Foothills Pride series, Book 4
When his lover Jason’s drug addiction spiraled out of control, TV celebrity chef and cookbook author Adam de Leon walked away from him. Adam also abandoned his renowned restaurant in San Francisco to start a small bistro in the Sierra Foothills.
Five years later Adam is battling the conservative leaders of Stone Acres, California, to open a new restaurant in historic Old Town when Jason turns up on his doorstep—a recovered Jason, now going by the name David and claiming he's overcome his addictions. What’s more, he begs Adam to take him back and says he’s ready for their happily ever after.
Adam has enough on his plate with problems plaguing the opening of his restaurant. And now he’s having a hard time deciding which to follow—his head or his heart.
Rainbow Award Honorable Mention book 2016.
- 4 To Be Read lists
- 4 Read lists
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Second Chances
Setting: Stone Acres, California, USA
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
JIMMY PICKED up the envelope.
“You didn’t open it?” His question broke the tension between me and Stone. “Don’t you want to know what’s in it?”
“It’s a check,” I whispered. “I know what’s in it. It’s his payback for everything he thinks he stole from me.” I didn’t add that there wasn’t a check large enough to cover the cost of a broken heart.
“For how much?” Jimmy asked.
“Does it matter?” I countered.
Jimmy shrugged and Stone glared at him.
“That’s it? A check?” Jimmy was holding the fat envelope and waving it in front of me. “Feels like a lot of paper for only a check.”
Stone’s glare turned deadly, but Jimmy ignored him.
“No. He said something about a decision I had to make.” I tried to bat the envelope away, but he moved it so it evaded my hand.
“You should open it, huh?” he asked mildly.READ MORE
Stone grabbed the envelope and slammed it on the table. “The man isn’t interested, babe!” he yelled at Jimmy.
Jimmy smiled and picked at the cinnamon roll.
“Sure he is,” he countered. “He wants to know what’s inside the envelope.” He took a breath and leaned back. “I’m getting him more coffee, and you’re persuading him to open it and find out what decision he needs to make.”
Jimmy got up and touched Stone’s back. Jimmy leaned over and planted a kiss on Stone’s bald head. “We gotta get this guy moved by tonight, remember.”
While I was puzzling over what he’d meant about me moving, Stone shook his head, a tiny smile puckering his lips. He picked up the envelope.
“He’s fucking right, you know. You need to open this and find out what else Jason wants.”
I nodded and took it from him.
I tore the end off the envelope and slid out a check and some sheets of paper. The cashier’s check was made out to me for five hundred thousand dollars. Too much and too little. I handed Stone the check and slowly opened the three pages.
Thanks for giving me a chance to explain what happened. You left. It was the smartest thing you’ve ever done for me. I needed it. I was hanging on by a thread and expecting you to knit me back together while I teetered between getting clean and getting high.
When you left, I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I spent a couple of days feeling sorry for myself and cursing you. Then one day I saw myself in a store window while I was panhandling tourists.
Who the hell was the bum? I had a complete and thorough breakdown right there on the sidewalk. The cops picked me up and brought me in when I started taking off my clothes and apologizing to people for being so filthy and wasted.
The cops asked if I wanted to go into rehab. It was a no-brainer. Probably because I didn’t have a brain by then. I didn’t have you to bail me out. Anyway, I cleaned up in a state facility. I buried the old Jason and walked away from the loser. I didn’t want to have anything to do with him.
Well, it doesn’t work like that exactly. I craved drugs so bad sometimes I all but gnawed my arms off pushing the cravings away. I was working as a janitor for a software company, a placement I got because of you, actually. One of the execs recognized me as the “best friend” of the greatest chef to cook in the Bay Area. His words, but my belief too.
Anyway, there’s a diversionary technique they teach you in the rehab center that was working for me—when I remembered to do it. You wear a rubber band around your wrist and when the cravings start, you snap the rubber band. Easy, right? Only I kept forgetting.
The company made apps for smartphones, so I asked the exec, who kept bugging me about you and your recipes, to make me an app for the phone I’d been given. I wanted him to make me an alarm to randomly ring and buzz. Something that would go off when I least expected it and make me worry about when it would go off instead of thinking about the cravings, which also came at crazy times.
We started there and his app seemed to be working. But I figured if there was some kind of gyroscope or something in it to recognize when I started shaking and then sound the alarm, it would be better.
Okay, long story short—the app worked and the guy’s selling it to places like high-end rehab facilities and state agencies. It’s being used for all kinds of behavior modification.
So how’d I make money off it, you’re asking. Well, the exec, who’s now worth in the billion-dollar range, figures he’d never have come up with it if it hadn’t been for me. He gave me rights to a quarter of the sales for life. Bet you never thought I’d live through rehab and help create a phone app and become a millionaire, did you? Me neither.
Anyway, there’s a lot more to the story after I started making money, but I’ll save it for later if you maybe decide you want to be friends with the new David Jason Fairbanks.
Okay, I know you don’t want the money and have a lot of your own. But I have to give this to you. I have to. So I’ve figured out what I think you should do with it. I’ve enclosed a list of LGBTQ support groups that I got off the web.
I want you to pick one or all of them and distribute the money in your name. Or if you’re suddenly feeling nostalgic about the late, unlamented Jason Fuck Up, you can do it in both our names. Since we took so much grief in school, I figure it’d be best if we try to help someone else—a lot of someone elses.
Anyway, it’s a suggestion. Do whatever you want. Just think, though. It’s a lot of money and it could do a lot of good.
You’re my first and only love. I’ll love you until I stop breathing, and even then I’ll love you to the end of time.
Formerly Your Pretty Boy
Dammit, Pretty Boy. I was right back where I’d been when Stone and Jimmy arrived. Tears were coursing down my cheeks, and Stone had me in a death hug. Jimmy was rubbing my back and making “Shhh” sounds.
I didn’t want to love him. I didn’t want to like him. He was dead. I had to get over this. I had to. I’d go crazy otherwise.COLLAPSE