TITLE: Close To You
SERIES: Sunshine and Happiness: Book Three
AUTHOR: Skylar M. Cates
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: AngstyG
LENGTH: 248 Pages
RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2016
BLURB: It’s hard to recover from a first love. Some people never do.
How hard would you fight to keep your best friend? Marc Lucas and Tomas Santos have been best friends forever, but now their friendship is in a crisis. When they were boys, betrayals ripped their world apart. They thought it was fixed, but some parts remained broken. Ever since he saved him from a humiliation at school, Marc has loved Tomas. The last thing he expects is for Tomas to love him back. To keep his best friend, Marc revisits an abusive past he’s tried to forget.
For Tomas, loving Marc has been anything but easy. His upbringing told him it was wrong, so why did it feel so right? Accepting who he is as an adult, Tomas decides he needs a committed relationship. To his deep sorrow, he can’t seem to find it with Marc.
When the two find themselves alone and in the grip of a hurricane, long-buried feelings emerge. Being “just friends” is no longer an option. They must risk it all on love.
ALL HE wants is sleep.
Marc Lucas is sick and tired of being tired. He isn’t getting his ass out of bed until sunrise. No fucking way.
If he’s not working extra shifts in the Florida heat, trimming trees to earn money, he’s in his night classes. He’s physically and mentally spent. He tosses and turns for about an hour, but eventually sleep grants him mercy.
When his phone rings in a series of loud, insistent sounds, Marc attempts to ignore it. Why hasn’t he set it to silent mode? He smacks the cell with his palm to shut it the hell up and tries to doze off again, disregarding his scratchy throat and need to pee, hoping to return to his much-desired rest. He’s nearly there, on the edge of dreaming, when a second later it starts to ring again.
Fuck. This can’t be good. Marc peers bleary-eyed at the screen. Three thirty in the goddamn morning.
“’Lo?” Marc answers. Uneasiness shoots down his spine; his instincts go on alert.
“It’s me,” Tomas says. “I’m in trouble.”
Marc’s heart gives a strange jerk as his brain takes time to process Tomas’s actual words. Simply hearing his voice causes a hollow pit inside.
“Are you there?”
“Yeah.” Marc noisily clears his throat. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s my grandfather. Fernando’s gone missing. It’s only been a few hours, and maybe it’s nothing, but-”
“I’ll be there, just lemme get dressed.”
“Ah—no. I’m sorry I called. It’s stupid for you to rush here in the middle of the night. I can handle it. Forget I called and go back to sleep. I’ll take care of it.”
“Because you can handle everything yourself?” Marc sighs. “Tomas, stop. You called me already, right? So enough with the independent, macho act. I’m coming.” He climbs out of bed and hurries to dress.
Although Marc usually finds Tomas’s strong, masculine code attractive, he also knows Tomas is vulnerable as hell when it comes to his family. So no, he’s not going to hang up and go back to sleep like some jackass, not when Tomas needs him. “I can be near your place in under forty-five minutes.”
“Don’t speed, okay? I want you here, but drive normally.”
Tomas’s familiar sweetness makes Marc swallow hard. He doesn’t want to end the call, but he needs to finish changing, drink a Red Bull, and gas up his car. A fist-sized ache pounds in his chest. God, he misses Tomas, misses talking to him, misses everything.
“Just text me when you’re here. I’m combing the neighborhood, and Avó Izzy called the police, though they said it’s too soon for their help.”
“Did your grandmother tell them Fernando has early-stage Alzheimer’s?”
“Yes, but they didn’t budge.”
“Figures.” Marc snorts. He has little use for the police.
“Maybe he’s only confused and got it in his head to go somewhere, even though it’s nighttime. Right?” Tomas draws in a breath.
Cradling the phone to his ear, Marc hears the worry in Tomas’s voice, the need for reassurance. For a moment he pictures Fernando the way he used to look—big, fierce, and disapproving. How did Fernando get old or frail? It seems impossible. Tomas resembles his grandfather, only Tomas just looks hard and tough. Fernando is a true ballbuster.
“He’ll be okay, Tomas. I know it.”
“I’m sorry to bother you….”
“No worries.” Marc stumbles to his dresser and he tugs on his jeans, not bothering to turn on the light or look for clean underwear.
The past hovers like a ghost between them. Over the static of his cell phone, Marc waits for Tomas to speak. Even when he and Tomas grow old and thin like Fernando—when their minds get pasty like oatmeal and their bodies begin to fail them—even then Marc will forever see Tomas as that boy he first met in middle school. The boy he fell desperately in love with, silently and forever.
“Thanks for doing this,” Tomas says.
“What are you talking about? It’s me. Of course I’m gonna come over.”
“You’re a good friend.”
Marc studies the darkness of his bedroom. Tomas’s compliment makes him uncomfortable.
“I mean it.”
Tomas pauses for a long time. Marc wonders whether he is thinking about the definition of their supposed friendship. He and Tomas are experts at pretending nothing else is between them. And that’s okay, Marc tells himself. He’s not right for Tomas. He can be happy as only friends.
Liar. He’s the king of fucking liars. It’s gotten to the point where he’s allergic to the truth.
No matter how much he messes up or how much he runs, Tomas is all he ever wants. “See ya soon.”
Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe.
Winner’s Prize: An e-book from Skylar’s backlist
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