Please welcome Brandon Witt upon the re-release of
The Shattered Door
This is a re-release of a previously published version with a new cover, without any substantial content changes.
After a tortured childhood and years of soul-searching, Brooke Morrison has finally settled into a comfortable life. While his sexuality prohibits him from practicing his degree in youth ministry in a church setting, he’s found a fulfilling job as a youth counselor at a residential treatment facility in Colorado. He falls in love, marries the man of his dreams, and makes peace with God. He’s happy.
Then his buried past drags him back to the Ozarks.
The life Brooke has worked so hard to build is crumbling in his hands in the face of painful memories and past abuse, and his confidence is withering. In El Dorado Springs, where his nightmares come to life, Brooke desperately seeks closure life doesn’t offer. Brooke must find value in himself, in his marriage, and in the world around him—and create the hope and perseverance to keep his past from swallowing him whole.
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I finally found the area I was looking for. Pans. After several seconds, I spotted the tag with the label I needed. Bottom shelf, of course. None sitting there for me to just pick up. I glanced around before I got down on my hands and knees and peered to the back of the rack. One left! I pushed aside other items that were in front of the one I wanted, pulled the pan out, and stood up quickly.
Pain shot through me as the back of my head crashed into something. White spots danced over my eyes. Whatever I’d hit fell to the floor and shattered. “Fuck!” I put my hand on the back of my head and began to rub and gradually straightened up.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you there!”
The voice came from behind me, and I turned around slowly, my face reddening. “Oh, no problem. I’m sorry I cursed. I’m not typically so vulgar; it just caught me off guard. I….” I stopped as I faced the person. Actually, as I turned my head upward to face the person. I couldn’t believe who was in front of me. I had no idea what to say.
“Don’t be silly. I would’ve cursed too! Again, I am very sorry. Apparently I’m not meant to purchase a ceramic casserole dish. At least, not that particular one.” He gestured to the shards around us on the floor and flashed a smile of perfectly white, perfectly straight, perfectly sized teeth. Perfect.
His eyes widened as he looked at my face. “Oh, it’s you! You seem to constantly be catching me when I’m not at my finest. First dancing in the elevator and now clubbering you with cooking ware.”
“Clubbering? Don’t you mean clobbering?” Dear God! Had I really just said that? These are the words I choose as an introduction? If only the dish could have hit my head hard enough to render me unconscious.
The man stared at me quizzically with a smirk on his face. His low voice was gentle. “Actually, I meant clubbering. I think it sounds better. What are you, a teacher or something?”
“Uhm, yeah. I mean, no, actually.”
“Not quite sure what you are? Must have hit you harder than I thought. You’re suffering from amnesia.” The man’s eyes twinkled.
“I’m a counselor, with kids,” I muttered.
“Oh, there I go, putting my foot in my mouth.” He laughed. His laugh was as deep as his voice—not too deep, just enough to have a sense of warmth to it. I liked the sound of it. He stuck out his hand. “My name’s Jed. Sorry to have clobbered you, as you say. I will try not to do any other physical harm to you in the foreseeable future.”
I readjusted the box I held and took Jed’s hand and gave it a firm but brief shake. “Brooke. I’m Brooke.”
“As in Brooke? James Brooke?”
I looked at him in confusion. “No. I’m not sure I know who that is.”
The man cocked his head, inspecting me. “Well, it seems I may have kicked loose my sense of humor when I stuck my foot in my mouth. I was making a James Bond reference. It was lame.”
“Oh, I see. I get it. Funny.” Perfect. Just perfect. Maybe I should have taken the amnesia excuse when I could. “Brooke is my first name, actually. Brooke Morrison.”
“Good to meet you, Brooke Morrison. Jed Travazza. What do you have there?” He motioned toward the box in my hand.
I glanced down. “Just a springform pan. The kids and I are making a pumpkin cookie-dough cheesecake tomorrow. We needed this.”
Jed’s grin deepened. “So, you teach home ec too, huh?”
“N-no, not exactly. I have a culinary club with the boys I work with. I’m teaching them to cook.” I’d never realized how lame that would sound if I was ever asked. I was going to have to find a different word other than culinary.
“Wow. Fancy.” He plucked the box from my grasp. “The springform pan is on me. Least I can do for nearly decapitating you.” He turned and headed to the registers in the front.
“Wait! No, you don’t need to do that. Really, I’m fine. Completely. I would feel bad if you bought that for me.”
Jed turned back to me and winked. “Well then, I take it back. It’s not for you. It’s my contribution to the culinary masters of the future. Heaven knows we need more people in the world who can make a good pumpkin cookie-dough cheesecake.” With a few more strides, he was handing the box to a salesclerk.
I watched in a near panic as he pulled out two twenties and handed them over. I had no idea what to say. No idea what I was supposed to do. What if I just walked away? Quickly.
“Don’t just stand there,” Jed said as he pocketed the change. “It wouldn’t do you any good if I ran off with your pan. It would be devastating to cause the children heartbreak.” He took long strides toward the front door.
I caught up with him outside the front entrance. “Really, you didn’t need to do that. I’m fine. Please, let me pay you back for that.”
“Now, quit thinking everything is about you. I’ve already told you, this is for the children, Mr. Self-absorbed.”
No words formed as my mouth continued to open and close. I wasn’t used to conversing with people I didn’t know, much less being teased by a total stranger.
“However, I am having a change of heart. I was feeling very philanthropic at the moment, but I’m having second thoughts. Now, I think I’d like to have some gratification from my good deed. Sometimes karma is a little slow with its retribution. Let’s speed it up a little bit, shall we?”
I was still staring blankly at him. “I can honestly say, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ll pay you back for the pan.”
“Oh goodness, what’s the fun in that? No, I’d prefer something much more intriguing. Let me think now….” He tapped his lower lip in mock pondering. “I’ve got it! I think karma would be served by you allowing me to take you out to dinner. Chinese? Maybe Indian or Thai?”
“Dinner?” I felt like my face was going to melt. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“Yeah, dinner. You know, most people sit down at a table this time of day and eat some sort of food. Many of those people call that experience dinner. Well, some call it supper, I suppose. But let’s not. So, dinner?”
“You want to take me to dinner? As in take me out to dinner?”
Jed’s face grew serious, and the amused glint faded from his eyes. His voice was hesitant. “Maybe I read you wrong. If I did, I’m sorry. I meant no offense. It’s just that I’ve noticed you at the gym several times and have always wanted to say something. Just never felt like the right time; I didn’t want to invade your space.”
“You noticed me? Why?”
He looked at me with narrowed eyes before he spoke. “You are a strange man, Brooke. Brooke Morrison. Most would say that you’re being coy on purpose, but I don’t think you are.”
I continued to stare at him, part in wonder, part in terror.
Jed reached out and put his hand on my shoulder, and I flinched at his touch. He kept his hand there. “So, what do you say? I don’t think I read you wrong. I’d greatly enjoy taking you to dinner. There’s no pressure. You say the word, and I’ll leave you alone.” He waited until I looked up into his eyes. “I hope you say yes, though.”
Jed’s hand was sending warm streams over my chest. I looked into his eyes. Brown eyes. Deep eyes. Eyes that seemed unguarded, kind, safe. I licked my lips cautiously and nodded.
Jed smiled and let his hand slide down to clasp my forearm. “Wonderful. Thank you.” His voice was so soft I had to lean forward to hear him. “Why don’t you come with me in my car, and I’ll bring you back here after dinner. You and your pan.”
I simply nodded once more.
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