Finding a house that suits him, Jared makes the move to reclaim his independence. However, he doesn't expect to find himself both attracted to and concerned for the almost-reclusive gardener, Evander. Jared believes Evander is hiding an eating disorder.
But the appearance of old photographs and love letters in the house cause him to wonder about the stoic man. As their friendship becomes more, he wants to help and uncover the secrets he knows Evander is hiding.
Each of them is haunted by something, and it's not the house. When a ghost from Jared's past appears, they must fight for their own happiness, even if it means exposing themselves and the truth.
The walk was as breathtaking as it was refreshing. The ramble through the reserve gave him opportunity to study the plants and tree and their differing shades of green. There was a wonderful view of the ocean, and an easy enough pathway down to the beach. It would almost be like having his own private entrance to the expanse of black sand.
A couple of hours had passed before Jared returned home. Hands on hips, he glared at the thick, muddy mess on his boots. No matter, the hose is just there, I'll switch on the tap, and clean the mess off, and carry them into the house to clean properly. Blindly, Jared reached around the corner with one hand as he crouched down to snag hold of the hose with the other.
With a grunt of surprise he fell back onto his butt. He hadn't come into contact with cold metal, but cool flesh and blood. Squirming around, he stared up at the man who came into view. His dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail and at Jared's skewed angle looked like he towered well over six feet tall.
All Jared could think was that for someone who worked out of doors, the stranger's skin was remarkably fair, and the expanse of pale, smooth skin temporarily robbed Jared of his wits. His eyes seemed determined to focus on either caramel nipples or the V lines disappearing into well-worn denim.
The man stared down at him, and Jared's cheeks were on fire as he wondered what kind of impression he was making, sitting open-mouthed in a mud puddle.
"I ... you startled me." Great opening line. Real smooth, Jared.
"I was about to clean the equipment. You were out."
The stranger's voice was soft, his expression almost morose, and he tilted his head as if Jared's appearance was a big shock to him, too. Still on his arse, Jared stared up into eyes a shade of grey Jared had never seen before, which currently reflected a mix of concern and intelligence.
"Ah, yes, I was. But on my way home, I wandered off the track, got stuck in mud, got my boots covered in the disgusting gunk, and when I managed to fight my way free, I came back. When I saw the hose, I thought I'd just rinse them off out here before going back into the house."
"Oh. Well. I can wait if you want."
The stranger backed away a little and Jared blinked. That's it? He isn't even going to help me? Coughing to catch the man's attention, he held out his hand. "Um, could you lend me a hand to get up?" He didn't know why, when he'd spent the best part of the last six months not wanting anyone to look twice at him, it was suddenly so important that this man did.
"I guess so." Cocking his head as if weighing up the request, the man held out his hand and pulled Jared upright with an ease his slender frame belied.
Now he was upright, Jared realised the other man wasn't as tall as he'd thought. In fact, they were almost the same height. The stranger was no more than maybe an inch or so taller that Jared's modest five feet ten. "I'm Jared. The new tenant here. Obviously, you're the gardener, but I wasn't told your name."
"Evander. My name's Evander."
Neither man released the hand of the other.