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In His Arms

By Sarah Hadley Brook


Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.


Copyright 2018 Sarah Hadley Brook

ISBN 9781634866620

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.


WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.

This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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For all those looking for love and finding it right in front of you.

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In His Arms

By Sarah Hadley Brook

Chapter 1

As Rick entered The Falcon’s Nest, he heard The Cure’s “Friday, I’m in Love” and smiled. Not his favorite song, but damn, he was glad it was Friday. It took only a few seconds of scanning the crowded bar to find his friends sitting in a corner booth near the back. His smile stayed in place until his gaze landed on Josh.

Crap. There was something vaguely unsettling about Josh, but Rick could never put his finger on it. Yet, it nagged at him and tended to irritate him. He sighed deeply, knowing if he wanted to hang out with his two best friends, Mark and Andrew, he had to put up with Josh. God, he missed the days when it was just the three of them. They’d met back in college, and over the years, it had become a tradition to get together on Fridays, usually at this bar.

The place wasn’t fancy. Walls with posters advertising local LGBTQ events, pictures of stars, and some large lighted marquee-style letters spelling out words like “dance,” “drink,” and “party” enclosed a pretty basic club. And old wooden bar lined one side, with booths along two walls, the dance floor at the far side, and round tables spaced throughout the area. But The Falcon’s Nest had amazing appetizers, great music, and lots of men. And it was cheap. So basically a win all around. Friday nights were typically pretty busy, and at least one of their gang had always tried to arrive early and grab a booth.

Rick deftly wound his way through the crowd as he made his way to the booth, noting that a lot of the bar’s regulars were already trolling for fresh meat. He slid into the booth as Andrew moved over to make room.

“Hey, Rick. I just ordered you a beer.”

He flashed his friend a genuine smile. “Thanks. I need one. Work was a nightmare.” He glanced across the table at the tall brunette seated directly across from him and tried to keep the smile pasted on. “Josh,” he said with a nod, keeping his voice even.

“Hey.” Josh was a man of few words and barely acknowledged him most of the time, but tonight Rick could have sworn he saw a hint of a smile tug at his lips and a twinkle in those emerald green eyes.

Interesting.

He let his gaze skip to Mark, the quiet man with the short bright red hair, pale skin, and a few freckles sprinkled across his nose. Mark smiled at Rick and rolled his eyes. He wasn’t too crazy about Josh either, although for an entirely different reason than Rick’s. One word—jealousy—over Andrew. Anyone with eyes could see that Mark was head over heels for Andrew. Well, anyone but Andrew could see it.

They’d all been friends for so long, Rick couldn’t pinpoint exactly when Mark had started looking at Andrew differently, but he’d noticed a change in Mark’s demeanor around Andrew last year. Personally, Rick thought if they did get together, the guys would be good for each other. Not that Mark had ever admitted his crush to anyone.

Andrew was a good guy, but clueless. He was a nurse at the local ER, and one night he’d been working a late shift when several firemen had been brought in by ambulance. There had been a bad blaze at an apartment building just south of the hospital, and the EMTs on scene had worried a few firemen had inhaled too much smoke and had insisted they get checked out. When Josh had been brought in, Andrew had been assigned as his nurse and had crushed on him hard. Josh turned out to be fine, but stuck around while the other firemen had been treated.

Andrew had invited Josh to join them at their next Friday night outing at The Falcon’s Nest and, not surprisingly, Josh had shown up. Andrew was all kinds of adorable with his dark brown hair that curled around his ears, chocolate brown eyes, and skin the color of mocha. Standing at five-eleven, he had a lean, muscular build, with broad shoulders, and dark hair that peeked out of his shirt. He may have been twenty-seven, but he had that adorable boyish smile.

Okay, yeah, at one time, Rick had also had a major crush on the guy. Andrew was sexy, but Rick had quickly realized they were destined to be only friends.

So nobody had been surprised when Josh had showed up that night. Men usually did when it came to Andrew. What had surprised them was that Josh had showed absolutely no interest in Andrew whatsoever—not as far as dating or hooking up, that is. No, it appeared he’d thought of Andrew as a buddy. A friend. After about a month, it had finally gotten through to Andrew that nothing was going to happen, and his crush had eventually faded, but Josh had already become part of their group.

Rick felt sorry for Mark, though, because the guy was still green with jealousy and he wondered how long that unrequited love could go on. Someday, Rick planned to pull Mark aside and tell him he needed to grow some balls and tell Andrew exactly how he felt.

Now, their beers arrived, and after some discussion over the appetizer menu, they decided to order mozzarella sticks and giant nachos to share.

Rick turned in his seat and scanned the bar, checking out things. He felt restless. Anxious. The work week had been crazy and he needed to blow off some steam. He needed to get laid. It had been three weeks. Luckily, hot, young men in tight jeans filled the bar. God, he loved a tight little ass. He wondered if the last guy he’d picked up was around again, but quickly shot down that thought. Rick stuck by his rule—one-night stands only, no matter how hot the sex had been. Picking up the same guy twice was too close to some semblance of a relationship and that wasn’t anything he wanted.

He returned his attention to the conversation at the table and caught Josh staring at him. Scrutinizing him, really. Crap. He’d been busted. Josh knew he was looking for a hook up. It wasn’t anything Rick tried to hide, but he still blushed under Josh’s knowing gaze. Everyone knew he wasn’t interested in relationships—he’d tried that once about three years ago. Gave away his whole heart. And it was delivered back to him in pieces. Shattered into shards of glass, then ground into his soul. After months of wallowing and depression, he had finally emerged a new man. One that would never go through that again.

Now he only went for the easy, quick score. Young—but not younger than twenty-one—hot, and usually blond. They were always so willing to give it up to him. Everything was nice and tidy. He got what he wanted. They got what they wanted. And he never had to see them again.

He realized he was still looking into Josh’s eyes and tore away his gaze when Mark asked him something.

“Sorry. What?” he asked, strangely flustered.

“I asked if you were still in the running for that promotion?”

Rick nodded. “I had a second interview yesterday. Went well. But I may not know for a couple of weeks.”

He didn’t want to admit it out loud, too afraid to jinx himself, but he really wanted this promotion. Wanted it so bad he could taste it. He had worked at the same financial firm for three years and found that he liked working in the auditing department. It came natural to him. When his boss announced he would be retiring at the end of the month, he’d encouraged Rick to apply for the position.

“Running the department would mean a pretty decent raise in pay,” he added. “I was thinking maybe I could finally ditch my shabby little one-bedroom apartment and find a bigger two-bedroom. I’d love to have an office or guestroom.”

“You should check out our complex. There are a few open units and you love the pool,” Andrew reminded him.

Rick smiled. Mark and Andrew split the rent on a two-bedroom, and the pool was fantastic. “That’s definitely an idea.”

“I’m in the complex just down the road from them,” Josh said, his voice low and gravelly. “It’s got a nice pool, too, and a great workout room.”

Rick met his gaze, raising his eyebrows in surprise as his body tensed.

Josh’s eyes twinkled, then he winked.

Oh, God, the man seriously winked at him. What the hell was going on? He fidgeted in his seat and turned his attention to the bar. He saw a cute blond staring back at him and giggling with his friend. Tight jeans. Tighter T-shirt. Lithe little body. Hmm…

Rick decided to hit the men’s room, then introduce himself.

“Be back, boys.”

He felt Josh’s gaze on him as he walked away and once again wondered if he was imagining things. Josh wasn’t really his type. Okay, that was a lie—Josh was hot. All that shaggy dark brown hair that curled up over his ears and around his collar. And the way it fell over his forehead made Rick want to brush it with his fingers more than once. He’d often wondered if it felt as silky as it looked. And those gorgeous emerald green eyes could pin him in place with just one glance. The man’s strong jawline boasted a seemingly permanent five o’clock shadow, and there was no denying that Josh was built—broad shoulders, muscular, tall, probably around six-four. And what skin Rick had seen (not much) appeared taut and golden. And Josh was a firefighter. An actual fireman. So yeah. Hot.

Still, Rick reminded himself, Josh wasn’t his type…anymore. Rick used to go for the strong, silent guys. Used to love being wrapped up in big, muscular arms. Held all night. Then Gregory had broken his heart and he had sworn to never give away his heart again. He found it easy to do as long as he stayed away from men that seemed strong and powerful. No, he was safer fucking around with a willing one-nighter here and there. He made sure he was always in charge. No strings attached. That kept him satisfied—for the most part. He had worked hard for three years to convince himself of that. His friends had tried to show him the error of his ways more than once, but he hadn’t changed his mind.

In the restroom, he washed his hands and checked himself in the mirror. Not too shabby. He parted his thick dark brown hair to the side, and full eyebrows sat above his blue eyes. When he smiled, dimples showed on his otherwise smooth face. He stood just under six feet and had a lean build. Running helped him stay in shape. Tonight he wore a pair of faded 501s and a blue long-sleeve shirt with a V-neck top. He finished up, ready to go say “hello” to that cutie at the bar.

As he stepped out of the men’s room, he ran smack into Josh. Literally. Before Rick could even think, Josh’s hand circled his wrist, and the man dragged him down the hall to a dark corner. Rick’s heart raced, but he didn’t resist. And before Rick knew what was happening, Josh pressed him up against the wall.


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