Making room for two children in a busy household won't be easy, but leave it to Nate, Ryan and Rio to do it with plenty of laughter and tears along the way.
At the age of eighteen, Nate Gills was forced out of his family for being gay. With hush money in his pocket and anger in his heart, Nate fled Washington DC for Chicago to start a new life. Although he eventually found love with two wonderful men, he buried his feelings of abandonment behind a façade of confidence.
When a horrific accident takes the lives of his younger brother and sister-in-law, Nate is forced to revisit the emotions he'd worked so hard to bury. In a twist of fate, Nate is named guardian of a niece and nephew he's never met, putting him into direct conflict with the father who shunned him so many years earlier.
Will the threesome who have spent years enjoying sexual pleasure whenever and wherever the mood struck, be able to adjust to having two children in the house? Or will they lose their relationship along the way?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Nate Gills tossed another kernel of popcorn in the air for his partner, Ryan Blackfeather, to catch in his mouth. He loved lazy Sunday nights indulging in trash TV with his partners. "I think Kim's by far the hottest one," he sighed.
"You're kidding, right?" Rio scoffed, tousling Nate's hair. Rio was the only person who could get away with mussing Nate's perfectly sculpted locks. "Were you not sitting right beside me when Brody went almost an entire episode without a shirt?"
Nate rolled over and licked a path up Rio's bare chest. "I'm in girl mode. You can't compare Brody to Kim. That's cheating."
"Why the hell would you be in girl mode? Last time I checked, you were a man." Rio reached for Nate's cock. "Yep, still there."
Ryan groaned and reached for the popcorn bowl. "Why do we have to play 'who's the hottest' on every show we watch?"
Nate stretched out and tickled Ryan's balls with his toes. "Would it help if I said you were the hottest?"
"No," Rio answered, squeezing Nate's cock. "I'm the hottest."
Nate's phone began to ring, interrupting the clever comeback he was forming. He wiggled out of Rio's grasp and snagged the cell off the bedside table. "Hello?"
"Turn on the news," Joseph, Nate's long-time friend, instructed.
"Why? What's —?"
"Just do it," Joseph replied.
Nate grabbed the remote away from Ryan and turned to one of the twenty-four-hour news channels. The ticker at the bottom of the screen captured his full attention. He caught the name of his brother and felt like he couldn't breathe.
"Who is it?" Ryan asked, sitting up.
Nate ignored his partner and turned up the volume, waiting for more information.
"A small aircraft carrying Maryland State Representative Robert Gilloume, an up-and-coming figure in the Republican Party and the son of Senator William Gilloume, crashed in a field in western Pennsylvania at five-fifty-four this evening. Mr Gilloume, his wife, Laura, and the plane's pilot, John McKenzie, were all confirmed dead at the scene."
Nate turned off the television when a helicopter flying overhead began to show footage of the fiery crash scene.
"Nate?" Joseph said.
"Thanks for calling. I'll talk to you later." Nate hung up on his friend before dropping the phone to the mattress. He looked from Rio to Ryan. Although they both knew he had a younger brother, Nate never spoke of him. "I need to go to Baltimore."
"We'll go with you," Ryan offered, pulling Nate into an embrace.
Nate's natural instinct was to decline the offer. Subjecting Ryan and Rio to his parents wasn't something he thought he'd ever do, but he couldn't let his baby brother be buried without him there.
"Thanks," Nate finally said. He gave each of his men a quick kiss before climbing out of bed.
Although he hadn't seen his brother since he'd snuck into Robby's high school graduation, Robby's wife had sent Christmas cards for the last few years. Nate entered the closet and retrieved the box that contained everything he had of his past life as Senator William Gilloume's son. He withdrew the previous year's card. It was one of those photograph cards that everyone seemed to be sending lately. He left the closet and handed the card to Rio. "That's my brother, Robby, his wife, Laura, and their kids." He tapped the photograph. "Will was seven in this picture, but he's eight now, and Hannah's now twelve." He sat on the side of the bed as Rio studied the card before handing it to Ryan. "What's going to happen to them?"
"Depends on whether or not Robby and Laura had a will, but most likely, they'll go to the nearest relative. Do you know if Laura had family?" Ryan asked.
Nate shook his head. "The first Christmas card she sent contained a brief letter. It said she'd discovered where I was by one of those magazine stories written after the grandstand collapse. She didn't have my address, but she knew I was mayor, so she sent it to city hall." Although he didn't really know Laura, he wished he had. The woman had definitely been resourceful. "In the letter, she said she'd always wished for family and the fact that Robby could disown his own brother pained her. Laura gave me a way to know my niece and nephew, and I'll never forget that."
Rio's dark eyes narrowed. "Why didn't you share these cards with us before?"
Nate shrugged. "I loved getting those pictures. It made me feel like I was still a member of the family, and as long as I kept that fantasy to myself, no one could make me believe otherwise."
Rio brushed his lips across Nate's temple before kissing it. "I'm sorry that you felt we would take that away from you."
"You don't have to be sorry. To be honest, it was one of those secrets that I kept for purely selfish reasons," Nate explained. "My heart wanted to believe my brother missed me, even though my head knew better. Laura was the one who sought me out, not Robby." The truth finally hit home. If it had been left up to Robby, Nate wouldn't have the cards. He'd pretended for a while that Robby knew Laura was reaching out to him. That for some reason Robby couldn't contact Nate himself for fear of what their father would do, but the truth was, Robby was either an asshole or too far under the Senator's thumb. Brother or not, maybe Robby didn't love me at all. Nate pushed away the thought and turned back to the card.
"What're you saying?" Ryan asked.
"Nothing. Just that I'm going to Baltimore to pay my respects to Laura. Whether or not they let me into Robby's funeral, they can't keep me out of Laura's."
* * *
"Is that you?" Nate called when he heard the office door open and close.
"No, it's a terrorist looking for clues as to how I make this city run so smoothly," Carol answered back.
Nate filled Carol's usual mug with coffee before carrying it into the reception area. "I need to take the week off," he told her, setting the cup on the desk. "You think you can handle things while I'm gone?"
Laughing, Carol hung up her coat and dropped her gigantic purse to the floor. "Must I continue to remind you that your job is to sit behind that big desk of yours and look pretty while I do all the actual work around here?"
"Funny, that's what Ethan said last time you were gone," Nate said. He couldn't hide his grin. Except for his two men, Carol was his favorite person in Cattle Valley. Not only was she a loyal secretary, but a tried and true friend.
"You're a damn liar." Carol sat in her chair and reached for her coffee. She took a sip and moaned. "But you do make a great cup of coffee." She eyed Nate over the rim of her mug. "So have you and the other wild ones decided to get out of this snow and head for the beach again?"
"My brother and his wife were killed last night when their plane went down in a field. I need to go to Baltimore to attend their funerals and check on my niece and nephew," Nate explained. He prepared himself for the barrage of questions he was sure would follow.
"I'm sorry." Carol set down her cup and reached for Nate's hand. "I'll ask George and Trick to look after your horses while you're away."
It said a lot about the woman that she accepted and commiserated without prying into Nate's personal life. Although he enjoyed sparring with Carol, down deep, Nate couldn't imagine his life without her. "I'd appreciate that, thanks."
Carol waved away his words. "You'd do the same for me. Well, maybe not me, but you'd do the same for George and Trick." She grinned and stood up. "Just get your ass back here before I decide to give Ethan and myself a raise." Her eyes sparkled before wrapping her arms around him. "A big one."
* * *
Ryan glanced up as Rio entered his office. "Hey. What're you up to?"
Rio gave Ryan a quick kiss before sitting on the corner of the desk. "I've been thinking."
The comeback was too easy, so Ryan kept his mouth shut and allowed Rio to continue. He knew they were both worried about Nate. Once again, Robby's death had driven home the forced separation between Nate and his family. "Yeah?" Ryan eventually replied.
"Well," Rio began, rubbing his earlobe between his thumb and forefinger. It was a sure sign that Rio had done something he felt guilty about.
"Shit. What'd you do?" Ryan held his breath. Despite having the biggest heart Ryan had ever known, Rio had an impulsive streak that often landed him in trouble.
"I put a call into Snake," Rio announced. "He's semi-retired now and living in Virginia."
Ryan clenched his jaws at the thought of Rio talking to the badass mercenary. "I thought he was still in Costa Rica."
"Evidently you haven't logged onto the network lately. Snake's been back in the States for almost a year. Some security company hired him to recruit new specialists." Rio waved his hand. "Anyway, I gave Snake a call and hired him to do some surveillance on Senator Gilloume."
"What? You've been in touch with Snake without telling me?" Ryan took a deep breath. There were a handful of mercenaries who had the power to hurt him, and Snake was one of them. The man was too quiet, too sneaky and definitely too sexy to be trustworthy. Ryan should know — he'd been burned more than once by Snake's whispered words. "Surely there must've been someone else you could've called."
Rio slid off the desk and took several steps toward the one and only window in the small Sheriff's office. "Other than Ghost, Snake's the best." He glanced over his shoulder at Ryan. "We're meeting him tomorrow after we land."
Ryan jumped out of his chair and stalked toward Rio. "You set up a meeting without even asking?"
Rio turned to face Ryan head on. "Forgive me for assuming you'd do anything to help Nate."
"That's not fair. This has nothing to do with helping Nate. The fact is you went behind my back. We're a team. We're supposed to talk about this kind of shit first." Ryan definitely wasn't prepared to stare into those damn green eyes that Snake used to his advantage.
"Why do you think I'm here? I know you don't trust Snake, but I do, and what's important right now is finding out everything we can about Nate's father. I swear to you, that's all I was trying to do."
Staring up at Rio, Ryan saw the truth in his partner's eyes. He pressed himself against Rio's chest. "Tell me you're not planning to bring Nate to the meeting?"
"I think that's up to Nate," Rio replied. "If anyone can point Snake in the right direction it would be Nate."
Although Senator Gilloume deserved to be followed around by Snake, Ryan wasn't convinced Nate needed to be subjected to the man. It wasn't jealousy as much as secrets he wanted to shield Nate from. "I guess what I'm struggling to understand is what's our end game? There's no way Snake can find dirt on Gilloume by the Thursday, and what's the point if Nate still can't attend the memorial services?"
"Because he wants to see those kids, and he deserves to know them. The memorial service is one day, but what happens after that?" Rio gave Ryan a quick kiss. "If Snake can find something that can give Nate time with those children, it's worth it."
Leave it to Rio to make Ryan feel like a complete jerk for questioning his decision to contact Snake. "You're right."
* * *
Nate stared up at the faded sign over the dive bar. "Deep Throat? Seriously?"
Rio shrugged. "It's DC," he said in explanation.
Uneasy about meeting a man named Snake in the seedy-looking bar, Nate took a moment to remind himself why they were there.
Rio opened the door, but it was Ryan who insisted on going in first. Nate grinned. Although Nate was more than capable of taking care of himself in a fight, his men always insisted on shielding him. It had taken him years to come to terms with their overprotective nature, but he'd eventually realized it was their way of expressing their love.
Nate entered the dark club pressed between Ryan and Rio. Other than a few men who looked to be regulars, the place appeared empty. "He's not here," he whispered to Ryan.
Ryan spoke over his shoulder, "He's here." He continued on to a table in the back of the room, closest to the hallway that led to the restrooms.
Rio pulled out a chair for Nate. "He won't show himself until we're seated."
Nate rolled his eyes as he sat between Rio and Ryan. The cloak-and-dagger shit drove him nuts. He glanced toward the bar. "Can I get a drink?" He started to raise his hand to signal the bartender, but Ryan grabbed his wrist.
"What do you want?" Ryan asked, getting to his feet.
"Lemon drop," Nate replied. He'd become a huge fan of the drink since Richie had made him one at the Grizzly Bar.
"What's your alternate choice?" Ryan rubbed Nate's back. "Just in case."
Nate shrugged. "Beer?"
With a short nod, Ryan walked toward the bar.
Nate leaned against Rio. "Is all this normal to you?"
"Snake's made a lot of enemies over the years. This is common practice for someone in his line of work." Rio kissed Nate's temple. "Ryan doesn't trust him, but I think he's a nice enough guy who's sacrificed more than most to protect this country."
"You make him sound like a hero," Nate replied.
Rio glanced down at Nate. "Depends on your perspective, I guess. To me, a hero is someone who does what needs to be done to protect the greater good. Ryan doesn't approve of Snake's tactics, but Snake gets shit done."
A large man, whom Nate presumed was Snake, stepped out of the hallway. Holy hell, the man was gorgeous. Danger and sex appeal seemed to drip from Snake in equal measure. The short black hair and brilliant green eyes set off Snake's olive complexion to perfection. The effect Snake had on Nate's cock was immediate and incredibly embarrassing. In the years since he'd been with his partners, no other man had captured his attention like the one walking toward him. Shame filled Nate as Snake stopped beside the table and stared down at him.
Snake met Nate's gaze for several heartbeats before turning his attention to Rio. He clapped Rio hard on the back and grinned. "Good to see you again."
Rio smiled back. He gestured to Nate. "Nate, this is Snake."
Nate barely kept his hand from shaking as he extended his arm in greeting. "Thanks for meeting us."
Snake shook Nate's hand just as Ryan came back to the table with a pitcher of beer and four glasses. "Ryan," Snake greeted in a wary voice.
"Snake." Ryan sat down. "Beer?"
Snake shook his head. "Haven't had a drop in almost four years."
"Good to hear." Ryan poured three glasses.
Nate took a sip of his drink as he watched Ryan and Snake over the rim of his glass. The two appeared to engage in an unspoken conversation for several moments before breaking eye contact. Damn. Nate glanced at Rio to see if he was the only one who had noticed the exchange. Nope. Rio's eyes narrowed as he stared at Ryan.
Ryan tipped his glass back and swallowed half his beer in a single gulp. "Let's get to it," he announced, refilling his glass.
Snake produced a folded envelope from the inside pocket of his long, black leather trench coat and set it on the table. "I did some preliminary digging," he began, taking a seat across from Nate. "I found a few things in Senator Gilloume's financial records that caught my attention."
"You got into his bank account?" Nate asked. "Don't you need a warrant for that?"
"Snake doesn't believe in following the rules," Ryan replied.
"Whatever," Snake answered, brushing off Ryan's dig. "Two things. Every Tuesday afternoon like clockwork, the Senator wires two thousand dollars to a woman in Philadelphia. What she does with the money, I have no idea, but it gave me a location to search." He pointed to the envelope. "As I'm sure you're aware, the Senator owns several small companies. One of them, Mermont Industries, purchased a house in Philadelphia and donated it to a charity Gilloume supports. I made a trip up there and drove by the house. It's definitely being lived in, but by whom, I have no idea."
Nate shifted in his chair. "What kind of charity is it?"
Snake opened the envelope and peeked inside. "Netherfield House."
"What's that?" Nate asked before draining his beer.
Snake looked at Rio and Ryan before answering. "It's a home for men with Down syndrome. From what I've been able to find online, the house is the one cause the charity supports."
Knowing the darker side of his father, Nate had a feeling the Senator wasn't donating a little over eight thousand dollars a month out of the goodness of his heart. "I want to know everything you can find out about Netherfield. Who lives there, who runs it, everything."
"It might take a few days," Snake answered. "But I'll take another trip up this evening and see if I can find a way into the house."
"Don't do anything to put those residents in danger," Ryan warned.
Snake narrowed his eyes. "I'm good, not stupid."
* * *
Sprawled on the bed, Ryan brushed his fingers back and forth across Rio's bare chest as Nate took a shower. "We should probably get dressed."
Rio stretched his arms over his head and groaned. "Why don't we just order breakfast from room service?"
"Because we promised Nate we'd visit that little diner he used to go to as a kid." Ryan rolled on top of Rio. The hard muscles under him never ceased to turn him on and his body started to respond predictably.
Rio stared up at Ryan. "What happened between you and Snake?"
"I told you, I just don't trust the guy," Ryan said, grinding his hardened cock against Rio in an attempt to change the subject. "Where's the lube? I'll let you fuck me."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Fingerprints and Muddy Feet"
Copyright © 2013 Carol Lynne.
Excerpted by permission of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.