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What Was

By: Leanna Carr
Published By: Blackout Books
Copyright: ©2017 by Blackout Books® and Leanna Carr
Twelve Chapters / 74,900 Words
Heat Level:
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Price:
$3.99

As Cody Banks stands at the edge of the Grand Canyon, searching for answers, he can see only his haunted past. Tortured by the death of his lover, his only solace is his job and his beloved Golden Retriever. He goes about his days filled with misery. A Canyon Ranger by trade, as the Fourth of July celebration nears, he’s asked to host a very special event – commemorating a memorial site for men and women lost to war and disease. The honor is too much to bear. 

Baker Jennings has no idea what to do any longer. His business in shambles, his marriage in ruins, he takes a vacation with his only daughter in search of finding the man who’s been hiding behind a mask his entire life. Selecting a dude ranch in the glorious mountains, he’s determined to have three weeks of peace, finding needed answers and ultimately acceptance of what he can’t have – until he meets Cody. 

Sparks fly between the two men and the moment they enter into more than just friendship, tragedy strikes, leaving both unsure of the future. As both men are forced to face not only their hungers but also their greatest fears, unexpected danger reminds them both of what’s most precious. 

Can they move past the hurt feelings they are both suffering from and find happiness? Can they support each other and perhaps have an opportunity for the life they both dream of? Or will the lurking danger destroy them and their future?

Chapter One

No! Please… God no…

Shuddering, Cody Banks clenched his fingers together, pounding his fist against his thigh until he grunted. Dear God, why wasn’t he dead, why? He’d give anything to be the one six feet under. He could swear he’d seen the face, his face, the very face of his lover, on several occasions. No matter what he did he couldn’t lose the vision, shake off the feeling of dread and utter guilt. Why? Why was he being haunted? Why was he falling into his own despair after this long  ? Because you’re to blame for what happened. And, of course, he was. There was no getting around the fact any longer. He had to face what he was, what he’d done. He had to.

Woof! Woof!

Unclenching his fist, he exhaled slowly as he looked down at the sweet dog and the quiet reflection of love covering his gorgeous muzzle. “Oh Shadow, what would I do without you?”

Woof. A single whine erupted from Shadow’s mouth. He nuzzled against Cody’s leg before wiggling and taking several steps backwards, his entire body shaking from the movement of his tail.

“Stop trying to cheer me up. It’s not going to work.” As he studied the way Shadow sat back on his haunches, tilted his head and gave his master a look that screamed, don’t be an idiot, he burst into laughter. He was lucky to have the baby try and keep him sane. At the moment, he was beginning to wonder if he was losing his mind completely. How could he be seeing Ryan’s face? He didn’t believe in ghosts, refused to buy into horror stories about souls needing to be freed. “What am I doing here, Shadow?” Perhaps waiting for some sign to go on with life.

The breeze was light, wafting across his face as he stood on the very precipice of death, something he’d thought about several times over the last year. The adorable sound of barking made him cringe. Living was a hell of a lot more excruciating than instant death, a pure bliss of never having to feel blinding agony again. Grit flew into his eyes and he blinked as tears formed, but he refused to wipe them away. At least he felt something. No matter the discomfort, this wasn’t the usual abyss, endless days and nights of suffering and feeling guilty. He clenched his fist, wishing for so many things.

Woof!

Finally wiping away the tears, he glanced down at his constant companion, the single creature he was able to open up to any longer, and shook his head. “I know, boy. We’ll go home in a few minutes. It’s about time for your dinner. I’ve got some gookies for you tonight.” Gookies. Shadow loved treats of any kind, especially people treats. His beloved Golden Retriever was the only comfort he allowed himself, preferring to live on the fringe. He deserved no better. Shivering even in the heat of the afternoon, he glanced at the sky as an ugly series of emotions and thoughts seemed to be invading every waking moment, every damning nightmare. God, the horrid dreams were killing him. He was just going through the motions in his life and, in truth, hoping the anguish would end soon. No matter how.

As Shadow continued to bump Cody’s leg, a not so gentle reminder there was something to live for, he groaned and fisted his mouth. Somehow living a life as a Canyon Ranger wasn’t as fulfilling as it once was. Coming to Arizona over five years before had meant such an incredible change, one he’d longed for since his early twenties. The air was clean and crisp, the community embracing with open arms, and the pay scale damn good. He’d had life by the balls—until one horrible night.

Right now, he didn’t have the time to think about anything personal. He had one very important event to plan. The mayor herself had tasked him to create and head the celebration because of his outstanding service to the community. The request had been over two months before and still he was stymied about what to do. The incredible nod was something most people would consider the recognition of a lifetime. The Fourth of July was less than a month away and the concept of commemorating the men and women lost either from battle or disease was a damn good one. The honor bestowed on him was amazing and being asked to host was spectacular.

There was no way Cody could manage the task. Not a snowball’s chance in hell. Grabbing Shadow’s leash, he forced himself away from the edge, every nerve in his body on fire. No, he wasn’t going to die today. Breathing in the dry air he glanced at the sky, a fireball of colors sending shivers through him. Late afternoon used to be his favorite time, so serene. Now he dreaded the sunset, the understanding he had to face another night was overwhelming. Still, how could he not smile? This was God’s country, such a beautiful gift to live in a sublime location. Somehow, he had to get his shit together.

Gggrrr… Woof!

Shadow was his needed reminder. “All right boy. We’ll go home shortly. Then daddy has to go back to work for a little while.” The truth was that he didn’t have to go back to the office. There was no burning need, no criminals carousing the canyons, but he had little else to do in his life. Work and Shadow were the only things he could manage right now. He grinned and shook his head as Shadow leaped onto the passenger seat. The pup had proven to be amazing in so many ways, probably saving him from eating the barrel of a gun.

Jerking his keys from his pocket, he eased around the back of the pickup and listened as the rumble of several other cars and trucks floated in the background. He was tasked to make certain tourists as well as the locals were safe, living out their everyday lives with little or no hassles. There were days he felt like a failure, a crock of utter bullshit. Maybe because he wasn’t certain he cared about anyone else’s lives or their health and safety.

As he climbed into the truck, he could easily tell a new crop of tourists had arrived, seeking solace on a mountaintop respite and what some called the place of reckoning. Turning over the engine, he switched to a country music station on the radio. Many of his friends said he was nothing more than a glutton for punishment. He knew he was merely trying to rectify his existence. Still, he had to laugh at the country twang song. This was no doubt the only place he’d ever be able to call home.

Snorting, he patted Shadow on the head and drove out of the park, his thoughts drifting to his ex. Ryan had been a man unlike any he’d ever met before, a love affair no one saw coming. Least of all him. Ryan Morgan hadn’t been his type. He laughed. Type? As if he knew what kind of man he could really be with. No, Ryan was sophistication in a suit that cost just about his mortgage payment on his cabin. Ryan had been well-coifed and completely into the finer things in life. Cody, on the other hand, was into a cold brew, a warm night spent outdoors and a solid romp in the hay. Why Ryan had settled in Arizona was beyond him. The answer had never been revealed.

Laughing, he remembered the first time Ryan had come to the cabin. The look on the sexy blond man’s face was priceless—more like horrified. A cleaning company had been hired and paid for by his lover shortly thereafter. Amazing how the cabin remained basically clean, even after all this time. Well, neat anyway. He sighed and ran his fingers through Shadow’s thick mane. Life was a son of a bitch.

Cody gunned the engine as he drove down the mountainside, his modest cabin nestled somewhere in between the middle foothills and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the lower canyons. He’d fought to purchase the cabin, fixing up the completely wrecked place over a solid eight months. Somewhere during the months of extreme renovation he’d met Ryan. An attorney by trade, Ryan’s introduction into the ‘wild west’ had been fraught with so many mishaps. The day they’d met a savage thunderstorm had rolled through the area and Ryan had been on a motorcycle, something Cody considered a mistake for a man who knew nothing about being rugged.

But Cody had given him props. Dear God, Ryan longed to live a life of adventure, one so unlike what he was used to every day of his life. They shared the love of biking, taking long rides into the canyon in Ryan’s spanking red convertible, and the love of animals. They were like oil and water, but goddamn they were on fire together in bed. Pushing paper and wrangling the West were completely different. Ryan had found out the hard way on more than one occasion. He was a city slicker through and through.

Sighing, Cody longed to be able to say merely a few words to Ryan, to help him understand what their life together had been. Gripping the steering wheel until his knuckles were white, he had to fight the same demons every day. A paralyzing horror had stilted him over the last few months. A nervous tick appeared in the corner of his mouth as he realized the anniversary of Ryan’s death was just around the corner. Maybe concentrating on the event was a good thing. Maybe. Maybe Karma was playing out her hand, trying to convince him to live again.

Shadow somehow understood his mood swings, the rages he seemed to go through every other day. He glanced down at his beloved pup and the wild thumping of Shadow’s tail against the door warmed the darkest corners of his heart. “You know me too well, don’t ya buddy?”

Woof! Digging his claws into the leather seat, Shadow crawled the few inches toward Cody, a whimper remaining in his throat. He laid his head in Cody’s lap, his big brown eyes staring up at his master.

A tear slipped from the corner of his eye. Wiping the wet slick away furiously, he growled under his breath as he saw what had to be a broken-down SUV just ahead, steam roaring from the engine, the classic sign of a tourist unused to the climate as well as the terrain. “Well, Shadow, looks like we’re needed. Hang tight my big dog and let’s see if we can help out the tourists.”

In response Shadow rose to a sitting position, leaning over and peering out the driver’s side window, his entire body wiggling as a series of whines and yelps pulsed deep from his throat.

“Hang on, buddy. I know you want to help.” Cody struggled to look over him as he pulled into a space beside the iridescent gold behemoth of a vehicle. Why in God’s name they all came here with a gas-guzzler was beyond him, let alone the fact an SUV didn’t handle the twists and curves of the narrow roads very well. He could see what had to be a man hovering under the hood. The big ones were notorious for over-heating.

Parking and turning off the engine, Cody gazed down at Shadow. “This shouldn’t take too long, boy.” Cody eased out of the truck and dragged his emergency kit from behind his seat. If he could count how many hapless visitors he’d helped out of this same situation a year he might just be a millionaire. Grinning, he closed the door and surveyed the scene.

The face peering out the passenger window could only be described as surly, pissed off, hot headed and ready to tackle bear. In other words, the beautiful cocoa skinned girl was a pre-teen, angst and hatred marring her lovely face. He resisted laughing as he walked closer to the front of the vehicle, clearing his throat. “Hi ya. I can see you’re in a bit of a pickle. I’m a park ranger and I might just be able to help you get on your way.” He heard a deep and very rattled sigh, followed by a series of under the cuff cuss words. Yep, being stuck on a mountain wasn’t the best place to be.

The slamming of a car door behind him caught his attention. The huffing and puffing, then stomping of the girl’s feet gave him a huge grin. Oh, the joys of not being a parent.

“Ah shit. I’m an idiot,” the stranger groaned.

“Yeah, you are dad.” Her tone was more like a snarl.

Cody darted a glance in her direction. The girl was all fire and brimstone and he would venture a bet her mama was just like her. He’d also bet in about five years the firefly was going to take the world by storm.

“Sheila, I would really appreciate if you’d leave the smart mouth somewhere else. We talked about this trip and I’m doing everything I can to salvage it. Everything has been a mess.”

“And boring, dad.”

“Sheila!”

Cody watched as Sheila rolled her eyes, folded her arms and suddenly noticed Shadow. “A dog! Dad. There’s a dog. Can I go and pet him?”

The stranger eased around the side of the car, his brown eyes opening wide, apprehension riding his face. The second he noticed Cody he smiled. “Park ranger, eh?”

“Born and bred or so that’s what I’m supposed to tell the tourists.” Cody was taken aback by the looks of the man. A good six foot four, his twinkling eyes and creamy dark skin set off what he knew to be a very muscular body under the thin polo and cargo shorts. He could barely keep himself from scoping the entire length of the man, but he could easily tell his legs were long and lean. Wow.

The stranger laughed and shook his head as he studied his hands. “I’m no mechanic, that’s for sure but I’d buy you easily as a ranger.”

“How’s that?”

“Dad, the dog? Can I see him?” Sheila huffed.

“My golden, Shadow. He’s friendly and other than licking you to death, he’s harmless,” Cody offered as he walked back toward the truck and opened the door.

Woof! Woof!

Instantly Shadow bounded out of the truck, racing toward Sheila.

“Oooh!” Sheila’s eyes danced as she opened her arms wide.

In a second Shadow jumped, placing both paws on her shoulders.

“Oh crap, he has mud all over his paws.” Cody inched closer.

The stranger grinned and shook his head before sticking out his hand. “My daughter could use a bit of dirt under her fingernails instead of crimson tutu frufru nail polish that might cost more than my first car. I’m Baker Jennings, by the way and thank you for stopping.”

“That’s tutti fruitti, dad. God. Don’t you ever get it?” Sheila squealed as Shadow continued to lick her face, his body weight pushing her back until she finally fell on her butt. “Ooof.”

“Shadow!” Cody laughed, but his eyes never left Baker. The attraction was instantaneous and he was out of breath for a few seconds.

“Let them be. I haven’t seen her laugh in a long time.” His face darkening, he gripped Cody’s hand, the hold strong.

Cody could see such sadness in Baker’s eyes, a wave sweeping over him. The touch was electric, enigmatic and he was shocked he had goose bumps. There had only been a few men he was attracted to and since Ryan’s death, none. “Well, this place can make you laugh and cry, feel serene and at peace.”

“Dear God, I hope so. I need something to make me feel a little peace.” Baker swallowed hard and continued to shake Cody’s hand, the grip getting tighter.

He glanced toward Sheila and gathered a sense of loss. “They don’t call it God’s country for nothing.”

“Yeah. Oh shit. I’m sorry.” Baker yanked his arm away, rubbing both hands on his shorts. “You offer to help and I’m lamenting about life. I have no idea why I overheated.”

“Lamenting is allowed and the atmosphere. My guess is you rented the vehicle at the airport and probably didn’t tell the agents where you were going?”

Baker opened his eyes wide. “No. I wasn’t even certain at the time. Wow, atmosphere, huh? Good thing you happened along.”

“I’m at your service. Just let it cool down and we’ll add some water. I keep an emergency stash or five in the bed of my truck just for this very purpose.” Cody couldn’t help but smile. This was much better than helping certain tourists, those haughty and demanding.

“I really appreciate your help.”

“Sure thing. Where are you staying?”

Wrinkling his nose, Baker hesitated before walking to the SUV, yanking a folder out of his briefcase. As he flipped through several pages, growing more and more frustrated, he finally groaned. “I am so not organized. I thought I was. I tried to be. I even had my travel agent make sure and go over everything with me.”

“Dad, I told you I should have helped you. You men can’t do anything,” Sheila said with a serious tone in her voice.

Cody didn’t have to look at her to know she was rolling her eyes. “Women.”

“She’s just like her mother and…” The words trailed off as Baker shifted his gaze, looking intently at the folder.

“Well, you’re a lucky man.”

“Yeah. Oh, here it is. Cactus Trails?”

When Baker looked up Cody could see a mist covering his eyes. He looked away, giving him some level of privacy. “I know the resort well. It’s in the heart of a dazzling place on the foothills. There’s a fantastic restaurant nestled inside called Country Boy’s. Don’t let the name fool you. They have some of the best seafood this side of the Mississippi. Then there’s Rascal’s, one hoppin’ bar.”

“Sounds like you go there a lot.”

“I used to,” Cody lamented, bittersweet memories floating into the back of his mind.

“Duly noted. You seem to know all the good places.” Baker’s grin had returned.

“I live just down the winding road. They’re comfortable places with good people.”

“Good to know I have a park ranger so close, just in case something happens.”

Cody grinned. “Don’t worry. Nothing ever happens here. We have a safe community with some damn good people here. I think you’re going to love your stay.”

“God, I hope so. I just…” Baker glanced at Sheila, who was running around the SUV with Shadow chasing her. Happy barks ensued, matching her raucous squeals.

A quiet tension filled the air. Cody cleared his throat and nodded toward the truck. “Should be enough time. Let me grab the water.”

“Thank you,” Baker said quietly.

There was no doubt in Cody’s mind there was loss in the family. Whatever had happened to Baker’s wife was killing the man. Well, he’d certainly come to the right place to heal. As he reached the back of the truck he palmed the camper shell. Then why the hell couldn’t he heal?

***

“Find yourself before you become more of a loser than you already are,” Darla snipped. “Why did I marry you?”

“Boy, you better exorcise those demons living inside of you before you lose everything,” his best friend and business partner, Josh, stated over and over again.

Hell, they were both right, especially Josh, who knew him better than anyone else. Unfortunately, no one knew what demons were crawling inside of him, threatening finally at forty-eight years old to break free. And this time forever. Shivering, he gripped the steering wheel.

When they were safely on the way, Baker sighed in relief. What in the hell had he been thinking coming to the Grand Canyon of all places? My God, to think he was trying to run from his problems like a freaking coward. Well, maybe Darla was right after all and he sucked at being a businessman and a husband. The last few months had been so ugly, so demeaning. Maybe he should have stayed in Baltimore, try and salvage what was left of his advertising firm, let alone his marriage.

His entire life was going to hell in a hand basket. To say his relationship was in shambles wasn’t even remotely close to the truth. He stole a glance at his beloved daughter and gripped the steering wheel, his thoughts drifting to the past two very strained years. Miserable. Everything he’d touched seemed to be shit. Maybe this time away would drag him out of his wretched misery. Maybe he could actually yank back the man he’d once been. Man. Now that was an interesting word as of late. No, he couldn’t think this way. Things had to get better and coming to such a beautiful spot was a Godsend. Then the incident with the SUV.  Stop being so pessimistic. Baker rubbed his finger across his mouth and pushed back all the condescending thoughts he continued to have. At least park ranger Cody Banks had been helpful.

For a few seconds, he allowed himself to think about the park ranger. He was damn happy the guy had been there to help out. Who the hell knew how the high altitude was going to affect a vehicle? The rugged man was helpful and kind. And he was very sexy. “Shit.”

“Dad, you cursed.”

“I know honey and I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry. I do it all the time,” Sheila said as she shifted in her seat.

He shook his head and couldn’t help but grin. “Not a good idea, dear daughter of mine.” As she fidgeted with the radio, flipping from station to station, his thoughts were drawn back to Cody. He was surprised how attracted he’d been to the handsome and very rugged man. He was usually drawn to more polished men, those who seemed to enjoy the finer things in life, indulging in fine wines and the theatre.

My God, what in the hell was he saying? Rubbing his tired eyes, Baker tried to concentrate on the curvy road as dirt flew across the windshield. Men. He was suddenly attracted to men. What in the hell had happened to him?  Don’t lie to yourself. Lying seemed to be all he had been doing lately. He knew better about his attraction to men. Ever since he was a teenager he’d hungered for a thick cock, his dreams always centering around a hunky football player or dazzling long legged runner. Growing up in Mississippi precluded him from ever indulging in his correct sexual orientation.

And so, he’d pushed away his true nature, choosing to live life completely heterosexual. Baker laughed softly. There was no way he could hide behind any persona he was straight. His ex was determined to drag him, as well as his homosexuality through court and then some. Darla had her sights set on ruining him. She was already doing a damn good job, telling his newer clients wretched and very untrue stories about his business ethics. If only he could prove what she was doing he’d drop kick her in a heartbeat. Stop it. You’re on vacation and Darla is your baby girl’s mother. Enjoy being here and spending time with your daughter. This isn’t about destroying Darla. Maybe, but the bitter taste in his mouth after the last nasty conversation had left him enraged and full of vile.

Gripping the steering wheel even more tightly, he turned his head and had to admire the beauty he’d created. She was a spitfire and then some. He was thrilled to see her enjoying the pup. She seemed to hate just about everything lately. Cody had been… He purposely turned his head to gaze at anything and everything that might drag his attention away from his swelling cock. There was no way he was so turned on. Not possible.

Exhaling slowly, he clenched his ass muscles as his cock pushed hard against his way-too-tight pants. Not in front of your daughter. Baker swallowed hard and tapped his foot on the floorboard, anything to get his mind out of the gutter. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t help but think about how hot the guy was. The stunning blond rogue was handsome in a non-cookie cutter kind of way. Lightly tanned skin, a scruffy two-day beard and a uniform that seemed to fit him just right was only part of this attraction. The amazing green eyes could draw a man in for days.

He was losing his mind. No doubt. Leaning forward, he attempted to hone in on the rather tribal music. The heady drumbeat was good, maybe not danceable but the beat was infectious. Somehow, he could see himself inside a hot club, somewhere he hadn’t been to in a long time, maybe sharing an intimate dance with Cody.

“Hungry?” Cody asked, his eyes dancing with mischief.

“Famished, but not for food.” Baker inched forward, his cock twitching. Taking his finger, he slid the tip down the side of Cody’s face to his lips, tracing a zigzag circle around Cody’s full lips.

“What do you want?” Opening his mouth, Cody nipped Baker’s finger, sucking the entire length deep into the back of his throat. The sounds of sucking floated into the air as he placed both hands on Baker’s chest, kneading the thin material of his shirt.

“What do I want?” Baker’s voice was barely audible. Inhaling the exotic scent of the sexy ranger, he eased his hand down and cupped Cody’s jean covered crotch, squeezing until the sexy man moaned. He leaned over until he could breathe a swath of hot air across Cody’s cheek. “I want you to suck me, taking every inch of my thick dick. I want to shove my big, black cock inside that tight ass of yours. I long to pump deep and hard into you until you scream. And I will make you mine.”

Shuddering, Cody glanced up at his lover with glassy eyes, a husky sound emitting from his lips.

Baker slowly removed his finger and pointed toward the floor. “On your knees and suck me.”

“Dad.”

Shivering, Baker sniffed as his blood sizzled. “What?”

“Um, dad, are you freaking listening to me?”

Snapped out of his delicious reverie, he opened his eyes wide, trying to figure out where they were. Oh yeah, on a mountaintop. And he was fantasizing about a stranger? Holy crap, he was a bad father. “Of course, I’m listening. What’s wrong?”

“I gotta pee. Are we there yet?” Sheila kicked the floorboard and twisted the knob on the radio.

Thank God, she was a teenager at least. The father/daughter bonding had been Darla’s idea. Now he had to wonder whether Darla needed time to destroy what was left of his life. Sighing, he looked over at the beautiful girl he’d created with a woman he’d never loved and the guilt was tremendous. How could he have allowed this to happen? “About ten minutes.”

“I guess I can hold it,” she huffed. “Dad, can we get a dog at your place?”

The simple question gutted him. His place. He hadn’t even thought about a real landing spot yet after moving out of their house permanently. Granted, the hotel bills were adding up. He had a bad feeling he’d be living in a fleabag after being cleaned out in the divorce. God. He was pathetic. “We’ll see, honey. You have to remember I work long hours and I would hate to have a pup all by himself.”

“That’s why I want to come live with you.”

Coughing, Baker almost jerked the steering wheel hard enough to force them off the road.

“Dad! Watch out!”

The tires screeching, he recovered quickly as the sign for Cactus Trails appeared over the horizon. “Have you told your mother this?”

“Duh.”

“And she said?” He couldn’t help but think about the incredible fantasy. Cody. Well, maybe all of Darla’s wretched accusations, her hateful comments and all the nasty arguments they’d had over the last few months had been more than justified. He’d checked out of their marriage a long time ago. He was more than ready to move on. Baker simply didn’t know if he had the courage to do just that. He had a daughter to protect, to care for. That was his main goal and his real job right now. Nothing else was going to matter.

“It doesn’t matter what she said. I’m sixteen and old enough to make my own decisions.”

Baker shook his head, visions of big brawny men beating down his door. “Honey, while I know you’re a big girl-”

“Dad, in case you haven’t looked lately. I’m a woman.” Lifting her breasts with both hands, she gave him a haughty look.

Holy crap. His daughter had become a vixen before his eyes. Where the hell had he been? Oh yes, working long hours, rarely taking a day off. He couldn’t remember the last family vacation they’d been on together, but he was certain Disneyworld was involved. Use restraint. “Honey, I know you are on the edge of becoming a woman, but you still have to follow the rules of our family, no matter where I’m living. Now what did your mother say?” Eyeing the arrow pointing just up ahead, he was relieved they were arriving. From the flight delay to the bumpy landing and the crying babies on the plane, he was fit to be tied and ready for a tall, cold one.

“I think her exact words were ‘you’ll go to live with a fucking faggot over my dead ass body’.”

Baker almost didn’t make the turn. Yanking the steering wheel to the left, he careened onto the gravel road, cringing as the SUV boat swerved back and forth.

“Jesus, Dad. You need to chill out.”

His wife of twenty years had told their only daughter he was a faggot. Now he was pissed. “Sorry, honey. I’ll talk to your mother.” He realized he was gritting his teeth so hard his jaw was threatening to lock. The entire situation was a goddamn mess, one he could no longer deny. What had transpired over the last few months had been nothing but an admittance of what their marriage had always been, one fat lie. While he should feel guilty because he’d finally come to the conclusion he’d never loved Darla, only the need to protect Sheila from the wolves remained.

“Whatever, Dad.” Sheila leaned forward. “Wow. Is this where we’re staying?”

He craned his neck and opened his eyes wide. A series of cabins surrounded a three-story main facility and while everything held a rather rugged appearance, he could tell that everything was well maintained, the grounds pristine and the backdrop of the most gorgeous set of mountains he’d ever seen breathtaking. “You bet it is.” At least this he could say with pride.

“Holy shit, dad.”

“Sheila!” He groaned as he pulled into a parking spot. The moment he killed the engine he made a promise to himself that this was going to be a trip that truly mattered to both he and his daughter. No thoughts about other men. Nothing.

“Dad, can I ask you a question?”

“Of course, you can honey.” Yanking out the keys, Baker smiled as he studied the incredible location.

“Are you really gay?”

lillie1922 on 07/10/2017 06:03pm
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book. Cody Banks is a Canyon Ranger in Arizona. Since his lover died, his baby, golden retriever, Shadow is his comfort. When he meets Baker and his daughter, Sheila, he realizes he could love again. They both have plenty of baggage and now with a killer on the loose, their romance has become very dangerous. M/M, light spanking, romance, mystery.
Nicole on 07/10/2017 02:08am
Baker and Cody's Story was at times heartbreaking. you wanted to do so much for them , but as a reader you are unable to help, just merely tag along, with the story and the outcome. Was a good story. Would recommend. MM story line.

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