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The tiny town of Sebastian’s Bluff is a photojournalist’s dream come true. But Ron Winters doesn’t expect the moody, mysterious man next door to get under his skin and stay there.
When Drew LaSalle meets Ron, feelings he thought twenty years gone stir to life again. He wants what he could have with Ron. But does he want it enough to get past his own walls and grasp it?
Secrets, spirits and tragedy converge as Ron peels back the layers of Drew’s past and Drew fights both Ron and his own ghosts on the haunted road to happily ever after.
© Copyright 2011 Ally Blue
Friday morning dawned gray, windy, and cool. Ron overslept, on account of staying up way too late the night before to watch Sin City on cable. He’d slept on the sofa with the TV on, and told himself it had nothing to do with not wanting to turn off the set and go up to his bedroom surrounded by the sound of crying, even if it was just the house making strange noises. Which it was, of course it was. By the time he made it outside, the tide had come in. Waves washed up within a few feet of the bluff, swallowing the beach every few seconds.
Ron walked along the bluff instead. If Drew wasn’t outside, he could always take some photos of the sea from the rocky heights north of Drew’s cottage. He had some black and white film with him. It would be perfect for shooting the dark clouds hanging low in the sky and the gray, churning water.
He strolled along, a cream filled doughnut in one hand and his camera in the other, stopping every now and then to take a shot of a curling wave, a wildflower heavy with moisture, a squirrel perched on a tree branch. This place was a treasure trove of gorgeous pictures waiting to happen. Squatting on the ground to shoot a close-up of a fern frond dotted with raindrops, he wondered if he’d end up having to order more film before September was out. He bit into his doughnut.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Startled by Drew’s voice directly behind him, Ron jerked, lost his balance and fell over. He managed to keep both his camera and his breakfast from falling on the ground, but it meant a painful landing on his left shoulder. He swallowed his mouthful of food wrong, got choked and coughed until his chest hurt. “Ow.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Shaking his hair out his eyes, Ron peered up at Drew, who stood nearby looking like he was trying not to laugh. It was a good look on him. Ron grinned. “No big deal. I get kind of caught up when I’m shooting.” He squirmed until he got one knee underneath him, then struggled to his feet without using his hands. “What’d you mean?” He bit into his doughnut again. A blob of cream caught on his lip. He licked it off.
Drew’s eyes zeroed in on Ron’s mouth. “Huh?”
The way Drew stared encouraged Ron to dig the fluffy cream from the depths of the pastry with his tongue. He swallowed it, fascinated and incredibly turned on by the resulting flush that stained Drew’s cheeks. “You said, quote, What the hell are you doing? Unquote.” He licked his lips again, more slowly this time, just to watch Drew’s breathing quicken. “What’d you mean?”
“Oh.” Drew’s fingers dug into his thighs. He lifted his gaze to Ron’s eyes. Reluctantly, it seemed to Ron. “Is that really what you’re eating for breakfast? A cream-filled doughnut?”
Whatever Ron might’ve expected to hear, that wasn’t it. He glanced at the half a doughnut in his hand. “Yeah. So?”
Drew wrinkled his nose. “Those things’re bad for you.”
Something in Drew’s expression said that wasn’t the whole story. Watching Drew’s face, Ron popped the last bite of the breakfast in question into his mouth, chewed and swallowed. “What can I say? I like things that’re bad for me.”
The heat that flared in Drew’s eyes then suggested he’d like nothing so much at that moment than to throw Ron to the wet grass and do unspeakable things to him. Ron sure wouldn’t have argued with that plan. Holding Drew’s gaze, he stuck his fingers in his mouth one by one and sucked them clean. This could be your cock, he told Drew with the curve of his mouth around his fingers.
Drew shut his eyes. Swallowed. Dragged his eyelids up again and turned toward the ocean. “Okay. Um. I need to go now. I got to be at work soon.”
Ron glanced downward. Maybe Drew did have to work today, but Ron would bet his last dime that Drew’s sudden need to go inside right this minute had more to do with the hardness straining his zipper than the day’s job.
Fighting back a grin, Ron nodded. “See you around, I hope.” With a wave and a smile, he wandered off toward the tangled forest north of Drew’s house. Drew didn’t say a word, but Ron felt that intense stare like a laser until the cabin was out of sight behind him.
Pulling his phone out of his pocket, Ron scrolled over to the grocery list app. He had to pick up more doughnuts.
The way Drew saw it, Ron was trying to drive him crazy on purpose. It appeared to be working, too, which pissed him right the fuck off.
Jerking off to the imagined feel of Ron’s soft pink tongue on his cock was normal. The mental image of that same tongue digging white cream out of a goddamn doughnut, on the other hand, did not belong anywhere near a sex fantasy.
Something had to be done. That was all there was to it.
After six days of pure torture, Drew met Ron out on the beach on a fine, clear Wednesday morning with one hand hidden behind his back. Ron raised his eyebrows. Before he could say a word, though, Drew snatched the evil doughnut out of his hands and flung it into the ocean.
Ron’s mouth dropped open. “Hey! I was eating that.”
“Yeah, well, now you’re not.” Christ, Drew wanted to push Ron to his knees and shove his cock down his throat. Forget it, he scolded his prick, which seemed to have a mind of its own lately. There’s not going to be anything with Ron, and you know why. “I got something else for you to eat.”
The indignant expression on Ron’s face morphed into something sly and knowing. His mouth curved into a wicked grin. “Oh, really?”
Drew felt the blood rush into his face, and hated how easily Ron flustered him. Ignoring his flaming cheeks as best he could, he took his hand from behind his back and held out the biscuit with the sausage patty stuffed in the middle. “Here. I made ‘em this morning.”
A complex look Drew wasn’t sure how to interpret slid through Ron’s eyes and vanished before Drew could grasp it. He beamed up at Drew. “Thanks, Drew. This was really sweet of you.”
Warmth coiled deep in Drew’s belly. He shrugged, pleased and embarrassed at the same time. “I had plenty. It’ll keep you on your feet a whole lot better than those damn doughnuts.”
The quirk of Ron’s lips and the sparkle in his eyes said he didn’t buy it, but Drew didn’t give a shit. He’d feed Ron breakfast every fucking day if it kept him from planting any more pastry- porn images in Drew’s head.
Ron took a big bite of the biscuit and chewed. Closing his eyes, he let out an obscene moan. “Oh, my God,” he said with his mouth full. “This is fantastic.” He chewed some more, swallowed and wiped crumbs off his mouth with the back of his hand. “You’re a terrific cook. Why did I not know this about you?”
“Because we haven’t known each other that long.” Wonderful. He even eats fucking sausage biscuits sexy. That’s just fucking great. “Also because I’m not a great cook. Those are frozen biscuits.”
“Oh. Did they come from Parker’s?”
Drew ground his teeth together in sheer despair when Ron did the bite-and-moan thing again. “Yeah. Just the biscuits. You gotta cook the sausage separate.”
“Mm.” Ron gulped down another mouthful and licked his lips. “‘Kay. Hey, you should come over for breakfast one day. I can make you biscuits and sausage and whatever else you like.” He grinned. “No doughnuts, I swear.”
Drew’s arousal vanished like a candle flame doused with water. “Um. That’s okay. I usually have to get up and out pretty early. Thanks anyway, though.”
The way Ron’s brows drew together announced his confusion loud and clear, but he didn’t ask questions. “Sure. The door’s always open, if you change your mind.”
Grateful for Ron’s silent acceptance of his rejection— something that had to seem strange to Ron, since they’d developed an almost-friendship of sorts over the past couple of weeks—Drew nodded. “Thanks.”
It wasn’t just a thank-you for the invitation Drew hadn’t accepted. He figured Ron knew that.
Smiling, Ron bumped Drew’s arm with his shoulder. “You’re welcome.”
The tight, warm feeling in Drew’s chest expanded until he could barely breathe around it. Yep, Ron understood, all right.