Jacen is living a lie in a relationship with someone he can't fully love. He's moved away from the one man meant for him, Kayne. Distance doesn't help, though, because his heart can't forget.
Teenage mistakes set Kayne's future, so, with one last kiss goodbye, he's let the man who held his heart--his best friend's younger brother--walk away. Time doesn't heal all wounds. It just confuses matters, especially when Kayne has a young son and soon-to-be ex-wife.
Then Jacen comes home. He's been both physically and mentally abused by his ex-boyfriend. Kayne needs to help find out just who is trying to destroy Jacen's life. Who's to blame--the man responsible for beating Jacen up or Kayne's very own ex, who has hated Jacen since they were teenagers when she'd found out Jacen held Kayne's heart?
Will the mystery enemy destroy them or bring them closer?
CONTENT ADVISORY: This is an extensively expanded and re-edited re-release title.
Eleven Years Ago
"Micah, can I ask you something?" Jacen looked up at his older brother. Micah was so tall and being two years older, he was a lot bigger than Jacen's own frame. His brother was thirteen and at an age when Jacen thought his brother was smart and knew everything about being a boy.
"Sure, Jace, what do you want to know?" Micah handed him a plate to dry.
Jacen loved this time of night when they did the dishes, because it was the one time when Micah had enough time to talk to him. His brother was one of the most popular boys at their school. At school they didn't run in the same circles, even though they were both in the same grade. Jacen didn't really have friends. He'd never had friends, mainly because he was so much younger than everyone else in his grade. Was it his fault he was brainier than the rest of kids his own age? He'd tried not to be, but once he'd opened a book or had sat in any lesson, the whole idea of holding himself back had gone right out the window. Jacen had always loved learning new things.
"Micah, you like girls, right?" Jacen knew his face was turning redder by the second because the heat creeping up his own neck was a clear warning.
Finally his big brother turned to him and grinned. "Yeah, I like girls. Why do you ask? Does my baby brother have a crush on one of the girls at school? Do I know her?"
Jacen shook his head in embarrassment and maybe a touch of confusion. "I just want to know. How did you know you like girls instead of boys?"
"Holy hell!" Micah dropped the dish he was washing back into the sink full of sudsy water and turned once again to stare at him. "Jace, do you like one of the boys at school?"
Tears fill his eyes as Jacen shrugged. "I don't know. That's why I need to know. How can you tell if you like girls?"
"Jace, he can't tell you. It's something you need to work out for yourself," a new voice said.
Jacen nearly jumped out of his skin when their dad spoke from where he stood in the doorway. Tears spilled down Jacen's cheeks. He never in his life wanted his dad to find out he might like boys more than girls, especially when he'd heard all the gossip at school about how it was supposed to be wrong for boys to like boys or for girls to like girls.
"Come on, boys. Leave the dishes and let's sit down and talk about this," Desmond, his dad, said as he gestured back into the living room.
Jacen followed Micah and their father into the lounge. His heart beat out of control, wondering if his dad was going to be angry, upset, or maybe just disgusted in him. What would happen to him if his dad didn't want him to live with them anymore? Where would he go? Who would look after him? As his fear got the better of him, Jacen sat a little closer to Micah on the couch than he normally would have. He shivered visibly in relief when Micah took his hand and held it. Looking at his feet, Jacen couldn't bring himself to look at his father; he just wasn't brave enough.
"Jace, look at me." His dad's voice didn't sound cranky, so he slowly raised his eyes. He bit his lip to stop it from trembling. "Son, only you can know who you are meant to love. I heard you ask Micah how you will know. Well, to be honest it's different for everyone. It could be a simple as butterflies in your tummy when the person is in the same room as you, or you can't seem to stop looking at someone, or maybe you can't stop thinking about them. Or...or...it could be..."
Jacen watched as his father blushed, and it wasn't until Micah whispered in his ear how his dick could get hard when he really liked someone did he understand why his father had such a reaction.
"Oh." Jacen's face heated up until burned like it was on fire. Jacen hesitated for a moment before looking straight at his dad. He just needed to know. "Dad, is it okay if I like boys better than girls?"
His dad let out very deep sigh. "Jace, you can't help who you love. I want you to understand it's never wrong to love someone. I honestly wish for your sake that you liked girls. It would be easier for you in the long run. Some people will hate you because you like boys. There'll be people who are nasty and will tell you it's wrong. But I want you to know I'll always love you, son, no matter who you choose to love."
"There'll also be some idiots who'll want to beat you up. Do you remember what happened to Neil? The seniors beat the crap out of him because he's gay." Micah squeezed his hand as he continued. "If you're gay, you're going to have to be very careful about who you tell, because if the wrong person finds out, it'll get all over the whole school then everyone will know." Micah turned Jacen's face so their gazes met. "Is there someone at school you like?"
Staring into his brother's eyes, Jacen nodded slowly. He needed to finally get everything off of his chest and was happy his brother and father still loved him.
"Who do you like, Jace?" Micah asked again.
Jacen swallowed really hard and tried to blink away his tears before his family thought he was an even bigger freak. "Kayne Henderson. I didn't mean to like him. I swear. It just kind of happened."
His brother's eyes grew large and his dad sucked in a deep breath. Jacen knew Kayne Henderson had a reputation for being the bad boy at school. He was always in detention and always being called in to see the principal for stuff he had done. But one time when Jacen had been feeling all alone, Kayne had really been nice to him. Kayne hadn't made fun of him when he'd found him crying in the boy's bathroom at lunchtime after the other kids had called him a freak. Kayne was in the grade above him and had taken the time to make sure he was all right. He'd sat and talked to Jacen for the whole lunch break. His mind came back to the present when his brother finally spoke.
"Jace, promise me you will never tell Kayne you like him. He'd be the first one to try to kill you."
"I promise I won't tell anyone." He didn't agree with Micah that Kayne would hurt him, but he would stay quiet because he didn't want the other kids to tease him more than they already did.