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Come Home (Kinley Island #1)
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He doesn’t think anything of it when he kisses me one late summer night. Forbidden for years, and now he’s right in my lap.
…But I’m no good at “should.” Instead, I end up with my lips on his.
Come Home is a 70,000-word gay romance about two friends who should be enemies but fall in love instead. It features summer nights by the water, boozy milkshakes, bad decisions, and a very good dog named Meatball.
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The first rule on Kinley Island is that all you talk about is Kinley Island.
Even when you’d rather talk about anything else. Even when you’re making a walk of shame into Tallis General Store at seven o’clock in the morning, shirtless, with another guy’s cum still dried on your chest.
I knew I was a hot mess. But at least I embraced it.
I thought for sure I could sneak into Tallis General early and buy some cheap, generic T-shirt without being seen. I was wrong, of course—because there were no secrets in this town, and Kinley Island wasn’t going to let my biggest mistake of a one-night stand go by without a fight. But I at least had a good few minutes where I existed in a comfortable bubble of reckless optimism.
I’d woken up approximately six minutes ago in Marshall Barrowfield’s house to the sound of Marshall clanging a spoon inside a metal pot, just inches above my sleeping head.
“Am I being murdered?” I said feebly.
“Hunter! Wake up! Now!”
I’d pulled the sheets over my head, hunkering down into the dark warmth of the bed and covering my ears.
“Please—no?” I squeaked, knowing my efforts were entirely futile.
A moment later the precious cocoon of sheets and comforter was being yanked away from me, leaving me naked and cold in the fetal position on the bed. The sun was so bright I briefly considered that it might be mid-explosion, and I was waking up to witness the end of the world. Squeezing my eyes shut like a frightened prey animal definitely wasn’t helping.
I groaned helplessly, and against my better judgment I peeked one eye open. Marshall was looming above me, fully dressed, eyebrows raised, waving his arms to shoo me like a stray dog. Shame filled my insides like sludge.
I had to stop hooking up with people I hated or who hated me.
“Rude,” I said. I slid my legs off the side of the bed slowly, reluctantly sitting up. “Normally I prefer being woken up with a blowjob, but I’m willing to negotiate—”
“You’re not funny, Hunter. Just get out,” Marshall said, circling around the room. “Jerry is going to be here in four minutes to fix the faucet in this bathroom. You can’t be in here. I need you to be gone, like, an hour ago.”
“Why so early? Can’t he fix a faucet during a real time of day?”
“Our appointment is at seven,” Marshall said.
“Exactly. Seven in the morning is offensive. A time of day I really don’t want to associate with.”
“You’re a teacher,” he said, not hiding his disgust.
I glared at him. “And you’re a bartender. And also a self-righteous prick, but we don’t have to talk about that this early, do we?”
“Don’t you have to get up early every day?”
“Yes, Marshall,” I said. “Five days out of the week, I am a perfectly responsible adult man. I work hard, and I do it well. But on Saturdays, I sleep in.”
Marshall rolled his eyes. “Get up. Get out,” he barked. “I need Jerry to finish his work fast so I can get over to the city. I have a meeting with a self-made billionaire in ninety minutes, and frankly, he’s worth my time more than you are.”
Well, fuck you very much, too!
“What does a bartender possibly have to talk about with a self-made billionaire?”
“I’m not a bartender, Hunter. I’m an entrepreneur.”
Marshall had always been trying to create businesses on the island—he’d had a failed coffee shop, a failed cycling gym, and now was trying his hand at a bar. He’d inherited his money and was spending it all on trying to make Kinley Island something it wasn’t.
Someone like him belonged in the big city, but I had a gut feeling Marshall was too fearful to ever actually leave the island. Here, he felt like a big fish in a small pond, when in reality, he was more like a tuna sandwich sitting in a hot car.
“Have fun with the billionaire,” I said. “I’ve got things to do today, too.”
I didn’t tell Marshall the details. I wasn’t ready to say that I had a meeting with someone far more important that day, too—a self-made millionaire, a meeting that had been looming over me all week.
A meeting with my best friend.
It was already bad enough to be waking up in Marshall’s bed. The last thing I needed was to tell him I was going to be seeing Gavin for the first time in two years.
Marshall had hated me and Gavin in high school. We were twenty-nine now, and enough time had passed that high school drama didn’t affect our interactions, but when I thought about how he used to treat Gavin, my stomach churned. “Gavin Bell” had been “Gavin Smells” in elementary school, but by high school, Marshall had ditched any silly nicknames. He was just cold toward Gavin, insinuating that he was gay anytime he had the chance.