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Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Length: 52,147 words
Falling for his brother's boyfriend broke his heart. Now he's back home and falls in love all over again.
One birthday kiss and Kieran realizes he is in danger of falling for his brother’s boyfriend, Jordan. Leaving for college, then moving to another country is the only way to ease the ache in his heart.
But, when his father becomes ill and his sister begs him to come home, Kieran returns for good. He finds the family business nearly bankrupt and Jordan, the man he ran from, beaten down by despair and guilt.
Friendship is what they promise each other as they work to repair the business, but it could never be enough for Kieran. When secrets spill, and there are vital decisions to be made, Kieran realizes two things; he’s back home, and he wants to stay with Jordan for good.
Now he just needs to convince Jordan.
“Where’s Hayley?” he asked.
“She slept out last night,” Anna said as she spooned eggs onto a plate for him.
“Where did she say she was going?” Jordan asked again. He slipped into the familiar big brother role as easily as pulling on his jeans in the morning. After all, he damn was like a big brother to her, especially with Brad gone and Kieran on another continent. He had a right and a reason to be worried. As soon as Anna told him that Hayley hadn’t been home, he started fretting even though he knew he had to accept that the girl he thought of as five with pigtails had actually reached adulthood and had even had sex. He didn’t want to think about that in too much detail.
“She’s twenty-two, sweetie. If she wants to stay out, that’s her choice. Maybe she was with that nice young man Alex.”
Anna sounded so accommodating; as if it didn’t worry her that her youngest child was out God knows where with God knows whom. Alex might seem like a good guy, and Jordan had even grudgingly admitted he appeared to be a solid stable influence on the normally flighty Hayley, but still, he knew exactly what was in a twenty-five-year-old man’s head. After all, he was only twenty-nine himself, and he had a good memory. Resentment built inside him, sudden and bitter; after Brad, they should have been more careful knowing where their kids were and what they were doing.
Shit. Where had that thought come from? Brad had been a grown man. What had happened to him had nothing to do with Anna and Phil. They were good parents, and they had made a good family. It also wasn’t their fault Kieran was gone. He ruthlessly pushed down the irrational imaginings to where they belonged, way down where he stored his own guilt.
“Should’ve told us,” Jordan snapped in return, anger fighting with fear in his gut. She was so little, even at twenty-two, slim and petite and so blindly trusting of everything and everyone around her.
“Jordan…” Anna turned from the skillet, wiping her hands on a kitchen towel and looking at him with that patented mother expression that she did so well. It never failed to calm him down. “She texted to say she was okay. That is as much as we’re going to get. We know she’s okay—she said so.”
Jordan grimaced. Recently all he seemed able to do was focusing on the shit that was happening, or on the worst that could happen. It was so easy to let a million thoughts race through his mind, every one colored with death and blood and fear. He could imagine a kidnapper taking the phone and texting as her, or her being coerced… Jesus, it didn’t bear thinking about.
“I’m going to be having words with her,” he grumped, concentrating on the plate of food that Anna placed in front of him. He wasn’t even hungry, anxiety nibbling away at him until his stomach was one big knotted mess. Patiently, and acutely aware that Anna was watching him as she had done ever since his accident, he forked eggs and bacon into his mouth, the taste of them like ashes.
Eating didn’t stop him from brooding, and being watched didn’t stop his mood from spiraling lower. If anything, the combination of the two made everything worse. The appointment at the bank was still looming, and he was worried about what they would say.
Jordan had to go on his own; Phil wasn’t well enough to be there with him, but he was determined to be involved in dealing with the company's finances. He wanted to be hands-on, it was his company and on and on. Whenever Phil started talking that way, Jordan listened as patiently as he could, trying not to feel too hurt Phil was determined to hold on so tightly. After all, hadn’t he been running the company just fine for the last two years?
When the kitchen door opened, and Hayley took a step into the battleground, Jordan was on her like a ton of bricks, launching to his feet with temper running through him like fire.
“Where the hell have you been? We’ve been damn scared you were in a ditch or something. For God’s sake, your momma was worried.” Jordan’s voice was loud and quick and his temper on a rare high. He saw Hayley look at her mom with raised eyebrows, receiving a small smile and a shrug of delicate shoulders in return. She wasn’t taking him seriously. God damn it, she needed to take him seriously.
“Jordan—” Hayley started quickly, but he interrupted before she could get any words out. He took a step towards her, his free hand gripping her arm.
“You should have let us know where you were.”
“Just so I don’t go ripping up the area looking for you.” He realized he was shaking her, unaware of anything else, his temper making his actions sharp, until a hand rested on his arm.
“She was with me.” A low voice was in his ear, lost in the sound of a gasp from Anna, then complete and utter silence for a second as a tableau of shocked, frozen people engraved itself on Jordan’s mind.
It was Anna who broke the awkward silence, launching herself at the son she hadn’t seen in too long. Jordan’s softly spoken “Kieran” was drowned out by Anna’s squeal, the rush of hugs and welcomes and the refrains of why didn’t you tell me? Everyone talked over each other with laughter and jokes.
Typical. After all this time, Kieran freaking Addison walks through the door, and suddenly everyone conveniently forgets how he ran out and left them all.
Jordan stared at the man who had shaken his world to the roots. He struggled to see the boy who had left only days after that rainy Tuesday when they had buried Brad. This was a different Kieran —not a boy, but a man. Gone were the uncoordinated lankiness of youth and the floppy blond bangs that were forever determined to cover his gray eyes. Instead here was a man in control—tall, strong, with styled, shorter hair, and a gaze that wouldn’t meet Jordan’s. When it came down to it, Jordan felt the shock driving into him that Kieran Addison had deigned to return to the Addison fold at all. He waited, watching Anna welcome home the prodigal son, allowing the moments of reconnection. Then he said the first thing that came to his mind as he looked at Kieran and cursed his arrival for so many reasons he couldn’t begin to list.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.
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