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Unrequited love sucks.
Now Samuel is older and has vowed to keep his heart safe. But the sudden death of the B&B owner forces Samuel home.
Home, where his family wants him to stay. Home, where he must face Nolan. Home, where he must find a way to resist falling back in love with a man who will never love him in return.
Noble is a standalone Christmas MM novella with an age gap, nosy family, sexy times, and a true love that time can’t stop. It deals with Nolan’s issues with depression, so some might find that triggering.
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“Sammy, it’s me. Nolan. Please call me back.”
Samuel Dunham replayed the message on his cell phone, his heart in his throat.
He listened to it a few more times, closing his eyes and soaking in the deep tone that had played more part in his fantasies than any other.
That stupid voice had gotten to him from the moment he’d moved into Babette’s Bed and Breakfast at fourteen. He’d been scared and just off the streets when Babette had taken him in. The first person he’d seen had been Nolan Sadler, the big, gruff-looking caretaker for the bed-and-breakfast.
At fourteen, Samuel hadn’t hit his growth spurt yet and Nolan’s size had intimidated the hell out of him because he’d reminded him of Samuel’s father. Turned out Nolan was nothing like that asshole. Big, yes, gruff-looking, yes. But he was quiet and unbearably shy and, though always friendly to the kids Babette took in, he mostly kept to himself.
And Samuel had loved him with all the drama of a horny teen, keeping that to himself for years.
Until he hadn’t been able to anymore.
Remembered shame sent pinching heat to flush through his chest. Shoving that last memory aside, he set his phone down and walked into the tiny kitchen of his studio apartment. He opened the refrigerator to find what he had to make for dinner, but all he could see was the last time he’d been with Nolan.
He wouldn’t be calling Mr. Sadler right away. Samuel had moved on and liked the life he’d made in Chicago. At twenty-two, he felt he’d done well for himself. He had a nice apartment and good friends and a job that wouldn’t be making him wealthy, but it paid his bills and left him enough to put into savings every month.
He saved for a real home. A house. Most men his age didn’t dream of homeownership but with nightmares of those months on the street still a part of his life, owning a home was his dream.
Being safe was his dream.
So, he didn’t party away his paychecks like his friends; he saved. He didn’t have that much, but every time he added to the pot, that was a step closer.
When his phone rang again, he stared at the screen, recognizing the number. His heart raced and his hands started sweating. He’d told himself he didn’t want to speak to Nolan, but it must be important if he’d called twice. Samuel rubbed his palms down his jeans and picked it up. Even bracing himself for that voice didn’t prepare him.
Oh God, he sounded good.
“This is Samuel. Hello Nolan.”
The silence on the other end drew out until he shuffled his feet.
“Thanks for answering,” Nolan said softly.
“I would have earlier but I was actually at work when you called.” He reached up and touched the leather necklace he still wore—the one Nolan had given him on his eighteenth birthday.
“Oh yeah? What do you do now?”
“Bike messenger. It’s just temporary. I’m going to school—online graphic design, but it’s a start.”
“That’s great. Really great.” Nolan took a deep breath. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but Babette passed away.”
Shock, disbelief and crushing grief hit him at once. His knees wobbled and Samuel sat heavily on the couch at the punch of pain. “Passed away?”
“It was sudden. We didn’t know she was sick. I’m not even sure she knew long, though she did update her will. That’s why I’m calling. I need you to come home.”
I need you to come home.
At one time, Samuel would have given anything to hear those words. He closed his eyes. Babette? Gone? “I can’t believe it.”
“None of us can. The kids are all sad. Patti cries all the time.”
“I can’t believe Patti is still there. I got her wedding invitation and I’m sorry I couldn’t come.”
“She understood and yeah, she’s still here. She’d like to continue to run the place. But that will be up to whatever the will says. We’re pretty sure everything is going to be fine. You’re in it, so you need to come home.”
Samuel wiped a hand over his face, noting that it was trembling. “I haven’t been home in three years. Why would I be in the will?”
“Probably because of what you just said. This is your home. You were the second after me. She loved you like a son.”
“I thought you said she loved me like a grandson and you like a son. That is what you said, isn’t it?”
“I said a lot of stupid things. Just come home.”
“I actually have a home now. I have a place of my own. A job. Friends. I can’t just pack up and leave like that.”
The silence on the other end of the line cut into him like a knife. He knew about Nolan’s propensity for silence when he was either too emotional to talk or put on the spot. When he finally answered, his voice was gruff, rusty. “We miss you.”