Home is where the heart is, right? Except when it's not. Not when you're afraid for your life.
Joey James has given up on finding his 'Prince Charming'. There is no such thing, he needs to be realistic about his chances of a lasting relationship. A chance encounter with a former school mate at the local grocery store changes everything-maybe. Before Joey can decide what to do about it, he is swept into a terrifying scheme. Forced into helping a dangerous stranger in exchange for his family's safety, Joey begins a perilous journey into the criminal underbelly of Skagit. He will do whatever is needed to protect his family.
Buck Swanfeldt had a secret crush on Joey James in high school. Social anxiety and a two-year age difference made it impossible for him to approach Joey then. Life since high school has been challenging. And lonely. Eight years later, fate brings them together and Buck decides to act. He utterly fails. He would have left it at that, except fate seems to be intent on pushing Joey in his direction, and clearly Joey needs someone at his back.
Dark, sordid secrets hiding in Skagit are bubbling to the surface, danger lurks in unexpected places. Buck has never been anyone's hero but something about Joey has him throwing caution to the wind. Together the two men take on a dangerous force greater than themselves. But sometimes our worst enemy is ourselves.
*warning may need a tissue! For audiences 18+
*ends with a mystery solved and an HEA, no cliff hanger.
Intended for mature audiences only 18+
- 1 Read list
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Slow Burning Love
Word Count: 65000
Setting: Washington State
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Joey turned toward the deep, tentative voice coming from behind him. It was a distraction from his tropical-paradise daydream in front of the tidy display of seasonal oranges, starring imaginary cabana boys and fruity drinks. One of the oranges was rotten; he could smell it from three feet away. The odor ruined his excitement for mandarins, but not for a sandy beach with toned men in tiny swim trunks.READ MORE
A guy he didn’t recognize was hovering a few feet away. Was he talking to Joey? Maybe Joey did recognize him? He saw so many patients every day, but he rarely forgot a face. This face he didn’t think he’d have forgotten. No way. The guy was tall. A high percentage of guys were taller than Joey, but this guy was practically a tree. Joey would get a crick in his neck looking up at him. He had a nice body, Joey couldn’t help noticing, like he spent a lot of time at the gym or just worked hard. Dark blond hair, with long loose curls that swept the collar of his shirt. Yum. Joey smiled. Smiles don’t cost anything, his mom always said.
“Joey James, right? Buck Swanfeldt.” The silence was awkward. “We went to Franklin at the same time.” Okaaay, so the guy was talking to him. Wow.
Wracking his brain for a memory of a younger-looking person than the man who was standing in front of him, Joey failed. Because if that had been at the same high school as Joey, no way would he have missed it.
“Oh. I’m usually pretty good with faces, sorry. It’s nice to meet you again, though.”
This was becoming more and more awkward with each passing moment. Funny, it was normally Joey who was making a fool of himself. It had become something of a pastime.
“No, it’s cool. I was a couple years behind you. Anyway, I just wanted to say hi.” The guy rushed the words out in a jumble, then disappeared so quickly down the cereal and baking supplies aisle Joey could almost pretend the interaction had never happened. What the hell had that been all about? He walked over, peering down the aisle, but Buck Swanfeldt had already vanished from sight.
Suffering from a merciless case of terminal curiosity, Joey dug out one of his old yearbooks when he got home. Oh, lord, he hated being reminded of his senior picture. His stick-straight, reddish-brownish hair had been past his shoulder blades like some sort of wannabe rock star. He looked like a refugee from the 1970s. With the additional shame of pimples and braces.
Buck Swanfeldt had been in the class two years behind him; who knew? Light-years apart during high school, of course; rarely did juniors and seniors mix with the younger students. Joey still had no idea who Buck was, much less who he’d been back then. Buck’s tiny black-and-white picture looked nothing like the mountain of man who had stopped him by the oranges.
Joey spent the rest of his evening flipping through his yearbook, snickering at his schoolmates’ bad haircuts and wardrobe choices. Recalling the scandal when another senior had tried to submit a senior portrait of himself dressed up as Harry Potter. Brady Jones and he had argued heatedly about whether Harry had actually graduated or not, and thus was the portrait even valid as a senior picture. He finished off the rest of a bottle of red wine, totally forgetting to make himself dinner. Oops.
It wasn’t until the next afternoon, after a brutal shift at St. Joe’s, that he thought about Buck Swanfeldt and wondered if he would see him again. His ER shift had been pure misery. He’d started the day sleepy from the wine and hungry from not eating, and like any good Murphy’s Law-abiding hospital, all hell had broken loose: several car accidents, an accidental poisoning, and an entire girls-under-eight soccer team complaining of stomach pain after a team trip to the local pizza parlor. By the time he checked out for the day, he’d been on his feet over eight hours without even a coffee break. He couldn’t wait to get home and pour himself into bed.
Even though he was beyond exhaustion, Joey stopped on his way out to the parking lot to chat with his fellow nurses. He loved his job, for the most part, and especially the diverse community he worked with. He wouldn’t trade it for the world. After promising Hasanna, the newest nurse staffing the information station at the front entrance, he would bring something for the staff party the following week, he finally escaped, slipping outside into the bitter cold late December had brought to the city of Skagit.
A flimsy slip of paper was fluttering against his windshield. His beloved car was twenty years young and an unusual shade of orange, except for the driver’s side door, which a previous owner had replaced with a dark-blue one at some point. He had a sneaking suspicion he was going to be in the market for a new-to-him car soon, but hoped that was a few months away.
No way did he have a parking ticket; this lot was employees-only. Probably some college kid had been paid to drop flyers on all the windshields. It must have been there for a while. He leaned across the hood and tried snagging it with his numb fingers, but half of it ended up still frozen to his windshield, the other half in his hand. What the hell?
He’d been staring at it for a while before one of the EMTs he knew walked up behind him, scaring the ever-loving crap out of him.
“You okay? You look like you saw a ghost,” Robert, his name was Robert, asked.
Joey hastily crumpled the paper, sticking it in his coat pocket. “Yeah, fine, thanks.”
He scraped off the other half of the paper before getting into his cold car. Even cranking the heat and blasting the defrost could not dispel the cold Joey felt. Based on a quick glance around, his seemed to be the only car with a flyer on it.COLLAPSE
Have just found this series and binge read books 1-4. Loved them all
4 1/2 stars!!