Is a gift of love enough to open Aiden’s heart and let Tris back in?
After the car accident that killed his parents and left his sister paralyzed, Tris is left with nothing. His family is destroyed. His reputation is shot. And all he has is the guilt of knowing it was all his fault. People in town know he’d been drinking that night, and know he should never have gotten behind the wheel. And even Aiden, the man he thought he’d be with forever, blames him too much to stay.
But Tris can’t let him just disappear. After months of loneliness and isolation, Tris brings Aiden a gift on his birthday, a hawk he’s carved from a chunk of wood they’d found in the forest during an afternoon of love. A small chink seems to open in Aiden’s heart, the first sign of forgiveness. With renewed hope, Tris takes a job renovating one of the older homes in town and tries to rebuild his life. But the townspeople have long memories, and when his sister’s condition worsens, forgiveness—and Aiden—seem to slip even further out of reach…
Love is friendship set on fire.—Jeremy TaylorChapter OneIt had been three fucking months. Aiden had to talk to him, give him a hint of that gorgeous smile he lived for. Shit. What if Aiden wasn’t alone?Tris locked his bike at the empty stand and tucked wisps of light hair behind his ears with a shaky hand. Aiden’s red Fiat sat in its space outside his apartment door. At least he was home this morning. He could easily be spending his birthday with someone else.Paling at the thought, Tris slung his pack on his shoulder and walked to the door. He had nothing to lose at this point. He didn’t expect much, but maybe they could talk. Clear the air. Tris missed him. God, he’d suffered hell. Months of empty days and long, achy nights without his lover.He rapped on the door and his heart sank when he heard voices and a soft laugh inside. Jealousy bit through him, but he shoved it away. Didn’t matter. He’d brought Aiden a gift and he’d be damned if he was leaving without delivering it.He lifted his hand, then dropped it to his side and laughed without humor. He’d worn his best jacket too. As if Aiden would be impressed with anything he did. He set the backpack at his feet and carefully removed the small tissue-wrapped box.He hefted it in his hand, heavier than it looked, and gently stroked a thumb over it. Damn. All of his love and yearning had gone into this gift he’d promised Aiden on one of their hikes in the forest outside town. Tris’s breath quickened as he recalled the exact moment, Aiden naked and sweaty in his arms, Tris’s spent cock in his hot ass. He rolled to his back when Aiden nudged him with his elbow. “What…”“Didn’t you feel that?” Aiden’s hand dove under the jackets they were lying on and came up with the offending knot of wood. He rubbed his side. “Bet I get a bruise.”“Fuck. I’m sorry.” Tris reached for the chunk, but Aiden shrugged and tossed it with their backpacks.“Make me something with it,” Aiden ordered. They both looked up at a piercing cry. A hawk swooped over the treetops. “Carve him for me.”Tris glanced at his darling and his heart flipped over. Aiden’s dark hair stood in wild disarray around his beautiful face. Tris leaned close and sucked the beckoning full bottom lip into his mouth. He groaned, recalling the silver hoop in the luscious flesh sliding over his dick earlier.Aiden murmured approval and his tongue dove in, the silver ball in its center grazing the roof of Tris’s mouth, sending a shiver of lust through him. He gripped Aiden’s hair, holding him in place as their tongues twined and fenced.Tris jolted back to the moment when the apartment door suddenly opened in his face. The blood rushed from his heart and roared in his ears. Aiden leaned against the door frame and Tris’s hungry gaze ran over his slim body, his mouth going dry at the soft line of curls disappearing into the tattered shorts sitting low on Aiden’s hips. He jerked his attention back to Aiden’s eyes, meeting his intense blue gaze.Something flickered in the lovely depths, then Aiden’s lids narrowed. “Tris?”Tris swallowed, mortified at the thought that Aiden would see the erection pushing against his jeans as his body screamed for its lover’s touch. God! This was harder than he’d thought it would be. He coughed to clear the lump in his throat.“I brought you…” Tris winced as his voice cracked. Fucking wuss! He straightened his spine and lifted the bright package. “I wanted to bring this by before you started your day. Happy Birthday, Aiden.”He watched, fascinated, as pretty color flooded Aiden’s cheeks. So hot. Aiden’s fingers brushed his as he took the gift. Tris bit hard on his tongue. He wasn’t going to beg. Not again. Aiden’s eyes had been cold the last time he’d asked the man to listen to him.“Thanks—” A shout and braying laughter from the apartment stopped his words.A smile tugged at Tris’s lips. “Kevin?”“Yeah. And Ken. They dropped in last night and I can’t get rid of them.”They shared a laugh, and Tris’s heart lightened. “Remember Ms. Kranson’s biology—”“When Ken dropped the frogs—”“I bet the room still smells of formaldehyde.” Tris shook his head, his smile wide. He and Aiden had met the twins when they were juniors in high school, and the boys had latched onto Aiden as a kindly face in their new school.Tris almost choked when Aiden winked at him. “Shall we ditch them, as usual?”Tris held his breath, afraid to speak and break the spell of the moment. He nodded.“Great. Give me ten minutes to shower and dress and we’ll get breakfast.”Tris’s lips parted. The erotic image of Aiden standing naked under the shower’s spray left him weak with want. He tried to keep his thoughts from showing, but Aiden blushed and glanced at his bare, leanly muscled chest as if just realizing his scant clothing.“Be right back,” he muttered and retreated, giving Tris a splendid view of his ass in the ragged shorts before he disappeared inside the apartment. Tris unconsciously licked his lips as he remembered the sweet taste of the skin at the small of Aiden’s back. He stared at the closed door while his body trembled with need, longing to join his lover in the shower as he had so many times in the past. It wasn’t right! Why wouldn’t Aiden forgive him?Tris blinked as hot tears stung his eyes. He let them pool, then slide down his cheeks. He couldn’t forgive himself so why should Aiden?