Kenny Culpepper is a spin instructor at a local gym, but he used to be a bike courier, too. Truth is, he’s still recovering from the time his former roommate, Biff Tremonte, viciously attacked him and threw him out of their apartment for being gay. Only his close friends Damien and Les helped him survive and gave him a place to stay.
Now that Damien has moved in with his boyfriend in the duplex upstairs, Kenny has more time to himself than he knows what to do with. Then he receives a letter that changes his life.
Cypher Tremonte, Biff's younger brother, has contacted Kenny in the hopes of making things right. Turns out, he was also a victim of Biff's fists. The meeting between them is tentative and painful, but they find an unexpected connection that might even turn into love.
I looked up into eyes that appeared to be endlessly blue. In height, size and facial features, this was definitely Biff’s brother. I swallowed as fear overwhelmed me.
Cypher Tremonte was broad, tall, and extremely good-looking. But whereas Biff’s looks had been tainted by cruelty, there was an aura of gentleness surrounding his brother. That realization got through my trepidation, and I took a deep breath to calm down.
I heard Sonny laugh, but it sounded flat. It startled me, since I’d forgotten he was there, for a moment. Sonny said, “Well, I wouldn’t be interested in me, either, if I had this stud at my table.” He stood.
I tried to apologize. “I’m sorry, Sonny. I was meeting ...”
He cut me off. “Not a problem.” His tone was resigned. “I’ll see you at the gym for the next class. You boys have fun. Bye now.” Sonny left quickly, and I rubbed my forehead.
“My apologies,” I said to Cypher, and gestured to the now empty seat across from me. Biff’s brother sat, and I noticed the cup in his hand which he placed on the table between us.
“None necessary,” he replied. “I appreciate your willingness to meet with me. I know the resemblance to my brother is stark, and I don’t want this to be difficult for you. Is it really okay for me to be here?”
“It’s true that you look a lot like him, but it’s fine.” I sipped my coffee, not sure what else to say.
Cypher said, “Biff has always had a violent streak, but neither I nor my parents realized how deep that went. They were in denial until the day they died about his nature, even after what he did to me. I don’t know why I attended their funeral, but I was there. Biff wasn’t.”
He tapped a finger on the side of his cup. “When I found out what he did to you, it felt like it had happened to me all over again. And then I felt guilty, wondering if I could have prevented it from happening. If I’d said something ...”
I stopped him right there. “You were a victim of not only your brother, but your parents, too. They should have had your back, but they didn’t. Don’t blame yourself for what happened to me. That’s all on Biff, okay? I just ... maybe it’s taking me a little longer to get over things than I thought it would.”
“Have you sought help? Therapy of any kind?” he asked.
“No. I felt too ashamed to admit to anyone that I’d failed to ... fight back.”
“There’s no shame in what happened to you,” Cypher insisted. “The shame is on Biff, and only him. It took me a long time to realize that myself. As victims, we often internalize the hurt and pain, punishing ourselves for things that weren’t our fault, and never will be. Biff needs help, okay? The fact that he almost killed two people is extreme.”
Cypher put his hand on top of mine on the table, his touch making my skin twitch. “The fact that you can hold your head up and face each day means you’re strong, and that you are, in fact, a fighter. You didn’t let Biff win. You should be proud of that.”