With his trial behind him and his freedom looming, Trey Palmer must press on without Jeremy. In his new home at the hospital, Trey finds friendship and acceptance from a vulnerable patient. The blossoming relationship threatens to eclipse Trey’s love and commitment to Jeremy who remains in prison. Jeremy seeks refuge in the protective arms of another man who’s hardly a replacement for his Trey. Do Trey and Jeremy truly share a soul connection strong enough to withstand the challenges time and distance have placed between them?
Still reeling from Bobby’s unexpected kiss, Corey Levins stumbled out of the kitchen and headed down the hallway. He felt the embarrassing heat in his cheeks and hoped like hell no one noticed how flushed he must be. When he got to the command station, he found his supervisor, Carl Wiggins, sitting in an office chair with his feet propped up on the counter, an odd sight to behold. A man of that girth normally wouldn’t have the energy to hoist his legs that high in the air.
“What’s up with you?” Wiggins turned only his head to glance in Corey’s direction. “Chasing someone?”
“Nah... um, little out of breath, I guess. Does it feel hot in here?”
“I been saying that. Jesus Christ, they only have to pay for air conditioning for one damn room in this fucking facility. You’d think they’d at least keep it tolerably cool.”
Actually, the fact their office areas had AC tended to make things worse during the hottest days of summer. Most of Corey’s shifts were spent on the floor, walking the halls and yard. When he stepped into the artificially cool office for a few minutes, it made the heat elsewhere seem that much more intense.
“Well, when you catch your breath, deliver this inmate mail, would ya?”
Corey stared at him with a puzzled expression. “Mail at this time of night?”
“Nobody got around to it earlier, apparently.”
“Here, I’ll take it now.” He stepped over to Wiggins’ desk and scooped up the rubber-banded stack of envelopes. “Inmates aren’t gonna be happy getting their mail so late.”
Wiggins laughed. “And your point?”
Corey had always gotten along with his supervisors, and though he’d only transferred to Pitney a few weeks prior, he already had a fairly decent relationship with most of his bosses, even the warden. But he and Wiggins didn’t exactly see things through the same lens. Wiggins came from a different generation, one less nuanced. He viewed everything pretty much in black and white terms. As a proud, card-carrying member of the NRA, Wiggins drove his Ford pickup around with a Don’t tread on me sticker boldly displayed on the bumper.
The way gossip spread, even within the ranks of the prison faculty, Wiggins and all Corey’s other coworkers probably knew he was gay. It wasn’t something they talked about, at least not directly. During conversations, it was sometimes hard not to mention details about personal life. They all made reference to their wives and girlfriends, and when Roger was still around, Corey had referred to him as a roommate. That alone had been a tip-off.
But as cranky and politically incorrect as Wiggins often was, Corey had never heard him make a homophobic or anti-gay remark, at least not yet. Wiggins slid his feet off the counter, plopping them onto the floor with a thud, and pushed himself up from his chair. He nodded toward the stack of envelopes in Corey’s hand. “Even the pretty one got a love letter.”
Corey looked down at the stack. “Who?”
“Long hair. Kind of swishy.” Wiggins chuckled as he mockingly held up a limp wrist. “You know, the one who knits.”
Several of the inmates knitted and crocheted, and it didn’t mean much in prison. Many of the guys took up crafts of some sort, mainly to occupy their time and give them something productive to do. But Corey had a good idea to whom Wiggins was referring. Jeremy Banks had long hair and softer features, and he crocheted beautiful afghans. He was no wuss, though. He’d packed on some muscle just in the few weeks that Corey had known him. The kid, probably not even yet of legal drinking age, obviously worked out regularly.
He’d actually had his eye on Jeremy since day one. Corey had walked into Jeremy’s cell one morning to find him in bed with his cellmate Trey Palmer. Had he witnessed anything resembling sexual intimacy, he’d have had to put them both on report, and they’d have probably gotten separated. They were just sleeping, though, snuggled together sweetly, similar to the way Corey and Roger slept. Corey issued them a warning and then from that moment forward tried to keep an eye on them. Finally Trey was transferred out abruptly, sent back to county for a re-trial, and they were separated after all.
Speaking of intimacy, he had no clue what had just happened between the new guy Bobby and him back in the kitchen. The assault had come from out of nowhere, and under normal circumstances would not have ended well. What Corey should have done was zap the bastard with his TASER. He should have taken the dude down, cuffed him, and thrown his ass in the hole. Bobby Howard had made an uninvited, unwelcome advance on him, and Corey should have dealt with it the same way he’d handle any other type of battery.
But he’d kissed back. Rather than pushing Bobby away, rejecting his brazen, presumptive overture, he’d surrendered to it. He’d slipped his tongue into the sexy little fucker’s mouth and allowed the passion to blossom. Blossom? It had fucking exploded!
That whole situation was nothing less than a Pandora’s box. He had to get a handle on it and shut it down immediately. Thank God they’d been completely alone, and not near any security cameras. Corey still had one hundred percent deniability. He hated himself for being so weak and so stupid, but it would never happen again. He’d do whatever was necessary to steer clear of that temptation. He wasn’t going to let some cocky, know-it-all, smart-mouthed newbie inmate ruin his entire career.