Being the country's Attorney General's only son comes with a lot of scrutiny, but Henley has managed to avoid attention by keeping a low profile. His life is safe, organized, and lonely. Until inland terrorists turn his world upside down and he discovers he's much tougher than he thought he was.
When the terrifying ordeal is over, Henley is left with hand tremors and a need to make some changes in his life. He seeks out the one man he hopes can give him some answers.
After more than a decade on the police force, all Mason has to show for the risks he took is a bunch of scars, a bad knee, a cabin in the woods, and two giant black dogs he loves more than humans. Then the Attorney General's posh son shows up to thank him, and suddenly Mason's battered heart starts hoping again.
Can Henley's love turn Mason's luck around and chase the shadows away?
Mason gave him a stern look. "Listen, I meant what I said before. It's no good being around me. You're young. You've got plenty of opportunities. You know how many guys would go for you?"
"Millions. I get sixty-three offers a day." Henley could feel a wall coming up between them and it caused him to panic. To make stupid jokes.
"Henley, it's not a good time for me to start something."
Wanting to keep a shred of his dignity, Henley gently set the cup down and put on a brave face. "All right, I understand. Well, thanks for the coffee and the great evening."
"Oh, and I see you got a bit of a short temper, too." Mason smiled, but quickly turned serious again. "You and me, it just isn't a good idea."
"Like, I said, fine. I get it." Henley walked away, going for his coat on the chair, secretly hoping Mason would stop him. Ciccio and Fortuna both lifted their big heads, watching him with intense eyes. "I'm going to miss you two," he whispered to the dogs, slipping his coat on. That was true, he realized. He actually was going to miss these two giants. He'd only been in this cabin for a day and a night, and yet, leaving it now felt almost impossible. "Take care of yourself, Officer Ferretti," he said, daring a glance back at Mason. "Stay safe ... Try not to fall out of any more windows."
Mason gave him a thumb's up. In his eyes, there was a shadow of pain. "Hope you find what it is you're looking for, Henley."
He wanted to say that he had already, last night. Here. Inside this home. But instead, Henley hurried out the front door into the cold before he lost his resolve. "Bye!" he called out, the door shutting behind him.
He walked around the cabin, the wind blowing in his face. The outdoor garage doors were unlocked and he didn't have any trouble pulling them open. The wind had picked up and it was snowing again. The weather was like his feelings, he thought. After he'd climbed into the rental, Henley took a second to steady himself -- his hands were trembling. He strapped his seat belt on and put the car in reverse, carefully backing out into the gravel path there.
As he pulled out into the deserted and snowy road, he looked up at the rear view mirror to see the cabin one last time. The front door flew open and out came Mason, clad in his plaid coat and gesturing for him to stop. Ciccio was right by him, following his every step.
Henley slammed the breaks and rolled down his window, peering out through the flakes dancing in the wind. His heart beat like a drum. "What is it?" he called out, as Mason made his way to the car.
When Mason had reached his window, he showed him his gloves. "You forgot these," he said, out of breath, his blue eyes soaking up the winter sky.
"Oh ..." Henley took the gloves and tossed them on the seat next to his. His voice wasn't too steady. "Thanks."
Mason rubbed his short beard. "I'm no good with people," he finally said. "I mean, real people."
Henley stared at Mason, seeing the genuine turmoil in his eyes. This was a man who'd infiltrated gangs, organized crime, and had probably risked his life over and over again. He'd kept the people he cared for far from him in order to protect them.
"You know," Henley said, reaching out to touch Mason's arm. "My parents wanted me to have around-the-clock security after what happened."
"Oh, well, that's good. That's a great idea."
"No, Mason. No. See, I spent way too much time wanting to be safe, thinking being confined and sheltered would protect my life, but in the end, there wasn't much of my life left to protect at all."
Mason stared at him and nodded in understanding. He leaned in a little, sticking his head into the car. "Look, uh, why don't you give me your number or something? I don't know ... Yeah, maybe we could eat another rabbit together." His beautiful smile shot a firebrand into Henley's chest. "I mean, the dogs like you." Then he sighed, leaning into the car yet a little more. "Truth is, Henley, I like you." He touched Henley's face. "A lot."
"Oh, yeah?" Henley said, smiling from ear to ear.
"More than I should." Mason leaned away and pulled his phone out of his jeans. "Send me a text." He gave Henley his phone number.
For a second, Henley didn't know what to write. Then he looked up into Mason's warm blue eyes and texted him the words he couldn't say out loud.
I want to kiss you so bad.