A Worthy Man
(The Men of Halfway House #5)
A story of two men and the boundless love that forever changed them.
Vannguard Shaw has spent the last ten years serving a life sentence and adjusting to the ache of solitude. He accepts his fate, a sacrifice for the only man he ever loved and the one person who saw beyond his rough edges.
Drayton grew up with a trust fund and pre-planned future, but an unexpected encounter one night forces him to abandon everything and start from scratch. He is now a self-made man and developer of one of the most sought after electric exotic automobiles in the world with a fortune greater than that of his birthright. Yet, he’d surrender it all—again—for the only man who’s still ever-present in his heart.
After a decade and entirely too much distance between them, Vann is suddenly released back into a world that has been nothing but cruel. Drayton never lost hope they would once again reunite and pick up where they left off, but Vann’s stubborn nature and repeated encounters with a heartbreaking world prove to be a challenge.
Vann needs to tap into his fighting spirit’s reservoir of strength and hope life doesn’t punish him for taking a chance. Only then will he realize his own value and feel worthy enough to finally have Drayton’s heart. And their chance at forever.
Release date: May 2, 2017
Series: The Men of Halfway House
No. in series: 5; can be read as a stand alone
Category: Contemporary Gay Romance
Word Count: 124,300 words
Formats available: e-book and print
Photographer: Eric McKinney of 6:12 Photography
Drayton first appears in book 3, A Restored Man. Vann is first mentioned in book 4, A Mended Man.
Vann grew silent again, rubbing his thumb along Drayton’s hand. “I’m tired of life kicking my ass all the time.”
“Then maybe it’s time you kicked back.”
“Um, I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of shit that would land me back in that hell.” He patted their clasped hands with his free one. “You’re supposed to be the smart one in this relationship.”
Drayton chuckled, thankful the teasing side of Vann was still present. “What I mean is…don’t let this shit hit its mark. You’re not this tough guy everyone thinks you are.”
“You’re supposed to tell me how badass I am and how you’ve been fantasizing about me every night.”
Drayton threw his head back and laughed.
“I missed hearing your laugh all those years,” Vann whispered.
He sighed as he tilted his head toward Vann. “I need you to listen to me. Okay?”
Vann nodded, staring at their clasped hands.
“You’ve got a good heart, and I’ve learned that’s both a strength and a weakness. It’s the reason you are the most caring man I know, but also the reason you feel this pain so much.”
“You’re getting better at this whole reading people thing.” Vann tilted his face toward him, his eyes pleading as if making an effort to absorb his message. “I’m not the same guy I used to be.”
“You’re still my Vann.” Drayton reached out, placing his palm against Vann’s chest. “In here.”
“I feel as if I take one step forward then get kicked ten steps backward.” Vann softly thumped the back of his head against the wall, another tic that seemed to linger after all these years.
“You’re a fighter.”
“That’s what Four Finger Fred said.”
“Never mind,” Vann mumbled.
“You’re not a quitter, so don’t you dare start now. You always find a way to make things work.” Drayton quieted, hoping to convey every ounce of love he felt for the man staring back at him. “That relentless fighter, he’s the guy I fell in love with when I was a kid and he’s the guy who had the strength to pull through the last ten years. And he’s the guy staring back at me right now. Who I love. Back then, now, and always.”
“You’re a romantic fucker,” he said with a weak chuckle. Vann ghosted his fingers along Drayton’s jaw, his focus following his fingers as they traveled down his neck. Drayton’s chest tightened when Vann looked up and gave him a lopsided grin—one that bore a hint of youthful innocence Drayton hadn’t seen in so long. “I’m supposed to be the strong one, standing guard while you change the world. Now…I just feel so fucking lost.”
Drayton leaned in and pressed a kiss to Vann’s lips. “You and me, we’re a team. Don’t ever forget that. I’ll stand guard for you until you find your footing again.”
“C’mon,” Drayton said, tugging Vann by the hand. After breakfast and a countertop quickie, they had immediately returned to the bedroom and had been hibernating there since. He had no objection to spending all day in bed, but he had a surprise for Vann and couldn’t stand waiting any longer. “I want to show you the rest of the house.”
“But I like the bedroom.”
Drayton chuckled, pulling him up with more force. “We can come back after.”
“Fine,” Vann grumbled, finally sitting up on the bed with a dramatic pout.
“You’re cute when you don’t get your way.”
“Cute enough to stay in bed?” He waggled his eyebrows and petted the bed. “It’s really soft.”
Drayton leaned in and gave Vann a chaste kiss, jerking back quickly to avoid his grasp.
Vann’s laughter filled the room. “Damn. You’re still super-fast.” He reluctantly stood and stretched his arms over his head.
Drayton’s lips parted, enjoying the flex of muscles.
“Like what you see?” Vann asked, delivering a cocky grin as he seductively licked his lower lip. “Let’s get back in bed—”
Drayton threw his head back and laughed. “You’re still persistent as hell. C’mon. I want to show you something.”
“I want to show you something too.”
“This is important.” Drayton crossed his arms. “We can skim the other rooms but there’s one that’s special. It’s…yours.”
Vann sobered. “You’ve given me enough to cover every event for the rest of my life and then some. I don’t want—”
“It’s also for me. I’ll watch you while you use the room.”
“Hmm.” Vann pursed his lips. “Okay, you’ve got my attention.”
After a little more bargaining, Drayton finally lured Vann out of the bedroom and down the hallway. He opened the door to his office and stepped inside. “This is the room I’m usually in when I’m here.”
He chuckled as they exited the office. They walked down the hall to the room he’d had converted into a gym.
“Damn, this is nice.” Vann checked the different weight options and looked at each of the machines.
“You’ve got everything here for all types of routines. And if you don’t like the view, you’ve got a TV.”
“The view’s beautiful.”
“Whatever we need to change out or add, we’ve still got space. I do a lot of thinking while I’m on the treadmill, so we’re not getting rid of that.”
Vann chuckled. “Okay.” He walked over to Drayton and leaned in for a slow kiss.
“Mmm. What was that for?”
“Is this the room I’ll use while you watch me? I promise I’ll make you sweat too.”
“A great addition to this amazing series ~ a second chance love story that will melt your heart.” ~ Jaime, Alpha Book Club
“…this story grabs you from the very first page and doesn’t let you go.”
“Their level of commitment and the deep connection they shared is one of the strongest I’ve felt while reading.”
“Vann and Dray’s story took my breath away.” ~Jen, Lustful Literature
~ Jewel, My Fiction Nook