on November 27, 2017
Genres: LGBT, romance
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Nearing the end of a suspended jail sentence should unlock a brighter future for CJ Davis, only the chip on his shoulder is as hard to shift as his bad reputation. Born into a family of career criminals who live down Davis Road, an address the cops have dubbed Davis Row, his name alone is like a rap sheet that makes optimism impossible.
Brand-new parole officer Noah Huxley is determined to see the good in men like CJ. After all, he knows firsthand that bad things can happen to good people. His colleagues mock his doe-eyed optimism, but Noah soon sees CJ’s bad attitude and bravado are weapons he uses to keep people at a distance.
Both men know one simple mistake can change a life forever. At first glance, they might seem to be polar opposites. Yet underneath, they’re not that different at all.
I ran my thumb across the back of his hand, marveling at how nice it felt.
“What?” he asked, smiling at our joined hands.
“Nothing. I just wondered why people held hands. It feels nice.”
He blinked. “You’ve never held hands before?”
“Uh, no. I told you I ain’t ever had a boyfriend before. And random hook-up guys in the backroom of HQ aren’t there to hold hands.”
“Oh, of course. Sorry.” He threaded our fingers and used both hands to hold my one. “Do you like it?”
I nodded. “Yeah. But my hands are stained. The oil and grease at work just gets ingrained.”
He held up my hand and took a closer look at the blackened fingernail beds and in the creases, the callouses. “I like it,” he said, turning my hand over and looking at each side. Then he grinned at me. “Tells me you’re good with your hands.”
I didn’t want to laugh at the corny line but couldn’t help it. “I’ve never had any complaints.”
“I should think not,” he said, still smiling. “You know, maybe we should start a list of firsts. First hand-holding, first boyfriend . . . anything else we should add?”
I ignored his pry for more information. “What is it with you and lists?”
He grinned. “What can I say? I like to see my own progress.”
We both sat there holding hands and smiling at each other like giddy schoolboys. This was getting absurd. “I should probably go.”
“I’m adding first sleepover to the list.”
I snorted and stood up, reluctantly pulling my hand from his. “Thanks for lunch, and the drink. And helping me with the reading and stuff. And thank you for telling me about you.”
“Thank you for listening.” He stood up, getting to his full height with just an inch between us. He looked at my mouth, then leaned in slowly and almost kissed me. My heart damn near stopped. But he pressed himself against me, with his cheek to mine and his warm breath at my ear. I gasped as a shiver ran through me. “What are you doing?” I whispered.
“Counting down the days,” he replied, a soft murmur in my ear.
I took a step back, dizzy. “Whoa.”
His grin made his eyes do that crinkling thing, which didn’t help at all. “Still think you won’t beg me to kiss you in two weeks?”
“You don’t play fair.”
“Never said I did. But for what it’s worth, I’m playing for real.”