include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for The Men of Wesley Lake Box Set by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

This page may contain adult content. If you are under age 18, or you arrived by accident, please do not read further.

The Men of Wesley Lake Box Set

By Sarah Hadley Brook


Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.


Copyright 2018 Sarah Hadley Brook

ISBN 9781634868105

* * * *

Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.


WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.

This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

* * * *

The Men of Wesley Lake Box Set

By Sarah Hadley Brook

Table of Contents:

A Love to Remember

Everything He Wants

* * * *

A Love to Remember

This book is dedicated to those affected by Alzheimer’s.

Chapter 1

Loud dance music poured onto the street when he pulled open the door and stepped inside the small bar, the blast of air conditioning cool against his heated skin. A quick flash of his ID at the bouncer and he was wading through the crowds in search of his friend, hoping like hell he’d found them a booth. The club was packed and he hated it when he ended up standing around. He never felt comfortable being out in the open like that. Yeah, he was weird about it, but his best friend Marc never seemed to mind when they hung out together.

Spying his friend in a corner booth, he raised his hand to try and catch his eye, but Marc’s attention was elsewhere at the moment. So were his hands. And his lips. Graham eyed the hulking mass of muscles that sat in the booth next to Marc and bit back a groan. Black leather vest, tattoos traveling down both arms, shaved head, and large silver gauges in his ears.

Graham didn’t have anything against the man—he’d never even met him. But his friend had a definite thing for men in leather—almost like an obsession with him. Show Marc a daddy wearing leather and he fell hard and fast. Marc always jumped in without looking and sank like a brick in the ocean. Gone, gone, gone. Inevitably it always turned to heartbreak and it was up to Graham to pick Marc up from the floor and help him get over the latest man.

As he approached the booth, the two men untangled from each other and Graham wisely held his tongue when he saw the starry-eyed way Marc looked at the big guy. In his gut, he knew it was another disaster waiting to happen. Why was Marc always searching for love?

“Graham!” Marc’s gaze landed on him and a smile spread across his petite face. The gloss on his lips shimmered from the dance floor’s strobe lighting. “You made it!” He slid from the booth and jumped up to hug him. “I’m so glad you came!”

Graham wrapped his arms around Marc and smiled. For such a little guy, Marc always gave the best full-bodied hugs. He pulled back and fingered the electric blue highlights in Marc’s white blond hair. “New?”

Marc nodded. “Yesterday. Come meet Buddy,” he said, pulling on Graham’s upper arm.

One glance at Buddy and Graham knew Marc’s new friend wasn’t thrilled to see him. Still, he smiled. “Hi.” He offered his hand.

Buddy nodded and shook his hand.

“Baby, this is Graham,” Marc said, already back in the booth and so close to the guy he was practically in his lap. Not that Buddy seemed to mind.

Buddy grunted.

Well, I guess that’s all I’m going to get. “I’m going to grab a beer. You guys want anything?”

Both men shook their heads, their attention—and lips—already on each other.

Graham turned on his heels and made a quick getaway to the bar.

Why the hell did I come again? His gaze swept the dance floor, to the torrent of bodies writhing in a hot, jumbled, chaotic mess of erotic need. His dick twitched. Oh. Riiight. That’s why he was here.

One last night of freedom. And he needed to make it count. Tomorrow was hurtling toward him like a train flying down the tracks, a crazy engineer at the wheel. Less than twelve hours and life as he knew it would crash and burn, and he wasn’t sure he was up to the change.

No! He wasn’t going to dwell on it. Tonight was about getting what he needed and forgetting about tomorrow. He wasn’t ashamed to admit his needs to himself, and judging by the size of the crowd and number of hot men, he would definitely be able to find what he was searching for.

He ordered a draft and leaned against the bar, his elbow braced on the edge, eyeing the scene as he sipped his beer. He may not be ashamed about what he wanted tonight, but a little liquid courage never hurt. One glance at the booth and Graham knew he wasn’t missed. By this time, Marc was actually in Buddy’s lap and Graham wondered how soon they’d be heading out. Unless they used a back room or hall.

He doubted that. Marc wasn’t like him. No, Marc wanted the romance. The whole relationship thing. Not Graham. He was happy to get off where he could. Hurried fucks in a club’s back room, one-offs in the car. Never the same man twice. A rule he lived by. No relationship for him. Not since high school. First love and all that, albeit short-lived. But he’d been a naïve kid then. Now he knew what he liked, and what he needed was a man to take him from behind. Split him apart and thrust in hard and fast. Hot breath on his neck, strong hands on his shoulders, his hips. Fill him so full of hard pulsing cock that he felt like the pain would never end. But it always did. And it turned into the most amazing feeling he’d ever experienced. Over and over, in and out. Sometimes there would be the awkward reach around and he’d get stroked off, but most of the time he did it himself. He knew what he needed to get off.

Fuck, now he was hard and he hadn’t even finished his beer. He drained his glass and set it on the bar, then took a deep breath. Only one way to get his wish. Get out on the dance floor.

He weaved through the crowd and stood on the edge of the dancers, the strobe lights flashing on their faces for less than a second at a time. He felt the strong pull to join them. He loved dancing—something he was good at. He could lose himself in the music. His confidence always soared when he danced.

Graham gave in to the chaos and jumped in. Bodies closed around him, pressing against him as the beat of the music pulsed through him. Suddenly, he felt alive. Firing on all cylinders. He closed his eyes and sank into the rhythm of the crowd. Songs blended. Bodies moved. Sweat poured from his skin, dripping down his back. The musky scent rolling off the other dancers acted as an aphrodisiac. Hands brushed against him. His body hummed with pleasure. Desire. Need.

When a pair of strong hands gripped his waist and pulled him backward, he leaned into it. His back pressed into a hard chest, his head tucked under the chin of the man behind him. Graham’s hips moved with the man’s and the electricity raced through him—much more than he’d expected from just a quick dance. A hard cock pushed into him, and Graham wanted a peek at the man. He tried to turn, but the hands held him in place. Graham gave up and grabbed the big hands, pulling them tighter around his waist as they moved together, the music and heat fueling his need.

By the time the song ended, the stranger’s hands roamed Graham’s chest, his arms, his stomach. This time, when Graham turned, the man let him, and he found himself staring directly at a broad chest, covered in a tight gray T-shirt, nipples poking the fabric. He lifted his gaze and his heart stuttered. Shit. That never happened. The stranger was gorgeous and built like a fucking warrior. The man had to be at least six-five, a good eight inches taller than Graham. Eyes that could have been any color in the darkness drank him in. Through the flashing lights, he saw the blown pupils, and Graham’s heart thumped hard in his chest. Not thinking in time to stop himself, Graham stroked the chiseled jaw, shuddering at the light stubble. God, he loved a man with stubble.

“Want to get out of here?” the deep voice rumbled.

Graham could only nod.

The giant grabbed Graham’s hand, nearly dragging him along as his long legs ate up the floor. Graham struggled to keep up as the guy led him outside, but he wasn’t about to complain.

Cool air hit his skin. Graham didn’t let go of the man’s hand, allowing himself to be hauled toward the parking lot.

Parking lot. That broke through the haze. What the hell am I doing? He never went home with a man.

“Where are we going?” His voice sounded raspy and he cleared his throat. “Wait. Stop,” he ordered, tugging his hand.

The man stopped, an eyebrow arching over one of those dark eyes. “My place?”

Fuck, the man’s voice sounded so velvety, Graham felt like he was being enveloped in sex. It took all he had in him, but he shook his head. “I don’t do that.”

The man squinted, questions in his gaze, still holding Graham’s hand.

Graham hurried to explain. “I mean, I don’t leave with men I don’t know.”

The giant pondered for a moment before nodding his understanding. He scanned the parking lot and headed back toward the building, once again pulling Graham along. In seconds, they stood at the rear of the building, Graham’s back pressed against the brick, the scratchy cement rubbing through his thin shirt.

The Sexy Giant—or S.G., as Graham now referred to him in his head—leaned down and captured his mouth in a heated kiss that sent jolts of desire down to his toes and up to his dick. The stranger tasted of beer and cinnamon, and Graham moved his hips, grinding his cock against S.G.’s leg and moaned. He wanted this. Needed this. Was ready for this.

“How do you want it?” S.G. asked, his voice rough.

“Do you have a condom?”

The man nodded.

“Fuck me,” Graham said, the simple words belying his need. His heart hammered in his chest and he waited for S.G. to say something.

The guy smiled and Graham’s belly flipped. Fuck, the man was gorgeous.

“Going to take some maneuvering,” S.G. acknowledged, gesturing at their obvious height difference. “Sure you don’t want to go to the car?”

Graham shook his head and glanced around. He was ready now and he didn’t care how slutty that made him sound. He needed to get fucked, hard and fast.

S.G. kissed him again, his hands cupping Graham’s ass. Graham moaned again. The man was all alpha, in charge and taking what he wanted, not that Graham wouldn’t willingly give him anything, anyway. It felt odd, though, because he usually didn’t do kissing. At least not like this. Too emotional.

The kiss proved intense, and when S.G.’s tongue swept in to duel with his, Graham shuddered. He wanted to taste him for hours, so he wrapped a leg around S.G.’s and tried to climb the man. S.G. clutched his ass and effortlessly lifted him, and Graham wrapped his legs around the man’s waist. His heart slammed into his chest and he felt himself enveloped in safety, a weird thought as he prepared to fuck a stranger outside. Yet the man radiated safety. And warmth. And he wanted more. Graham slid down and opened his own jeans in record time. His hard dick sprang out and he stroked himself, watching S.G. ogle him. Graham swiped his finger over the swollen head and used the liquid to wet his hand.

“Fuck, that’s hot,” S.G. murmured. Their eyes met. “What’s your name?”

“I don’t do names. No names. No relationships. No strings.”

The stranger raised an eyebrow, but didn’t push. Instead, he unzipped his own jeans, then pulled a condom from his pocket.

“You come prepared. Were you a Boy Scout?” Graham teased.

“As a matter of fact, I was.” S.G. lowered his jeans a little, revealing his hard cock.

Graham’s mouth salivated at the sight of that large, angry dick and fought the urge to fall to his knees. He loved taking a throbbing dick in his mouth, but that’s not what he needed tonight.

“Lube?” The thought of no lube made him shudder.

S.G. grinned again and slipped a packet from his other pocket.

“Gotta love a boy scout,” Graham said with a wink.

“Turn around,” S.G. ordered, his voice low. He rolled the condom down his length as he waited for Graham to follow directions.

Fuck. Nothing turned Graham on more than an alpha male. He obeyed and braced his hands on the wall, his ass pushed out a little.

“Spread your legs a little more,” S.G. ordered, then slipped a slick finger down Graham’s crease, pulling aside one cheek and pressing against his hole. “You’re fucking beautiful.”

Graham trembled. When it came to sex, he typically ignored emotions. But something about the way S.G. spoke made him feel…more than he usually did. He didn’t have time to ponder the implications, though, as S.G.’s finger breached his tight ring and pushed inside. He felt the slight burn and his breath hitched.

“You okay?” S.G.’s hot exhale blew across his neck.

“Yeah. Just…it’s been a while,” he admitted. Six months.

The finger slid in deeper, then out, slowly, and the pain began to subside. When he added a second finger, the ache felt good, and Graham rolled his hand into a fist and pressed against the rough brick.

“Now,” Graham hissed, and the man’s fingers slipped out. He thrust out his ass, chasing them, already missing the fullness.

Large hands gripped his hips, and when he felt the head at his opening, felt S.G. push, Graham groaned, gritting his teeth as the cock slid inside.

He felt splintered, and his fist rammed the bricks, fighting the sharp burn.

“Oh, God, you’re so fucking tight. So hot,” S.G. said, his voice gravelly. The guy stayed still, but Graham pushed back, urging him to move.

S.G. pulled out a little, inching back in, then thrust hard, sliding forward until his balls pressed against Graham’s ass.

“Fuck,” S.G. growled, his head resting on Graham’s shoulder. Hot breath on his neck made Graham shudder and he waited as his body adjusted to the intrusion.

“God dammit, fuck me!” Graham cried when he couldn’t wait any longer. His fist hit the wall again, probably scraping his knuckles. “Fill me up over and over. Fuck me. Please!”

S.G. groaned and pulled out almost teasingly before he slammed back in, hard and fast, grunting with the exertion. When S.G. hit that special spot inside, Graham cried out. S.G. nearly lifted him from the ground and fucked hard. Graham lost himself in the sensations of being fucked. Being filled. He could feel the man’s cock throb inside him with every thrust, and Graham stroked himself, painting the brick wall with his release just as S.G. shuddered, filling the condom. Graham felt the heat in his ass and loved it. Loved every second of it. This. This was what he had needed.

His breathing ragged, he smiled when the man let go of his hips and eased out of him, leaning into him, his hands braced on the wall next to Graham’s. S.G. nudged his hair and softly kissed Graham’s neck. Graham could feel the man’s heart slamming against his back and knew it had been good for him, too.

“Th-that was…off the charts…h-hot…” S.G. stammered as he nuzzled Graham’s neck.

Graham had to agree. He sensed he would relive this night for many years. But now, coming down from the high, he pulled up his jeans. S.G. took care of the condom before fully dressing.

They stood alone, light filtering over them from a nearby streetlamp. Funny, but Graham didn’t feel the usual awkwardness after a hook-up. No urge to run. No embarrassment. He just felt…satisfied.

S.G. surprised him by gently kissing his lips, his hand cupping Graham’s cheek. “Are you sure about no names? I’d like to—”

Graham held up his hand. He may not feel like running, but that’s what he was going to do. “No names. Thank you. It was hot and just what I needed.” The guy looked disappointed, but Graham had been upfront about what he’d wanted from the beginning. He smiled and turned away, wanting to find Marc and let him know he was heading out. He didn’t want to ditch his friend, but he was pretty sure Marc would be just fine with Buddy to keep him entertained.

Graham couldn’t shake the feeling he was walking away from something important, though, and that irritated him. He didn’t have time for feelings. So he did what he did best—he shoved down his thoughts and forgot the hurt look he’d seen on S.G.’s face. His life was too crazy and he wasn’t about to add any more complications to it.

* * * *

Chapter 2

Graham struggled with the large cardboard box, nearly dropping it twice before hoisting it up the front steps and into the cabin he’d call home from now on. What had he been thinking, packing so many books in one box? He made his way into his new bedroom and dropped the load on his mattress. No way he’d get everything from his two bedroom apartment into this place. He’d been right to place most of his belongings in a storage unit. At least for now.

“Dad,” he called from his room. “You doing okay?”

No answer.

He sighed. It had already been a long day, yet it was all just beginning. He left the room in search of his dad. Since the two bedroom lake cabin was all on one level with an open floor plan, he didn’t have to search long. He found him sitting at the small round oak kitchen table, staring out the window.

“Dad? You okay?”

He turned toward Graham, his eyes crinkling in delight. “Hey, when did you get here?”

Graham sat in a chair, resting his hand on his dad’s arm. “Remember, I’m moving in today. So are you.”

His dad’s brow furrowed as he struggled to remember. He ran his hands through his graying hair and shook his head. “Why am I moving to the lake?”

Graham wasn’t sure if he should explain again. It was late in the afternoon and his dad grew more confused as the day progressed. Mornings were great, but evenings were difficult. “We’re here to have some fun,” he said, trying to keep it simple. He didn’t have it in him to explain yet again that his dad could no longer take care of himself, nor did he want to remind his dad he’d fallen down the stairs in his condo.

When the doctor had suggested placing his dad in an assisted living facility, Graham had been immediately against it. His dad was still young. He couldn’t put his fifty-two-year-old dad into a nursing home. It just didn’t seem right. But he also knew he couldn’t leave his father in his condo. It was three levels, and when his dad got confused or tired, he would often trip. The latest fall down the stairs had only sprained his ankle, but Graham knew it could become worse. He’d watched his grandmother deteriorate over time and knew the most basic skills could be lost to the disease.

Case in point, his dad’s older brother, Robert, had recently passed away in a car accident. Even though he’d been unable to drive for years, he’d somehow managed to take his wife’s keys and take off in the truck. By the time his aunt had realized Robert was gone, it was too late. He’d driven off the road into a tree and died instantly. The sheriff had said he was driving at a fairly high rate of speed.

Graham hated to think it, but he was almost glad his uncle had gone that way. It was quicker and meant his aunt wouldn’t spend the next years watching her husband struggle to even remember his name. Alzheimer’s was a cruel disease. Early-onset Alzheimer’s was brutal.

“Is the boat still here?”

Graham pulled himself from his thoughts and nodded. “It’s not in the water, though. We’ll get her in sometime soon.”

His dad smiled. “We had some fun out here over the years, didn’t we?”

He smiled. “We sure did. Family barbecues. Lots of vacations.” The summers his cousins had visited were the best. And the times before his mom had passed away. Those occasions when the entire family was together.

Graham’s gaze swept the small cabin, taking in the photos on the wall, the old battered furniture, and the bedroom doors badly in need of paint. He remembered pulling out that old couch and staying up all night with his cousins while they played video games. The old doors had all the kids’ height charts penciled in. His grandparents had insisted on doing that whenever they’d first visited Wesley Lake each summer. He sighed. The lake house was filled with memories.

“I’ve got to get some more boxes, Dad. You okay for a few minutes?”

His dad looked at him, his brow furrowed. “Boxes?”

Graham sighed. He needed to finish quickly. It looked like his dad was slipping into his sundowner phase. “Yeah, just a few. I’ll be right back.” He rose from his chair and found the remote. “How about watching some CNN?”

He clicked on the television and found CNN, glad he’d already had the cable installed. His dad stood and shuffled over to the tan sofa situated in the middle of the living room area. Graham still couldn’t get over how feeble he looked. Tiger, his dad’s elderly orange tabby cat, appeared from under the table and followed them to the sofa, jumping up to sit next to Graham’s dad.

Once his dad was settled, knowing the news and Tiger would keep him entertained for a few minutes, Graham hustled outside to get as many boxes out of his truck as he could. It was supposed to rain later and he didn’t relish dealing with wet, ruined boxes.

Each time he entered the cabin, he was glad to see his dad in the same place—eyes glued to the screen, one hand petting the cat. His dad may have gone through some changes, but something that hadn’t changed was his love of the news. Especially anything to do with politics. Although, Graham had explained over and over who the new president was, his dad always thought he was kidding, not believing a reality star was the president. He’d given up trying to convince him, figuring maybe ignorance really was bliss on this particular subject. He certainly wished he could forget the damage already done to the country in just one year.

His new bedroom was small and storage was a luxury, so he’d need to make a run to Target to grab some organizational items. His queen-sized bed took up much of the space, even pushed into the far corner of his room. He’d kept the wrought iron headboard, but had stored the footboard. It would have taken up too much room. A tall mahogany chest of drawers stood against the opposite wall with the matching nightstand next to the bed. He set his teardrop-shaped lamp made of crackled glass on the nightstand, and for the first time, the room looked like home. Once he’d hung a couple of things on the wall and got his quilt on the bed, Graham knew it would help, too.

The only closet was incredibly small—closer to the size of a utility closet, really. He hung up a few things and decided he’d need to fold most items. Top on his list for Target was under-the-bed storage.

A crash and a loud meow from the main area of the cabin had him dropping the clothes and running out of his room. “Dad?”

No answer, but it didn’t matter. Graham saw him standing in the kitchen area, looking at the floor, panic etched in his face. Shattered glass surrounded him. He glanced up and met Graham’s gaze, his eyes widened in shock.

“Don’t move, Dad.” He grabbed the broom leaning against the counter, still out from sweeping up the spilled granola earlier. Graham glanced around, hoping to see the cat, and breathed a sigh of relief when he spied him on the recliner. He swept quickly, his dad fidgeting in place, like a child worried he’d done something wrong. Graham dumped the glass into the trash and clapped his dad on the shoulder. “All cleaned up. No worries. How about a pizza for dinner? Pepperoni?”

His dad’s eyes lit up at the mention of his favorite food. The man didn’t answer, but he smiled as he shuffled to the sofa.

Graham placed an order and decided to work in the kitchen while they waited for the delivery so he could keep an eye on his dad. He needed to stock up on groceries and cleaning supplies. He’d brought his own dishes, so he’d get those unpacked either after dinner or sometime tomorrow.

He glanced out the small window over the kitchen sink and watched the water ripple as a light wind blew over the surface. He loved Wesley Lake. It had always brought a sense of peace to his soul. And this place was full of memories, mostly wonderful. So many summers spent here. Jumping off the dock with his sister and cousins. Fishing. Graham chuckled. Well, attempting to fish. He’d never been too great at it; he never could keep still long enough to wait for a fish to bite. He wondered if they still had the old canoe in storage somewhere. Graham grinned as memories washed over him. Spending time here had been some of the best moments in his life.

But living here full time would be different.

The cottage was only about thirty minutes from where he’d grown up in Kansas City, so he wasn’t far from the city and all its conveniences, along with access to art and culture.

The lake community had changed somewhat over the years. Many of the small cabins had been torn down, giving way to large, multi-million-dollar homes, one of those just next door. The rest of the homes, tucked away from the main lake on the inlet, were older and smaller, like his.

His. That was a weird thought. But it was his now. His sister hadn’t wanted the property—she and her husband lived in California and rarely came back to Missouri.

When his dad had been diagnosed, Graham had been the obvious choice to become his guardian. After the elder man’s latest fall, Graham had talked with his sister and they’d decided to sell their dad’s condo. The moment they’d worried about had arrived—the man just couldn’t live alone anymore. The lake house had seemed the perfect solution. One story, open floor plan. Smaller. So, Graham had bought the cabin from his dad, feeling it the right thing to do. This way, he could be with his dad and keep the cottage in the family.

He loved it, anyway, and while he had a few ideas for changes, he didn’t want to alter it too much. The tile flooring needed to be replaced and he wanted to have a hardwood floor installed. And the walls had been painted a bright white at one point, but desperately needed repainting. He’d been considering a warm cinnamon, light but it would bring in some color.

He still wasn’t sure where to set up a work area, but for now, he’d decided on the kitchen table, where he could easily keep an eye on his dad.

The doorbell rang, and he strode to the door to get the pizza. His dad had started to doze, but the pizza would wake him up. And Graham needed to get him to take his meds, often a chore in the evenings. His dad hated taking pills.

He paid for the pizza and set it on the kitchen table, his stomach rumbling. He lifted the box lid and the aroma of pepperoni, cheese, and garlicky tomatoes made his mouth water. He’d forgotten how the local pizza shop had amazing food.

“Dinner’s here, Dad,” he announced.

His dad glanced at him and nodded, but didn’t get up. That was okay. They could eat at the sofa their first night in their new home. Rules were meant to be changed, right?

He grabbed a couple of slices, some paper plates, and napkins and settled in next to his dad to watch CNN. Tiger jumped up to join them, sniffing the air at the pizza, but when Graham offered him a tiny piece of cheese, he turned up his nose, choosing to sit on the back of the sofa and watch the news. Conversation was nil, but Graham was good with that. He just wanted to make sure his dad felt at home.

He’d been worried—thought his whole life would change as he moved into the position of caretaker, but he had a good feeling about it. He took another bite of his pizza and smiled. The lake, the cottage, his dad. It would all work out.

* * * *

By the end of the first week, Graham felt like he was losing his mind. Mornings were fine, but once lunch was over, his dad rapidly declined. His symptoms grew worse as the sunset neared. In less than seven days, his father had broken three glasses, one dish, had lost the TV remote countless times—usually found in his dad’s room—and more granola cereal landed on the floor than in his dad’s bowl each morning.

Not to mention the number of times his dad had stepped outside onto the deck to watch the water. This was fine, but he always did it when Graham was either on the phone, in the bathroom or his room, or out front getting the mail. Not knowing his dad’s whereabouts had taken years off his own life. The first time he’d found the place empty, his heart had thundered in his ears, he was so scared. All he could picture was his dad walking into the lake and he’d wondered at his decision in bringing him out here.

As for his job? Not even a possibility. Less than two minutes of work completed in a week and he had deadlines. Graham was in over his head. Way over his head.

“I’m not sure what to do, Rebecca,” he admitted to his sister. “Until I lived with him, I had no idea he was this bad. I mean, yeah, I knew…but it’s like having a toddler.”

Her laugh came through the phone.

He frowned. “What’s so funny?”

“What do you know about toddlers, Graham? Come visit me and you can help me with the three I have under the age of four!”

Okay. Score one for his sister. “You’re right. I shouldn’t complain, but I can’t even do my job.”

“What about a home health care aide?”

“A what?”

She sighed and he could picture her rolling her pretty green eyes. “You can hire someone to come in and help during the days. A nurse. Or something like that.”

“Like a babysitter?” He wasn’t sure his dad would go for that.

“I guess you could say that, but they’re professional and help take care of the elderly.”

“Dad’s not elderly.”

“But he has Early-onset Alzheimer’s, so in many ways he’s like an elderly man.” She sighed. “I’m so sorry you’re dealing with him all alone, Graham.”

“Hey, it’s fine. I live here and I don’t have a family.” He didn’t want her worrying. Maybe he shouldn’t have called her to vent.

“You should have one, though,” she insisted. “You need to find a good man and settle down and be happy.”

Yeah, never going to happen. Graham had no intention of ever getting into a relationship. How could he? He’d never put a partner in a position to take care of him when he’d likely be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s one day. No way would he ever do that to anyone.

“I’m happy,” he told his sister.

“I pretend to believe that lie for now. But seriously, call his insurance company and see if they cover a home health aide. If they don’t, look up companies that do that and I’ll talk to Brent and see how much we can help with the cost.”

They talked a few more minutes, until his dad woke up from his nap and shuffled into the living room. He seemed surprised to see Graham standing there.

“Have a good nap, Dad?”

His dad shrugged. He looked a little unsure of his surroundings, so Graham placed his hand on his dad’s arm and steered him over and got him settled.

“Want a Diet Coke?”

His dad nodded, so Graham got him the soda, opening the can and setting it on the end table next to him.

“CNN?” It was the only thing his dad liked, but he asked anyway. Since his dad didn’t answer, he took it as a “yes” and turned on the news.

He sat at the opposite end of the sofa, his elbows on his knees. He couldn’t help wondering about what Rebecca had said. Had he lied? He liked his life, for the most part. Graham had good friends, loved his job, and there were plenty of men out there when he needed to scratch that itch. Although, he had to admit, he had a hard time getting S.G. out of his mind. God that man had been like a fantasy come true. Sexy, seemingly caring, and somehow knowing exactly what Graham had needed. For the first time in years, he’d actually considered exchanging numbers. But only for a moment, until he’d come to his senses.

The way S.G. had kissed him, though. He couldn’t remember a time when he’d been so turned on by a kiss. Usually kissing wasn’t always on the table for him. But the moment the man’s lips had touched Graham’s, his entire body had tingled.

But nothing he could do about it now. Even if he changed his mind about seeing S.G. again, he didn’t know his name. In his mind, he’d be forever Sexy Giant.

With his dad occupied, he took the time to pull out the insurance information and call about a home health aide. He had a hard time believing there were these angels on earth for hire.

* * * *

Chapter 3

The doorbell rang just as Graham had taken a seat at the table, preparing to try and get some work done. It had been days since he’d even opened his laptop. He groaned. Looked like it wasn’t meant to be for the moment. His dad had finished his granola cereal and was sitting on the sofa, reading a book. It was still early enough in the morning where he seemed to have most of his faculties.

Assuming it was the home health care aide the agency was sending over, he didn’t bother to check the peephole or the window next to the entrance before opening the door.

Graham’s jaw dropped and he stood in place, his feet frozen to the ground. Was he hallucinating? What the hell was going on? He stepped outside and pulled the door partially closed behind him so he could speak to the man on his doorstep.

“What are you doing here?” Graham hissed. “How did you find me?” He glanced up at the grinning man and wondered if he should call the cops. Wasn’t this considered stalking? It didn’t matter that his body reacted in all kinds of weird ways. The guy could be dangerous. And, compared to Graham, the guy was huge.

The man stepped back and held up his hands, palms out. “Hey, I had no idea you lived here.”

Graham’s eyes narrowed.

“No, seriously,” he insisted. “The agency sent me here.”

“Agency?” Shit. “You’re the…home health care aide?”

S.G. nodded and offered his hand. “I’m Sam Morgan. Nurse for hire.”

Graham stared up at him—probably a little too long at the man’s massive chest—and finally took his hand, shaken by the jolt of electricity coursing through his arm. “Okay. Um, come inside?” His voice trembled. Get a grip!

S.G.—Sam—followed him, ducking his head as he walked through the doorway.

His dad didn’t look up, so Graham led Sam to the kitchen table, gesturing for him to take a seat. He wasn’t even sure what to say. Or ask. He felt awkward. And silly for thinking the guy was stalking him. Graham had only been a quick fuck at the club for Sam. A means to an end. Nothing more.

He sat across from Sam and stared. The man looked even sexier in the daylight. Dirty blond hair cut close to the scalp, a little longer on top. In the light, he found his eyes the color of caramel. Hazel, maybe? He fought the urge to stroke the stubble covering his jawline. And shit, the man was broad. Huge. He’d thought of S.G. as a warrior that night, and now thought it still an apt description.

“You’re a nurse?” he blurted.

Sam frowned. “Hey, don’t stereotype me. I love being a nurse.”

Graham’s face heated. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…I guess I’m just kind of shocked at seeing you here.”

Sam’s frown turned into a grin. “Yeah, not exactly what I was expecting this morning, either.” He tilted his head toward the sofa. “I assume I’m here for him?”

Graham cleared his throat, then tried to clear his head. “Yeah. That’s my dad. Thurston. Thurston Hayes.”

“So you must be Graham Hayes?”

“Yes. I’m sorry. I should have introduced myself.” Shit. He was blundering this. He’d never felt so off-kilter when it came to a man. “Do you want something to drink?”

Sam shook his head. “No, thanks. Right now, can you fill me in on your dad? Let me know what’s going on. I have some basic information, but it always helps to get specifics from family.”

“Sure.” Graham glanced at his dad, still engrossed in his book. He wondered if he’d even turned a page. Was he struggling with reading, too? Graham turned back to Sam, watching him and patiently waiting for him to continue. “I’m not sure what you want to know.”

Sam offered him a small smile. “My job is to make your life easier and help the patient feel better. Tell me a little about him.”

Sure. Okay. He could do that. Where to start? He decided to jump in with the facts. “He’s only fifty-two with Early-onset Alzheimer’s.”

“How long ago was he diagnosed?”

“Um, at forty-seven, so five years, give or take a few months.” He blinked back the tears that threatened to come. “He was getting forgetful and we knew it was more than just absentmindedness. It’s in the family.”

“Alzheimer’s? Or Early-onset?”

“Both. My dad’s brother had the Early-onset version, too. But he died in a car crash. The specialist told us that, with this version of Alzheimer’s, the disease spreads rapidly. They had given my uncle ten years, same as my dad. But…he seems to be getting worse in the last six months. We’ve tried some medications, but he had internal bleeding from several of them. So right now, he’s on one…and to be honest, I don’t think it’s helping with anything. He’s also on an anti-depressant and that does seem to be helping. He seems a little more engaged than he used to be.”

“Can I see the medication bottles? To check out the type of medicine and dosage?”

Graham rose and headed into the kitchen area, where he grabbed the bottles from the top shelf of one of the cabinets. He returned and handed them to Sam.

Sam jotted down notes in a manila folder he’d pulled from his messenger bag, then handed the bottles back to Graham. “It’s great that you’re storing them up high, but it would be better if you have a lock box. Some sort of mini safe. I can recommend some, if you’d like.”

Graham furrowed his brow. That seemed like overkill. “You really think we need something like that?”

“I do.”

“Okay. So, um, yeah, I’ll buy whatever you think I should.” Graham placed the bottles back in the cabinet.

Sam smiled. “You can get them at CVS or Walgreens. And they’re not expensive.” He jotted down something else. “So, how are his days? His nights?”

Graham sat down and blew out a deep breath. “It’s much more difficult than I thought it would be.” His face heated, ashamed at confessing that. “I think the move has been more difficult for him than I thought, though.”

“Move? To the lake?”

Graham nodded. “We sold his home and moved here last week. I moved in to help. We thought being here, with the one level and open space…my sister and I thought it would be good.” He shrugged, feeling defeated. “Dad fell several times on the stairs at his condo. There was just no way he could continue to live there. And I had an apartment on the third floor, so we wound up here. The cabin’s been in the family for years, but I bought it just recently.”

Sam flipped through the folder, then glanced around the large open room encompassing the living room, kitchen and dining area, and alcove. “Makes sense to me. Looks like you’re needing someone to help out five days a week?”

“I think that will be enough. That way I can still get my work done and know he’s being taken care of. I can take care of him on my own over the weekends. He does great in the morning, but afternoons get hard. Same with evenings.”

“Sundowners, right?”

“Uh-huh.”

“So, I come in around eleven and take over for you? Or do you want me earlier? If I come later, I can stay later and help get him through dinner and ready for bed. I assume he’s in bed pretty early?”

“Usually by seven-thirty, at the latest. He exhausts easily.”

Sam’s gaze found his. “That’s part of the disease.” He rested his arms on the table, leaning forward.

Graham found himself wishing he was being held in those big arms, but shook his head and refocused. “I know. And yes, I think eleven would be good. I wasn’t sure about this first day. Do you want to just meet him and I show you around?”

“Yes to both and then I’ll jump in. Let you get some work done.” He cocked his head. “What do you do?”

Graham smiled. He loved his job. “I write. I’m also a freelance editor.”

Sam’s eyes widened. “What do you write?”

“Mysteries, mostly.”

“I read all the time. I don’t recognize your name, though. I’ll have to look you up.”

Graham grinned. “I use a pen name. I’m still fairly new to publishing, so I’m not popular. But I’m working on it. That’s why I edit, too. Allows me to be able to write from home, while still having some regular income rolling in.”

“That’s exciting. Wow, I know a real author.”

Graham laughed. “Well, I guess when a few more books sell, I’ll agree with you.”

“What’ll it take to get you to share your pen name with me?” Sam winked at him, his eyes sparkling.

Graham’s mind immediately ran to their night at the club, and his cheeks heated. If Sam took him like that again, Graham would have no trouble giving out his pen name. Hell, he’d spill CIA secrets if he had them. He took a shaky breath while Sam chuckled. Fuck, he needed to get his shit together.

“Come on, let me introduce you to my dad.” He led Sam to the sofa. Tiger slipped out from underneath, swishing his tail at the stranger.

Graham chuckled. “That’s Tiger, and he’s probably offended that I didn’t introduce you to him right away.”

Sam leaned down and rubbed between his ears, becoming a trusted friend in seconds.

“Dad?”

The man looked up from the book and smiled at Graham. His gaze flew to the man standing next to him, and his brow knitted in confusion.

“Hi, Mr. Hayes. I’m Sam Morgan.” His voice was low and soothing as he offered the elder man his hand.

The man looked at Graham and back at Sam before clasping the hand and shaking.

“Whoa, you’ve got a strong grip, don’t you?”

Graham’s dad grinned and let go. “Gotta keep up with you young guys, right?”

Sam laughed. “Young? I’m thirty-four.”

Graham glanced at him, surprised. He’d thought Sam was closer to twenty-eight, not two years older than him.

“Are you my son’s boyfriend? Been waiting for him to bring someone home for years.”

“Dad!” Graham’s cheeks burned.

His dad’s eyes widened in surprise. “What? Did I say something wrong? You keep looking at him and smiling.”

“Dad, seriously.”

Sam’s lips curved into a big smile as he stared at Graham. “No, Mr. Hayes, I’m not his boyfriend.” He tore away his gaze. “Not for lack of trying, though,” he added with a wink at the older man.

Graham’s mouth opened and the image of a gaping fish flashed in his mind.

His dad laughed. “Keep trying, son. He’s a good catch.”

Sam gave Graham a steamy look that nearly buckled his knees. “Oh, I have no intention of giving up, sir.”

His dad waved a hand in the air. “None of that ‘sir,’ stuff. Call me Thurston.”

“Thurston it is, then. Would you like to go for a walk? Maybe out to the dock?”

His dad’s eyes lit up and he pulled himself from the sofa. “Sounds good.”

Graham almost pointed out that he’d never explained Sam’s presence, but Sam caught his eye and shook his head. Graham shrugged, figuring Sam knew best and watched him open the door to the deck, then help his dad down the stairs before heading to the dock. The last thing he heard was Sam asking his dad if he liked the Royals. Graham chuckled and thought about warning Sam that might not be the best thing to ask, since his dad was a huge Royals fan and would end up talking his ear off.

He stood alone in the cottage, feeling a little weird about the whole thing. Shouldn’t he feel more worried about some stranger taking off with his dad? But he didn’t. And that was what was so weird. His dad had really taken to Sam. Hmm, maybe it was a family thing—Graham had certainly taken to the man the first time they’d met. He sighed, doing his best to push away those memories.

Graham turned to his laptop and decided to take advantage of the time and get some work done. He had editing that needed to be turned in within a couple of days.

Unfortunately, his mind had other ideas and refused to stop mooning over Sam. After fifteen minutes, he gave up even pretending to work.

Damn, he’d been surprised to see Sam on his doorstep. Graham couldn’t help remembering how good he’d felt pressed against that wall of solid muscle as they’d danced, not to mention when the man had taken him against the brick wall behind the club. It had been a long time—years—since he’d felt so attracted to anyone. Truthfully, Graham had never felt such an intense connection toward any man and couldn’t get Sam out of his head. Those memories had spurred Graham into taking things into his own hands most nights recently. The way Sam had taken control pushed all of Graham’s buttons. It was also nice to finally put a name with the face, rather than S.G.

But it couldn’t go anywhere. No matter how sexy or sweet he thought Sam. Graham never wanted a relationship. He’d need to put aside his attraction to Sam, no matter how much he wanted a second hook-up. Or a third. Shit! He needed to quit thinking like this. Focus on his work. Wasn’t that the whole reason he’d hired a home health care aide? To give himself time to do what needed to be done?

He grabbed a Diet Coke from the fridge, turned iHeart Radio to classic eighties music, and pushed aside all thoughts of Sam. He was ready to do this. And he really was. For the first time since he’d moved to the cabin, he felt comfortable enough to do some work. Without having to worry about his dad, he was finally able to focus.

* * * *

Chapter 4

By the time Graham looked up from his laptop, two hours had passed. Panic momentarily rose in his chest. His dad and Sam had been gone a long time.

He stepped onto the wooden deck and looked over the small patch of grass that qualified as the yard, surprised to find his dad on the dock chatting with Sam. His dad sat with his bare feet dangling over the side, socks and shoes tossed to the side. Graham couldn’t overhear their conversation, but when his father laughed at something Sam said, the sound carried up to him.

His chest tightened as he watched them. He hadn’t seen his dad so happy in months. Apparently, Graham wasn’t the only one drawn to Sam.

Just then, Sam turned his way and grinned, waving. “Hey! Come join us!” he called.

Graham’s first instinct was to shake his head and get back to work, but the small voice in his head reminded him that he might not have a lot of times like this left with his dad. He hustled down the few steps to the concrete walkway leading to the dock, noting a couple of cracks that needed to be repaired. A few empty flower urns sat at the edge of the paving and he flashed on a memory from years ago of his mom planting multicolor pansies while he and his sister played with kids from a few houses down. She’d been covered in dirt and humming a song he couldn’t remember.

God, there really were memories all over the place. But now wasn’t about remembering the past. It was about creating new memories. He wasn’t ignorant, he knew the time with his dad was winding down. He may not die from the Alzheimer’s, but he would die from something else caused by the disease.

No! Not now. He pushed aside those thoughts as he walked the narrow walkway of the T-shaped wooden dock, faded over the years and in definite need of sprucing up. Perhaps he’d consider a whole new dock at some point, but that wasn’t in the budget this year. Work on the cottage would take first priority.

“Get some work done?” Sam asked, lifting his sunglasses so Graham could see his eyes.

“I did,” he answered, unable to turn away. It was warm, but the sun was mostly hidden by the large, covered boat dock next door. A few people were fishing across the inlet, and a boat sailed far out on the water. He took a seat next to his dad, folding his legs in front of him.

His dad leaned in. “I like your boyfriend,” he whispered. Loudly.

Graham’s cheeks heated. He glanced at Sam, grinning like a fool. He almost stuck out his tongue before he remembered his age.

“Dad—”.

“We’ve been having a blast,” Sam interrupted. “I’ve never met someone who knew so much about the Royals!”

His father grinned and Graham decided to let the “boyfriend” comment drop. For the time being. “Did he tell you that my cousin actually signed on with the Royals?”

“Which cousin?” his dad asked, scrunching his face in confusion.

“Jason,” Graham reminded his dad before turning to Sam. “It was pretty exciting. He ended up playing in the minors for a while, but never got called up to the majors. He coaches at a high school in Kansas now.”

“Good for him. What a great way to still get to earn a living while doing something he’s passionate about. I played some baseball in high school, but wasn’t good enough to play in college. I play in a league out in Olathe every summer, but it’s just for fun. Not a lot of competition.”

“I was never very good at baseball. I ran track in high school, but that’s about as athletic as I ever got.”

“Jason,” Graham’s dad exclaimed. “He signed for the Royals, didn’t he?”

Graham felt a lump in his throat and nodded.

“He’s Graham’s cousin,” the elder man explained to Sam, as if they hadn’t just discussed it.

“Wow. Must have been pretty exciting, Thurston,” Sam replied, a quick nod of understanding toward Graham.

He and his cousin had always been close, but now that he was married and had a baby, they didn’t see each other often. But Graham wondered if Jason played on any leagues around town and made a mental note to ask him next time they were in touch.

Graham looked out at the water and they sat together, three men on the dock, relaxing to the lull of the waves, the warmth of the sun, and the simple act of enjoying a summer day on the lake. He considered pulling out his phone to take a picture, but he couldn’t. Something about it felt wrong. Like he’d be intruding on a memory. Or maybe he didn’t want to interrupt the peace of the moment.

Finally, Sam stood and reached for Graham’s dad. “We need to get you inside before you start getting red, Mr. Hayes.”

“Thurston,” he insisted.

“Right. Thurston. That’s an interesting name. I don’t think I’ve heard it before.”

“Haven’t you ever watched Gilligan’s Island?” Graham asked, surprised.

Sam burst out laughing. “Oh, God, that’s right! Thurston Howell III!”

His dad playfully rolled his eyes, then retrieved his shoes and socks. “Don’t remind me. This one, and his sister, tortured me for years calling me that. They thought they were hilarious.”

Graham grinned, a warm feeling filling his chest. “We were, Dad.”

The elder man chuckled and shook his head before turning his attention to Sam. “But actually, my mother decided to name all of her children after relatives from the 1800s.” He frowned and shrugged. “Don’t ask me why.”

“So who were you named after?” Sam asked as he steered him back onto land.

“Nobody,” he said. “She read the genealogy book wrong—actually it was an old family Bible with a detailed family tree that went back almost two hundred years. The name was supposed to be Thurman, not Thurston, but by the time she realized it, the name was already on the birth certificate and I was stuck with it.”

“Oh, wow,” Sam said.

“At least it’s unique. Of course, my older brother was given a much more common name—Robert.” He turned to Graham, his eyes lighting up. “Hey, I haven’t seen him in a while. Why don’t we invite Robert and Elaine over for dinner?”

Graham’s heart dropped. His dad had been doing so well. How was he going to remind him that Robert had died?

Sam took one look at Graham and easily changed the subject. “So, Thurston, what do you want for lunch?”

“Grilled cheese sounds good to me,” his dad answered, the question about his brother dropped and forgotten.

Sam looked back at Graham. “Do you have the ingredients for grilled cheese?”

Graham nodded, trying not to stare at the man’s sparkling eyes. When Sam’s lips curved into a small smile, he caught himself smiling back. And when Sam clapped his dad’s shoulder and started chatting about the best cheese for sandwiches, Graham grinned. This guy was a natural. Sam seemed so at ease with his patient already.

Although as he listened to the men debate the quality and flavor of various cheeses, which then led to sandwich meats, Graham mentally began making a list. They needed more groceries. Graham was used to just buying for himself, but his dad’s appetite was off the charts. He insisted on his cereal every morning, and went through it like water. Graham had offered to make eggs, or oatmeal, even pancakes, but his dad wanted only the granola cereal and milk. Sometimes with banana slices, sometimes without. Definitely a creature of habit. But if there was anything like brownies or cookies around, those didn’t last the day.

Sam sat with the elder man on the sofa, their discussion having moved on to the best breads for grilling, while Graham made the grilled cheese. He grabbed a bag of chips and some sodas and put everything on the table. He’d snuck a few looks at Sam and had caught the man doing the same thing, but while Sam just grinned over it, Graham felt heat spread across his face. He felt like a schoolboy with his first crush.

“Everything’s ready,” Graham called needlessly, as the moment he’d laid the plates on the table, his dad hightailed it over. Well, “hightailed” might be pushing it, but he definitely shuffled quicker than usual.


Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-27 show above.)