by TA Moore
Publisher: Rogue Firebird Press
Cover Artist: Tammy Moore
Release Date: September 10, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: First Love, Second Chance, Bad Boy, Grumpy One and Sunshine One
Themes: Forgiveness, second chances, family, redemption
Length: 57 000 words/ 90 pages
Heat Rating: 3 flames
It is a standalone book set in the same world/town as the Dirty Deeds series
It does not end on a cliffhanger
When your ex-boyfriend finally has the life he always wanted, it would take a real asshole to interfere with that…but not like Bode’s ever said he’s not an asshole.
Bode Harlan has never claimed to be a good guy, but he’s trying to keep his nose clean and his head down these days.
After a year in prison for assault--and to be fair, he did it--he isn’t looking to go back. Admittedly, his pretty face being the star attraction in an illegal underground fighting ring seems to run counter to that goal, but he’s gotta pay the bills and there ain’t much else he’s good at.
And it keeps his parole officer off his back…since she runs the place.
Then his mom skips town and her boyfriend kicks Bode’s 14 year old brother out on the street. Bode grew up in and out of foster care, he doesn’t want that for Danny. It’s not like he can take the kid in, though. He’s an ex-con who gets beat up twice a month for money. That’s how he ends up on his good-natured ex-boyfriend’s doorstep. Sonny is a soft touch. At least he always was for Bode. All he wants is somewhere to crash for a couple of nights, nothing more. Sonny’s got his life together now--a home, a boyfriend, even a dog--and it would take a real asshole to want to blow that up.
…of course, Bode’s never said he wasn’t an asshole.
SONNY SLAMMED THE door. Or tried to. Before it closed, Bode shoved his boot into the gap, and the heavy wood bounced off leather and bone.
Bode winced and had the balls to look put out. The cooking show Sonny had been halfway through rattled on in the background. It wasn’t the soundtrack that Sonny had imagined for his first reunion with his sort-of ex. That had either been Driver’s License or Bad Guy, depending on his mood.
“Why do you assume I want something?” Bode asked. His hair was shorter than it used to be—making it look darker, more red than ginger—and a bruise had just started to bloom around one of his eyes. At some point, Sonny knew it would fade down to a marshy green that nearly matched Bode’s eyes. He’d seen that happen before.
Back when Bode’s bruises had been Sonny’s business. That had been a while ago.
“Why else would you be here?” Sonny asked. He could hear it in his voice—the dredged-up hurt, the once-broken heart—but he doubted Bode would notice. It wasn’t the sort of thing he cared about. Other people and how what he did affected them were not Bode’s area of expertise. Sonny checked the time. “At nearly midnight.”
Bode shrugged, one-sided and laconic. “Maybe I wanted to tell you I’m out.”
“You’ve been out for three months,” Sonny said.
“Keeping tabs?” Bode asked with a slow, smug smile. It probably hurt as it creased along the edges of the bruise, but he didn’t let that stop him. “I didn’t know you still cared.”
“I don’t,” Sonny said. It wasn’t true. He cared, but that didn’t have to mean anything. It didn’t mean anything. “Just pointing out you’ve had plenty of time to drop by, yet this is the first time I’ve seen you. What happened? We keep missing each other?”
“You always got up too early for me.”
Sonny was surprised at how angry that made him. He wasn’t stupid. Bode knew that. So why stick to his stupid lie when they both knew Bode wouldn’t cross the street to see Sonny, not unless he had an ulterior motive. His temper felt like a head cold, the pressure of it at the back of his eyes. Usually it took him a long, grudging time to get mad about something, but Bode had been an asshole for years, so that pump was about ready to blow.
Except Sonny didn’t like it when he lost his temper. He didn’t like being out of control. It never ended well. He bit the inside of his cheek, a knot of old scar tissue from the habit gritty between his teeth, and throttled the hot emotion back.
“Right, well,” he said. “Whatever. If that was the only reason you’re here, job done. Now I know. I’m glad for you.”
He opened the door. Bode had the balls to look smug, as if he’d known that Sonny would come round. More fool him. Sonny braced his hands flat against Bode’s chest and gave him a shove that made him stagger backward.
“You can still f*ck off,” Sonny repeated and slammed the door.
He turned around and leaned back against the door while he waited. On the TV screen, a woman in a white chef’s coat was trying to do something to a side of beef with a coat hanger. The dog had taken the opportunity to crawl up onto the couch and bury her head under a cushion, as if there was no way Sonny would see her whole ass sticking out.
The idea that he might have gotten it wrong—that Bode might have actually f*cked off—had just started to nibble at the back of Sonny’s mind. He hated—really, honestly hated—that it would bother him if Bode had.
It wasn’t that he deluded himself that Bode couldn’t leave things unsaid with him—that was how Bode preferred to leave things. It was just that they’d known each other since they were kids, and Bode didn’t easily give up on anything he wanted. It would be weird if that changed now. No, the reason Bode was here was because he wanted something.
“I need somewhere to crash,” Bode said through the door. “Just for a couple of nights, until I sort something out.”
About the AuthorTA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide.
Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.
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