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by Chloe Stowe
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Welcome back to Hellesgate. Three years have passed since New York real estate mogul Matthew Archer met and fell in love with Iraqi war veteran Cane Summerfield. Having survived a deranged arsonist, a wispy, green-eyed stalker and a revenge-fueled brother, the men have settled down to small town life in Hellesgate, Kansas. Life is good. Every day, their love grows. Every day, their wedding nears. But when a love is borne of fire, the future is often shaped by hell. When two strangers arrive in town, the horrors of Cane's war-torn past return wearing fresh faces and harboring mysterious hate. Greed, envy and lust combine to form an enemy unseen until the very end. The battle is one for Cane's scarred peace of mind. The battle is one Matthew will risk everything to win. With the eccentric citizens of Hellesgate by their side, the men must fight a war that will leave one thing branded indelibly on all their hearts... While war is hell, love is forever its phoenix.
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance/Ravenous Romance, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: August 2011
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [212 KB]
Reading time: 132-186 min.
December 2, 2008
Bill "Blow Torch" Bledsoe was one hell of a man. A husband and a father, he was a straight shot even after two days of no sleep and a ten-mile hike through the desert. He was the kind of man women wanted in their beds at night and at their breakfast tables the next morning. He was the kind of guy men wanted to share six-packs with on NFL's wild card weekend and have their backs in a firefight.
Physically, Bledsoe was a tank. All beef and brawn, the six-foot-five, two hundred and forty-pound man left an impressive tide of admiration and well-placed fear in his wake. With coal black eyes, dark red hair, and a smile more growl than grin, Bledsoe's mere presence put more of a beat-down on folks than most men could hand out with a roundhouse and a cleaver. Nobody messed with Blow Torch Bledsoe. Nobody.
Cane Summerfield was damned lucky to have him in his unit.
Jumping down from the cab of the supply truck, twenty-four-year-old Staff Sergeant Summerfield squinted into the early morning Iraqi sun and tried to keep his stomach from devouring itself too noisily.
Cane had been born and raised in a small town in Kansas. Brought up in the home of his aunt and uncle, the handsome young man had had shitty luck with his personal life. In fact, it was a slightly deranged ex-girlfriend to whom he had to thank for his military career. It was damned hard to cling to a man a couple of thousand miles away. He held no bitterness toward the girl, however. He loved his life in the military.
He was prepared to put in one more tour of duty before returning to Kansas to help run his aunt's and uncle's orchard, a business he would no doubt inherit one day. The next fifty years of his life were all planned out, and despite being in the middle of a God-awful war and being hungry as hell, Cane Summerfield was a content man.
The food issue, however, really rankled him. Although deep in his second year of serving in the Middle East, Cane still hadn't developed a taste for the MREs. He ate enough of them to survive but supplemented them with as much fresh food as he could find in the desert. Surprisingly oranges were extremely common in the Diyala Province. Their sweet, tangy aroma blossomed out of the large groves and floated alongside the stench of gunpowder on the Iraqi wind.
Unfortunately, Cane's unit had camped in a corner of the valley where the groves had been bombed out months ago. It was devastating to the local people and their fragile day-to-day economy. It was equally disturbing to his stomach which once again growled impatiently at him.
"Heard that, Sarge." A familiar rumble joined the gunpowder on the breeze. Apparently Blow Torch had a hell of a set of ears too. The big man lumbered Cane's way, a smirk curling his lips into something endearingly scary. "A grown man needs more than just stale coffee and a handful of sunflower seeds to see himself through the war day."
"Your mama tell you that, Bledsoe?" Cane asked as he nonetheless headed back to the makeshift mess tent. It was a well-known fact that Blow Torch's mama was career military herself. In fact, she had given Blow Torch his nickname when the kid was just five. Most kindergarteners are named after their mother's favorite gunner, after all. "Because I've got to tell you your mama might have gone a little overboard on the t-bones and lasagna for you for breakfast, my friend."
Bledsoe laughed and looked down at his overly large self. "I'm stout, Sarge." He clapped his hand on Cane's shoulder as they ducked their heads through the entrance to the tent. "You wouldn't want me any other way."
"I'll give you that, sergeant," Cane conceded with a grin. "Much easier to hide behind you that way."
"Not what you were doing the other day." The tone of disapproval was rife in his voice, as was the chastisement that followed. "Should have been though."
Cane didn't want to talk about it. Too big of a deal had been made out of it already. He had just been doing his job, after all. He was just damned lucky he didn't lose anybody in his unit that day.
Walking over to the table with lukewarm eggs and toast stacked high atop it, Cane stubbornly ignored Bledsoe's statement. "We've got twenty before we head out. Think I've got time to run down to the local IHOP?"
"You a blueberry pancake man, sir?" Bledsoe only seemed to remember Cane's superior rank when he was being a smart ass.
"As a matter of fact, I am, sergeant." Cane loaded the metal plate down with toast, steering clear of the questionable eggs. Getting himself another cup of the stale coffee, he offered the man up a bit of advice. "It's a good thing for you to remember too. Knowing your C.O.'s preferences in the food department never can hurt."
"You talking brown nosing, Sarge?" Blow Torch got the meaning. Yep, he was one hell of a man.
Cane nodded proudly, tossing a package of sunflower seeds his sergeant's way. "Always be prepared, Bledsoe."
"Yes, sir." Grinning, Blow Torch caught the bag in one hand and stuffed it into his pants pocket. "Think I'll send these to my little girl." The man was always sending something to the child.