by Andrew Grey
Professional marketer Alan Wright needs time to recover, both physically and mentally. After getting out of the hospital, his best friend Clay takes him to his farm, where it’s quiet to recuperate. Healing is going to take a lot more time and effort than Alan ever imagined and require professional help, which comes in the form of a strong man with a gentle touch.
Haley Martin, a nurse-therapist, has never fit in with his family, the town, or himself. When he’s hired to assist Alan with his recovery, he discovers a place with people like him who live their lives without shame or fear. As Alan begins his recovery, Haley starts to come into his own as well. He just has to have the courage to take it to heart.
As Alan and Haley both learn to overcome their challenges, Haley needs to figure out how to deal with his overbearing father and stand on his own two feet. Together, holding on to each other, they learn to be stronger together and start to build a possible future. But their old lives still have pull, and they both must decide what’s truly important.
“I don’t want to be a burden.”
“You aren’t.” Clay squeezed his hand. “No way. You’re my best friend, and we’re here for you. Take the time you need to rest, get better, and don’t worry about anything. I called your insurance company, and they agreed that rather than you going into rehabilitation for weeks at a huge cost, they are going to pay for a visiting nurse-therapist to help you.”
“Where are you going to find one of those out here?” Alan snarked, then sighed. God, he was tired, and he needed to stop acting like an ass. These were people who cared.
“Don’t you worry. I already have one. He’ll be here this afternoon.” Clay opened the door and helped him out of the car while Dell went to get the chair.READ MORE
“Just let me walk, please. Bring the chair inside if you have to, but let me use my own two feet a little.” He held on to Clay and took small, almost shuffling old-man steps up to the back door. The stairs were a slow matter, but he got himself inside, which was a real feat. He made it to the sofa in the living room before sitting down and deciding he could rest his eyes for a few minutes before trying to move again.
Alan woke with a blanket over him and whispers from the kitchen.
“Grampy, I’m home from school,” Archie called, and Alan smiled.
“Mr. Alan is asleep and we don’t want to wake him,” Dell said.
He pushed away the blanket. “Mr. Alan is awake.” And needed to use the bathroom, for which the very thought seemed like a fucking ordeal. He managed to get to his feet, but his head began to spin and he swore under his breath. The damned attack and the aftermath had messed with his balance. The doctors said it would improve with time, but feeling like he was going to barf three times a day sucked.
“Hey, we can help you,” Dell said as he hurried in, followed by Clay and his dad.
“Me taking a leak does not need to be a Hollywood production.” At least his sense of humor was intact. This was one of those laugh-or-cry moments—at least that was how he felt—and he’d be damned if he was going to cry… again.
“I’ll guide you to the door and wait for you,” Clay said.
The others drifted out of the room. He and Clay made it to the door, and Alan went inside and was able to use the bathroom. While he was in there, he glanced at himself in the mirror and turned away. That was a sight he never needed to see again.
Alan made it out, and Clay helped him back toward the sofa, but he motioned to the kitchen and joined the others. Clay got him into his wheelchair at the table, a bowl of stew sliding in front of him. His belly rumbled and he took a bite, eating slowly.
“What is this?”
“It tastes different,” Alan commented as he continued eating.
“That’s because it’s made with goat,” Clay explained, and Alan groaned as he continued eating.
“Great. So, I’m eating one of the former members of the little herd I saw on my way in.” Apparently Dell and Clay had added goats to the farm.
“No. Ellen up the way raises goats for meat. Ours we raise for milk, and Dell makes cheese.” Clay handed him a piece, and Alan took a bite, closing his eyes at the incredibly delicate, silky cheese that melted on his tongue.
“Oh my God,” Alan hummed. “This is amazing.” He ate another piece and sat back in the chair. “Tell me about the farm and everyone here. It’s been a while.” He wanted to talk about anything other than the reason he was in this damned chair.
“Does that bandage hurt your head?” Archie asked.
“No,” Clay answered for him. “He wears it because he hurt his head and it helps keep it clean.”
“Oh.” Archie still stared up at him. “Is it the kind you can sign or draw on? Jamal broke his arm, and we got to write on his cast.”
Alan reached next to him, moving slowly, and hugged Archie. “Nope. Sorry. But maybe later this evening, you and I can color or something. Make some pictures like we always do.” He wanted normal, the same as… before, and he needed it badly. His entire life seemed to have spun out of control, and something ordinary would be cherished more than anyone else could know.
“Yay!” Archie said, pushed back from the table, and raced off into the houseCOLLAPSE