Dax Franklin walked away from his marriage a few years back thinking that it would save Jory Carters’ career, a career he had fostered himself. Years later, when Dax hears that Jory is in a coma, he comes back, realizing he has never stopped loving him.
Jory needs rehab, but his manager boyfriend has other plans. Dax is willing to help Jory through his struggle with alcohol and drugs, but it must be Jory’s decision.
Is the memory of what they once meant to each other enough to save Jory from himself, or will his status as an international star prove stronger?
The screen door opened. Susan Carter stood there, holding a mug of steaming coffee in her hand. She put it down in front of him and pulled her cardigan around her. “Getting colder,” she said, taking a seat opposite him on the lawn swing.
Dax sucked in some of the frosty air. “You’re right. Winter is coming.”
Susan reached over and covered his hand with hers. They didn’t speak.
“When he recovers, I want him to come home for a while,” she said. “He used to love sitting out here on summer evenings, especially after the porch was screened in, no bugs, you know.”
Dax met her gaze. He watched the tears fill her eyes. “He’ll sit here again,” he insisted. “I know it.”
“Ben called me.” She made a face.
Dax didn’t comment.
“He’s not happy you’re back.”
“You are still married. Ben can’t prevent you from being there. You could keep him away from Jory if you wanted. You could—”
“Susan.” Dax interrupted. “Jory chose to be with Ben. They live together now. I have no right to prevent him from being there with Jory.” Dax sat back in his seat and closed his eyes a moment.
“He’s the reason Jory is in a coma.” Susan’s voice shook with anger and she let go of his hand. “He pushed him too hard, Dax, just like he did with you.”
Dax raked a hand through his hair. He was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. He hadn’t felt like this in a long time, not since his days of touring with the band. The flight had been long, and there were delays. He’d been frantic, worried about Jory, desperately combing the internet for any news.
Jory Carter has fallen off the stage during a homecoming concert in New York.
He’d tried reaching Susan, but there was no answer at the house, and he didn’t have her cell phone number any longer.
At the hospital, he met only with frustration. He couldn’t get anywhere near the front desk. Security guards and reporters surrounded the hospital. Dax had been delegated to the hallway for two hours before he spotted Jory’s mother hurrying down the corridor, a tissue bunched in her fist.
Dax elbowed his way through the reporters who had descended on her like a pack of starving wolves. With the sunglasses, beard, and baseball cap, he hadn’t been recognized. He managed to finally pull her off into one of the washrooms, barricading the door behind them.
He removed the hat and sunglasses. She looked stunned when she realized who had hold of her arm. “Dax?”
Dax braced himself, not sure how she would react to seeing him again. After a few seconds, she burst into tears and put her arms around him. “Dax, oh Dax, thank God you’ve come.”
Susan released him. “There are so many questions, but there will be time for that later.”
“How is he?” Dax scanned her face.
“In a coma. He fell off the stage, hit his head. They don’t know if he’s going to ever wake up.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “He was exhausted, Dax. And he’s been drinking, too, a lot. I’m sure he is headed the same way—”
She squeezed his arm. “You know when you left without a word, Jory was devastated.”
“I was convinced it was for the best at the time.”
“Thanks to Ben.” She met his gaze. “Ben wanted Jory for himself. He would have done anything to get rid of you because Jory would have moved heaven and earth for you. He loved you so much, Dax.”
Dax noted the use of the past tense. “I was in a vulnerable state. I didn’t want to hurt Jory’s career. Mine was over, but his was just beginning.”
“Whatever possessed Jory to get romantically involved with that man?”
That was the one thing he didn’t want to get into. “I need to see Jory, but I can’t seem to get anywhere near him.”
“You are still legally married.” Susan sniffed. “They have to let you see him.”
When the swarm of reporters was finally whisked away by hospital security, Dax made another attempt to see Jory.
“You’re Dax Franklin.” The nurse gasped. “You haven’t changed except the hair is shorter and you have a beard. Oh my God,” she said, putting her hand over her mouth, “I love you.”
He gave her a faint smile. “Thank you. Can I see Jory now?”
She nodded, leading him down the hallway. She was chattering all the way about what songs she had loved and how everyone thought he was dead.
“I’m not dead,” he said, pausing at the intensive care room she took him to.
She came closer. “It was so romantic, your wedding. I couldn’t believe it, Dax Franklin and Jory Carter, two of the hottest—”
He put up a hand. “Can we talk about this later?”
The young nurse nodded. “Of course. That’s his manager in there, Ben Lennox.” She drew closer, whispering, “His boyfriend now.”
“Yes, I know who he is,” Dax said, thanking her, then walking into the room.
Ben Lennox was standing by Jory’s bedside. He was fit, well dressed, tanned. He’d bleached his hair out to a sandy blond and had added a nose stud. Forty going on twenty.
When Ben saw Dax, he took a step back. The look on his face was not one of welcome. “Susan said you were back. You don’t need to be here.”
“Hello, Ben,” Dax said, his gaze going to Jory, lying there with an oxygen mask fixed over his face, hooked up to all kinds of things. Dax closed his eyes. This was a nightmare.
“You have no right to be here now.” Ben pointed at him.
Dax held up his left hand, indicating the gold band on his ring finger. He’d never taken it off. “I could ask you to leave, Ben.”