Ray and Viv realise love isn’t always what they expect it to be, but learning to deal with the road ahead can be worth the heartache.
Thrown into circumstances beyond their imaginations, Ray Connelly and Christopher ‘Viv’ Vivvens must step beyond their personal lifestyles to survive the future. What started out as a small white lie about being boyfriends soon becomes more than they bargained for, especially when family and friends decide to interfere in their lives. However, when tragedy strikes, Ray and Viv must step up and become parents, too. Along the way, they welcome nine children of varying ages, but there is plenty of love to go around.
Ray and Viv realise love isn’t always what they expect. Sometimes it’s downright hard. They also learn that dealing with life’s obstacles can be worth the heartache. In doing so, the couple discover how strong they are together.
When everything is running smoothly, an ex comes along to ruin their happily ever after. They must fight their past demons to make their future even better. Together they are family in the greatest sense, but do Ray and Viv have what it takes to beat the odds this time?
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of dubious consent. It is best read in sequence as part of a series.
Publisher's Note: This book was previously released by another publisher. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Totally Bound Publishing.
General Release Date: 29th August 2014
“Hey, yeah, yeah, yeah, what are you doing to me? Hey, yeah, yeah, yeah, what are you waiting to see? I loved you more through all of your games…”
Viv snapped his head toward the stage as the young male singer’s melodic voice filled the room and drowned out the chatter among the other nightclub patrons. Why this song after all they had been through? Why did memories of her have to come back and haunt him now? Even if it was through the lyrics of a stupid song, sung by a total stranger. Viv had thought he was finally getting over Grace. Especially after the last time she had decided to hurt him by screwing with his brother Daniel’s life. Even though he had once loved Grace with all his heart, Viv never wanted to see her again. “Oh my.” Daniel turned to Viv and smiled sardonically. “Now there’s a blast from a very fucked-up past. This song makes me hate the fucking bitch even more than I already do. Mind you, at least this guy’s way sexier than Grace ever was.”
Both men ignored Brie’s unsympathetic laugh at Daniel’s statement. Daniel’s current girlfriend in Viv’s eyes wasn’t much better than Grace.
By the venom in his brother’s words, Viv knew without a doubt that Daniel was still as fucked now as he had been before at the hands of Grace and all her stupid mind games. Once she had been so sweet, then it seemed as though she’d changed overnight. What she’d done to Daniel had destroyed what she and Viv had shared. Viv always had the feeling Brie had somehow been involved in what had happened to Daniel, but he couldn’t prove it. Hence, the reason Brie was still in their lives.
Daniel studied him, and Viv realised his brother saw all the emotions he couldn’t quite hide as he listened to Grace’s favourite song. Viv suspected his present girlfriend of being part of the group that had drugged Daniel and uploaded the video to the Internet for the world to see. Viv blinked away the unwanted tears of anger and humiliation at the memory of Grace and all the pain she had repeatedly inflicted. She was the reason he no longer dated seriously. There was no way in hell he was letting anybody get that close to him again.
“Yeah,” Daniel mumbled more to himself. “He’s much too pretty.”
“Daniel, sometimes the shit that comes out of your mouth amuses me and has me wondering what the fuck you’re on?” Viv chuckled as he tried to divert the attention away from his own unwanted show of emotion over the coincidence of a stupid song. Even though he had never meant for what he’d said to hurt, pain flashed in Daniel’s eyes.
God give me strength.
Silence fell between them for a moment and, as much as he tried, Viv couldn’t seem to take his eye off the young male singer. Viv thought he was very pretty—for a man. His short, dark and spiky hair stood up in odd angles all over his head, as though he had been frustrated and had only moments before scrubbed his hand across his scalp. He also had a pencil-thin moustache and beard stubble. Facial hair looked strange on him, yet in a weird way, Viv rather liked it. The guy’s build was lean, but not overly thin. Sweat glistened on his face under the stage lights, and by the way he was singing, he obviously enjoyed what he was doing—he looked happy. More than a few people in the crowd, both male and female, were turned toward the show ogling the singer, which amused Viv, as the guy seemed oblivious to them.
“What did I say?” Daniel asked, his attention also riveted to the stage.
Viv studied his brother and got the feeling that Daniel was reflecting over everything they had talked about and again, Viv had to agree with Daniel’s earlier comments. The singer really was pretty, and if Viv had to be honest, he was better looking than Grace. Daniel had been right about that. He was probably somewhere between Daniel’s twenty years and Viv’s own thirty-two years. He wondered whether the guy was straight. In his opinion, he didn’t think anyone so damn pretty could be straight, and he gave off the ‘I’m too sexy to be single’ vibe.
Where the hell did that thought come from? I’m not gay. I’m not attracted to men, no matter how damn cute they are. More than likely some handsome young man is waiting on the sidelines for him to finish, so even if I was attracted, there is nothing I can do about it. So let’s close that door and move the hell on.
Daniel sighed, and Viv had a feeling his brother was already infatuated with the man on stage. For some strange reason, Viv didn’t like how his brother watched the guy. Part of him wanted to remind Daniel that he had a girlfriend sitting at the table with them—a fucking pain in the arse girlfriend, but Dan’s girlfriend nonetheless—and to keep his eyes off someone he wasn’t dating.
“Just forget it. I didn’t mean what I just said. I don’t want to talk about Grace.” He said his ex’s name with more than a touch of bitter hatred. “I’m sorry I took my frustration out on you.” Viv stared at the singer once more and aimed an intense amount of dislike at him. In his own mind, the stranger entertaining the crowd was the reason he and his brother were now at odds. Well, not odds exactly. More that he was the reason Viv was taking his hurt and self-hatred out on his brother over bringing Grace into their lives in the first place.
Even as he funnelled his misguided resentment toward the stage, he knew his reaction didn’t make sense. He didn’t know this guy from Adam. After tonight, he would probably never see him again. Was it fair to blame the entertainer for his own stupidity? Maybe this was a blessing in disguise. Still, he couldn’t seem to take his gaze away from the fellow. And crazier still, his imagination told him the guy was looking right back at him. Viv nearly laughed aloud. For a moment, it felt as though his heart was pounding in time to the thumping music.
How crazy is that?
Viv had never classed himself as homophobic, though many people still saw him that way. Why? He never really knew. For him the issue was simple—he preferred girls. Girls were soft in all the right places. Sure, once or twice—okay, maybe a few times in the past—he had thought some dude was good-looking, but that was as far as those thoughts had ever gone. Never once had he acted upon them. This guy was definitely handsome, but realising this didn’t make Viv gay, did it? Viv was used to being around gay men and women and it never really bothered him in the least, especially living with Daniel, who didn’t seem to care who he loved, as long as he was loved in return. Maybe his brother felt that way since he was only twenty and not ready to settle down. Most of Daniel’s relationships had been based on lust with a tendency to burn out fast. No matter what, Viv loved his brother exactly the way he was, even if, at times, Daniel’s antics frustrated the hell out of him.
He couldn’t say the same for some of the people his brother chose to be with. Daniel’s current and longest fling was starting to go sour, and Viv hoped Brie would soon leave the picture. He was sure that Daniel had only stayed with her for as long as he had because he knew how much she pissed Viv off. His brother had always enjoyed making Viv as uncomfortable as possible, and this girl certainly did the job well. He couldn’t stand the bitch. She was sly, and his gut told him she was bad news.
Not only that, Brie was rude, crude and very uncouth. Viv glanced at her and rolled his eyes. She also seemed mesmerised by the singer on stage. The lust was written so plainly on her face. He wondered if she would hit on the poor guy like she had with other band members who played at Declan’s. Not that Daniel knew what his precious Brie had been doing. Viv wanted to tell her she was wasting her time. The guy wouldn’t be interested in her anyway. The only thing stopping him from speaking up was the fact that he didn’t have a clue what type of person the singer preferred sexually. And he couldn’t bring himself to speak to her, as it would only end in another argument. Maybe he should tell Daniel how often his girlfriend had hit on not only Viv, but also every other male in the near vicinity for the seventeen months Daniel had been with her. No, he couldn’t say anything. If he did, it would only end up hurting Daniel more.
Why the hell did Tony hire this band anyway?
And what was with the group’s name? Darkness Crawls?
He shook his head at the other two occupants sitting at the table with him. Viv could see the handsome guy on stage was going to become Daniel’s new obsession.
Oh, what joy.
Viv could only imagine his near future inundated with the presence of a man who was already confusing Viv’s body enough to make him want to run for the hills and never look back. He didn’t know whether he would be able to bear to witness Daniel being with this guy without giving himself away too.
His thoughts came back to the here and now when Daniel kicked his foot under the table and growled, “Viv, you know what? You can kiss my arse.”
A smile tugged at the edge of Viv’s mouth as he turned to his brother and saw Daniel gearing up for a fight without once taking his gaze off the stage.
Tonight’s finally going to be the end of Brie. Halle-fucking-lujah! Well, I hope it’s the end of her, since there is no way Dan could be really mad at me. Dan’s never mad at me, no matter how much we fight. I almost feel sorry for the poor, dumb bitch. Wait… Nope—not sorry at all. I’ll argue all Dan wants, especially if it gets me what I want.
The song kept bringing his focus back to the stage, and the feelings he had no right having for a perfect stranger were doing some sort of happy dance right in the middle of his gut.
Why does he have to sing this song? Why now? Is this some sort of a sign? And if so, what’s the message?
Viv was a big believer in signs. It was something taught to him by his father who had always said, ‘Everything happens for a reason, so make sure you’re listening’.
He sighed. Please don’t let Grace come back and ruin everything. Why do I always turn into a total fucktard the minute she smiles at me?
Viv couldn’t chance his ex getting anywhere near Daniel. Not after what had happened last time. Viv closed his eyes. He prayed he was wrong. But the way his luck was running lately, she would be turning up shortly just to fuck with his head again. In the past, she’d come into his life at yearly intervals and here the year was nearly up since her last stint of hell-raising.
As Viv slowly opened his eyes again, his gaze drifted back toward the stage. He froze when he realised the singer was still staring at him. There was no doubt in his mind that the man was looking at only him. His breath caught when he saw a crooked smile flash shyly in his direction. A strange warmth ran through him, one he didn’t want to understand. A vibration settled in the pit of his stomach as he fought to get his thoughts into some semblance of order.
Stranger still, he couldn’t stop himself from smiling back.
What the hell am I doing?
I am so fucked.