At only thirty-two, Bishop Stockley has lived a hard-knock life. His gang was his family, the streets his home. Until the crew he’d always called his brothers betrayed him. After doing five years in a federal prison, Bishop is back at his dad’s trailer and working for his landscaping company, thrust into a legit world where he’s no longer the alpha—a world where a criminal record is the least of his disadvantages, because Bishop can’t read or write. Illiteracy had never been an obstacle for him on the streets, he didn’t need to know how to read Moby Dick to survive, he needed to know how to read people… and that was a hustle he’d learned hard and fast. Now, he had to change his life.
Bishop’s only support system was a young, inexperienced dad who’d insisted he call him Mike all their life—since they looked more like brothers than father and son. And his hot-tempered, childhood, best friend from ’juvie, Trent. Bishop already had the deck stacked against him, but he wasn’t afraid of hard work to change his situation, and he did want to change. Especially after he encountered Edison Scala, a kind-spirited office manager who didn’t hesitate to come to his defense… a man that saw past Bishop’s grass-stained coveralls. A man who wasn’t intimidated by his stern features and his silence.
Edison hadn’t grown up the way most of his peers had. He’d been raised by a single father who’d owned an old-fashioned barber shop where Edison was taught how to not only shave with a straight razor, and shine shoes, but also how to treat others, to not judge, to be a gentleman, to be respectful and speak without profanity. But, the biggest lesson he’d learned, was to always be himself. His lack of friends and a social life wasn’t his fault. No matter how much weight he gained, no matter how many times his staff called him a square, Edison did not need to change.
Bishop knew Edison was off-limits. He’d made personal vows to himself when he was released from prison, ones that he never intended to break. But, when Edison asked him about providing landscaping services at his home, there was no way he could refuse. He hadn’t expected Edison to feed him, praise him, encourage him, and look at him the way he did—as if Bishop was somebody. Mike and Trent warned him not to mix business with pleasure and he didn’t intend to.
No multiple pairings. No cliffhangers. Ends with a very, very HFN.
Warning: This book is a M/M contemporary romance, a hardened man’s struggle to find real love. There are no police chases or doors being kicked in, in this one. But, don’t worry. Bishop is still intense enough to keep you on the edge.
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“Shit. I knew this would happen.” Royce took Bishop’s menu from between his fingers and began pointing at some of the bigger headlines. “This is um, says Brewery Starters. It’s the appetizer or starting dishes. Then wings are here. Tacos… lots of different types.”
Bishop took his menu back, wondering what the fuck had possessed Royce to do that. He’d never done that before. Years ago, before he’d known I couldn’t read. But that was then, and this was now. Bishop saw the uptight guy across from him trying to hide his smile. Bishop felt his neck heat as all eyes landed on him, but he played it cool. This wasn’t his first dance. Bishop glanced over at the bar. “I didn’t pay attention when I came in. It’s my first time here.”
“Of course,” she said, leaning over him and pointing at his menu. “On this side are our craft beers, brewed right here in our brewery. We also have local Virginia beers. So, if you like Bud Light which a lot of people that come in here do, I’d say go with the Golden Export. It has a clean, crisp finish.”
“Sounds good,” Bishop said.
“If you don’t prefer it, I can always give you some samples of a few others that I think you’ll like. The Birdnecklace is new. It has a citrusy taste to it that everyone’s loving this summer. I’ll run grab your drinks while you look over the menu,” she said all this while she cleared several empty wine glasses and tiny white plates from the table.
“Excuse us. Guess we’ll be going.” The study-guy stood so fast, bumping the table hard enough to make the few items on top clang loudly.
Bishop gave him a stony glare that the kid had a difficult time holding. When he dropped his gaze and blinked at Royce like a wounded puppy Bishop lost any potential respect for the guy.
“Yeah. See you in class tomorrow.” Royce didn’t look at his classmates as they passed.
He’s embarrassed of me. Bishop cleared his throat and tried to give the waitress an appreciative expression when she placed an ice-cold glass of a honey-colored brew in front of him and an even taller glass of water.
“Did you want to order any food?” She waited with her tray cocked on her hip. She had on a conservative gray blouse and form-fitting black slacks. He’d never been to a restaurant where the servers dressed so nicely. Her hair was pulled in a tight bun and held with at least a dozen slender metal pins.
Bishop flipped the menu over, feeling Royce’s eyes on him the entire time. He searched for the familiar words that he’d come to recognize on most menus. Chicken. Shrimp. He was confident that any dish that had one of those two meats would be fine for him. But for some reason this menu was crazy. Is this even English? Bishop stared at the long, foreign words that he couldn’t even sound out. Gorgonzola, Caprese, Schnitzel. Fuck. There wasn’t one single illustration of their dishes except for the nasty-looking pretzel sampler on the table tent. “I think I’m good with the beer.”
“You sure?” she asked, slowly easing her hand towards him for his menu.
No. I’m starving. “I’m sure. Thanks.” Bishop waited until she was gone before he took a long swig to quench his parched throat.
“You know you didn’t have to do that in front of my friends. I was only trying to help, Bishop. I know the menu is weird, this is German-inspired food. I didn’t mean anything by it,” Royce blurted.
Bishop had a hard time believing that Royce couldn’t see the obvious. “Why do you think I’d want you to read the menu to me like I’m five years old?”
“Because that’s the level you read on.”
“Fuck,” Bishop huffed, the blow taking him by surprise. The quickness and stinging brutality of it piercing the hell out of him.
Royce rotated in his seat. “Dammit. I’m sorry, Bishop. It’s just… you make me crazy. Seeing you right now is a lot.”
“You agreed to meet with me. If you didn’t want to you should’ve just said so.” Bishop drank some of his water, no longer wanting any alcohol. “I wasn’t trying to pressure you. I thought maybe we’d catch up. I just wanted to see that you were good… and now I have.”
A.E. Via has been a best-selling author in the beautiful gay romance genre for five years now, but she’s no stranger to MM. She’s been an avid reader of gay lit for over fifteen years before she picked up her laptop to place her own kiss on this genre. She’s also the founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books, having published a couple great new up and coming MM authors.
A.E. has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Virginia Wesleyan College that she used to start her own paralegal firm after she graduated in 2008. She spent five years preparing and filing bankruptcy petitions for struggling blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to file with a lawyer. It was a rewarding and satisfying career… but another path called to her. Writing.
A.E.’s writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.
Now that she’s gotten over her 10 books published hump, she’s kind of known now for her hardcore, play rough and love hard, bad boy, alphas. However, she does like to push herself to step out of her comfort zone, exploring different tropes, but she won’t push herself into a whole other genre. She’s head over heels for gay romance and she has tons of more hot stories to tell.
Be sure to visit Adrienne on her social media pages and subscribe to her newsletter to never miss another release date! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak at upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.
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