Bent— Not Broken
After the tragedy at Cattle Valley Days, Carol McGowan woke in the hospital to find George Manning hovering over her. George confessed he'd fallen in love with her, but Carol is skeptical. She knows George is bi-sexual and has been in an ongoing secret affair for years. She's been down that road before and ended up on the wrong side of lonely. Carol learned from her previous relationship and isn't in any hurry to jump back into another ménage.
George Manning has spent the last nineteen years hiding his love for his closeted friend and country music legend, Trick Allen. After almost losing Carol, George decides to grab hold of the love in front of him, instead of the dream he's always chased.
Trick Allen spent years building his career. With the reputation of being a typical love 'em and leave 'em superstar, Trick hid his love for George from the rest of the world. When presented with the choice of losing George forever, or stepping out of the glittered closet he'd become accustomed to, he is faced with the ultimate decision. Is a real life worth risking his career?
Three people, with very strong personalities, try to blend love and home amidst a national outcry of vehemence.
Asa Montgomery is a hard man to figure out. He's got millions of dollars in the bank, a host of men vying for his bed and he's still miserable.
When a tragedy leaves him broken and battered, Asa quickly finds out who his real friends are. Left alone with only his household staff to nurse him back to health, Asa realises he wants more than just a pretty man to adorn his bedroom.
Mario Benta was fooled by a rich man in the past. They may say you're the only one for them, but what they really mean is, you're the only one until something younger and sexier comes along.
Despite Mario's growing attraction to Asa, he'll be damned if he'll allow himself to be another man's arm candy.
When Asa sets out to change Mario's mind, he'll discover it takes more than money to gain the heart of the ex-Army Ranger.
General Release Date: 7th December 2009
Bent - Not Broken
Carol opened her eyes to the sight of George Manning’s gorgeous face asleep beside her. How many times had she dreamt of waking with George? The beeping of the heart monitor on the opposite side of the bed brought her back to reality.
She remembered waking several days earlier to see George’s face hovering over her bed, his hazel eyes filled with concern. What had prompted such emotion in the man? Although they’d spent a great deal of time together in the previous months, George hadn’t even made a pass at her, much to her disappointment.
She lifted her hand and ran her fingers through his short, dark brown hair. George’s eyes fluttered several times before opening.
“Hey,” Carol said. Even though it had been several days since her surgery, there was still a slight rasp to it.
“How’re you feeling?” George asked.
Despite being awake, George continued to allow Carol’s fingers to stroke and pet.
“Probably more rested than you. Why don’t you go home and get some sleep.”
George shook his head but not enough to dislodge Carol’s hand. “I’m okay. At least I’m in here with you. Mario slept in the lobby for two days.”
“Have you gone home at all?” she asked as she traced one of his eyebrows with a fingertip. Although Sheridan was only forty-five minutes from home, Carol knew the man hadn’t spent one night in his own bed since the accident.
“I’ve been running back to Cattle Valley every day to shower and change. I don’t know that they’d let me stay with you if I smell.”
Carol started to laugh and grabbed her stomach.
“Should I get the nurse?” George rose to his feet and offered her a drink of water
Carol shook her head and sipped at the water. “Just don’t make me laugh anymore.”
George took Carol’s hand in his and leant down to place a kiss on her forehead. “I’m sorry.”
Carol grinned. “Don’t be silly. You didn’t do anything on purpose.”
She stared into his eyes. There was so much she wanted to ask him. His actions since the collapse confused her. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the fire station?”
George’s Adam’s apple bobbed several times before he answered. “I don’t want to be anywhere but with you.”
Narrowing her eyes, she reached for George’s hand. “What’s going on?”
George resumed his seat and rested his cheek on their entwined hands. “I’m in love with you.”
Shocked, Carol gasped. “What? You can’t be.”
Leaning his arms on the bed, George leant towards her. “I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve wanted to kiss you. To just take you to my bed and keep you there, but certain things always stopped me.”
George lowered his gaze. “Yeah, like Trick. It wasn’t until the collapse that I realised I was wasting my time with him.”
Carol shook her head. She could see the mixed emotions in George’s eyes. “You’ve been with him a long time.”
“Nineteen years, too damn long to be shoved into the role of secret lover. I’m tired of that. I want a real life, with a real partner.”
With her head swimming, Carol released George’s hand. She may have only had one serious relationship in her life, but it had ended with her being alone. It had been years since she’d moved to Cattle Valley with Rodney and Lyle. At the time, she’d thought they would finally be able to openly be a family. That had all changed when her men decided they made a better twosome. Rodney and Lyle had taken off to Seattle without a backward glance.
No. She couldn’t travel down that road again. She shook her head. “You still love him. I can’t...”
George stopped her with a soft kiss. Their lips lingered in the chaste kiss until he eventually pulled back. “Give me a chance.”
Her immediate reaction was to tell him thanks, but no thanks, but her heart stopped her. How many times had Quade teased her about staying in Cattle Valley? In a town where most of the men were either gay or bi. She seemed to be tempting fate. Carol countered that she wasn’t, she was ensuring she never fell in love again.
With the feel of George’s kiss still fresh in her mind, she wondered whether she could ever again trust a man with her heart. Trick was the wildcard. Although she’d met the handsome man, she’d never thought of him as anything other than George’s lover.
“What about Trick?” she asked again.
“I told him I was done.”
“Give me some time to think about it.” She wouldn’t tell George, but what she really wanted was to see if things were really over with the country music singer.
After everything she’d been through, Carol knew her heart couldn’t take another betrayal. She had no doubt George would do everything in his power to keep his word regarding Trick, but the heart didn’t always agree with the mind.
“Please don’t shut me out,” George begged.
“I’m not, but I learned the hard way that what someone says and what they do aren’t always the same.”
“Will you let me stay?”
“Of course. You’re my dearest friend next to Quade. How could I do without you?”
“Hey. I thought I was your dearest friend.” Nate said as he stepped into the room.
Even feeling like shit, Carol felt well enough to give Nate a hard time. “Biggest pain in my ass, you mean,” she said in her typical dry tone.
Nate grinned and bent to give her a kiss on the forehead. “You must be feeling better.”
Carol gave Nate a mock growl. “Why’re you so chipper? Are you that happy to see me flat on my back?”
Chuckling, George stood and gave Carol another brief kiss. “I’m gonna run home and shower. Okay if I come back?”
“Only if you bring me some tacos. I may be in here, but I haven’t forgotten what day it is.”
George shook his head. “I don’t think you’re up to Jay’s spicy taco meat yet. But as soon as they spring you from this place, it’s a date.”
Carol felt the blush creeping up her cheeks. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
Excerpt From: Arm Candy
Mario Benta was wiping down the exercise bikes when Rio returned from a long lunch. The grin on the big man’s face said it all.
“Productive lunch, I take it?” Mario asked.
Rio winked. “Very productive, thank you very much.”
Mario tossed the rag over his shoulder and neared the juice counter. “Nate still talking to that architect fella about designing a new arena?”
Rio finished chugging a glass of apple juice before smacking his lips. “Yeah. The big argument now is who’s going to pay for it. Nate’s insisting on using his own money, but Ryan and I are trying to make him understand that his money is best used for other things, like supporting the shelter in DC.”
“As much attention as Cattle Valley has received since that damn article came out, I’d think we could push for corporate sponsors or something.” Mario wasn’t a businessman, but even he knew the arena would cost millions. There was only one person in town with that kind of money, and if Asa Montgomery hadn’t offered to open his wallet by now, it wasn’t going to happen.
Mario grabbed the rag from his shoulder and tossed it into the laundry bin. Thinking about Asa in any way had the ability to both depress and piss him off. “Guess I’ll run to Deb’s and get a bite to eat.”
“K,” Rio answered as he refilled his juice glass.
Mario was almost out the door when the phone rang. He stopped and turned around as Rio answered.
“Hold on.” Rio grinned and held up the phone. “It’s Asa.”
Mario shook his head. “Tell him I’m out to lunch.”
Without waiting, Mario left The Gym and climbed into his beat-up pickup. He turned the key and prayed the damn thing would start. He knew it was time to trade the old girl in, but he’d been with Lola for going on thirteen years and he couldn’t bear to part with her.
After several attempts, Lola roared to life with a spew of black smoke. He chuckled and shook his head. It was a wonder the environmental activists weren’t camped out on his front lawn.
He pulled onto the road and headed for the diner. For over two weeks he’d been avoiding Asa’s calls. The first time he’d picked up his home phone and saw the man’s name on his caller ID, he’d almost jumped out of his skin.
Admittedly, he was excited at first, but that feeling soon turned into anger. For two days following the grandstand’s collapse, he’d waited at the hospital hoping Asa would call for him. Every time he inquired about seeing his friend, he was informed by one of Asa’s minions that he didn’t want any visitors.
The hurt and anger over the dismissal had Mario letting the call go to his answering machine. Afterward, he’d listened to the message and promptly deleted it. What the hell was wrong with that man? First he’d refused to see him at the hospital, and then he had the nerve to offer Mario a fucking salary to help in his rehabilitation. With all his money, Mario knew Asa could afford a full-time, live-in therapist if he wanted.
What hurt the most was Mario knew he’d have helped Asa for free if he’d just asked instead of treating him like a pest those few days following the tragedy. Now the man couldn’t pay him enough for forgiveness.
His cell phone started ringing as he parked in front of the diner. He grabbed it off the seat and looked at the display.
“Hey,” he answered.
“I don’t know what’s going on between you and Asa, but he told me to tell you he’d double it. What the hell’s that about?”
“Fucker.” Mario took a deep breath. “I’ll go over and give him my answer in person.”
“Don’t say anything you’ll regret. I know he hurt you, but he’s had a rough time of it,” Rio reasoned.
“Later.” Mario hung up and headed towards Asa’s monstrosity of a house.
How dare that sonofabitch try to sway his decision with more money. Mario pounded his fist against the steering wheel. The way he felt, Asa would be lucky if all Mario gave him was a good tongue lashing because what he really wanted, was to punch the jerk in the face.
He pulled up to the fancy-assed security gate and pushed the call button.
“Yes,” an unknown woman’s voice answered.
“Mario Benta here to see Asa,” Mario barked.
Mario tugged on the small patch of hair under his lower lip, something he often did when he felt stressed. Several seconds later, the black iron gates swung inward.
Pretentious bastard. Mario drove down the long winding drive and pulled under the extended portico that hung over the driveway of the log and stone home. Mario jumped out and climbed the steps.
Before he even had a chance to knock, the door opened and an elderly woman beckoned him inside.