EXCERPT CHAPTER 1 - ANGUISH


Welcome to Anguish: For those of you who know my Harper's Rock series, you will know who Ben is. He is the oldest Harper Brother and I have saved his story for last because it ended first. I hope you enjoy!  



Here is the first excerpt from Chapter 1
Please keep in mind that the attitude and perception of gay youth were much different in this time period and in small-town mountain west during this time period. 

November  1, 1997 - Journal entry
My name is Benjamin Harper but everyone calls me Ben. I’m writing in this journal not really because I want to, but because my doctor recommended it. You see, it appears that Ben Harper doesn’t have the perfect life that everyone thinks he does. Believe it or not, Ben Harper is mentally ill. He suffers from depression…I suffer from depression. I’ve admitted that now. I know I do, I just hate everything about it - when I say it, when I read it and especially when I write it down.
The doctor said I need to not only write about day to day stuff but also about past events that have made me who I am today.  Truthfully, it is like my life didn’t really exist until 1996, the year I turned fourteen. Although, I do see the times before that when the depression and anxiety reared its head.
Maybe if I write about what happened in 1996 I’ll be able to figure out why I never really felt alive until then. In a flash, my life changed forever the summer I turned fourteen because that was when I realized I was in love with my best friend. JC Croft…well, he’s adorable and kind. But the best part, the best part is that I recently found out that he loves me too.


July 29, 1996 Harper’s Rock, Wyoming

“Hey man, it’s not going to be the same without you here,” Ben told his best friend as they carried the last of his suitcases out to the waiting truck.
JC grunted. “Tell me about it, man. I’m never going to find another good friend in California. I really don’t believe a good ol’ Wyoming boy is going to have much in common with a bunch of California beach bums.”
Ben couldn’t help but laugh at the exaggerated look of horror on his friend’s face. “Yeah, but just think about all of the pretty little beach bunnies. Maybe you’ll find a girlfriend instead.”
“Uh…sure…sure." JC shrugged and turned to face his friend’s cousin, Abigail, who was standing nearby. “Make sure he stays on the straight and narrow for me, Abby. Lord knows what he’ll do without me.”
“You  know I will,” she said, tossing a look at her cousin. His head was ducked which most likely meant that he was blushing and his face was probably as red as his hair. “Take care, JC.”
“Thanks Abby,” he said, turning back to Ben, his hand thrust out to shake. “Everyone else is in the truck. I…I’d better get going.”
“Okay," Ben said softly, clasping his friend’s hand. As quick as a flash they pulled each other into a hug and then it was over. JC rounded the vehicle and hopped inside. His dad started the engine and pulled away. The two boys, who’d been best friends since Kindergarten, waved until they could no longer see each other.
Abigail stood, watching her cousin as several different emotions played across his face. The one that finally settled in scared her. They’d also been best friends for their whole childhood and she had never seen such a look of terror in his eyes. Why was he so scared? But before she could ask, he took off at a dead run. Her first thought was that he was running after JC, but when she saw him veer off the road and head for the fields that would take him to town in a short cut, she knew something was wrong.
Quickly thanking God that she hadn’t worn her sandals that hot July morning, she took off after him. She knew her cousin well. He was headed for the local playground, which was his closest thinking spot when in town. As her tennis shoes slapped the hardened, dry ground underneath the brush she couldn’t help but hope that this early in the morning the seldom used playground would indeed be empty. Her highly charged, very emotional cousin was headed for a breakdown.
Momentarily he disappeared over the hill that led down into the playground and when she crested it, Ben was settling himself into a rubber and chain swing. She could hear his moaning sobs.
As hard as she tried, Abby just couldn’t imagine what was going on. Of course Ben would miss JC, but this was a bit extreme even for her tightly wound cousin. “Ben. What’s wrong?”
Looking at the ground he was gasping for breath, for control. “I…I…” he tried to say.
“It’s okay,” Abby assured him. “Take your time and catch your breath. I know you’ll miss JC but everything will be…”
A cry tore from Ben’s throat as he looked up at Abigail and slid out of the swing and onto his knees in the gravel.
“Don’t you understand?” he cried. “It’s not that…It’s not… I love him, Abby. I know for sure, one hundred percent, I’m in love with my best friend. Good God,  I am gay.” His last three words came out as a whisper.
There had been times when Abby had wondered. Ben was always so obvious in his affection for JC, but it seemed so natural for them that no one ever batted an eye. And of course, she only spent summers with them so she didn’t know how they acted around school friends. God, so much made sense now. She often confided in him about her current crushes but he never did. He and JC never talked about girls. “Yes,” she murmured. “You do love him.”
“I do. God help me, I do.” The tears flowed freely as he rocked back and forth on his knees.
Abby eased herself down next to him. "It’s going to be okay, Ben. We both knew you were different, special. Is it really that big of a surprise?”
“Yes… No…” Ben looked up at her. “You knew?”
“I had an inkling,” she nodded.  "But it’s not like I thought about it much.”
“Deep down, I think I’ve always known,” he whispered. “But what I never knew was that I was in love with the one person I could never have. The guy who is moving to California as we speak. I’ll probably never see him again. God, what guy would understand that his best friend wanted so desperately to kiss him goodbye?”
“I’m sorry,” Abby said softly, hugging him. “But I think JC might be gay too. He might not mind so much.”
“Thanks Abs, but please don’t. I can’t get my hopes up. If my heart becomes any more broken, I don’t know if I can… Who wants to live with this kind of pain or confusion, or whatever it is?”

“Okay,” Abby agreed quietly. “But that’s no way to exist. Sometimes you need to take a chance.”
“Please don’t,” he murmured again. “Enough of this crying shit. It’s time to suck it up.”
Abby smiled and stood up. “What should we do now? We have another half-hour until we need to meet Aunt Evie and Uncle Cole at the diner for lunch.”
Ben had his usual sweet grin on his face again but his turmoil was far from over. “How about we race each other to the Soda Fountain for some ice cream? The loser buys the cones and we spoil our lunch.”
“You’re on!” Abby said, turning to run.
“Hey Abby, wait.”
"What is it?”
Ben held out his pinky finger to her. “Cousin pinky swear that you will never tell anyone that I’m gay. I’ll do it myself when I get to know the new…and the old... me better.”
“We haven’t cousin pinky sworn since we were ten,” she whispered. “I know this must be important to you so of course, I’ll keep your secret. Forever.”

Abigail reached out, her pinky wrapping around Ben's, their hands moving in an up and down motion.

EXCERPT CHAPTER 7 - LETTING GO

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 7. This is the turning point in JC and Trevor's relationship. This will be the last excerpt before releasing on January 16th! I hope you'll grab a copy. AMAZON
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Holiday preparations went on as December started and by the time the kids were out of school for winter break, everyone was looking forward to their first Christmas together.
The last day of school for JC and the kids was December 18th. After classes, JC drove them home to find Trevor sitting quietly on the couch waiting.
“What’s wrong?” JC asked, sitting next to his boyfriend. There was something bad definitely going on.
“Is your phone off?”
JC took his phone out of his pocket and checked. “The battery died. Why, Trevor? What’s going on.”
Trevor looked at him, his eyes clouded with worry. “Your dad was trying to call you. He called me instead. I’m so sorry, James.”
“What?”
“Your mother was killed by a drunk driver last night.”
“Huh…” he said, leaning back against the couch. “I…I’m not sure what to think.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t imagine…you should call your dad,” he said, handing over his phone.
“Yeah…okay.” James walked stunned into the kitchen and dialed his father.
“Hello,” Cameron Croft answered.
“Hey, Dad. I just got the message.”
“Yeah, I tried calling your phone but…”
“My phone’s battery died,” he said softly. “What happened?”
Cameron Croft turned off the television show he was watching and sat quietly in his chair. “She was crossing the street in front of your aunt’s house and a drunk driver hit her. He was going forty in a twenty-five.
“God! I’m not sure what to say or to feel.”
“I know the feeling son. I was married to her for so many years, but I can’t bring myself to feel like I think I should. I mean, I’m sorry she’s dead but…I just don’t know.”

“Yeah. I feel the same. I guess I should come back for the service. Do they have anything planned yet?” He knew his mother’s family always had the service planned as soon as possible.
“Yeah, It’s the 21st at ten a.m. in Sheridan. If you come here and get me we can go together.”
“I…I don’t know if I can, Dad. Can I meet you there?”
“Yeah son, but it might help if you come home. You could go to his family or even to the cemetery and say goodbye.”
“I know I should, but…but I just can’t. Not yet.”
“Okay,” Cameron said quietly. “I won’t push you. I’ll see you in Sheridan. Maybe we can have lunch after the funeral.”
“You know we will,” James said with a smile. “I’ll see you soon, Dad. I love you.”
“I love you too, son.”
JC hung up the phone and wandered back out to the front room where Trevor was talking to his sons. They still didn’t know about their grandmother because they were shoveling snow when JC had come inside. “Hey, boys. I just talked to Grandpa Croft. Your grandmother passed away last night. She was hit by a drunk driver.”
“Wow,” Michael whispered.
“I’m sorry, Dad,” Benjamin said. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, son. Just in shock a little bit. I’ll be going to the funeral. I’ll leave the day after tomorrow and head down.”
“Do you want us to come,” Trevor asked, quietly.
“No. I’d appreciate it if you could stay here with the boys. I don’t want them to have to be subjected to all of the crap from Mom’s family.”
“Okay.”
JC started to walk from the room to call Jenny then turned back. “Let’s go out to eat tonight. I don’t feel like cooking. I’ll be ready in a few minutes.”
Dinner and the time at home after were somber as everyone struggled with their own thoughts and feelings on the Tragedy. Trevor wasn’t sure how JC was truly reacting, so he just watched and tried to play along. By the time they headed upstairs to bed he wasn’t sure how to approach things. Should he try to get him to talk or let JC make the first move?
“Is there anything I can do?” Trevor was in bed when JC finished up in the bathroom.
“I’m not sure. I don’t know what the fuck to feel. I know I should be sad but I’m not sure I can be. I loved her once, but now…I just don’t fucking know.”
“I’m sorry,” Trevor murmured, holding his arms open.
JC moved into them and buried his head in his shoulder. “I feel so guilty,” he finally murmured.

“Are you sure you want to go alone. I’d be glad to come with you.”
JC pulled away and moved onto his back. “I’m sure…I don’t want you exposed to her hate or her family’s disdain. It would only serve to tarnish our relationship.”
“Okay,” Trevor agreed. “But maybe while you’re there you should stop in Harper’s Rock and say goodbye to someone else.”
“You sound like my Dad,” JC complained. “I just don’t know if I can.”
“Why not?”
JC turned away from him. “I’m scared, and it’s too painful.”
Trevor reached out and touched his back. “You need to do it…for us. For our future. Please.”
“Okay,” JC whispered. “Goodnight Trev.”
“Goodnight James. I love you.”
“I love you too.”

EXCERPT CHAPTER 5 - LETTING GO

Chapter 5 excerpt and we are winding down. Release day is in about two weeks. I'm getting excited to introduce you to JC and Trevor. I hope you fall in love with them too! Pre-order now!  ALL OTHER RETAILERS  ---- AMAZON

You can also find Ben and JC's story for Pre-Order (due Feb 21). AMAZON

By the time JC was done taking pictures he was steeped in guilt. Why, every time he had a new experience, did he wonder what Ben would think about it. He was in paradise with the most amazing man he’d met in years, one he felt comfortable saying the words I love you too, and here he was thinking about Ben. But he and Ben had talked many times about the different kinds of places they wanted to see together…and this was one of those kinds of places.
Sometimes he wished that he and Ben had only been best friends, that they had never fallen in love. But that in itself brought more guilt because he wouldn’t trade their time together for anything in the world. His childhood had made him who he was today. He was a successful, well-loved teacher, a father to two amazing kids, and what some said was a good man. His main fault was his inability to let go of things he’d once loved. But at least he had loved. At least he was capable of love – complete, absolute love.
“Hey, how long have you been back?” Trevor asked as he walked into the main room of their villa.
“Not long. Are you ready for lunch?”
“Yeah…is everything okay?”
“Yeah, after last night how could it not be.” But JC knew he didn’t sound convincing.
“We’ll talk while we eat,” Trevor said matter-of-factly.
They decided to eat their lunch outside on the beach. It was a beautiful, sunny day out and the ocean breeze was light and would keep them cool.
Trevor passed JC the sweetener for his tea then brought up his boyfriend’s mood. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m pretty sure you won’t want to hear it.”
“Now that you’ve said that I definitely want to hear it.”
With a sigh, JC set his burger back on his plate and looked out over the ocean. “I’m doing it again. I was walking along the beach taking pictures and wishing you were there with me…you know, the whole romantic scene of a couple walking along the beach hand in hand. But then my thoughts shifted, and I wondered what Ben would think of this place. What it would have been like if we’d been able to come here.”
Trevor shifted in his seat and cleared his throat. He was obviously uncomfortable with what his boyfriend was saying. “I…Do you wish you’d come here with him instead of me?”
“No!” JC was quick to answer. “No, not at all. I only want to be here with you, but I wonder what things would have been like if it had ended differently for Ben. It’s the same old shit that gets in the way every fucking time!”
“I’m not going to say that it doesn’t feel like a knife was sliced across my chest just now,” Trevor said softly. “But I understand what you mean.”
“I’m sorry.”
Trevor nodded and took a bite of his food. Not that it had any taste anymore. But he knew he needed to eat. JC did the same.”
“I wonder, all the time, why he died. If I knew that, if I knew what happened, I could stop thinking about him. He was fine one day and the next he went up to the cabin and killed himself. I truly believe he was fine when he drove away from Harper’s Rock that day. What happened in those few hours before he pulled the trigger.”
Trevor reached over, tentatively, and touched his hand. “Maybe you should go talk to the Harpers. Maybe they can help you.”
“But they don’t know,” he whispered.
“But maybe the mutual hurt, their mutual questions can help you. It would be worth a shot.”
“I don’t know if I can.”

Trevor looked away, over at another couple walking along the main beach. “You’ll have to eventually. Sooner rather than later please.”
“You’re going to walk away after all aren’t you?”
Trevor was quiet, trying to control his breathing. “No. I love you and I’ll stick by you for as long as I can, but this is the first time I’ve ever been hurt by something you said about Ben. I’m afraid it will become a habit.”
“I’m so sorry. I thought things were getting better, then all of a sudden…”
“All of a sudden you’re doing stuff that you once wanted to do with him and it’s affecting you. I understand, but it still hurts that I’m not the only one on your mind. Do you think of him when we…when we make love?”
“No. I thought only of you and how much I love you and how good you make me feel.”
“Good. Maybe because that is something you and Ben actually did together?”
“Could be. I’ll try not to let you know when this happens in the future. I don’t like hurting you.”
Trevor actually chuckled. “You’re not a very good actor, I can tell when you are upset even if you are trying to hide it. Just promise me that you’ll be open and honest and we’ll talk it out. Okay?”

“Yeah,” JC said, taking Trevor’s hand and kissing his palm. “I promise.” But he knew from that point on he would do everything he could do to be a better actor. He couldn’t stand the thought of hurting the man he loved that much.

EXCERPT CHAPTER 4 - LETTING GO

Here's a new excerpt for you. The day to day of a couple building something together amidst the problems of real life. Enjoy! Pre-order today  Other Retailers   Amazon


“Are your kids always this loud so early in the morning?” Trevor murmured as he sank back into JC’s arms.
“Only when Ben has a girl he’s interested in. He hogs the bathroom.”
“I guess we should get up huh?”
“But I don’t want to,” JC whispered in his ear. “I want to take another shower.”
Trevor laughed and moved out of his embrace when there was a knock on the door. “I’m going to escape to the bathroom while you talk to your son.” With a quick kiss, he grabbed his jeans and disappeared through the door.
“Come in, Michael.”
The door creaked opened and the young man stepped in and looked around. “Is everyone decent?”
JC smiled at his son. “Yeah. Trevor’s in the bathroom. What’s up?”
“We seriously need to get a new house! Ben and I need our own bathrooms before we kill each other…at least when he has a girlfriend.”
“We’re not getting a new house so that you and your brother won’t fight. You just need to learn to share.”
“I’m willing,” Michael huffed. “But he has to have every hair in place and every seam perfect. I’m barely able to keep from peeing myself in the morning.”
“Alright…I have an idea.” JC got out of bed, grateful that he’d put on his pajama bottoms after the shower. Walking to the other side of the house, he stood outside the kids’ bathroom and smacked the door twice. “Out of the bathroom now, kiddo. Meet me in my room, we need to talk.”
By the time JC got back to his room, Trevor was out of the bathroom and chatting with Michael about his art. The boy was showing him his latest masterpiece. “Your son has major talent.”
“He does…just like his father. The drawings out in the hallway were all Ben’s.”
“I’ll look at them again when I run out to my car and get the spare clothes I keep there.”
“You keep spare clothes in your car?” Ben asked as he walked into the room.
“Yeah, as a pediatrician you don’t know when you will be vomited on or pooped on. It’s best to keep a few outfits spread out between the office and the car. I’ll be right back.”
Ben sat down on the bed and looked up at his father. “So, why did you want to see me? I was in the middle of something important.”
“Yeah, probably wanking off,” Michael murmured.
With a warning look at his artistic son, JC turned to Ben. “We need to talk about you hogging the bathroom. You need to share evenly with your brother.” Of all the things to have to come down on one of his kids for! “I’m sure everything you do in there doesn’t need to be done in the bathroom. Can’t you do some of it in your room?”

“But I need a mirror, Dad,”
“Don’t whine at me, boy. We’ll get you a full-length mirror to put on your closet door. Would that help?”
Ben looked at Michael and smiled. “Sure Dad. I think that will work. Can we go now? I want to finish getting ready.”

“Yeah, but use my bathroom. Give your brother a chance in yours. I’m going to go fix breakfast.”

EXCERPT CHAPTER 3- LETTING GO

NEW EXCERPT - CHAPTER 3 ENJOY!!! http://amzn.to/2zMQKGg

JC stirred when he heard a buzzing sound, but he was so comfortable he didn’t want to acknowledge it until suddenly the arm that had been draped over him was gone. He saw Trevor standing next to the bed, ending a call.
“Hey, the hospital just paged me. One of my newborn patients is ready to check out soon and I have to go examine him one more time before release. I’ll be back in about an hour and we can grab some breakfast.”
“Okay,” JC said softly, a smile on his face. “What time is it?”
“Nine a.m. Go back to sleep for a while,” Trevor demanded as he bent down and kissed him on the lips. “You’re still exhausted.”
JC’s eyes drifted closed and shortly after he heard the bedroom door shut he was asleep again. The next time he woke up it was a half hour later and there was a wet, cold nose on his bare back. “Morning Max,” he mumbled. “Do you need to go out?” The dog spun in a circle and jumped down off the bed, racing to the door with a whine. “I guess that’s my answer.”
Picking his pants up off the chair where Trevor had tossed their clothes, he slipped into them and followed Max out of the room and down the stairs. Apparently, Max had a doggy door and could take care of himself once he was out of the bedroom, so he followed the smell of coffee into the kitchen. A nice fresh pot sat in the coffee maker on the dark solid surface counter top. Pouring himself a cup he headed out to the living room to grab his phone and check for messages. The minute he activated the screen, the time and date popped up. The date…one forever burned in his brain stared back at him, obscuring the rest of the screen. His baby girl had now been gone for eight years.
He and Jenny had conceived her perhaps for the wrong reason…to try to resurrect their bond when both knew their marriage and a normal sex life had been doomed from the start. But he had loved that little girl from the minute he saw the positive pregnancy test…before he even knew if he would have a daughter or a son. Never once had he regretted her but sometimes he still felt guilty. Maybe if they hadn’t conceived her for such selfish reasons…

As Max came charging into the room, JC remembered where he was - at Dr. Trevor Alexander’s house after they’d had sex and spent the night in each other’s arms. How could he have betrayed his daughter like that? This man was the last person he should have been spending time with. What the hell had he been thinking?

Leaving his coffee cup sitting on the coffee table, he hurried upstairs to get dressed then rushed back down to find a pen and paper so he could leave Trevor a note. As good as everything had felt over the last two days, he couldn’t imagine himself continuing what they’d started. He was the wrong person at the wrong time. 

EXCERPT CHAPTER 2 - LETTING GO

Hey hey, here is the excerpt from Chapter 2 from Letting Go. JC and Trevor are just getting to know each other and it is going to be a hell of a ride. Enjoy! 

Pre-order links 

All other retailers: http://bit.ly/2C1hgNF


JC rolled over in bed trying to silence his alarm…the alarm that was causing his head to scream at him. But this ringing wasn’t steady, it couldn’t be his alarm. The front door! Who in the hell would be ringing his doorbell at…shit! It was 10:30 in the morning. Apparently, he had slept through his actual alarm at eight a.m.
“Hold on!” he hollered out despite what it did to the throbbing in his head. He levered himself out of bed and hurried out to the living room in just his pajama bottoms. Whoever kept ringing the bell was going to get a punch in the gut if there wasn’t a damn good reason for it.
Opening the door with a clipped, “What!” JC stared into the stunning blue eyes of Doctor Trevor Alexander. After a moment of shock passed, JC squared his shoulders. “I thought you agreed that I would never have to see you again.”
A bright smile lit Trevor’s face. “Last night, before you got out of the car, you said, and I quote – I’ll see you later. So, I figured that was your way of saying that you actually did want to see me again. Besides, I brought breakfast.”
JC’s brain warred with his growling stomach and he finally stepped aside so Trevor could enter. “If that’s bagels and coffee, you’re my new best friend.”
“I guess we’re best friends then,” Trevor said with a smile as he headed for the kitchen. “Great place. I think this was Model III, right? I bought Model IV, but I liked this one too.”
“Yeah, this was my favorite but four wasn’t far behind.”
As Trevor set their food out on the breakfast bar, he looked up at JC. “Doesn’t the wife usually get the house?”
“Not this time,” he stated. “She didn’t want it; too many painful memories. She moved in with her sister, who is also divorced, and seems happy where she is. Besides, I was always a little bit too attached to this house I guess.” He didn’t tell the very handsome man standing before him that he was so attached because the real name of Model III was The Benjamin.
“Sit. Eat,” Trevor demanded as he took his own seat at the breakfast bar. “I hope you like cream cheese. And if I remember from last night, you like your coffee black.”
“It’s perfect, thank you. If you hadn’t stopped by I would have slept until after noon and wasted a whole day off.”
“We can’t have that now, can we. How do you feel about hiking?”
JC felt a little skip in his chest. It seemed he and the doctor might have something else in common. “My boys and I go hiking a couple of times every month. Why?”
“Max and I are heading up to the south loop of Elk Meadow Park here in a bit. I thought maybe you’d like to join us…sweat some of that alcohol out of your system.”
Max? Who the hell was Max? And why the hell did he care so much? Just as quickly as the green-eyed monster swelled up in his belly he forced it back into submission. He had no reason to be jealous. He didn’t even really like the good doctor. “I don’t know…I don’t want to interfere with your plans.”

“You wouldn’t be interfering. It’s just a man and his Rottweiler taking a hike in the beauty that is Colorado.”
“Your Rottweiler huh?” he mumbled. The green-eyed monster no longer had to be suppressed, he vanished – poof – into thin air. “Sure, I guess that would be okay, and you’re right I need to get this crap out of my system. I feel like shit.”
“No doubt. Why don’t you go take a shower and I’ll clean up here? Then we can go pick up Max and be on our way.”
JC stood and stretched. “Are you trying to tell me I stink?” He actually knew he did. He smelled heavily of booze.
“You smell like you’ve been sweating alcohol. But I’m not complaining. I do think a shower would make you feel better, though.”
“You’re right, it would. I’ll be right back.”
“Wait, before you go,” Trevor said as he grabbed JC’s arm to pull him back. “I’ve been wanting to do this since I noticed you staring at me last night.” Their lips met for a brief kiss that held so much promise.

“Really?” JC murmured as he turned and fled to the bathroom. Now, through his whole shower, he would be thinking about that kiss and the totally attractive man who had given it to him. His body would be aching even more when he was done than when he first stepped into the stall. 

EXCERPT CHAPTER 1 - LETTING GO






INTRODUCING LETTING GO - How do you move on when your heart is shattered in a single, tragic moment?

James Croft fell for his one true love in high school, only to lose him to suicide. How can he move on from the tragic moment that irrevocably changed his life?

Dr. Trevor Alexander lives for his career, until the day his former patient’s angry, disillusioned father walks back into his life. Suddenly, Trevor wants more.

Desperate to put the past behind him, James reluctantly decides to date the sexy doctor. But maintaining a relationship is easier said than done. Can James come to terms with his past? Can Trevor accept what his lover can never forget?

They must try, because there’s no future in the past. PREORDER: https://www.amazon.com/Letting-One-More-Chance-Book-ebook/dp/B077WV3GWH


JC knew the minute he stepped into the club that this definitely wasn’t his scene. His friend Martin was so happy that he’d decided to date again after breaking up with the man he’d been seeing for the last two years. Aaron…he needed to forget the emotionally destructive poison that was Aaron.

At thirty-two, after having been married and raising two kids, all the men who packed the crowded club seemed like babies to him. There had to be another way to meet someone. Maybe he should wait and let things fall where they may. There was bound to be a gay man at the golf course, at the gym, or hell, even at the supermarket, wasn’t there?

The minute a leather clad man with nipple piercings approached him, he turned and fled the building, bumping into Martin as he hurried outside.

“Whoa, where do you think you’re going?” Martin asked, reaching for his arm to turn him back toward the bar.

“This is not my scene, man, “JC said, jerking his arm away. “I’m not going back in there so a leather clad freak can hit on me.”

“I thought you wanted to have some fun!” Martin pouted. “This is the perfect place to let loose and get back into the groove.”

“This is not the groove I want to get into. I’ll take my chances at the supermarket.”

Martin stuck his nose in the air and turned away from JC. After a minute he turned back to him, leveling a haughty gaze at his friend. “Fine! Let’s just go to the boring bar and have a couple of drinks. Nothing going on there but playing pool and…and conversation!” With a look of disgust, he grabbed JC’s arm and dragged him down the street.

The outside of the bar was nice and pretty unassuming. It was an older building that spoke of many generations past, back when Denver had a western flare. It wasn’t one of the new, modern buildings that seemed to have overtaken the city. Except for the name lit up in bright green neon above the door, you would almost move past it without knowing it was even there. “Come on, Mr. Stick in the Mud,” Martin mumbled. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Are you sure this is the right kind of bar?” JC asked as they stepped inside. But he immediately knew he needn’t have asked that question. The long wood bar was crowded with males from every walk of life – from suits to battered jeans and work boots, it was a veritable buffet of men.

Tables were scattered around the back of the room but only one of them was in use. A group of men in dress clothes sat around a rectangular one laughing and joking. The man who held court at the head of the table made JC’s stomach lurch. Dr. Trevor Alexander…the man who had let his daughter die.

“You son of a bitch! You’re lying. What the hell did you do to my daughter?” All JC could hear was his racing heart. All he could see was the room spinning and blurring before him. He had to regain control.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Croft…”

Rage built inside JC and he could no longer control it. The asshole standing in front of him said his Abby was dying. She’d been fine just an hour before. “What the hell did you do to my daughter,” he repeated, stepping toward the doctor. His wife’s firm grip on his arm was the only thing that kept him from wrapping his hands around the man’s throat and putting him in the same state his daughter was in. His Abigail was dying and it was all Dr. Alexander’s fault.

“Are you okay?” Martin asked when he noticed his friend’s startled expression.

“Yeah…uh, yeah. I’m fine. Let’s grab a table.” The memory still haunted him from time to time and now with the good doctor mere feet away, he hadn’t been able to stop it. Why was that son of a bitch still happy and breathing?

“We’d better do it now; this place will be getting overrun in about a half-hour.”

The two men sat across from each other making sure to let anyone who may be watching know that they weren’t there together. A waiter in tight jeans and a painted-on t-shirt hurried over to them, his look of boredom quickly fading to be replaced by a genuine smile. “My name is Patrick. I’ll be grabbing your drinks tonight. What can I get for you?”

“I’ll have a beer,” JC murmured. “Whatever’s cold and in a bottle.”

“And you?” The waiter asked with an extra special smile to Martin. “What can I get you?”

“I’ll have the same…and hurry back, I’m really thirsty.”

The waiter winked at Martin and headed for the bar.

“Well it looks like at least one of us is going to get lucky tonight,” JC chuckled, his eyes periodically moving to the table across the room. Not that he was there specifically for a one night stand – he wanted to meet someone he could get to know. One night stands were not on his radar anymore.

Martin huffed and shrugged. “I’m here to get you laid, not myself…but if it happens, I won’t complain,” he chuckled. “And you seem to have set your sights on that amazing specimen of a man over at that other table.”

JC quickly brought his gaze back from across the room. “Him? No way in Hell!”

“Oh? Do you know him?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do,” JC said softly. “He was the doctor who worked on Abigail in the ER.” And as Martin opened his mouth to speak, James put his hand up. “I know, I know, he didn’t kill Abigail. But you know what? It sure as hell feels that way when someone tells you that there is nothing more that they can do and that your four-year-old child will probably not make it through the night.”

“If you truly know that, then you should have nothing against him,” Martin said, matter-of-fact. “He’s hot, you’re hot. He’s gay, you’re gay. I don’t see the problem. Go over and reintroduce yourself.”

JC warred with the thoughts going through his head. A very small part of him knew that Martin was right, but he couldn’t… “Nah, I said some pretty nasty things the last time I saw him, besides last he knew Jenny and I were happily married. He thinks I’m straight.”

“If you ask me,” Martin said, tossing his head. “That gives you two even more to talk about. I’ve got a good feeling about this.”

“No,” JC snarled.

The bar quickly started to fill up just as Martin had said it would. Very attractive men were everywhere, and JC knew he could probably have his pick. But the moment he’d walked in and seen the doctor he’d lost interest in the whole evening. In two short days, it would be the eighth anniversary of his baby girl’s death.

Beer after beer, he sat and alternated between talking with Martin and looking over at the good doctor and his friends. Martin was right about one thing; Trevor Alexander was hot as hell! He hadn’t been in a position to notice that before. Even in his stuffy clothes, JC could see how taught and perfectly formed his body was. The way his muscles stretched his dress shirt was practically sinful. But he wasn’t interested in that particular sin.