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On the Ranger (Mistview Heights #3)
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Shane Aarons is going to ruin my national park.
Micah: The best thing about being a park ranger is having the forest to myself. I love my job, but I want a promotion, badly, and the last thing I need is this new hire Shane getting in my way. He just isn’t cut out for ranger work. He’s thin. He’s clumsy. His head is in the clouds.
…And sometimes I want to touch him. So, so bad.
I’m not gay. At least… I didn’t think I was. But now my mind won’t shut up about Shane: his body, his laugh, his lips. When he hurts himself hauling a wood pile and I have to take care of him, I hardly know what to do. Because now he’s in my house–in my bed–letting slip that he wants me, too.
How could I say no to that?
Shane: Holy God, why are lumberjacks so stupidly hot?
I swear, I wasn’t trying to get a park ranger job just to drool over Micah the whole time. But that’s kind of how I’ve been spending all my time. I’m not a great park ranger–I’m a city boy who’s only good at ending up in other city boys’ beds. But I’m trying. And when Micah, dressed in flannel and big boots, bosses me around, I can’t help but fall for him.
But I never expected that one night, in the dark, he’d want to kiss me, too. And now that it’s happened, it’s getting harder and harder to control myself around him. Am I just falling for another straight guy who will leave me in the dust? Or could he be my ranger for real?
On the Ranger is a 76,000-word gay romance about a gruff lumberjack and a spunky city boy who fall in love. It features misty, foresty walks, tall trees, and plenty of steamy scenes. It’s the third book set in Mistview Heights, but can be read as a standalone novel.
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The best thing about the forest is that it doesn’t care about you.
All it takes is some side-eye from a blue jay hopping on the path in front of you to make all the chatter in your mind just stop. The rare sight of a snake glimmering its way between two rocks erases any mindless worry about unanswered text messages or overdue electricity bills.
The forest was about survival, in the most humbling, raw way possible.
And today, I really liked the fact that out here, it didn’t matter that I’d dreamed about having my cock balls-deep inside the slick, tight warmth of another guy last night.
It was early morning, no later than eight o’clock, and it was overcast: the type of crisp morning where the world hadn’t fully woken up yet, and the forest was taking a moment to breathe, cocooned in its own insulated, cool veil of mist. It felt like another planet, one better than ours, the kind I read about in sci-fi paperbacks. The gray stone gravel crunched under my boots as I walked along the narrow path, surrounded by tall trees on either side, the smell of pine permeating everything.
Let me be clear. I wasn’t seeing any of that beauty. Not today. I wish I could say that I was meditating on the nature of… well, nature, becoming one with the flora and fauna, taking it all in and uniting with the earth. But instead I had seared into my brain the image of my cock, achingly hard, sliding slowly into a beautiful man’s mouth. The gleam of his wet, impossibly pink lips. His resulting low moan as he took me deep inside. How’s that for a peaceful stroll through nature?
Christ, the dream had been vivid.
Also, I’m not gay. At least… I don’t think I am. That had always been my brother, not me—Mason had been out and proud for so long, and I was just the boring, straight lumberjacky older brother. I’d always been supportive of his relationships with guys, but I just didn’t think of men like that.
And over the past five years, when I’d been with Olivia, I certainly hadn’t thought about guys at all.
Olivia. It was hard to even conjure her name in my brain. She was gone now—not gone from the world but certainly gone forever from my life. Half of my heart had walked out on me six months ago, and I hadn’t heard from her since. It had been hard to find my usual solace in the forest since she’d left. Sure, the forest was peaceful, and it didn’t care about me—but right around now, I kind of needed someone to care about me.
It was hard to come by.
But I still had my work routine. I’d been a park ranger for eight years, and I couldn’t imagine doing any other job.
It could get a little lonely up on the mountain. The closest thing to civilization was the town of Ashwood, located south of here at the foot of the mountain. It was a long, sloping highway drive into town, where we had a little house. Well, I had a little house. It was just me, now.
Ashwood was a small town, but compared to where I spent my days surveying Mistview Point State Park, it was still something. The park was often empty for days on end as I worked. Just me and my thoughts, and one other park ranger named Connie who I was lucky to see once or twice a day.
I had just started my morning rounds. Even though we hadn’t had many visitors lately, I still made a routine of walking through the whole park at least twice daily, checking for empty chip bags, crushed beer cans, or vandalized trees.
As I made my way down the main path this morning, it was mostly clear. Just the trees and the mist and the perverse images from my dream, rolling like a movie on repeat in my brain. The path curved past a cluster of trees as the hill got steeper, and I started walking faster, getting my heart rate higher, feeling the muscles in my thighs start to wake up with a pleasant burn.
A moment later there was a sudden flutter of movement at the side of the path. I turned to a patch of grass under a nearby ash tree, heading over and crouching down to inspect. It was a small sparrow, trying and failing to take flight. Its soft white underbelly was exposed, and one gold-and-black wing was splayed out as it squirmed on the ground. The bird let out a halfhearted chirp as I approached.
“Hey, there,” I said softly, pulling the cotton towel from my back pocket. I was going to need to take the bird back to the station. After a long time working as a ranger, I always carried around at least one cotton towel as well as a tiny spool of twine, which came in handy more often than seemed reasonable.