Read an Excerpt
"I don’t need any help," Evan Murray stated firmly.
He ran his hand through his shoulder—length, black hair. Evan tried to be patient. He knew that Paul Hicks—one of his closest friends, and his business partner in Corners Bookstore—was only trying to be supportive. He had thought they were all past treating him like he was broken. Yes, he was only one half of what used to be a pair. It had been over two years since he’d lost Danny, his husband—two years of grief and of fighting to get back to normal.
If there was ever such a thing as normal after losing Danny. Evan kept his face composed, averting his gaze towards the sky. His eyes were usually a dead giveaway of what he was feeling. It was the one thing he couldn’t seem to control. Just like losing his heart. He swallowed thickly against the grief that was always below the surface.
"Okay, Evan. But I’m here if you need my help going through Danny’s things," Paul offered again.
Evan bit back the need to snap at him. Losing his temper wasn’t his way. He’d had enough of being powerless with the sudden loss of Danny, and in the aftermath. He was grateful for everyone’s help during that time, but it had become tedious as they continued to walk around him so gingerly, acting as if he couldn’t think for himself. He’d pulled it together, rebuilding his life without his other half. Now it was almost two years later, and emotionally he was in a better place. It was time to complete the final closure of his life with Danny. He’d put it off long enough. Just before Christmas he had told his family and friends about his plan to go through Danny’s things.
In hindsight, he realised he should have kept his plan of doing so to himself. Most of his friends, family, and Danny’s family hadn’t reacted all that much. But Paul had kept pushing about helping, questioning him on a daily basis by phone as to whether he had already done it. With the holidays, he hadn’t been able to get his things out of storage to go through. Now that the New Year was a day old, he could go ahead and arrange to move everything back into his house, and take his time going through it.
"Evan!" Paul called.
From the tone, Evan realised he had probably tried to get his attention a few times.
"I know, Paul. And thanks, but I’ve got it." Evan inhaled deeply, then said, "I love this time of year. Things are so new, and the possibilities are endless. People are their best selves."
"Always the optimist. I often wonder how you always seem to see the good in a situation."
"I don’t always see the best. I just don’t expect the worst. Everything happens for a reason. One we might not always see at the time, but eventually it will be revealed." He smiled.
It was the same question everyone who knew him tended to ask, even if they’d known him as long as Paul had. His response was always similar. Sometimes it led to a rousing debate. He wasn’t in the mood for it tonight. He glanced at Paul. He was backlit by the lights of the parking area. Evan shook his head, stepped forward, and tugged out the collar of Paul’s shirt.
"I swear, I don’t know how you always get your collar turned in this way."
"The collar elves did it." Paul smiled, his dark brown gaze alight with mischief.
"Again with the elves. You blame them for everything." Evan finished straightening his collar, then stepped back.
"Hey, it’s possible. Now, if only those bastards would actually do something useful and unpack the shipment of books coming in tomorrow."
"If they do, call me so I can see it." Evan hesitated, then asked, "Are you sure you don’t want me to come by and help out?"
"Nah. The employees and I can handle it. You have a deadline, buddy. Now, go on home and reveal the murderer," Paul said.
"Okay. I will. I have the ending in my head now. I should be done tonight. My editor will be happy to get the book early. Probably push me to get to working on the new one." Evan laughed.
"He’s a slave driver. But, then again, he knows you. Bet you already have the idea for the next book percolating in that brain."
"Maybe." Evan smiled, glancing up again.