Coming April 27
from Dreamspinner Press
(Click on post title to see sales page.)
Cover by Anne Cain
Although you can read the Prologue and Chapter One in their entirety at the Dreamspinner site (click on post title), here's another little snip.
It takes place the night before Chris Borgasian leaves the sober-living house where he's been staying since his three-month stint in rehab.
* * *
Whether it was a sound that woke him, or that distinctive fragrance, or a sense of somebody else's presence in the room, Chris couldn't tell. His eyes merely opened. A muted creak sounded from the other bed, the one that should've been empty, the one Beni Sanchez had vacated.
Had he come back?
Chris's heart thumped against the wall of his chest. The longer he stared into the wadded darkness, the more it thinned. A shadowy figure was poised on Beni's mattress, only it didn't seem to be Beni.
Breathing heavily, Chris did an awkward, frantic flip to his right and scrambled to turn on the nightstand lamp. Sure as shit, some guy dressed in faded jeans and a Cooler Near the Lake T-shirt sat on the edge of the second bed, facing him.
"Hi," he said brightly.
Chris stretched his eyelids. "What are you doing here?"
The guy smiled. "Guess you don't recognize me. I'm Denny."
Recognize him? From where? "Oh."
"I'll be staying with you."
"You mean…." Chris tried to get more awake. He rubbed his face. Stubble sanded his palms. All he had on were briefs, and his hair probably looked like a Nikola Tesla lab experiment gone horribly awry. He wasn't prepared to greet a new resident. "Did you just check in?"
"Not just. I've been here awhile."
"And this is your room."
"Well yeah. Of course. Temporarily, anyway."
Finally, Chris focused on the newcomer. He was pretty damned attractive. Not picture-perfect, but… short, reddish-brown hair, appealingly chaotic; perfectly proportioned nose; rosy cheeks; strong, shadowed jaw. Nice physique, too, its interlocked dips and rises flowing from a pair of broad shoulders.
He isn't so special. I've just been deprived, that's all.
Denny kept watching Chris. The dark brows over those fawn-colored eyes gave his gaze a soft intensity. It wasn't in the least bit threatening, but it didn't quite suit his youth. He seemed to be around Chris's age.
"I, uh… I'll be moving out in the morning," Chris said, because that thought had suddenly popped into his head—specifically, how glad he was, how relieved. Sharing a room with this guy would've been agonizing. He might not have been all that special, but he was special enough to make Chris squirmy.
"I know." Denny was calm, good-natured. Some people in rehab were like that, as if dodging the big-ass bullet of addiction, and the bigger-ass bullet of fatal overdose, had packed their dispositions with smiling porpoises leaping through fluffy clouds.
"What's that beside you on the bed?" Chris had just noticed it, some sort of bouquet. Denny's girlfriend or mother or sister must've given it to him. He wasn't wearing a wedding ring, so he likely didn't have a wife.
"Oh!" Denny lifted the bundle. They were branches, frothing with delicate white flowers. "I brought these for you. I know how you love the smell." He held them out, his smile sweet and guileless.
Chris gaped at the cluster. The scent again wafted over him. A familiar scent. "Wh-what are they?" he whispered.
Numbly, Chris shook his head, as if denial of recognition could erase recognition.
He heard what he'd expected to hear.
That's when the dizziness began, and the trembling. "Who are you?"