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Close to Home Chapter 1


My daughter’s voice rang clearly through the phone. “Dad, seriously, you need to get out of there.” Emma’s voice was laced with frustration. “You retired six months ago, and Nate and I are both in college. You haven’t left San Diego in years. Go on a vacation!”

My voice was tired with a hint of warning in it when I started, but I wasn’t sure where I was going with the protest. “Emma…” She’d been on me since I’d retired from the navy to get out of San Diego for a while. Now that she was gone and her brother was moving to college in a few days, I was going to be at home by myself. 

“Dad, you need to live for once. You don’t have to live for us anymore. Go out. Get laid. Do something crazy even, like find a boyfriend!”

I gasped into the phone. “Emma Jean!” I didn’t know what shocked me more, the fact that my baby girl had just told me to go get laid or that she considered “crazy” being me finding a boyfriend.

“Don’t ‘Emma Jean’ me! You’re forty-six years old and you haven’t been in a serious relationship since Papa died. I know you didn’t want to confuse us while we were growing up, but that was over seventeen years ago. It’s time to get out there again.” She hesitated before she continued. “Dad, I only have, maybe, one memory of Papa, and Nate was a baby. He got deployed right after the adoption was finalized, there wasn’t time for me to make solid memories. You aren’t going to hurt our feelings by dating and maybe even falling in love. We want you to be happy.”

I sighed and scrubbed at my face with my hand. “When did you get to be so smart?”

Emma giggled, reminding me that she was still my little girl—despite being old enough to drink. “From watching you all these years.”

I ignored the tear that ran down my cheek from her touching words. “Alright, baby girl, I’ll think about it.”

“Which part?” she teased.

“All of it, Emma Jean. I’ll think about getting away, and I’ll think about finding someone.”

My attention was drawn to my son Nate who was sleeping on the couch. I could so easily recall him hardly taking up a cushion on the couch we had when we brought him and Emma home. It was so vivid in my mind it felt like I could reach out and touch it. Emma hadn’t seemed much bigger, even being three years older than her brother. She’d been fiercely protective of him and wouldn’t leave his side for weeks. They’d lost their parents in a car crash, and they’d been hard to place because they were a package deal. Andrew and I had only seen more love to share and the ability to give them biological siblings as well. Looking back, it had been a different lifetime ago. 

At eighteen, Nate no longer fit on the couch stretched out, so he was curled up slightly, his butt hanging off the edge. The house was definitely going to feel strange without him in it when he left for school. 

I sighed and headed toward the garage to find another box to help pack up his bed linens. We were leaving in two days to drive Nate to Oklahoma for college and he was sound asleep on the couch without a care in the world. College was going to be a wakeup call for him. 

Who was I kidding? It was going to be a wakeup call for me too. 

When Emma had left for college three years earlier, I knew Nate would be leaving soon too. At the time, though, with a kid entering the tenth grade, it felt like college was a lot further into the future. All too soon, reality had caught up with me, and I was facing a too big, soon to be too empty, home.

Maybe Emma was right. I did need to get out and date. I needed to meet someone. Would it be horrible for me to fall in love?

My mind flashed back to the only time in recent memory that I had found someone attractive… 

My best friend Cody and I had gone to the home of one of the SEALs on his team. I knew the guy from an LGBT group I was active in on base and when he’d been injured on a mission, I’d spent a number of days popping over to the hospital to visit him while he was recovering—especially before Cody and his team had returned home from whatever jungle they’d been dropped in for that particular mission. 

Declan and his boyfriend Ty had wormed their way into my heart at the first LGBT meeting they’d attended. Ty always had a smile on his face, and they looked at each other like the other had hung the moon. They’d been best friends since childhood, but Declan had been deeply closeted. When he’d finally admitted he was gay, he was ready to embrace his sexuality in both his personal and professional life. 

Ty’s family had come rushing to California as soon as they’d gotten the call that Declan had been injured. They were fascinating, even by southern California standards. Ty’s brother, Derek, was a famous country musician who had come out early in his career. Derek’s relationship with his husband was unique, to say the least. He called the hulking Tennessee sheriff Daddy no matter who was around. I’d met a few Daddy/boy couples in my life, but the way the two interacted was different. It hadn’t taken me long to figure out that Derek wasn’t just Daddy’s boy, he was Daddy’s little boy. That lifestyle didn’t do anything for me, but I wasn’t going to judge them for what worked for them.

Ty’s oldest brother, though, had caught my eye as soon as I’d met him. I’d walked into their small backyard and my eyes had fallen on the blond-haired man who looked exactly like his brothers yet completely different at the same time. He wasn’t as muscular as Derek, though he stood eye-to-eye with his six-foot tall frame. While Ty looked like his brothers, he was shorter and far less muscular. All three Scott brothers shared the same ocean-blue eyes and blonde hair, though there was something different about the way Jasper looked at me with fire in his eyes. 

I purposely avoided talking with him for the first few minutes we were there. Cody had almost swallowed his tongue when he realized that Derek Edwards was Ty’s brother, so that had kept us occupied for a few minutes. But I could feel Jasper’s eyes watching me intently the entire time I was in the yard.

My cock had taken notice of him as soon as we’d come outside. I had initially brushed his attention off. I was sure that Ty had only said that one of his brothers was gay. Jasper was straight, no matter what my dick was saying. When I finally got my libido under control, I stepped over to his chair—maybe a bit closer than I should have—to introduce myself.

I blocked the sun and Jasper slowly dragged his eyes up my body. By the time he blinked up at me through his thick lashes, his mouth had opened slightly, and a blush had begun creeping down his neck. Part of me wanted to know just how far down that blush went, but I’d had to squash those thoughts quickly.

“Hi, I’m Lieutenant Gregory Joseph,” I said to him as smoothly as I could manage. 

“H-hi. I-I’m, uh, Jasper Scott.”

The stammers and the way his mouth was parted slightly were not helping the dirty thoughts racing through my head. I could clearly see him down on his knees with those pretty lips wrapped around my cock as he sucked me off. I needed to get out of there, fast.

Of course, my logical brain was not firing fast enough for my small brain… that brain was all for flirting with the adorable guy in front of me. “I should have known. Are you from around here?” I knew he wasn’t. Ty had told me he grew up out of state, but that didn’t change the fact that I wanted to hear him talk.

He shook his head like he was clearing cobwebs from it. “N-no. I’m just here to help out while Declan recovers.”

“Well, that explains why I haven’t seen you around before. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered you.”

Jasper managed to get something out about managing his family’s ranch in Oklahoma while my big brain caught up with what was going on. 

I was pretty sure I managed to be polite as I made up an excuse to get out of there. “I’d better finish making my rounds.”

Jasper had nodded at me and let me leave, but I could feel his eyes on me the rest of the afternoon. No matter where I’d gone, his eyes had been on me.

Remembering that day reminded me that Jasper was in Oklahoma and I’d be there in a few days’ time. Too bad he was straight. And too bad I had no way of getting ahold of him. Well, unless I wanted to call Declan, and that would be a weird conversation.

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