DAMAGED HEART BY S.C. WYNNE IS OUT TODAY FROM LOOSE ID

My latest from Loose Id, Damaged Heart is out today, September 23rd. This story has lots of angst. I loved Cory and Rhys and enjoyed every moment I spent with them writing their story. I absolutely adore the cover, thank you GD Leigh! And thank you, Kathleen Calhoun for doing such a great editing job!

How about a little snippet to wet your appetite? 🙂

BLURB:

Just twenty years-old, Cory Johnson fled Bayville after his father’s suicide to escape his abusive mother. He made a life for himself in Los Angeles, as different from Bayville as a place could possibly be. While his successful legal career is rewarding, Cory can’t connect with the people in his life. He’s terribly alone. When his mother dies, he must–reluctantly–return home to handle her estate, which he knows will only make those feelings worse.

Rhys Tucker owns the construction company that will renovate Cory’s childhood home. He’s harbored a crush on Cory since high school, so he seizes the unexpected opportunity to get close to Cory. Or at least try to. Their physical chemistry is immediate and undeniable, but Cory’s so closed-off, Rhys worries he’ll never penetrate that guarded, damaged heart.

Cory wants Rhys. He does. But can someone as scarred and broken as he is ever really come home?

SCWYNNE_DamagedHeart_CoverSM

He picked up the boy and held him in a relaxed manner. The miniature monster apparently didn’t freak him out in the least. “He looks like Lydia’s kid.” The hunk looked around the restaurant and called out to a waitress. “Is this Tyler?”

“What’s he doing out of his playpen? I’ll get Lydia.” The waitress disappeared into the back area.

“You know, he doesn’t bite,” the stranger said, studying me. The kid was trying to slap the man’s cheeks, and he avoided the child’s hands deftly.

“I know for a fact he has teeth. I saw them both,” I said, trying to regain some composure. It wasn’t easy with him standing so close to me. His blue jeans hugged his strong legs, and he smelled like fresh air and confidence. I wondered if his self-assurance would slip any if I flirted with him.

“Names Rhys Tucker.” He held out his hand.

I hesitated briefly before taking it. His skin was as warm and firm as I’d imagined, and my stomach had a little visit from some butterflies. “Cory Johnson.”

There was obvious recognition in his gaze, but then it was gone. “I knew that was you. We went to school together.”

“Did we?” I was certain I’d have remembered him. Though my school days were a depressing blur, I should recall knowing someone like Rhys.

“Briefly. You left a couple of months after I arrived.” He swallowed, and for the first time he looked nervous. Well, not as nervous as me, but I would take what I could get. “I was the new kid in town. Some of the other students were assholes to me, but you were different. You were kind.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Are you back for good?” He adjusted the cooing kid in his arms.

I shook my head. “Oh, God no.”

He frowned. “Not a fan of Bayville?”

I shrugged. “I prefer LA.” Obviously he’d had a different experience than I had growing up here.

A plump woman, who I assumed was Lydia, came hurrying up to us, her worried gaze locked on the child. “Tyler, you’re driving me nuts.” She took him from Rhys and laughed. “I’m sorry. I think he’s part monkey.”

“No, it’s fine. He didn’t hurt anything,” Rhys answered her. “He’s grown a bunch since I last saw him.”

Lydia hefted the kid on her hip and sighed. “He’s a handful; that’s for sure.” She turned her apologetic gaze on me. “I’m sorry if he interrupted your meal.”

What could I say, Thank you for that; he was pretty annoying? I decided to be polite instead. “It’s fine. You might want to get him a piece of bread. He seemed fixated on mine.”

“Yeah, he loves the carbs. That’s probably why he’s so huge.” She grinned and wandered away.

I kept silent, and Rhys met my stare, continuing to stand near me. Even with all the patrons in the bright little dining room, I had an odd compulsion to run my hand up his firm, jean-clad thigh. I wasn’t the kind of person who picked people up in restaurants, but I couldn’t help wishing I was more assertive that way. It might have been nice to have someone like him for a diversion while I was stuck here, but odds were he was straight.

“You must have kids. You seemed so relaxed with that little…boy.” I’d almost said creature.

“I don’t have kids. But I would love to one day.” He laughed, and the warmth of it washed over me. “I’m going to take a wild guess you aren’t yearning for a child of your very own.”

I grimaced. “Not really.”

For some reason he wasn’t leaving. He just kept hovering, and I was having the oddest reaction to his nearness. It almost felt like hunger. I racked my brain; how would a normal person behave? Would it be weird to ask him to join me? I enjoyed a flash fantasy of touching his hands, so near to me, and stroking the fine, dark hairs on his wrist. Instead, I sipped my soup self-consciously.

“So, you said you’re not staying permanently. But how long are you going to be here?” he asked, apparently in no hurry to get away.

“I’ll be here a couple of weeks for sure. Maybe longer. My mother passed, and I’m seeing about selling the house and things like that.”

“Yeah, I heard about your mom. My condolences.”

I didn’t say anything. I’m sure that wasn’t the normal response, but I couldn’t seem to drum up feelings on the matter. Or maybe I had too many feelings, and I wasn’t capable of processing them on the spot. I only knew she’d made my life a living hell. When I thought of her, it wasn’t grief that surged; it was anxiety mixed with resentment. I was a grown man, but if I was honest with myself, her death gave me a tiny bit of relief. She couldn’t hurt me anymore. I don’t know, maybe that made me seem odd, or heartless, but the awful reality was we hadn’t cared about each other when she was alive, so why start pretending now?

“Do you know when the funeral will be?” he asked.

I had a momentary thrill at the idea of running into him again, but unless I was going to hold a fake burial, there would be no opportunity for that. “She’s being cremated.”

He nodded. “Will you still have a memorial service of some sort?”

I guess that was what the average son would do, hold a poignant service and invite all our friends and family to wax poetic about what a wonderful wife and mother she’d been. However, we didn’t have any friends or family anywhere that I knew of. But most importantly Beatrice Johnson had been a horrible, heartless bitch of a woman, and there was no fucking way I would spend another dime or moment of my life on her memory. Not exactly something I was going to share with Rhys.

“No.” It was, after all, the truth.

Fortunately his phone buzzed in his pocket, and he pulled it out before sliding his thumb along its face. “Work, sorry.” He smiled, looking back to me. “It was great seeing you again, Cory. Hopefully I’ll see you around before you leave.” His voice was like velvet, and he started to say something else but stopped. Then he smiled and walked away and out of the restaurant.

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S.C. Wynne’s latest from Ellora’s Cave: GUARD MY BODY

My latest one is now live on Amazon and Ellora’s Cave website. I’ll leave links below if you are interested in purchasing this one.

guardmybodyIt’s a little different for me because the two MC’s are both in their fifties. I really enjoyed writing this short story even though the tale begins with a man who is broken, and struggling to heal after the death of his lover. But digging deep to figure out what healing from a loss that great would feel like was actually very beneficial as an author. I got to explore emotions I probably had never allowed myself to feel.

Hopefully the readers will respond in a good way to Andrew’s journey. Here is a blurb to let you know a little more about the story:

Andrew James is fifty-three and struggling with the death of his longtime love Rory.  Andrew is finding it difficult to find a reason to go on, and his employer and friend Fredrick knows it’s a matter of time before Andrew just gives up even trying. But Fredrick is not a man without a plan.

Fredrick arranges a meeting between Andrew and a gorgeous psychologist friend, Michael Lawrence. There is no denying the intense physical attraction between the pair, but will it be enough to help Andrew overcome his grief at this age in his life? Is he too old to try and love again?

EXCERPT:

I jerked awake, smearing the hot tears off my face. My heart was about to explode from my chest, and I was nauseous, drenched in perspiration. Just the sound of my labored breathing and a clock ticking somewhere in the room. So quiet. So fucking silent. That was the worst part of waking up like this. No one to hold me and tell me it was just a dream. But  that someone would be Rory. And it wasn’t a dream.

I stumbled into the kitchen, stretching my stiff muscles. Making coffee always calmed me. The heady smell of the beans grinding, pouring the water, flipping the switch. Rory had hated how strong I’d always made it. “Is this sludge or coffee?” he’d have said grinning as he leaned against the counter. I’d have ignored him and poured myself a generous cup. I should have listened to him about the coffee. I should have paid attention to a lot of things better. I wished to God he’d listened to me about my gut feeling that morning.

I washed while the java brewed and got dressed in the little bedroom we’d shared Everything looked the same as before he died. I couldn’t bring myself to change anything. On the dresser was the picture of us in Santa Barbara last summer. We looked so happy, sun kissed and relaxed. I talked to that picture sometimes. But then the sound of my hollow, bitter voice would make the house seem even more empty and cold. Maybe I should get a cat or a dog. If only so there would be some  noise in the house other than that damn ticking clock. I filled my travel mug and let myself out of the house.

The sun warmed my shoulders through my thin shirt and a blue jay screeched somewhere unseen above my head in the purple Jacarandas. It would be a beautiful day in Los Angeles, too bad I would be sitting in a court room all afternoon. I got in the car and sat for a moment. More silence. Rory would have had a story to tell, or maybe one of his dirty jokes he loved so much. “Did you hear the one about the three legged prostitute?” I flipped on the radio and winced at the perky chatterbox giving the traffic report. How did she do it? How did she muster such enthusiasm for the traffic? I shut it off, disgusted. I don’t know, maybe just people in general irritated me.

I drove the short distance to Fredrick’s office, surprised to see he was already waiting on the patio out front. He threw down his cigarette and crushed it under his designer leather shoe. He strode gracefully to the car and I climbed out to open the back door for him.

“Jesus Christ, Andrew. You’re late.” He lowered his head and slid into the car. “You’re never late, I was worried.”

“You’re never on time. I didn’t think it would matter.”

As I returned to my spot behind the wheel I observed his scowl in the rear-view mirror. He was watching the back of my head intently. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing, I didn’t sleep well, that’s all.”

“Did you have that damned dream again?” he asked, running a slender hand over his sleek graying hair.

I ignored him and pulled out into traffic. The roads were unusually quiet as we made our way toward the Los Angeles Superior Court. Maybe the other drivers knew something we didn’t. Maybe the world had ended. Was it a bad sign that I didn’t care either way?

“You need to talk to someone, Andrew.”

“Is talking going to bring him back?” I asked gruffly.

Fredrick’s face looked drawn. “It might be helpful to have professional insight.”

“Professional insight,” I snorted. “Here’s some insight, mind your own business.”

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If you enjoy the story drop me a line. I love hearing from readers! scwynne@dslextreme.com