A year after his abusive stepfather went to prison, Jonny Foster is finally establishing the life he’s always wanted—with one exception. The growing feelings he has for Russ just won’t go away, not even when Russ makes it clear they can only be friends. After one too many rejections, Jonny decides he needs to build a life without Russ, but that’s just the beginning of his troubles.
Russell Bozeman has wanted Jonny since the moment the frightened young man arrived in Cade Creek. Even knowing how badly Jonny’s was abused doesn’t make Russ want him any less. It just tells him that he needs to control his desires.
After one night of unbridled passion, Russ positive he’s lost Jonny forever. An angry confession from Jonny gives him hope. Positive he can win Jonny back, Russ calls in all of Cade Creek to help him. But someone doesn’t want them to be together, and they will do anything to prevent it, even commit murder.
“A little late to be dragging yourself in, isn’t it?”
Jonny Foster pressed his lips together to keep from groaning. That voice affected him in equal parts anger and arousal, and he never knew which one to go with first. Since Russell Bozeman had pretty much gone out of his way to make sure Jonny knew they never had a chance together, Jonny went with anger.
“What’s it to you?” he snapped in a voice loaded with sarcasm as he turned to face the man that had been starring in his dreams and fantasies for the last twelve months.
“It’s almost five o’clock in the morning, Jonny.” Russ’s thick brown eyebrows were pulled down in a thick line of disapproval, his eyes hooded. “Some of us have to work in a couple of hours.”
Jonny clamped his jaw tight, grinding his molars together. There were so many responses he could give to that statement, most of them not polite. Considering he had just spent the better part of the last five hours helping scrape someone off the pavement after they tried to see if their vehicle could fly, the jab about working stung more than he cared to admit.
“I’m going to bed.”
Russ’s snort rankled, especially considering how much Jonny wanted the man’s approval…and attention. He got neither and hadn’t for a very long time. Russ had been friendly and attentive when he first arrived in Cade Creek almost exactly a year ago. At first, Jonny had seen him as someone to be feared simply because he was so huge. Over time, he had grown to see that his heart was just as big.
And then the warm feelings of friendship he had felt for Russ turned into a burning lust that flared up every damn time he heard the man’s voice. The things he had done in the last twelve month to try and be someone Russ might be interested in had backfired big time. Russ seemed to think he was always up to no good and Jonny had just gotten tired of trying to defend himself.
“You’re better than this, Jonny.”
Jonny sighed as his shoulder involuntarily slumped. He knew he should just keep going and not start this tired argument with Russ, but he just couldn’t seem to keep his mouth shut. “Better than what, Russ?”
“Look.” Jonny followed the line of Russ’s hand as the man pushed it through his chestnut hair, whishing he had the right to do the same. “I’m not trying to be a jerk here, Jonny.”
“But I’m worried about you. You’re coming home at all hours of the night and day. You sleep until two or three o’clock in the afternoon, take a shower and eat something, and then you’re right back out the door. That can’t be good for you.”
Jonny truly didn’t understand where Russ was coming from. Mitch and Elliot were very much aware of where he was every night. How Russ was oblivious was beyond Jonny. And he was tired of trying to explain himself. The man never listened to him anyway.
“I’m fine, Russ.” Jonny purposely kept his eyes on the floor in front of him instead of looking at the handsome man that had a starring role in every one of his fantasies. Lusting after Russ got him exactly nowhere. The man was so not interested in him, that they might as well have been brothers. Russ cared. He just didn’t care the way Jonny wanted.
Jonny gulped and took a hasty step back when the sexiest damn feet in the history of feet appeared in his line of vision. He just knew if he looked up, the faded denim encasing Russ’s muscular legs would be hugging his thighs like a second skin.
Jonny looked up, and groaned. Damn. Not only was the denim wrapped around Russ like it had been painted on, but the man’s red flannel shirt was still unbuttoned, hanging loosely around his thick naked chest. There was nothing but miles and miles of beautiful golden tanned skin.
“Don’t walk away when I’m talking to you, Jonny.”
Jonny regretfully tore his eyes away from all those luscious muscles and raised them to Russ. “You’re not my father, Russ. Stop trying to act like it.”
Jonny went to push past Russ, squeaking when he was grabbed by the arms and swung around, pushed into the wall by the kitchen entry. Fear held him immobile as he stared up at Russ.
“Don’t ignore me, Jonny.” Russ’s voice was rough and growly.
“I…I’m not”—Jonny swallowed the thick lump of fear in his throat—“I’m not trying to ignore you, Russ. I’m tired.”
“Maybe if you didn’t stay out all night you wouldn’t be so tired.”
“What do you care?” Jonny asked in a voice that was thin and worn. He was so tired of wanting something he couldn’t have.
Russ’s deep brown eyes, the color of warm caramel, pierced the distance between them, flashing with something Jonny couldn’t define. His tone was velvet soft, yet edged with steel, when he replied. “I care, Jonny.”