This was previously published. Re-edited and with new cover art.
Mitchell Askett, the recovering alcoholic bad boy, meets Doctor Liam Wolfe, the man who shows him it’s okay to love…
No one has ever understood Mitchell Askett. The bad boy. The alcoholic. The loser. Buying into the Ellery Mountain resort and placing down roots in the community for himself, his sister and his niece puts him on the radar of the Fridays and Doctor Liam Wolfe.
He soon realises he has friends in his new home who don’t judge him for what happened before and finally begins to escape his past. When he falls hard and fast for the doctor, he even sees a future for him in Ellery.
But when his new happiness is threatened first by family interference then by disaster, he begins to lose faith, until Liam shows him it’s okay to ask for help.
About the Author
RJ Scott is the author of the best selling Male/Male romances The Christmas Throwaway, The Heart Of Texas and the Sanctuary Series of books. She writes romances between two strong men and always gives them the happy ever after they deserve.
Read an Excerpt
Mitchell Askett knocked firmly on the door then stepped back. After glancing down at the piece of paper with his hastily scribbled instructions, he again checked the cabin. There was no number on it or sign to indicate this was where Brenda Skylar lived, but the directions had led him this far.
â€œUncle Mitch,â€ Bobbie called from the car. â€œIt hurts. I feel sicker than before.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be with you in a minute, sweetheart.â€ Mitchell knocked on the door again. If there was no answer, at that point he would skip finding where he was supposed to be staying and meeting the other owners. Heâ€™d find the nearest hotel room and get his niece tucked up into bed. Maybe if he was really clever he could locate a shop in Ellery that sold dry crackers, or eggs. He always liked eggs when he had a hangover. Not that twelve- year-old Roberta was facing the awful post-alcoholic binge effects like he did. No, she just seemed to be suffering from car sickness. Or she had a bug. Or something.
â€œIâ€™m gonna be sick,â€ she whined. Mitchell was torn. No one was answering. He should just go and find the hotel, or hell, maybe even a doctor, just to get her checked out.
â€œIâ€™ll be right with you,â€ he called.
To be fair, theyâ€™d been driving on and off for quite a few hours and their diet had consisted of whatever they could get from gas stations en route. At twelve, he would have jumped at the chance of a road trip fuelled entirely on chocolate and Doritos, but the normally buoyant Bobbie had refused everything heâ€™d offered.
The front door finally began to open.
â€œUnca Miâ€”â€ he heard, then the sound of a car door opening and retching.
Suddenly torn between what he had come here to do and what he needed to do, he threw a hurried â€œSorryâ€ to whoever had just answered the door then jumped the steps back down to the car. Sliding to a halt around the passenger side, which faced away from the cabin, he stared in horror for a second. Not only had Bobbie been violently sick, but she was curled in a ball and sobbing.
Without further hesitation, Mitchell crouched down next to her and in a smooth move had her up in his arms.
â€œBaby? Are you okay?â€ Stupid question, but all he wanted was for her to open her eyes.
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong?â€ a voice broke through his concern. Holding Bobbie protectively close to him, he swivelled to face the owner of the soft words. A short woman with grey hair and a concerned look on her face stood with her arms outstretched like she wanted to take Bobbie from him. He tightened his grip, only for Bobbie to whimper at the hold.
â€œDoes she need a doctor?â€ the woman asked in a rush.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ he said. God, he felt worse than useless. What would Annabelle do? Not that he could remember his sister having to deal with a sick Bobbie, as Bobbie was usually one healthy child.
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong, sweetie?â€ She touched Bobbieâ€™s head. â€œSheâ€™s very hot.â€
â€œShe complained of stomach ache, but itâ€™s been getting worse.â€
â€œLetâ€™s get her to the hospital.â€
Mitchell felt suddenly as sick as his niece. Hospital? That sounded like this was serious. Heâ€™d only been responsible for her for two days and heâ€™d already fucked up.
â€œHospital?â€ he said.
â€œOur doctors are thereâ€”we just need to get her looked at. Wait...â€ The woman ran up the steps then came back out almost instantly. In her hand she had wipes and some keys. She locked the door behind her then came and climbed into the back seat.
â€œGive her to me," she ordered firmly. â€œYou drive."
â€œIâ€™m notâ€” I donâ€™t...â€ he stammered. Bobbie was curled up in his arms, then her head lolled back and suddenly Mitchellâ€™s instinct to get things done kicked in. In seconds, he had her laid with her head in the womanâ€™s lap, and he pulled a blanket from behind the seat up and over her.
â€œWhere?â€ he asked quickly. Bobbie was crying quietly and the woman shushed her gently with soft words.
â€œLeft out of here and down into Ellery,â€ she said.
Forcing the car into gear, Mitchell wheel-spun on the loose gravel and the car lurched as it gripped and surged forward. In a few minutes, he was back at the road. Only when they were on the main route to town did he speak again.
â€œIs she okay?â€
â€œSheâ€™s very hot, and listless,â€ the woman said.
Mitchell realised he couldnâ€™t keep thinking of her as â€˜the womanâ€™.
â€œIâ€™m Mitchell Askett. Mitch.â€
â€œI know who you are, Mr Askett. Brenda Skylar.â€
â€œThe little girl...my niece, Robertaâ€”we call her Bobbie.â€ Or Bobs when she was cute, or Roberta Jane when she caused mischief.
Brenda had a cellphone in her hand, talking to somaeone, possibly the hospital, but Mitch had to watch the road. He came to a three- way stop and for a moment was confused, then realised which way he needed to go. Down. Into town. Where was the hospital? The last time heâ€™d been in Ellery, he was only twelve or so, the same age as Bobbie. All he remembered was that the limousine he had been riding in had a mini bar and that heâ€™d had his first taste of brandy. It hadnâ€™t made him sick but it had taken the edges off the anxiety inside him.
They hit town and he spotted the sign for hospital and in no time at all he was pulling up at the Emergency Room door. Maybe the doctor would be elsewhere, but Bobbie was shaking and crying and in pain. The ER was certainly the place to take her. He threw the car into park, jumped out and pulled Bobbie into his arms. She reached a hand up around his neck and gripped hard to his long hair. Just like she used to when she was a baby. Compassion, love and fear warred for dominance. A small group of people waited at the entrance, but Mitch saw none of it. Somaeone took Bobbie from him and in the next instannedt she was on a gurney and all Mitch could hear was shouted words like â€˜ultrasoundâ€™ and â€˜emergencyâ€™. He ran in after them, then stopped at the glass internal doors beyond which he could see two women and a man checking Bobbie out.
â€œWhat is it?â€ he asked. He was so scared he could feel the acid of it eating away at him. Heâ€™d made Annabelle let him have her. Heâ€™d forced his sister to think Bobbie would be best off with him in Ellery while she was at her lowest point. And now Bobbie was in there, unconscious. Was she dying? What had he done?
â€œCome and sit down,â€ Brenda said gently. She had her hand on his arm and pulled him away, but he shook it off and refused to move. â€œI think it may be appendicitis,â€ she said.
Horror gripped Mitch. Heâ€™d read about that, seen it on TV shows, where being sick all of a sudden turned into a fight for life and poisoning in the body.
â€œFuck,â€ he cursed. â€œNo.â€
â€œSheâ€™s in good hands,â€ Brenda said firmly. â€œDoctor Wolfe and Jamie have it under control.â€
The names were a blurâ€”all he could see was his flesh and blood lying so still beyond the glass door.
â€œSir? Did you understannedd me? Can you sign consent?â€ someone asked. â€œAre you her father? Hello? Sir?â€
Mitch met green eyes that held so much compassion that it made his heart ache.
â€œUncle,â€ he managed.
â€œCan you sign for us to operate?â€ The green-eyed guy looked determined. What was he asking? What was Mitchell going to be signing?
â€œYour niece has appendicitis, sheâ€™ll need to have it removed,â€ Green-Eyes said patiently. He didnâ€™t seem at all pissed off that Mitch had clearly not heard a word of what he guessed had been a lengthy explanation. Mitch glanced down at the guyâ€™s badge. Paramedic. Jamie Llewellyn. Paramedics knew what they were doing. He should trust this Jamie.
He signed consent where he was told and without another word Jamie moved back into the room where Bobbie lay. The other man in there looked up and over at Mitch and nodded. Then in a flurry of movement the two men disappeared out of another door with two nurses trailing them until all that Mitch was looking at was an empty room. Left suddenly bereft, he slumped and rested his head on the glass. What the holy hell had just happened?
â€œShe didnâ€™t want her Doritos,â€ he murmured. â€œI should have known. She never turns them down.â€
Brenda pulled him gently and this time he allowed himself to be led until he could feel a chair at the backs of his knees and in one loud exhalation of breath he fell into the chair. He winced as the set of three joined plastic torture devices shifted under his sudden fall.
Brenda sat next to him. â€œDo you want to call someone? The girlâ€™s mother...your sister or sister-in- law?â€
Mitchell shook his head. Theyâ€™d get a call in to his sister if it was an emergency, and God, this probably qualified on all levels. But putting a call in to the rehab switchboard didnâ€™t mean she would take it, or if she would actually care at this moment in time. Depended on where in her cycle of depression she wasâ€”and two days ago she hadnâ€™t looked good at all.
â€œIâ€™m Robertaâ€™s guardian,â€ Mitchell lied. He wasnâ€™t officially a guardian in the eyes of the law. He was, however, Bobbieâ€™s uncleâ€”that had to count for something. Heâ€™d deal with the fallout later, but right now the last thing he needed was any kind of legal problems... Or, worse, for his parents to find out what he had done. They didnâ€™t even know Annabelle was sick again, let alone that he had taken it upon himself to remove Bobbie from all the crap she was in the middle of.
â€œCan I get you anything?â€