When unlikely attraction blossoms between a twentysomething genderqueer tattoo artist and an older, small-town veterinarian, both are forced to face their pasts for a chance at a loving future.
Four years ago Padraig Donovan lost his husband, the only man he’d ever been with. Now his life consists of the work he loves, a big empty house, and the possibility of a lonely future.
Kaos’s experiments with makeup landed him in the hospital at the hands of his disapproving ex. With nowhere else to turn, he flees to Acker, Wisconsin ... and runs into a sexy widower and the kindest man he’s ever met.
Padraig and Kaos know there’s something worth exploring between them, and as they raise a puppy and deal with the ups and downs of their respective jobs, they fit into each other’s lives in ways they never expected. Being with Kaos -- who is so different than the guys he’s always been attracted to -- opens up an exciting new world for Padraig. But can he convince Kaos to trust another man with his body ... let alone his heart?
The man had a silver-fox quality, and the way he held himself immediately called to something inside Kaos. His no-nonsense posture that wasn’t quite military and the way he smiled at Leah suggested that he was a good guy.
“What are you looking at?” Makai asked, turning to look. “Oh, that’s Doc Donovan, the vet from across the road. He takes care of our cats.”
“Oh.” Kaos turned his gaze away.
“He’s gay,” Emil said quietly, smirking at Kaos.
Kaos chuckled and blew into his latte, then shook his head a little. “Thanks for the info. Don’t think I need it, though.”
The vet placed his order at the counter and walked toward the window tables. When he got to theirs, he stopped. “Hey, Makai, Emil.”
“Hi, Doc,” Emil said in a relaxed tone that surprised Kaos a little.
“Hey,” Makai greeted as well. “This is my friend Kaos. He’s come to stay in town for a bit.”
Kaos held out a hand and tried not to react to the way the large, warm hand enveloped his more slender one.
“Welcome to Acker. I’m Doc, the local veterinarian,” Doc said, smiling at him politely. “Nobody wants to learn how my first name is actually pronounced, so they call me Doc.”
“I’m not Kaos either, although my real name would be easier and require less spelling it out, I think. K-A-O-S. Nice to meet you.”
“P-A-D-R-A-I-G. Padraig. Likewise.” It sounded more like paw-drig, so Kaos understood.
Kaos caught an odd look from Makai but decided to leave it for now.
Doc turned his attention to the others again. “How are Mouse and Spike doing?”
“They’re pretty great. We need to set up the appointment to snip Spike, though,” Emil said. “Poor boy.”
“Yes, we wouldn’t want him to repeat his father’s mistakes,” Doc agreed empathically. “Although it all turned out really well, it could have been much worse for everyone, including Mouse.”
“Tell me about it,” Makai said, and shivered delicately for such a big man.
“Just call in when you want the appointment, and we’ll figure out a time.” Doc stepped back when Leah came to drop off their plates. “Have a nice meal.”
“Thanks,” Kaos murmured, already eyeing the meal. Jesus, he was hungry. He practically inhaled everything on his plate, and by the time he made it to the milkshake, Emil and Makai were looking at him with amusement in their gazes.
“Someone forgot to stop and eat on the way,” Makai observed.
“Oops?” Kaos felt a bit embarrassed. “I know better, but I got into the rhythm of driving and ... you know how that goes.”
“Yeah. Well, we’re almost done, too, so we can go home next. Unless you want anything from the grocery store?”
“I can do that tomorrow, if you have the essentials for tonight? I’ll pay for the next bunch of groceries. I know I look skinny, but I eat a lot.” Kaos grinned.
“Oh yeah, I remember both of us being a bit hungry most of the time in prison. Damn prison grub,” Makai grumbled, and viciously stabbed a piece of tomato and stuffed it into his mouth a bit defiantly.
Kaos chuckled and shared a look with Emil. “He still eat a horse?”
“Uh-huh. We try to eat healthy -- we have sort of particular diets for different reasons. We can empty you a shelf of the fridge if you want separate stuff, though.”
“I eat healthy, too, so I doubt it’ll be too different from what I prefer anyway. I don’t like to eat junk. Sticks to my hips,” he deadpanned, making Emil let out a small giggle.
Makai looked at them fondly, and Kaos felt another surge of love and family envelop him.