Kelly Archer’s life has been stripped bare. Outed as gay at work, his job became intolerable. Unsure of what to do next, a friend suggests introducing himself to the Silo police department before making any rash decisions. Peyton Ackerman is coming to Silo to put distance between himself and his adulterous ex. Leaving New York to live with his mother until he makes his next move will give him time and distance. A move, a fresh start with a new job, and new friends will help take the sting out of a bad situation for both men. Beginning a friendship as running buddies, each is cautious for different reasons to jump into something new. Kelly hasn’t had the best experiences when forced to live openly, out of the closet. And Peyton doesn’t know any other way, has never had to hide himself to suit anyone. Can these two men find a way to meet in the middle to see what could happen? Will fear of exposure and hostility of co-workers keep them from being true to themselves?
Kelly walked into the Silo Police station, taking in the quiet booking area with a single sweep of his gaze. There were two semi-cluttered desks, computers, printers, a couple of file stands, and not a soul in sight. To his right was a shatter-proof glass window, half open, with a cash slot cutout. Beyond the window were two doors. One stood open. Directly ahead past the desks, was a solid metal doorway to another section of the station. He could only assume that led to holding cells and more private areas. Overall, he’d seen worse, but it looked like what it was. A working station.
“Hi. Can I help you?”
A petite woman walked through the open doorway.
He held out a hand. “I’m Kelly Archer. I have a meeting with Dave Hanlon.”
She gripped his offered handshake offering a burgeoning, kind smile. “Right. He’s expecting you.” She moved to the door beside the one she walked through and entered a code on the security panel. “Are you carrying?”
She nodded. “It’s the second door on the left.”
She held the door to let him pass and closed it with a sharp click behind him.
Kelly was nervous and he really didn’t know why. He’d come to talk to Dave by request. He wasn’t there specifically for a job. He didn’t rightly know if there was a job or why he was there. It’s what I get for telling Dean I was done in Cassan. He supposed that was as good a reason as any.
He approached the door hanging ajar and tapped a knuckle to the frame.
The gentleman in a city Sheriff’s uniform sitting at the desk waved him in, hanging up the phone at the same time. He stood and held out a hand. “Nice to meet you, Kelly.”
“Same.” He sat when he was pointed to a chair.
“So, I guess you know how gossip works in a small town. I’d like to hear it from you, though. Why are you leaving Cassan?”
Kelly sat stiffly on the plain, metal chair. “I imagine the gossip is close to the truth. I’m gay. After it came out at work, it was either so uncomfortable I hated my job, or I lost the trust of men I’ve worked with for the last eight years.”
Dave only nodded, his arms crossed in front of his chest as he leaned on the desk. He pushed into the frame and tapped the end of the armrest with restless fingers. “I see. They don’t have policies against that?”
“On paper,” he replied.
Dave’s expression said he understood. “And what is your next plan? Have you quit Cassan?”
“For a polite answer, yes.”
Dave’s eyebrows hitched.
“As for what’s next, I really don’t know. Dean suggested I come talk to you before I make any large decisions.”
“Are you looking for work? Or just wanting to move away?”
That was what Kelly didn’t have an answer for. He loved what he did. Being pushed out of that job and his home had stung, deep.
“Honestly.” He drew a slow breath. “I don’t know.”
Dave assessed him. “You need something.”
“Where would you go if you left?”
Kelly didn’t have an answer for that, either. The rumors about his sexuality had started around the holidays. He’d blown off the whispers, argued against the accusations, but months later, it hadn’t mattered. Cassan, his adopted home, had turned into just another bigoted town with small minds after all. They’d turned their backs on him. Going home to Seattle wasn’t an option. His father had made that much clear years ago.
When he didn’t answer, Dave leaned forward, crossing his arms to rest on the desk again. “What if you took some time to regroup? Do you like the area?”
Kelly nodded. He knew he had a friend in Dean, at least.
Dave gave him an unblinking stare. That took control considering the juxtaposition of Kelly’s eye color to the rest of him. “Silo is not like Cassan. Heck, from what I hear, we’re not much like any place.”
Kelly stayed quiet. He’d learned a long time ago that staying quiet forced others to talk and usually provided far more information than the basic answers he’d get to any question. Dave was kind enough to prove him right.
“Lisa Matthews is a lesbian. She’s on the city board of directors. Tom Orstwile is gay. He’s also on the board. You can’t treat people in the manner you were treated in Cassan, not here. People won’t stand for it. I’m not saying we’re a gay Disneyland. I am saying, we have a live and let live mentality. We take pride in our Pride citizens, if you understand, because they’re citizens, people, before they are anything else, and we take pride in all the people who live here because they all contribute to make Silo work.”