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Saving Noah

Saving NoahSAVING NOAH — written w/Cash Cole
Resplendence Publishing
ISBN eBook: N/A
ISBN-10: 1607353350
ISBN-13: 978-1607353355
Genre: Contemporary; M/M
Book Length: Novel
Release Date: September 15, 2009

Read an Excerpt | Order eBook at Resplendence Publishing
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Dexter Krispin arrived in the small Kansas town of Schicksal with one thing on his mind: finishing his doctorial thesis. He hoped getting away from his hectic life in Pittsburgh would allow him to concentrate on the long overdue paper and to forget about his last lover.

Life-long Schicksal resident, Noah Stoffel, has managed to keep his sexuality a secret. Yet, after one look at the dark-haired newcomer, he knows his life in the sleepy town will never be the same.

But more than Noah’s desire for privacy stands between him and Dexter. For years, the residents of Schicksal have been hiding a horrific secret, one that takes Dexter mere days to uncover and expose…a secret that could destroy-or heal-them all.

Excerpt

Note for Readers: You must be over eighteen to read this excerpt.

Noah Stoffel balanced the case of motor oil on his knee as he opened the door. “I’ll see you later in the week, Mr. Moody.”

“Sure thing,” George Moody called out from the back of the hardware store.

Noah lifted the box over the rusted side of the white pickup and turned toward Ruby’s Diner. He walked across the street without even bothering to check for cars. In a town the size of Schicksal, Kansas, a person could probably take a nap in the center of Main Street and not be bothered for hours.

He knew living in a town with a population of two-hundred thirty-one would bother most folks, but Noah loved his little corner of the world. He stopped in front of Ruby’s and wiped his feet on the bright floral welcome mat before walking inside.

“Afternoon, Miss Ruby,” he hollered.

Noah was surprised to see a stranger in one of the five booths. He continued to the front counter and sat on one of the red, cracked vinyl stools. When he was a boy, his father used to bring him to Ruby’s for an ice cream soda every Saturday night after a week full of chores.

Ruby strolled out of the kitchen, the ever-present yellow number two lead pencil stuck in her beehive hairdo, with a plate of that day’s special in one hand and a big glass of sweet tea in the other.

“Be with you in a second, sugar,” Ruby greeted.

Noah hated to seem nosey, but he couldn’t help himself. It was rare to see a stranger in town, especially one about his own age and as good-looking as any of those guys on TV. He studied the man out of the corner of his eye as he pretended to look out the front window.

Ruby talked to the man for several seconds before she turned back to Noah. “What can I do for you today?”

“Thought I’d take Momma home one of those banana cream pies she likes so much. She hasn’t been eatin’ like she should, so I’m hoping to entice her,” he said with a grin.

“She’s still poorly?” Ruby asked as she took a pie out of the glass-fronted refrigerator beside the cash register.

“Yeah.” Noah hated the idea of his mother getting older.

After his father passed away, almost six years ago, his mom was the only family he had left. She used to do fine helping Noah work their small farm, but her health took a turn going on four years ago, which left most of the work to him. Not that he minded. Noah enjoyed working in the garden and making sure the cows got fed, but he often wondered if the old farm was just too much for them nowadays.

He’d broached the subject of selling the farm one night and had been met with absolute silence. Noah hadn’t mentioned it again, but that didn’t mean he didn’t think about it.

Ruby set the boxed pie in front of him.

“How much do I owe you?” Noah asked as he dug out the wallet he’d made in Boy Scouts years earlier.

“No charge if ya bring me some of those pecans I know you’ve got laying around at your grove.”

Noah knew Ruby was just being nice. Most of the town knew the Stoffel farm wasn’t what it used to be. Most months he’d been forced to do odd-jobs for people just to make ends meet.

In the past, his momma had made quite a nice bit of side money picking up pecans from their small grove and shelling them for folks in town. Now with her back hurting the way it was, she could barely get out of bed most days.

“I’ve got to harvest some corn in the next couple of days, but I could sure bring you some in on Thursday, if that’d be soon enough?”

“Thursday sounds just fine,” Ruby answered.

Noah lifted the box into his arms. He leaned over the counter and whispered to Ruby, “Who’s the new guy?”

“Oh, you two haven’t met? Well it’s about time we fixed that, wouldn’t ya say?”

Ruby grabbed Noah’s hand and dragged him over toward the table. “Dexter Krispin, I’d like you to meet Noah Stoffel. Dex is Mayor Edwards’ nephew from Pittsburgh. He’s here visiting for a few weeks.”

Noah set the pie back on the counter and walked over to shake Dex’s hand. “Pittsburg? Kansas?”

“No. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

“Oh. Can’t say’s I’ve ever been that far east. I went to St. Louis when I was a senior in high school for the regional science fair, but I think that’s about as far away from home as I’ve been. Well, not counting college. I was enrolled at Iowa State, but I only got to attend classes for a couple months before I was needed back here at home.”

Noah realized he was still shaking Dex’s hand and grudgingly pulled away. He wondered if Dex or Ruby had noticed the way the front of his jeans had begun to fill out. Being homosexual in the town the size of his wasn’t really an option.

He assumed townsfolk chalked his lack of dating up to the fact there were few single women in the area, and most of them were more interested in barrel racing or getting the hell out of town than hooking up.

“It was nice to meet you,” Dex said, once again taking his seat.

“You, too,” Noah agreed as he went back and picked up his pie. He was sure his face was flushed. Despite his being in the sun on a daily basis, Noah’s German heritage didn’t really allow for a tan of any kind. He usually burned and pealed several times during the summer, only to be left with the same pale skin and blond hair he’d started with.

His gaze perused Dex once more. Dex didn’t seem to have tanning issues. The man looked nothing like Cora Edwards. With his dark brown hair and eyes, Dex didn’t look at all like the porcelain-skinned, silver-haired mayor. And Noah was positive Cora didn’t have those fantastic dimples in her cheeks. Noah’s tongue tingled at the thought of swirling it around inside those cute depressions.

“I’d better get this home,” Noah said.

“Okay, sugar, drive safe,” Ruby called out.

Dex turned back to his dinner and Noah almost stumbled over a chair as he watched the gorgeous man lick the fried chicken drippings from his fingers. He prayed he’d be able to get the pie and himself home safely.

* * * *

Dex leaned against the floatation device. His left hand clutched a half-full beer can even though it rested easily inside the coaster. His right arm dangled in the lukewarm water of his aunt’s swimming pool.

September was hardly a good month for swimming, but southwestern Kansas often enjoyed warmer than normal temperatures during the daylight hours. Besides, he told himself, if he didn’t have a place to relax and cool off other than the shower, he’d be ratcheting Cora’s water bill through the roof.

“So, did ya meet ’em?” Cora demanded.

He glanced from beneath his sunglasses to toss her a stern glare. “I told you not to ask.”

Impatient as ever, she took another sip of her martini, set the glass on the bistro table, and slammed both palms against the teak wood. “Damnit, Dex, don’t play games with me.”

“I met ’em,” he responded quietly, mimicking her Midwestern slang. “I saw a lot of people today. I went to City Hall, if you can call that cracker box a building, and I met your police chief, who told me to give the Honorable Mayor his best, so consider it done.”

“And?” she persisted.

“I met your receptionist, the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. I went to the diner and met Ruby and Cookie, had a bite to eat, and I saw a nice young man who came in for pie to take to his parents.” He watched as his aunt lifted her brows inquiringly.

Resisting a smile, Dex continued. “Later, I walked down the street—you only have four or five, so maybe I should be more specific. I went to the post office, and the convenience store. If you want to know more, ask Ruby—she seems to know everybody’s business.”

Cora huffed. “You don’t have to be nasty about it. I was only askin’.”

“And I’m only tellin’ —don’t ask. You invited me to do the job, and I’ll do it, but it has to be my way, with no interference and no questions!”

“Smart ass.” She drained her glass and went back inside for more alcohol, he supposed.

As she retreated, the grin he’d held back exploded. His father’s oldest sister was a character. Twice married, twice widowed, with more time, land, and money on her hands than any woman had a right to possess. She was also a sweet old darling with a heart of gold and an inquisitive nature that could outshine it.

“She’s lonely,” his dad had told him before he left Pittsburgh for the small community near both the Oklahoma and Colorado borders. “But she means well. See what you can do for her to ease her mind.” Then his dad had chuckled. “Look at it this way, son, by the time you get home, you’ll have more than enough for your doctoral thesis.”

Dex had agreed. He wasn’t used to the lack of cultural activities and fast food, but the diner had so far offered decent coffee, and he could grudgingly admit he had been enjoying the back-to-nature, laid back ambiance of Schicksal. The hamlet had been settled by Germans in the late eighteen-hundreds and lay only a few miles from Kismet, Kansas. Kismet’s population of less than five-hundred made Schicksal seem like barely a blip on the western plains’ radar.

He would never have imagined such a tiny place could house so many dysfunctional people. They had a kleptomaniac, a compulsive liar or two, an in-your-face lesbian at the post office, and a skirt-chasing plumber. Cora’s opponent for the mayor’s seat had to be the least desirable of the lot, a gambler who spent more time at the crap tables in northwestern Oklahoma than he did running his ranch. Dex had promised to work on his doctoral thesis, but he’d be damned if he’d be held accountable until the job was done.

Cora reappeared, a fresh drink already passing her lips. She coughed none-too-gently when Dex didn’t look up. “I’m sorry.”

“Apology accepted.” He knew, however, that more was coming.

“I’m just concerned, you understand?” Her voice held a pleading tone.

“I know, and you’ve a right to be concerned, but at the same time…”

“I know!” She held up her hands, sloshing her drink.

Dex thought a moment, took a last swig of beer, and slid from the raft into the pool. He dove under and then resurfaced. “Aunt Cora, I love you. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help someone. No—you aren’t some evil bitch for interfering, and no, you weren’t wrong to invite me—I needed the break, needed to get out of the city, needed to be somewhere I couldn’t be found. I’m glad I’m here.”

She seemed satisfied, but she tightened her lips momentarily. “I just wish there was more I could do to help.”

Dex shrugged. “Cora, these things take time. People get well when they’re ready.”

“Not if they don’t even know they’ve got a problem.”

“Sure,” he agreed. “But we’re not doctors and we’re not mirrors. The little creep who has been stalking me will eventually get tired and move on to someone else. Will you trust me on this?” He knew she was impatient.

“Don’t have much of a choice, do I?” She walked closer to the pool and knelt. “You say you went to City Hall? Was David there?”

Dex thought back to Cora’s nemesis. “He was.”

“What did he want?” she demanded.

“He wondered where you were and what you were doing. I told him you had a hair appointment in Liberal.”

“Good. Nosy bastard. And who did you meet at the diner?”

“I met Ruby, Cookie, some farmer named Joe, and a young man named Noah Stoffel. Satisfied?”

Cora nodded slowly. “Okay. Not bad for your first day on the job. Look, I don’t care what you do to David, but if you have romantic designs on Noah, I’m here to tell you—leave that kid alone.” Deep lines creased her face when she frowned. “Shit, I forgot how young he is, only a few years your junior.”

“He’s hardly a boy, Aunt Cora.” Dex chuckled.

“No, but he’s a lot like you, and I like him. You’re only going to be here a couple of weeks, and Noah is a fixture in this community, like family to everyone here. He’s a vital part of this town, and I don’t want you to go breaking his heart. Hurt him and I’ll cut off your nuts and mail them back to your father COD. If you want to get laid—and I suspect you will—go into Dodge or Liberal.”

“Cora!” Dex didn’t know whether to take her words as funny or hurtful. He swam toward the side of the pool and propped himself on his arms.

She rose and snapped her fingers. “I just thought of something you can do for me while you’re here. Check out Old Man Weathers. He’s the asshole who owns all that land up north and won’t let anyone else’s cattle graze on it. Several have offered to pay the old fart, but he keeps turning them away. I want to know why.” She stared down the length of her bony nose at him. “I’ll pay you.”

“I don’t think so.”

“It’s my money.”

“You sure you’re not trying to keep me here longer?” he teased.

Cora cracked a smile. “Maybe. Shame when an old lady feels she has to offer incentives to her family to get visits from them, isn’t it?”

Dex was about to argue with her, reminding her that the highway into western Kansas went both ways, but she waved and left.

A chill breeze swept over the pool, hardening his nipples. He slipped back into the water, rubbing his chest and allowing his hands to travel further south to comfort his balls and cock with an image of Noah in mind. Cora had been right, Noah was exactly his type, and from the covert looks the guy had been giving him, Dex suspected he was Noah’s type as well.