All he ever wanted was to be a normal guy….
Phil Brask spends his days in the basement of his mentor’s Victorian home, converting legal documents into electronic format. When the pipe feeding the water heater bursts, Lee Redding arrives in the plumber’s truck and draws Phil away from the narrow focus of his computer and camera lens. Lee gives Phil hope for a life beyond the walls he’s constructed using the nesting habits of migratory birds and dense legal files, a guided tour through a world filled with romance and music…maybe even family. But there’s a reason Phil retreated behind those walls, why he panics at a simple touch.
Lee has a good life—working with his uncle and on his mother’s farm, playing bass in a horrible metal band, and hooking up when he pleases—but he’s always suspected something was missing. When he meets the hot photographer with the icy-blue eyes, he knows exactly what that something is. Phil isn’t like other guys, but neither is Lee beneath his carefree exterior. Maybe Lee’s the perfect guy to show Phil that everything doesn’t have to be done the hard way and “home” isn’t a four-letter word.
LEE CALLED early Sunday morning. Phil was still in bed while he listened to Lee say his Uncle Lenny called him in to work—at double time—on an emergency job in a church basement.
“Do you have any plans for next weekend?”
Phil smiled. He didn’t even have any plans for breakfast. “No.”
“How about if I pick you up and we head out to my mom’s place?”
Phil’s stomach shivered. Meet his mom? Phil barely remembered his own mother. Among the things that had survived the sixteen years since he’d last seen her were that she had red hair and called him Phillip Anthony.
A car door slammed in Phil’s ear and brought his mind back to the present. He had no idea what Lee expected him to say and panic licked at his heels.
“Um, I kind of wanted to ask you a favor.” Lee’s car started, the familiar rattling of the engine helped Phil relax.
“Don’t you want to know what it is first?”
Phil shrugged but then remembered Lee couldn’t see. It didn’t really matter, though. Whatever it was, he wanted to do it. “O-okay.”
“Well, two of the restaurants she sells herbs to have closed in the past few weeks. She thinks she doesn’t need to advertise, but I think if you could get some good pictures of the herbs and her place, then Heidi could design some flyers or ads or whatever.”
Traffic sounds and honking disturbed Phil’s enjoyment of listening to Lee’s voice while he lounged in bed. Sunshine streamed though they wouldn’t be spending the day together—Lee had thought of him. The day was off to a good start.
“S-sure, just let me know what time. You need to hang up now before you get in an accident. Jerry doesn’t handle p-personal injury cases, so you’d be left to the whims of f-fate.”
Lee chuckled and Phil’s lips tingled in response.
“I’ll call you later. Have a good day, Phil.”
“Y-you too. Lee.”
Phil dropped his phone and hugged his pillow. He had plans for next weekend. With Lee. He’d never been to a farm before—he’d seen them alongside Highway 26, but it still seemed like farms belonged to another era. Still, the prospect of taking pictures in a completely new place—for Lee—wiped away all but the tiniest bit of his fear that Lee’s mom would hate the idea of some strange guy messing around on her property, taking pictures of her plants.
That would take even longer than the heron-watching expedition. And it would probably be chaste. It was his mom’s place, and he had a little sister who lived there, so they wouldn’t be alone. Phil was surprised to realize he was disappointed.
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Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they let her sleep once in a while. Home is Portland, Oregon, where the weather is like your favorite hard-case writing buddy who won’t let you get away with taking too many days off, and in some places you can be as weird as you are without fear. As an out and proud bisexual and life-long weird-o, she thinks that last part is pretty cool.
Rattle Charley’s cages–she’d love to hear from you!
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