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Carly Marie's Author Page Posts

Close to Home Chapter 1

Greg

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.

Undisclosed Desires Chapter 1

Travis

The last place I wanted to be that morning was a physical therapist’s office. I needed to get to a jobsite, but after having surgery on my ankle following a nasty fall, I had to be there to get rid of a persistent limp and hopefully the dull ache that was beginning to plague me on a daily basis. I’d done the basic PT through a different office, but their schedules never seemed to line up well with my work, so I decided to try a place with earlier appointments for the more intensive therapy I now needed. I just hoped the physical therapist would be able to help me along quickly so I could waste as little time as possible.

My phone was vibrating like crazy with text after text from a jobsite foreman relating to an issue with an order we were trying to track down. It had started with a few missing cabinets for the kitchen and had snowballed to missing pieces and parts for the entire house. The supply company was trying to figure out what had happened to the shipment, and in the meantime, our completion date was shot to hell.

The constant texts and added stress were making it impossible for me to focus on filling out the necessary paperwork for the therapist, and I could already tell this was going to be the Monday from hell. Was it possible to go back to bed and start the day over? Maybe with two or three more cups of coffee before leaving the house.

Ben: Hey, boss, sorry to bother you. I’ve been making some calls. Finally got the owner of Canter’s on the phone. Seems at least part of the order was shipped to another jobsite… not ours.

Me: Fuck! What about the rest?

Ben: No clue. But the stuff that was shipped to the wrong place can be recovered tomorrow. He’s got a new person in the ordering department, he figures there was a mixup with that.

I sighed and ran my hands through my short hair that seemed to be getting grayer at an alarming rate recently. It was now more salt than pepper and it was making me feel every day of my forty-one years. It was probably a good thing I was in physical therapy for a bum ankle and not complications due to a heart attack with the amount of shit I’d been dealing with lately.

Me: Keep on him—

“Mr. Barton!” a high-pitched voice called from the doorway of the waiting room, interrupting my text before I could send it. I shoved my phone into my pocket and plastered on a fake smile, hoping it looked genuine. My nerves were already shot and if I had to listen to this mousey-voiced woman for an hour, I might end up on blood pressure meds by the end of the morning.

As I joined her, limping along and wanting to curse my sore ankle, she smiled up at me. “I’m Lisa. I’ll be taking you back to see Caleb. He’s going to be your therapist.”

First good news of the day—my physical therapist was not the woman who barely looked like she was out of high school. As we entered the therapy space, there were only a few patients working at different machines so, thankfully, the place wasn’t absurdly loud.

Lisa walked me to a chair at the side of the room. “Caleb is running just a minute or two behind. He’ll be with you shortly. If you haven’t had a chance to finish the paperwork, feel free to do so now.” She shot a pointed look at my mostly blank packet as she walked away.

From the small room beside me, two voices could be heard disagreeing… arguing maybe. It took me a moment to hone in on the conversation but once I did I couldn’t help but smile to myself. The deeper of the two voices sounded exasperated. “They aren’t toys!”

The other voice scoffed before responding. “Cal, your desk is covered in dragon toys! I’m pretty sure this one came from a Happy Meal.”

“Leave Puff alone! He didn’t do anything to you. And leave my desk alone.”

The second guy was gasping for air as he laughed. “Cal, dude, they’re named! You’ve named the toys on your desk.”

Voice one sounded irritated when he responded. “It’s Puff from Pete’s Dragon you imbecile.”

My phone buzzed again and I zoned the two out. I needed to figure out what the fuck was going on with my supply shipment and how I was going to get things where they needed to be to avoid further delays. We were into spring and I couldn’t afford to fall behind on even one job because work was stacking up faster than I cared to admit. I’d never been so thankful to have someone like Ben working for me. I pulled my phone out and finished my text to Ben.

Me: Keep on him. We need to figure out where everything is. I’ll be at the office as soon as this damn appointment is over.

Ben: If you keep limping around the office bitching about your ankle, the guys are going to force you to take leave. I recommend focusing on your PT.

I cursed but picked up the incomplete paperwork and began to fill it out. I didn’t get far before the conversation from the office beside me caught my attention again.

“Shut up, Dex. I’m late for my appointment because of you. Get out of my office, now!” the voice huffed.

A tall ginger-haired guy in his mid-twenties was pushed out of the office just ahead of a muscular man an inch or so shorter than the redhead. The office door slammed shut and the muscular guy crossed his arms and stared at his co-worker. There didn’t appear to be any malice in his eyes, so I figured they were friends, though I thought the redhead might be pushing his luck given the stern expression on the muscular guy’s face.

The redhead held up his hands in surrender and walked away shaking his head. “We’re going to talk about your little obsession later, Caleb.”

The muscular guy appeared embarrassed by his friend’s words and turned pink while he shook his head in frustration. “Ugh! You’re impossible. I’m going to lunch with Lisa!” For some reason I suspected the threat was empty.

The redhead shook his head again as he walked across the physical therapy floor and into another small office before shutting the door behind him.

The muscular guy turned his head toward me with a faint pink blush still staining his cheeks. “You must be Mr. Barton.” He held out his hand and flashed me a bright smile that was clearly trying to push his discomfort away. “Sorry to keep you waiting. I’m Caleb Masterson. It seems you’re stuck with me for a while!”

I bristled at being called Mr. Barton. That always reminded me of my dad and made me feel old. “Please, call me Travis.”

Caleb smiled. “Nice to meet you, Travis. You can call me Caleb. I hear you’ve recently had surgery on your ankle?” he probed, quickly glancing down at my work boots. He was likely judging my choice of footwear. I hadn’t thought much about it when I’d left the house that morning. It had been over two months since my surgery, and I was annoyed that the recovery hadn’t been quicker, despite the surgeon telling me it was going to take time. I wouldn’t own a top-rated, custom home building and remodeling company if I weren’t stubborn and impatient. My ankle, however, didn’t seem to realize I had deadlines and projects that needed my attention.

“Yeah. I need to get this thing back in shape. I really don’t have time for a weekly appointment.”

“Twice weekly,” Caleb corrected, fighting a grin.

I balked. “Twice a week?” When had I agreed to physical therapy twice a week?

Caleb nodded while looking at the small laptop in his hand. “Yes, it was confirmed when the appointment was scheduled.”

Ben. I’d left it to him to find me a new physical therapy place when the last one wasn’t working out. It was a good thing the guy was a hard worker and knew his shit because I wouldn’t normally take too kindly to this type of surprise. I had to concede that Ben also knew me too well after working for me for over two years. If he’d told me I was going to be coming here twice a week for the foreseeable future, there would have been no way I’d have come to the first appointment. But now I was here and stuck.

I sighed. There was nothing else I could do. “Alright, we might as well get a move on. What’s first?”

Caleb shook his head. “You’re clearly used to being the boss, but here, I’m in charge. So you can just sit yourself down on the table and take your highly-inappropriate-for-physical-therapy boots off so I can see where we’re starting.”

Big hazel eyes glanced over the clipboard that I’d set beside me. I watched as he looked at the incomplete paperwork on it and shook his head.

“Well, since you didn’t get this all filled out, tell me how you managed to land yourself here when you’d, clearly, much rather be working.”

I gave him the condensed version of events, avoiding an explanation of how I’d broken my ankle, while he focused on my ankle and the scars on either side from the surgery I’d had. “This is my busy season, and I need to get this ankle back into shape quickly. The last physical therapist I was at couldn’t work with my early morning schedule.”

“Well, the only way you’re going to get it there is to put in the appropriate time in therapy and do the exercises I give you. Oh, and don’t do more than you’re ready for. I can already see you’re likely one who will push through the pain and end up injuring yourself more.” He sighed and shook his head. Apparently, I wasn’t the first stubborn patient he’d had to deal with. “So, what did you do to yourself, Travis?”

I couldn’t help the exasperated huff I blew out at my own stupidity. “I was coming down a ladder, missed the last rung, and landed on my ankle. Not one of my finer moments.”

Caleb fought a grin at my expense. I couldn’t deny he was adorable as he tried to remain professional, but the twinkle in his eyes gave away a playful personality just below the surface. Even if I wanted to be frustrated with him, the little dimple that appeared in his left cheek was enough to wear me down slightly. “Sounds like a freak accident. It’s going to help if you wear tennis shoes here, though.” He was rotating my ankle and shifting his attention from my ankle to my face, likely watching for any signs of discomfort.

He squeezed and turned and rotated it more than my doctor had at the last appointment. He seemed to be making mental notes of every tight spot, slight pop, and anything he perceived as discomfort from me. After a few minutes, he went to my right ankle and repeated the process. It felt like it took ten minutes before he’d compared every movement.

Caleb finally opened his laptop and began typing rapidly. The tip of his tongue stuck out slightly as he worked, making him look younger. When he was done with his notes, he asked me all the questions I hadn’t answered on the paperwork and by the time we were done with all that, our time was almost up.

He shut the laptop and smiled at me. “Well, unfortunately, we didn’t get much done today. The good news is, we’ve got all the boring stuff out of the way, so we can get right down to fixing you up on Friday.”

The last thing I wanted to do was spend another hour each week in physical therapy, yet I had a feeling Ben was right—boss or not, the guys were at the end of their rope with me. I was going to find myself persona non grata at my own company if I didn’t start taking physical therapy more seriously.

“Yes, see you Friday,” I agreed reluctantly.

Caleb smiled and nodded like he’d won a battle. “Have a good week, Travis. See you Friday.”

Coming Home Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Declan

I walked across the parking lot, my leather boots making virtually no sound as I zeroed in on my baby, a silver Nissan 370Z. It had been six long months since I had seen it. Hearing the click of the door unlocking settled an unease inside me. I unbuttoned my uniform shirt and tossed it onto the passenger seat.

I finally sank into the driver’s seat and sighed. My team had only been back on US soil a handful of hours after a fairly cut-and-dry deployment turned into anything but. Thanks to weather, terrain, bad intel, equipment malfunctions, hostiles, and injuries, our deployment lasted every single day of six months.

The inside of my car smelled stale. Sitting in the baking southern California summer heat was certainly to blame for that. I turned the key in the ignition and took a moment to enjoy the air, albeit hot and pungent, blowing on my face.

I plugged my phone in, allowing it to charge for a few minutes before I powered it on. The other guys had charged their phones as soon as they were handed back to us on the plane. They were all checking in with their families, their wives, and their girlfriends. I hadn’t seen my family since I’d moved in with the Scotts nine years earlier. Ty Scott had been my best friend since childhood and when my family situation had turned sour, his mom had been there to put my pieces back together.

I hadn’t spoken to my biological family since I moved into off-base housing when I was twenty. The only people I spent time with were my teammates, Ty—who’d lived with me for the last six years—and some of his friends from college. When I was deployed, the only texts I got were from Ty and his family.

My phone finally got enough charge to turn on and I saw hundreds of missed texts, almost all of them from Ty. I swear, the guy texted me at least twice a day, sometimes more. He always texted me to tell me if he was going somewhere, just in case we got home. After six years of living with me, he knew I could be gone for days, weeks, or months at a time whenever my team was called.

I found the last text time-stamped only a few hours earlier. He was headed to a bar that evening. I knew what that meant, so I pulled out of my parking space and instead of turning right toward our condo, I turned left toward downtown San Diego and the popular night clubs.

I knew Ty would be at Bump. It was his favorite gay bar in San Diego. Personally, the place always made me feel weird. I felt like a piece of meat up for grabs. It would have been easier to text Ty and tell him I was back and going home to sleep, but I wanted to surprise him, and I didn’t want to risk him walking into the house with a hookup. That shit was awkward, and yeah, been there, done that—more than once.

Thinking about it, I realized Ty hadn’t been bringing guys home much in the last few years—not that I was complaining. Then again, I spent a good portion of the year away from home and we had long ago decided to keep the finer details of our sex lives away from one another. Not that I had much of a sex life.

I found Bump almost by muscle memory and was able to find parking not even a block away. After paying the parking attendant, I headed down the block to the bar. After months in the jungle, I still wasn’t sure what day it was and it wasn’t until I saw the line stretched around the block, that I realized it was a Saturday night.

“Christ on a cracker,” I groaned when I saw the line. My idea to surprise my best friend was seeming less than likely. I wasn’t going to have the energy to wait in line for that long. I’d be asleep before I made it to the door.

“You looking to get in?” the bouncer asked, eyeing me up and down.

I shrugged. “I thought about it, but I forgot it’s Saturday night.”

The guy winked at me. “Come on, I’ll let you through. The guys inside will eat you up in that uniform.”

I groaned. I was obviously sleep deprived. I’d forgotten I was still in my work uniform, right down to my boots. Thankfully, the guy was giving me an in, so I pulled out my wallet and paid the cover charge. I opened the door and music poured out, causing me to wince at the assault to my eardrums.

Conversations stopped and eyes followed me as I made my way from the entrance to the bar. I wasn’t blind, I knew I had a nice body. Growing up in Oklahoma and working on the Scott ranch had given me well-defined, lean muscle when I was a teen. Now after eight years in the Navy and almost seven as a SEAL, I was a twenty-six-year-old with a chest and biceps that bulged under my t-shirts and powerful legs that filled out my uniform pants nicely. The thousands of squats I did at the gym and during training drills had given me a firm, round ass even I could appreciate.

I scanned the room, ignoring the offered drinks and requests to dance. I had one goal only, to find Ty. I spotted him by the bar, chatting with some tall, young guy who didn’t even look old enough to drink. Even in a crowded bar in San Diego, I could pick Ty Scott out without ever seeing his face. Like that mop of unruly blond hair that was uniquely Ty, so was his outfit of worn jeans that fit him like a glove, brown leather boots, and a white and black plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows. He was, hands down, the best-looking guy in the bar.

I sighed and weaved my way toward them. The guy he was talking with looked even younger up close than he did from a distance. His face still showed residual acne marks and his muscles were barely visible through his tiny shirt. Ty may have been shorter than him, but the guy didn’t stand a chance with my best friend.

The growl that emanated from deep in my chest surprised even me. I could tell by the way the guy was flirting with Ty, he was looking for a quick fuck and that wasn’t what Ty wanted. Ty was looking for his prince charming and even from ten feet away, I could tell this guy wasn’t going to sweep Ty off his feet. Hell, the kid probably wouldn’t have been able to lift a spare tire. Ty deserved everything he wanted and more.

Where did that thought come from?

If I analyzed it enough, I would be able to admit where it came from. The same place in my soul that had been in love with Ty since we were teenagers. I buried those feelings for him when my parents kicked me out at seventeen, though lately, they never seemed to be far from the surface whenever Ty was around. I could feel how pinched my expression was as I walked up behind Ty. Of course, Ty never even registered my presence until the scrawny guy stopped talking to him and stared at me with wide eyes. Scrawny seemed so shocked I almost laughed, but then I remembered he was hitting on my best friend and my lips pursed.

Ty turned around to follow his companion’s wide-eyed gaze. It took all of a half second for his blue eyes to widen and for Ty to make a squealing sound that shouldn’t have been able to be produced by a man past puberty. That was all it took for my scowl to soften into a smile.

One second, Ty was standing with his arm resting on the bar, the next he was clinging to me like a monkey. Not only was I thankful for the four inches I had on Ty’s five-nine frame but also for the extra sixty or so pounds of muscle I worked hard to maintain, as Ty jumped up and wrapped his legs around me. I wrapped my arms around his back and smiled. After six hours in California, I finally felt like I’d made it home.

I put Ty down on the ground and he bounced slightly with excitement. “When did you get home?”

“A few hours ago. Haven’t even been back to our place yet,” I admitted. I hated having to yell to be heard over the music. I shot a glance at the guy standing behind Ty who seemed to cower slightly.

“Uh, I think I’m going to get out of here,” the twink said uncomfortably.

Ty managed to look embarrassed. “Oh, uh, yeah. Sorry. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

I rolled my eyes as the guy made a hasty retreat. If I wasn’t careful, I was going to end up giving away too much about my feelings toward Ty. Despite my ever-present attraction toward him, I didn’t know if I was ready to admit I was gay. I didn’t even know for sure that I was gay. How could I know if I’d never done anything with another guy? Yet, in a bar full of men who were offering to buy me drinks and dance with me, the only guy I had eyes for was Ty.

“What’s got you so scowly?”

I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t know, really. But once the little thing who was hitting on Ty had left, I didn’t feel quite so unsettled. “I don’t know. I must just be tired.”

Ty finished his brightly colored drink and looked over at me. “Are you ready to head home?”

“God, yes, please.” I said, barely containing a yawn.

Be My Home Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Derek

I sat on an uncomfortable stool impatiently tapping the music stand in front of me with the pencil in my hand. We’d been locked in the studio for almost a week and I was exhausted. Okay, maybe I was exaggerating just a little. But not much. Hometown had been in the studio for upwards of eighteen hours a day for the last six days.

I needed sleep.

I needed Daddy.

Gina, our other vocalist, was arguing with the producer over something related to mixing the last song we’d recorded… for the fifth time. Harrison was sprawled out on the couch, his bass guitar clutched to his chest. Neil was sitting on the floor, his back against the couch, a long leg stretched out in front of him, his head resting on a bent knee, and a hand placed gently on Harrison’s shoulder.

Seeing Harrison and Neil being openly affectionate was long overdue. They had danced around telling anyone they were dating for months. Even after I’d come out to the entire world, they had still kept their relationship quiet for almost six more months. Even though the entire band had known, without really knowing, they’d refused to tell anyone for an infuriatingly long time. I’d been both relieved and incredibly happy for my best friend and our fiddle player when they had finally come out to us. But their little touches and stolen kisses when they thought no one was looking made me miss Colt that much more.

After a week of mornings that started before sunrise, and nights that ended after Colt was already in bed, I was officially spent. We were all teetering on the verge of collapse. I needed time to decompress.

I needed to see my boyfriend.

“Good news!” my assistant, Madeline, announced from the doorway, causing everyone to jump. “There’s a snowstorm barreling toward Nashville. Effective immediately, recording has been put on hold so we can all get home.”

A chorus of cheers erupted throughout the room as we began to pack up our stuff. I grabbed my guitar and put it in the case amidst the clattering of guitars, drums, violins, and other random instruments being moved about.

“Thank you,” I said as she came over to me grinning like the cat who got the canary.

“Thank Mother Nature. I’m just the messenger. Though your Daddy may have been texting me for the last hour wondering why you were all still here when Nashville is shutting down.”

I laughed as I snapped the latches of my guitar case shut. “I’m kind of surprised he hasn’t made his way here already.”

“I think he was about ready to by the time I let him know I’d already called a car for you. He was getting kinda growly. You’ve earned this time off, get out of here before the roads close and you’re stuck in Nashville instead of at home with your man.”

I bent down and kissed her on the cheek. “Thanks, Maddie. I’ll talk with you later.” I called a quick goodbye over my shoulder to those remaining in the room and practically ran out of the studio.

Looking around, I was shocked to see how white everything was. Snow covered everything in a heavy blanket. Even the roads weren’t recognizable except for a few tire tracks. Aside from a row of large black SUVs lining, what I knew to be the large semi-circular driveway of the recording studio, everything was white. I scanned the row until I found the SUV with a piece of paper in the window with my name on it and hurried over, trying to pull my coat more tightly around me.

“Mr. Edwards,” the driver jumped slightly as I pulled the back door open and shoved my guitar in before climbing in and slamming the door. “I would have opened the door for you if I had seen you.”

I smiled. “I’m perfectly capable of opening and closing doors for myself. And there’s no point in both of us being covered in snow and freezing cold. Can you get me to Kingfield?” I asked. If Nashville already looked like this and the storm hadn’t fully arrived, I didn’t want to know what was going to happen in a few hours. Kingfield was a small area, the odds of plows having been through were slim to none.

The man nodded. “Yes, sir. The roads are slow going, but we’re getting out before the worst of it hits. In a few hours it will be a very different story. The news is saying it’s going to be a doozy.”

I sighed and leaned back into the seat. “Well, take your time, no point in rushing. I’d rather make it home late than end up in a ditch.”

“You and me both,” he agreed as he eased onto the road.

My phone pinged in my pocket and I fished it out to check the text.

Ty: Hey how’s it going?

Me: Hey, just left the studio. Nashville’s getting a massive snowstorm tonight.

Ty: Snowed in for Valentine’s Day?

Me: Valentine’s Day?

Ty: Tomorrow… Did you forget?

Me: Fuck! I’ve been stuck in the studio for the last week! I totally forgot!

Ty: That sucks. Colt won’t care, he’ll just be happy you’re home.

Me: I need to let him know I’m on my way. Have a good one.

Ty: Stay safe! Later.

I sighed and smacked my head against the back of the seat. How did I forget Valentine’s Day? Easy. I’d been burning the candle at both ends. I’d slept in the studio two of the six days we’d been recording. I’d had no more than four or five hours of sleep a night since the day we’d started. No wonder Colt was getting growly.

I stretched my back and moved to sit up straighter in my seat when I felt my thick briefs hug my balls a little tighter. A year ago, I’d had a hard time imagining giving up my skimpy briefs for thick training pants. Now here I sat leaving Nashville, and my life as one of country music’s biggest stars, to spend a few days snowed in at home with my boyfriend—my Daddy—while wearing a pair of training pants with airplanes on them.

Being Daddy’s boy helped me relax and gave me the ability to deal with the more insane, crazy, and hectic parts of my life—Nashville, paparazzi, touring, and fans. Without the ability to regress from time-to-time, I would’ve burnt out before my career had truly taken off. There was something freeing in giving up control to Daddy, even for short amounts of time, that made the chaos melt away. It didn’t hurt that Colt was unable to turn his Daddy side completely off. He tended to make more decisions than not and was able to read my moods better than I was most days.

Thinking back over the last week, I knew why I was feeling so depleted. Working insane hours had me going home, collapsing into bed, and starting over a few hours later. I’d not even pulled my crayons out of the drawer in the coffee table since the night before we’d started recording. I was overdue for some little time, but as I started yawning I knew it wasn’t going to happen that night.

I opened the messaging app on my phone.

Me: Heading home.

Daddy: Good. Is your driver being safe?

Me: Yes. Very. We’re taking it slow. On the highway, but snow is coming down hard. It’s going to be a while.

Daddy: Just be safe. Love you.

Me: Love you too.

Tears pricked at my eyes and I had to blink them back. I needed to be home, not stuck on the highway in a snowstorm. I wouldn’t have cared if we were in our house, in a hotel, or stuck on a tour bus. Wherever I was, as long as Colt was there, I felt like I was home.

At Home Chapter 1

Derek

“Hey, Derek, we’re going to the bar. You coming?” Harrison called to me, as I headed to the dressing room at the back of the arena.

We were the founding members of the country music band, Hometown. Harrison was the bass guitarist and  had grown up with me in Oklahoma. I was lead vocals for the band and played acoustic guitar as well.

I nodded. “Give me twenty.” An evening at the bar would be just what my frazzled nerves needed, but first, I needed a shower. My hair was soaked with sweat and my black t-shirt clung to my body. Another two-hour set was in the books and we were almost halfway through our first headlining tour.

Harrison and I had spent a few years playing small bars for a little pocket change while we were in college. We had never intended to become famous or to end up with a number one album. But that is exactly what happened. We were approached by a talent scout after playing at a honky-tonk in Tulsa. In the blink of an eye, our little side gig turned into our livelihoods.

Within a few months of that chance encounter, we were in a studio in Nashville recording our first album. Our current headlining tour followed a six-month tour opening for one of the hottest country artists in the nation.

Since playing that bar in Tulsa, I had gone from Derek Edward Scott, a twenty-two year old ranch hand on my family’s ranch, college student, and struggling artist and songwriter, to twenty-four year old Derek Edwards. Derek Edwards was a country music sensation, playing sold-out arenas, various music awards shows, and oh yeah, a Grammy award-winning artist.

How the fuck did that happen?

Our first single had shot straight to the top of the charts and our lives had been an insane roller coaster ride ever since.

There was a part of me that missed just being a college student and working on my parents’ ranch in the summers. As quickly as that thought entered my mind, it was joined by memories of the uncomfortable Christmas I spent with my family three weeks earlier. I’d been dragged to church to listen to the pastor drone on about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I’d heard the same sermon so often I could practically recite it by heart.

What I hadn’t expected was the extra fifteen minutes of the pastor lecturing the entire congregation about how the “gay agenda” was threatening Christianity and the sanctity of this holy time. I’d sat in the pew with my mouth hanging open, wondering how the gays were killing Christmas.

Okay, so, maybe being a chart-topping country artist who only had time to go home for a couple of days every four or five months wasn’t so bad after all.

I showered as quickly as I could and headed to find Harrison and whoever else was going to join us at the bar. We had just finished playing in Nashville which proved to be every bit as insane as we expected. We knew we couldn’t go to a bar anywhere in the city because we’d be mobbed by fans. Instead, Harrison was on his phone searching for bars off the beaten path to hopefully give us a bit of anonymity and allow us some much needed time to relax.

“Where’re we going?” I questioned, as I pulled on a black and white plaid button-up over a white undershirt. I rolled the sleeves halfway up my forearms and grabbed an old college ball cap before being satisfied with my appearance.

Harrison grinned. “Franklin. It’s about thirty minutes from here, kinda the middle of nowhere.”

Gina, one of our backup singers,turned vital member of the band, clapped happily. “Night out!” She was a petite little thing, topping the scale at maybe one hundred and ten pounds soaking wet and was no more than five-foot-three. Her hair was purple, at least that week, by the next week it would likely be a different color.

The first few weeks of the tour, Gina had flirted with me almost constantly, but after pulling her aside one night and telling her I wasn’t interested in her, or any woman, she backed off and became a friend and fierce ally.

I’d been out in college and our management team had been quick to separate Derek Scott and Derek Edwards. The thought was if they could bury the existence of Derek Scott, an out gay man, then there wouldn’t be much dirt on me. I hadn’t been all that comfortable with the idea at first. I’d just gotten comfortable enough with my sexuality to come out to friends. The last thing I wanted to do was go back into the closet. A number of worst case scenarios had been thrown my way before I finally agreed to the name change.

It had been over a year and there didn’t seem to be many, if any, people who had figured out we were the same person. The media finding out had quickly become my biggest fear. Country music wasn’t ready for a gay musician, yet.

I had reluctantly agreed to go back into the closet with the understanding I would be able to tell the band. When we signed the contract, I didn’t want my personal life to be public knowledge anyway. I’d always been a private person and I prefered to keep it that way. In private though, I didn’t want to hide my sexuality. I needed the band to know I was gay because it was a part of who I was. Unfortunately, the fear management had ingrained in me made it hard to be open, even with the band. It had taken me months to come out to everyone on the tour with us. We were a tight knit group and so far nothing about my sexuality had been leaked online or to the media.

I was happy to keep it that way.

Gina, Harrison, and I were joined by Clayton, Vance, and Neil, all backup musicians hired by the label, but we had quickly become friends. We climbed into a black SUV and Harrison leaned forward to input the address into the driver’s phone. “Please, keep us under the radar. We just need a night out,” he said to the man.

The driver nodded and began to follow the directions on his phone while we laughed and chatted in the back. The farther from Nashville we got, the more I was able to relax. It had been too long since I was Derek Scott and I missed going out with friends. The last eighteen months had been a whirlwind and it was nice to be able to take a step back.

“We’ve just snuck out,” I said with a laugh. “Sneaking out of Nashville is a lot harder than it was to sneak out of our houses growing up.”

Harrison laughed too. “Remember that night in high school when we snuck out of your house to go to the movies with our girlfriends and your dad was sitting on the front porch as we rounded the house?”

We dove into a row of bushes on the side of the driveway, both forgetting they were my mom’s roses. By the time we got ourselves untangled from the bushes, we were scratched and our clothes were torn from the thorns. Thankfully, we were able to keep our pained screams muffled and got away before my dad found us.

Gina shot me a mischievous grin. “Girlfriend?”

“You didn’t grow up in an Evangelical household. I faked it until I was in college. I didn’t come out to my immediate family until just before the tour started. I’m still not out to our fans. At this rate, we’ll be retired before I find a guy to be with.”

I was on track for the longest dry spell ever.

Harrison bumped me with his shoulder. “There’s no reason that has to be the case. You’ve made enough money on this tour to never need to go back to Oklahoma again. Be happy for once.”

I rolled my eyes at him as the SUV pulled into the parking lot of a small bar in the middle of a tiny town. “Good job, Harrison, you found a bar off the beaten path!” Clayton said, his voice laced with sarcasm. There were two SUVs with Sheriff Department markings in the lot and maybe ten other cars and trucks. We piled out of the back and headed into the bar.

There was a slight lull in conversations as the six of us walked in the front door of Steve’s Tavern. The most generic bar name in the most generic looking place ever. Thank you Harrison! I had to refrain from turning and hugging him in the middle of the bar.

Most of the bar’s occupants allowed their eyes to sweep over the five men in our group when we first entered. It was clear this was a local bar and outsiders were uncommon.  And none of us were small guys, Neil was the shortest and slightest built of all of us, but even he was almost six feet tall and solid muscle. Once they took us in, they all seemed to notice Gina standing behind us and more than one set of male eyes appraised her. I pulled my ball cap down farther to avoid recognition.

“I’m here to have fun,” Gina whispered, “and so help me, if any of you pull the big brother card and gets in the way, I’m going to have your balls.”

We all laughed and headed directly to the bar. Gina already had a man approaching her, offering to buy her a drink, so I grabbed a beer with the other guys and we headed to a table in the corner.

An hour later, I excused myself to use the restroom in the back of the bar. On my way out, I was distracted by a text from my brother and I ran face first into a solid wall of muscle, knocking my ball cap to the ground. My six-foot frame was nothing compared to the tall, dark, and handsome man standing in front of me wearing a dark green uniform shirt that read “Sheriff Westfield.” His sleeves were rolled up over his elbows and his exposed arms were thick with sinewy muscles that moved hypnotically. He put his hands on my shoulders to steady me as I took a few steps back. I felt electricity zing through the spots where our bodies touched. “Sorry,” I muttered, as I bent to pick my ball cap up off the ground and slid my phone into my pocket. My brother could wait.

I had a hard time looking the gorgeous man in his piercing green eyes.

“No problem,” the guy, Sheriff Westfield I presumed, said in a deep voice with a slight tip of his own hat.

He walked into the bathroom and I had to pull myself together, quick. “Not now, Derek,” I scolded myself. “This is not the time, or the place. Jesus fucking Christ, you are on tour.

My growing arousal was going to be a problem, so I started thinking of mathematical equations, the next tour stop, anything to make me stop thinking about the Adonis who had just walked into the bathroom. I finally pulled my phone out of my pocket again, thinking maybe returning my brother’s text would distract me enough my cock would stand down, and I could go back to my friends without a hard-on in my jeans.

“Can’t seem to get away from you,” a deep voice said from in front of me, causing me to jump slightly.

So much for distraction.