Coming home should be the easiest thing in the world, but I’ve never felt more lost…
When his stellar military career comes to an abrupt and terrible end, thirty-two-year-old Maddox Kent returns to the town he never planned to step foot into again, hoping to mend the rift he himself caused with the brother he left behind. But coming home means facing some hard truths about himself and his actions. When he has the chance to start making amends by helping his brother with the wildlife sanctuary he runs, Maddox is thrown another curveball when a stranger appears…
As long as we keep moving, everything will be okay. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway…
For twenty-one-year-old Isaac, Pelican Bay is only supposed to be a stopping point on the trek from San Francisco to New York. With his little brother, Newt, in tow, Isaac is just looking to make things right by returning something of value to a person he wronged. But “getting lost” in the next big city proves to be a problem when the brutal Minnesota winter claims Isaac’s car and strands him and Newt at the animal sanctuary. When the owners of the place offer him a job, a desperate Isaac agrees, despite the presence of a man Isaac instinctively knows could be his downfall…
It should be so easy to let him go, but I can’t. And not just because I want to protect him…
Nothing about Isaac makes sense to Maddox. Not his piercings or makeup or flashy clothes. And most certainly not the snarky mouth that doesn’t match the vulnerability Maddox sees in the younger man’s eyes. But one thing does make sense to the hardened former soldier. Isaac is running from something, and Maddox’s gut is telling him not to let Isaac and little Newt go until he can ferret out the truth.
But having Isaac around means trying to make sense of something else Maddox isn’t expecting… his own body’s response to the beautiful younger man. Aside from their explosive chemistry, nothing about the straitlaced soldier and the secretive misfit works.
But maybe that’s exactly why it does…
NOTE: Can be read as a standalone (no cliffhangers) but more enjoyment may be had by reading book 1, Locked in Silence, first.
“Can you ask Isaac to stick around for a bit?” Nolan asked. I turned to look at him. He was focused on Dallas but kept shooting me glances. “Tell him to make himself at home.”
I nodded. I wasn’t at all surprised he wasn’t extending the same offer to me. I certainly didn’t deserve it. I spared my brother another glance, then left the room, pulling the door closed behind me.
I returned downstairs and found Isaac and Newt sitting at the small kitchen table, their coats still on. Newt was swinging his legs back and forth beneath the table as he and his brother played some kind of game with their hands. I almost smiled when I realized what it was.
“One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war,” Isaac said. As soon as he said the last word, the pair began dueling it out with their thumbs. Neither of them noticed me, so I was free to watch their interaction. A smile split Isaac’s mouth as Newt managed to pin his thumb down.
“Oh no!” Isaac cried in mock fear.
“I’ve got you,” Newt declared. I nearly laughed because Newt was holding onto Isaac’s thumb with both his hands, a clear violation of the rules.
Both of them dissolved into a fit of giggles after Isaac declared Newt the winner. They were about to start another round when Isaac looked up and spotted me. The amusement slipped from his expression and was replaced with one of wariness and uncertainty.
I tried to tell myself that was a good thing, but I didn’t like the little twinge of guilt that landed in my belly.
Isaac climbed to his feet and subtly placed himself between me and Newt. I wanted to laugh at that. One, because what exactly did he think I was going to do? And two, if I had wanted to do something, a scrawny teenager wasn’t going to be able to stop me.
“Is he all right?” Isaac asked.
“He’s fine,” I said as I stalked towards them.
The kid paled a little and stepped back but didn’t move away from the little boy. If anything, he moved closer.
I practically towered over him. I guessed I had at least five inches on him and outweighed him by a good fifty pounds. “Nolan wants you to stay.”
Isaac swallowed hard and nodded but didn’t say anything. Up close, I could see his eyes were a startling shade of dark blue with what looked like flecks of gold and green in them.
Makeup aside, they were… pretty. And actually, the heavy liner surrounding his eyes kind of made them even more intense.
It occurred to me that in order to see his eyes that close up, I had to be standing really close to him.
Really, really close.
When had that happened?
I took a step back and let my gaze travel over his face. His skin was pale and I didn’t even see a hint of facial hair.
It was another reminder of how young he was.
His hair was thick and so dark it looked blue under the light. And then I realized it looked blue because there actually was some blue it. It was subtle, but it was there.
“You’re one of those Goth kids, aren’t you?” I asked.
Isaac looked startled. “What?”
I let my eyes sweep his body and felt an unpleasant sensation stroke through my system.
Okay, not entirely unpleasant.
“You’re into all that heavy metal death shit,” I said.
“Oooh, he said a bad word,” Newt whispered. “You gotta do what Isaac says now.”
“What?” I asked.
“No, he doesn’t,” Isaac said at the same time.
“I gotta give up Lightning when I do it.” The little boy whipped out a red toy car from his pocket. “And I can’t get him back for fifteen whole minutes,” Newt declared, his eyes going big.
“Is that right?” I asked as I turned my attention to Isaac. A shiver of awareness went through me when Isaac’s tongue darted out to wet his lips and I found myself once again stepping closer to him. “You gonna punish me now, Isaac?” I asked, dropping my voice just a bit.
I expected him to cower, or at least look away. But he held my gaze and I saw a subtle shift in his expression. Suddenly, he was the one pressing forward, and I found myself practically nose to nose with him.
He smelled like lemons.
Why the fuck was I noticing that about him?
“I don’t particularly like wasting my time trying to teach lessons to guys like you.”
“Guys like me?”
His eyes slid up and down my body.
“You’re one of those dumb jocks, right?”
“What?” I asked, completely caught off guard.
“The muscles, the intimidation, the inability to speak more than a few syllables at a time…” he practically purred. “I mean, that’s what we’re doing here, right? I’m the weird, freaky Goth guy because I wear black and like to use a bit of eyeliner now and again, and you’re the brainless jock who can’t string more than a few words together and expects everyone to fall at your feet because you’re big and built and gorgeous.”
His hand actually came up to stroke over my chest and I felt his touch everywhere.
“Newt, what’s our rule about letting people hurt us with words?” Isaac asked as he held my gaze.
“It don’t count if they don’t know our middle names,” Newt declared.
“Doesn’t count, and you’re exactly right, Newt.” Isaac dropped his hand and stepped back. “People like that just aren’t worth our time, are they?”
“‘Cause if they don’t care enough to know our middle names…” Isaac began.
“—they don’t care enough to be nice,” Newt finished.
I couldn’t help but feel a weird sense of pride. Not many people had the balls to stand up to me. This kid had done it with very little hesitation and made a teaching moment out of it.
I forced myself to move back and give both of them a little more breathing room. “Nolan said to make yourself at home,” I said, then turned to head for the door. I didn’t like all the shit going through my head at the moment and there was only one thing that would help ward it off.
I needed to move.
And just keep moving.
“Is there anything I can do?” Isaac called. “For Nolan, I mean?”
“Yeah,” I said without looking at him. “Don’t steal anything.”
I’ve spent years hoping someone would finally hear me. It’s easier not to try anymore…
Ten years after leaving his small Minnesota hometown in his rearview mirror for what Nolan Grainger was sure would be the last time, life has decided to throw the talented musician a curveball and send him back to the town he lived in but was never really home.
At twenty-eight, Nolan has traveled the world as a successful concert violinist with some of the best symphonies in the country. But success breeds envy, and when Nolan’s benefactor and lover decides Nolan has flown high enough, he cruelly clips Nolan’s wings. The betrayal and ensuing scandal leaves the violinist’s career in shambles and with barely enough money to start fresh somewhere beyond his vindictive ex’s powerful reach. But just as he’s ready to get his life back on track, Nolan gets the call he’s been dreading.
After a stroke leaves his father a partial invalid, duty-bound Nolan returns to Pelican Bay and a life he’s spent years trying to forget. When he’s forced to use the last of his own money to keep from losing the family home, desperation has him turning to the one man he’d hoped never to see again…
Even if I could speak, there wouldn’t be anyone there to listen…
Pelican Bay’s golden boy, Dallas Kent, had the quintessential perfect life. Smart, gorgeous, and popular, the baseball phenom was well on his way to a life filled with fame and fortune. But more importantly, he had a one-way ticket out of Pelican Bay and far away from the family who used love as currency and whose high expectations were the law of the land. But a stormy night, sharp highway curve and one bad decision changed everything, leaving Dallas with nothing.
Because the accident that took his parents, his future and his crown as the boy who could do no wrong, also stole his voice.
Despised for the horrific wreck that ended the lives of two of Pelican Bay’s most respected residents, Dallas has retreated to a secluded stretch of land where he’s found refuge in a menagerie of unwanted animals that don’t care that he once had the world at his feet or that he’ll never speak again.
But when the quiet, bookish boy he wasn’t allowed to notice in school suddenly reappears ten years later at Dallas’s wildlife rehab center in desperate need of a job, Dallas is thrust back into a world he’s worked hard to escape.
Dallas’s silence was supposed to send Nolan scurrying, but what if Nolan ends up being the one person who finally hears him?
Will two men who’ve been fleeing from the past finally come home to Pelican Bay for good or will the silence drive them apart forever?
MEET THE AUTHOR
Although Sloane Kennedy always dreamed of being a writer as a teenager, she didn’t take the plunge until March of 2015 when she released her first novel as an independent author. Since then, she has released more than a dozen books including the Amazon best-selling “Barretti Security” series, “Finding” series and “Protectors” series. While she initially began writing M/F romance, she found her true passion writing gay romance and all four of her most recent releases reached the #1 spot on Amazon’s Gay Romance bestseller list and Freeing Zane, her final book in the Barretti Security series, made it to Amazon’s overall bestseller list. Sloane was born in Germany and grew up in Virginia and Wisconsin. Although she currently lives in Wisconsin, the place where she has always felt most at home is Seattle and many of her books take place in the Emerald city. Although she is unmarried, a menagerie of 2 dogs and 3 cats keeps her busy enough and 3 young nieces take care of the rest of her free time. Sloane loves being able to share her passion for romance with readers and she is truly humbled by all the support she’s received from fans and fellow authors alike.