Healed Beginnings is Book 2 of the Silo series. This is Ed’s story (Chris’ ex in Book 1). The background on this starts with Ed, but it is through Ed that Duncan begins to really heal. Ed’s strength and balance are more than Duncan can withstand, but when friends with benefits is the most Duncan is going to allow, how does Ed convince the man that they could be more?
Published: May, 22, 2013
ISBN # 978612920740
Word Count: 47539
Can Ed break through the barriers Duncan has put up to protect himself? There’s more to Duncan than the left hand he habitually hides. Ed believes if Duncan cracks even a little, he can prove it. If it just wasn’t his heart at stake to make that happen…
Ed Norwood propped himself on bent elbows on the grassy lakeshore, watching Jamie and Chris roughhouse like a couple of kids in the cool water. Sunshine beat down on them from a cloudless August sky. Sunglasses helped with a lot of the light, but it was still ridiculously bright with glare on the ripples of the lake. Not enough to make him regret being there. It was a good day to do nothing at the lake.
Friends to share it along with a cooler full of drinks and barbecue waiting to be devoured. He sighed, taking a good stretch on top of it all.
Well, almost all of it was great. He loved his friends, but it was impossible to not feel like a third wheel to their antics sometimes. It was hard seeing Chris with someone else, but he had to agree, in their case, friends was much better than lovers. And as much as he wished he could be with Chris, he could see how much Jamie adored Chris. Saying Jamie hung the moon for Ed’s ex was a world-class understatement.
Ed knew jealousy played a big part in it. The two of them were so perfect for each other, in ways Ed had yet to find for himself. Chris was all chest—broad and strong. Jamie was like a reed, a runner if Ed had ever seen one, and Ed had seen Jamie’s sprint. The guy could outrun a speeding train…almost. Jamie also had Chris smiling all the time. It was simply one of those truths. Ed would never regret losing Chris if he was this happy.
Ed couldn’t say he had been as lucky since they’d gone their separate ways.
Sadly, there really weren’t a lot of choices in Silo for a gay guy. He was glad he had friends, but sometimes… He blew out a breath, wishing.
Regardless of his own angst-filled emotions, he didn’t fight the smile when Chris hefted Jamie and tossed him like a sack of rocks to make a big splash, Jamie squealing the whole way.
Chris yelped and tried to backpedal right after. There was a misstep, a flailing of arms, and then he went underwater as well. A heartbeat later, Jamie popped out of the water waving a pair of red swim trunks.
“Ha!” Jamie cheered, then he dove for the bank in Ed’s direction.
Chris’ arms broke the water and he stood, laughing through his glares. “Jamie! Give those back!”
An evil grin was all Ed saw. Then the trunks were launched in his direction. They landed with a soggy plop at the lip of the water.
“Ed, help me out, man!” Chris had stopped in waist-deep water because Jamie was out of reach in the shallower water. Chris’ trunks were a yard or two away from where he lay on a towel on the grass.
“Don’t do it, Ed!” Jamie cried, gasping and laughing as he plowed through the water, getting closer inland and out of reach. “You saw what he did!”
“Uh, Jamie, you don’t weigh more than a wet napkin.” Ed chuckled when Jamie grumbled. “And you and I both know he’ll do it again.”
The sparkle in Jamie’s eyes proved he knew this.
“Are you really going to leave him stranded out there?” Ed asked Jamie as he came near and dropped to the ground beside him.
“Not for long.” Jamie propped his chin on a braced hand to gaze right at Ed, effectively ignoring his boyfriend who stood buck naked in the water. “He’ll forgive me.” Then he winked.
Ed didn’t want to know how or who would be doing the forgiving. He fell to his back, closing his eyes. “Don’t remind me.” Hell, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d gotten laid.
Jamie nudged him with a knee. “You’ll find yours. You will.”
Ed opened his eyes to see Jamie blinking in full-blown, faked innocence when he faced the water.
“You are going to be in so much trouble,” Chris threatened with a menacing growl.
Jamie laughed. “He’s all bark.” He rolled his eyes. “Fine! Say you’re sorry for tossing me like a sock.”
Chris swayed in the water, pacing most likely. Ed didn’t doubt he probably wanted to throttle the guy next to him. Chris glared once and then heaved a huge sigh. Ed swore he felt the breeze from twenty feet away.
Jamie glanced to Ed. “Did that sound like he meant it to you?”
Ed shrugged. It sounded legit to him. Legitimately fake, but he wasn’t going to point that out. He was sure Jamie knew what he was getting into with Chris. Ed was equally sure Chris wouldn’t so much as tug a hair on Jamie’s body in reprimand.
“I stand by what I’ve said before. You two are sickening when it comes to cute.”
Jamie chortled quietly. Then he fell silent and gave Ed the most unsettling look. “Something’s telling me your time is coming.”
“You’re just being optimistic so I don’t look like a total loser hanging out with you guys.”
Jamie tilted on his neck and gave Ed an unfazed look. “No, I really don’t think so.”
Jamie startled. “Oh! Right. You’re naked.”
That reply earned him fists planted on hips. “No, duh. You did it.”
Jamie gave his lover the largest shit-eating grin Ed had ever seen. “I sure did, didn’t I?” he purred. Then he stood and bent to scoop up the aforementioned swim trunks. “You mean these?” He dangled them daringly from a finger. Ed rose up to watch the outcome.
“You do know there are other people here. Kids,” Chris pointed out.
“Waaay over by the boat docks. I wouldn’t do that to you with an audience.”
Ed made an impatient raspberry. Guess I don’t count.
Jamie twisted to catch his gaze over a shoulder. “Best friends excluded. Not like you haven’t seen it all already.”
Ed’s jaw actually loosened. “You’re okay with that?”
Jamie contemplated the question for a few seconds. “That you’ve seen all of Chris? Can’t change his past. That you get to see him now? That lake would have to be on fire before he’d come another two inches closer.”
“Huh,” Ed grunted. Jamie knew him pretty damned well. The both of them.
“I also know that looking is all anyone else would get the opportunity to do, and it would have to be one of fastest stolen glances in history. I don’t question that about him in the least.”
“You trust him that much?”
“With my life,” Jamie said evenly. He faced the lake and a watchful Chris. “All right. I’m coming.” He waded into the water, holding the treasured trunks in a tight hand.
Ed waited for the traditional grab-and-dunk, but instead got to watch one of the hottest kisses ever.
He groaned and sank to the ground, ignoring them both.
* * * *
Ed dropped his duffle on the bed, opening it to empty. He sniffed the shirt and tossed it in the dirty clothes hamper. It smelled like the barbecue pit and sauce. He slipped from his sandals with swim trunks being flung in the direction of the bathroom to hang to dry. The clothes he wore plus the rest of his things from his day at the lake followed, and then he flopped onto the bed naked. He needed to shower, but wasn’t in a hurry.
He’d had a good day, fun, sun, and friends. What could be better? He slanted a crooked arm over his face and heaved a dejected breath. He knew how it could be better, but unfortunately it wasn’t happening. His day to day was beginning to feel like he was spinning his wheels, getting nowhere and doing nothing. Maybe he should move back home.
He’d signed on to the fire department about four years ago, and for the most part, he’d been happy in Silo. It was quiet, a small town with possibilities. The town was progressive even for being nowhere. Then he’d met Chris and…wow. He was amazing. Knocked Ed right on his ass, literally. They’d bumped into each other on the sidewalk outside of Mabel’s and to apologize, Chris had bought him lunch. They’d dated for a while. He’d hoped they’d last longer, make a deeper commitment, but it wasn’t meant to be. It had been a mutual split. There was something missing, and they both knew it. The sex had been great, though. Now, Chris was officially off the available list. He was so taken he might as well be married.
Ed couldn’t even hate Jamie. Better to be friends with both than neither. It wasn’t all that hard being around them, except for moments like today when it was all too clear to Ed that being alone sucked ass.
Getting a grip on the wallowing in self-pity he was doing, he stood and ambled to the bathroom to clean up. He was back on shift the next morning. He was lucky to be one of the staffed firemen on the department’s roster. The city paid for a team of ten for each of their two locations, with another twenty-five who were volunteer. The staffed firefighters worked in four day shifts, with three off, which meant there were enough bodies to overlap hours. They were expected to always have someone available for emergencies. The staffed men also were required to stay on top of all their training and credentials. If something big happened, everyone who was trained and available throughout Silo was known to show up. Several in town had trained skills, but most days it was quiet and the base crew onboard could handle the calls.
Heck, fires at the vet clinic were practically the only rolling calls they had all summer. Not exactly a mecca of adventure. What it amounted to was, being single, he could live on the abysmal pay the city allotted for the career crew. Too many had families and children to raise, so they had to work and volunteer. But being a firefighter was something Ed wanted to do, what he’d been training for since midway through his sophomore year of high school.
He tested the water flow in the shower and then stepped beneath it, cutting off the outside world by tugging the curtain closed in the cramped half-shower. His living quarters were a small rental about halfway between Silo and Stiller Springs, what had likely been a detached garage but had been refurbished for one of the previous generation’s kids. It had a single front room where the living room and kitchen were, but there really wasn’t a dining area for a table. He usually propped a table in front of the TV if he felt like he needed one. The bedroom was barely large enough for a double bed and a single dresser, and the one bathroom was tiny, but it was only him and so long as he had hot water, he didn’t care. It didn’t require a lot of upkeep and most of the week he was at the fire station anyway. Aside from that, all he had to do was carry his laundry to the main house. Pauline, the owner, had sliced off the washroom and had given him a key to that door. It wasn’t a bad setup as far as bachelor pads went.
There were two new apartment complexes in the works closer to Silo. Probably considerably nicer than the few hundred feet he called home, but he knew the rent would be more than he could afford on the town’s salary pay.
If he worked in a larger community, he’d more than likely make far better money than in Silo but he also knew how hard it was to get into those stations. There were usually waiting lists just to test and interview.
When he blew out an agitated breath, water sprayed wildly. He closed his eyes to tip into the shower stream, attempting to release the restlessness haunting him. Clean and rinsed, he turned off the water and opened the hanging curtain. Grasping a towel, he dried off and tied it around his waist.
He finished dressing, considering a snack since he still had a couple of hours before he’d have to think about going to sleep. Opening the refrigerator to investigate, he closed it a disgusted moment later, standing and gazing around the small apartment hopefully, yet knowing it was fruitless. He was still restless and craving.
He really didn’t know for what.