Lee Brazil’s Heart of Clay and Havan Fellows’ Chance at Trust
So very excited to have Havan and Lee join me again today. If you’d like to see the shenanigans we got up to last time they stopped by together, you can do so here. They join me to show off each of their latest releases. Lee’s got Heart of Clay while Havan has Chance at Trust. Both books sound wonderful and I cannot wait to read them. Lee and Havan were kind enough to write an amazing book crossover that you can only read here! After you bask in the awesome, read all about both books with excerpts of each that will make you want to keep reading. At the very bottom enter for a chance to win one of two ARe giftcards.
Good morning everyone! Welcome to the tour. I’m Lee…and that’s Havan. We’re thrilled to be at Amanda’s place today. We came to chat about our books, Heart of Clay and Chance at Trust, but Amanda had other ideas.
Now we’ve visited Amanda before, and besides the fact that she has some awesome coffee and we love her scones…don’t let her innocent demeanor fool you…she’s a sneaky one. She really hit it out of the park with her suggestion for us…
She requested we write an exclusive for her blog only—a short scene where Clay & Brad from Heart of Clay meet Em & Penn from Chance at Trust. We were intrigued by this suggestion…and a tad bit obscenely excited too *winks*.
So here you go…all four of our guys having a chance run in with each other…hope you enjoy. 🙂
“Are you sure this is the right way?” Penn squinted his eyes into the sun and tried to make some sense of his directional skills.
Em scrolled through his phone in the passenger seat, his finger flying over the screen. Penn noticed–even while driving–that there was a flutter of nervousness to Em’s movements.
“Yeah. I think so. Oh shit, I’m not sure.” He dropped his phone in his turmoil.
Penn reached over and rubbed his boyfriend’s thigh, trying to find a medium between understanding and patronizing. Em was still fidgety enough that a kind word went a long way with him. “Hey, calm down. So what if we don’t find the farm stand your friend told you about. Look at this countryside…the drive alone is worth the price of admission, you know?”
Reaching down to pick up his phone, Em smacked his head on the dashboard. “Fuck,” he mumbled under his breath.
Penn chuckled. His boyfriend was an oxymoron if there ever was one–so hesitant and unsure while at the same time being quite loud and outspoken. Who knew those two went together so well and were damn hot to boot.
“There!” Em bounced in his seat, pointing to the left side of the dirt road. “There it is.
Oh wow, it’s bigger than I thought.”
Em elbowed him softly while chuckling. “I was talking about the fruit stand.”
“So was I.”
The laughed as Penn slowed to make the left hand turn into the makeshift parking lot.
“You know, I heard the strawberries here are sweet and so big. I thought homemade shortcake for dessert tonight.”
Penn lost himself in Em’s excited smile. “You talk like that and we may just be having dess–”
Both men jerked forward as far as their seatbelts let them before crashing back into their seats. A huge metal on metal grinding noise accompanied their impromptu position rearranging.
“Oh shit.” Penn mumbled to himself as he shook his head to clear the fog so he could figure out what just happened.
Oh shit! Car accident!
“Are you okay?” Penn asked Em before he even swiveled his torso around to assess if his boyfriend was hurt.
“I don’t think I ever had whiplash before. But damn it hurts.” Em whispered, a pained expression on his face as he massaged the back of his neck.
In a heartbeat Penn had the car thrown in park and the engine turned off so he could unbuckle his seatbelt and turn toward Em. “Let’s hope it isn’t that serious,” he mumbled absentmindedly, remembering how his uncle was hospitalized when he suffered severe whiplash years ago. “Don’t move…I’m gonna come around to your side of the car.”
“Really, it isn’t that bad…”
Penn ignored Em’s denials and jumped out of the car.
“Shit!” Brad jerked his hand off Clay’s knee and broke off their kiss abruptly. “Damn it!” He slammed one foot on the brakes and jerked the truck into park, craning all the time to see over his shoulder. “We hit something!”
Clay placed a calming hand on Brad’s shoulder. “Calm down. It’s nothing.”
Nothing? “Nothing? If I lose any more points on my license you’ll be playing taxi driver for the next five years.” He realized he was shaking with after effects and gripping the steering wheel tightly in both hands. Beads of sweat broke out on his brow. Probably should have mentioned those DUI’s before now.. but fuck it all, he really had quit drinking this time. Been clean and sober for months, since Clay had reentered his life.
“Brad?” Clay’s voice was soft. Outside, a car door slammed, followed by another and Brad forced himself to breathe. “It’s okay honey. Get out, and let’s talk to these guys, see what the damage is.”
“Right.” Clay wasn’t taking him up on the points comment, but Brad knew the story would have to come out later. He forced himself to get out of the truck, regretting the loss of Clay’s touch as his lover climbed out the other side. For a few brief seconds he felt so alone… Watching the big man tuck the small one under his arm like a mother hen with a chick, the trepidation faded. A tiny smile tickled the corners of his mouth, and when he heard footsteps on gravel, Brad held out a hand to Clay with out taking his gaze off the tender couple.
“Oh…” Clay breathed beside him as the tall man bent to kiss the smaller, who seemed to relax visibly. “Isn’t that cute?”
Brad cut a dark glance at Clay, suspecting him of sarcasm, but the bemused look on his lover’s face spoke to his sincerity. “Yeah… kind of inspiring, huh?”
Clay barked a laugh that made the other two men jerk apart and look in their direction. “That’s what got us in trouble in the first place, but if you’re up for it, I’m game.”
Before he could answer, Brad found himself swept into an warm embrace, tilted backward at a dramatic angle and soundly kissed. He clutched automatically at Clay’s broad shoulders for support, and his mouth parted. If he’d planned to protest, it was already too late. Clay’s tongue swept inside, licking and teasing until Brad forgot they were in the parking lot of Elmer Tracy’s fruit stand, and kissed back.
Applause, restrained, amused, broke them apart.
“Well,” The big man’s eyes twinkled as he held out a hand. “Now that we’ve revealed the deepest darkest secrets… perhaps introductions are in order? I’m Penn, and this is my boyfriend, Em.”
“Brad and Clay.” Brad took the man’s hand, noticed Clay shaking with Em, and they swapped partners as he continued. “I’m sorry. I looked back and I swear the way was clear, but then… I was distracted.” He peered at the bumper of the car where it just kissed the rear of his truck. “How bad is the damage?”
Penn shook his head. “Not bad. I think we can just exchange insurance information and leave the police out of it.”
Brad shook his head. “I’d prefer to pay the damages out of pocket. I have a pretty decent policy, but if I report another accident they’ll raise my rates.”
Penn’s brows drew together, Em bit his lip. Brad braced himself for an argument. Clay stepped in. “It’s okay. We’re local, and I promise we’re good for it. Elmer will vouch for Brad’s name and address, if it makes you feel more comfortable.”
Em looked at the damage to Penn’s car. Surprising enough it really was minimal considering the gnash of metal that came from the accident. Perhaps three to four hundred dollars at most…and if his best friend Joss was still boinking that body shop guy it would be even less. Joss loved it when Em pimped him out for favors, though Em and Penn played it safe and never asked him to expand on why that was.
Everyone had a history, something in their closet they weren’t willing or ready to share. God knew that Penn was nothing but patient with Em about sharing the details of his past abusive relationship. Just because this couple…this guy Brad wanted to do things different didn’t necessarily equate to bad.
“You know, Penn…I bet we can come up with a satisfactory compromise.” He gripped Penn’s hand and squeezed, hoping to communicate that this wasn’t worth anyone walking away unhappy.
Penn cocked his head, staring at Em for a moment before a dazzling smile crossed his face and he tugged Em back into his side.
“I thoroughly agree. Um…Brad?” He nodded at the one on their right.
They both chuckled.
“Sorry, I suck at names. But you said you two were friends with the proprietor of this stand?”
“Uh…yeah.” Brad intervened.
“Well, Em here has his heart set on some fresh shortcake for dessert tonight, and honestly, neither of us have ever been to a farm stand like this before. Think you guys can hook us up with the best local picks and we can call it even?”
We hope this tweaks your interest about our boys…and thank you so much for visiting with Amanda and us today. 🙂 Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter drawing for your chance to win one of two gift cards we’ll be giving out. *waves*
The ghost at the heart of the problem…
Clayton Merk, accomplished, yet arrogant, businessman, has a reputation for one-night stands and being steadfastly anti-relationship. When he decides to return home—to the root of all his problems—he brings a co-worker with him as a buffer against the past. Even though he’s ready to lay old ghosts to rest, he certainly didn’t expect a literal ghost to lend a hand.
Brad Jorgensen, Clay’s former best friend, has also clung to the past in an unhealthy way. He resents Clay for a lot of things, not the least of which is his cousin’s death decades earlier. At one time they’d been closer than brothers, but blame and anger are powerful weapons of destruction, and they’ve left Brad in a wasteland of self-doubt, hatred, and loneliness.
The ghost at the heart of the problem has had enough. Bobby isn’t pleased with his cousin or his ex. Their refusal to let go of the past has kept him on a plane where he doesn’t belong and isn’t at home. He’s expended all his energy trying to get through to Brad, without success, but Clay’s return finally gives him a foot in the door…or out the door.
If he could just get the two stubborn men together.
Seeing Clay there, sitting in the tall grass on the bench where they—he and his cousin Bobby—had first discovered him all those years earlier, sent Brad right over the edge. He’d been poised on that precipice all day, since he’d heard the rumors down at the gas station that not only had Clayton Merk come back to town to visit his grandparents at long last, but he’d brought a boyfriend with him.
Millie Atwatter seemed to take a great deal of venomous pleasure in sharing that little detail, even going so far as to describe the poor unfortunate soul—in her own words—though he couldn’t argue with that assessment. Anyone who loved Clay Merk was destined for misfortune.
His grip tightened on the hedge trimmers he’d planned to use to cut back low hanging branches of the old tree. If he didn’t make some effort with the ancient tree, this whole corner of his field would be full of rotting peaches half the summer. It was therapeutic when nostalgia overcame him to come down here and trim back the new growth. Usually he spent the time pretending that every twig he snipped was Clayton Merk’s neck…
Brad Jorgenson counseled teens against violence, against acting on the spur of the moment, but it was all he could do not to swing at the man with the heavy clippers.
“You still holding a grudge, Brad? I earned that slot as valedictorian. Not my fault you bombed the chem two final.”
The flippant, deliberate obfuscation was too much. As if having a GPA of one one hundredth of one percent less than this man fifteen years ago were the worst of the things that lay between them? If he were honest, seeing Clay was too much. He flung the clippers aside and launched himself over the fence, lunging to knock Clay off the bench. He couldn’t even claim he acted in the heat of the moment. “Fuck you!”
And still…after all these years Clay was capable of making him do things, say things he normally wouldn’t! His momentum carried them both over the back of the bench and into the tall grass, and Brad let his anger loose, the slow burning ember that had emerged from the ashes of his soul where he thought he’d buried it long ago.
Rolling and wrestling was tricky though, when Clay didn’t even bother to fight back. Eventually, his supposed opponent’s inertia sank through and Brad realized what he’d done. “I don’t give a damn about who graduated first in our class.” He lurched upright, propelling himself backward, glaring down at Clay, who pushed himself up on his elbows. “And that’s not what’s kept you from coming back here all these years either.”
A sneer twisted Clay’s full lips, “You think you kept me from coming back? Maybe you think I was afraid? You don’t know me, where I’ve been or what I’ve done. I had reason not to come around here, and it had nothing to do with you.”
The tiny kernel of truth in the barrage of lies stung. “Everyone in town knows what you’ve done and where you’ve gone, Clay.” And it wasn’t prison, which was where the majority of them thought he should have gone. “Your grandparents told us all of it. And I never presumed that your absence had anything to do with me, just as I knew your presence had nothing to do with me.”
His heart rate was slowing, cold sweat dampened his T-shirt. And with the fading of the heat, came the tangle of other emotions, disappointment, sorrow, grief. And lust, to his shame, reared its ugly head now as it had so long ago.
Clay Merk was even more sissified city boy now than he had been when he’d come out here all those years ago. His polo shirt had some kind of logo embroidered on it, but it stretched across broad shoulders and clung to thick muscles quite nicely, as did the knife-creased khaki shorts. He knew from their brief tussle that Clay was a little softer in the middle than he’d been as a high school athlete, but not enough to make him unattractive, not enough to counteract the effects of those deep blue eyes and that oh-so-tempting, lushly curved lower lip, damn it.
“You’re holding my grandparents’ gossip against me?” Clay sounded callous, scathing. “Well, the gossip goes two ways, you know.”
The strength to walk away from an abusive long-term relationship proves Em is a survivor. But surviving isn’t necessarily living, and Em has created a life on a plateau of his own making, not even entertaining the idea of a new boyfriend. When he shows interest in a very sexy barista, his best friend sees a chance to open Em’s eyes to the possibilities in life.
Penn couldn’t help his double and triple take when the sexy man walked into his mother’s coffee shop. Priding himself on always remaining calm and collected in all situations, Penn is surprised by the strength of his attraction for this stranger. When the stranger’s loud-mouthed friend proposes a way for Penn to see Em again, he takes it.
While Em comes with baggage—his eyes tell a story of pain and distrust—Penn isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, especially when his heart is so quickly getting tied up in the equation, and he’s prepared to break through Em’s walls and give him a chance to trust.
Em looked up and didn’t see Joss or the barista, Penn, anywhere. A pretty black-haired girl with streaks of platinum white running through her thick locks now manned the open cash register.
Boy, that was just perfect. Even if Em didn’t plan to trust a man again—ever, which meant no relationship with a sexy as hell barista—it would’ve been nice to at least not look like a complete ass. But god, that was the first man in forever to make his body stand up and take notice. The dull throb in his jeans proved his erection didn’t give a damn that he acted the moron, it just wanted a shot to climb that mountain.
He sighed to himself. A long time ago he made peace with the fact that he’d be single the remainder of his life. After his abusive relationship with David ended two years ago, he knew that was it. Taking solace in the fact that he never loved David and hadn’t suffered from physical abuse didn’t alleviate the pain he’d incurred on a regular basis.
Though physical abuse was horrible in and of itself, Em could attest that mental and verbal abuse could cripple a person just as surely as a destructive blow to one’s head…the only difference was that you didn’t have a pretty scar to prove to the nonbelievers that it ever happened.
Yeah, he faced the doubters when he first escaped from David’s clutches. There were no visible scars and no trips to the emergency room photographed and documented in a neat little manila folder somewhere—so he wasn’t really abused, right? Most people thought it probably just resided in his mind—he was too sensitive or touchy to deal with David’s strong personality.
Em snorted when he remembered how one therapist actually used air quotes when mentioning David’s “strong” personality. That was when he gave up on therapy altogether.
It didn’t matter that every time someone raised their voice around Em, he shuddered and flinched, or when someone looked at him funny, the first thought that would pop into his head was that they were making jokes about him, talking about him behind his back, laughing at the worthless being he was.
Who cared that he muttered apologies left and right for things that weren’t his fault? He’d been conditioned to immediately appease anyone he might’ve offended. It all came second nature to him. He didn’t even realize when he would do it.
But most people would say those scars weren’t real. They didn’t matter.
But they mattered to Em. They were real to him. They were debilitating in his everyday life.
And that was why he would never allow another man close to his heart again. He built up some good sturdy walls and he stayed safely locked behind them. No one would ever be in a position to hurt him again…because if you didn’t allow yourself to feel then the hurt couldn’t reach you.
About The Authors:
Somewhere in a small town in up-state New York are a librarian and a second grade teacher to whom I owe my life. That might be a touch dramatic, but it’s nevertheless one hundred percent true.
Because they taught me the joy of reading, of escaping into worlds crafted of words.
Have you ever been nine years old and sure of nothing so much as that you don’t belong? Looked at the world from behind glasses, and wondered why you don’t fit?
Someone hands you a book, and then you turn the page and see… There you are, running from Injun Joe in a dark graveyard; there you are fencing with Athos; there you are…beneath the deep blue sea- marveling at exotic creatures with Captain Nemo.
I found myself between the pages of books, and that is why I write now. It’s why I taught English and literature for so many years, and it’s why my house contains more pounds of books than furniture.
If I’d had my way, I’d have been a fencer…or a starship captain, or a lawyer, or a detective solving crimes. But instead, I am a writer, and I’ve come to realize that’s the best thing in the world to be, because as a writer, I can be all those things and more.
If I hadn’t learned to value the stories between the pages, who knows what would have happened? Certainly not college…teaching…or writing.
I annoy, love, respect, scare, seduce, hurt, anger, infatuate, frustrate, flatter, envy, amuse and tolerate everyone. I just do it better in writing thanks to a little thing called…edits.
Okay no, seriously…I’m a simpleminded person who enjoys the escape from real life through a book. I write with the group Story Orgy and hope to continue doing so for a long time. I also am privileged to be with the Pulp Friction writers, creating intermingling books in a world all our own.
I recently took the drastic step of quitting my EDJ (evil day job) and am now living in the gorgeous desert in Arizona making a go at this writing stuff full time…and I can’t see me regretting this decision ever.
Just like every other red-blooded human—I get a little bouncy when I get mail (any kind too…email, comments, private messages…you wanna do it, do it with me *winks*). So feel free to drop me a line—whether it’s on my blog, twitter, Pinterest, or you track me down on Facebook or Google +…it’s easy to catch someone who wants to be caught.
Lee’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lee.brazil
Lee’s Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/leebrazilauthor
Lee’s Twitter: @leebrazil
Lee’s Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/leebrazil/
Havan’s Blog: http://havanshawthaven.blogspot.com
Havan’s Email: email@example.com
Havan’s Twitter: @havanfellows
Havan’s Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/havanfellows/
Havan’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HavanFellowsauthor
Havan’s Google +: https://plus.google.com/100539863028704367957/posts
Pulp Friction Love FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/369329926547263
Heart of Clay:
Chance at Trust:
20-Apr: Bike Book Reviews, Molly Lolly
21-Apr: the Twins: Talon ps & Princess so, Amanda C. Stone
22-Apr: MM Good Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Cathy Brockman Romances
23-Apr: Cate Ashwood, BFD Book Blog
24-Apr: Iyana Jenna, Inked Rainbow Reads, Velvet Panic
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