Brice has a crush. Unfortunately it’s on a friend’s straight younger brother, Jake. Brice knows chances are between slim and none for anything more between them, but no one says he can’t fantasize about the hunky guy. When Jake’s teenage daughter, Rebecca, enlists Brice’s help for a final paper for school, Brice and Jake get the chance to really know one another, bonding over Brice’s garden into friendship.
Except their friendship gets tested and reshaped when Jake volunteers to come stay with Brice for a couple of days after he’s injured by a student. Jake has a history no one knows about. And Brice is the one man capable of reawakening dormant feelings in Jake.
Will Jake be able to embrace yearnings he hasn’t experienced in twenty years? Can Brice trust Jake’s changes to be real? It’s a challenge for the both of them, but no one said love would be easy.
It was nice though, hearing Brice’s laughter at his antics. He had a sweet laugh, not too loud, but deep, full. He also realized that this was what kept Brice in shape. All the tugging, digging, pulling and crawling, which had to be good for abdominal muscles, was a full workout.
“Did you bring a change of clothes too?” Brice asked him.
“Well, the bathroom is right here if you want to clean up. Same for Becky.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome.” Brice touched his arm lightly then with a smile, left him for his own bedroom to clean up. After Rebecca changed, he went in and cleaned up as much as he could, scrubbing under his nails and all but dunking his head under the water in the sink.
While Brice put things together to start dinner, Rebecca sat at the table and talked with him about the interview.
“Need any help?” Jake offered.
“I need to sauté the onion and rice.” Brice pointed to a pan and a bowl of rice.
Following his instructions, Jake thought he did well without burning anything. Soon the kitchen smelled savory and sweet and delicious. There wasn’t any stress to it either. Brice was very patient with both Rebecca’s gardening questions and Jake’s cooking ones. It had been a long time since he’d had a home cooked meal like this, and it was comfortable. Even Rebecca was laughing and having fun. Jake realized she’d gotten over her issues of not knowing Brice Reynolds.
That evening when they left, Rebecca hugged Brice hard. “Thank you so much for all of this. Way more than I’ll ever need, and it was more fun than I thought it would be.”
Brice smiled for her. “You’re very welcome. I’d love to know how you do on it.”
“Go on out to the car. I’ll be right there.” Jake held the door open for her. She slipped outside and Jake pushed until the door almost closed. “Thank you, for all you did today. Helping her, letting us both get into your garden, then dinner. My God, that was good.”
“An appetite does wonders,” he teased.
“I know it was more than that. Sissy wants to take Rebecca next weekend. Would you like to come up to my place, let me repay the favor?”
“There’s nothing to repay,” Brice said. “I was more than happy to help her with her paper.”
Jake wasn’t sure why, but wanting Brice to say yes just became the most important moment of the day. “Let me see what I can find for us to do.”
Brice hesitated. “If you’re sure.”
Jake caught himself just before leaning forward. The want to be closer, to experience something, to fulfill a craving that had been slowly building within all day was simply too large to push aside any longer. Single glances, shared smiles, laughter. It had all come to this.
He swallowed and simply nodded. “I’m sure.”
When he thought he’d forget all the things he felt last weekend, when he was positive it was wrong and he was just noticing things about the other man because he was actually getting to know him, Jake realized something about himself that he hadn’t considered in two decades.
He was attracted to men.
He was attracted to Brice. And right that moment, before he left, he really wanted to kiss him goodbye. It was a bit startling, and such a rush, it made him uncomfortable.
Instead, he took a short step away to open the door again. “Call me later in the week when you know for sure and I’ll give you directions.”
When Brice agreed, he managed to walk out the door for the car, turning once to wave as he slid behind the wheel. The entire drive home with Rebecca silent in the passenger seat reading over what she’d written with Brice’s help, his only thought was he regretted not taking that kiss.