The sunrise in Liberty always made Guy feel insignificant. Even as a child he’d known. But as he stood by the window of his leased lake house, watching the sun struggle to appear from behind some heavy rain clouds, he realized the sensation hadn’t gone away. If anything, the swarm of irrelevance had magnified into a shame he never knew was possible for a human being to experience. His father had done a bad thing, and any chance he had of having Dean as his man was becoming smaller and smaller by the second. Panic rose inside him and his knees trembled at his helplessness.
He took a sip from his coffee and exhaled long and hard.
Dean is still mad as hell.
Guy felt as if he’d been hit by a Mack truck when Dean punched him. He twisted his bottom jaw from side to side, wincing at the pain. The hit had jarred his neck dangerously to the side before Guy staggered backward, almost taking out a table in his fall. As Guy rubbed his cheek, he marveled that Dean was as strong as he remembered and still packed quite a punch. That night, so long ago, Guy had underestimated the dark-skinned hunk and had a black eye and a few bruised ribs to show for it. After eighteen years, he was sure Dean would have forgiven him. Instead, he got another reminder that Dean Morgan could hold a grudge.
Shifting, his eyes caught the cell phone on the bedside table and he frowned. The green light on it was flashing, which meant he had messages and perhaps a few e-mails he really didn’t want to tackle. He’d told the office he would be away indefinitely, so unless the office was burning to the ground, no one should call him. It seemed there was a fire or two.
Reluctantly, he made his way over to the bedside table and grabbed the phone. He activated the screen and began listening to the messages on speaker phone. Two were from colleagues wanting to know if he’d like to grab a coffee sometime and talk. That was code for they wanted something and would get him a cheap cup of something to try softening him. A few were hang ups and the last was from his sister. Of course Marielle was worried. He could hear it in her voice even though she tried to hide it with phrases like, just calling to see if you landed okay.
With a deep breath, he found her number and hit send as he made his way down the stairs and into the open concept kitchen.
He said. “Ça va
“Andrew!” She cheered. She never liked calling him Guy but always used his middle name instead. According to her, the name Guy wasn’t for a man like her brother, it was for some sleazy guy on the train who touches your ass then smirks as he apologized.
“I’m good.” Marielle told him. “I was worried about you.”
“No need to worry. I’m fine.”
“Does that mean you haven’t seen Dean yet?”
“Oh, I saw Dean.”
Marielle sighed dramatically. “What’d he say? How’d he react?”
“He reacted just about the way I thought he would.” Guy shrugged needlessly. “He punched me in the face.” Guy rinsed his mug, giving his sister a chance for her dramatic gasped. “Yeah. He’s still pissed.”
“It’s not your fault. Maybe you were right. Maybe I should just get over this—this thing
I have in me.”
“But we both know you’d never be happy,” Marielle told him. “You’ve spent the last eighteen years pining over this man. None of the relationships you’ve had have worked, and we both know why. You’re comparing them to Dean, and that’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to you.”
“He could never love me, Mari. Jamais!
“Never is a long time, Andrew. You don’t know what will happen ten years from now.”
“I don’t have ten years.”
“Okay.” Marielle paused. “What now?”
“I don’t know. At first I thought maybe if I told him the truth, he’d forgive me. But then I thought better of that. The truth isn’t going to help the situation.”
“Well, no.” Marielle agreed. “And whose truth would you be telling him? The one our father fed us for years before he confessed on his death bed, or the truth he’s known, the one that ruined his life?”
Guy sighed. Speaking to his baby sister usually gave him clarity—except in this case.
“Maybe if I talked to him.” Marielle offered.
“No,” Guy said instantly. “That is out of the question. I’m not dragging you into this. At least he tolerated you. Me, he wants dead, and that’s the way it’s going to stay until I can figure this out.”
Marielle sighed. “I can’t believe Dad is putting us through this.”
“Yeah, the man’s a pain in the ass even when he’s dead.” Guy took a breath and rolled his shoulders. “Let me sleep on it. I have a few errands I want to run before I get a chance to really sit down and think. Have you heard from Paul?”
“Yeah, he stopped by this morning to grab the folders you left for him,” Marielle said. “Said he would call you tomorrow when he gets back from St. Tropez, but if you needed him before then to call his cell.”
“Good show. Thanks, sis.”
“I have to go, and you should get to bed.”
“Speaking of bed,” Marielle said. “How’s the time change treating you?”
“I was wide awake all night. Now, I’m exhausted. I thought it was the whole deal with Dean, but that was only just part of it.”
Marielle laughed. “You’ll get used to it soon. I love you.”
“Love you too, Mari. Talk soon.”
But Guy didn’t really have any errands. The real estate agent he’d used to find the place had stocked the fridge for him for at least another week, and since the people in town all knew what his father did, Guy wasn’t the most welcomed of people around those parts. Instead, he hurried back to the bedroom, hauled on a pair of track pants and a T-shirt, and pulled his iPod from the side pocket of his bag. After finding the playlist he wanted, he pressed play, stuck his earbuds in, and quickly put on his shoes. He ran down a dirt road, heading in the opposite direction of Main Street—the center of town.
It carried him straight past what used to be their old high school, across the old football field and down a slope. There was a new footpath he didn’t remember, but curiosity got the better of him. Turning, he jogged lightly until he was about to exit the line of trees but stopped when movement caught his attention. That was strange since he hadn’t seen anyone the whole time he’d been running. He removed his earbuds and the sound of water falling caught his attention.
Slowly, carefully, he inched toward a large sycamore tree and peered around it. What he saw was the most beautiful thing he’d ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Dean Morgan hadn’t only grown up, but he’d definitely done so in all the right ways. From the large tribal tattoo that spanned his entire right arm from shoulder to wrist to the muscles of his body, hard and tight propelling him out of the water like a gift from God. His body was covered in droplets of water that glistened in the early morning sunlight and had Guy hard.
Guy frowned. The very tight swim trunks Dean wore covered what Guy really wanted to see. Then again, that was probably for the best, since the way the shorts accentuated Dean’s ass, Guy was pretty sure if he were to see that thing bare, he’d burst into flames.
He should have walked away. But for some reason Guy couldn’t move. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the vision of perfection before him. It was wrong to be looking at Dean the way he had been, but he couldn’t get enough. Dean turned around, then to climb onto a large rock to sun himself like the king of beasts. Guy’s heart raced so fast, he had to hold his breath for a second, then exhaled long and hard out his mouth.
When he was able to pry himself away from the tree, Guy turned to leave, but the hardness between his legs made it difficult to move. Trying not to squeeze it with thighs didn’t help either, for he got tangled in himself and went slamming into the dirt. In pain, Guy lay on his back with his eyes pressed tight, praying by some miracle Dean hadn’t heard any of that. But his prayers went unanswered as hurried footsteps got closer and closer until he could feel Dean’s presence by him.
“Trespassing now, Guy?” Dean’s voice was hard and cold.
“I didn’t mean to.” Guy opened his eyes to look up into Dean’s brown gaze. “It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I saw the path I didn’t recognize and followed it.”
“Well, you don’t seem to have anything broken,” Dean said. “You can go now.”
“Seriously, Dean? I just fell.”
“And I’m playing the world’s smallest violin for you.” Dean snapped. “You’re on my father’s land, and you’re not welcome here.”