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I’ll Stand By You

I'll Stand By YouResplendence Publishing, LLC
Genre: Gay MM/Contemporary
Series: Book one in the Brookside Athletic Club Series
Book Length: Novel
Release Date: November 21, 2014

Read an Excerpt | Order eBook at Resplendence Publishing

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a friend is love them.

Trying to get away from a man he loves but can’t have, Mike Shriver takes a temporary assignment in Kansas City. When the construction company he owns with his brothers is contracted to build an exclusive athletic club in the gay-friendly neighborhood of Brookside, Mike has no idea his life is about to get more complicated.

Mike knew he liked Ray DeMonico after their initial meeting. Unfortunately, like the man Mike had left behind, Ray was already in love, with long-term partner Brent Atwood.

Lonely, Mike decides to check out one of the local gay bars. While having a drink and enjoying the view, he spots Brent in the crowd. With one look, he becomes aware of Brent’s dark secret. Suddenly, Mike is caught between trying to protect Ray and telling him the truth.

In a matter of weeks, Ray’s world begins to crumble. Mike stands by Ray, determined to fight for the man he loves, but Brent’s threats throw both men into a situation they’re not sure they can win.

**Publisher’s Note: This is a revised and updated version of a previously released title.**

Excerpt

Arriving in Kansas City after a long drive from Chicago, Mike Shriver pulled into his clients’ driveway. Ray DeMonico and Brent Atwood obviously had excellent taste, and by the look of their house, a hefty bank account. The large, Tudor-style home was exactly as he’d pictured it after talking to Ray for hours over the phone. Mike had met the two men only once, when he’d flown in to take final measurements and contract a foundation company.

The meeting with Ray and Brent had gone well, and when a room was offered in the couple’s home for the duration of the job, Mike had taken them up on it.

He got out of his pickup and opened the rear driver’s side door. The backseat was full of tools, blueprints and anything else he’d thought he’d need for the projected eight-month schedule.

“Need help?” an enthusiastic sounding voice asked.

Mike glanced over his shoulder at Brent. “Sure.” He handed Brent the rolls of blueprints he wanted to go over with the two men. “If you can get these, I’ll grab my suitcases. Is this a secure enough area to lock my tools up and leave ’em out here?”

“Probably but Ray cleared a bay in the garage for you just in case. If you want to pull around, he’s already got the door open for you.”

“Sounds good.” Mike shut the back door and climbed behind the wheel as Brent disappeared into the house. It was hard to believe the two had not only invited him into their home for the better part of a year but had made room for his work truck. He slowly pulled into the garage, praying the long extended-cab would fit.

Ray opened the door that led into the house and held up his hands to indicate Mike still had another foot of room. Mike nodded his thanks and put the truck in park. Before getting out, he took a moment to stare at Ray through his mirrored sunglasses. Although both men were hot, Mike and Ray had connected almost immediately. Despite feeling guilty about it, Mike looked his fill before getting out of the truck. “Thanks for the space.”

“No problem. We use this bay for storage more than anything.”

Brent stepped into the garage and wrapped an arm around Ray’s waist. “I hope you’re hungry. Ray’s been cooking all afternoon.”

“Starved,” Mike said, squeezing between the front bumper and the wall with his suitcases in hand. “I thought about stopping in Des Moines but wasn’t sure what the two of you had planned, so I decided against it.”

Ray took one of Mike’s suitcases and led the way into the house.

Mike was so focused on the fantastic smells wafting from the stove, he didn’t immediately notice Brent standing behind him. When a hand landed on his ass, Mike jumped in surprise.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Brent said, winking.

Mike’s immediate reaction was to look at Ray who shook his head with a resigned expression on his face.

“Sorry,” Ray said. “Brent doesn’t always know when to behave himself.”

“Don’t apologize for me.” Brent released Mike’s ass and hopped up onto the black granite kitchen island. “I know a good ass when I see one. I was just confirming my suspicions.”

Mike took off his sunglasses and set them on the counter. He wasn’t sure if he should comment or not. Ray didn’t seem angry at Brent, but he did sound embarrassed by his partner’s actions.

“As far as rooms, you’ve got your pick. We have four guest rooms or, something I thought would be even better, a studio apartment over the garage. It’s supposed to be for hired help, but with only the two of us here, we don’t need anything but a weekly spit-and-shine,” Ray said, moving to the stove to stir the sauce.

“The studio sounds good. That way I won’t have to be in your hair any more than necessary,” Mike replied.

Bracing his hands on the edge of the island, Brent leaned forward. “The room across the hall from ours is a lot nicer.”

Ray hit the wooden spoon on the edge of the pot harder than necessary before he set it down. “I’ll help you take your things up to the studio.”

Mike wasn’t sure what was going on between the two men, but he nodded and picked up his suitcase. He followed Ray up the staircase just off the kitchen and took the opportunity to check out the man’s ass. The first time they’d met, Ray had worn a suit. Mike had to admit Ray’s ass was better displayed in the pair of worn jeans he currently wore.

The staircase opened into a large room with a small kitchenette in one corner, a bed in the far corner, as well as an enclosed space Mike assumed was the bathroom. The center of the room held worn, but nice, leather furniture. “This is fantastic.”

“Thanks. We recently redid the family room, so I had them put all the old furniture up here. Well, except the bed, that came from my bachelor days.” Ray chuckled as he carried Mike’s suitcase toward the bed. “If that bed could talk, I’d be in a world of trouble.”

The statement caused Mike’s cock to perk up. He set the second suitcase down. “Are you sure about this?”

“I’m sure.”

“Let me know if I start to wear out my welcome, and I’ll find a hotel or something,” Mike said.

“Brent made you nervous, didn’t he?” Ray asked.

Nervous wasn’t exactly the word Mike would have used. “Is there something going on I should know about?”

Ray leaned back against the antique wardrobe. “Around three years ago, Brent decided he wanted to try a threesome. It wasn’t something I was interested in, but I went along with it because I was afraid of losing him.” He took a deep breath and crossed his arms over his chest. “Since then, we’ve done it a few times, but never for more than a weekend. When I told him I’d invited you to stay here while the athletic club is built, he just assumed you’d spend some time in our bed. I tried to tell him it wouldn’t work because you weren’t some random stranger we could just get rid of after the weekend, but Brent argued that you’re an adult and can make up your own mind.”

Mike scratched his jaw. He’d slept with more than one guy before, but only once and he’d been really drunk at the time, and he’d never fucked a client. Still… “I won’t lie and tell you the idea doesn’t intrigue me, but my brothers would kick my ass if I did anything to screw up this job.”

Ray nodded. “That’s exactly what I told Brent.”

Mike tried to wrap his mind around the situation. He appreciated the fact that Ray was a straight-talker. He’d wasted too much time beating around the bush with other men he’d had an interest in. His chest tightened. Too much time coveting someone else’s husband. “Doesn’t it bother you to see him fucking someone else?”

“It nearly killed me at first, but then I realized how much he’d given up to be with me, and I knew it wouldn’t be fair to him to say no.”

“Bullshit,” Mike said, thinking of his dear friend Sidney. “When you love someone, there’s nothing wrong with wanting them all to yourself.” He’d never planned to fall in love with Sidney, but it had been hard to resist the hot little architect who worked for his brother. Even knowing Sidney was deeply committed to his partner, Nash, hadn’t been enough to stop Mike from falling head-over-heels for him. It was the foremost reason Mike had agreed to relocate to Kansas City until the health club was complete.

“I understand what you’re saying, but I think sometimes you can love someone so much you’d do just about anything to make them happy,” Ray countered.

“And does it?”

Ray nodded. “Yeah. Brent’s a completely different person for a while after we do it.”

“Different how?” Mike asked.

“Happier. He hangs on my every word and feels the desire to touch me whenever we’re in the same room together.” Ray grinned, showing off twin dimples. “It’s nice to feel wanted like that again. Maybe, he was right. Maybe, things were starting to get a little stale.”

“So you’re okay with it now?” Mike was definitely interested in going a few rounds, but the whole situation still worried him.

“Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I’ve seen that it only makes things better between us. And, it’s nice to feel taken care of once in a while. It seems I’m always the one to top, but there are times I miss the feel of a dick in my ass.” Ray bit his bottom lip. Although, Mike doubted Ray meant it sexually, the simple gesture tested Mike’s willpower.

“The most important thing to me is keeping my relationship with Brent safe.” Ray pushed away from the wardrobe and ran his hand across the front of his tented pants. “I’d better get downstairs or my sauce’ll burn. Dinner should be on the table in thirty minutes if you want to shower or anything first.”

“Thanks.” Mike watched Ray disappear down the steps before sitting on the corner of the bed. “Wow.”