A | A

Soul Restoration

Soul RestorationResplendence Publishing, LLC
Genre: Gay MM/ Multicultural
Series: Book two in the Brookside Athletic Club Series
Book Length: Novel
Release Date: December 10, 2014

Read an Excerpt | Order eBook at Resplendence Publishing

Restoring the past isn’t always possible, even with the most qualified craftsman at your disposal.

After he was disowned by his family, Pete Braxton worked years to build a life without his family’s fortune. It wasn’t easy, but he learned the importance of a hard day’s work and living within his means.

When his brother dies unexpectedly, Pete is left a multi-million dollar fortune and the family home he grew up in. Refusing to let his newfound wealth change the man he has become, he decides to use it to repair the family home his brother destroyed and calls in a master woodcraftsman.

Dylan Oliver relocated to Kansas City to work on Pete’s family mansion in what should have simply been a six-month project. He never expected to fall in love with the home’s owner. When the job is finished and Pete isn’t satisfied with the outcome, will Dylan be sent packing?

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

Excerpt

“Hey, Pete, John wants you to head over to the Wilson job after you finish here,” Craig, one of Pete’s co-workers, barked, shoving his cell phone in his pocket. “Evidently the sprinklers are missing an entire patch of bushes we planted last week.”

“Sure thing,” Pete Braxton answered. He opened the last bag of coco-shell mulch and sprinkled it around the freshly planted fountain grass. Corporate landscaping paid most of the bills for the company John owned, but Pete preferred working on private homes. The Wilson job had been a dream as far as he was concerned, but he doubted he’d set the sprinklers incorrectly. More than likely, one of the Wilson children had run over the sprinkler head with a bike or something. No matter, he enjoyed checking up on his work after a job was complete. It was almost five, which meant he’d get overtime for making the trip across town. Cool. He could use some extra cash. With a leaking water heater and his truck payment overdue by a week, anything beyond his normal six hundred a week was gravy.

After quickly cleaning up his supplies, Pete climbed behind the wheel of the company truck and took a left out of the driveway. When the local news came on the radio, he reached for the knob to change the station but stopped when he heard his brother’s name.

“In overnight news, Shawnee Mission Parkway was the scene of a deadly head-on collision. Both drivers, Braxton Investments owner and CEO, David Braxton, and Wayne Potts of Lenexa were killed instantly.”

Pete slammed his fist against the knob, effectively breaking the radio and splitting his knuckle open. “Fuck.”

He shook his hand while looking for the nearest place to pull over. Despite the estrangement with his family, he’d always hoped there’d be time to make up, to become brothers once again. That wouldn’t happen now. It was over. He was well and truly on his own. Coming to a stop in a grocery store parking lot, Pete searched through the glove box and finally came up with a couple drive-thru paper napkins.

What now? What was a brother who wasn’t wanted supposed to do? Pete felt lost, as if he were adrift without a boat. Which didn’t make any sense, since he’d been on his own for almost ten years, but having a brother who didn’t want him was different than having no brother at all.

How can I be mad at a dead man?

Pete’s phone rang, startling him. He glanced at the caller ID before answering. “Hey.”

“Where’re you at?” John, Pete’s boss and the owner of the landscaping company, asked. “Brent called and told me you left, but that was over thirty minutes ago.”

Pete looked at the clock on the dashboard. Jesus Christ, how long have I been sitting here? “Sorry, I just heard some bad news,” he mumbled.

John cleared his throat. “So you heard. Sorry, man, that’s why I wanted to see you. The police called looking for you, but I didn’t want them to get to you first. News like that…”

“Yeah.” Pete swallowed. “So, am I supposed to call the police or something?”

John paused. “David’s body has already been identified by his secretary. She’s the one who told them David had a brother. Unfortunately, someone screwed up and leaked it to the press. I think the police want to apologize for the screw-up and to officially inform you as the next of kin.”

Pete nodded to himself. It felt weird to hear himself referred to as David’s next of kin. Sure, technically, he was, but David had readily gone along with their father’s wish to have Pete out of the family and their lives. “Okay.”

“They told me if I saw you to have you call David’s lawyer. I’ve got a number right here.”

“Miller, Cambridge and Stone, right?” Pete recited the name of the law firm the Braxton family had used for years.

“No, actually, it’s a man named Matthew Field. He’s got an office out in the ‘burbs somewhere,” John corrected.

Matthew Field. “I’ll get in touch with him.”

“You need a few days off?” John asked.

“Not sure yet. I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out.” Pete knew he hadn’t processed the news of his brother’s death because he still wasn’t sure how he was supposed to feel about it. Was it callous to hate someone who’d just died? “Thanks, John.”

“I’m here if you need anything,” John said before hanging up.

Pete took several calming breaths before heading home, back to the one-bedroom house he shared with Cheddar, his huge, long-haired orange cat.

The minute Pete stepped into the house, the cat was there, waiting for him. Cheddar’s favorite means of getting attention was to head-butt Pete’s calf until he got what he wanted.

“In a minute,” Pete said, ripping the napkin from his hand. The cut to his knuckle had dried, but he’d need to get it cleaned up eventually.

He opened the old console stereo he’d bought at a second-hand store down the street and withdrew the yellow-paged phone directory. While searching the attorney section, he was continually assaulted by Cheddar. Pete ripped out the page with Field’s phone number.

“Okay, dinner, got it,” he told the cat.

Cheddar let out a mew that sounded more like a cuss word.

Pete rolled his eyes and stuck the page to the fridge with a takeout menu magnet. “Technically, it’s not even time for you to eat, so don’t get all snippy with me.”

Nonplussed by the admonishment, Cheddar sauntered over to his food bowl and plopped onto his side. He stared up at Pete and yawned, evidently trying his damnedest to exert his dominance over the situation.

“Fine, for that, I’m not even going to wash my hands before I get your dinner.” Pete retrieved a can of cat food out of the cabinet and used the easy-open pull. His odd relationship with Cheddar had been his lifeline for years.

Pete filled the chipped pottery food bowl and rubbed his companion behind the ears. “Okay, I’m not mad anymore.”

Cheddar didn’t bother looking up from his dinner, obviously unconcerned with Pete’s mood when he had a bowl of flaked tuna and cheese in front of him. Cats definitely weren’t meant for people who suffered from low self-esteem. Pete loved Cheddar, but other than the occasional purr and rub against him, his beloved pet rarely gave more than a sympathetic ear. Well, two, but most of the time, Pete felt Cheddar was only half-listening to him.

“So, my brother died last night,” Pete informed his furry friend while getting a beer out of the fridge. “I haven’t seen David in…hell, nearly eight years.” He glanced down at Cheddar. “It was before you came along, so no need for you to feel jealous. I saw him at a restaurant on The Plaza. I looked up from my twenty-first birthday celebratory steak dinner to find him standing five-feet away from my table. At first, I thought he was glad to see me, but just as quickly, he shut down and turned away.”

Pete upended his can and walked to the living room, leaving Cheddar to finish his dinner in peace. The recliner he’d picked up on Craigslist fit his ass perfectly. It was an ugly gold color and beyond its prime, but it was his. He grabbed the remote and turned on the local news. As a landscaper, the most important segment had always been the weather, but he barely heard the teaser the meteorologist gave at the top of the hour about the chance of precipitation coming up in the extended forecast.

When a publicity picture of his brother came on screen, Pete sat transfixed. Older. David looked so much older, as if the life—the vitality—had been sucked right out of him. Was that what running a multi-million dollar investment firm did to a person, or could it have something to do with trying to live up to their father’s demands? Not that dear old Dad had been demanding much since his death three years earlier.

Pete had also heard that tidbit on the news. Although he hadn’t gone to the funeral, he’d hoped David would reach out to him. Of course, that hadn’t happened. It seemed dear old dad hadn’t been the barrier between them after all.

Instead, Pete had briefly mourned the loss before moving on with his life. His millionaire father had thrust him into the world of the working poor only a month after Pete’s mother had died. As a college freshman who had never held a job, it hadn’t been easy for Pete to take the five-thousand-dollar check he’d been given by his dad’s attorney and start a new life, but he’d done it.

Looking around the living room, Pete studied the cracks in the ceiling and the walls that could use a fresh coat of paint. It was nothing like the 1920’s mansion he’d grown up in, but he’d bought it with his own money after saving for over five years. He’d always referred to his six-hundred-and-thirty square-foot bungalow as the house desperation built.

Cheddar jumped onto his lap and began making an imaginary nest for himself. Pete ran his hand down Cheddar’s back, soothing his huge companion into settling down. The day he’d closed on the house, a matted ball of orange fur had been waiting for him under the front porch. It had taken Pete a good two hours to discern where the mew had been coming from, but using a flashlight, he’d finally found the kitten and lured him out with the only thing he’d had on hand, a slice of cheese. It hadn’t been cheddar cheese, but cheese was a stupid name for a cat. Of course, most people thought Cheddar was just as dumb, but the moment he’d held that kitten in his arms, the name had come to Pete and had stuck.

“And here you are.” Pete grinned. If anyone had told him he’d turn into a cat lover, he’d have punched them, but Cheddar totally controlled the largely unused organ that had been shredded by people who were supposed to love him. “You love me, don’t you?”

Cheddar didn’t bother to open his eyes at the question. Despite the cat’s current indifference, Pete knew Cheddar loved him. Several months earlier, Pete had come down with a wicked case of the flu, and for nearly a week, Cheddar hadn’t left his side, even forgoing his daily prowl of the yard.

The phone rang, prompting Pete to mute the television. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t watching it anyway. “Hello?”

“Peter Braxton?” a deep voice asked.

“Yeah.”

“This is Matthew Field.”

“Yes, John told me to call you,” Pete answered. “I found your number in the book, but I figured I’d just call you tomorrow.”

“Yes, and under normal circumstances, I would’ve waited at least a week to contact you, but I felt you needed to know David left you everything.”