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By E. L. Esch
What would you do if you lost five years of freedom? If everything you’d ever known was torn away from you, all because the one person you counted on to save you didn’t come through?
This is the cruel reality for Gabriel “Red” Thatcher, convicted at age nineteen for the murder of his father. Now twenty-five and eight months out of prison, Red has nothing to his name and no one to help him through the horrifying memories of his past.
Then he meets Silo Winters, a man so much like him yet so different that it drives Red crazy. How could someone who went through the same trauma he did in prison still look at life so cheerfully? And though Silo tries to show Red that life after hardship isn’t bleak and meaningless, Red finds it difficult after all he’s been through to let anyone in.
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It was the first thing that crossed my mind every day when I woke up lately—job hunting—and today was no exception. Not even one of Silo’s most upbeat tunes could pull me out of the slump this put me in. The very idea of going through another day of filling out applications, which I had zero faith would be given a fair chance, was what had kept me in bed until almost noon. I sighed and closed my eyes, staring at the darkness behind my eyelids, totally not ready for the day. With a groan, I relaxed and let my body sink back into the mattress. The day could wait five more minutes.
Tired and already miserable, I huddled against the pillow that’d somehow gotten next to me in the night. And grown…a lot. I didn’t remember having a body-sized pillow…
“Silo…” I didn’t bother opening my eyes. “What are you doing?”
“Couch… cold,” he mumbled.
My bed was definitely not big enough for two grown men. The only reason I hadn’t already fallen was because I was practically spooning him, morning wood and all.
“Poking me…” Silo craned his head over his shoulder and looked at me through eyes even crustier than mine. He had such nice eyes. “Like what you see?” He stretched, pushing that firm, supple ass up between my legs.
I smiled, used to this type of harmlessly flirty behavior from him. “You are pretty nice on the eyes.”
Silo turned to face me. He looked at me for a time. Those wintery eyes dug down into my soul and read me like a book—icicle lances that pierced the core of my life and cracked it wide open. He’d looked at me like this before, and each time I was forced to turn away. The intensity of his stare almost made me feel violated. It probed into me, cutting through all the bullshit and into my true self. Finally I tore my gaze away from his and sat up, and that invasive feeling dispersed.
“Hey.” Silo grabbed the back of my shirt. “You have a tat on your back? I never noticed. Can I see?”
Shit. He must have seen the edges when I sat up.
Silo’s hand curled around the fabric of my shirt and began to pull it up my back. I couldn’t stop his eyes, but I wasn’t letting his hands defile me too.
“No.” I jerked away. My shirt fell safely over my back. “It’s private.”
“So secretive.” Silo hissed every s like a snake. He sprawled out on my bed, legs wide and arms crossed behind his head. “So what are ya gonna do about that?” He pointed with the toes on his left foot to my erection, still half-mast in the jeans I’d fallen asleep in.
“I’m going to take a shower and then go get coffee.”
“Can I go?”
“To get coffee with me? I guess.”
“Not that, Crayon. Into the shower.” He grinned.
Jeez, he didn’t get it, did he? “No. You can take one after.” Hopefully the hot water would hold out. The water heater was about as good as a truck with no wheels. Besides, I was starving and wasn’t going to wait forever.
I gathered clothes from the dresser across the room. Mila had been nice enough to bring over and arrange my old stuff before my release. Sure the apartment looked like it was owned by a slumlord, but it came with utilities, as crummy as they were. The hot water took forever to heat up, and the electricity flickered constantly. Not to mention the heater was broken, as I’d learned last night when I was freezing my ass off in bed. But again, I wouldn’t complain. After all, I couldn’t afford the rent plus the electricity bill. I would say I owed Sis one, if not for all that’d happened to push us apart in the past.
As I pulled out a pair of fresh jeans, I heard Silo say, “Maybe I should get a tattoo.” I turned around and caught him scratching the burn running up the side of his neck.
“Maybe you should get a job first.” Like I had any right to tell him that.
Silo narrowed his eyes as if offended. “Of course. It’s shameful enough I’m letting a guy younger than me take care of my ass. I’ll be sure to pay you back for the food and razor and stuff, by the way.”
Did I really seem younger than him? Then again, most people don’t go to prison fresh out of high school. “How old are you, Silo?”
“Twenty-seven. Got slammed fresh out of a two-year baking program at my university. I commuted to college from home a little later than most kids would after high school, because my family couldn’t afford it until we got my grandpa’s inheritance… not that it matters any now. Hey, at least I got my degree and it’s paid for. You?”
“I’m twenty-five. I worked at a coffee shop before… well…”
Silo whistled. “Damn, you got sentenced at what? Nineteen? Have fun finding work.”
“I’ve been trying. Shut up.” Damned bastard had no right to look down on me. I’d been protecting my fucking family! What did he know? I inhaled deeply and let my anger subside. Silo only knew what I’d told him. He didn’t need to know any more. This was the first time prison had come up in conversation between us since the bar, so I couldn’t blame him for not knowing how I felt about it. “I tried to avoid doing this, but I’m going to the coffee shop to beg Old Joe for my job back. If he still owns it, he’ll understand the state I’m in.”
“So getting coffee was really more job hunting in disguise?” Silo gasped as if he’d just heard the most devious ploy in the world. “By the way, who’s Old Joe? He done time too?”
Hah, Old Joe doing time. I couldn’t even imagine it. “No, but his son almost got nailed. Tried to steal some guy’s motorbike or something. He’s the coffee shop owner. He was… like a father to me, I guess.” Old Joe and I were close. He’d let me stay at his place when Father had… when Father drank. It was for that reason that I hadn’t been able to muster up the nerve to go beg him for help when he’d already given me so much. I’d only talked to him once after getting out of prison, over the phone, just to let him know I was well, because I felt I owed that to him after all he’d done for me.
“Hey, Crayon?” Silo mumbled. “You sure you don’t mind me staying for a while? I mean, we barely know each other and stuff. Is it really okay?”
Silo had asked the question every day for the past week, and it just seemed silly to me now. Not once had asking him to leave crossed my mind. I’d had too much time alone with my past, and I didn’t want any more.
“It’s fine, Silo. Really.”
Oh jeez. Would I ever get in the shower? “Yes?” Why was I even letting him call me Crayon?
He’d thanked me every day for the past week, too.
Enter the Giveaway:
To celebrate the release of Lucky Seven & Seeing Red, Eryn is giving away 3 e-copies of each release!
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About the Author:
I could copy-paste my biography from other websites, but that’s boring so instead here’s some fun facts about me:
– I own 2 crested geckos and an axolotl. What’s an axolotl? You know Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon? His design is based off one. Basically it looks like a cross between a tadpole and a wingless dragon. And they’re dumb. Very dumb. But cute!
– I have an unhealthy obsession with video games. I am an avid PC gamer, and can be found up most nights on World of Warcraft. I’m the first to admit I have a problem. For the Alliance!
– I could probably drop a fourth of my body-weight if I stopped drinking soda, but I won’t. I’m letting myself have this one.
– If I had a quarter for every time I swore, I’d probably be able to retire.
– I don’t know how I started writing M/M Romance, but if I had to blame anyone it’d be my best friend for getting me hooked on Yaoi in high school. You know who your are; you did this.
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