Today I am so pleased to welcome Blake Allwood to Joyfully Jay. Blake has come to talk to us about his latest release, Family Home. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
“Listen, I just talked to Lisa and she’s comin’ this weekend. Like it or not, our dads are making decisions that affect all of us. Even if you don’t move back here, your father’s going to need to deal with the house and all the contents, so unless you plan to disappear again, you might as well stick around and help us work through all the details.”
I listened to Ash’s speech, and everything in me wanted to make some smart-ass comment and storm out. Unfortunately for me, I knew he was right.
“So, what do you propose, I shack up here with you? I’m sorry, Ash, but I’m not in the mood to see your next flavor of the month, much less be here while you’re fuckin’ them.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked. “I don’t have a flavor of the month. Shit, I don’t even have a flavor of the year. Do you not remember how hard my dad worked at the clinic? The population of Crawford is double what it was when we were kids, and I’m the only doctor in town, or was. I barely have time to sleep.”
“Are you wanting me to feel sorry for you?” I asked, surprised he thought I’d care.
“Todd, I have no expectations of you at all, except maybe to be an ass, and block everyone who tries to help you, or wants to be a part of your life.”
“Like you?” I asked, getting up to full steam. “’Cause, if I remember right, you were the one who ran off with the first person who looked your way.”
“And you’re the person who broke my heart!” Hurt laced his comment. Ash was sitting up now with his hands raking through his hair. “Listen,” he finally said, “we don’t have to rehash this.” He looked up at me with emotions swirling in his expression. “I told you I could go stay with Dad. You can have the house. It’s not like I’m gonna have much time to be here anyway. Just stay and let’s work all this out. Let’s help them work it out.”
I came over and all but fell onto the sofa, abandoning my suitcase.
“You hurt me,” I admitted before I lost my nerve.
“We’re really gonna do this?” he asked.
“Yeah, Ash, for fuck’s sake—” I said, massaging my temples. “—if I’m gonna stay here, in your house, and deal with the bomb our fathers dropped on us last night, then we’re gonna do this.”
He stared at me for a long moment, then took a deep breath. “You… broke… up… with… me.” His voice was barely a whisper, but the power of each word reverberated inside me.
“You were pushing me too hard. We were only sixteen! I wasn’t ready to marry you. Not like that was even an option back then.”
Talking over me, Ash replied, “It hurt me so bad when you broke things off. It was like you’d cut off one of my appendages. No, it was like you’d cut out my heart.”
“So, what…? You dated Jen and then Alex just to hurt me?”
“Probably,” Ash’s eyes dropped to the floor as he admitted that. “But…” he said, looking back up at me. “It was also to try to fill the void you left. Hell, we were only kids, and I’d just lost my best friend and boyfriend. I didn’t know how to deal with that kind of grief, still don’t.”
We stared at each other for what felt like forever. I let my mind flashback to that horrible day. I’d been so nervous my voice shook as I told him I wasn’t ready for all the getting married and going to college, and all the other plans Ash was piling on me. I just wanted him to calm down on the plans, not run off with someone else…
“Ash, you don’t understand what that was like. It still hurts when I think about it. I didn’t really break up with you. I just said I needed some space, and the next thing I know you’re necking with Jen behind the bleachers. I never said we were over, that I wanted us to be over…”
Ash’s face grew red then, and he shook his head. “You said we were over. I remember what you said, Todd. Do you think I wouldn’t remember that?”
“I said if we didn’t give each other space, we would be over. I was saying what your dad said to me the night before, that we needed to give each other some space before we ended up just like we fuckin’ did.”
“My dad?” Ash asked, his face registering what appeared to be shock.
“Well, of course, your dad. Who else was there for me back then? It sure as hell wasn’t my father. I’d gone to Doc for advice after you started pulling out magazines of weddings, and were talking about which college we’d both go to. Fuck, Ash, you’d planned my entire life out, and didn’t even give me a chance to share my own thoughts.”
When Ash continued to stare at me, I decided to continue with my side of the story—a story I doubted he’d ever heard before. “So, I went to Doc, and he said to tell you to back off before you destroyed our relationship.”
Ash’s mouth was agape, his body frozen in place. “So, my dad told you to say all that?” he finally asked, disbelief in his voice.
“Told me, no, advised me, yes. And he was right, Ash, you were over the top with all the wedding and life planning. I didn’t want to go to college. I never did. That was your dream. I didn’t wanna become whatever it was you said I should become. What was it? An engineer or something? I don’t even remember.”
“Civil engineer. ’Cause you were so good at math,” he said almost in a whisper.
“There ya go. I wanted my own dreams, not yours.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that? Why didn’t you…?”
“’Cause your fuckin’ tongue was down the throat of Jennifer Cole before I had a chance to.”
Ash wiped his face with both hands and shook his head. “I was so angry, I wanted you to hurt like I was. He chuckled bitterly then and shook his head. “You know, I’m not even bisexual, but Jennifer had always shown interest, and I was so upset over losing you…”
The revelation that he wasn’t even attracted to women, but had dated Jen anyway brought me up short. Ashton Nash was turning everything I thought I knew about him on its head, but I wasn’t gonna let another decade go by without saying my piece.
“You goin’ out with Jen is exactly why I’ve never been able to forgive you. I was trying to save our relationship, and you were trying to burn what was left of it to ashes, so there was nothing left to salvage.”
Ash wiped his eyes, and sighed, “I… I just hadn’t thought about it that way…” he said. “I always thought you’d told me to get lost, and all I knew how to do was to… react. Ash stood and paced. “I’m not even sure I can use the excuse of being a kid, ’cause I knew dating Jennifer would wreck us, but I felt like you’d already done that.” He stopped and looked at me. I kept thinking you were dumping me like Mom had… I just thought you were like her. That I didn’t really matter…”
“You mattered too much,” I admitted, all the anger and frustration deflating out of me. I leaned back on his oversized sofa, letting my head fall back against the fluffy fabric.
Coming Home Series, Book 2
Facing the past is never fun, especially when it involves seeing the man you still love. When their lives are once again intertwined, is a second chance possible?
Ash once stabbed his heart when he broke up with him, who cares if it was high school, pain is still pain. And speaking of pain, this broken foot has done nothing but keep him stuck in Crawford City.
Ash is now the town doctor after his dad retired, which means when the incredibly handsome and totally pissed off Todd comes in, Ash is the only person in town who can treat him.
Like it or not, when Ash and Todd’s dads drop a major bomb on them, the two men are forced to deal with one another.
Will they find a way around teenage misunderstandings and bad choices to rekindle a love that’s never stopped boiling, or will their pride forever keep them apart?
Blake Allwood was born in west TN, then moved to Kansas City MO after attending college in Lamoni, Iowa. He met his husband in 1995 and they officially married in 2015, once gay marriage was legalized. In 2017, he and his husband sold their home, purchased an RV and began traveling the country with their two dogs. Their travels provide the inspiration and settings for many of his novels.
Typically, Blake can be found relaxing in the RV or by the fire with his laptop and their Jack Russell Terrier, Buddy, curled up between his legs demanding attention. Denver, their Siberian Husky mix is often asleep at his feet or playing tug of war with Blake’s husband.
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To celebrate the release of Family Home, Blake is giving away an e-set of the Coming Home Series so far! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!
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