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Blak Rayne Books
One man lives on the edge. Another lives to forget. Can one bad choice be made right after fourteen years of denial?
'The hardest part of loving someone is knowing when to set them free.’
Indiscriminate sex with strangers is the only pleasure Charles has left in life. No matter how much he wants a relationship, the memories of a painful break-up during his youth won’t allow him to commit—until a friend persuades him to confront the past—to confront the man who dumped him.
Taking his friend’s advice, Charles returns home, in the hopes of rekindling the romance with the man he lost. But, his father’s religious views and the backwater community he grew up in aren’t so understanding when it comes to same-sex relationships and, to his disillusionment, neither is the man he’s returned for.
Todd dropped his bag at the base of the rear porch steps and strode toward his father. Cinching the knapsack straps, Charles leaned to rest his shoulder on a support post at the top step.
At long last, Malcolm drove the axe blade into the chopping block and stood. Bracing his lower back, he patted a rag on his nape. Todd surprised him with a tap on the shoulder and as soon as Malcolm saw his son, he laughed and gave him a hug. Charles kept to the sidelines, allowing them their privacy. Then, Todd motioned in his direction. He assumed Todd had alluded to his presence, but he hadn’t heard a word over the deafening thud of his own heart.
Malcolm didn’t say anything at the onset. He removed his hat—a dusty ball cap—and slapped it on the side of his leg. Squinting, he put it back on, adjusting the bill. “Charlie....”
“I wondered when you’d notice.” He kept his shoulder glued to the post to control the shaking rising without warning through his legs; his nerves—every sensory receptor was on fire.
“By God....” Malcolm ascended the porch steps slowly, wiping both hands down the front of his shirt; it had never been in his nature to rush. “Where have you been all my life?”
Dropping the knapsack, Charles smiled with a sense of relief as they shared a bear hug. It felt extremely good to hold the man, despite the fact that the fond embrace didn’t last. Malcolm MacGuire was rugged as the surrounding terrain, and not the sentimental type unless something, for whatever reason, struck a chord. He differed from Todd and his almost model quality features. Todd’s physical traits like his ditzy personality were reminiscent of his mother—ash blond hair, brown eyes and an oval face, where Malcolm had a sun-baked cowboy attractive look about him, with the great smile, unruly silver-streaked chestnut hair, and a set of smoky-blues that would’ve brought any man to his knees. His square, unshaven jawline didn’t match the ball cap. He’d always thought a real cowboy hat, a Stetson, would’ve suited the man better.
“The temperature must be near thirty already?” Todd brushed perspiration from his upper lip.
“At least,” Malcolm said flatly, glancing at him. “By lunch it’ll hit well over thirty-five.”
“I guess summer is here. While you two catch up,” Todd asserted, giving their backs a slap simultaneously, “I’ll make us some lemonade.”
“Thanks,” Charles added.
The screen door creaked then banged shut, leaving the men to stare at one another in silence—a silence more stifling than the mid-morning air, which made their reunion all the more awkwardly bittersweet for Charles.
Hooking a thumb in a front pocket of his jeans, Malcolm cleared his throat quietly. “I never thought I’d see you again.”
“Todd asked me to come.”
“I gathered as much.” By the look of consternation on his face, Charles’ presence unsettled him.
“What happened to university?” Malcolm asked quite suddenly as if searching for a topic to sustain the conversation.
“I graduated with a diploma in business management over ten years ago. Since then I’ve worked for several companies. Right now I’m job hunting.”
“How’s that going?”
“It’s going. I’m debating whether to upgrade my education or take a position that pays substantially less.”
“It’s huge. I’m not getting any younger.”
“You—” Malcolm expelled a short, dull laugh and pointed to his own chest. “It’s me that has that problem.”
“Your age isn’t a problem.”
“You’re kind...has it really been that long?” He seemed doubtful of the time lost and even more doubtful Charles stood on his porch.
“It has. Fourteen years.”
“That is a very long time. Well,” Malcolm sighed and gave his elbow a gentle nudge, “come have some lemonade.”
“Sounds good.” He followed inside the house.