No one ever said it would be easy.
Running away from his messy divorce did not bring Ira Fragale the peace he sought. If he is going to get his life together he needs to pull up his big boy pants and take care of business. He’s been hiding out licking his wounds in Skagit for two years now, keeping his head down (except for the trail of twinks he’s left behind). Something’s going to give.
Cameron McCulloch needs to knock Ira off the pedestal he's placed him on. Because he's older doesn't mean Ira has any clearer idea about life and the universe than Cam. Cam needs to focus on his own needs and forget about Ira, but he can’t. Bartending at the Loft is easy and he likes the community he’s fallen into since his family rejected him, but if he wants more out of life he’s going to have to go out and get it himself.
Ira didn’t choose Skagit at random, he came to the small city because events twenty years ago set him on his path on today. The mystery of his father’s murder may never be solved but Ira would like to lay his spirit to rest.
None of this explains the upswing of possible hate crime in Skagit. The small town has its share of trouble but someone, or someones, are on the prowl, harassing the LGBTQ community, and Cameron is in their crosshairs.
About the Author:
Author/imaginator & photographer (also rare Pacific Northwest Native), Elle grew up in Seattle, WA., with the Cascade Mountain range to the east and Olympics to the west.
Elle shares her life with between three to five cats (depending on who's counting), an extremely patient fiancé and a flock of young adults. She’s lived in four US states, London England, and Hong Kong; always knows what time it is, and has little problem finding parking even in the most difficult places.
Elle's series made its debut spring of 2017. Accidental Roots is set in the Skagit Valley of Western Washington. Writing has always been a passion but not something she was able to take seriously until recently. Some journeys are longer than others. Now her head is full of ideas and not enough time in each day. As far as we know she wasn't actually raised by wolves.
Cameron watched with ill-concealed irritation as Ira Fragale left the bar with yet another unsuspecting twink. He was going to have to start a support group for all the glittery little hearts Ira broke on his quest to bed every queer man in Skagit. Or maybe hang a warning sign in the men's room, next to his mug shot.
With a huff he began to wipe down the bar, cleaning off invisible specks of dust and whatnot. He'd already wiped it down twice in less than ten minutes.
What was Ira's problem anyway? Cam'd washed his hands of him, Ira was all flash no substance. Cam had more self-respect than to allow himself to be treated like a doormat. Especially when Ira'd told him that he wasn't planning on changing and wasn't looking for anything permanent. He'd pulled some bullshit telling Cam he was too young for him, but night after night of watching Ira leave with other men, some younger than Cam? He called bullshit.
That was when Ira gave Cam the 'it's not you, it's me' speech. Whatever, it was hard to believe that when Ira was tapping the well of younger guys in Skagit every time he had a chance. Tonight's guy was barely twenty-one, probably a student on campus, he'd looked like he didn't have to shave yet.
"You've got to let that guy go." His boss's voice came from behind him. "He's an asshole for one thing, and," Sterling watched as Ira escorted 'new guy' past the front windows his hand on the guy's ass, "he's is a disaster waiting to happen."
"I know. I have. It just pisses me off." Cam turned to look his boss in the eye. "It's like he's trying to do everything possible to hurt me. Hurt everyone." He didn't say the other thing he was thinking, that Ira wasn't that much of an asshole, not when he let his guard down. Ira was funny, well read and, from other little tidbits he'd dropped when they'd talked, had travelled quite a bit, had decent taste in music, liked museums.
Sterling stared after Ira, "I gotta say, I think he's hurting himself most of all."
"Since when are you so insightful?"
"Bartender, occupational hazard." Sterling chuckled, then his expression turned serious, "Ira's toxic, don't let yourself be sucked into his orbit. He's not worth it, he's too old to change and whatever has him on this path of destruction isn't worth your effort. I'll be in back if you need me." Sterling slid from behind the counter to go hide in his office. Probably to sext with his sexy freakishly smart boyfriend.
Cameron tried to focus solely on his customers but his mind kept wandering back to Ira and what Sterling had said. Ira was toxic, Sterling wasn't wrong. But, for a few days maybe even a week or so at the beginning of the year, Cam believed he'd had a glimpse of the real Ira Fragale and he'd liked what he'd seen. He'd been drawn in by Ira's intelligence, hidden sensitivity and yes, even his snarky attitude. A little voice, one he'd been trying to hush for months, insisted there was more to Ira than met the eye.
It wasn't as if the man was hard to look at either. Ira was fit. Broad chested and muscly, bigger than Cam, although Cam was a little taller. He was elegant in a sort of piratical way. Cam had no problem imagining Ira at the helm of an old sailing ship, hair blowing in the wind, skin bronzed from the sun. Ira's hair had been very dark when he was younger, Cam was certain, but now it was mostly silver, as was his beard. The silver was what Cam had first noticed and it turned him on.
Had turned him on. Had, had, had.
Ira also had long elegant fingers and when he talked, he talked with his hands. Cam could watch him all night.
If he wasn't constantly leaving with other men and stomping on what was left of Cam's self-respect.
Cate Ashwood's books on Goodreads
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