Excerpt from Beyond Belief
© 2017 Jenna Kendrick. All rights reserved.
A three-day road trip could put him on his beach in Guatemala. Five days max if he took time to sleep and see the sights along the way. Which was about how long he’d been stuck on the Ventura Freeway.
Tyler mentally mapped the route. California to Arizona—or out to Texas if he wanted to follow the Mexican coast and cut across.
The opening bars of “Sugar Daddy” broke the silence in the car. He’d long since grown frustrated with the radio, as the flow from one song to another only made him more aware of how long he’d been crawling along the highway. He instructed Siri to answer the incoming call. “Someone’s been playing with my ringtones again,” he growled.
“I’m just trying to give you an appreciation for Broadway musicals, baby.” Drake laughed.
Ty let the sound of Drake’s chuckle soothe some of his frustration. There’d been a time not too long ago when he’d thought he’d never hear his lover’s deep rumble again. Years ago, Drake had cast him aside in favor of burgeoning career, but he crawled back into Ty’s life and his bed once or twice a year, no matter how far and wide Ty traveled to avoid the hurt of repeated rejections. Just when Ty thought he’d found the courage to cut their bond once and for all, Drake had shown up in El Hawaii saying he wasn’t there to fuck Ty but to keep him. If he hadn’t given Drake one more chance, he wouldn’t be racing—well, crawling in LA traffic—home to the man who’d spent the last eight months ensuring Tyler had no regrets about his decision. Well, at least not about their relationship.
“Does that mean I get to play with your angry inch when I get home, Hedwig?” One of the many things he’d discovered over these eight months was that his six-foot-four, action hero, movie star boyfriend had a secret desire to sing on stage.
“All of my considerable inches are yours to command. What’s your ETA?”
Ty closed his eyes for a split second and opened them, hoping the road had miraculously cleared. No such luck. “I just crossed the 405. At the rate traffic’s moving, I’ll be home somewhere between midnight and Christmas.” The worst part of trading El Hawaii for Los Angeles was the sheer volume of people all trying to get from one place to the other at the same time. One of the worst parts, anyway.
“That gives you a generous five-month arrival window.” Drake refused to rise to the bait of Ty’s grumbling, having heard it all before. “Unfortunately, we won’t have time to compare yardage until later. We’ve got the premiere tonight.”
Ty stifled a groan. He put movie premieres on par with traffic on his ever-lengthening list of things he hated about LA. He was tempted to beg Drake to go without him. After his lover had put his career and privacy on the line by coming out, though, Ty couldn’t leave him to face the media gauntlet alone. His absence would only fuel speculation there was trouble in paradise.
“Yeah, that’s why I left early.” Just not early enough, he thought wryly. He ran his fingers through his hair. “Think your stylist might have time to give me a trim so I don’t embarrass you tonight?”
“You could never be an embarrassment to me. And I like your hair a bit longer; gives me something to hold onto.” Drake’s sexy growl filled the car, making Tyler want to lean on his horn to get everyone between him and his lover out of his way. If only it were that easy.
“You might want to order a pizza before I get there. Just save me a few slices.”
“Lorena already made lemon chicken for us.”
Tyler heard Drake opening the refrigerator and the crinkle of aluminum foil. Thank goodness for Drake’s—their—housekeeper. Another thing he’d had to get used to, having a housekeeper coming in every day to take care of tasks such as food shopping and laundry, along with the weekly cleaning service, groundskeepers, and other people Drake employed to keep his—their—home looking like the Hollywood Hills showpiece it was.
“I’ll put dinner in the oven so it’ll be ready when you walk in the door. Our suits are already laid out.” Drake’s voice sharpened and faded over the speaker phone as he apparently moved around the kitchen. He heard muttered voices in the background. “And yes, Miles says he can cut your hair, assuming you get home before the film winds up on the classic movie channel.”
“Shit, Miles is there already?” Ty wondered if Miles had heard the sex talk. Idiot, he’s obviously in the same room as Drake. He felt the heat rising in his cheeks even though neither Miles nor Drake were there to witness his embarrassment. “Sorry for holding up the works, Miles. I’m still getting used to how long it takes to get from here to there.”
“Don’t worry, hon. I’ll be soothing my ruffled feathers by eating your dinner while ogling your boyfriend.” Miles teased him, but having seen the stylist put away his weight’s worth of hors d’oeuvres at Drake’s birthday party last month, Tyler questioned if the guy ate at all between events. Yeah, let’s focus on the eating rather than the ogling. “You’ve given me plenty to think about while I wait. Plenty.”
Ty ended the call and laid on the horn. Dammit, he wanted his lemon chicken. And his man.
* * *
3000 miles away
“I love you.” A voice whispered in Jamie’s ear, and he fought against the weight holding his eyes closed. He groaned as the bright overhead lights forced them closed again. Someone squeezed his hand once, then pulled away.
“Where are you going?” Jamie had been drifting in and out since he’d been wheeled back into his hospital room after surgery, and every time he awoke, Seth had been by his side. Last time, he’d even coaxed his boyfriend to share the narrow, uncomfortable bed. This last sleep had felt more restful, with Seth curled around his good shoulder, running his fingers through Jamie’s hair.
“Grands was watching the news—she just went to get coffee—and the nurse moved the remote to your bad side when he came in to take your vitals. It’s nasty, by the way. The coffee, not the nurse. Although maybe both. He wasn’t too happy I was on your bed. She put on her dog training voice to get him in line. Grands, I mean. So I stayed, and he hasn’t been back in awhile. But Grands should be back any minute.”
Jamie forced his eyes open to see Seth walking around the foot of the bed. It took him a moment to parse the Seth-speak. Looking up, he realized the TV was on, the program promising all the latest celebrity gossip from the premiere of the new Rage movie spin-off. He ignored it in favor of the rest of Seth’s rambling, disjointed explanation. More jumbled than usual, unless Jamie’s post-anesthesia fog made it seem so. “Did you take your meds today?”
Seth paused beside Jamie’s left shoulder. Jamie started to turn in his direction, but shooting pain forestalled that action.
“We had to be here so early. And then Grands showed up saying she wasn’t about to let you go through surgery without any parental support and how much it sucked that you hurt your shoulder again just when you’d decided to continue playing baseball. Screw your dad—”
“Babe, take your meds.” For Jamie’s sake as much as his own, not that Jamie would ever say that. Seth was self-conscious about his ADHD. But Jamie’s head was pounding in rhythm with the throbbing in his shoulder, and he couldn’t track Seth’s quick fire changes of subject. And he never wanted to talk about his father. That just made him feel the pain of his family’s rejection all over again and renewed his worries about his younger brother, stuck at home in that pit of anger and despair.
Seth poured himself a cup of water from the pitcher on Jamie’s over-the-bed table, placing a second styrofoam cup into Jamie’s right hand and encouraging him to take small sips. While Seth dug his pill bottle from his battered backpack, Jamie sucked on the straw, amazed at the effort it took just to take a few sips and soothe his dry throat. His eyes drifted aimlessly back up to the TV.
His cup hit the side of the bed as he dropped it, spilling on the sheets before falling to the floor.
“Are you okay? Are you in pain?” Seth leaned over the mess to reach for Jamie’s good arm.
Jamie couldn’t tear his gaze away from the television. “Turn up the volume.” He reached blindly around the bed, ignoring the pain stabbing through his shoulder as he twisted his body. Seth had just had the remote in his hand; where had he put the damn thing? “Quick! Turn up the volume!”
Seth must’ve found it because Jamie could suddenly hear what was being said on the program.
“…And standing by the man of the hour is the man who some say may bring Drake Sutton’s action hero career to a screeching halt, Tyler Bryant. Ty, what do you say to those who think your partner is no longer a persuasive leading man in a heterosexual role now that everyone knows he goes home to another man when the cameras are off?”
Jamie took in the dark hair and bright blue eyes of the man on the screen. He saw the same look of defiance underlain with panic the man had worn the last time he’d seen him. Ten years ago.
“Jamie, what’s wrong?” Seth leaned over, obscuring Jamie’s view of the television. It wasn’t until Seth’s fingers brushed over his cheeks that Jamie realized he was crying.
“Th—that’s Tyler.” He choked on his words. “My brother.”
coming January 31st, 2017
Tyler and Drake are taking a last chance on love.
Tyler Bryant has left his beloved fieldwork behind in favor of a desk job, braves the horrendous LA traffic, and watches Drake get manhandled by stylists and paparazzi on a daily basis. Sure, he still dreams of Hawaiian beaches and getting his hands dirty, but having Drake in his life is worth it.
A-list actor Drake Sutton no longer lives a lie. His private life has become all too public after coming out, and his role in the next superhero movie sequel depends on his ability to weather the storm.
Tyler's brother re-enters Ty's life with a desperate request for help. The tabloids think they have a story, and if not, they'll make one up. With the demands of family pulling Ty east and his life's work calling him west, Drake wonders if their love is enough to keep Ty in LA or if their last-chance love will never make it back to shore.
Ty & Drake’s Story: Make Me Believe (Hawaiian Haven Book 1) -- http://amzn.to/2hKuczg
Jamie & Seth’s Story: Stuck with You (Reinvented Book 1) -- http://amzn.to/2f5p1bJ
Jenna Kendrick writes contemporary, new adult, and paranormal romance about smart guys with a propensity for snark. Jenna went to a small college in the woods of Western Massachusetts, where she alternated between bare feet and hiking boots and used dining hall trays as a mode of transportation in the winter. She fell in love with creative writing after writing a satirical essay to get out of yet another literary analysis assignment. Unable to choose a coast or climate zone, she bounced around the country before settling in Upstate New York. She lives with her husband and several furry creatives, some of whom think of her desk as their own. This may be why Jenna's developed a sudden urge to write about shifters.