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After years of saving every penny, Nathan has finally managed to buy the horse of his dreams. He’s looking forward to a summer of exploring the Colorado mountain trails above Tucker Springs with Tsarina. But on their very first ride, a motorcyclist makes a wrong turn, scaring Tsarina into bolting and leaving Nathan with a broken leg, a broken hand, and a ruined summer.
Ryan is a loner and a nomad, content with working odd jobs before moving on to the next town. Feeling guilty for causing the accident that leaves Nathan in two casts, Ryan offers to keep Tsarina exercised until Nathan heals.
Despite their bad start, Nathan and Ryan soon become friends . . . and then much more. But with a couple of nasty breakups in his past, Nathan doesn’t want feelings getting involved—especially knowing that Ryan will never settle down. But since when do feelings ever listen to reason?
“ . . . Jeff still doesn’t want to get a counselor involved?”
Brad laughed bitterly.
“I’ll take that as a no.” I scratched an itch under the cast on my arm. “So what are some of those reasons you guys figured out?”
“I’ll bore you with them another night. You’ve probably suffered enough for one day.”
I chuckled. “Yeah, but at least this way it’s your misery. Takes my mind off my own.”
“You’re a real pal, you know that?” But he took a deep breath and settled against the back of the recliner like he was both trying to relax and brace himself before he dived into the subject. “I think he’s spending too much time at work. He thinks I’m trying to monopolize his time. I think buying a house together is too risky while the market’s all fucked up. He thinks I’m making excuses to put off any kind of commitment. Which then of course leads us to arguing over—”
“Wait,” I put up a hand. “You guys are still arguing over commitment when you can barely stand to be in the same room?”
“Well, it is a bone of contention.”
“Okay, fair enough, but I’d start with damage control at this point, you know?”
“That is damage control.” He leaned forward and rubbed his forehead. “Ugh. I could have sworn there was a time when shit wasn’t so damned complicated with him.”
I picked at the edge of the cast on my hand. “This from the man who can’t understand why I’ve sworn off getting involved with any part of a man above his belt.”
“With the fuckwits you’ve gone out with?” He snorted. “I’d swear off men altogether.”
“That said”—he inclined his head—“you know not all men are like that.”
“Nope, not all.” I shifted a bit to accommodate my stupid casts, wondering if comfortable would ever happen to me again in this lifetime. “But with the way my luck has gone, I’m not interested in seeing if the third time is the charm.”
“Yeah, I guess I can’t blame you.” He sipped his beer. As he absently ran his finger along the edge of the label, he said, “Mind if I ask something? About your exes?”
I shrugged. “Go for it.”
“Why did you stay with them for so long?”
Exhaling hard, I watched my fingers playing at the cast on my arm. “If I’d known Steve was cheating on me, I’d have dumped him sooner. Gotta give the man credit, though.” I laughed humorlessly. “He did know how to cover his tracks.”
Brad’s expression didn’t change. “What about Brent, though? I mean, Jeff and I were wondering for months when you’d finally kick his ass to the curb.”
I shifted my gaze away, suddenly unable to meet my roommate’s eyes. I took pride in not letting anyone push me around, especially not boyfriends, and it still grated on me to think I let that dickwad berate and belittle me for the better part of a year. Especially since I now knew people had noticed. Worse, I’d defended him to a few people along the way.
“Oh, he’s having an off day.”
“He really is a sweetheart.”
“That’s just his sense of humor.”
“I have no idea,” I finally said. “But it’s over now. With him and with Steve.” I sighed. “And after their shit, I need a break.”
“A break for how long?”
“Probably until I’m forty.”
Brad laughed. “You know that’s basically inviting the universe to drop Mr. Right into your life, don’t you?”
“Please.” I waved my good hand. “If he’s really Mr. Right, then he’ll show up when the timing is right, too.”
Brad threw his head back and laughed harder. “Oh, Nathan, Nathan, Nathan. My darling, naïve little Nathan.” He eyed me, smirking again. “Let me guess: if he comes along at the wrong time, he can’t possibly be Mr. Right?”
“Something like that.”
“Mark my words, my friend. You don’t want him, which is exactly why he’s going to show up.”
He eyed me like he was thinking of pushing the issue—go ahead, Brad, tell me the same thing happened with you and Jeff—but then glanced at the beer in his hand. “I’m going to go get another one. You want—” His eyes darted toward the white-capped orange prescription bottle on the coffee table. “Oh. No beer for you, I guess. Uh, do you want anything?”
I scowled playfully. “Well, now I want a beer.”
“Sorry.” He grimaced. “Anything else? A soda? Something to eat?”
My stomach grumbled, and it dawned on me that I hadn’t eaten a thing since lunch, which had been light since I’d been excited to the point of queasy about my upcoming ride. “I don’t suppose I could talk you into throwing a sandwich together, could I?” I gestured at the pill bottle. “I need to eat something with that anyway.”
“Sure, absolutely.” He stood and picked up his empty beer bottle. “Anything in particular?”
“There’s turkey in there, I think. Nothing fancy.”
“On it. Just, um, wait there.”
“Damn. And here I was thinking about taking a jog around the block.”
“Be my guest.” He shrugged. “Can’t be held responsible if your sandwich is gone when you get back.”
“Hmm, well, in that case I’ll wait here.”
He disappeared into the kitchen. I listened to him going through the motions of preparing some food, and in the otherwise silent living room, I sighed. It was good to have him here right now. I couldn’t deny that.
Pity he was here for the reasons he was. It hurt like hell to watch him dealing with his crumbling relationship, and I hoped they either got it together or moved on separately before it killed them both. The two of them had been a good match. Such a good match. It was a damned shame the way things had fallen apart the last year or so. Neither of them was willing to let it end without a fight, but I wondered how long it would take before they finally agreed it was over. There had to come a point where even a relationship like theirs wasn’t worth saving.
“I’m not ready to let it go yet,” Brad had told me the night he’d moved out of their place and into mine. “There’s got to be a way to make it work again. I mean, we had something really, really good.”
Yeah, you did. And look at the two of you now.
My only two serious relationships had been volatile and miserable, and both had ended the way volatile, miserable relationships usually did. No police involvement or violence, fortunately—well, besides that ceramic mug I’d thrown at a wall during one of the last fights with Steve, and a picture that had fallen off the wall thanks to Brent slamming a door—but there was nothing amicable about either of those splits.
If what Brad was going through was how a happy, stable relationship eventually ended . . .
Fuck that. I was fine on my own.
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding After the Fall) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 13th, and winners will be announced on October 14th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
Note from the author: “It should come as no surprise that I am once again traveling during a blog tour, this time to California so that Cat Grant and I can go see 30 Seconds to Mars. Twice. I will still make every effort to post responses as often as possible, but I can’t promise they’ll be terribly coherent on the concert days (October 11th and 12th) because…30 Seconds to Mars. But I will definitely stop in as often—and as coherently—as I can!”