Series and Number: “Connection” Series Book 2 of a 2-part series
Publisher: Two Peninsulas Press (Indie/Self-Published)
Publication Date: January 28, 2016
Word Count /or Page Number: 82,107/232
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Evan Harris thinks his relationship with Jeremy Lewis is going well. But when Jeremy bolts, Evan is left nursing a broken heart. Jeremy loves Evan, but his inability to trust holds him back from facing his past head on and building the future he desperately wants. Evan’s patience is at the breaking point, and he struggles to decide if Jeremy deserves another chance.
Scarred by his own parents’ treatment of him, Jeremy doesn’t trust Evan’s mother’s motives when she reappears in Evan’s life after his father lands in jail. The ensuing disagreement about his concerns puts further pressure on their developing relationship.
Unless Jeremy can learn to trust and Evan can let go of past hurts, they’ll miss out on the relationship they’ve both been searching for.
Jeremy wrestled his shoe on and stood. He swayed on his feet for a second as his skin went chalky again. Evan reached for him, but Jeremy shook him off. His anger seemed to dissipate as his shoulders dropped and his voice softened slightly. “Look, it’s time you find out what the rest of the world is like. Go meet guys, go be young and stupid.” He ran his thumb across Evan’s cheek, his smile sad and wistful. “Just not too stupid.”
Evan stared at him. “And what will you being doing?”
Jeremy’s voice came out gruff. “Feeling lucky I was your first for a few things.”
“Don’t do this, Jeremy.” Evan hated the way he sounded, like he was pleading with him. He wanted to drop to his knees and beg Jeremy to stay, but he was afraid that would only make things work. That it would make Evan seem weak in Jeremy’s eyes. “Please.”
“I can’t be the guy you’re looking for,” Jeremy murmured. “You have no idea how much I wish I could, but it’s not possible.”
“Why?” He winced, hating the way his voice cracked. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m too ... damaged and I have too much of my own shit to deal with. I can barely manage to give you a handjob much less anything else. I’m not able to be what you need. I’d be a shitty boyfriend.”
Evan straightened and brushed away the tears. “What if—if you didn’t have to commit to me and we ... we slept together. It wouldn’t have to mean anything. Give me rules about where I can touch you. You can keep your pants on. I don’t care.” Right then, he wanted anything, whatever Jeremy would give him.
Anything but losing him.
“I’m in no shape for sex and you deserve a hell of lot more than a cripple for a lover.” Jeremy’s voice was surprisingly gentle. “And let’s be honest, it’s more than sex, isn’t it? You want the rest too. Wouldn’t it hurt you to wonder why you weren’t good enough for me to commit to?”
Evan flinched. “I wouldn’t,” he protested, but he knew he was lying.
“You would. And I know I’m hurting you now, but it’ll hurt a lot less than some half-assed non-relationship.” Jeremy brushed Evan’s hair off his forehead. “I care about you, Evan, way more than I should. What happened last night was a mistake and we can’t repeat it.”
“Wasn’t it good?”
“It was perfect.” Jeremy sighed, the corner of his mouth twisting up in a sad smile. “But that makes it worse, right? I can’t give you what you need and it’s going to end badly if we continue. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, Evan.”
“You already have,” Evan whispered.
“Oh, kid.” Jeremy wrapped his arms around Evan and he collapsed gratefully, his cheek against Jeremy’s shoulder. “I know. And I’m sorry.”
Brigham Vaughn has a way with heartbreak! In Trust we truly are taking a ride on the relationship roller coaster.
First off, Connection is book 1 and you need to read that before Trust because Trust begins where Connection ends... The next morning. It's important you know that.
That said... So, Evan and Jeremy... these boys! They are extremely frustrating. I wanted to beat them over the head so many times when I was reading this. Other times I wanted to hug them and tell them to take a deep breath.
See, the title of this book is truly the essence of the whole story. Jeremy runs. Evan's heart breaks. Trust is fractured. Trust is literally the hardest thing to obtain in any relationship. When it's broken, lost, or questioned it never comes back whole... if it comes back at all.
We watch these two come together, break apart, and come together. And I have to say it's quite beautiful if not utterly tragic at the same time. I felt like I survived a tornado when it was over. At one point I was like Will Farrel in Anchorman. I actually shouted, "I'm in a glass case of emotion!"
I think both of these books are worth a read and you have to embrace the feelings it will evoke!
This is a scene I really enjoyed writing, but cut because of pacing. Jeremy has been jealous of Chris and Evan’s friendship, and reluctantly decides that meeting Chris will help him get over it. Max is Chris’ dog.
“You brought Max!” Evan’s eyes lit up as he dropped to his knees and Jeremy watched the dog enthusiastically slobbering on Evan’s face.
“Yeah, I hope that’s okay,” Chris said jacket. His voice was deeper than Jeremy remembered. Damn it, does he have to be that fit and have a great voice? Jeremy grumbled to himself. The guy’s shoulders were massive.
“It’s awesome,” Evan said, glancing up at Jeremy and he reluctantly nodded his agreement. He liked dogs the brown and white mutt was pretty damn cute. He’d heard Evan rave about the dog enough times to know that Evan was crazy about it and he was hardly going to turn Chris away just because he’d brought his dog.
Hell, Evan had showed him the Instagram account Chris had for the dog and he found himself checking it sometimes just for the hell out of it. It was cute and watching the dog grow from a puppy into a gangly young dog was pretty entertaining even if he sneered at all of the shirtless pics of Chris that ended up there too.
The account had plenty of followers that Jeremy was sure didn’t give a shit about the dog at all.
“Come on in,” Jeremy said and Evan stood, giving Max one last pat on the head.
Chris stepped inside and shut the door behind him. He reached down to unclip Max’s leash, then froze. “This okay?”
“Sure,” Jeremy said. “Turn him loose. Although … wait. Is he a shoe chewer?” He seemed to remember a picture Chris had posted of the dog with a pair of chewed up expensive looking leather shoes.
Chris sighed and ran a hand across his buzz cut hair. “Sometimes? I’m working on it.”
“I’ll go shut the bedroom door,” Evan said, scurrying away. Jeremy kicked a pair of Evan’s running shoes and his own work shoes into the closet, then shut it. “You can let him loose now. I can’t think of anything else he might get into, so you should be good.”
“Thanks.” Chris shot him a grateful smile and let go of Max’s collar, stuffing the leash into his jacket pocket.
“Um, here, let me take your coat,” Jeremy offered. They’d had a cold snap that week and it was definitely feeling like winter was on its way.
“Thanks.” Chris seemed as nervous as he was as he rocked back and forth on his heels as Jeremy hung up his coat and closed the closet door again. Max scampered further into the apartment, making a beeline for Evan who stood in the middle of the living room.
“So, uh, what do you do for a living?” Jeremy asked as he and Chris followed more slowly. “I am sure Evan mentioned it at some point, but …”
“Insurance actuary,” Chris said and gave him a wry grin. “You want the long or short explanation?”
“I’m not sure I need either,” Jeremy said as he took a seat. Evan was now on the floor, being slobbered on by Max. “I was a business major at UGA and took some accounting classes. I have a fair idea of what the job entails.”
“Oh, great!” Chris said laughing as he sat on the other end of the couch. “It’s nice to talk to someone who has a clue. I’m used to blank looks.”
Jeremy cracked a smile. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
“So, what is it you do?” Chris asked. “You said you’re in business, right?”
Jeremy’s laugh was hollow. “Not exactly. I had planned to get my MBA but I was involved in a pretty awful car accident in college and I never finished. It’s—it’s a long story but I had a head injury and wasn’t able to focus for a long time. I probably could go back now but I am not sure I have the desire anymore. I’m a manager at Johnson’s Sporting Goods.”
“Oh wow.” Chris gave him a sympathetic smile. “That must have been rough. Recovering from an accident like that I mean.”
No shit, Jeremy thought, stifling a sigh. “Yeah, it was,” he admitted. He really wanted to hate Chris but there was nothing but sincerity in his blue eyes.
“Do you want something to drink, Chris?” Evan asked, standing up. “Jeremy and I don’t drink alcohol much, but there’s Coke or water. Milk too.”
“Coke would be great,” Chris said.
Max scampered toward Jeremy as Evan walked toward the kitchen. The dogs limbs and feet seemed too long for its body and Jeremy idly wondered how big it would get once it was fully-grown. He nudged Jeremy’s hand and gave him a friendly lick. “This is not a shy dog, is it?” he commented.
“Not at all. I think Max communicates via his tongue.”
“I’ve met a few people like that,” Jeremy muttered under his breath and Chris laughed.
“Yeah. Me too.”
Jeremy groaned internally, wished he wasn’t suddenly picturing Chris and Evan kissing. He rubbed at his forehead as he struggled to find a different topic of conversation. He was grateful when Evan appeared with drinks.
“Dinner is almost ready. I just have to put the pasta in the water and throw garlic bread in the oven. The sauce has been cooking a while.”
“Need any help?” Jeremy asked.
Evan smiled and shook his head. “I’m all set.”
Jeremy cracked open the can of Coke and glanced up at Chris. “So Evan said you have a live-in boyfriend? You could have brought him tonight.”
Chris took a sip of his drink and let out a strained sounding laugh. “Um, not a boyfriend at this point. He’s more of a live-in nuisance. I wanted things to work out, but at this point the guy is more or less just a freeloader I can’t get rid of. I have pretty awful taste in men.”
“You liked Evan,” Jeremy pointed out, his tone coming out sharper than he intended. He glanced over at his boyfriend who had his head stuck in the pantry and didn’t seem to be paying any attention.
Chris shrugged. “I do like Evan, as a friend. Yeah, if he’d been interested last summer I would have dated him, but he was in love with you so clearly that wasn’t meant to be.” His eyes narrowed. “I hope you don’t think I’m pursuing him now.”
“The thought had crossed my mind,” Jeremy admitted, setting his drink on the coffee table.
“Well, please don’t. Evan’s a great guy and I’d like to be friends with him, but I wouldn’t poach another man’s boyfriends, even if I thought it were possible. Evan’s completely and totally in love with you.” Chris’ voice was quiet but earnest.
Jeremy looked down at his hands. “I’m … I’m sorry. That was uncalled for on my part. I’m still struggling with some insecurities.” He fucking hated admitting that, but Chris seemed completely sincere and Jeremy had promised Evan he’d try to get to know the guy.
“Dinner’s ready!” Evan said loudly.
Wondering if Evan had overheard their conversation, Jeremy stood and walked toward him. He searched Evan’s face for signs he’d been bothered by it, but there was nothing Jeremy could see. Evan gave him a quizzical smile, tilting his head as if puzzled by Evan’s scrutiny.
“Need help carrying food to the table?” Jeremy asked.
Eating broke the ice a little, although Evan and Chris carried most of the conversation. Jeremy watched them interact, but he eventually had to concede there was nothing even remotely flirtatious about it. Hell, he was pretty sure Evan had more chemistry with the dog than he did with Chris. Evan had been right, meeting Chris had put Jeremy’s fears to rest about their friendships.
Max nudged Jeremy’s knee and he reached down to scratch his ears.
“What do you think about getting a dog someday, Evan?” he asked. Evan froze with a piece of garlic bread halfway to his mouth and his eyes lit up.
“I would love that.”
Chris grinned. “Awesome. I’m definitely calling you guys if I go out of town and need someone to watch Max for me.”
Jeremy pretended to groan, but he was too busy imagining a future with Evan and a dog in it to upset by the idea.
Brigham Vaughn is starting the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.
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