Never Too Early: Finding Their Way
177 pages / 54000 words
Paperback at Amazon
Continuing from the first book in the series (Never Too Early: The Beginning), Chance and Tucker and Jake and Tor find themselves involved in a friendship that goes much deeper than any of them initially suspected.
Jake has been released from the hospital following his fall from the roof, and Chance and Tucker agree to stay in Arkansas for several days to help Tor with Jake's care. Chance, however, spends much of his time trying to resist the growing attraction he has for Jake. The confusion between the love he has for Tucker and the new feelings for Jake play tricks with Chance's mind. Is any of this a good idea, or are all of them headed for disaster?
For his part, Jake has to reconcile not only his growing feelings and physical attraction to Chance, but also the promises he and Tor made to each other. They rebuilt their own relationship in the wake of mistakes neither one of them wishes to repeat. How much communication and longing can one -- or two -- relationships take?
At the top of the stairs he took a brief moment to wish he'd given Tor a heads up, then decided Tor had as much of a heads up as any man could really expect. He tapped at the frame of the guest room door and prayed he wasn't about to mess up everything.
As Tucker had said, Chance was folding T-shirts and packing them neatly in his duffel. He glanced up at Jake's knock and gave him a brief smile. "Morning. How are you feeling?"
"Like less of a dickhead. Can I come in?"
Chance nodded at him and made room on the bed for Jake to sit. "Sure, of course. And don't worry about yesterday," he said, before Jake even had a chance to start talking. "Not a big deal."
"Well, I'm still sorry." Jake sat down and looked at Chance critically. "It was rude and I apologize. Also, Tucker says you didn't sleep well."
"Tucker has a big mouth," Chance said wryly. "But I guess I'll let it slide, since I kept him up. Just thinking, I guess. How'd you sleep?"
"I slept great, once Tor shut up and let me." He hoped he wasn't blushing, since the talking was done long before he'd gone to sleep. "I'm getting all soft, sleeping late like this. Soon enough I'll be sleeping in until noon."
"Nah." Chance shook his head and folded another T-shirt. "You're not the type. You're like me -- up and at 'em even on my day off. High tide comes early."
"Tide doesn't move me as much as cows and horses do -- they get awful hungry awful fast. Speaking of, Tucker made breakfast. Did you eat?"
"Yes. But not what he made." Chance laughed and tossed a pair of boxer briefs into his bag. "I had cereal and a banana. So how'd you like your first taste of huevos rancheros?"
"It was pretty delicious, but I'm waiting on my body to report back. That's napping food -- the kind that you eat and go back to bed." Jake figured Tor must have loved it. "Listen, I want to say thank you."
Chance looked up for a moment before turning back to his packing. "Not necessary."
Jake rolled his eyes. "Just listen to me, will you? It might not be necessary, but it's something I want to do, and it's something you deserve to hear."
Jake reached out and touched the back of Chance's hand. "Thank you for coming all this way to be with me. Thank you for coming to sit next to me, and for helping Tor. Thank you for everything you and Tucker have done around here, but mostly thank you for being someone I can count on." Jake nodded firmly and looked up into Chance's face, studying his eyes. "Thanks for caring so much."
Chance's gaze was steady and direct. "I didn't mean to," he said quietly. "I thought you were a good guy, that's all. I thought you were nice and funny and smart and easy to talk to. I didn't mean for there to be more than that."
Jake nodded. "I know. We all know. But there is, and I'm okay with that. Thankful for it, really. And so is Tor. And Tucker sent me upstairs to talk to you, and said not to let you overthink it." He smiled, trying not to shake with nerves. "So sit down here next to me and stop thinking."
Kind of surprisingly, Chance did as he was told. The bed dipped as he sat close to Jake. His eyes, which Jake had thought were hazel, appeared very green in the early morning sunlight that slanted through the bedroom window. "What else did Tucker say?"
"He said it's all right. And he said he's not going to get in the middle. Although his eyes got funny when I said the middle is an okay place to be, which is probably not what you were asking about and was wildly inappropriate of me to say, and now I can't shut up."
"You do that when you're nervous." Chance was closer now, looking at Jake carefully. "You ramble. Are you nervous?"
"Uh huh." Jake nodded. "Can't remember the last time I felt like this. No butterflies, I got a full on swarm of bees. Tell me you're here with me, that you know what I'm trying to say, that I'm not making a fool of myself for no reason."
Chance drew in even closer until Jake could see the fine gold tips of his lashes. "No," he murmured. "Definitely not making a fool of yourself." He lifted a hand and drew the backs of his fingers down Jake's cheek before cupping Jake's chin and leaning in to brush their mouths together.
Sometimes love is complicated.
Copyright 2016 Chris Owen