Authors: Jan Irving
Tags: #Gay, #Fiction, #Romance, #Erotica, #General, #Paranormal
4760 Preston Road
Frisco, TX 75034
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 4760 Preston Road, Suite 244-149, Frisco, TX 75034 http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/
Printed in the United States of America First Edition
Thanks to Carolyn, Laurie, Armandyouidiot, Vikingprincess, Kim, Gabrielle, Missus Grace, Lyn, Camjakefan, Habemus. And Sedonia for meditation lessons. In order to discover new lands, one must be willing
passenger door of their Toyota Tundra truck, his eyes rounding as he took in the house surrounded by tall Western red cedars and Douglas firs, the moss-hung, impenetrable woods. “Dad!” he exclaimed, glancing at Noah with just a trace of the smile Noah treasured in the serious gray eyes he’d inherited from his father.
“Yeah,” Noah said, smiling back. It would be okay. He was still shaky, but he was doing his best to hide it from Josh. And pretty soon he wouldn’t just be acting the part of someone who was okay, he’d actually feel it. “Not bad, huh? Your old man found us, uh, a place with potential.”
Josh, who was twelve now and growing so fast Noah got a pang in his gut at the thought of one day losing his little boy to the full-fledged teen years, walked up the cracked driveway to the gray rectangular box cradled between spurs of raw granite on Sullivan’s Mountain.
Noah had purchased the house on a crazy impulse one day when he just needed to get out of Seattle. He hoped being surrounded by mists, bald eagles, olive-plumed trees and rare blue skies would do the trick. Built in the 1960s, the house was situated on the level part of a circular drive where the two nearest neighbors lived in dips in the road, naturally caused by free-running creeks.
He followed his son around the side of the house to the purple cement swimming pool with green rocks and a dicey hot tub. Despite the strange color, he thought maybe if it were landscaped in a less jarring shade and repaired, it might be a jewel. Anyway, he’d dreamed as soon as his realtor had faxed him photos of it. The tub could be used all winter even higher on the mountain, since the climate in Washington State usually ran more to rain than piles of snow.
Josh bent down and checked the water temperature, his forehead creased. “Nice. Dad, it’s swim temperature! Even if the color…. Uh.”
Noah shook his head. “I know. Can you bear it for a while? I had Jade Moreton warm it up for us since I thought even if it’s ugly, we could use it,” Noah said, referring to the local girl he’d hired to take care of the house. He was pleased Josh had noticed that the water was inviting, at least. He very much wanted his son to like their new life. And he’d worried about him for weeks, since moving a kid from established friends and schooling wasn’t to be taken lightly. “There should even be a hot meal waiting inside—along with pie and coffee.”
Like his Dad, Josh had a thing for berry pies, hot and fresh from the oven or microwaved so the juices sizzled. That and coffee made with dark, oily beans was pure heaven.
Josh grinned at his father. “Organic, right? Yeah, I could eat. Hey, can I back the truck closer to the house? We’ll need to unload all those files you insisted on bringing….” His son rolled his eyes at how many home office supplies they’d carted on the drive down from Seattle, although Noah had pointed out that they had no idea when they’d be back at one of the big box stores.
Noah laughed, shaking his head. Josh’s latest thing was working on his Dad to allow him to drive as often as possible. His kid couldn’t wait to be sixteen—but Noah could. “Nuh uh. You’re a few years short of doing any driving.”
“But we’re up in the wilderness, Dad! What if there was an emergency or something and you were injured and couldn’t drive?” Josh followed Noah to the single peeling white door with a horseshoe hanging upside-down above it. So far Noah didn’t think the house had been lucky, but he hoped to change that.
Josh bit his lip and hesitated before asking in a tiny voice, “And what if what happened to the family that used to live here happened to us?”
“What? Josh!” Noah rubbed the back of his neck. Okay, his son was smart and technically savvy; he must have Googled their new home and neighborhood. “Nothing happened to that family. I was told they needed to move closer to the city to make a living.”
“I know the realtor told you that.” Josh had a stubborn set to his chin. “But one of their kids posted on his blog that he was scared to live here….”
“Josh.” Noah took a deep breath, his pride and excitement clouded. He didn’t want to talk about their home’s previous owners. He wanted to show off their brand new perfect life to his son. This was where Noah intended to regain his independence, where he intended to make his stand.
Josh studied his father, gray eyes grave. “Sorry, Dad. I’m really happy to be here. Can I open the door with the new key?”
Noah handed him the shiny gold key, which was in better repair than their front door. “Keep it; that one’s yours. And as for the driving… we’ll discuss it sometime.” Noah threw Josh a bone to thank him for dropping the topic. Much as he hated to admit it, his son had a point about driving anyway. This wasn’t the busy ’burbs of Seattle. Josh might need a few survival skills in this more remote part of the country. “Just promise me one thing, ’kay?”
“Yeah, what’s that?” Josh breezed through the foyer and made a beeline for the oak- and brass-appointed kitchen with its stone hearth and hanging copper pots. Noah had already had someone working in the kitchen, even before they moved in. It would be the first room they’d renovate.
“Don’t go into the woods without me and a really good map,” Noah commanded. He glanced out the long kitchen windows and swallowed, since the one thing that made him uneasy sometimes about his new home was that thick forest. It was stupid, but he guessed it was because he was an urban man. “You could get lost out there.”
Josh looked out at the tall cedar and fir trees that towered over their new home. “No worries. It looks cold and wet and I’d hate to be lost out there.”
From the bluff above the small gray box, he watched the boy and man walk around the house. Watched the man put his hand on the boy’s shoulder at one point, squeezing with what looked like affection.
He made a soft sound, remembering his grandpa. He’d cared about him. Long… long time ago. And thinking about him made his head hurt and his heart race and tears sting his eyes.
And what she wanted was to get laid.
late, and Jade Moreton knew she had to get home soon. She had night school the next evening right after a double shift at the diner, which felt kind of shitty since sometimes it seemed like all she did was work.
Right now she was bent over the john, scrubbing Thomas Anderson’s en suite. The inquisitive rich teen was lucky enough to live in this posh house, renovated out of the shell of an old bungalow, up on Sullivan’s Mountain. He was leaning against the doorway, watching her work, probably staring at her ass, but he was all right. She was firm with him that she didn’t play around with kids, but since he’d been to all kinds of fancy places like Paris and Rome, he was fun to talk to.
Jade had always wanted to travel, leave this mudball boring town behind. She loved looking at Thomas’s computer photo albums of places he’d visited, listening to his stories of Bangladesh or Sydney, Australia. She knew someone else who had traveled, though it had been in the army, not as a pampered kid. Actually, nothing about Deputy Alec Danvers looked pampered, and she would know, since they shared the same gym—the
gym in small-town Sullivan.
And why was she thinking about him again? Despite how he had come back and was almost a celebrity at their foothills village, he was nothing to Jade, just another man. She’d lived in this hick town with a higher boys-to-girls ratio all her life, so she’d learned a thing or two, and one of them was she didn’t want to end up like her foster mother, a single parent working in a crap-ass diner all her life.
She studied hard, and she played hard, but on
terms. She’d lost her virginity at sixteen and never regretted it, but she’d been careful even then to make sure the boy wore a condom. She was not getting knocked up and knocked down. No, sir!
“You heading up for a swim?” Thomas asked, smiling
She watched him take another hit of the very fine grass he no doubt got from Morley Orris, the local pot farmer. No way could she afford that shit, and she didn’t take it when he offered, since she was fairly sure she might lose her job if she got too cozy with the favored son. She was the twice-a-week maid, pure and simple, and Thomas’s mom was not a lady you’d want to tangle with. His father was even worse, cold with Jade, spending his free time when he was home fishing or hunting. “I wish I could, Thomas. Nice of you to ask,” Jade said with some regret. She didn’t have long before she had to head back and cover her friend Marcie Hollis for an hour down at the diner. Just enough time to visit the pool belonging to the new Seattle folks, which was a quick walk through the woods.
She unfolded her six-foot frame from the bathroom floor, finished for the day, catching her reflection in Thomas’s newly polished mirror. She liked what she saw, sun-streaked brown hair and toned body.
“Why do you say that?” Jade poured her pail of dirty water into his toilet and then flushed it while Thomas took another lazy hit.
“It was weird, the family just disappearing one night, as if they were scared off or something, though I guess since Ralph Hindle got hurt and died in the woods, they probably didn’t like it here much anymore. He was a cool guy, used to come around here all the time….” Thomas shrugged. “Before they lived there, the place was empty since the old man who built it keeled over from a heart attack. So yeah, the house seems like bad luck.”