When he arrives home from a long stint in the hospital after losing his right arm to an IED blast, Sergeant James Miller certainly doesn’t expect his keys not to work and a strange man answering his door, only to learn his boyfriend has dumped him. Yet that’s exactly what happens, and James is just happy that he can count on his old platoon buddy to have his back, and a spare bedroom he can use until he gets on his feet.
Horace Grundy the third—“Horse” to anyone who doesn’t want to get his butt kicked—is retired and has a tidy house on the beach that he calls home. The place isn’t big, but he figures there is plenty of room for James, even if he has always fancied the man.
Thankfully, the two of them fit together well, and soon the roommates become more. But James’s past isn’t ready to let go of him yet, and the new lovers are caught off-guard when James’s ex-boyfriend suddenly reappears in his life. Can James and Horse’s new relationship weather the storm?
Heat Level: 3
Length: Extended Amber Kiss (16k words)
Read a short excerpt...
...Sergeant James Miller, retired, sat at the end of the driveway of the little beach house, just about as unsure as he’d been since he’d lost his right arm to an IED blast in the fucking desert. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen, right? He was a fucking wounded warrior. He was supposed to go home to Andy, have a hero’s welcome. Andy was supposed to hug him, tell him that it was okay, no big deal. It was cool. Stumps were hot. Retirement and pensions were hot.
Instead, what he got was another dude answering the door at the house he was supposed to be coming home to. A fucking psychiatrist to Andy’s nurse. A doctor.
“It just happened, you know?”
“You were always gone.”
“I didn’t tell you because you were hurt.”
So, what did he do? Did he kill Dr. Shrinker and Andy and bury their bodies in the backyard like he wanted to? No. He’d called Horse and asked if he could couch surf for a few days until he got organized. Now he was sitting in front of some little house on the beach in the Carolinas, trying to get his shit together enough to go knock on the door at the crack of dawn.
The door opened, and a tall, broad stud of a man came out, hands on his hips as he looked down the drive. Horace Grundy the Third—Horse to everyone who knew him.
“Are you coming in or do I need to come get you?”
“Fuck you, man.” James slid out of the cab, just about as tired as a man could be. All his shit was in the back of his truck. Everything he fucking owned reduced to one flatbed. Hell, it wasn’t even packed tight or anything. “This stuff safe out here?”
“Hell, yeah. ’Til dark anyway.” Horse shook his head and stepped out of the way, giving James room to get through the door. “You look like crap.”
“Thanks. I feel like hammered shit. And thanks for letting me come down.” It felt good, knowing he had a real friend, someone he could count on.
Horse clapped a hand on his shoulder, squeezed. “No problem. You take as long as you need.”
The house was small and neat as a pin. If he hadn’t known Horse was military, he sure would have guessed it from his home. Horse led him through the little front room that was mostly couch and TV and into a tiny kitchen where coffee was brewed.
“Oh, thank God.” James nodded at the offer of a cup. “Please.”
Horse gave it to him, just how he liked it—black as midnight—then sat across from him.
Horse didn’t say anything, but James could hear the question. He also knew if he wasn’t ready to talk, Horse would accept that, too.
“He’s living with a doctor, has been for a year. Asshole never said. He claimed he didn’t know how to tell me because of this.” James lifted his “arm.” He wasn’t too bad with it, really, although right now it felt like it weighed a thousand pounds.
“Fucking asshole coward.”
“Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t have gone there. He’d changed the locks.” He’d had to knock at his own door.
“Jesus Christ, Sarge, that’s pretty fucking low. You know, I have a gun.” Horse’s grin was positively evil.
“I do know that. He was lucky I didn’t.” James managed a grin of his own...