Past secrets uncovered can rip love apart or make it soar.
A gorgeous guy showing up on your doorstep unexpectedly should be a dream come true, right? Well, not if it’s your boyfriend’s ex…
A home invasion that killed his parents wrecked Xander's sense of security. After a few rough years, he's finally found happiness living with his boyfriend, Greyson, in an old farmhouse north of Boston. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, Greyson's ex from college shows up and creates havoc in Xander's life.
For a long time Xander has been afraid that Greyson could be tempted to leave him for the successful, gorgeous Ted Richards. And Ted does everything to fuel those hidden fears. Buried secrets come to light and threaten to rip Greyson and Xander apart. They have a few years of love and happiness on their side, but will it be enough to hold them together…
I knew this day would come, but secretly I’d hoped I’d never see Edward Richards III again. Now here he is, standing on my front porch with his hundred-dollar haircut, designer suit, and a brilliant smile. It’s been four years since Harvard, but Ted the Great still looks as if he just stepped out of the pages of GQ, with stunning blue eyes, a chiseled jaw, and a perfect tan.
My boyfriend’s ex on my door step.
“Oh, hey, Xander,” Ted says with a broad smile. Back in the days he was legend. Captain of the rowing team. Honor Roll student. The list of Ted’s accomplishments in the classroom was only surpassed by the rumors about his elaborate fraternity parties and his sexual exploits. He’d been an equal opportunity player, so male and female devotees swooned regularly in his path.
I stare at him, desperately trying to get my jaw back under control, but my first attempt at speech comes out as a gabbled croak. Ted just pulls me into a bear hug, slapping his right hand hard on my back. My shocked silence doesn’t bother him. The Great is used to people losing the ability for basic human interactions around him. My stomach twists, and not in a good way.
“Xander, you look fantastic. You haven’t changed one bit since I last saw you.” Another bone-rattling backslap. “Is Greyson around? I’m sure he told you that we met at a conference in New York last month and he invited me up here for a visit. I was in Boston for the week and I thought I’d drop by. I know it’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, but I hope you don’t mind.”
What? New York? Invitation? Greyson hadn’t said anything to me. Not a word. The twist in my stomach turns into nausea. Ted and Greyson were together for three years at Harvard. When they broke up in their last year, I got Greyson on the rebound and by some miracle I managed to hold onto him. Ted has almost as much history with my boyfriend as I do, and now, it looks like their glory days are back to haunt me.
Ted pulls me along in his wake as we enter the house. I can smell his expensive cologne and a hint of alcohol. I know he can sense my slight hesitation. I bet Ted is excellent in the courtroom. He could always read his opponents like an open book and rarely missed a weakness, no matter how subtle.
“Beautiful house you guys have. Bit tucked away. I almost missed your driveway from the main road. But it’s really nice once you get here. I’m sure all this peace and quiet”—he points at our tree-lined driveway to illustrate his point—“is good for you.”
Bang. Two minutes, just two minutes and he’s already delivered the first jab. I straighten and feel old anger pump through my veins. I know I’m at a disadvantage. I always have been. Ted towers over me by almost eight inches. No designer suits for me; I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of guy. Right now, I’m wearing my favorite faded pair and an old AC/DC shirt splattered with paint. I worked all afternoon, and all the colors of the rainbow are sticking to me. I have some boy-next-door charm, but no way can I ever compete with Ted’s catwalk charisma.
“Wow, Ted. It’s been ages.” I finally find my voice…kinda. “Ehm…Greyson isn’t here. He had to go to Waltham for a meeting with a new client.” I let my sentence hang in the air and wait a few seconds, hoping that Ted might decide to leave if Greyson isn’t around. No such luck.
“He told me his firm is very busy and he works most weekends. I can relate. No worries. Do you know when he’s expected back?”
“Soon. He should be on his way home,” I admit, defeated yet again.
The short hallway from the entrance leads straight into our almost-open concept kitchen and living room. As soon as we walk through the main door, I see Ted’s eyes darting around—taking inventory of the old farmhouse Greyson and I have turned into our home. The building itself is over a hundred years old, but somehow the contractor managed to tear down some walls all around the house. The remodeling left a few awkwardly placed posts scattered around to hold up the second floor, but still created a lot of open space. Our living room is dominated by an old wood-burning fireplace and Greyson’s baby grand.
Ted stops his walkthrough at the double French doors leading to a patio in the backyard. “Nice. Fall in New England.” He chuckles. “Leaves everywhere.”
“Yeah, we haven’t quite gotten around to cleaning up the back.” I reply defensively. Ted doesn’t comment, but continues his self-guided tour of my house. We have a brand new kitchen, but when we first moved in, Greyson and I spent a lot of weekends touring antique shops and flea markets on the Cape to find some original New England farmhouse pieces. Old is now mixed in with comfortable new furniture. Besides my studio, the living room is my favorite room in the house. Warm, spacious, and with a lot of natural light.
But now, I’m seeing it through Ted’s Manhattan penthouse eyes. The well lived-in space that I love so much probably looks small, outdated, and shabby to him.
I walk over to the kitchen and quickly hide my coffee cup in the sink, while Ted looks at family pictures on a small side table next to the window. “Shit, Grey hasn’t changed a bit.” He picks up a candid of Greyson in board shorts on his father’s boat. Drops of water clinging to his dark skin. One of my favorite pictures of the lot, ’cause my boyfriend is so damn sexy. Ted smiles and strokes a finger across the glass.
What the fuck? Cold panic slowly unfurls in my stomach. Just a hint, but enough to unsettle me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had this feeling. Gripping the smooth stone of the kitchen island behind me, I take a deep breath. “I can’t believe you’re here. We usually only read about you in the paper. How’s married life treating you?”
Ted put the picture down and turns back to the window. About a year ago, he got married to Amy Kennedy, a New York celebrity whose father owns a US-wide media network. For a while, the local society pages buzzed about the dream destination wedding and suspicions about Ted’s political ambitions. Greyson was not invited to the wedding. Thank God! Nevertheless, I watched him like a hawk when the news first broke. He only mumbled something that sounded like “poor girl” and “idiot” and moved on to the business section of the New York Sunday Times.
“Ah, it’s great, really great,” Ted says with little to no enthusiasm. Small talk is not my thing. And I’m so lost in my own thoughts it takes me a few seconds to remember my question. When I do remember, Ted’s vague answer surprises me, but his face is unreadable and he doesn’t offer any more, so I let the topic go.
Before the awkward silence settles again, I ask, “Can I offer you anything to drink? We have water…” Ted raises an eyebrow and I stumble slightly, but decide to plow forward. “Diet coke or iced tea.” Greyson’s upper-middle class upbringing must be rubbing off on me. Here I am making polite conversation and offering refreshments to a man I just want to kick out of my house. I barely suppress a frustrated growl and try again. “How about some cranberry juice?”
Ted chuckles. “No, not really. Do you have some ice? I brought something to celebrate the good old days.”
It’s only now that I notice the sleek leather computer bag Ted brought inside with him and dropped onto the couch. He pulls out a bottle of Jack Daniels. “I don’t really drink this stuff anymore, but it made sense for today, don’t you agree? So many great memories.”
My mind screams. Memories. No shit. But none of them good. Fuck. Fuck.
I have a polite refusal ready just in case Ted asks me to join him for a glass, but he doesn’t. He just takes the glass I hand over and pours himself a generous drink. I stay in the kitchen behind the counter while he takes a seat on the sofa.
“So, do you guys have any plans for Thanksgiving?” Ted asks.
None of your fucking business. Instead I say politely, “We always spend Thursday with Greyson’s parents, but nothing planned for the rest of the weekend.”
Ted’s ever-present smile has teeth now. “I’m surprised Greyson is so close to his family. He was at odds with his father when we were at Harvard together.”
“Greyson is a junior partner in his father’s firm. They deal mostly with commercial contracts, mergers and acquisitions, and bankruptcy. It’s a small firm, but they have a stellar reputation, so they’ve got more work than they can handle.”
“M and A, poor sod. God, yeah, he’s got to be bored out of his mind.” Ted shakes his head. “I guess that’s how it is. In college you have all these highflying dreams and then life happens. Just never thought Greyson would be one to settle…” His sentence trails off.
I suppress an angry reply, because there’s some truth to it. Just like our home, Greyson’s lifestyle doesn’t compare to Ted’s. When I first met both of them at a gay bar in Cambridge, they’d been unabashedly ambitious. They wanted to make it big. Besides booze, sex, and partying, that’s all they talked about, and it kept them motivated through long nights of studying together. Now, four years later, Ted is well on his way. He’s working for a large firm in New York with a well-connected trophy wife on his arm. And Greyson…well, he’s got me.
Another nice long swallow of whiskey seems to relax Ted and, suddenly, he starts talking again. And for the first time since he walked in, I’m dying for a return to uncomfortable silence. “You know, Xander, I didn’t realize how much I missed Grey until I saw him again in Manhattan. We always had a lot in common. We still do. I realized that after we spent the night together.”
I nearly drop the glass of water I just poured for myself. Spent the night together?