Eight years of marriage and a beautiful son didn’t stop my husband from walking out on us.
He got the house, all the money, and a girlfriend.
I got the SUV, a few boxes of things, and our son.
I’m starting over and it’s terrifying.
A new town. A new job. A new home.
My goal is to care for my son and give him a semblance of normality while I pick up my broken pieces and mend my shattered self-esteem.
The last thing I expected was for my tattoo-covered landlord to nestle his way into my heart.
He’s broody and quiet, all grunts and head nods.
Letting him close means opening myself back up to the potential of getting hurt.
I’ve got my son to think about.
So why do I lie in bed at night thinking of him?
My demons haunt me. They run through my veins.
I accepted long ago that my life will never have a happy ending.
My gray world will never have any color.
The strong, single mother with eyes the color of sapphire gems.
All the colors in her world shine a light into my damaged and broken soul.
But I’m incapable of giving her love and affection—all the things she deserves.
My secrets will have her running away.
However, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to stain her world with my darkness.
Taint it with gray.
Little do I know, she’s the very air I didn’t know I needed.
TC Matson is an international best-selling contemporary romance author with a passion for all things romance. Love is never perfect and easy, so her stories share all the ups and downs of finding that spark and falling hard while bringing heat, heart, laughs, and swoony moments to every couple.
She lives in the peaceful Piedmont area of North Carolina with her husband, kids (#boymom), and her spazzy Doberman.
When TC isn’t writing or forced into adulting, you can find her feeding her coffee addiction with her Kindle in hand. She often wins employee of the month for her stay-at-home mom and housewife duties and has won the award for “Mom’s dinner is awesome!” countless evenings.
Firstly, let me make this clear, I didn’t come here for drama. I came here to escape, to unwind, to relax in paradise. This place is meant to be everything epic the world can offer. A ranch, run by hot tattooed mountain men, that has been made into a retreat. An escape from the world, from all the stresses of daily life. Not only do you get to interact with said gorgeous men, but you get to be involved in the every day running of the ranch, that is when you’re not hiking, fishing, riding horses and relaxing. We’re the first group to camp hot stuff, and for what seems like the shortest time, it’s bliss. Hot, cowboy bliss. Horses and mountains, rivers and campfires. It’s exactly what I need. Don’t get me started on the man who seems scarily into me, even though I’m about as fun as a stone on the ground. I’m also as ugly as one. Okay, that’s a bit over the top. I’m not ugly. I am, however, nerdy. Men like him don’t look at girls like me…right? I have curves and glasses and my hair isn’t Sunkissed blond. Still, everything is going beautifully…until a body shows up. As if we’re in some sort of bad romantic comedy. One of my people…mine…is dead. Murdered. And now my little vacation has turned into a god damned murder mystery. With hot men, a camp full of nerds and a whole lot of unanswered questions. This should be fun. A bloody good time, if you will…
Bella Jewel is a self published, USA Today bestselling author. She’s been publishing since 2013. Her first release was a contemporary romance, Hell’s Knights which topped the charts upon release. Since that time, she has published over twenty-five novels, gaining a bestseller status on numerous platforms. She lives in North Queensland with her fiancé and four beautiful kids. Bella has been writing since she was just shy of fifteen years old. In Summer 2013 she was offered an ebook deal through Montlake Romance for her bestselling modern day pirate series, Enslaved By The Ocean. In 2016 she signed a three book deal with St Martin’s Press, and another three just a year later. She plans to expand her writing career, planning many new releases for the future.
Charlie Rourke is an ultra fabulous human whirlwind on a mission to launch the next biggest band in the world. However, he might have taken on more than he could handle when he signed on to manage Zero. Promoting a rock band and finding gigs shouldn’t be hard. They’re a talented group with a ton of star power. If Charlie can find the right record label, he’s sure he can help them get to the next level. The only problem is the skater boy slash bassist with a quirky sense of humor. He’s annoying and silly, and he’s exactly Charlie’s type. Except he’s straight.
Ky Baldwin isn’t afraid to switch things up. He loves a challenge as much as anyone, but Charlie doesn’t make things easy. Zero’s manager is a force of nature with a razor sharp tongue, a quick wit, and a no-nonsense attitude. Ky can’t stop thinking about him. Winning over Charlie becomes Ky’s pet project. But when the ice between them thaws, neither is prepared for the intensity of going from enemies to lovers. They’ll have to decide if they’re willing to start from scratch and take a chance on the unexpected.
“I know that was random, but it’s not a bad idea if you think about it. Want something to drink?” Charlie asked as he moved toward the kitchen.
I grabbed his wrist before he got anywhere. “Hang on. What are you doing?”
He cocked his head curiously but didn’t pull away. “I’m being practical. If you read any further about Virgos you probably found out we’re known for being sensible. And polite. So, I’m politely asking if you’d like a beverage while sensibly suggesting that I help out with your skating lessons.”
“Okay. First up…I don’t want a fuckin’ snack and second, it’s not a skating lesson. We’re skateboarding,” I said, glowering at him.
“I’ve heard it said both ways. Skating, skateboarding. I looked it up in Urban Dictionary too, so I’m pretty sure I’m right.”
“No. There’s something in your tone that makes it all wrong. Like you’re purposely trying to sabotage this.”
Charlie opened his mouth in a perfect O. “Gasp! I wouldn’t do that!”
“Cut the crap. You’re doing it now. You don’t want to learn, and you don’t want Oliver to either. It’s a control thing. But you can’t control what you don’t fuckin’ get. So take a seat and let me teach him without you freaking out or—why are you looking at me like that?”
“I don’t know. You’re doing something weird with your eyes, though. You look spaced out.”
“Mmm. I’m trying not to swoon. You look so fierce and you’re holding my hand, Ky. You should feel my heart. It’s beating out of my chest. Seriously.” He fluttered his lashes a few times and bit his bottom lip.
I chuckled softly and stepped closer. “Are you flirting with me, Char?”
“No, it’s the other way around. You’re flirting with me. Big macho displays really get my motor running. Medium-sized ones do too. I love it when…”
Okay, so I lost myself. I tuned out the sound of his voice and concentrated on him. The mischievous glint in his eyes, the proud set of his shoulders, and the way his mouth curled at the corner. He was doing it again. Owning the moment. Taking it over. Charlie looked for weakness in any form, then slyly made adjustments before moving in for the kill. No doubt he thought I’d back down fast and run away. I wasn’t going anywhere.
I fixated on his bottom lip and inched closer. He kept talking…something about dick size or muscles…I wasn’t sure, but I liked the cadence of his voice. The teasing lilt and easy humor. I let go of his wrist, brushing his fingers before setting my hand on his hip. He went perfectly still.
Before he could ask me what the fuck I was doing, I kissed him.
It was more of a press of lips than a grand gesture. And though it might not rank as the kind of kiss that would change the world, I immediately knew it would change mine.
Everything in me went on high alert. I’d never been so in tune with a moment. The flutter of his eyelashes, the brush of his nose, and the soft sweetness of his lips against mine. Fuck, it was amazing. Like mind-blowing amazing. He tasted like cherries and smelled like sunshine mixed with something exotic.
I couldn’t be sure over the roar of my heart attempting to beat its way out of my chest, but I thought he hummed in approval, so I angled my head slightly to deepen the connection and pulled him closer. If he was anyone else, I probably would have stuck my tongue between his lips and let my hands roam all over his body. I wanted to, but I didn’t want to scare either of us. So I stayed where I was until the need for oxygen became an issue.
Then I jumped back two feet and stared at him with my eyes bugged out. “Holy fuck.”
Charlie set his fingers on his bottom lip and blinked like he was coming out of a daze. “You kissed me,” he said softly.
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.