Title: Hard To Hold
Series: Haven's Cove
Author: Jaclyn Quinn
Word Count: 83,797
Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood
Perfect, happy, “Jonah the Savior”, that’s how most people see Jonah Taylor. What they don’t always see is how incredibly overwhelmed he is with his new business or how lonely he is. When a painfully shy man enters his wellness center, all Jonah wants to do is help break him out of his shell. The problem is, the attraction he feels to the nervous, timid man is undeniable.
Cameron Vaughn has let most of his life be decided for him. A traumatic event from his past has caused him to doubt every decision he makes. When he’s forced into a new, anxiety-ridden situation, his first instinct is to run. So, what is it about the owner of the wellness center that has him questioning everything he’s ever been told?
Can one man convince the other he’s worth saving? Can the other realize he’s strong enough to save himself? Together, can they prove that what they’ve found is worth holding on to?
Once in the office, Jonah turned around and breathed a small sigh of relief that at least now they didn’t have a nosy Gabe as an audience. He motioned to a chair next his desk. “Have a seat. So,” Jonah said as he sat down, “do you have any goals you want to meet as far as exercise or nutrition?”
Cameron squirmed in his seat a little, his unease showing through, but to his credit, he didn’t leave. Pulling at the front of his suit jacket, he shimmied out of it, and Jonah immediately reached for it. “Here, let me hang that up for you,” he said, a little too eagerly. The guy was less likely to escape without his jacket, right?
“Thanks. Uh…so I lost some weight over the last year―”
“That’s right. I’d noticed how hard you worked at the other gym.” In seeing Cameron blush, Jonah quickly added, “I like to see the progress that people make in the gym. It’s inspiring to see the transformations.” Nice one, Jonah. Tell the guy you were watching him. That’ll make him less nervous. Truth was, Cameron wasn’t the only one nervous. Sitting back in his chair, Jonah casually clasped his hands together, trying to ease some of the tension. “I’m sorry. I cut you off. So, you lost weight over the last year…”
Cameron bit his lip and looked down at his hands, and damned if he didn’t look cute, all shy and― Shit. Maybe it wasn’t just about helping this guy with weight loss. Jonah wanted to see him smile and wondered what it would take. He wanted to make the guy loosen up, have a little fun. He wanted to get him out of his shell and see what was underneath. He wanted to―
Fuck, Gabe was right. He really did need to get laid.
Cameron cleared his throat again, thankfully yanking Jonah out of his dirty thoughts. God, if the guy only knew…
“I-I guess you could say I’m stuck,” Cameron said softly. “I have a little more weight to lose, but what I’m doing isn’t working anymore. And…I want to gain some muscle. Not a lot…” He fidgeted with his hands, looking back down at his lap once again.
“Well, I can definitely help with that.” Jonah pulled a small book out of his desk drawer and handed it to Cameron. “Usually, I start with giving this out. It’s a food journal. Just write down what you eat for one week, and then we can meet again and go over it.” He saw the concern on Cameron’s face and tried to reassure him. “There’s no judgment here. I enjoy helping people, and I don’t think there should be any guilt or shame with getting healthy. Just do the best you can with it. Cool?”
Cameron’s facial expression had changed, surprise and confusion now covering it. Then Cameron looked down, and Jonah followed his gaze. Shit. He hadn’t even realized he’d reached out to cover Cameron’s hand with his own during his “no judgment” speech. Quickly, he pulled away. “I’m sorry. I get kind of passionate when I’m talking about getting healthy. I didn’t mean to―”
“N-No…it’s okay. Um, I’ve got to… I’m gonna get going. It’s getting late and I…came here straight from work.” He stood up fast, dropping the journal on the floor. Jonah leaned over to pick it up, and Cameron crouched down at the same time, banging their heads together. Coming up with his hand on his forehead, Cameron’s face turned beet red, his eyes widened, and he took a step back. “Oh my God, I’m sorry. I’ll uh…I’ll work on this. Thanks.” He held the journal up and backed toward the door, reaching out to grab his jacket and then fled the room.
Shit! Way to go, Jonah! He couldn’t believe he’d just done that. Jonah got up from his chair and followed Cameron out to the front of the gym. Cameron was fast and within seconds he was out the door and across the street to his car, his jacket still in hand. Turned out not having his jacket on didn’t slow down his escape at all.
“Jesus, Jonah. What did you do to the poor guy?” Gabe said jokingly and Jonah whipped his head around, breathing a sigh of relief that no one else was in the gym.
“I didn’t…I didn’t do anything. I―”
“Okay, calm down.” Gabe put his hands out in front of him to slow Jonah down. “I know you’ve always had a thing for me, but passing out is no way to get me to do mouth-to-mouth on you.”
Jonah looked at Gabe incredulously and said in a panic, “I don’t have a thing for you.”
Gabe smiled wickedly, leaning on the counter. His soft chuckle snapped Jonah out of it. Jonah hung his head, one hand on his forehead and one on his hip as he laughed and took a deep breath. He nervously stroked his left eyebrow and sighed. “He’s just so― I touched his hand. Fuck, I didn’t mean to. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, and he got so nervous.” Jonah stared at the spot that Cameron’s car used to be parked in and shook his head. Then he turned to Gabe and asked, “What if he doesn’t come back? I fucked up.”
About the Author
I have been an artist from a very young age. From drawing cartoon characters and evolving into portraits, making jewelry, photography, and now writing. I have an amazing support system in my family and friends and couldn’t be more grateful.
I live in central New Jersey, love summers at the Jersey Shore, rock music, wine, sexy men, and laughing a lot with my amazing friends and family. Sunday dinners at my parents’ house are crazy, hysterical and you can count on a movie quote…or ten…being thrown out. Insults between siblings is how we show our love for each other!
When I’m not creating, you can find me reading books from my favorite authors. I’m a hopeless romantic, starving for passionate characters and always craving that happy ending, whether in reading or in writing my own books.
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