Unwelcome Home (Welcome to Alvarado #2)
UNWELCOME HOME (Welcome to Alvarado #2) is now available!
Two broken lives meet in Alvarado, seeking a welcoming home and a second chance.
Five years ago, Clint Shepfield broke the town of Alvarado apart when he used his fists to break Samuel Garrett’s body. In prison, Clint’s had plenty of time to deal with the guilt, and accept the real reasons behind his actions. He’s now accepted his homosexuality, Sam has forgiven him, and he’s being encouraged to return to the town he thought would never welcome him home.
In the blink of an eye, and the stomping boots of drunk bullies, Rick Santos lost everything. Once a track star in the making, Ricky’s been left confined to a wheelchair, his hopes for the future gone. His happy zeal for life is taken over by a pessimistic, bitter attitude, leaving Sam and Cody at their wits’ end. The first time Ricky snaps at Clint, everyone is surprised when Clint bites back.
Clint makes it his mission to get Ricky out of his funk and out of that chair. Maybe if he can help Ricky stand up straight again, Clint will be able to do the same. But, not everyone in Alvarado is ready to welcome them into the community, leaving Clint and Ricky dealing with the possibility of being unwelcome home.
Where to Get It:
Now available in Print at all vendors. Amazon eBook Release Date is December 29th. Other vendor eBook editions will become available January 9th.
Read the first chapter by clicking here. The excerpt below is from later in the book.
The Wrong Way
Ricky and I end up in one of the bedrooms – the only room in the house with a television. The house is furnished, but it also looks like it was picked over by Mrs. Hunter’s kids after her passing. All the personal items are gone, along with most of the electronics. The last remaining television is no flat-screen, but it works and has the basic twelve channels you get without a full cable package. I’m also holding a remote in my hand for the first time in five years instead of having one of the guards deciding we should be watching The Andy Griffith Show reruns, so you won’t hear a single complaint from me about the lack of channel selection.
I’m also not going to complain that Ricky and I are now side-by-side on a full sized bed, propped up against the headboard with pillows, and a pizza box set between us. We’ve settled on a baseball game between the Rangers and the Blue Jays, with the Rangers trying win the division final. But, I’m not really focusing on the game, or even the taste of an amazing Papa Jon’s double pepperoni.
I’m listening to the sound of Ricky breathing. Smelling the spice of his aftershave. Noticing how close his hand is to my arm. Realizing the room is getting darker as the sun sets. Wondering if I should get up and turn on the light, or if Ricky prefers the dimness as much as I do.
My mind is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, and I don’t know what to do with any of it. It’s like reversing down a one-way street. I’m obviously lost, I feel like an idiot, and I’m pretty damn sure I’m going the wrong way.
“Ay,” Ricky sighs.
At first, I think he’s annoyed with the way the pitcher can’t seem to throw anything but hits, but then I notice the way his brow is all scrunched up. “Pizza not sitting well?”
“Nah, the pizza was great. It’s my hip that’s not sitting well.”
“Oh. Want to try the couch in the living room, or… Want to try stretching out the kink?”
And that sounds way dirtier in my head than it has a right to, but he smiles over at me. “A stretch would be appreciated. You don’t mind?”
“Of course not. Cody and I used to stretch each other out at football practice. Can’t be much different, but you’ll tell me what to do so I don’t hurt you?”
His eyebrow raises. “You realize how many jokes I could make with that question?”
“That’s what he said,” I make the joke first, earning me a wider grin from him. “Seriously though, I want to help, so tell me what to do.”
“Like being told what to do in bed, do you?”
“Ricky,” I warn, but I’m also laughing away my nerves as I sit up. We are in bed together, and I’m about to get a whole lot closer to him. A hard swallow bobs in my throat and my eyes follow his hand as he removes the pizza box barrier. “Maybe… Tell me your injuries so I know what to be careful with?”
“I’ll spare you the whole medical chart, but basically, I was stomped on repeatedly – hard enough to shatter my left hip and create a fracture up the middle of my pelvic bone. So, I have a completely fake left hip, pins holding my pelvis together in the middle and a rod in my right femur.”
“Metal detectors are a nightmare.”
He’s trying to brush it off with another joke, and my fists are clenching the comforter because I have the urge go looking for the guys who hurt him. It doesn’t matter I have no idea where to start, but I want to find them. I want to find them and see if they want to pick on someone my size. I want to risk going to jail again to kick their asses, which is crazy, but just the thought of Ricky going through what they did to him…
I can almost see it – Ricky on the ground, surrounded by a bunch of sneering douchebags, their feet raising and falling over and over and- “All because you’re gay?”
A soft sigh has him looking away. “No. It would be easy enough for me to blame it all on a bunch of homophobic dicks, but… I got drunk. I said the wrong thing about their favorite team. Then I jokingly came on to one of them. Touched him in a way I shouldn’t have.”
The explanation only makes me angrier. “And that’s some sort of excuse for what they did?”
“No, but… I was an arrogant little shit sometimes who loved coming onto straight guys to piss them off, or because I needed to prove I could get any dick I wanted.”
“That still doesn’t excuse what they did!” Fuck. I didn’t mean to yell, but it’s all hitting close to home.
“But it doesn’t excuse my own behavior!” he shouts back. “I get enough of that from Sam. He was always – is always making excuses for me. Treating me like I’m some damn Godsend just because I was his first gay friend. I don’t need that from you, too.”
All my misdirected anger vanishes. He doesn’t want bullshit excuses, or freedom from something he feels he’s partially to blame for. He doesn’t want to be coddled or so easily placed upon a saint’s pillar. I get it, get him, and I feel the bridge between us strengthen.
His expression shifts, all the irritation bleeding out of it like my own, and the way he looks at me takes my breath away. His eyes are glistening, searching mine and seeing something I think he likes, or at least respects. And his smile? Maybe Sam’s right and Ricky is a Godsend, because that smile fills my whole soul up with a warmth I’ve learned to live without.
“Somehow, cariño, I knew you’d understand. Sorry for yelling at you.”
A foul ball is announced from the baseball game playing on the television. The next pitch goes wide. The Blue Jays player is getting a walk.
“It’s okay,” I say with a twitchy one-sided smile while my heart does jumping jacks in my chest, the rest of me left reeling from the way he keeps looking at me like I’m something special. If he keeps it up, I may start to believe him. “Sometimes you gotta yell at me to get through my thick skull. Sorry I yelled, too.”
He nods and offers his hand. I take it, and I know we’re okay again – me and Ricky. We’re both unsteady with ourselves, so it stands to reason that we’d be a bit unsteady together as friends. But, maybe, if we support each other, we can find mutual stability.
Damn. There I go again, sounding like my therapist. I should probably give Dr. Miller a call, let her into what’s been going on, and ask her if I’m moving too fast or too slow.
You know the answer, she’d say. Do what feels right.
What feels right is the way Ricky’s palm seems to mold perfectly to mine as I help him sit up to stretch forward over his legs. He groans at the movement, only able to reach his calves before the groan turns into a wince. Stubbornly, he holds the position until his body revolts, a spasm nearly having him falling sideways.
“Easy, now.” I catch him and he curls into my lap.
“I used to be able to put my ankles behind my head,” he laments, sitting back up and wiping away a pained tear streak. “Yoga is amazing, by the way.”
So not going to picture him with his ankles behind his head. Dangit…
“I’ll have to take your word for it. Flexibility was never one of my strengths.”
“You should try it.” He flops back against the pillow and wiggles his right ankle. “Can you take that ankle and help me get my knee to my chest?”
“Alright, but yell at me to stop if it hurts.”
He nods, so I comply – wrapping my hand around his ankle and working with him. I can feel the muscles of his leg twitch and strain as he bends the knee, but his hips only seem to move because I’m guiding his ankle in that direction. From his injuries, I don’t understand why he can’t move them on his own.
“Why don’t your hips move at all?”
He raises a hand as his knee hovers his belly button. “Stop there, please.”
I do, and then I wait. He’s staring at me, focusing on my eyes as his leg fights against the position. Sweat is building on his forehead and his fingers are digging into the comforter. With a single nod, he gives the signal, and I ease his leg back to the bed.
After several labored breaths, he answers my question. “Some of the stomps landed on my spine, and something in my nervous system short-circuited. The neurologist said it’s like my brain’s forgotten my hips exist. It doesn’t remember that they are part of my body or how to move them.”
“That sucks.” I don’t know what else to say, because it really does fucking suck.
“You’re telling me? I used to give Shakira a run for her money with these hips.”
I can’t help but glance down at them. Yeah, I can easily imagine him running or dancing, moving those hips and driving men insane. Curiosity with a side of lust leads my fingers to touch his right thigh, moving up over the hip bone and tickling the skin above the low waist of his track pants.
Sweet mercy. I don’t think he’s got on anything underneath them. And damn my traitorous finger, because it tucks itself under the waistband to check. Finding only more skin, I can’t stop the shiver.
“S-so, you can’t feel that?”
“No,” he whispers, drawing my gaze up. He’s staring at my fingers, his dark brown eyes heavily lidded. “Sometimes I get tingles, mostly on my right side, but I don’t have any feeling at all on my left. My thighs, though…”
His pause makes me tremble, and I’m glad he can’t feel the way my fingers are shaking on his hip. “Your thighs?”
He meets my stare. “My thighs, and everything in between, function with no problems.”
A hard, slow swallow. “Everything in between?”
The tip of his tongue skirts his bottom lip. “Yeah. Everything.”
Don’t look. Don’t- How can I not look? As if answering the question, my gaze darts left and freezes on the front of Ricky’s track pants. Sure enough, it’s more than obvious that everything works just fine. Unhindered by underwear, his cock is twitching into a proudly pitched tent made from black nylon.
“Mercy.” My eyes snap open wide. Aw hell, I said that out loud.
He grabs my fingers as I snatch them away. “Clint,” he’s begging, and I don’t know what to do with it but run away.
“I should- We- Aw, hell.” I suck at running as much as anything else.
“Stop overthinking it, cariño.”
The Spanish brings out a whimper from some place I’d buried deep down. So not fair. “But, overthinking it is all I got.”
“Just do what feels right.”
Everything stops. “What?”
Behind me, the crack of a baseball bat drives a long fly ball up center field as the sportscaster’s voice raises in excitement. Ricky’s fingers lace between mine and urge me to follow his gentle guidance.
“Just do what feels right,” he whispers.
One of the Blue Jays runners is rounding second. I find myself straddling Ricky’s hips, all my weight on the mattress as he keeps coaxing my body upwards. Closer.
“Ricky-” This feels right. And wrong. And a thousand other things.
The home run is announced. The crowd cheers. Ricky’s head raises up to greet me and our lips crash into a kiss.
More to come. I’m so excited to be sharing Ricky and Clint’s story with you. Be sure to join my mailing list so you don’t miss out on upcoming announcements!
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