Two men with nothing in common except friendship.
One man is Darren Cameron, a cop who patrols the streets nightly. After his divorce -- because he revealed to his wife he was gay -- he gained full custody of his son, Jesse. Jesse is now twenty-one, living with his girlfriend, and trying to play matchmaker between his landlord, Malcom, and Darren.
The other is Rob, a homeless war veteran living on the streets, who has adamantly resists all Darren's efforts to help him start his life over. When Rob is attacked, Darren finally has what he needs to help his friend get off the streets. Despite Rob's wariness, he moves into Darren’s home under the guise of protective custody ... much to Jesse's dismay.
Can Darren and Rob handle what comes next, including their growing attraction for each other? Or will Rob ultimately reject Darren's help and return to his former life?
Darren stopped at the bottom of a fire escape, signaling to Zack that he was going up to check the rooftops. Zack nodded, heading to one on the opposite side of the alley. Darren grinned when he heard Zack mutter "I'm getting too old for this" as he started up. It amused Darren because his partner was only thirty-eight as compared to Darren's forty-five.
At the top of the fire escape, Darren paused, scanning the roofs. Most of them were flat with no way onto them other than fire escapes or a trapdoor. Only two had actual huts covering an exit, and one had a large swamp cooler. Darren checked the huts to be certain their doors were locked, then moved down to the cooler. As he came around the side he shook his head.
"I wondered if I'd find you up here," he said to the man who was leaning against the cooler's housing. The guy was thin, with dark hair, a short, scruffy beard and mustache, and fine features, although it was obvious his nose had been broken at some point in his life.
"No hiding from the long arm of the law, huh?" the man replied with a grin. "How you doing, Darren?"
"Better than you from the look of it, Rob."
Robin Wright, A.K.A. Rob, was a veteran of the Iraq War. He was forty-two and had been on the streets since leaving the military seven years previously, just before the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. While he hadn't said that DADT had been part of the reason he hadn't re-upped, Darren had the feeling from a few offhand comments Rob had made that it was.
Strangely enough in Darren's opinion, he and Rob had become friends, with Darren doing his best to convince Rob to find a job and get off the streets. Rob resisted, pointing out the fact there were damned few, if any, jobs for a veteran with no real job skills and PTSD. "Not that my PTSD is that bad," he'd said, the first time he'd told Darren a bit about himself. "I just tend to fly off the handle pretty quickly if I'm stressed." He'd smiled then, adding, "Living the way I do now, the only stressors are where I'm going to crash without cops like you rousting me, and how to get my next meal. Luckily, I don't mind dumpster food too much, since I know which ones have the best offerings, and I do make a bit of cash panhandling so I can hit up a fast-food place sometimes."
The first time Darren had run into him that was exactly what Rob had been doing. Panhandling. When had Darren told him to move on, Rob had stared at him for a long moment then sighed and with a quirky grin, mostly hidden behind his beard and mustache, he'd replied, "Damn, you're not susceptible to the Jedi mind trick."
"No really," Darren had said, laughing. "So you'd better do as I said. I don’t think the guards at the jail are either, meaning you won't be able to influence them to let you go."
Rob had picked up the battered Starbucks cup he'd been using to collect change, dumped the money in the pocket of his well-worn coat and pushed off the wall between the windows of a clothing store and a tourist shop. "Don't suppose you have fifty cents you could loan me. Then I'll have enough for fries with my burger."
"Well, yeah. I'll pay it back when I can. Hell, I see you around here all the time, even if you don't see me."
Darren had shaken his head. "You seeing me is no surprise. It is my beat."
"Yours and that beefy blond's. Say, Officer --" Rob had looked at Darren's name badge "-- D. Cameron, what's the 'D' stand for?"
"Darren. And while we're trading names, what's yours?"
"Until I trust you, yeah."
"Okay, Rob." For whatever reason, one he couldn't put a finger on, Darren had dug a couple of dollars out of his pocket, handing them to him. "If I find out you spent this on booze or drugs," he'd cautioned.
"Naw, not my thing. Thanks, Darren. I'll see you around I'm sure."
"Undoubtedly," Darren had replied, watching Rob shuffle off.
He had found out later the shuffle was just one of the many ways Rob tried to gain sympathy when he was panhandling. He also had a sling he put on, on occasion, When he was outside the bus station, claiming he only needed a couple of dollars more to pay for his ticket home, he carried a battered messenger bag and wore the only decent jacket and jeans he owned.
After their first meeting, Darren saw Rob at least once a week. Usually it was when he and Zack were doing alley patrols late at night. Then one evening, when he was off duty, after going to a movie downtown, Darren had run into Rob while going back to his car.