Touched by tragedy, love is an elusive dream never to be realised by eighteen-year-old Jax Grady--until he discovers his secret admirer and receives the sweetest gift he could ever desire.
THE SWEETEST GIFT
Tragedy and horror shaped Jackson Grady's life, leaving him orphaned and scarred. At eighteen he's ready to claim his future, but who could love his disfigured face and damaged soul? Definitely not a big, burly, beautiful Irish Traveller who is entirely the stuff of dreams.
Dare Rowan didn't mean to become obsessed with the blue-eyed man he first saw across a field, but that porcelain skin and innocent air demanded another meeting. Jax has the face of a wounded angel, and the rest of the young man is as heart-breakingly perfect. Jax is beautiful in every way and teaching him about love and life will be something Dare will embrace. Like unwrapping and savouring the candy at the shop where he works, Dare will show this young man everything Jax desired but never thought he'd have, and take Jax to new highs while he holds him through the lows. Between them, they’ll find out just how sweet life can be.
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“Who’s there?” he called out. Jax hated the slight quaver in his voice, not wanting to appear defenceless to a potential burglar. “I can hear you, so no use hiding. Just tell me what you want here. Or get the fuck out of my home.”
He wouldn’t tip his hand, telling the burglar he had a weapon. Let the bastard find out for himself, he thought grimly. The scuffling noise stopped and now all Jax could hear was someone’s steady breathing.
Jax stood straight and tall, hoping he looked intimidating in the dim light, where no one could see he wasn’t superhero material.
A quiet voice echoed from the darkness. “I’m not here to rob you or hurt anyone. I hope I didn’t scare you.” The voice sounded familiar and Jax frowned, trying to place it.
“I’m not scared.” Jax gripped the poker tighter. “Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?” He let out the breath he hadn’t known he was holding and scowled, reaching down to fumble for the table lamp. He switched it on and the room flooded with warm light. Jax momentarily closed his eyes, trying to adjust to it. When he opened them, a large, blurred figure stood by the door to the hallway. It was half open and Jax guessed the man had been trying to make a clean break away from whatever he’d been doing in the house.
Jax stepped around the huddled blanket on the floor and made his way closer to the other man.
If he was going to hurt me, he’d have done it already.
“Are you going to tell me what the hell you’re doing in this house?” he demanded. Something propelled him forward; he didn’t feel nervous anymore, simply curious. As Jax got closer, he squinted at the stranger, trying to see him more clearly.
“I came to return something.” The other man’s even tone sent a shiver through Jax’s body. “Something that was taken from you that didn’t belong where it was.”
Now Jax was sure he knew the person behind the voice. It surely couldn’t be who he thought it was, could it?He moved, closing the distance until he could see more clearly. The sight that greeted his eyes took his breath away.
God, it is Dare from the mall. Crap, he’s one sexy beast. Even if he might be a serial killer.
Jax waved the poker at Dare. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
Dare huffed. “It’s a long story.” He eyed the poker dubiously. “Really, a poker? That’s your weapon of choice?”
Jax snorted. “I can clobber you with it if you try anything. Come on, dude. Tell me what the hell is going on. Are you that desperate to have coffee with me?”
Dare laughed, a little shakily. “‘Dude?’ You love that word. It’s pretty cute when you say it. And yes, I’m definitely partial to having coffee with you one way or another. But this wasn’t quite what I had planned.”
Jax blinked. His eyes felt gritty and sore and he had gunk bunging up one corner of his left eye. He reached up and rubbed it away softly. “How do you know I use the word ‘dude’ often?”
Dare gave a deep, indrawn breath. There was silence. Jax got the impression Dare had revealed something he wasn’t supposed to.
Jax grew impatient. “Are you going to tell me anything anytime soon? Because if not, I’ll call out for the owner of the house and he can call the cops, then we’ll get the story—”
“No, no police.” For the first time Dare sounded panicked. “God, you’re so damn feisty.”
Jax got the impression that wasn’t a problem for this man from his admiring tone. Jax’s groin warmed more. Now his dick was standing at half-mast and it was the last thing he needed if he did have to call on Randy.
I’m getting a hard-on for someone who broke into the house. Could shit get any weirder?
“So, what’s the story, Mr Dark and Sexy? Do you actually have one or are you just an opportunistic burglar making something up?”
The chuckle that emanated from Dare’s mouth was low, and yes, still damn sexy.
“Really? You think I’m dark and sexy?” Dare’s face twisted into a grin. “I’m flattered. You’re something yourself.”
Jax went on the offensive. “Do you always hit on people whose houses you break into? What are you, like, the Flirty Burglar or something?”
Really? This god of a man thinks I’m something? And honestly—the Flirty Burglar. Face palm.
Susan Mac Nicol is a self-confessed bookaholic, an avid watcher of videos of sexy pole dancing men, geek, nerd and in love with her Smartphone. This little treasure is called ‘the boyfriend’ by her long suffering husband, who says if it vibrated, there’d be no need for him. Susan hasn’t had the heart to tell him there’s an app for that…
She is never happier than when sitting in the confines of her living room/study/on a cold station platform scribbling down words and making two men fall in love. In an ideal world, Susan Mac Nicol would be Queen of England and banish all the bad people to the Never Never Lands of Wherever -Who Cares. As that’s never going to happen, she contents herself with writing her HEA stories and pretending, that just for a little while, good things happen to good people.
Sue is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK.