Moving into his new apartment, Jax never expected to have to break up a fight between his new neighbors, resulting in a physical altercation and a visit from the cops. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that it would lead to him meeting Danny, the cute theater manager and playwright that lived next door. Unfortunately, his first impression of Danny and the way he’d cowered away in the fight with his ex, wasn’t exactly a favorable one.
Jax already has his own issues to deal with, between his past problems with his mother and the chain of men who’ve floated in and out of her life, his new job as a piercer in his sister’s tattoo shop and his struggles with an eating disorder; the last thing he plans to add to it is a relationship. Yet Danny isn’t so easy to ignore and when they find themselves bonding after Danny shows him around town, and more when Jax offers to help with sets for his latest play, it becomes harder and harder for him to ignore the connection forming between them.
As Jax’s insecurities and food issues grow more and more out of control, he find himself turning to Danny for help, rather than his longtime friends Callum and Max who lives just downstairs. Danny’s mix of patience, stubbornness and tough love make it harder and harder for Jax to keep his distance, and somewhere in the course of their daily lives, they find themselves moving from being friends, to being more.
As he stood under the warm spray from the shower, some of the anger from the night before began to creep back in. Without a doubt, that had to be one of the stupidest things he’d ever done. In fact, if he were to rank a lifetime of insanity and bad decisions, that one was floating somewhere between number two and number five in a very long list.
It wasn’t like it was going to make a difference, the small guy, what the fuck he’d said his name was, Denny, Danny, whatever, had probably bailed the asshole out and was up making him breakfast and laying his shit out for work. Dumbass.
Jax sighed and brushed the water out of his eyes. His sister would tell him he was being a cynic, that not everyone was like their mom had been. Fuck that noise, Steph saw rainbows and sunshine in everything. Even when people pissed her off she just smiled and somehow or another managed to win them over. That wasn’t him, had never been him and never would be. People only showed you good when they wanted something, or when they wanted you to like them. As soon as they’d suckered you in, who they really were tended to emerge and he’d learned early on that it was safer to play with pit bulls then people. At least a dog wasn’t gonna bite you unless you provoked them to.
People on the other hand…
Turning the water off, he shook his head, sending water droplets everywhere before grabbing a towel and quickly drying off. He’d barely pulled on his jeans when someone began knocking on his door. For a moment, he considered ignoring it, but the knocking grew more insistent and with a groan he resigned himself to the fact that whoever it was just wasn’t going to go away.
Muttering curses he stalked to the door and yanked it open, only to see the top of Denny-Danny’s head. The smaller man looked up at him with a sheepish grin, the bruises on his face and neck looking much worse in the light.
“Hi, umm,” Danny stammered, as Jax crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe, wondering how long this was going to take.
“I umm, I just wanted to, ummm,” Danny continued, looking around awkwardly. “You didn’t have to help last night, and umm, I just want to thank you.”
“Is that all?” Jax asked abruptly, pushing away from the doorway. “Don’t expect it to happen again.”
Danny took a step back, eyes widening in shock at Jax’s harsh tone. “I-I don’t, I mean, I-I won’t.”
“Good. And do me a favor, try and keep it down the next time you guys decide to fight. No one else needs to hear that shit.”
Jax reached for the door, intent on shutting it, when Danny slammed his hand against the door, stopping him. Jax blinked, glancing from Danny’s hand to his face and back again.
“Do you have a problem?” Jax asked, feeling himself tense, readying for confrontation. He watched the mired of expression that played across Danny’s face, from shock to outrage, to furious indignation, and couldn’t be bothered to worry about where the whole situation might lead. The coward had showed his true colors in the hallway. Nothing he did now would change Jax’s mind about him.
“I didn’t ask for your help last night,” Danny sputtered, weight pressed against the door.
Jax knew he could close it if he truly wanted to, but this was almost amusing.
“I’m grateful to you, f-for what you did, but if you were gonna be an asshole about it, why’d you even bother at all? Or did you think you were coming to help a woman? Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Yeah, I did think it was a woman getting the shit beat outta her,” Jax shot back. “And since you guys were loud as hell, it wasn’t like I could sleep through it or anything.”
Chin trembling, Danny raised his head. It looked to Jax like it was actually taking him some effort to look at him. His one cinnamon colored eye was almost swollen shut, the dark blue bruise around it making the sliver of color stand out even more.
“Look, I didn’t mean to disturb your night. I didn’t ask for him to go off on me like that. He was higher than I’ve ever seen him and to be honest, I’m still not sure exactly what set him off.”
“But you know he uses, and you live with him anyway. Bet you bailed him out too, didn’t you?” Jax shot back, scowling. “Apologized for everything, made him breakfast and even promised to make him a nice dinner tonight when he came home from work, right?”
Danny’s eyes narrowed and his fingers curled into a fist against the door. Jax licked his lips, waiting to see if Danny was actually going to attempt something. Not like he wanted to hurt the guy, he already looked hurt enough, but he seemed to be mustering up more outrage now than he’d shown the night before.
“Actually, I pressed charges against him and left his ass at the precinct when he called me at three in the morning begging me to come bail him out. I even called a moving van to get his shit out of here, rented a storage unit for them to put it in, and planned to invite you over for dinner to thank you, but you can pretty much forget that part of the plan. I don’t invite people into my life who are going to treat me like shit, and I sure as hell aren’t the type to actually forgive them and bail them out after they do. I don’t know what kind of people you’ve been around, but, not everyone likes to play the part of a human punching bag. Anyway, for what it’s worth, thank you for coming to my rescue, trust me when I say there will never be a need for it to happen again.”
Layla Dorine lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.