|Cover Art by BitterGrace|
Six years ago, Adam broke Scott's heart, but now he's back in Scott's life and Scott is rightly suspicious.
Is it a case of second chances? Or will history repeat itself?
In Chase the Sun, Scott Antonelli is about to get the shock of his life. Six years ago, Adam Ross broke his heart and it was the trigger that set Scott off travelling around the world. For the last few years he has worked at Sapphire Cay with Dylan. On a simple supply run to Marsh Harbour, he is left reeling, as he comes face to face with his first love. Can he trust Adam this time round?
Adam Ross was an idiot. Looking for quick and easy cash, he got himself mixed up in the wrong crowd and paid the price - three years in prison and he lost the one person who had ever meant anything to him - Scott. Adam has done his best, tried to turn his life around and is in the Bahamas looking for a second chance. Finding Scott was the easy part. Getting him to trust him again, could be harder than he ever imagined.
"....I continue to be amazed at how two authors can write a story and I can never tell who wrote what. RJ Scott and Meredith Russell write together seamlessly and I always enjoy the books they collaborate on...."
The Sapphire Cay series
Written with Meredith Russell
Book 1 - Follow The Sun
Book 2 - Under The Sun
Book 3 - Chase The Sun
Book 4 - Christmas In The Sun
Book 5 - Capture The Sun
Book 6 - Forever In The Sun
Buy Links - eBook
Mrs Condit & Friends Read Book - 4/5 - "....I continue to be amazed at how two authors can write a story and I can never tell who wrote what. RJ Scott and Meredith Russell write together seamlessly and I always enjoy the books they collaborate on. I adored Chase the Sun, its gentle and sweet, but angsty as well, a perfect way to spend a few hours. I can’t wait to read more in this series...."
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Paranormal Romance Guild - 4/5 - "....This was a good installment into an enjoyable beach read. I have not had to regulate my blood pressure once during this series. The authors just helped me relax and unwind. This is reading with no stress! I felt satisfied after each book. Everything happened for a reason and things are as they should be. I would definitely read these authors again...."
MM Good Book Reviews - 3.5/5 - "....Yes, it is safe to say that the writing in this book is very good, and while the theme in itself is not light, the way it was written made it easy to read, easy to like, and didn’t add any heaviness or steal the escapism purpose from the read...."
“You get Dominiq’s list?” Dylan asked as he walked with Scott and Lucas toward the Lady Liberty.
“Yep.” Pulling out Dominiq’s shopping list from the back pocket of his cargo shorts, Scott Antonelli then waved it in the air. “I’d be in a heap of trouble if I forget anything,” he added. Despite the cook’s laid-back Bahamian charm, Dominiq could have a temper on him if anyone dared mess with his ingredients and menu.
The three of them walked to the end of the pier and stopped beside the boat. Scott shifted uncomfortably as Lucas slid his hand in Dylan’s. He didn’t have a problem with public affection, far from it, it was just there had been a time he and Dylan had, well, they didn’t, but he’d thought maybe they could have had something. In fact, he was the first man to get Scott interested in anything more than a quick fuck since…
Not going there.
He distracted himself from the twinge of remembrance of things he shouldn’t think about and the ever-present jealousy in his chest. He had nothing against Lucas. Lucas was damn adorable most of the time and a godsend the rest. The man was good for Dylan. Dylan was a competent boss, but he didn’t have the head for figures Lucas did. He wondered how Lucas put up with the state of the shared office. If you knew the men like he did and really looked, you could easily find Lucas’s personal space in the room—neat shelves on the far wall stacked with labeled file boxes, a bulletin board propped up and covered in receipts and a constantly updated to-do list.
Scott met Lucas’s eyes and then looked at Dylan. Both men stared at him expectantly. “What?” he asked. The two men grinned.
“Everything okay?” Lucas asked. “You seem a little distracted.”
He wasn’t so much distracted as he had itchy feet. Maybe. There was something stirring inside him, and he wasn’t really sure what it was. He hadn’t left the Bahamas or the East Coast in nearly three years. Everyone around him seemed to be settling down and pairing off. Dylan had found Lucas, and then four months ago their prissy-pants wedding planner had found his hot and sweaty dream guy too. And then there had been a dozen or so weddings, several honeymoons, and more vacationing couples than Scott cared to think about. It was enough to turn anyone’s stomach, all that mushy romance crap. Plus all the longing looks and wandering hands and kissing. Gah, the kissing. What he needed was a good fuck. A night of dirty sex and a morning of forgotten names. That would cure him of all these unwanted emotions. He’d learned his lesson a long time ago. He’d fallen hard for someone and learned the hard way that love was for suckers.
“Scott?” Dylan pressed.
He glanced between the two men. Okay, maybe not suckers. Not if you found the right person. Someone you could trust to love you back just as hard.
“Sorry,” Scott said. “When’s Dominiq need all this stuff by?” They had no major events for the next month, and currently the only guests on the island were some rich couple from San Antonio. A stopover in Marsh Harbor might do him some good.
“I can check, but I don’t think there’s anything urgent.” Dylan narrowed his eyes and reached out, resting a hand on Scott’s shoulder. “You sure you’re okay?”
Scott laughed. Dylan was around the same age as him yet in the last couple of years he had turned into some father figure. Well, more like an older and wiser brother. “I’m fine. If it’s okay with you, I won’t be back until tomorrow.”
“Of course it is,” Lucas insisted. Scott smiled. The couple wasn’t quite at the finish-each-other’s-sentences stage, but always seemed to think the same on any decision.
“Thanks.” Scott slipped Dominiq’s list back into his pocket and checked he had his wallet. “I’ll call if there’s a problem with anything.” Their supplier at Marsh Harbor had only ever let them down once. Dominiq had not been happy to find there would be no dragon fruit for his so-named dragon fruit cocktail.
He jumped onboard and waited as Dylan untied the line and threw it onto the deck.
“We’ll see you tomorrow,” Dylan said.
Scott started the engine and slid on his sunglasses.
“And don’t go gorging yourself on those fudge sundaes again.”
Scott raised an eyebrow and looked curiously at Dylan from over the frames of his shades. Who had told Dylan about Scott’s addiction to the cold stuff? It could only be one person—the only one who had experienced Scott falling face first into a sundae as if it were his last-ever dessert. Jamie. It had to be the ex-Marine who had blurted the facts.
“Jeez, if you can’t trust a Marine, who can you trust?” Then he had a horrible thought. Dominiq took the health of all his friends very seriously, and horrors of horrors, what if he knew and decided to put Scott on a diet? An automatic reflex had him sucking in his tummy. “Does Dominiq know?”
Dylan shook his head. “But you should watch yourself. If he catches you eating that processed crap again—”
“Yeah, yeah.” He had been scolded once before for daring to eat something not made from the freshest of meat and vegetables. Apparently, burgers, fries, and fudge sundaes were not a food group in themselves and did not cover the required vitamins, minerals, and all that other healthy-balance stuff Dominiq believed in heart and soul.
Deciding what happened at Marsh Harbor stayed at Marsh Harbor, he added a fudge sundae to his mental to-do list. Checking one more time that he had everything, Scott steered away from the pier. He glanced over his shoulder to see Lucas waving and Dylan leaning into his lover. He wasn’t normally a guy to get jealous, but he was scarily close to turning Hulk-green. A bar, a drink, and a guy should settle his mood and get these feelings out his system. At least until the next time.
Pushing his sunglasses higher, he then swept his hand back through his dark hair and focused on the landmass in front of him. He had made the trip to Marsh Harbor more times than he cared to remember, but something felt different this time and he wasn’t exactly sure why. His morning had been the same as always. He had joined everyone else for breakfast, chatted, laughed, and been given his list of jobs for the day. His first job had been to clean the filter on the pool and test the chemical levels, then he had the hinges on the launderette door to lift, and before heading on his run to Marsh Harbor, he had started the work of replanting the east garden.
Not exactly what he had in mind when he had left Ithaca six years ago, but he had come to accept not everyone got to pick their path—not everyone was destined to get the happy ending they wanted and planned for. Sometimes the direction a person’s life went in was his own fault and sometimes it was somebody else’s. For Scott it was a bit of both. He’d had his eyes opened and it had been the push he had needed to get out of there. Okay, so maybe his folks had thought it more like he was running away, but that wasn’t really it. He’d set his sights on something that had been nothing more than a pipedream. His heart and trust had been broken, and he’d wanted to find a way to fix them. To play out the ultimate cliché of finding himself and a new path. And maybe stop everything from hurting so damn much.
Steering the boat, Scott put the coast line on his port side. He hated it when he got like this. He was Scott Antonelli, free-spirited, easygoing, and fun. Lucas was right. He had been distracted this last week. Maybe it was time to move on for a little while. He could head back to Thailand, Malaysia, or Singapore. His time working at the Singapore Botanic Gardens had been one of the most rewarding of his life so far. He actually was able to use his degree and yet still learn new techniques and discover plants so colorful and exotic, he almost considered them to be alien and from another world.
Leaving was a good idea. He glanced back at Sapphire Cay. Maybe.
Marsh Harbor was busy, teeming with traders and tourists and captains of any seafaring vessels available. The Bahamian tourist trade was big business, and Scott was slap in the middle of the chaos.
“I’ll collect it in the morning,” Scott said and handed over the list of foodstuffs to the only stall holder Dominiq trusted in the harbor. “That okay?”
The man behind the stall read over the list and nodded. “No problem,” he agreed and slipped the list in his shirt pocket. His smile was all teeth and friendly.
Scott knew everything would be ready for him to collect. The man was an old friend of Dominiq’s—Claude, Scott remembered. “Thanks,” he said and handed Claude half the money he had been given as a deposit.
“See you in the morning,” Claude said. Then he turned to serve another customer.
“Yeah,” Scott said, putting his wallet away. He zipped up his pocket and pulled his green T-shirt down over his ass. He checked the time. Still a little early to start drinking alone. Besides, he wasn’t looking to get legless. He just wanted to relax with a couple of beers and some polite conversation. He’d be okay with that. First, he needed to get himself a room, shower, maybe buy himself a decent shirt.
Putting on his shades, he turned on his heel to head for the nearest guest house.
“Sorry,” he said when he bumped shoulders with someone.
The heat of familiarity spread through Scott’s chest when he heard his name. Slowly, he turned around, fearing he might be right. Could it really be…?
“Adam.” The man’s name was all Scott managed as he stared into the eyes of his former lover. Adam Ross. It really was him. The only person Scott had ever loved, the same person who had ripped out Scott’s heart and stamped it into the ground. Scott blinked twice to check he wasn’t imagining things.
Images flashed in his head. Making love, kissing, smiles, betrayal, cops, crime…every single day of their six months together coalesced into one solid wall of fury.
“Hey,” Adam said. His mouth curved into a smile and Scott saw red.
Curling his hand into a fist, Scott lashed out, laying a blow to Adam’s jaw. The punch was enough to knock Adam backward and off his feet, and he landed on his ass with a painful grunt.
That felt good. Scott shook away the throb of pain from the contact with Adam’s face and squeezed his hand open and shut a few times.
“Jesus, Scott,” Adam said as he rubbed at his cheek. “What the hell?”
“What the hell?” Scott looked down at Adam and shook his head. “What the hell?” Pinching the bridge of his nose, he backed away and looked around at the curious faces of the market crowds.
“You missed me then?” Adam said cautiously. He sat forward and held out his hand.
Scott considered Adam’s hand for a moment. He could feel people’s eyes on him, judging him and his actions.
Hesitating, he chewed on his lip. This was some massive joke. He’d knocked Adam to the ground, and Adam should stay on the damn ground. Eventually, Adam got the hint that Scott wasn’t helping him up, and he scrambled to stand on his own. As Adam dusted down the back of his light-colored pants and composed himself, Scott took the opportunity to look the man over. It seemed in six years not a lot had changed. Adam’s eyes still shone all golden brown when he smiled, his jaw was covered in shaped scruff, and his hair stuck up in soft spikes. He looked slimmer, skinnier even, older, but he had the familiar youthful charm in and around his eyes.
Damn, he looks good.
Emotions Scott had buried a long time ago threatened to reemerge—a mixture of hate, love, and regret. Right now, he hated the fact Adam could reawaken that desire, that love, those feelings Scott hadn’t had for anyone since him. Not like this. Not the same as he’d felt for Adam. Sure he had said the words to a couple of guys, but there was never anything real behind them. Nothing that meant the relationships would last longer than a couple of months, just enough before the itchy feet kicked in and Scott continued with his traveling.
“What are you doing here?” Scott asked angrily, stepping back to put a little more distance between them.
Adam briefly smiled before he ducked his head and eyed the ground. He seemed nervous. “To the point as always. I missed that.”
Scott folded his arms across his broad chest. “Seriously? Do you want me to hit you again?” Yes, he was hostile, but Adam deserved it. Scott still remembered that morning—the cops, the shouting, Adam with one leg out the window.
Adam raised his hands in self-defense. “Not necessary.”
For a few seconds Scott just stared. His initial temper had subsided and now sat curled inside him, ready for more fighting. He’d finished with Adam. He didn’t need Adam. I loved him so much.
Calmly, Scott again asked, “Why are you here?” What wicked trick was Fate trying to play on him? Of all the places in the world, Adam was here. Why? How? He narrowed his eyes and looked Adam up and down. He didn’t believe in coincidences.
“A guy can’t go on vacation?” Adam stretched his neck as he rubbed his jaw again. “That hurt, you know. I didn’t think you had it in you.”
“You’d be surprised. I’m not the same person from six years ago.”
Adam nodded. “Do you want to get a drink?”
Scott huffed a laugh. “You’re kidding, right?” So maybe a moment ago he was ready to have a few beers, but now he just wanted to collect Dominiq’s ingredients, sort out the liquor order, and get back to Sapphire Cay. He grimaced as he curled his hand into a fist. And get some ice for his damn hand.
Adam worried his lower lip with a tooth. He looked both wary and hopeful. “Thought we could catch up.”
“Catch up? With what? Your time behind bars? My time forgetting you?”
“How long were you in?” Scott ignored Adam’s soft plea.
Adam stiffened. “Three years.” He met Scott’s eyes before shying away.
The last time Scott had seen Adam, he was being bundled into the back of a cop car. Despite how he had felt about Adam, he hadn’t even been able to bring himself to go to court. He didn’t want to see Adam. As far he had been concerned the young man he’d fallen so hard for was a liar and a criminal and he didn’t want or need to hear exactly what Adam was guilty of. He read about the case online but he never checked the sentencing.
“So, why are you here?” Scott pressed.
Adam lifted his gaze and had an earnest expression on his face that Scott didn’t believe for one minute. “I told you. A vacation.”
“And that’s it?”
Adam shrugged. “I have some business to deal with first, but yeah, that’s it.”
“Business?” Scott shook his head. “What this time?” He tried to imagine how bad things might be this time around. “You here to steal from the tourists?” The Bahamas suffered from crime as much as anywhere else. Smuggling was the biggest problem in the Bahamas, what with the many uninhabited islands. Exotic animals? Drugs? People?
“I’ve changed, Scott,” Adam sounded sad and more than a little resigned. Was he looking for sympathy? Scott huffed a sarcastic laugh. What did Adam expect?
“You do remember what happened in Ithaca, right? Your business brought the cops to our door.”
“That wasn’t my fault,” Adam claimed instantly. He held up a hand to forestall Scott’s talking. “It was a misunderstanding. I didn’t do what the cops said I did.”
“So you were innocent and they put you away for three years for absolutely no reason. I forgot, everyone in prison is innocent.” Scott looked around. Were they really doing this in the middle of the street? People weren’t stopping and staring—no one cared the two men were talking loudly in the street.
Scott forged ahead. “You made your choice when you stole that first car. You got involved with all that crap and those men. You got me involved. I had the cops going through my stuff, our stuff. Do you know how that made me feel?”
Fuck. He couldn’t do this. Turning around, he shouted to Claude, “Claude, I’ll be back in an hour for everything. That a problem?”
Claude looked surprised but shook his head. “One hour.”
“I have to go.” Scott looked at Adam. “Enjoy your vacation,” he said and made to leave.
“I’m sorry,” Adam called after him. Scott stopped and closed his eyes. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if he really hated Adam. Even after six years, there was still a place reserved for only Adam in his heart. “Please, Scott, I truly am sorry. You were never supposed to get involved.”
Slowly, Scott turned around. “You don’t get it, do you? I loved you. Just being with you involved me in what you were doing. I could have lost everything I’d worked for. I trusted you and you lied to me.”
“I didn’t lie. I just—”
“Didn’t tell me the truth,” Scott finished for him.
Adam shook his head. “I’m sorry.”
“Me too, sorry I ever met you,” Scott snapped. Then he eyed the red patch on Adam’s jaw where he had hit him. “I’m not sorry I hit you.”
“I deserved it,” Adam said softly. He touched the darkening skin with the fingers of one hand.
Scott couldn’t stand here any longer. He couldn’t bear to be in the proximity of the man he’d lost his heart to. He would hit him again or kiss him or throttle him or hug him. He had to go.
“Goodbye, Adam,” he said finally. He continued to walk away.
“I’m staying at the Pelican Landing,” Adam shouted. “Room four-oh-eight.”
Scott didn’t stop this time. He couldn’t. Refusing to look back, he headed for the liquor store. Singapore suddenly seemed a hell of a good idea just about now.
Lucas frowned at Scott as he walked up to him. “You’re back?”
Scott shrugged as Lucas stated the obvious. He had only just docked a few minutes before and he needed a beer. He’d hoped the bar would be empty but apparently, Lucas and Dylan had the same idea for early evening alcohol and were standing on either side of the Tiki bar, chatting.
“Yeah. Change of plan,” Scott said as he slid onto the stool beside Lucas and rested his arms on the edge of the wooden surface. It was a little after six and the sun sat low in the sky, casting a warm orange glow over the pool area.
Dylan and Lucas both stared at him, and it was Lucas who finally broke the silence. “Want a cocktail? Dylan’s making us Apple Mojitos.”
Scott watched Dylan mix the first drink. It looked disgusting. Evidently, his face showed the doubt he had at going anywhere near the bright green drink.
“They’re good,” Lucas assured him.
“Sure,” Scott said. “Why not?” He’d get to the beer later.
Lucas grinned. “So, how was Marsh Harbor?”
I ran into my ex who spent three of the last six years in prison.
“Same old.” He glanced at Lucas, who gave him a curious look. “I haven’t unloaded Liberty yet.”
Dylan slid a drink toward Lucas.
Scott continued, “Was hoping for a hand.”
He smirked as Dylan pulled the drink back toward himself, away from Lucas.
“Hey,” Lucas half whined.
“After we help Scott,” Dylan insisted.
Lucas mumbled something Scott didn’t quite make out, but it definitely involved both Scott and Dylan being asses.
“Fine,” Lucas said and jumped down from his stool. “Well, come on,” he chivied them to work. “I have cocktails to sip beside the pool. Let’s get to it.”
Dylan laughed and fell in behind his fiancé, followed quickly by Scott. The couple held hands as they made their way down to the beach and the pier. Scott pushed his hands in his pockets and smiled as Dylan playfully shoved Lucas forward across the sand. He had only ever felt that at ease with one person. One man. His head and his heart were engaged in a war over Adam about what was and what could have been—what still could be.
How could he even think about giving the man a second chance?
Because you loved him, you big idiot. Because when you saw him your instinct was to hold him close and never let him go. Because even now grabs your heart.
Lucas cried out and Scott stopped, watching the two men run across the sand. Dylan chased Lucas toward the pier, trying to capture him around his waist, only to miss and fall face first in the sand.
He thought on Adam and Ithaca, on Dylan and Lucas and Sapphire Cay, and then on Singapore and moving forward. With a sigh, he started walking again. He needed to work stuff out. What had happened today was a wakeup call. The decision to face any or all of it head on wasn’t as easy as he thought. In fact, it was damn hard.
After Liberty was unloaded and everything was in the kitchen, it was finally drink time. One Mojito turned into two. The drink numbed the edges and gave him a buzz where his mind was imagining everything was possible. He chased them with beer but when he asked for whisky, Dylan placed a hand over his and stopped him from helping himself.
“What’s wrong?” Dylan asked gently.
“Nothing,” Scott said. No one needed to know that he was probably in shock. All he needed to do was take the edge off with the alcohol, and life would just go back to normal.
Dylan began talking, but he was talking to Lucas, not to Scott. “…the most I’ve ever seen him drink is two beers…”
His friend’s voice sounded distant and there was buzzing in his head that made it difficult to concentrate. Scott blinked and looked from Dylan to Lucas then down to his empty glass. They were talking about him as if he wasn’t there, saying he was drunk…or something.
“’M’fine,” he said. He deliberately sounded out each vowel in his head but what came out was a slur. “’M’not’fine,” he corrected. “’M’drunk.”
“What happened when you were mainland?” someone asked. He thought it was Dylan, but he wouldn’t bet his life on it.
“‘S’Adam,” he said. At least the sound of the words in his head were right even if it didn’t come out as careful speech.
“Adam who?” Lucas asked. Scott looked over at him, but Lucas wasn’t directing the question to him, he was looking at Dylan for the answer. Hell, Dylan didn’t know anything about Adam. Why would Scott go mouthing off about someone that screwed with his head and left him feeling angry and lost?
“I don’t know anything about an Adam,” Dylan answered.
“I’m going in to get coffee for us all,” Lucas said quickly. “I’ll be back in five.”
Dylan came around Scott’s side and encouraged Scott to sit on the sand with his back against the wooden bar. He pressed a glass of water into Scott’s hand.
“Drink this, it’ll dilute the alcohol some.”
Scott did as he was told then, and before he felt time pass, Lucas was back and he handed Scott hot black coffee. As it scalded a path down his throat, Scott winced. He was losing the lovely mellow everything-is-fine feeling and was on the way to feeling queasy. He imagined the coffee finding the alcohol in his stomach and threatening it not to come back up. He hoped to hell the alcohol was going to listen.
Lucas sat on his right, Dylan on his left, and he waited for one of them to start talking. They were going to ask him all kinds of deep penetrating questions that he had no answer to.
“You want to talk?” Lucas asked gently. “I can go if you want to talk to Dylan on your own?”
“Dylan’s my best friend,” Scott said brokenly. “You love him.” He knew he wasn’t making sense. He was coming down from the alcohol high and things looked bleak. “I love that you love him and he loves you,” he added with a hiccup.
Scott and Dylan had been close for years, ever since Thailand, and Dylan knew all of Scott’s secrets bar one. Adam. Scott could understand why Lucas suggested Scott talk to Dylan alone, but he assumed Dylan would talk to Lucas later anyway. May as well get it all out in one go. He sipped more coffee and for a long while they sat in silence in a row. Finally, he felt able to speak.
“I was in the last year of college, sitting through finals, working at the botanical gardens for my experience,” Scott started. He closed his eyes then moved until he could draw up his knees and rest his head on them. He wondered if the two men would be able to hear him as he mumbled into his legs, then dismissed the worry. He needed to hide when he told this story and they would just have to listen hard.
“I met this guy when I was in my final year at Ithaca. Young, only nineteen, and he was the life and soul of the party. We just clicked in bed. He only had to take his shirt off and I had him pinned to the mattress or a sofa or up against a wall.” He groaned as he realized how much information was probably too much. Neither Lucas nor Dylan commented. “His name was Adam.”
“He was a sophomore then,” Lucas summarized.
Scott snorted. “Hell no. He wasn’t in college. Not that he couldn’t, he was so damn clever, but he didn’t have money…you know what it’s like. He worked in Ithaca. I met him at a party, we were together six months.” Nausea rolled in his stomach, and he concentrated on his breathing to quell the need to be sick. “We got to the point…” He paused. “No, I got to the point where I thought we could see where the future took us.” He stopped and lifted his face to the evening breeze. The scent of the sea was as familiar as every other night and it grounded him. “I even thought I was in love with him.”
I was in love with him. He was part of me. My future.
Lucas rubbed small circles on his back. “What happened?” he asked.
Scott snorted. “Well, the future didn’t happen. That’s for sure,” he added. “I knew in my bones that there was something not right, but I really, genuinely had fallen in love and I ignored all the signs.”
“Was he cheating on you?” This time Dylan asked the question. Scott wished he could say he knew for certain that Adam hadn’t cheated on him. That he trusted Adam. But when the cops came and took him, Scott lost the last little piece of trust he had. Instead of answering Dylan’s question, he forged ahead with explanation.
He sighed heavily. “I don’t know what to tell you. We woke up one morning and there were cops at the door, and when I let them in, Adam was halfway out the window. They arrested him for stealing cars and selling the parts, and I found out today he was given a three-year prison sentence.”
“Fuck, I’m sorry,” Dylan offered. He slung his arm over Scott’s shoulder and Scott wasn’t ashamed to lean in for the comfort.
“You didn’t know what he was doing?” Lucas asked.
Trust Lucas to be the one who asked the question that mattered.
“I’d love to tell you, hand on heart, that I didn’t know,” Scott said. “But I was always suspicious. He’d come to my place late, go out early, sometimes he’d just be lying around playing video games for days. He told me he had a legitimate business that he ran alongside flipping burgers, and that he was going places. At first, I was proud that my nineteen-year-old boyfriend had made himself money and thought that one day he would use it to go to college or… I don’t know.” Scott shrugged. “Hell, the sex was awesome.”
“So you said,” Lucas said dryly.
Dylan took his turn to ask a question that Scott struggled with. “What stopped you from finding out more? What is he doing here? Has he tracked you down? Did you ask him what he was doing?”
So many questions Scott wished he had answers to. “I don’t know. We had six months, Dylan, that was all. Just half a year of off-the-charts sex and me in my own head imagining a future based on that alone. We weren’t much beyond the fucking-every-moment-we-got stage. I’d only allowed myself that single morning to say anything out loud that was anywhere close to commitment.”
Scott remembered it clearly.
“How would you like to come traveling with me?” Scott blurted out. Adam wasn’t the type for post-sex talking; he was more the head-under-the-quilt-and-snoring type. Adam turned on his side to face Scott and gave another wide yawn.
“Traveling where?” Adam asked curiously as he stretched.
“Like how some European students travel after they have their degrees. I think it sounds kinda cool. Singapore, maybe, Australia? I was thinking of starting in Thailand or something like that? We could work our way around.” Scott wished he sounded more confident in what he was saying. He and Adam were different worlds really, and he didn’t expect Adam to say yes immediately.
“I have a life here,” Adam said softly.
“It wouldn’t be for long.”
“How long?” Adam asked.
“Most students go for a year. Do some growing up, see the world, find themselves.”
Adam snorted a laugh and rolled onto his back. Reaching sideways, he gripped Scott’s now-flaccid cock. “I can help you find yourself, baby.” He smirked.
“I mean it,” Scott insisted. “Take a year out, work our way around the world, well, a bit of it at least, then come back and find somewhere to settle down or something.” The last he added casually, as if he didn’t care what Adam said next.
“Settle down?” Adam sounded momentarily wistful. Then he ruined the effect by laughing. “That sounds far too permanent.”
“I know you’re only nineteen…” Scott started. He wasn’t sure how to finish the sentence though.
“Nineteen with a place of my own I pay rent on and income from a good job.”
“Doing what exactly?” Scott insisted. He swallowed. “You have way more money than just flipping burgers. What is your other business?”
Adam rolled off the bed on his side and pulled on his jeans. “Jesus, Scott. I’m not staying if you’re going all bad cop on me.”
“Why would you say that?” Scott snapped.
“Fuck you, Scott. I don’t have to share anything with you.”
“I worry about you, Adam.”
Adam pulled his T-shirt over his head and scrubbed at his stubbled face with his hands, then pushed them through his spiky, messed hair. He had temper flashing in his eyes. “Don’t worry about me, Brains, I’m doing just fine.”
“You don’t seem to have anyone. Friends? Family. I’ve never met anyone. You have money lying around here. I’m not stupid, Adam.”
“I never said you were, but this is my life and I don’t need you getting involved.”
A knock at the door echoed through the small apartment. Someone was pounding the door. Wait. Not pounding. Pushing something at the door.
Adam was scared, his brown eyes wide with sudden fear. He looked terrified and crossed to the window, glancing out at the fire escape.
“Adam, what’s wrong?”
Adam didn’t answer. He pulled at the catch holding the window shut and tried to lever it upward. He even had a foot out on the sill when the door flew open with force and suddenly everything went to hell. Cops, five, six, two with guns drawn, and Adam was dragged back from the window. One of them was stating Adam’s Miranda rights and when Scott could hear over the noise all he picked up was that Adam was being arrested. What for? What did Adam do?
When cuffs clicked around Adam’s wrists he didn’t struggle. He simply stood absolutely still and refused to meet Scott’s eyes. The cops turned to Adam. They were talking at him, something about car theft, parts, cash, laundering, and a cop being shot. Adam was going down and Scott had to stay here and think himself lucky he’d stayed out of it all.
Confusion and noise, then suddenly nothing except the promise that Scott would be called in for questioning if needed.
Standing in his room in shock, Scott could only think one thing.
How could he ever think to love someone he could never really know?
Scott pulled himself back to the here and now. “Adam told me he did extra stuff. That is how he explained it—stuff—finding things people needed and selling them on. I would see rolls of notes sometimes, and I knew something wasn’t right. “
“But you never knew what?” Dylan asked carefully.
“Car parts he said. I asked him what kind of car parts? Where did he get them? Why did his customers pay him in cash? All he said was that his customers were rich. I was stupid. Blinded by what I thought was love.”
The three men sat quietly for a few minutes, and in that time enough memories whirled inside Scott’s head that he couldn’t stop the flood of embarrassment that made him groan.
Dylan snapped his fingers. “Wait. Rewind. He was in prison, and he’s out, so do you think he is in Marsh Harbor specifically looking for you?”
Scott shuffled uncomfortably on the hardening sand under his butt. “He didn’t say and I didn’t ask him.”
“Then what exactly did you talk about then?”
“Less talking, more punching,” Scott admitted.
“Jeez,” Dylan murmured. Scott glanced at Dylan, whose eyebrows were raised in surprise at the statement. Scott was the last person to get angry, let alone allow temper to have a physical manifestation, and Dylan knew that.
“So, both of you, tell me. What the hell do I do now?”
“Is he still at Marsh Harbor?”
“He said he was. He gave me his room number at the Pelican Landing.”
“That’s a pit,” Dylan said. “Cheap by-the-hour type of bookings.”
“Stealing cars can’t pay well then,” Lucas pointed out.
“He says he’s done with that,” Scott immediately defended. Then he groaned again and hid his face against Dylan’s T-shirt. What was he doing? Defending someone he’d spent so little time with and who he didn’t really know. The same boy who’d nearly got Scott arrested.
“You know what you need to do,” Dylan started. “You need to sleep on it, and in the morning, you need to get yourself to the Pelican Landing and you need to punch him again.” The last he added with a smile obvious in his voice.
“Or you could talk,” Lucas said. “Get this all off your chest. See what he wants. Then come back home and drink some more mojitos.”