SynopsisAsher Logan is a bartender and a pretty wicked guitar player, when he isn’t wrecking his hands fighting in a cage. With a past he keeps hoping to outrun, Asher’s been on a downward spiral for longer than he can remember. When his sister-in-law leaves Rory, his eight-year-old nephew, in his care, Asher is forced into two things he’s never been good at: sobriety and responsibility. As he struggles to care for Rory, his own life begins to unravel.
When Asher’s brother, Alex, turns up, presenting as a girl and announcing her new name is Alexia, it further complicates matters, as does the arrival of his new neighbor, Conner. Both, in their own way, compel Asher to look at his own closely-guarded views on sexuality.
When the siblings’ older brother, Cole, reacts violently to Alexia, Asher is placed squarely in the middle of a family conflict which compels him to confront who he pretends to be versus who he really is.
Asher must choose who to trust and who to finally walk away from.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 5:18 in a morning I wouldn’t have seen if not for the knocking—no, the pounding on my door. The steady cadence of the banging had rattled the plaster in the walls, knocking an old picture damn near on my head. I’d awoken with a groan and tried to ignore the knocking, because if it was the cops beating on my door before the sun was even up then I didn’t wanna know or remember what the hell it was that I’d supposedly done.
Still, it didn’t stop. It kept going until one of my neighbors came out and yelled. Not wanting to be the most-hated guy in the building, since that honor actually belonged to the hoarder in apartment 3C, I rolled from the bed, stumbled over the tangle of my discarded clothes, stepped on the ashtray, and damn near broke my neck on a four-pack of Monster I’d left on the floor. I wrenched the door open, forgetting about the chain, and the recoil yanked me into the rough wooden surface as I fumbled around sleepily before getting the chain undone.
A growled, “What the fuck?” from me, a gasp and a flurry of female hands covering the eyes of a small child, and suddenly I was quite a bit more awake than I’d been. Awake enough to realize I was buck naked with at least three of my neighbors looking on and a vaguely familiar redhead sputtering, gasping, blushing, and glaring at me.
“Kimber?” I stammered, rubbing the sleep from my eyes as I leaned there, looking into her furious blue eyes.
“For God’s sake, Asher,” she hissed, “go put some clothes on!”
“Uhh, yeah,” I muttered, making my way back to my room, my fuzzy brain trying to figure out why the hell my brother’s ex was on my doorstep at the asscrack of dawn. By the time I made it back to the door she’d seen herself and the kid in, closed and chained the door behind her, and was looking around the kitchen with her nose wrinkled in what could only be disdain. I saw her eyes widen when she looked at the pile of dishes and empty bottles in the sink, and then they narrowed as she turned toward me, frowning at my appearance.
“So, uhh, what brings ya by?” I asked as I brushed my fingers through my hair, trying to tame all those strands that seemed determined to stick everywhere. When was the last time I’d had a haircut, anyway?
I tried to give her a smile, but I wasn’t much for people, especially not two hours after I’d staggered in, and the look she was giving me was screaming loud and clear that a pleasant grin wasn’t gonna cool her temper.
Her arms were crossed, and a little face peered around her. “Do you ever answer your phone?”
“It had an unfortunate accident with a pot of chili and I ain’t gotten around to replacing it yet,” I told her, still feeling like an idiot for having dropped the goddamned phone in the pot. Might not have happened if I hadn’t been shaking the damn thing like it was garlic powder while yelling into the garlic-powder jar like a raving lunatic, but that’s what happens when I cook drunk and angry.
She sighed, frustrated, and pulled the little boy from behind her so I could see him. “You do remember your nephew Rory?”
I squinted at the kid. “Uhh, yeah; he, uhh, grew?” It did look like he’d grown since I’d seen him last, I thought. When the hell had I seen him last?
“Yes, Asher, kids grow. Shocking, isn’t it,” she said, and man, did she look pissed… and so very fuckable. I couldn’t help thinking how fun it would be to slide my hands over all those curves, grab a handful of breast, and see how well I could mold that lush little body against mine. God, did I really still think that about my ex-sister-in-law?
I opened my mouth to say something, and then decided silence might be the best bet. No such luck. She went for silence, too; then glaring, until the glare got too heavy and she snapped.
“Aren’t you even going to ask what your nephew and I have come all this way for?” she asked, foot tapping on the cracked green linoleum of my floor.
“Uhh, sure,” I said, knowing with all the uhhing I was doing I likely sounded like a moron by now, but hell, it was five in the bloody morning in my own goddamned kitchen; I had a right to sound like a moron, didn’t I? “Why are you guys here?”
“My boss is relocating me to Montreal. It’s a promotion and Lord knows I need it, but I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get settled and find a good apartment and a good school for Rory.”
As she spoke, she fidgeted and twisted one long braid the way she’d always done when she was nervous; meanwhile, I was still trying to figure out what the hell it had to do with me.
“I can’t take him with me while I try to do all that,” she said at last.
“Okay, so…” I began, trying to find words that weren’t going to unleash all that fury she had bubbling beneath the surface. Hell, I could practically see the steam erupting out of her ears as her fingers clenched around her braid so hard I feared she’d yank it from her head.
“I need you to watch him.”
My eyes widened so much I could feel the scar pulling at the edge of the left one. “You want me to what?” I was wide awake now, with the words “no way in hell” right on the tip of my tongue.
About the authorLAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.
Layla Dorine can be found at: