A love worth fighting for.
Carter Hamilton and Riley Porter-Wright room together as Harvard undergraduates. An immediate friendship forms, but as the years pass it deepens into something neither man understands. As attraction simmers under the surface, lines begin to blur. When they move back to Manhattan, they gradually slip into the lives their families have envisioned for them.
Both men marry, but in time, Riley realizes he's ended up in a passionless relationship like his parents' while his career takes center stage. Although he loves his wife, Carter misses the emotional and physical connection he shared with Riley.
The weight of Riley's feelings and his growing discontentment with his life eventually push him to tell Carter the truth about how he feels. Shocked and unable to face his own feelings, Carter rejects Riley.
As each man comes to terms with the lies they've told themselves, each other and the people around them, they find their lives changing in ways they never imagined. They soon discover that the truths they've been longing to tell shake the foundations of their friendship.
|Publisher:||Totally Entwined Group|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.
K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.
Brigham Vaughn is starting the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn 2017. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Pride Publishing.
“These rooms always look so much bigger online.”
Carter Hamilton flinched in surprise at the smooth voice behind him. Blinking slowly, he drew a breath to quiet his heart, then turned to meet a pair of lively blue eyes.
“Sorry.” A guy Carter’s age stepped inside the door, his expression sheepish. A smile lit his handsome face and an intriguing flush colored his cheeks. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Carter shrugged before standing up from the couch where he’d been reading. “I’ll live.”
“I knocked, but no one answered. The door wasn’t bolted, so I assumed no one was here.”
“Ah, that’s my bad.” Heat crept up Carter’s neck. “I got caught up in my book and didn’t hear you. I’m Carter and I’m guessing you’re one of my suitemates—are you Riley or Daniel?”
Riley walked forward with a grin. Riley was lean and tall, though still an inch or two shorter than Carter, who stood six foot three. His stylish black shirt and trousers were immaculate compared to Carter’s T-shirt and jeans and his dark hair fell forward onto his forehead as he shook Carter’s hand.
A small smile crossed Carter’s face. He’d been exchanging messages with his suitemates for weeks. Daniel, who had yet to show himself, hailed from Philadelphia, while Riley, like Carter, lived in Manhattan, though the two had never met. They’d coordinated basic furnishings for their Harvard University rooms and agreed to fill in gaps later.
“I’m Carter Hamilton,” Carter told him with a laugh, “which you know. And since I was the first here, I guess it’s okay for me to say it—welcome to Wigg.”
Riley rolled his eyes, making Carter smile wider. He’d been amused by the freshman dorm’s nickname, too, but Wigglesworth was highly desired, with large suites and convenient placement for the university libraries. Carter watched Riley approach the window and frowned upon noticing he carried only an overnight bag and nothing more.
“You planning on staying?” Carter eyed Riley’s bag when he turned and cocked his head in question. “I know from your email messages that you’re not big on decorating, but one bag seems like taking traveling light to new extremes. You said you’d bring a fridge, too, in case you forgot.”
Riley glanced down at himself and laughed, the clear boyish sound echoing through the sparsely furnished common room.
“I didn’t forget. I did bring a fridge and more boxes and bags, too—they’re in a moving van stuck in traffic on Storrow Drive. One of the movers called me twenty minutes ago,” he added, drawing closer to set his bag against the side of the couch. “I’m not sure I buy their story, though. They probably got here hours ago and found someplace to have lunch and a couple of beers before they drop my shit off.
“Nice couch, by the way.” Riley nodded at the charcoal-colored couch Carter and his father had carried in earlier. “You picked out a bedroom already?” he asked, taking a seat.
“Not really. I got here late this morning, so we moved everything in and pushed it out of the way.” Carter sat down too, waving at the boxes and suitcases lining the wall to their left. “The way I see it, once Dan shows, we can figure out who’s going to share and who’s got the single.”
“Someone had a productive day,” Riley teased, raising his brows and making Carter laugh.
“Yeah, well, my parents wanted to stay and meet you guys, but I didn’t want them hitting rush hour on their way home. You’ll meet them soon, anyway—they’re already talking about their next trip up.
“I bought them lunch before they left,” Carter added, unsure why he was sharing so much information with a guy he’d just met. “I figured that was the least I could do after they helped me drag my stuff up three flights.”
Riley blinked several times, appearing vaguely surprised. “Your parents helped you move in?”
“Sure,” Carter replied with a shrug. “My dad’s an alumnus and my mom graduated from Wellesley—they enjoy visiting Cambridge.” He chuckled. “They were definitely excited to help me settle in, even if it meant manual labor.”
Riley’s expression became thoughtful. Looking down, he traced a frayed spot on the right knee of his jeans with his finger. In a flash, Carter understood Riley was on his own.
Riley glanced up at Carter again. “My parents couldn’t make the trip,” he said, his voice light. “They’re having dinner with friends tonight and didn’t want to be late. I took the car up from the city.”
Carter nodded. The idea of his parents choosing to socialize over seeing him off to school seemed utterly alien. Did it bother Riley that his parents were uninterested in what had to be an exciting day for him?
An impulse struck Carter to make Riley comfortable. “You know, you never told me where you live in the city.”
Riley smiled, though a trace of melancholy flickered in his eyes. “West 86th Street. That’s where my parents live, and I suppose I’ll be there for a while longer. What about you?”
“East 63rd Street.” Carter grinned. “That’s funny.”
“We live in the same city separated by twenty-three blocks and the Park. Doesn’t seem like much when you consider we had to come to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to meet.”
Riley’s eyes brightened. They chatted easily about their trips from New York until the door banged open, then watched a figure shoulder its way in with a stack of boxes. The boxes landed on the floor with a thump, revealing a cheerful-looking guy with a wiry build, golden-brown skin and inquisitive gray eyes.
“Dan Conley,” he said, flashing a smile. “My dad’s parking the car. You guys want to arm wrestle now or later to settle the whole double vs. single room thing?”
After a quick discussion, it became clear Dan and Riley preferred the single room, while Carter was willing to share the double. He sat on the couch with Dan’s parents, watching his new friends flip a coin. Dan won the toss and celebrated with an exaggerated touchdown dance, complete with slo-mo action that made Riley roll his eyes.
Riley’s movers arrived then and made short work of bringing his load of boxes and bags upstairs. The trio started arranging furniture and unpacking, with Dan’s parents providing useful—if unsolicited—feedback.
After the rooms were in some order, the Conleys insisted on taking all three suitemates to Grendel’s Den for dinner. They got to know each other better over sandwiches, while Dan’s parents asked Carter and Riley about their families. They had a pleasant evening, though Riley shared little about himself and even less about his parents. He talked easily about New York and the traveling he’d done during school vacations but shut down personal questions. He wasn’t rude—if anything he seemed the opposite, with his open expression and bright gaze, but spent more time listening to the others than talking about himself.
It was late when Carter finally dropped onto his bed with a grunt. Dan had already been asleep for an hour and Riley had headed for the shower while Carter closed his eyes and took mental inventory of his sore muscles.
The sound of the bathroom door opening roused Carter from his dozy thoughts. He peeled an eyelid open to peer up at his roommate, who was moving around the bedroom and taking pains to be quiet. Like Carter, Riley wore a pair of dark sleep pants, though he had forgone a T-shirt. Droplets of water fell from his still wet hair, shining in the low light as they rolled over his bare shoulders and back. Carter was still trying to understand why he’d even think such a thing when Riley turned, looking pensive. Carter rolled onto his side and propped his head on one hand.
Riley jumped, startled by the sudden movement. “Jesus, Carter!”
“Um, just Carter will do—no need to get formal.” Carter bit his lip against a smile.
“You scared the shit out of me. I thought you were asleep, you sneaky bastard.”
Riley’s words were sharp, but the glint in his eyes told Carter his irritation was mostly for show.
“Sorry. Consider it payback for scaring me earlier today.”
Carter pushed himself up to pull back the bedding and slip underneath the duvet and sheet. He watched Riley puttering about, getting ready for bed and his amusement faded. Despite his roommate’s smile, Carter sensed Riley had something on his mind. He lay quietly, worrying his lower lip with his teeth until Riley sat on the edge of his own bed.
“Is this bothering you?” Carter asked, waving one hand in a vague circle. Riley eyed him blankly. “The room-sharing thing, I mean. I know you’ve never had a roommate before, so I can sort of see where you’d be feeling weirded out.”
“No, I’m—” Riley began before pausing, his lips pressed into a thin line. He blew out a slow breath before he spoke again, his voice low and calm. “I’m okay. It is a little weird sharing a room. I mean, my room at home is bigger than the whole suite.” He grimaced a bit at Carter’s laugh, and shrugged. “But you probably guessed that already. You come from the same world.”
Carter reached up to fold his hands behind his head. “It does seem like culture shock in a lot of ways. I have almost a full floor at my parents’ and now I’m sharing three rooms with strangers. In the middle of freaking Red Sox country, no less.” Both guys laughed. “I like it, though. Yeah, it’s small and all bricks and ivy but it feels…I don’t know, right. At least to me.”
“I get it.” Riley ran his hands over his damp hair with a sigh. He was quiet for so long Carter wondered if he would speak again. “My parents aren’t the warmest people in the world. You probably gathered that when I told you they couldn’t be bothered to even meet me here.”
Carter nodded, Riley’s words settling over him.
“I’m used to it,” Riley added, rubbing his forehead. “I’ve never known any different. Oh, my parents have always taken care of me and they’ll give me almost anything I ask for. Except for their attention. They leave that to the nannies and minders and secretaries, who give me attention because they’re paid to.”
The air grew heavy, charged with emotion Carter understood Riley didn’t want to acknowledge.
“My parents aren’t interested in me.” Riley held up a hand when Carter opened his mouth to protest, though he didn’t meet Carter’s eyes. “They’re not, trust me. I’ve known it for a long time and I can’t remember when I last sorry for myself about it. My parents aren’t interested in each other, to be honest—they can’t even drum up enough feeling to fucking fight with each other.”
Riley’s words came more slowly as he continued, dropping his fingers to trace a spot on the right knee of his sleep pants. Carter had watched him do the same thing a few times already, always when he seemed to be masking some emotion.
“Watching the Conleys today,” Riley said, “listening to you talk about your parents and to them after they called… I started thinking, Carter. I’m so used to the way my parents behave I’m almost at a loss to understand how normal families function.”
“I’m not sure my family is what you’d call normal, Riley.” Carter’s voice was quiet. “They’re certainly not average compared to Dan’s parents. The Conleys are pretty well off, but we both know Dan’s here on a partial music scholarship.”
Riley made a dismissive noise. “Over half of the students here are on some kind of scholarship. It’s not like that’s particularly unusual. Sure, your family has a lot more money than the Conleys. I’m talking about the connections, though, between people. Between you and your parents, between Dan and his. Hell, between your mom and your dad, and Dan’s mom and—”
“I get it.”
Something in Carter’s gentle interruption caught Riley’s attention. Suddenly, he met Carter’s gaze and held it.