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By´╝ÜRiley Hart


“Motherfucker!” Noah Jameson slammed his hands down on the steering wheel of his piece-of-shit car. This wasn’t the first time she’d given him trouble. Hell, he’d put a good amount of money into her before he left, and now she was giving him crap again.

Which should be a sign he should give her up. But she also happened to be a ’69 Mustang, and there wasn’t a chance he was throwing in the towel. Noah should have known he’d have car trouble. It went right along with everything else going on in his life. Seemed he couldn’t trust much of anything to be dependable—even his damn car.

Noah picked up his cell phone, which of course, wasn’t charged. Not that he had anyone to call in Blackcreek, anyway. He hadn’t been here since he was thirteen years old. Hell, he wasn’t even sure what he was doing here now. All he knew was he’d needed to get away, and Blackcreek, Colorado, was the first place he’d thought about. Probably the only place he’d ever considered home—but then, that could have been more because of a person and not a place.

Hell, maybe this car business was a sign that what he was doing didn’t make any sense. Noah didn’t run. He’d been forced to do enough of that as a kid, but then…this was different. He wasn’t trying to escape his own wrongdoings. He was looking for something he left behind—that feeling of home. A feeling he hadn’t experienced since leaving seventeen years before.

Cursing again, Noah got out of the car, shoved his dead cell phone into the pocket of his worn jeans, and locked her up. He let his feet start to carry him into the town, he’d spur-of-the-moment, decided to come back to.

Without a job.

Or a place to stay.

And now, with a fucked-up car.

Not that he thought he would have much trouble. He was good with money and had some saved. Plus, what his father had left him when he passed. Finding a building to open a shop he could fill with his furniture, hopefully, wouldn’t be hard, either. Maybe, this time he could actually buy something. Have the kind of roots he hadn’t known growing up, or the years he’d spent in the army.

Thinking about the army, made him think of David; somewhere he definitely didn’t want his thoughts going. He’d become his dad. The one who didn’t know how to fall for the right person. That’s all he’d thought about when David screwed around on him.

How the hell did I become my dad?

At least with Noah, when he ran, he did it alone. Didn’t drag his cheating lover along, the way his dad had with his mom.

Christ. Being cheated on had done a number on him. He didn’t usually let the past run him so much. But then, he’d given a lot to David, too. More than any other man he’d been with. For David, he’d gone back into the closet at twenty-nine years old. He’d spent enough time there while in the service, and had sworn he’d never go back.

As he walked toward town, Noah took in the scenery. It always felt like a middle-of-nowhere town, and in a lot of ways it was, but others it wasn’t. It was only an hour and a half from Denver, but felt secluded, tucked away in the mountains and trees. Enough of a distance to keep the slow pace Noah loved, but close enough to give him options.

It didn’t take long for him to walk the last couple miles into Blackcreek.

Noah stood by the sign welcoming him to the city. Hell, the place looked exactly like it did seventeen years ago. He looked at Main Street, lined with old-school businesses. It was a blast from the past—all the wood stores and old, hand-painted signs.

What the fuck was he doing back here?

He wanted to turn around, and keep going forward at the same time.

Walking past a pharmacy and an ice cream shop, Noah kept on. If he remembered correctly, there was a gas station and a shoe-box hotel, not too far up the street. A little after that, there was a mechanic. He had his first kiss with the daughter of the guy who used to own it. He hadn’t known what the hell he was doing. Luckily, Mary hadn’t either.

Yeah, he changed a bit since he’d been here. There’d only been a few kisses with girls after that, and he’d slept with a couple too, but none of them did much more for him than the first. It had never been women he had wanted.

Noah stood at the corner of Main and Berry Road, trying to decide where he wanted to go first—the mechanic or the hotel (assuming both were still there). Knowing the answer to that would probably help him decide if he needed to secure a room, or get someone back for his car first.

Distracted, Noah took a step down off the curb. When he did, he saw a truck coming from the corner of his eye. Before he could move, the truck hit him. Pain blasted through him, knocking him on his ass.