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by Ally Blue
Description: The ties binding the heart to the past can be the hardest to cut. More than a year after the car crash that killed his partner and nearly killed him, Paul Gordon thinks it may be time for a new place, new people, a fresh start. He arrives in Willow Bend, South Carolina, with a single bag in one hand and the deed to a house he's never seen in the other, hoping this will be the perfect place to get on with his life, alone and anonymous. Between working two jobs and caring for his ailing mother, Cory Saunders is just trying to survive. He lives a hand-to-mouth existence, somehow managing to pay a caregiver, feed himself and keep the rickety house from falling down around them. Barely. When Paul catches sight of Cory in the diner where Cory works, it's lust at first sight. And for a while, their intense physical attraction is enough. But as it starts to blossom into something deeper, reality rears its head. Cory has no time for a relationship, and Paul's not sure he's ready to give his heart again. Fate, however, has its own ideas about the best path to healing. This book has been previously published. Warning: Healthy servings of m/m lust, salty language, and a will-they-or-won't-they romance.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2010
eBookwise Release Date: December 2010
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [233 KB]
Reading time: 149-209 min.
Cory pocketed the meager tip old Mr. Jones left him and glanced at the clock. Quarter to nine. Forty-five more minutes until Paul came to get him. He shook his head, laughing at himself for acting like a high-school virgin.
"Cory!" Alicia nudged him with her elbow.
"Hm?" Cory didn't look up from the table he was clearing. He wondered idly what Paul would look like naked.
"You got a customer."
Cory sighed. "Now? Fifteen minutes 'til closing?"
"Yeah." Alicia grinned, brown eyes twinkling. "He asked for you special."
Cory started to say something thoroughly unprofessional. Then a thought struck him. His head snapped up, eyes searching the room. Paul smiled and waved at him from the little table in the corner. Cory smiled back.
"Here, I'll finish this." Alicia snatched the dirty glass he still held right out of his hand and popped him on the butt. "Go get him, stud."
Cory laughed. "Thanks, 'Licia."
She gave him a little shove and he strolled over to Paul's table, grinning like an idiot. "Hi, Paul. You're here early. Although it looks like I might actually be out early tonight."
"Yeah, the place is pretty empty, huh?"
"Sure is. Guess the storm's kept everyone at home."
"Guess so." Paul smiled that lethally gorgeous smile, and it was all Cory could do not to kiss him senseless right then and there.
Cory cleared his throat. "So, what can I get you?"
"Just a cup of coffee, if that's okay. I grabbed a sandwich in town earlier. Besides, I don't want to hold you up."
"Oh, you won't. I still have to do my share of cleaning up before I can go. Sure you won't have something to eat? Maybe some dessert to go with the coffee?"
Paul laughed. "Maybe I'll have a slice of that key lime pie."
"Coming right up." Cory grinned and hurried into the kitchen to fetch it, thinking that the pie wasn't the only thing coming up.
He kept watching Paul out of the corner of his eye while he cleared tables and swept the floor. Watching the way Paul's throat worked as he sipped his coffee, the devastatingly sexy way he licked the pie off his fork. Cory couldn't help picturing that wet, pink tongue sliding over skin instead of metal. He about came in his pants when Paul scooped a finger through the last bit of pie, stuck it in his mouth and sucked it clean.
When Cory came back from depositing Paul's cup and plate in the dishwasher, Paul was standing at the window, staring out into the dimness. Cory allowed himself a moment to admire the man's long legs and firm ass before announcing his presence.
"Okay, I'm set," he said.
Paul turned and smiled at him. "You were right about the pie. It's delicious."
"It is, isn't it?" Cory started toward the door. Paul fell into step beside him, limping just a little. "Hey, Paul?"
"Tell me if I'm being too nosy or anything, but is something wrong with your leg? It looks like it hurts you a little to walk on it."
Those pale eyes filled with sadness. "I was in a car wreck just over a year ago. Broke the left femur pretty bad right up near the hip joint. It still hurts sometimes."
Cory stared hard at Paul's profile, half-hidden behind a swatch of tangled hair. Something told Cory that worse had happened in the wreck than a broken leg.
"Rain's let up," he said as they stepped out the front door into a light drizzle.
Paul's smile said he welcomed the change of subject. "Yeah. Good thing, too. I never saw rain that hard in my life. Are all the storms that bad down here?"
"Not all, but enough of them."
"Your bike's in the back," Paul said as they slid into the truck's cab. "June Horton down at the garage put a new inner tube on it."
"Cool. Thanks for doing that, Paul, seriously." He dug into his back pocket and pulled out a handful of bills. "What do I owe you?"
Paul gave him a surprised look. "Don't worry about it, Cory, it wasn't much."
"No, I can't let you pay for that. Now come on, how much?" Cory wouldn't meet Paul's eyes. He hated taking charity. Hated the pity in people's eyes when they gave him things he hadn't earned. He didn't want to see that look in Paul's eyes.
"Cory." Something in Paul's voice made Cory look at him. He was surprised to find no trace of pity in Paul's face. The only thing he saw there was a heat that left him breathless. "It's not a big deal, okay?"
"Okay," Cory said meekly.
"Good. Now, where am I going?"
Cory guided Paul to the dirt lane and the little run-down house at the end of it. His cheeks heated as Paul pulled up in front and stopped. The place looked old and shabby, and he wished Paul hadn't seen it.
"Thanks for the ride," Cory said, opening the door and hopping out. "And for getting my bike fixed. I'll pay you back sometime, whether you want me to or not."
"You can pay me back right now, if you want." Paul opened his door and met Cory at the back of the truck.
"Oh, okay. Sure." Cory started to dig the money out of his pocket again. Paul's hand covered his and he stopped, heart suddenly in his throat.
"I don't want your money." Paul's voice was soft and heavy. He stepped closer, so close Cory could feel his heat.
"Oh. Then, what...?" Cory looked up into Paul's eyes, and his breath ran out like he'd been punched.
Paul slid one hand into Cory's hair and the other around his back, pressing their bodies together. Cory let out a soft "oh" of surprise. Then Paul's mouth was on his, soft and warm, wet tongue urging his lips open, and all thought vanished in a rush of need. Cory wound both arms around Paul's waist, tilting his head to kiss Paul deep. The evidence of Paul's arousal slid against his own through two layers of cloth, sending electricity zinging up Cory's spine.
"Cory." His name emerged from Paul's throat rough and husky with desire. "Want you."