Today I am so pleased to welcome Beth Bolden to Joyfully Jay. Beth has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Terrible Things. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
“What about you?” Leo asked quietly. “Would you try again?”
Caleb had said he was still in love with him, but he didn’t necessarily mean that he wanted to get back together. A hard lesson that Leo had learned over the years was that sometimes, love just wasn’t enough. Even if he could forgive Caleb, that didn’t mean that Caleb would want to open himself up to everything that came with being Leo Humphries’ boyfriend. It would be stupid of Leo to assume that Caleb would just drop everything and fall at his feet if Leo deigned to take him back someday.
“I don’t know,” Caleb said, but Leo couldn’t miss the note of wonder in his voice that belied the uncertainty of his words. “I never thought it was a possibility.”
“Never once?” Leo asked persistently.
“I always wanted to, of course I did. But I wouldn’t let myself even think about it,” Caleb admitted. “I was pretty sure you’d hate me.”
“Hate and love aren’t so different,” Leo said. “But for the record, I don’t.”
Caleb didn’t say anything for so long that Leo wondered if he had said something wrong; if maybe he shouldn’t have asked Caleb at all. If maybe he shouldn’t have brought it up.
“I just . . .” Caleb finally spoke but he was clearly struggling. “I’m finally healthy, Leo. I’m finally myself again. I got myself back. I’m not ready to give me away again.”
Leo shouldn’t be shocked, but he was. “You think,” he stuttered. “You think I would make you relapse?” As soon as he said it, he knew the idea was ludicrous.
“Leo,” Caleb said patiently. “I loved you so much I destroyed myself. Does that sound healthy to you?”
“I don’t understand,” Leo said, and the problem was that he actually did understand. He shouldn’t have expected anything, and he’d told himself that he hadn’t, but he had. He’d expected Caleb to be ecstatic at the idea. Leo had expected that the decision would be his.
There was a part of him that was even annoyed. Here he was, practically tearing himself apart, figuring out if he wanted to take Caleb back, and Caleb didn’t even want to be taken back. It was a development that Leo should have been expecting, but wasn’t.
“You said you love me,” Leo said finally and he hated how petulant he sounded.
“Of course I love you.” Caleb gave Leo a look like he was the crazy one. “I’m never not going to love you. Whether we’re together or not, you’re it for me.”
“Right, okay. That makes no fucking sense.” He didn’t want to sound so angry, but he was angry.
“I can’t . . . not now. Not when I’ve just gotten me back,” Caleb said with a heavy sigh. “If you really are willing to give us another chance, I don’t intend to fuck it up again. And one of us would right now.”
Leo hated how much sense Caleb made. He leaned back on the grass. He couldn’t look Caleb in the eye when he said it. “I tried to go out and pick up a guy last week. With Benji.”
Tension crackled in the air. “And?” Clearly Caleb didn’t want to be jealous, but he was anyway. Leo understood those feelings all too well.
Leo picked at the grass. “I couldn’t do it. I’ve never been able to do it. Not since you left.”
“What I’m saying is that I’ve never been so fucking horny in my life,” Leo admitted pathetically.
Caleb laughed, long and low, and the sound sparked in Leo’s belly and lower. His cock, vaguely interested in everything to do with Caleb, was undeniably awake now. Leo shifted uncomfortably.
“I always thought it was silly how people thought we were so different,” Caleb said, his voice practically a caress against Leo’s heated skin. “But we’ve always been so alike.” He hesitated, like he knew he shouldn’t say anything else. “I couldn’t either.”
Leo looked up and Caleb shrugged. “It felt wrong,” he said, and Leo nodded in response. That was exactly how it had felt.
“But we can’t,” Caleb continued. “It doesn’t matter how much we want to. It wouldn’t fix anything.”
“It would fix all this sexual tension,” Leo offered hopefully, and Caleb laughed.
“I believe,” Caleb finally said. “I have to believe that if it’s right between us, if we’re right for each other, it’ll happen again.”
“It’ll just happen?” Leo knew how skeptical he sounded. He’d never been good with leaving his destiny in the hands of others. He’d always wanted to control it, thank you very much.
“When it’s right, we’ll know.” Caleb sounded so zen, but Leo just felt annoyed. Zen was not doing anything for his cock. Leo made a frustrated noise.
“Patience, Leo,” Caleb reminded him.
“You know I’m the least patient person in the whole world.”
“And I’m shitty at saying no. But we’re going to have to figure this out.” He sounded so sure, so certain that this would just happen.
“I guess,” Leo said darkly.
“You should go in and get some sleep. Big day tomorrow,” Caleb said.
Leo propped himself up and slowly got to his feet. Caleb followed suit and then they were just standing there, staring at each other.
“See you tomorrow, Leo,” Caleb said, beginning to turn away, and all of a sudden, Leo freaked out. All he could see was a dark, empty, bleak future stretched out ahead of him, so many years with nothing to look forward to—no warmth, no love, no Caleb—and he lost it.
It was so much to leave up to chance. It was their entire lives, and he couldn’t leave it so unsettled, so unfinished, when he wanted this man so much, even though he should know better.
“I can’t, I can’t,” Leo choked out, breath constricted in his suddenly tight throat, and even though they’d barely touched since Caleb had come back, it only took a moment for Caleb’s warm, solid arms to wrap around him, to ground him.
“You’ve got this, we’ve got this,” Caleb murmured into his hair. “I know it’s a lot to take on faith, but you’ve got to. Trust me, trust us. Please.”
Leo had trusted far, far too much in Caleb before, and look where that had gotten them. But he had to believe in something now, or he might actually break down. So he took one breath after another, holding onto Caleb like he was terrified to let him go. And he kind of was. He might never get Caleb back, and that thought terrified him so much that Leo had finally realized that what he wanted and what he should do were actually the very same thing.
He wanted Caleb. Any way he could get him. Even if he had to be patient.
When Caleb Chance walked out in Detroit five years ago, leaving his band, millions of his fans and his lover behind, Leo knew he could never forgive.
Some things, no matter what the cause, are unforgivable.
But Leo never expected Caleb to show up again, clean and sober and wanting to get their band, Star Shadow, back together. He definitely never expected to agree to Caleb’s plan.
He never expected to confront the love of his life again—or the disaster of his past, the hopelessness of his future, and every terrible thing he’s been carrying inside him.
But maybe some things aren’t so terrible after all.
A lifelong Pacific Northwester, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband. She still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to start a chapter of Keeping Durham Weird.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published eleven novels and four short stories, with the final book in the Kitchen Gods series, Indulge Me, coming in spring 2019.
Beth has brought a $15 Amazon gift card to give away to one lucky Joyfully Jay reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, January 31st at 11:59 pm ET.
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