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Authors: K.M. Mahoney

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The Lonely Heart

BOOK: The Lonely Heart
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A Total-E-Bound Publication

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The Lonely Heart

ISBN # 978-1-78184-097-9

©Copyright K.M. Mahoney 2012

Cover Art by Oliver Bennett ©Copyright September 2012

Edited by Rebecca Douglas

Total-E-Bound Publishing

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.

Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.

The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.

Published in 2012 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.

Warning:

This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has a
heat rating
of
Total-e-burning
and a
sexometer
of
1.

This story contains 171 pages, additionally there is also a
free excerpt
at the end of the book containing 5 pages.

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THE LONELY HEART

K.M. Mahoney

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Take two stubborn cowboys, add in one determined little boy, and toss in a snowstorm for good
measure. Who knew building a family could be so hard?

If you ask Isaiah Preston, he’s pretty lucky. He’s happy in his job as a ranch manager, admires his boss, Grady—in more ways than one—and if he doesn’t have everything he wants, well, that’s life, isn’t it?

Enter one little brother, and suddenly Isaiah’s comfortable world is turned upside down.

Everything becomes complicated and he’s seeing people in ways he never has before—good and bad. Near-perfect isn’t enough anymore. Isaiah wants it all—home, family and—most importantly—Grady, in both his life and bed.

To get what he wants, though, Isaiah is going to have to fight prejudice, misunderstanding, and even Grady himself.

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Dedication

For anyone who’s ever felt different. There is someone out there for you.

Trademarks Acknowledgement

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

Fearless Leader:
The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
, Jay Ward Productions Superman: DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Inc.

Fruity Pebbles: Post Holdings, Inc.

Wheaties: General Mills, Inc.

Jeep: Chrysler Group LLC

Buffy: Mutant Enemy Productions

AQHA: American Quarter Horse Association

Dairy Queen: Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Coke: The Coca Cola Company

Jack Daniel’s: Brown-Forman Corporation

Discovery Channel: Discovery Communications, Inc.

Transformers: Hasbro, Inc.

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THE LONELY HEART K.M. Mahoney 6

Chapter One

Darn, irritating…

Isaiah flung his arm out, slapping blindly at the table. He gave a satisfied grunt upon finally finding the snooze button. He rolled over, folded the pillow around his head, and buried his nose into the mattress.

The buzzing continued. Isaiah groaned and pulled the pillow tighter around his ears.

When that didn’t work, he hit the button a few more times.

After several sluggish moments, realisation crept into his fuzzy brain.
Not the alarm
clock.

“Hellfire and damnation,” he cursed. As usual, the sheets had inexplicably wrapped themselves around his legs. As he struggled to free himself, the blasted phone just kept ringing. He could ignore it, but…

Isaiah squinted at the glowing green numbers of his alarm clock.
Oh
. It wasn’t that late after all. So, hopefully not an emergency.

Of course, now he was up.

Isaiah managed to escape from the sheets. He staggered across the room, cursing as his thighs protested. Stupid cow, and the mud hole, then the darn fence…

He dug through the pockets of his stiff, grime-encrusted jeans, crowing triumphantly when his fingers closed around the hard plastic case.

“’Lo?”

“Good evening. I’m trying to reach Isaiah Preston.”

Well, hell
. Either a sales call or bad news.

It ended up being bad news. Listening numbly, Isaiah would really have rather had someone trying to sell him a useless magazine subscription.

“Sorry,” he said, interrupting the secretary mid-stream. “Could you repeat that?”

“Mr Sofina wanted to enquire as to when we could expect you. Elanore Preston’s will was very specific, but there are still formalities that must be covered and permanent arrangements must be made.”

“Elanore’s dead?”

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THE LONELY HEART K.M. Mahoney 7

The woman stopped talking and Isaiah could hear the discomfort in the silence. “You weren’t informed?”

“No.” Isaiah knew he was being blunt to the point of rude, but really, couldn’t she just get to the damn point? Elanore was his stepmother, not his mother. Hell, he’d only met the woman once, when she married his dad, and that was damn near ten years ago.

“You’re next of kin.”

Isaiah rolled his eyes. “That makes absolutely no sense,” he said. “We weren’t related and she and my father divorced two years ago.” A mere six months before his father had died of a heart attack. He had been significantly older than his pretty little trophy wife.

“I’m afraid there’s no one else. We can keep searching, but that will mean putting Josh in the foster care system.”

“Josh?”

“Your brother.”

Isaiah dropped the phone. It glanced off his foot and he howled a curse as it smacked a large bruise where Bunny had stepped on him earlier this week.

Only Tommy would name his half-draught monstrosity of a horse Bunny Rabbit.

Maybe he should have got that x-ray, after all.

Isaiah scrambled to retrieve the phone, hoping the call hadn’t been disconnected when the device had skittered across the hardwood floor. “Sorry. Could you repeat that? Brother?

Since when do I have a brother?”

“Josh is, let’s see…” The sound of rustling papers came over the line. “Ah. He’s ten years old. Parents listed as Elanore and Harold Preston.”

A half-brother.
Shit. Shit. Shit.

Isaiah rubbed his forehead. “Ten. Christ. Okay, where do I need to be?”

He didn’t even need to think about it. Blood was blood and Isaiah wasn’t about to leave a kid hanging.

“San Francisco.”

“Hang on.” Isaiah rummaged up a pad and pencil and started scribbling notes. The woman spoke rapidly and by the time he finished writing, he had an aching hand and three pages covered in his smudged scrawl.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Isaiah said. His head was swimming, thoughts spinning so quickly he couldn’t quite grasp any one of them.

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THE LONELY HEART K.M. Mahoney 8

Josh. His little brother. His responsibility now. Christ. What was Isaiah going to do with a kid? He lived on a ranch in the middle of Wyoming. Josh would need a school and a house and…shit. Isaiah rubbed at his forehead again. Okay. One issue at a time. Pack a bag. Find a flight out to California. Talk to the lawyer. Work through the problems as they came along before he drowned.

Grady
. Shit and damn. What was he going to tell Grady?

Isaiah dug through his dresser, tossing clothes into his battered duffle bag. He stifled a yawn as he zipped it closed. After yanking on his well-worn boots, Isaiah grabbed his jacket and his bag and jogged out to the truck. He tossed the duffle into the back and dragged his jacket on over his long-sleeved T-shirt. Only nine, but the night air was growing chillier by the day.

Now, he just had to talk to Grady. Isaiah turned up the sheepskin collar on his denim jacket and shoved his hands into the pockets, crossing the hard-packed ground with long strides. The lights on the corners of the barn shone dimly, casting large shadows across the yard. He hopped up the steps to the house, boots echoing loudly on the wood.

The porch was dark, the house still and quiet. Dang it all—he hated to wake up Grady.

The ranch owner had worked nearly as hard as Isaiah to pull that idiot calf and his mama out of the mud puddle surrounding Wilson Pond. But he didn’t have much choice. The boss deserved to know that his ranch manager was taking off for a few days.

Isaiah reluctantly rapped on the edge of the screen door, then stuffed his hand back in his pocket, hunched his shoulders, and waited. After a few minutes of silence, he knocked again.

The porch light flicked on, nearly blinding him, before the door creaked open.

“Isaiah? What the hell?”

“Sorry about the hour, Grady,” he apologised. “But I got a call a few minutes ago and I needed to talk to you.”

Serious brown eyes studied him before Grady nodded, holding the door open. “Sure, man. Come on in.”

Isaiah stepped into the hall. “I’ve got a big favour to ask.”

Grady waved his hand. “Ask away. But don’t you want to sit down first?”

He shook his head. “I need to get going.”

“Going?” Grady asked. “Where the hell are you going?”

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THE LONELY HEART K.M. Mahoney 9

“I’ll be back,” Isaiah hastened to assure his boss, seeing his distress. “But it seems my stepmom—well, former stepmom—was killed in a car accident a few days ago.”

“Um, sorry?”

“Hell, I hardly knew the woman. But it seems she knew me, or at least of me, ’cause she named me her next of kin.”

Surprise flickered across Grady’s strong, weather-beaten face. “Huh.”

“There’s a kid.”

“Oh, shit.”

“Yeah. He’s ten. This is the first I’ve heard, but he’s family, you know? So I need a few days to get to California, figure out what to do.”

“Done.”

“I might…well, I’m not sure what to…” Isaiah stuttered, not really sure what he wanted to say.

“Bring him back with you. We’ll manage.”

Isaiah let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. “I really appreciate this.”

Grady shook his head. “Just get out of here. The sooner you leave, the sooner I can get my manager back. Damned if I want to run this place by myself.”

Isaiah grinned. “I’ll hurry.”

A few minutes later, Isaiah was firing up his truck and pulling onto the drive. He opened the window long enough to stick his arm out and wave at Grady. His boss stood on the porch under the dim glow of the outside light and waved back.

As the familiar sight dropped behind him, Isaiah sighed and slouched down into his seat, trying to get comfortable. It was going to be a long couple of days.

* * * *

Isaiah blinked rapidly, trying to push his exhaustion away. He was about ready to fall asleep standing up. The last few days had been endless.

He realised he was swaying and shook his head. Some of the fog cleared momentarily and he reached down, brushing wispy strands of pale hair off Josh’s forehead. The kid was sound asleep, round face looking damn near cherubic.

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THE LONELY HEART K.M. Mahoney 10

Josh seemed so peaceful. And happy. The sight made Isaiah’s gut churn. There was anger there and…well, a really healthy dose of guilt. Anger at the kid’s mom for not telling Isaiah about Josh, about the problems, the whole guardianship thing—hell, for dying. Guilt for not finding out sooner, not digging, even though she wasn’t family, not really.

BOOK: The Lonely Heart
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