A Restored Man (Men of Halfway House #3)
Genre: M/M, Contemporary Romance
Cole Renzo thinks his greatest challenge is to behave for the remainder of his term at Halfway House. Until he meets his new boss, Ty Calloway, a man who ticks off every box on Cole’s list of interests.
A sought-after restorer and customizer of exotic and collectible cars, Ty had enough confidence to command what he wanted in life, until one fateful night changed everything. Almost two years later, he’s slowly rebuilding his life with great control. He’s defied the odds and works tirelessly to be the man he once was—but he still feels broken.
Cole’s candor and unfiltered personality awaken Ty’s barely-remembered desire to greet each new day with a smile, while Ty’s unwavering acceptance of Cole’s quirks and brash humor makes Cole feel as if he fits in for the first time in far too long. When a nemesis threatens Ty’s personal restoration and the things he holds dear, Cole is determined to protect their relationship, even if that means sacrificing everything he’s worked so hard to achieve.
But Ty will have to let his guard down, surrender control, and admit he needs Cole first, even if that puts himself at risk of breaking beyond repair.
The music reverberated off the walls and filtered back through Cole’s body. The sounds of Pitbull’s “Timber” had him gyrating in the kitchen as he reached into the refrigerator. He grabbed the mozzarella then did exactly as the song commanded after shutting the door. He spun his body around repeatedly, holding the bag of cheese above his head while his hips arched up and down, completely seduced by the pounding beat of the song.
He closed his eyes. His heart thumped in unison with the beat, guiding his thick, compact, toned body in the fast-paced thrust of his hips as if he were pushing into the welcoming heat of a lover.
The pace slowed and so did his body, in complete sync with the rhythm. His hips rounded deeply, seductively, giving a show that would always excite more than the traditional foreplay.
Cole Renzo had some moves and he knew it.
The song sped up again and he glided barefoot across the tiled kitchen floor to reach the garlic cloves from the basket in the corner.
“Hey, you,” Matt said, entering the kitchen, speaking loud enough for his voice to travel above the music.
Cole looked over at Matthew Doner, owner of the halfway house where he stayed, and smiled as his body moved to the rhythm of the song, not faltering a single beat with the interruption. He knew Matt loved to dance and had caught him doing his own version of a solo when he thought no one was watching. He dropped the garlic cloves on the counter and bent his finger in a come here motion, swinging his hips in a fluid Salsa-like move as he walked toward Matt slowly. Matt laughed and took two steps forward. Cole pulled him closer, spun him once then wrapped his arm around Matt’s waist and started to dance to the faster thump of the song.
The laughter echoed in the kitchen as they moved in perfect time with the fast-paced rhythm nearing the end of the tune. Matt held up his arm and Cole circled with the expert elegance of a seasoned dancer, then pulled Matt close, stepped to the side and spun Matt in the same fashion.
“What the fuck!” Julian thundered when he entered the kitchen.
They froze at the sound of Julian’s tone, just as the song ended. Cole’s hand still rested on Matt’s waist as they tried to settle their breathing, the absence of music magnifying the harsh puff of each exhale.
“Hey!” Cole responded cheerfully. “Matt and I were getting it on in here. Matt’s got some hip action that would make a—”
Matt’s hand came up around the back of Cole’s head to cover his mouth, stopping him midsentence. What the hell? He was just going to compliment Matt on his seductive dance moves.
Cole glanced at Julian. His golden skin glowed, and he looked as if he had actually swelled an inch or two while standing there. His nostrils flared like a bull’s. His usual intimidating green-eyed glare was more vicious than usual.
“What. The. Fuck,” Julian said in that controlled tone that couldn’t hide the undercurrent of his bubbling rage. He looked like he wanted to murder someone. Correction. Based on the white-knuckled fists he held at his sides, he was probably going to beat the shit out of some poor soul.
Murder would show mercy.
Matt’s hand couldn’t hide the smile Cole imagined was plastered on his face. Poor sorry ass idiot who dared piss off Julian Capeletti. He looked up at the green-eyed guy who towered over Cole’s five-nine stature.
“J, calm down,” Matt said to his partner in his usual calming tone.
Yeah, good luck with that. Julian was about to go ape shit on someone and Cole was going to have a front row seat to that show. Cole’s stomach fluttered and he started shifting his weight from foot to foot. He couldn’t wait to see Julian actually lose it for once.
Julian’s jaw clenched and his fists tightened.
Wait a minute. Cole looked back and forth between Julian and Matt. Julian’s not pissed at Matt—he never was. They had one of those sickly sweet, always romantic I love you lick fest relationships you secretly want but would never openly admit. Why was Julian so mad? And who the hell was he mad at? There was no one else in the kitchen.
Shit. Cole slowly registered how his actions or words may have been received. He instantly released Matt as if his fingers were singed and put his hands behind his back. Matt removed his hand from Cole’s mouth. Cole took a few steps back and raised his hands in a surrender-like fashion, hoping to calm the golden beast that seemed to be growing in width with each passing second.
“We were just dancing,” Cole said calmly. He knew better than to joke with Julian while he was in this state of mind. Stick to the facts. “I was making dinner…your favorite actually.” He walked over slowly toward the stovetop like someone stepping away from a wild animal. He kept his focus trained on Julian as he lifted the pot tops on the stove.
Matt neared Julian and placed his hands on the stretched black T-shirt covering his broad chest. “J, I heard the music and came in here. You know I can’t resist a dance,” he said teasingly as he stroked Julian’s chest. He then smiled and placed a kiss on Julian’s neck.
Julian’s focus shifted quickly from Cole to Matt and back to Cole. Within a second, his glare had changed. Matt kissed him again and Julian’s eyes partially closed but snapped open, re-focusing on Cole as his target.
Matt’s hand reached up Julian’s neck to the back of his shaved head.
Julian’s eyes closed and his head lolled to the side, seeking Matt’s kisses up his neck then along his jawline. In a flash, he grabbed Matt by the hand and pulled him out the kitchen. Matt quickly glanced back to Cole with a huge grin on his face.
Cole sighed with relief as his entire body relaxed.
He always seemed to get a rise out of Julian but it was never intentional. Not really. He wouldn’t deny he occasionally had some fun at Julian’s expense. He just had the worst case of foot in mouth syndrome. It seemed his mouth worked much faster than his brain. He would never say or do anything to intentionally hurt someone, his mother had taught him better than that. But with a thousand different thoughts racing in his mind at any given moment, picking the right thing to say didn’t always work out in his favor.
Or as Julian said, he had no social filter between his brain and mouth.
Cole returned his focus to the dinner he was preparing. Food. God, he loved to cook and was thankful as hell Matt and Julian allowed him to tinker in the kitchen. He didn’t want to stir anything up—aside from the sauce he was preparing—but he needed to burn off the nervous energy that thrummed through his body on a constant basis. He pressed the button on the iPod docking station to jump to the next playlist and lowered the volume. The smooth sounds of Maroon 5 streamed through the speakers and eased his nerves as he continued to stir the sauce. Visions of Adam Levine singing and dancing came to mind. Mmm. The things he’d love to do to that man.
He was placing the garlic rolls in the oven some time later when Julian walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator to grab a bottled water. Cole closed the oven and stilled, hoping for some magic superpower that would render him invisible. He couldn’t abandon dinner and risk it getting ruined or, even worse, messing up Halfway House, the place he had called his home for the last two months. Shit.
Cole turned, feeling as if he should say something, but shut his mouth almost as quickly to avoid aggravating the situation. He sucked at apologies and usually ended up shoving his other foot into his mouth as well.
Julian glared at him just as Matt entered the kitchen with flushed cheeks, a dreamy smile, and swollen lips. Matt hummed as he tugged his shirt to straighten it. When he looked up and saw both Cole and Julian looking at him, his eyes rounded and he quickly turned and exited the kitchen.
Midday booty call. Busted.
A slow smile began to spread across Cole’s face. He glanced over at Julian who still had a death glare focused on him.
Julian pointed a finger at him. “Don’t you dare go there,” he said before turning away. “And pull up your pants. I can see your damn Spider-Man underwear.”
“Hey, don’t rag on the superheroes. Oh, and by the way…”
Julian turned and gave Cole a pointed glare.
Cole did a chin up gesture toward the door where Matt had been only moments ago. “You can thank me later.”
The muscles in Julian’s jaw flexed. He inhaled sharply, shook his head, and left the kitchen without saying another word.
Men of Halfway House Series
A Better Man (Book #1)
Matthew Doner is starting over. After a five-year prison term that alters every aspect of his life, he receives a bequest from his aunt with the stipulation that he use the money to make things right. Breaking free of the long-standing role he’s played and inspired by the few who support him, he decides to create a safe place where people like him can find purpose and start a new life.
Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, stubborn, and just what Matt needs. Desperate for work after a downturn of luck, he accepts the job to renovate Matt’s crumbling building.
Over the course of a year, romance simmers between them as they restore the house. But there’s a bigger renovation that must take place in their hearts. To become better men, they need to learn to trust each other even with secrets and painful memories they fear may rip them apart.
A Hunted Man (Book #2)
After surviving ten years in prison, Cameron Pierce is attempting to put the past behind him. He tries to adjust to his newfound freedom with a place at the halfway house and a job. But one lesson he learned in prison keeps him guarded: hope is a dangerous thing.
Hunter Donovan, Assistant State Attorney, is a man of justice who loves a challenge. After a lifetime of putting his career first, a milestone brings him to a harsh realization—he’s lonely.
Hunter’s world changes when he meets Cam. The wary young man intrigues him and awakens a desire unlike anything he’s ever experienced. When Cam’s past resurfaces and threatens to rip them apart, their budding relationship is challenged and Cam’s hope for a future begins to dim.
These outside forces hunting Cam will stop at nothing to send him back to prison. But they’ll have to get past Hunter first.
Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.