Kicked out of his home at eighteen, Cole ends up at The Haven, a drop-in spot for homeless teens, run by Adam Franks. Unable to spend the nights there, he ends up sleeping rough, is attacked by a pair of punks -- and rescued by a Bullmastiff he names Bull.
Cole and Bull become inseparable. Cole also meets, and is attracted to, Ky, a friend of Adam's, who twice saves Cole from more attackers. After the second attack, things suddenly change in Cole's life when he finds out why someone seems to be after him.
Will Ky be able to convince Cole he's told him the truth, while dealing with his own attraction to Cole? And can Ky and his friends keep Cole safe from a man who claims to be Cole's real father?
Cole walked along the edge of the creek, looking for a place where the water was shallow enough to cross to the other side. When he saw a spot, he took off his sandals, waded over and put them on again, then began checking behind the brush and bushes. He thought he heard voices and froze. Up ahead was one of the bridges that crossed the creek. He could see the red tip of a cigarette, glowing in the dark. Inching closer, he spotted three people, two guys and a girl, he thought, from their shapes. They were sitting, leaning against the bridge abutment.
One of them must have heard him because he called out, "This is our place, so get moving." He definitely sounded as if he meant it.
Cole took him at his word, turning back the way he'd come. A few minutes later he found what he was looking for. The bush was thick, standing a couple of feet away from the concrete wall that separated the creek from the street above. Cole could tell from the debris scattered around that he wasn't the first person to be there. He hoped someone didn't think this was their 'place' the way the guys under the bridge had laid claim to where they were camped.
I was stupid, when I packed up. I should have taken the blanket off my bed.
He hadn't, however, so he spread out the towel, thankful that it was summer and the night was warmish. Using his backpack as a pillow, he curled up, trying to get comfortable on the rough ground. Every time he started to doze off, something startled him awake -- a car horn, voices of people above him or along the bike path, an ambulance siren.
Finally, exhaustion overcame fear and he fell asleep. He was awakened, he didn't know how much later, by someone saying, "Well, look what we have here."
"I wonder what we should do with him," a second voice said, hate and glee lacing his words.
Cole shot up, trembling, to see two men silhouetted by the early morning light behind them. "Leave me alone," he begged, trying to back away.
"Now where's the fun in that?" the larger man asked, grabbing Cole's arm to pull him to his feet. He shoved Cole hard against the concrete wall.
"Please, don't hurt me," Cole whimpered, just before he was punched in the gut. He doubled over, trying to breathe, and slid down the wall, praying he'd survive whatever they had planned for him.
Suddenly, there was a low growl from behind the punks.
"What the fuck!"
The men spun around, giving Cole a clear view of the huge, dark fawn dog, with a black muzzle and ears, standing there, its fangs bared. It moved closer, swinging its head from side to side as if trying to decide which man to attack first. When the smaller man lifted the iron pipe he was holding, the dog sprang, gripping his arm between his teeth. The man screamed in pain and a moment later the dog released him, starting toward the second man, who took off running, closely followed by his companion.
The dog now focused its attention on Cole, and Cole was certain it was going to attack him. Instead, the dog sat back on its haunches, head cocked to one side.
"What ... what are you? Like you can answer. Not." Cole whispered. He held out his hand, praying the dog wouldn't chomp it off. He, for Cole was certain it was male, leaned forward to lick Cole's hand, leaving a trail a drool behind. Cole wiped his hand off on the grass, muttering, "Yuck,” as he let out a deep sigh of relief. "Where's your owner?" Cole asked, getting to his feet. He didn't see a collar on the dog, but that didn't necessarily mean anything.
The dog stood, too, watching as Cole brushed twigs and dirt off his jeans before folding the towel to put into his backpack.
"You better go home," Cole told him sternly. "Someone is probably wondering where you are."
The dog ignored him, so Cole pointed to the path across the creek, saying, "Go." Again, the dog ignored him. Cole picked up his backpack, wondering where he could find a restroom, because he really had to pee. Carrying the pack and his sandals, he waded across the creek to the bike path, sidestepping an early morning bike rider. The dog followed, standing beside him while Cole put on his sandals and tried to decide which way to go. He was close enough to downtown that he hoped he could find a coffee shop where he could use the restroom, in exchange for buying coffee and maybe a sweet roll.
As he started down the path, the dog walked beside him, earning them both leery looks from the few people that they passed. Accepting the dog had no plans to abandon him just yet; Cole took the ramp up to Speer. Across the street, he saw a coffee shop. The dog was right next to him when they got there.