifted in the chair beside him, earning an even louder metallic objection. The former linebacker always placed himself next to the mope who most desperately wanted to remain unnoticed, and evidently Dan was the lucky winner of today’s therapeutic torture.
“I’ll speak.” The guy on the other side of Carl’s girth was hidden from view, but his soft, masculine voice ruffled down Dan’s spine. “I want to get my first time over with fast.”
Another group chuckle.READ MORE
Dan didn’t want to call attention to himself by leaning forward to look at the new guy. Instead he crossed a foot over the opposite knee and sat back to enjoy the velvety voice.
“My name’s Jeremy, and I’m here because I had one slip after years of sobriety.” With zero self-pity, the guy went on to describe an abusive mother and a high school descent into addiction. His tale, too much like
10 Lucy Marker
Dan’s, was less riveting than his tenor voice, enriched with deeper undertones.
Notes of melodic accompaniment began to sift through Dan’s mind, and his fingers twitched over invisible guitar chords. If only he had some blank staff paper and a row of sharpened pencils—
A silent klaxon ripped a warning through his skull, and he crossed his arms over his ribs as if to hold down a surge of grief. That part of his life was finished. Kaput. No more straining for notes and lyrics that taunted from just beyond his reach, no more near-miss songs that never quite satisfied. Then, hopefully, no more headfirst dives into a bottle.
The man sitting across from him started his daily spiel. “I’m John, and—”
Dan knew damn well that musical frustration was a weak excuse for his real failures. He was bogged down, just like his home state of Minnesota, except the ten thousand lakes surrounding him were filled with alcohol. So easy to let himself fall back and sink into oblivion....
But he didn’t deserve the escape. At forty-three, it was long past time to pretend he was an adult and stop fighting the feelings that were his due for the choices he’d made.
“Lunchtime,” someone announced.
He slumped and heaved a breath. Made it through another meeting. Only four and a half million more to go.
Everyone relaxed into general conversation and moved to leave the torture chamber. He pushed up the sleeves of his sweatshirt and joined the last of the exiting group. San Jose temps in January might be brisk, but the rehab unit was always overheated and muggy. The air was a little fresher in the big rooms.
At the door, a small man turned, his ratty sweats and T-shirt not concealing an athletic build. Dan stopped, electrified by neon-blue eyes sparking from a face mapped with the lines of a fresh detox, topped by a glorious mess of caramel-blond hair. Dan would put him at somewhere over thirty-five.
“Hi. I’m Jeremy.” He shot a glance at the empty doorway. “I know we’re supposed to avoid last names here, but it’s Evans.”
The Voice! Dan’s breath caught, then came out in a wheezy, “Uh, hi.” Jeremy’s body matched the complex sound of his voice, delicate
Broken Mercies 11
bones strengthened by smooth muscles. Dan jerked out a hand in a gawky, teenage move. “Daniel Gilchrist.”
Jeremy offered a half smile and took his hand in a firm grip before releasing it quickly. “So you don’t like talking in group, huh? You been here long?”
“A week,” Dan said absently, examining the guy’s face. Something about him seemed familiar.
“This program seems to be one of the better ones. True?”
“Oh, ya. Definitely worth the cost.” Dan peered into Jeremy’s sharp gaze, ignoring the responding tingle in his groin. Where had they met?
“Good. I’ve decided this will be my last rehab ever.” Conviction had deepened Jeremy’s tone.
“I hear you,” Dan said, instinctively supporting the man’s choice, thereby reinforcing his own.
Jeremy tilted his head. “Sounds like you made the same decision.”
“Ya. Before this last slip, which was just once like you described, I’d made enough changes to be successful. I had a great life going for myself.” Dan nodded, vaguely aware he was revealing more now than he had in the previous week of intensive therapy. “I want to get back to it.” He could still teach music, even if he couldn’t write it.
“Then we’ll both be fine.” The tired flesh around Jeremy’s blue lasers crinkled, and his smile echoed the gentle acceptance of someone long gone.
The hair lifted on the back of Dan’s neck. “Old Jack,” he whispered.
A line formed between Jeremy’s light brown eyebrows. “You okay?”
Dan shook himself, disoriented by an odd sense of settling into a place that had been waiting patiently for him to find his way home.
“No.” He reached for one of the flimsy metal chairs and dropped into it. “Dizzy.” He rested his head in his hands. “Shit.”
Jeremy crouched beside him. His touch on Dan’s knee pushed a jolt through his system. “You gonna be sick?”
“No.” Dan gulped, fervently hoping he spoke the truth. “I guess something about me triggered a bad memory. Sorry.”
12 Lucy Marker
“Ya, your fault,” he joked weakly, blinking at his grungy flannel slippers.
But the memory Jeremy triggered was bad only because it made the rest of his life feel like manure in comparison. Nerves scraped raw, Dan sat back and scowled at the smallish, masculine hand on his knee. “You mind?”
Jeremy snatched away his hand and straightened, his full, pink mouth tightening.
The therapist lumbered back into the room. His dark gaze narrowed on the two men, no doubt picking up on the attraction zinging between them. Any romantic involvement in the unit was strictly verboten. “Okeydokey,” Carl said heartily. “Jeremy, you go on to the cafeteria.”
“Sure.” Jeremy flicked a bright, wary glance at Dan and then made for the door.
The therapist moved to block Dan’s view of Jeremy’s retreating ass. “You need a minute?”
Dan lifted his hands to cover his eyes. The acceptance in Jeremy’s neon blues had detonated a completely unwanted epiphany. “Fuck. How could I not know?” It was so obvious. How much energy had he put into remaining this blind? Clearly he’d wanted to stay drunk more than he’d wanted the insight.
“Excuse me?” The normally unflappable therapist sounded incredulous.
Dan’s hands fell. He frowned at Carl’s confusion but didn’t bother to concoct a lie. “Jeremy reminds me of the man who pretty much saved my sanity when I was a kid. No one since has made me feel so... okay.” The old janitor’s kindness seemed to rush out from the past, and he shuddered. “I just figured out what I’ve been hunting for at the bottom of a bottle all these years.” With spectacular, massively destructive stupidity.
Carl recaptured his therapeutic cool, his face clearing. “Ah. You’ve been here a week, and this is the first time I’ve seen your emotions break open. You sure about the cause?”
He grimaced. “Ya. Despite my best efforts, a couple rehabs over the past decade forced some insight down my throat.”
“Not enough, or you wouldn’t be here again.” The therapist gestured to the door. “We’ll talk later. Lunch now.”
Broken Mercies 13
Dan obediently creaked to his feet, feeling like a toddler in an old geezer’s body. “Hey, Carl. How come you looked so shocked just now?”
“Er, when you said you hadn’t known... it was like you’d just figured out....” His voice trailed off, a flush darkening his latte skin. “Forget it. My brain took a power nap, but it’s back on the job now.”
“No, you made me curious. What’d you think I’d just figured out?”
Carl wiped a massive hand over his shaved scalp. “Uh, well, the way you looked at Jeremy....”
Dan’s mouth stretched into a grin that strained his atrophied facial muscles. When was the last time he’d really smiled? “No, Carl, it did not take me forty-three years to discover I like dick.”COLLAPSE
The Novel Approach:
“The skill that Lucy Marker has to capture the reader is really quite phenomenal…. Broken Mercies is a book that held me in thrall from start to finish. I could not put it down; there were no gaps or pauses in the flow that would allow it…. I couldn’t have been happier with the author.”
Crystal’s Many Reviewers:
“Broken Mercies is a wonderfully written book with a powerful message…. Ms. Marker has written a very moving story… that gives a realistic view into the human condition….”
“I loved watching both main characters heal and grow throughout the story…. In each other they find the peace they need…. Their passion an attraction for each other is smoldering on every page…. What I was expecting to happen, didn’t happen. This author was so good at not going on the path most traveled. It was refreshing to read a “celebrity” story that was different from the rest.”
Hearts on Fire Reviews
“This is a powerful story…. an emotional ride… I have connected with the characters…. This is a great story… for those who prefer real life dramatic stories that includes romance….”
Did I enjoy this roller coaster? Yes. Yes, I did. … I hope you will ride along. Just be sure to buckle up.
“Amazing depth, pace, incredibly compelling story, very moving insightful, not to mention HOT.”
- Janet Periat
“…two brave, vulnerable, essentially good men had me totally hooked from the first chapter…. Marker deals with issues realistically…. The happily-ever-after is deep and emotionally satisfying.”
- Annie Richards
“Lucy Marker… did a phenomenal job dealing some really tough issue[s].”
“Great emotional depth…. I enjoyed the story and wanted a happy ending for these two broken characters. I got it and it was very satisfying. I will read more from Lucy Marker….”
“The characters were complex and I cared what happened to them…. The author’s strong writing made it easy to become invested in the outcome…. I look forward to reading more from Lucy Marker.”
- Zora 102008