Monday, February 20, 2012

Always Hope by Lisa Worrall


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Ash Watts has his life exactly how he wants it: burgeoning career, gorgeous boyfriend, and an apartment with a fabulous view of LA. But his perfect world comes crashing down around his ears when he learns of his only sister's untimely death. A small town isn't all he finds when he lands in Freedom, Alabama for Annie's funeral. This small town is brimming with secrets; secrets that could change Ash's life forever.

Kaleb Gibson, honest-to-God cowboy, and native of Freedom, born and bred, found his best friend the moment Annie Watts breezed into town. Her death left a gaping hole in his heart, and while Annie's brother may have her same dark hair and green eyes, Kaleb refuses to lose his heart all over again, and he can’t forgive the man for neglecting his sister when she needed him most.

Revelations from Annie's Will throw Kaleb and Ash together in ways they never imagined. Will Kaleb be able to carry out Annie’s last wishes without killing her beloved brother and without revealing a secret from his own past that could destroy everything? And will Ash stick around long enough to see that Freedom may hold an even more perfect life than he could have imagined?



The clock on the dashboard indicated it was almost four and the California sun was high in the sky when Mason pulled into the underground parking lot of Ash’s condo. Their arms full of backpacks and camping paraphernalia, the two men rode the elevator up to the fifteenth floor and then walked down the hall to Ash’s apartment. Inside, they dumped everything in the hall and Ash headed to the kitchen in search of beer before they attempted anything else. Mason had already made himself comfortable on the sofa, his legs over the arm as he flicked through his blackberry and checked the myriad of messages, from clients and colleagues alike, he’d received while they’d been away.

“Here you go, hot stuff,” Ash drawled, flopping down on the cushion Mason wasn’t occupying and let his fingers drift through the soft strands of Mason’s strawberry blond hair. “Jesus, couldn’t those rich bitches survive without you?” he asked, noting the number of messages his boyfriend still scrolled through.

“You said it yourself,” Mason grinned, tilting his head to look at Ash, “hot stuff, in demand.”

“Oh, right.” Ash shook his head and said sarcastically, “Must be such a curse.”

“I’m glad to see you’re noticing all the sacrifices I make,” Mason countered, then swore loudly. “Listen to this. Marianne Wheatley, you know she’s on that long running soap thing, I don’t even remember what it’s called, piece of crap is so dire—anyway, she needs me to call desperately because her ex took the dog for the weekend as per their agreement and he failed to return him. Fucking thing’s a cocker-poo for God’s sake, not a kid.” Tossing his blackberry onto the soft carpet, he shifted so that his head rested on Ash’s lap. “Remind me why I deal with these people?”

Ash smoothed his fingers over the frown Mason was now sporting and smiled softly. “Because they pay you ridiculous amounts of money so that you can keep me in a manner I am totally unaccustomed to,” he said without missing a beat, leaning down to capture his lover’s lips.

“Oh yeah,” Mason replied, “I knew there was a good reason.”

Ash kissed him again and sighed into the kiss as Mason’s tongue teased along the seam of his lips, and Ash gladly opened to him, licking his way into Mason’s mouth, chasing his tongue back into its dark cavern. He slid a hand beneath the hem of the other man’s T-shirt and his gut tightened at the low growl coming from Mason’s throat. Sliding his hand higher, his fingers found the flat disc of Mason’s nipple and pinched the sensitive flesh between a thumb and forefinger.


He didn’t find out what else Mason had planned to say, because of the loud banging at the front door. “Come /on/,” Ash complained with a whine. “We’re still on vacation until tomorrow, for crying out loud.”

With a rueful smile, Mason pressed a quick kiss to Ash’s lips and pushed himself up, “I’ll go, you stay there and look as sexy as hell.”

A few moments later, the front door closed and Mason’s bare feet slapped on the wooden flooring of the hallway as he returned to the living-room. Ash waited with his eyes closed and his head tipped back on the sofa cushion, a smile playing around his mouth. “Come on, hot stuff. I’m waiting,” he said in a parody of a come hither tone.


The way Mason said his name gave Ash the immediate feeling that he shouldn’t open his eyes. Every fiber of his being told him not to move. Whatever had caused Mason to sound like that couldn’t be good.

“Ashdon Watts?”

Ash didn’t recognize the second voice and he forced his eyes open, a fist tightening around his heart as he gazed up into the far too sympathetic gaze of an LA cop. He swallowed past the lump in his throat which may well have been his heart, he wasn’t sure. Ash nodded, unable to vocalize a response—/this is bad, this is very bad. /The way Mason sank onto the cushion beside him and gripped his hand tightly, wasn’t helping.

“I’m sorry, Mr Watts. I have some difficult news. There’s been an accident.”

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