Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
Cat gives this one 4 Meows with a 2 Purr heat index...
Max is found on Jakes doorway beaten almost to death. Jake takes him to the hospital, but Max doesn't get the tests he needs and checks out early. Jake picks him up and takes him home as they are neighbors. They become friends. Max is very closeted because he has been beaten up too many times and doesn't want to give anyone another reason to hit him. Jake gets him to go to Judo classes with him to learn to protect himself and gain confidence.
Jake has his secrets too. He is an ex-con. He spent a year in prison for beating a man. Will Max run when he finds out about Jake's past?
Block and Strike is a ver good story. I liked Jake. I liked both Characters since they are not perfect. Both men have faults, yet are likable. Underneath Max has a bit of feistiness even though on the outside he is a bit skittish. Jake is sweet with a bit of an anger issue. I loved that they became friends and had to really work to become more and that the relationship also took work.
If you like stories with a lot of angst, coming out, life lessons, building character, construction workers, and a little man sex this is for you.
“We got an ID on your guy. I thought you might like to know.” In that respect, she knew him well.
Wawa hadn’t had a wallet, only the shirt with the breast pocket logo, which the police had taken after the emergency room staff cut it off him. The police had taken Jake’s statement, too, without looking at his knuckles.
“His name is Gareth Maxwell Wilson. Goes by Max according to his manager at the Wawa on Lincoln. He also works at the market behind the strip mall four blocks down from you.”
“Hendrick’s?” The family-owned supermarket had somehow managed to compete with the Pathmark across the road for longer than Jake had been in Philly.
“Yep. His insurance coverage probably sucks.”
“Maybe that’s why he didn’t want to go to the hospital,” Jake said.
“Or he could just be a wuss, like you.”
“Hey, we don’t all live for the scream of sirens and people in pain.” How anyone could enjoy being a nurse was beyond him, but Jake was grateful, this once, for his sister’s profession.
“Oh, and guess where he lives?”
“Same building. The basement apartment.”
Jake pulled his cell away from his ear and blinked at it. Lamplight glinted off the screen, blanking out the portrait of his sister. He put the phone back to his ear. “Seriously?”
“Yeah. I guess that explains why he was outside your door. It’s his door, too.”
Now Jake really felt like an ass for not replacing the light bulb or hassling Mr. Wu to do it. The basement apartment was a hole in the ground, literally—a cellar Mr. Wu optimistically advertised as a “studio apartment.” The only light in the small, coffin-shaped room seeped down from two high windows covered by rusty old grilles. The bathroom was a moldy cupboard. The kitchen, as he remembered, consisted of a microwave on top of a bar fridge. Jake had painted the apartment for Mr. Wu after the last tenant moved out, just a month before. Not even the brightest rental white had improved the space.
Had he ever seen the new tenant? “Hey!”
“Hmm?” his sister answered.
“I’ve seen him. Skinny guy. Doesn’t own an umbrella, or likes walking in the rain.” A slice of memory, a bedraggled figure slipping through the door as Jake stepped out. Thin, wet, dripping. A flash of dark hair, vivid blue eyes, and pale skin. Though he still didn’t know Gareth Maxwell Wilson, Jake felt his concern was now somehow warranted. They lived in the same building. They were neighbors—could have been friends. “How’s he doing?”
“He woke up not long after you left. He’s actually pretty lucid this time. We had his name before then, which was great. Can you imagine waking up and no one knowing your name?”
Maybe. Being in prison had been like that at times. Not the waking up part, the moving among strangers part. The sense of being out of place, of being someone else, or just unknown.
“Would be rough, yeah. So when is he being released? Does he need a ride home?”
“I don’t know, and probably. Why, are you offering?”
“Ah, I guess? I mean, he lives in my building.”
“We’re trying to contact his family.”
“Okay. Let me know, then.”
“I will, and Jake?”
Willa hesitated. “I’m sorry.”
He didn’t ask what for. “See you at home on Sunday?”
The Kendricks clan went home to Doylestown every Sunday they could. Jake had resented the obligation when he was younger, but after missing those weekly gatherings for a whole year, he now craved the bosom of his family with something close to obsession.
Willa’s tired sigh sounded like static against his ear. “Yeah. See you then.”
Jake slid his phone back into his pocket and picked up the bucket and gloves. Breathing deeply, he inspected his couch. The dark brown leather looked clean and smelled clean. Maybe now he could sleep.
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
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