Matt is starting over.
Matt Landon is moving from New York to Silo to start over. After escaping an abusive relationship, his only thought is a quiet place to heal. His scars run deep and all he wants is a chance to regroup and privately lick his wounds as he takes time to put his life back together
Silo isn’t like New York. People know your name in Silo. People care. And most of all, they support each other as Matt quickly finds out when he begins to make friends through his ex-turned-best friend Peyton, and his family. Friends who will help in any way they can, which include being introduced to the local sheriff’s department personally.
No one could have prepared him for one sheriff in particular, Dave Hanlon.
Dave never thought much about meeting his mate. He knew he was borderline asexual and was okay with that, not that concerned with labels. He had the pride of his job, his friends, and his pack. He’d never longed for more. Meeting Matt only enforces that belief. His wolf senses his mate, but Dave doesn’t feel a thing for the shy, sweet man.
Time together brings a new understanding for Dave, and perhaps a chance to get to know the blond who captured his wolf’s interest. But the unwelcome attention of a stalker makes Matt’s life a living hell all over again.
Will Dave and Matt be able to explore the new sides of themselves they are finding with each other, or will the stalker have the final say, ripping apart a fragile beginning?
Matt woke, disoriented by the cream painted walls of the room and the softness of the bed. And it was still daytime. The blind was down, blocking the setting sunlight coming through the window, with lacy curtains draped in front of it to give the room a sense of taste. It was a nice room. Far better than the last hotel he’d stopped at. But roadside hotels weren’t there for more than a place to sleep. They surely weren’t meant to impress.
At least here he felt safe.
That made a world of difference. Even though it was only a nap, he felt considerably better, and better rested than he had in quite a long time. He clung to that with tight fingers. Getting healthy, healing, was the reason he’d dragged his entire life to Silo. Somewhere Ryan and his sycophant followers, ex-lovers, ex-victims, couldn’t follow him.
Ryan was in prison, but Matt knew better than to think he’d stay there. He had connections. People deep in his family’s pockets, so to say. He released a slow exhale. He couldn’t dwell on that. For now, he was safe. Ryan wasn’t anywhere near him, neither were the reporters. It had been an ugly court case. Trying to defame Matt, to make him look like he’d caused all this pain and suffering on himself, because he somehow wanted it.
He hated the media hounds.
But it was over. Gingerly, he braced a hand to straighten himself up to sit. He looked down when he felt the tissues still in his hands. He spotted a small trashcan next to the stand beside the bed and tossed them. Scrubbing his hands over his face, he focused on his next step. The next action he needed to take.
With all of that behind him, he’d found some stability by being meticulous in his actions to try to move forward. That step by step regimen of thinking helped to keep his focus set. So the next thing he needed to do was unpack, at least enough to allow him a few weeks of routine.
Pawing through his overnight bag, he searched for his toiletry bag. Next to that rested his bag with his prescriptions. He supposed another priority would be to find doctors and physical therapists here to continue his recovery. Sweeping a wayward lock of hair off his face, he straightened.
The closet was more than spacious enough for the little bit he unpacked. And he only needed a few dresser drawers for his essentials.
Once that was finished, he felt a little more settled. With his bags hidden away in the closet, he took his toiletries to the bathroom to wash up from the last stretch of his drive and his nap. Splashing water on his face and brushing his teeth helped immensely toward feeling more human. Things he used to take for granted as a part of simply existing, he made sure to enjoy.
His mobility might be degraded, but he wasn’t. He was alive. Matt was grateful for that, even though in the beginning he’d wondered if staying alive, breathing, existing, was worth it.
He shook his head, stepping away from those spiraling thoughts. Once in his room, he palmed the bottle he needed and shook out a pain pill. Enough to soothe the ache in his hip and leg.
How he’d thought he could actually hide how badly Ryan had hurt him still made him shake his head at his own stubborn stupidity.
He’d been hiding his tears of pain and barely walking by the time he’d reached his desk the morning after the attack. The doctor at the ER had berated him soundly for walking at all after he’d seen the X-rays.
Matt hadn’t known how deep the damage went. Over the months he’d been with Ryan, he’d gotten good at hiding his pain.
Ryan’s last attack had done more than cause pain. He should have listened to his body, but terror and conditioning had broken him. He was still cracked and unstable, but was slowly pulling the pieces together. He was healing. A slow process. And now he had the time.
One of the girls from the office had visited him during his recuperation at home. She’d brought him a book about the history of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing pottery with colored lacquer powders and molten metals like gold and silver to salvage the piece. The belief was that even though the pottery had been broken, its repair not only strengthened it, but added to the beauty of the item, gave character to the story it told. He didn’t see himself that way in the least, but it was a traditional belief that had stuck with him, even months later. That maybe after everything he still had value, worth. It was one of the few books that had made the trip with him.
He faced the lace coverings on the window to remind himself he was free, and Ryan wasn’t. So at least there was that much.
Straightening his spine, he turned to leave the room, his limp not quite as bad, and not as painful. The pill in his hand would help a lot to make that even better.
He found Pauline and Peyton at the kitchen table. They were playing a game of cards.
“Did you take the day off, Peyton?”
He smiled when Matt spoke. “I did. Kelly took a long lunch when I told him you were almost here. We all wanted to be here for you.”
Matt dipped his head, swallowing hard. “Thank you for that.”
“Peyton, show Matt where things are. I’ll be right back.”
She faced her cards down and left the table, possibly for her own room. It was a kind attempt at giving the two of them a few minutes of privacy.
Peyton opened cabinets, showing Matt where things were stored.
“Could you hand me a glass? I need to take a pill.”
He handed over a tumbler. Matt filled it with ice from the door switch, then opened the refrigerator. The iced tea was in a large pitcher, right out front. With it filled, he closed the door with a magnetic thump, then popped the pill and drank it down. The tea was exactly what he needed. A little sugar to help his system, and the pill to dull the ache in his hip.
“How are you feeling?” Peyton leaned against the counter to cross his arms, a concerned furrow between his eyes as he studied Matt, possibly a little more intently than he wanted, but he couldn’t hide all of his suffering from his friend. Peyton had always been too good at seeing right through him when they were together.
He licked his lips, already feeling a bit more refreshed from the sleep and the tea. “I’m glad I’m here. I feel like I can finally breathe. There aren’t any vultures waiting outside for a picture or a comment that they can twist. I know Ryan is behind bars and I keep telling myself that.”
“Did you sleep okay?”
He took another drink before answering. “Yeah. Better than I have in a while.” He grinned sheepishly at Peyton. “So, you and Kelly, huh?”
Peyton shrugged a shoulder, a blush hitting his cheeks. “We started as running buddies.”
“I know you’ve always liked to run. I’m glad you have him now.” There really didn’t need to be more said. He’d lost his chance with Peyton. And from what he’d already seen, he was very happy. So that meant he was happy for Peyton. He motioned with a shoulder behind him. “I know your mom isn’t going to wait on me, I don’t want her to, but when is dinner going to be?”
He looked at the wall clock. “Not for a couple of hours yet.”
“Can we take a drive? Show me around some?”
Peyton smiled warmly. “I’d love to.” He walked down the hall. “Hey, Mom. We’ll be back in a bit. Going for a drive.” He turned around and waved to Matt. “Let’s take mine so you can really look around.”
“Sure.” Matt put his glass in the sink and followed him out the backdoor to climb in to his sports car. “I didn’t think you’d keep this. Not exactly the vehicle for the area.”
Peyton laughed, sliding in to the car. “Kelly says the same thing. I might do something with it one day but it’s okay for now.”
“Admit it. You like having a little red Ferrari,” he jabbed playfully.
Peyton laughed. “Yeah. I do.” They turned out onto the road. “So you probably came in the back way from town, right?”
“Yeah. The way you said.”
“Okay. Town isn’t that far. If you turn left at the stop sign, it’s Silo. Right is Stiller Springs by about forty minutes.”
“I can remember that.”
“I think you’re going to like it here. It is way slower. The hustle and bustle simply doesn’t exist.”
Matt grinned, tapping his finger to his knee to keep time with the music on the radio. “I’m perfectly okay with that.”
Peyton slowed and pointed. “So, this is the All Nighter. The owner, Dean, is a friend of Kelly’s since before they both moved here. It’s nice inside.” They rolled further into town. “Then you have the fire station.” He honked his horn for the guys outside and got several waves in answer. “Kelly knows a bunch of the guys and like you said, the car does stick out.”
“About halfway into town, you have the cop shop.” He parked in front of the building. “I’ll introduce you to a couple of the faces so they know you.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Matt was quick to say, a hint of queasiness adding to his unease.
Peyton twisted on his seat to face him. “I’d rather they did so if you’re in trouble, you’ll know who to call. I don’t see anything happening to you out here since you just got here. Your court case did make national headlines because of that asshat, and it did raise a few eyebrows. Not because of you, but because of what he got away with for so long.” He touched a light hand to Matt’s arm. “For me?”
Matt sighed. He’d never liked telling Peyton no. “Okay.”
They exited the car and Peyton joined him at the bumper, walking at his pace. The hitch in his walk wasn’t as noticeable now that he’d taken his pill and managed some rest. When they reached the entrance door, Peyton tugged it open to hold for Matt to go in first.
Matt trailed him deeper into the building, until they were in a large open area with several desks and other signs of office life. It wasn’t a huge building, but he couldn’t see beyond the steel doors to know for sure.
“Peyton. What are you doing here so late?” a woman said as she smiled, though there was concern as well.
“Hi, Nancy. Came to introduce you to a good friend of mine. This is Matt Landon. Is Dave and Lex here?”
Matt offered his hand without too much qualm. At least she came across as friendly.
She shook his hand. “Nice to meet you. They’re probably in Dave’s office. Let me make sure he’s available.”
She went in to a side room with a cash wall cutout and placed a call. She laughed once and then nodded before hanging up. Leaving the room, she neared the secured door near her desk. “He said to send you back. He needed a break anyway. Or maybe that was Kelly.” She winked as she opened the secured door for the both of them.
Peyton laughed. “Thanks.”
“So they’re really laid back here, huh?” he asked at his ear.
“Sometimes. When Kelly got hurt, not so much, but with all of them here right now, this is actually perfect.” Pausing outside an office, Peyton tapped a knuckle on the first open doorframe. “Hope we’re not interrupting,” he offered cheerily.
The guy behind the desk closed a folder. “No. Case notes. What brings you to the station?”
Peyton entered the room and stood behind Kelly, tugging Matt close. “This is my friend who is moving down here. I wanted to introduce him around. He met Kelly earlier.”
Peyton introduced Lex Staples, another sheriff that shared duties with the guy behind the mostly cluttered desk. Lex was probably in his upper forties, with graying hair and a bit of a paunch.
“And this is Dave Hanlon. Part of the backbone of Silo.”
Dave held out a hand to shake. Matt swallowed as he stood from his desk to do so. He stood easily six feet, maybe six-two. Compared to Matt’s five nine, he towered over him. His hand was almost engulfed by Sheriff Hanlon’s.
There were sensations, tingling like sparks against nerves, which rolled up his arm to land in his chest from the single contact. Sensations he couldn’t dissect as quickly as they appeared and roamed his skin then vanished, like flickers of light and heat. He swallowed as his heart beat a little faster. It wasn’t from fear. The sudden sensations weren’t unpleasant, but he wasn’t prepared for them, either.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Dave said. “We’re glad you’re going to be a part of Silo.”
“Thank you,” he stammered, his attention dropping to the warm hand holding his own. He couldn’t maintain the eye contact. He was still working on that when meeting new people again, but so much about Dave was simply overwhelming to begin with. From his height, to his piercing gaze. The air of confidence that almost cloaked him. Matt felt as though he’d been caught in a spider’s web.